Maria Shriver takes leave from NBC during Ahnuld's run. The newswoman says she wants to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest

By Gary Susman
Updated August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Maria Shriver: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images/NewsCom

Arnold Schwarzenegger may soon have a new job, and wife Maria Shriver may soon be out of one. The NBC newswoman is taking a leave of absence for the duration of her husband’s gubernatorial campaign, according to the Hollywood Reporter. She wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, now that she’s a political spouse, an NBC spokesperson told the Reporter. But could that leave become permanent if Schwarzengger wins the California vote on Oct. 7? The NBC spokesperson said it was too soon to say what Shriver would decide in that event. (Then again, she seems to keep a light schedule. Her last appearance as a contributing anchor to ”Dateline” was June 17.)

Schwarzenegger’s candidacy has paid off for another NBC stalwart, Jay Leno. Wednesday’s ”Tonight Show,” in which Schwarzenegger announced his run, drew more than 8 million viewers, according to Nielsen overnight estimates, the second biggest audience of the year for the show. (The biggest was the night ”Today”’s Katie Couric traded jobs with Leno in May.) It’s also the largest Wednesday audience for Leno since a 1999 show featuring Ricky Martin and Jesse Ventura. (Trivia note: Years before pro wrestler Ventura became a state governor himself, the Minnesotan appeared in ”Predator” and ”The Running Man” with Schwarzenegger.)

The day before Schwarzenegger declared his candidacy, he hinted at his decision to run in a quip he recorded for the DVD extras of the forthcoming ”Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” disc, according to The remark, which ”T3” fans will hear when the DVD comes out later this year: ”I’ve had a lot on my mind with this gubernatorial candidacy hanging over my head and all. The Democrats have flooded me with calls and said, ‘Don’t run, don’t run, we love you in the movies,’ and the film critics have been calling and saying, ‘You’re not a good actor, go run for governor!”’