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Lawrence O’Donnell Confirms Contract Talks with MSNBC

Variety logo Variety 5/17/2017 Brian Steinberg
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MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell took to Twitter to acknowledge that he has entered negotiations with the NBCUniversal-owned cable-news network that may or may not result in him staying there.

In a tweet, the network’s 10 p.m. host, who has had a presence at MSNBC since 2009, told followers that his contract expires on June 4. “I’ll let you know where you can watch me June 5 if it’s not msnbc,” he said Wednesday. “I’m sorry this situation has become public.”

O’Donnell has hosted his “The Last Word,” which currently follows Rachel Maddow’s 9 p.m. broadcast, since 2010.

MSNBC has reason to keep him. His show’s ratings have surged along with the rest of MSNBC’s primetime lineup as viewers tune in to the network’s progressive primetime news offerings while controversy swirls around the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. In April, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” won more viewers between 25 and 54 – the demographic most coveted by advertisers – than rival time-slot programming in CNN, marking the second consecutive month it has done so.

At MSNBC, “negotiations are ongoing,” according to a statement, and the network hopes to keep the former “West Wing” producer and writer in his current slot, according to two people familiar with the matter. The network has not made executives available for comment. A recent Huffington Post report suggested  the network had not reached out to O’Donnell despite the short amount of time left on his contract.

During her MSNBC broadcast last night, Maddow made public her support of her time-slot neighbor. “I consider us a team,” she said.

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