To be a news executive at NBC these days, it probably helps to know a little about King Solomon. According to sources, news execs at the network have been called in to negotiate overlaps between Dateline NBC, helmed by Stone Phillips and Jane Pauley, and its younger and equally successful sibling, Now, featuring Tom Brokaw and his spunky sidekick, Katie Couric. Some recent examples:
The NBC brass was forced to decide which show got an interview with 13-year- old Zlata Filipovic-dubbed Bosnia’s Anne Frank. Dateline won out when executives ruled that the show’s producers had contacted Zlata first.
Now surrendered its footage of Nancy Kerrigan when the skater chose Pauley over Couric for her first news interview after her attack.
Sources say that Now producers are keeping the destinations of their business trips under wraps so their Dateline counterparts can’t get wind of a story.
Given the number of newsmagazines currently on the air, the competition comes as no surprise (though staffers insist it’s nothing like the rivalry at ABC’s PrimeTime Live and 20/20). Now executive producer Jeff Zucker insists, ”We have a strong working relationship with them. If we don’t get it, I hope Dateline does.” Pauley also dismisses the buzz. ”I’m likely to get a message saying, ‘Way to go,’ ” she says. ”But there may be some private gnashing of teeth. It’s like sibling rivalry. You wish your brothers and sisters success-but a little less than you have.”