‘NBC Nightly News’ producer to step down

Times Staff Writer

NBC officials are poised to announce that the executive producer of “NBC Nightly News” is leaving his post, according to network sources, a move that comes as the top-rated evening newscast faces a strong challenge from ABC’s “World News.”

John Reiss, who has run the NBC program since June 2005, when he was promoted from the No. 2 slot, is expected to take another position within the news division. The announcement of his departure, which was first reported by Radar magazine, could come as early as this week, sources said.

Reiss did not return a phone call, and a network spokeswoman declined to comment.

NBC’s evening newscast had long enjoyed a wide margin over ABC and CBS. But with anchor Charles Gibson at the helm, “World News” recently closed the gap with the first-place newscast. Last week, ABC bested NBC by 310,000 viewers, its second such win in three weeks. Meanwhile, ratings for “CBS Evening News,” anchored by Katie Couric, have lagged.


NBC sources said that Reiss’ exit is not tied directly to the ratings, but rather friction with anchor Brian Williams.

The executive producer approached NBC News President Steve Capus several months ago about leaving the program because he and Williams were not meshing, according to employees familiar with internal discussions. While both men are well-liked internally, they have different working styles and are not personally close.

“He and Brian have never really been copacetic, and I think Reiss realized that quite some time ago,” said one “Nightly” staffer.

Before joining the NBC newscast, Reiss worked at “Dateline” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Sources said he might take a new role in the network’s political coverage. Reiss’ replacement has yet to be chosen and executives are said to be considering internal candidates.