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NBC Universal Shifts ‘Today’ Chief Jim Bell to Olympics

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- NBC Universal said Jim Bell will take over as the full-time executive producer of its Olympics coverage after seven years of running the “Today” show.

Bell, 45, will have “editorial and creative control” over NBC’s Olympics coverage, the New York-based TV, film and amusement park company said today in a statement. Bell spent 16 years with NBC Sports before joining “Today” in 2005. He was the executive producer of the London Games this summer and will report to NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus.

NBC, majority owned by Comcast Corp., is shaking up the “Today” show after losing its 16-year lead in viewers to ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Alexandra Wallace, an NBC News senior vice president, will take an oversight role on the show, a person with knowledge of the plans said. The network replaced co-host Ann Curry with Savannah Guthrie in June.

“After a 16-year run, which is kind of gravity-defying, we were due for a little turbulence, and we certainly hit that patch,” Bell said. “Ann deserved her chance and got it, but I think we had to make a change there, and we did, and I feel good about it.”

Curry replaced Meredith Vieira as co-host last year. She said in a USA Today interview that she wasn’t given enough time on the program to fix “kinks” that occurred in her year of hosting and said she wasn’t to blame for the ratings slip.

The New York Times first reported Curry would leave “Today” eight days before she announced it, leading to a week of speculation surrounding her eventual departure.

‘Family Moment’

“We like to call ourselves a family on TV, and I don’t know too many families that don’t have their moments, and we had a tough family moment,” Bell said. “But moving forward, we’re going to be fine. I guess there are a lot of different things we could do differently. We made a hard decision but a right decision.”

“Today” will also announce a new executive producer from within NBC’s own ranks, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Megan Kopf, a spokeswoman for the show, declined to comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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