Norah O’Donnell’s salary slashed by more than half at ‘CBS Evening News’
“CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell’s pay bundle acquired slashed by more than half this spring amid a brutal spherical of value cuts at the third-place community, The Post has realized.
According to insiders, CBS News re-signed the 48-year-old anchor in April with a yearly salary of $3.8 million — down from the earlier $8 million — following experiences that the community had been casting round for a alternative as O’Donnell’s scores proceed to sag.
CBS execs gave O’Donnell a “low ball” supply in the course of the hard-knuckle negotiations, which they “expected O’Donnell to reject,” based on a supply briefed on the talks. When she accepted it, some executives appeared shocked, the supply added.
CBS News and O’Donnell didn’t return requests for remark.
Insiders stated O’Donnell’s capitulation got here after months of clashes with Neeraj Khemlani, the sharp-elbowed, cost-slashing co-president of CBS News who had been brazenly on the lookout for a brand new anchor to switch her in the course of the months earlier than her contract was up in April.
Khemlani reached out to former MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, who turned him down, based on a report from CNN. He additionally thought of NBC’s Craig Melvin and, as reported by The Post, even mulled selling Tony Dokoupil, her previous co-anchor at “CBS Mornings,” to the function.
Insiders stated Dokoupil’s candidacy was significantly galling for O’Donnell, as Khemlani in January assigned the 41-year-old morning present host to anchor a particular broadcast from from Washington DC on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 capitol riots. And shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, CBS News once more set tongues wagging by initially sending Dokoupil as an alternative of O’Donnell to Poland to cover the unfolding conflict.
Sources stated the thinly veiled job search broken O’Donnell’s status and infuriated her group. Tensions rose so excessive that her agent, UTA co-president Jay Sures, went over Khemlani’s head to barter her contract with CBS CEO George Cheeks and Shari Redstone, the chairwoman of CBS father or mother Paramount Global, sources stated.
According to 1 well-placed supply, O’Donnell had been “telling everybody how close she gotten to Redstone” in the course of the contract negotiations.
Meanwhile, it’s rumored that O’Donnell’s camp leaked to the press that Sures had reached out to incoming CNN boss Chris Licht about hiring the anchor. The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that Sures’ try was “rebuffed” as a result of Licht “could not negotiate before his start date” on May 2.
A supply near CNN, nevertheless, informed The Post that O’Donnell was “never under consideration” to hitch the community. A second supply added that the ability seize “annoyed” Licht, with a 3rd noting that Licht, who beforehand labored with O’Donnell when she co-anchored CBS’ morning present, was adamant that the exec wouldn’t need to “reunite” with the “difficult” anchor. Reps for Licht and CNN didn’t return requests for remark.
In the tip, O’Donnell remains to be working at CBS News beneath Khemlani as a result of “she didn’t have any options and he didn’t either,” one well-placed supply informed The Post.
As beforehand reported by The Post, O’Donnell has ruffled feathers with “toxic behavior” that features chewing out dressing room stylists over her hair and make-up and placing employees by way of the weird each day ritual of a full “dress rehearsal” of the “Evening News” half an hour earlier than the present airs.
O’Donnell’s each day calls for additionally included having her Gucci slides ready in entrance of her dressing room door so she will put them on as quickly as she is off the set.
“Nobody wants to work with her,” stated a supply. “She’s too difficult.”
O’Donnell’s publicist Cindi Berger and CBS disputed the claims at the time.
While CBS seems to be doubling down with O’Donnell for at least one other three years, insiders inform The Post that “CBS Evening News” is now having a tough time discovering candidates who need to interview for the nightly newscast’s government vice producer job, which will likely be vacant when interim EVP Al Ortiz retires in July.
“By re-signing her contract, they’ve given the message to the company that last place is good enough,” a supply informed The Post. “Now, they’re having trouble getting an outside executive vice producer in part because nobody wants to deal with her and also because the ratings are below 5 million.”
Sources say that prime contenders to run the “Evening News” are inner, and that O’Donnell’s proper hand, government story editor Adam Verdugo or senior broadcast producer Alturo Rhymes, will seemingly get the job.
In the final two months, “Evening News” has dipped under 5 million in whole common each day viewers. based on Nielsen. O’Donnell’s present grabbed 5.4 million within the first quarter, trailing “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” and “ABC World News Tonight,” which nabbed 7.8 million and eight.9 million, respectively.
Media insiders say that Holt and Muir make between $12 million and $20 million, respectively. Meanwhile at CBS, execs have tried to shrink bills on the “Evening News,” which sources stated, isn’t a money-maker for the community. As beforehand reported by The Post, O’Donnell’s predecessor Jeff Glor was making a modest $2 million.
Glor was changed by O’Donnell, who was promoted by then-CBS News president Susan Zirinsky. Insiders have criticized Zirinsky for padding O’Donnell’s salary and spending hundreds of thousands to maneuver the “Evening News” from New York to Washington DC with the promise that this system would reel in higher scores.
Last spring, the community introduced in Khemlani and co-president Wendy McMahon to trim the fats — and a few say, probably promote the company or spin off a few of its belongings sooner or later.
“Neeraj did his job,” stated a supply, referring to the exec’s mandate by Cheeks and his boss, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish to chop prices and reorganize the community.
While Khemlani has revamped the group by rehauling Gayle King’s “CBS Mornings” and restructuring the CBS News’ digital arm, there was a drumbeat of high-level departures, as morale has cratered to an all-time low beneath the demanding exec.
“He has made enemies but what’s his accomplishment?,” a supply stated. “He has damaged Norah. The show is never going to improve from third. CBS is no longer what it used to be. It’s not even close.”