Megyn Kelly’s ouster from NBC appears to be deteriorating into an increasingly acrimonious problem for the network. CNN reports that the process “has turned into an all-out legal battle.”
The network pulled the plug on the former Fox News star’s 9 a.m. “Megyn Kelly Today” hour last week in the wake of her “blackface” misstep — the latest in a series of troublesome incidents during her short tenure with NBC News. The biggest problem throughout the experiment, though, appears to have been the show’s inability to gain traction with viewers.
CNN notes that Kelly’s contract runs through 2020. “So now there’s a protracted negotiation taking place — and in an unusual move, Kelly’s lawyer Bryan Freedman is talking about it publicly,” CNN reports, quoting Freedman saying Tuesday: “Andy Lack needs to stop.”
Freedman, CNN reports, has accused Lack, the chairman of NBC News, of leaking details about Kelly’s exit negotiations.
Freedman released a statement today saying: “Despite my efforts to handle this process confidentially, NBC News is allowing the media to run with completely false and irresponsible reports that disparage Megyn by erroneously claiming she has ever asked for more money than her contract requires. If NBC News is not the source then they have a responsibility as a news division to correct these false claims. Or are they somehow attempting to use these fabrications for some fictitious advantage in the discussions we’re having?”
Freedman also brought NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke into the fray, commenting: “If Andy Lack has lost control, my hope would be that Steve Burke can step in and not permit blatant lies about our discussions to remain uncorrected.”
CNN quotes a statement from NBC, which responded a few minutes after Freedman’s statement, saying: “Unlike Mr. Freedman, who has repeatedly commented to the media throughout the negotiations, we respect the confidentiality of the process, and will have no comment until it reaches its conclusion.”
As we reported previously, various media outlets including The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline have suggested that Kelly’s exit talks ran into hurdles on the issues of money, not surprisingly, and of Kelly’s apparent reluctance to sign a non-disparagement clause.
NBC has reportedly balked at paying out the remainder of Kelly’s three-year deal, said to be worth $69 million.
“Sources confirmed to CNN that one of the sticking points involves something called a non-disparagement clause, which would prohibit Kelly from speaking ill of NBC in the future,” CNN reports. “A non-disparagement clause is often a part of a broader non-disclosure agreement, or NDA for short.”
The NDA looms large in this case, CNN suggests, because Kelly “has repeatedly challenged NBC News management in public, and has hinted that she knows more than she’s shared about various NBC controversies.”
And NBC has had its share of controversies lately, notably those surrounding Matt Lauer and the Ronan Farrow investigation into Harvey Weinstein.
“Kelly’s insider knowledge may have given her some leverage in the negotiations,” CNN notes. “She is reluctant to sign a one-sided NDA, a source said, because she is concerned that would leave her vulnerable to disparagement by NBC executives.”