Neal Shapiro: Upping the “Today” show body count?

It’s been three days since the New York Daily News reported* that NBC News prez Neal Shapiro was planning to step down. Conventional wisdom suggests it’s a done deal, but there have been no NBC press releases as of yet.

Shapiro has been president of NBC News since June 2001, and his shows — “The NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams,” “Meet the Press” and “Today” — are all on top. Ah, but one of those shows is “Today,” that inkgenerating albatross with the rapidly-gaining rival That Shall Remain Nameless (it’s GMA!).

And as we all know, “Today” is giving Jeff Zucker a nasty ulcer (that and the whole last-place TV thing).

It’s unclear whether Shapiro is being forced out or what, but the NYT‘s Jacques Steinberg reports that Zucker, after being asked about finger-pointing regarding the “Today” slippage, said (ominously): “At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for the units we run. We’re all responsible for the successes and failures in our particular units.” (BTW, Zucker was once exec. producer of “Today.”)

Steinberg also quotes two anonymous (hmmmm)”senior executives” who say that Shapiro wants to “jump before being pushed,” a la the recently-ousted Tom Touchet (a Shapiro hire). Meanwhile, the “Today” team remains in flux: TV Newser confirms that former Maury EP Amy Rosenblum was appointed “senior producer” of the third hour of “Today”, reporting to Touchet replacement Jim Bell.

Gossip! Conjecture! Rampant speculation! And no word either way from NBC. TV Newser has some new-prexy suggestions; Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune has a nice rundown, as does Newsday. One thing is certain: Neal Shapiro’s vacation is probably not very relaxing.

Shapiro may be leaving NBC News [Newsday]
NBC News May Get New Chief [NYT]
Morning gloom likely to doom NBC News exec [Chicago Tribune]
Shapiro ‘Replacement Watch’ Begins [Broadcasting & Cable (subscription)]

*Yes Lloyd, we know it was you, and, yes, we’re proud of you.