What’s Left For Brokaw? “I Haven’t Done ‘Gladiators’ or ‘Deal or No Deal.’ I Still Have Something To Aim For”

By Chris Ariens 

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

If nominated, Tom Brokaw will not run. If elected, he will not serve.

NBC’s 68-year-old anchor emeritus says he does not — repeat, does not — want to continue as moderator of “Meet the Press” beyond November.

As the late, great Tim Russert would say: End of story. Game over.

In fact, when asked to respond to Ted Koppel’s conjecture to the contrary, Brokaw unleashes a hearty laugh from his Montana ranch.

“I won’t take it as a fulltime job under any condition… My intention is to get us through the election and give [NBC News president] Steve Capus time to make a decision. If he hasn’t made a decision by then, if he needs extra time, I’ll give him extra time.

“I’ve had my moment in the sun. I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve only worked at NBC. This is what I do. I’m a grownup. My life won’t be defined by doing ‘Meet the Press.’ That doesn’t mean I’m phoning it in. I will be very competitive on behalf of NBC.

“I’m very happy to do this, for a variety of reasons… But this is not somebody who’s 32 and is getting a shot to do it the next 10 years. I want to go back to the imperfectly-mapped out plan for my life.”

The map has a few detours.

Because “it’s hard to imagine I’ll miss any of those Sundays” between the conventions and election, Brokaw canceled a fishing trip to Russia set for September and will “re-orient” his fall hunting schedule (pheasants, partridge and grouse.)

Between now and the conventions, however, is a different ball game. “Meet the Press” will be dark during Wimbledon and the Beijing Olympics, which Brokaw is scheduled to work. He’s trying to squeeze out one other weekend off in late July or early August.

Sunday’s show will be taped Saturday night in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, site of the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting.

Wyoming is a lot closer to Montana than is Washington. So are Denver and St. Paul, where “Meet the Press” will be broadcast during the conventions. Also, Brokaw has been looking at the venues for the presidential debates as possible sites.

There may be other opportunities to go on location, “but I don’t want it to be a reach,” he says.

Speaking of reaches, there are few names that haven’t been mentioned as successors to Russert. Including that of his extraordinary son, Luke, 22. (He calls Brokaw Uncle Tom.)

“Like Tim, he has a big reach. He’s going to have an extraordinary future of any kind he wants. He has a great sense of what he should be doing and how fast he should be moving.”

P.S. With “Meet the Press,” Brokaw will have anchored all four of NBC News’ major broadcasts: “Nightly News;” “Today” and “Dateline,” where he is a contributing anchor.

Is there anything left to climb, Uncle Tom?

“I still haven’t done the test pattern,” he says. “I haven’t done ‘Gladiators’ or ‘Fear Factor’ or ‘Deal or No Deal.’ I still have something to aim for.”