- Rachel Maddow is taking a hiatus from her top-rated MSNBC show starting February 7.
- The star anchor will work for a few weeks on new projects with her former boss Phil Griffin.
- Rotating anchors will fill in for Maddow in the interim.
Rachel Maddow is stepping back from her prime-time weekday show on MSNBC to work on movie and podcast projects, she told her team Monday, according to two sources with knowledge of conversations. The star news anchor is expected to share with viewers of “The Rachel Maddow Show” tonight that she’ll take a break starting next week but will be back in “a few weeks,” said an MSNBC insider.
Maddow is taking time off to work on a Focus Features movie based on her book and podcast, “Bag Man,” about a political bribery scandal. It will be directed by Ben Stiller and Maddow will be an executive producer. The influential anchor is also developing a new podcast.
Maddow’s break to reenergize and set up her new outside projects will be temporary, however, and she plans to continue her prime-time show five nights a week upon her return, one of the sources confirmed. The source said that Maddow wouldn’t disappear from the network entirely and would be back for special-event coverage during this hiatus.
The network is expected to turn to a number of fill-in anchors in the interim.
Maddow and her agents, Ari Emanuel and Mark Shapiro, cut a new $30 million deal with NBCUniversal in August, according to the Daily Beast. The agreement allows her to reduce her hours on air and gives her time to set up a new production venture with her former MSNBC boss Phil Griffin.
Maddow’s agreement to return to her nightly show at a later date will no doubt be met with a sigh of relief by management at 30 Rockefeller Center, where NBC News is headquartered.
“The Rachel Maddow Show” ended 2021 with 2.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. She was No. 2 in the 9 p.m. hour in both total viewers and among adults aged 25 to 54 — the key advertiser demographic — for the 12th year in a row. The show airs against “Hannity” on Fox News. At CNN, the network has yet to announce a replacement for Chris Cuomo in that hour.
Meanwhile, MSNBC’s new schedule is taking shape.
Stephanie Ruhle is shifting from weekdays at 9 a.m. to Brian Williams’ former 11 p.m. slot.
“Morning Joe,” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mike Brezinski will add another hour to their show, a development that was first reported by Axios after Insider reported on talks between the anchors and NBC News Group Chairman Cesar Conde in October.
Lawrence O’Donnell agreed to a new multi-year deal this summer to continue “The Last Word” at 10 p.m.
Endeavor-owned talent agency WME represents five of MSNBC’s most high-profile voices: Maddow, Scarborough and Brzezinski, O’Donnell, and Ruhle. Their deals suggest that Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel and President Mark Shapiro have been able to leverage their stable of stars at the network, a strength Insider noted as multiple negotiations got underway in the fall.
Claire Atkinson was previously senior media editor at NBC News.