Personality axed over Sara Jane Olsen interview

NEW YORK — Tavis Smiley, the former BET talkshow host, is in talks with ABC News about becoming an occasional contributor to “Primetime Live” and other news programs.

Smiley was recently axed from the Viacom-owned cable net after he sold an exclusive interview with accused ’70s terrorist Sara Jane Olsen to “Primetime Live” without first offering it to BET. The episode featuring Smiley’s interview with the former Symbionese Liberation Army member aired March 1.

Because of recent cutbacks at ABC News and parent company Disney, it’s unlikely the net will offer Smiley a gig as a full-time correspondent.

Since Smiley’s contract with BET was non-exclusive, he was not contractually obligated to offer the interview first to BET. But BET founder and CEO Robert Johnson said last week on a special edition of “BET Tonight,” the latenight show that Smiley hosted before he was abruptly fired, that Smiley should have made a good faith effort to offer the interview to BET.

Smiley has said he offered the interview to BET’s sister net CBS, but that they passed.

An ABC News spokesman declined comment.

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