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Ann Curry leaves NBC News to form her own production company

Ann Curry negotiates deal to leave NBC News

Ann Curry has negotiated an early exit from her contract with NBC News.

The network announced Tuesday that Curry would leave to form her own independent production company that will cover international stories for TV and other platforms.

An NBC executive who spoke on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to publicly discuss the deal, which includes some financial backing, said that Curry would have the freedom to work at any network. She will no longer have an office at NBC News.

The deal marks the end of a saga that disrupted the news division for 2½ years.

"I am sincerely grateful to NBC News for allowing me to offer viewers a vast and diverse body of work," Curry said in a statement. "It has been a privilege to work with so many good and talented people at the network and I look forward to what we will do ahead."

Curry was a fan favorite at NBC’s "Today" from the time she joined the program in 1997. She was part of the team that kept the morning show number one in the ratings for 16 years.

In June 2011, Curry was elevated to co-anchor, succeeding Meredith Vieira, despite concerns among some NBC News executives about her live interviewing skills and on-air rapport with co-anchor Matt Lauer. 

Ratings at "Today" started to swoon as it was evident to viewers that Curry and Lauer did not mesh as a team. ABC’s "Good Morning America" soon threatened to end NBC’s long-running dominance in the morning.

But it became a full-blown soap opera when Curry was pulled from the program in June 2012 and replaced with Savannah Guthrie, who had been a co-anchor in the 9 a.m. hour.

Curry told viewers about her departure in a tearful on-air farewell speech that stunned the show’s producers who watched in the control room.

The jarring anchor transition elicited terrible press coverage for "Today," as if Lauer had kicked his TV wife out of the house and married the babysitter.

Ratings continued to skid, and "Good Morning America" became the number one program later in 2012. It's been in the top spot ever since.

NBC News tried to repair the damage to "Today’s" image by giving Curry a new contract and her own production unit that could cover international stories. She was also an occasional substitute on "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."

But her journalism rarely made it on the air in recent months. Her hourlong report on U.S. negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program - which included interviews with Iranian leaders and Secretary of State John Kerry - ran on NBCNews.com.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:20 p.m. This post has been updated with the official announcement by NBC of Curry's departure and the detail that her deal will include some financial backing.

This post was originally published at 1:26 p.m.

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