Linda Ellerbee, the irreverent news anchor and correspondent who left NBC News in June over a salary dispute, agreed yesterday to sign with ABC News and will coanchor the forthcoming prime-time magazine show "Our World" starting in September.
Although Ellerbee could not comment, sources close to the negotiations said she will also bring her weekly "TGIF" feature, formerly part of NBC's "Today" show, to ABC's competing "Good Morning America." ABC News also had discussions with Ellerbee about coanchoring a late-night news program to follow "ABC News Nightline," on Monday through Thursday nights, but nothing definite on that project is included in her new contract.
At ABC News, Ellerbee will make about $500,000 a year, twice her annual salary at NBC News, sources said. NBC management tried to get Ellerbee to take a salary cut earlier this year as it negotiated her new contract, but Ellerbee, friends said, was insulted by the gesture and the two sides failed to reach a compromise figure.
Being considered for coanchor of "Our World," insiders said, are ABC News correspondents Sander Vanocur and James Wooten. Ellerbee will report to ABC News the second week in August to begin preparations for the program. It will air on Thursday nights in the hazardous time slot of 8 o'clock, opposite NBC's "The Cosby Show," the No. 1 program in prime time.
Ellerbee had also received an offer from CBS News to coanchor its latest revision of "The CBS Morning News," but friends at NBC advised her against taking on a seemingly impossible task, even though CBS reportedly offered her more money than ABC. The CBS program consistently rates last in the morning news competition.