Chris Matthews mulling "Hardball" future

Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:19pm EST

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NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - MSNBC may find out soon whether "Hardball" host Chris Matthews returns to the invigorated channel.

Matthews, 63, is said to be considering an offer from NBC to remain as host of "Hardball," a job he's held for more than a decade, or to return to his native Pennsylvania to run for the U.S. Senate against GOP incumbent Arlen Specter.

There are indications that a decision could come soon, sometime before Inaugural Day on January 20. But MSNBC president Phil Griffin declined late last week to say whether that's true.

"I've talked to Chris. I think he's going to be here for a long time," Griffin said. "I want him to be here for a long time." Griffin said that there would be "clarity" soon.

Matthews, who is believed to make roughly $5 million a year, declined an interview, according to a spokesman.

He has hosted "Hardball" since 1997, first on CNBC and then on MSNBC. He also hosts "The Chris Matthews Show," a syndicated Sunday-morning public affairs program.

Meanwhile, MSNBC is in the strongest position it's been in years. It's likely to finish 2008 as cable's fastest-growing network in the ratings, thanks to shows like "Hardball," "Countdown" and newcomer, "The Rachel Maddow Show."

"Hardball," for instance, has been up 89% in total viewers in its 7 p.m. showing to 804,000 compared to 2007.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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