One of the worst-kept secrets in the TV business since the London Olympics was the bumping of Jim Bell as Executive Producer of the Today Show at NBC News to Executive Producer of the Olympics at NBC Sports. Bell began his career with NBC Sports and now returns to run the Olympics full-time. With NBC firmly entrenched in the Olympic movement through 2020, Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus made the move to bring Bell back into the Sports fold.
If you follow the behind-the-scenes machinations at the networks like I do, then you might be familiar with the problems at the Today Show since Ann Curry was dumped, a move that was supposedly supported by Bell. Today’s ratings have fallen below ABC’s Good Morning America and it’s been speculated since the summer that Bell would eventually be removed.
Even while working for Today since 2005, Bell had worked on each Olympics for NBC including being the Executive Producer of the London games.
In his new position, Bell will have full control over what we’ll see on the NBC platforms. And since Bell is a disciple of former NBC Sports Emperor Dick Ebersol, don’t expect too many changes to the Olympic wheel such as tape delays, events held for primetime and the usual NBC formula. You saw the results back in August when Bell was in charge.
Here’s the press release from NBC Sports Group.
Executive Producer of Record-Setting 2012 London Games to Lead Olympic Production Full Time for NBC Olympics Unit
NEW YORK – November 13, 2012 – Jim Bell, who served as the executive producer of the 2012 London Olympics, the most-watched event in U.S. television history, has been named the full-time Executive Producer of NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Olympic Games. Bell reports to NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus, who made the announcement today.
Bell will have editorial and creative control over NBC’s Games and rejoins full time the NBC Olympics Unit, led by Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics.
“There is no doubt that Jim is the right person to be our Olympic production leader into the future,” said Lazarus. “His professionalism was unmatched in leading the London Olympics to record levels. Jim has worked with the best in the Olympic television world, and we’re excited to have him join us as the full-time executive producer.”
“The Olympic legacy at NBCUniversal is long and rich, and Jim has had a role with this unit going all the way back to Barcelona in 1992,” said Zenkel. “It will be great to have Jim back full time as part of our incredibly talented and experienced production team.”
Bell rejoins NBC Sports Group full time following seven years leading TODAY, the iconic news program that dominated the morning ratings race for 16 years, earned five Emmys, seven Edward R. Murrow Awards and nine Headliner Awards. He served as both executive producer of TODAY and the London Olympics earlier this year.
Prior to joining TODAY in 2005, Bell spent 16 years with NBC Sports & Olympics. He has worked on every Olympic Games NBC has broadcast since 1992 in either sports (1992, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2012) or news (2006, 2008 and 2010). Bell won Emmys for his work on the 1992, 1996, 2000 & 2002 Olympics and a Peabody for NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.
His NBC Sports & Olympics career began in 1990 when he was hired to work in the profiles unit for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and concluded in 2004 when he served as coordinating producer for NBC Olympics, overseeing all aspects of nearly 100 hours of afternoon and late night Olympic programming during the 2004 Athens Games.
“The Olympics is one of the signature franchises in television, and for more than two decades they’ve been a huge part of my life,” said Bell. “The London Olympics was especially exciting for me, and I look forward to continuing through future Games working with so many good friends and colleagues.”
That is it.