NEW YORK — Steve Friedman, the brash, quick-joking executive who guided NBC's "Today" show from also-ran status to dominance in the early-morning ratings wars, plans to leave the network in early August, NBC said Friday.
Friedman, who has been executive producer of "Today" since May, 1980 and has been with NBC for 18 years, did not disclose his future plans and was not immediately available for comment.
His intention to depart had been rumored in recent weeks. Friends of his had said that he was wearying of the predawn wake-ups and wanted to move back to Los Angeles. There is strong speculation that he plans to work in entertainment for the new production company of former NBC chairman Grant Tinker.
Tinker's company, GTG Entertainment, has an exclusive contract to supply programs to CBS.
A successor to Friedman at the "Today" show was not immediately named. NBC officials said they did not know whether the new producer of the weekday series also would double as executive producer of the new 90-minute "Sunday Today" morning show that will premiere Sept. 20.