Natalie Morales has proven herself a versatile anchor who logged time at “Today,” “Access Hollywood” and “Dateline” and still managed to find time to do daredevil stunts with colleague Jenna Bush Hager. Now she’s heading out on a new adventure — at a talk show that serves as a rival to her soon-to-be former employer.
Morales told staffers Friday at the NBCUniversal-backed news division that she plans to leave “to spread my own wings and to pursue a new adventure.” She has been with NBC News for 22 years. NBC News declined to offer details about where the anchor might head next, but two people familiar with the matter suggested she is expected to land at “The Talk,” the CBS mid-afternoon panel program that has been on the hunt for new hosts. CBS declined to comment.
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Morales is seen joining “Talk” panelists Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots, Jerry O’Connell and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila. The program has been in the midst of a recalibration since the controversial departure of co-host Sharon Osbourne, who left after the panel got into a discussion about racial and cultural views and went on hiatus in its aftermath. Morales is expected to contribute to “Dateline” through the rest of the year, and enjoy an on-air farewell on “Today” in weeks to come.
Several news and talk rivals have made runs on NBC News in recent weeks. WarnerMedia’s CNN lured away Kasie Hunt, an up-and-coming Capitol Hill correspondent and Jenn Suozzo, the former executive producer of “NBC Nightly News,” both for prominent roles at CNN Plus, a new streaming-video outlet set to launch in early 2022.
Morales joined NBCUniversal as an anchor on MSNBC, where she worked between 2002 and 2006 before being named a national correspondent for “Today.” Morales replaced Ann Curry as news reader for the morning program in 2011, was with the show as it jockeyed in an intense morning-news war with ABC rival “Good Morning America,” then moved to California to work at “Access” and handle West Coast assignments for “Today” after producers decided to stop using a news reader on the morning show. She joined “Dateline” in 2020.
But she has retained her ties to “Today,” filling in on occasion during the show’s fourth hour and has long been considered part of the program’s extended family. “These are people who you become intimately connected with,” she told Variety in an interview in 2014.
“This first half of my life has been one full of adventure, challenges, travel, way too many early wake up calls, and, yes, opportunities to witness history unfold and to tell inspiring and impactful stories that will always be in my mind’s highlight reel,” she told staffers in her memo. Her anticipated move to CBS was reported previously by the Los Angeles Times and DailyMail.com.
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