Did Brian Williams Have Late-Night Aspirations?

by Raphael Chestang 5:21 PM PDT, March 09, 2015
Playing Did Brian Williams Have Late-Night Aspirations?

As Brian Williams continues his six-month suspension at NBC, ET spoke to New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman, who spoke about Williams' ambitions beyond nightly news.

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According to Sherman, who wrote a revealing expose about the inner turmoil at NBC News, Williams wanted to be a late-night comedian and even pitched himself for NBC's The Tonight Show before Jimmy Fallon moved over from Late Night and CBS' Late Show.

"Within the last year, he pitched [CBS Corp. president and] CEO Les Moonves about taking over for David Letterman," Sherman told ET of Williams' grand plans.

In lieu of The Tonight Show, Williams was given the short-lived weekly news program Rock Center. Williams reportedly had high hopes for the show, including evolving it into a variety hour, that never came to fruition.

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"For years Brian Williams was known as the anchor man who could turn a joke," Sherman said. "Brian Williams had hoped Rock Center would turn into a variety show. Instead it turned into a softer version of 60 Minutes. After two seasons it was canceled."

After the fallout surrounding Williams falsely reporting that he came under fire in Iraq, NBC executives met with Williams and his wife Jane to discuss taking Williams off the air. Jane protested, reportedly saying, "If you take him off the air, you'll be sending the message that he did something wrong."

According to Sherman, Jane hadn't seen the press coverage surrounding the incident yet. Williams reportedly responded to his wife's comments, saying, "Honey, you haven't seen the stuff."

Ironically, the veteran newsman has been the butt of many jokes on the late-night circuit following his admission of, as Sherman wrote in his New York Magazine piece "Hemingwayesque yarns."

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Now, Williams is strategizing his next move with his advisers.

"As of now no one knows what Brian Williams' fate is," Sherman said.