NE W YORK – Jane Pauley is leaving NBC in May -- so who, if anyone, will succeed her on and Dateline?
One the highest profile jobs in TV news is suddenly open and -- as usual -- there's no lack of candidates.
Everyone from Today co-host Katie Couric to NBC News White House correspondent Campbell Brown to Dateline correspondent Maria Shriver could be in the running -- but NBC says these names, or any others, are just speculation at this point.
"It is way too early to speculate," an NBC spokeswoman said yesterday.
Pauley, 52, announced that she's leaving NBC in May after 27 years.
"I took a sabbatical two years ago and I wasn't thinking, 'This is great, I don't want to work anymore," Pauley told The New York Post.
"But that was the first evidence that there was something in the back of my mind, that, if I had time and some freedom, I'd like to see what would happen."
What will happen on Dateline remains to be seen. One of the more intriguing scenarios has Couric, who recently reworked her contract, filling the co-anchoring slot opposite stalwart Stone Phillips.
"If Katie [Couric] wants to do it, she'll do it," says one industry insider. "But Katie is not going to want to put in any more time, so I can't imagine she'd want to do that."
As for Shriver, "She's out on the West Coast -- I suppose that's possible," says the insider.
"But separate from Katie, I don't think NBC has any obvious candidates in-house. I'm not so sure they have somebody who could reasonably be able to stand next to Stone -- and that's an interesting situation."
"With their rotating correspondents, they get decent stories and my guess is that they're not going to want to pay anyone near what Jane was making," says one source.