Shapiro Departure Reports Dismissed

May 30, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Despite published reports last week that Neal Shapiro is on his way out as president of NBC News, network insiders late last week said Mr. Shapiro is expected to remain in his post for the foreseeable future.

He is expected to be back in the office Wednesday after a long-planned Memorial Day break.

Mr. Shapiro, a former “Dateline NBC” executive producer who was named NBC News president four years ago, and his boss, NBC Universal Television Group President Jeffrey Zucker, have recently had what sources described as very preliminary conversations about the future as each sees it. Neither side has preconceived notions of the outcome, a source familiar with the talks said.

In April Mr. Zucker ousted the Shapiro-chosen “Today” executive producer Tom Touchet. Under Mr. Touchet’s watch in the past year and a half, top-ranked “Today’s” lead over ABC’s “Good Morning America” has narrowed to tens of thousands of viewers. Jim Bell, a veteran NBC Sports & Olympics producer, was named executive producer. Phil Griffin, a longtime Zucker pal who had overseen prime time on MSNBC, was named executive in charge of the morning news show.

A network source said Mr. Shapiro’s successes-a masterful deployment of NBC News and MSNBC resources to cover the war in Iraq and the glitch-free transition last December from Tom Brokaw to Brian Williams as anchor of “NBC Nightly News”-have been given short shrift in the Internet gossip mills and much of the speculation by the press.