One day after she defended and then apologized for defending the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, Megyn Kelly has parted ways with CAA and hired talent litigation lawyer Bryan Freedman.
The powerhouse agency stopped representing Kelly, who hosts the 9 a.m. hour of NBC’s “Today,” on Wednesday, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap. But no reason was provided.
Reached for comment by TheWrap, Freedman, co-founder of Freedman & Taitelman, confirmed he had been retained by Kelly on Wednesday night. His hiring may indicate that Kelly is headed for a legal conflict with NBC. The news follows reports earlier in the day that she and the network are discussing her exit from the show by the end of the current season.
Adding to the drama, it was also reported late Wednesday night by The Hollywood Reporter that Kelly will not appear on “Today” for the rest of the week. NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.
On Tuesday, during a panel discussion with Melissa Rivers, Jacob Soboroff and Jenna Bush Hager, Kelly asked “What is racist?” adding “You get in trouble if you’re a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween.”
She also said it wasn’t a problem when she was growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the NBC host sent an email to network staffers internally, apologizing for her statement.
“I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep,” Kelly wrote. “I’ve never been a ‘pc’ kind of person — but I understand that we do need to be more sensitive in this day and age. Particularly on race and ethnicity issues which, far from being healed, have been exacerbated in our politics over the past year.”
She faced swift and broad criticism for the remarks, including from the NAACP.
“During the slave trade, some people thought it was OK to treat human beings as property and less than animals,” Malik Russell, a spokesperson for the civil rights organization, told TheWrap on Tuesday. “Maybe in Megyn Kelly’s world, offensive acts and racism are OK, but I assure you for individuals of color, blackface is always racist and never OK.”
The story was covered later that day on “NBC Nightly News.” The segment included criticism from television host Padma Lakshmi. The piece also noted Kelly’s 2013 remarks on Fox News asserting that Santa Claus was “white.”
Kelly apologized again Wednesday morning. Later that day, the Daily Beast reported that NBC News chairman Andrew Lack had condemned her remarks during a town hall with NBC employees, while the New York Times reported that Kelly and NBC are discussing her exit from “Today” by the end of the current season.
THR first reported news of her separation from CAA, and that she hired Freedman.