Willie Stay or Willie Go?

By Chris Ariens 

Variety reports NBC/MSNBC’s Willie Geist is in “final-stage negotiations” for a new contract with the networks.

Representatives for Geist have in recent months explored new possibilities at rival outlets including ABC News and CBS News, according to people familiar with the situation, and perhaps even CNN.

As we reported Monday, Geist has turned over one of his many NBC jobs, co-hosting the 3rd hour of the Today show, to Billy Bush. Geist continues as anchor of a revamped Sunday Today show and is a crucial part of Morning Joe, the MSNBC morning show which has never had more viewers. The last time Geist’s contract was up Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were ready to give up some of their own salary to keep Geist.

“It was getting very heated and we almost lost him,” Brzezinski told us last month during an interview at the DNC. Scarborough went to MSNBC president Phil Griffin: “And I said, ‘Phil, you can tell the people at NBC that are negotiating this deal and playing hardball and that if we have to contribute to Willie’s contract we will contribute to Willie’s contract.”

Geist joined MSNBC in 2005 as a senior producer, and later on-air sidekick, to Tucker Carlson on Carlson’s prime time show.