Linda Ellerbee has rejected NBC's final offer for a new contract and will leave NBC News after delivering this morning's edition of her weekly "T.G.I.F." feature on the "Today" show.
The former network anchor and correspondent could not come to terms with NBC and yesterday rejected the network's final offer, an NBC spokesman said. Ellerbee's contract expired at midnight Sunday. "I am now a free agent and an unemployed woman," Ellerbee said when reached at her NBC office yesterday.
NBC News President Lawrence K. Grossman, in a statement, said, "Linda turned down our offer. We are sorry she's leaving us, and we wish her the very best of luck."
Ellerbee, 41, will appear on the "Today" show this morning even though she is no longer employed by NBC News. "I offered to do it for free, because I didn't want to just disappear into the ether," she said. "I wanted to say goodbye."
"Today" show Executive Producer Steve Friedman insisted on paying her for the piece, however, Ellerbee said, "so I'm leaving without bitterness -- at least with Steve." As of late yesterday, she was still not sure what her parting remarks would be.
The segment is scheduled to air at 8:07 a.m., on Channel 4.
According to sources close to the negotiations, Ellerbee was offered a three-year contract that would have kept her doing "T.G.I.F." and found other duties for her at WNBC-TV, the NBC-owned station in New York.
The salary would have been $200,000, which is more than NBC previously offered but still less than the $250,000 Ellerbee made under her old contract. NBC's first offer included a 40 percent cut in salary. Neither Ellerbee nor NBC would comment on specific dollar figures. Ellerbee joined NBC News in 1975 and during her career there coanchored "Weekend" and "NBC News Overnight."
Ellerbee confirmed that she has had offers from other networks but would not say whether she intended to take any of them. She said she would be spending the coming months writing magazine articles and a screenplay based on her book "And So It Goes: Adventures in Television."
The book, she said, will be No. 7 on the New York Times best-seller list that will appear Sunday, "so at least I know I'm not going to starve."