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NBC's Bell leaves "Today," takes bigger Olympics role
Tue, Nov 13 18:38 PM EST

(Reuters) - Longtime "Today" show executive producer Jim Bell will be leaving the NBC morning show to become a full-time executive producer of the Olympics, the TV network said on Tuesday.

The reshuffling is part of Comcast NBC efforts to revive the "Today" show, which has been in a back-and-forth ratings war with rival ABC's "Good Morning America" ever since ABC snapped NBC's 16-year unbeaten streak earlier in the year.

A source told Reuters on Monday that NBC expects to name Alexandra Wallace, a senior vice president of the network's news division, to Bell's old "Today" post, along with another producer.

Bell, who has headed the show since 2005, was blamed this year for the controversial firing of Ann Curry as anchor alongside Matt Lauer.

Reuters had previously reported in August that Bell was in line for a kind of uber-producing sports role like the one Dick Ebersol - NBC's longtime Olympics executive producer and former sports chief who served as a mentor to Bell - played for the network.

"There is no doubt that Jim is the right person to be our Olympic production leader into the future," said Mark Lazarus, head of NBC sports.

Bell will report to Lazarus, NBC said.

NBC has a contract to broadcast the Olympics in the United States for the next four games in Russia, Brazil, South Korea and an unnamed host city in 2020.

London marked the first time Bell was in charge of coverage of the games, filling the shoes of Ebersol, who left NBC in May 2011. Despite flak from social media sites for having delayed airing major events until prime time, NBC's London Olympics coverage drew a record number of viewers.

Bell, 45, a former defensive lineman on Harvard's football team, joined NBC in 1990 to work on the Barcelona Olympics and has worked on every summer Olympics since. He has also produced broadcasts of football, basketball and baseball games for NBC.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; editing by Prudence Crowther)


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