Sides to decide on possible talker by month's end

It may be too early to say if ABC News vet Sam Donaldson will have his own primetime cable news program on MSNBC, but both sides are sounding eager to get to the table.

“I just got permission to negotiate (from ABC, which still has him under contract), so we just started,” Donaldson said. “I suppose MSNBC and I will look at each other and decide whether we’ll do this before the end of this month.” Donaldson predicts that the U.S. will be going to war by the beginning of March, so by that time, he could end up in Iraq for the news cabler.

MSNBC officials declined response. Still a host on ABC News Radio, Donaldson said that the Alphabet has “treated me royally” but insisted that he wanted to return to television. “I want to work in the business,” he said. “I’ve been a guest on everyone’s shows but my own.” Last week, network execs were sounding eager to bring the former “This Week” co-host on board. In one scenario, Donaldson would be the 9 o’clock lead-in for former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, whom West Coast sources say will announce his program on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” Wednesday.

Ventura’s announcement — which would come after many teases but no formal declaration — combined with Donaldson’s hiring would signal the second major overhaul of the net’s primetime schedule in less than a year. Though hesitant to discuss further details about a deal, Donaldson did hint at what his program would feel like. “Nothing dull, please, but you don’t have to scream,” he said. “George Will and I used to have some heated discussions, but we didn’t shout or call each other names.”

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