NBC News, which has an expensive affection for royalty--whether British or American--is apparently on the cusp of hiring Pippa Middleton, who is both the sister-in-law and aunt of the future kings of Britain.
The Daily Beast confirmed reports that the 31-year-old younger sister of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton--the wife of 32-year-old Prince William and the mother of 15-month-old Prince George--has agreed on a provisional basis to sign on as a correspondent for the Today show.
An ABC News spokesperson, however, denied industry gossip the Disney-owned network also offered Pippa a job at Good Morning America, but said ABC asked for an on-camera interview.
NBC News--whose president Deborah Turness, like ABC News’s James Goldston, is a Brit--had the inside track on recruiting Philippa Charlotte Middleton, the second of three children of commoners and professional party planners, after she sat down in June with Today show alpha male Matt Lauer for her first-ever television interview.
The negotiations are said to have gotten underway months after Pippa’s network TV debut, and the deal with NBC was described Tuesday morning as experimental rather than permanent; more of a "giving it a try" situation than a long-term commitment.
It was unclear when Pippa will make her debut as an NBC News correspondent, or what stories she will be covering, or--most controversial at a time of layoffs and budget cuts in the television news business--how much she’ll be paid.
Chelsea Clinton’s NBC News salary of $600,000 a year for scant work was especially badly received by non-presidentially-related NBC employees, and Clinton quit the network earlier this year. An industry source said Pippa's compensation will be in the Chelsea Clinton range.
Pippa will be joining a “lucky sperm club” on NBC News’s roster that has included not only presidential daughter Clinton but also Jenna Bush and (given NBC’s apparent weakness for British toffs) Princess Diana’s younger brother Charles Spencer.
From 1986 to 1995, the Viscount Althorp, as young Charles was then known, worked as a correspondent for NBC, most often for Today.
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York--best known as the flame-haired Fergie from her failed marriage to Prince Andrew and her involvement in various sex and money scandals--also toiled as a Today show special correspondent, contributing regular “From the Heart" segments about Americans who overcame big troubles in order to perform good works.
NBC declined to comment on reports of Pippa’s arrival; she and her public relations representatives in London continually find themselves walking a tightrope when it comes to navigating relationships with the Royals.
Officials of the Buckingham Palace publicity machine were caught off guard by the Lauer interview and made no secret of their displeasure that Pippa dished on the royal family without their explicit approval.
“They are furious with Pippa,” an aristocratic source told Radar Online at the time. “They wish that she would shut up. It is obvious that she wants to define her identify and step out of her sister’s shadow. However, she needs to know her place.”
Pippa burst, almost literally, onto the scene by wearing a sexily form-fitting white dress at her sister’s April 2011 wedding to the future monarch. Since then, the Palace has tried with some success to keep Pippa on a very short leash--an effort to prevent her from becoming the sort of royal hanger-on and embarrassment to the British monarchy that Fergie eventually became with her incessant attempts to capitalize on her posh relations.
Pippa’s party-planning book, Celebrate, was a publishing failure after Clarence House--where the royal minders and courtiers ply their trade--blocked her attempts to publicize the book, even though Kate and William were said to be supportive of Pippa’s efforts to use her status as one of the planet’s most famous women to develop an independent mass-media identity.
“She seems lovely,” Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie said on the air in June as the program presented Lauer’s exclusive.
“She really is,” Lauer agreed. “I think she’s incredibly grounded. She’s blown away by the attention she’s gotten over these last two or three years and is not sure what to do with all that attention.”
Pippa tried her hand at writing a health and lifestyle column for Britain’s The Telegraph--an enterprise widely deemed “embarrassingly awful,” according to a well-connected British media source, before it was discontinued after six months--but she has enjoyed more success with an occasional column for Vanity Fair. “Graydon Carter [Vanity Fair’s editor in chief] loves being photographed with her in London,” the British source said.
Pippa has tried mightily to keep her private life private, though recent reports have suggested that her longtime romance with model-handsome British stockbroker Nico Jackson is on the rocks. In her interview with Lauer, Pippa complained about the annoyances of fame--being stalked by paparazzi and “bullied” by trolls on social media--but added: “I’m just paving my way and just trying to live my life.”