MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow plans to take a hiatus lasting “several weeks” in order to focus on other projects she is working on as part of a broader content deal with NBCUniversal, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The anchor, who is the linchpin of the cable news outlet’s primetime schedule, is expected to tell viewers about her planned absence, which is slated to start Friday, during this evening’s broadcast. Ali Velshi is among the anchors who have filled in for MSNBC’s primetime anchors in the past, and Mehdi Hasan and Ayman Mohyeldin have both taken up 9 p.m. duties on Fridays, when Maddow is often off. Maddow struck a deal with NBCUniversal last year that calls for her to put more of her attention on to a mix of new media projects and other content.
During her hiatus, Maddow is expected to work on a new podcast for NBCUniversal, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Among the other projects she has in the mix are a movie based on her book “Bag Man,” which analyzes the scandal around former U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew. Ben Stiller has been named as a director for that project, which is set to be distributed by NBCU’s Focus Features.
It is not the first time Maddow has taken a leave from her primetime duties to tackle other areas of interest, and the break was scheduled with MSNBC ahead of today, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.
The big question, of course, is whether MSNBC will use Maddow’s time off the air to analyze viewing patterns while others take the reins in her timeslot. Maddow is widely expected to start to pare back her duties in April or May as part of her focus on the new NBCUniversal pact.
Her immediate absence won’t be a sustained one. MSNBC executives expect Maddow to return to schedule during the hiatus for big news events, such as President Biden’s coming State of the Union address.
The hiatus decision was reported previously by Business Insider.