Jim Bell, who served as the executive producer of the 2012 London Olympics, the most-watched event in U.S. television history, was named the full-time Executive Producer of NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Olympic Games on November 13, 2012. Bell will report to NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus.
Bell will have editorial and creative control over NBC’s Olympic Unit, led by Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics.
Bell rejoins NBC Sports Group full time following seven years leading “Today,” the iconic news program that dominated the morning ratings race for 16 years. He served as both executive producer of “Today” and the London Olympics earlier this year.
With more than 20 years of experience producing some of the highest profile news and sports programming on television, Bell has created, managed and overseen original television content of every type and is a leader within NBC’s senior production ranks. In addition to guiding the “Today” show through some of its most challenging transitions and ambitious initiatives, he has been a critical part of NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games. Bell spent 16 years with NBC Sports & Olympics. He has worked on every Olympic Games NBC has broadcast since 1992 in either sports (1992, 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2004) or news (2006, 2008 and 2010).
Bell, 44, joined “Today” in 2005 with responsibility for all aspects of the program. During his tenure, it extended its dominance in the morning ratings race to 16 years, earned five Emmys, seven Edward R. Murrow Awards and nine Headliner Awards. Bell also won Emmys for his work on the 1992, 1996, 2000 & 2002 Olympics and a Peabody for NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.
“Today” news coverage overseen by Bell included the 2008 Presidential Election, Hurricane Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the earthquake in Haiti. He led “Today’s” six-hour live broadcast of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Bell also oversaw the two of the most prominent and successful anchor shifts in morning television history when Meredith Vieira replaced Katie Couric and Vieira was succeeded by Ann Curry. He also launched the successful fourth hour of “Today,” pairing Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb as hosts.
Prior to joining “Today,” Bell was coordinating producer for NBC Olympics, leading the production hiring for the Olympics unit and supervising nearly 100 hours of afternoon and late night programming on NBC during the 2004 Athens Summer Games.
Bell’s reputation as a ground-breaking, hands-on producer is well documented. He was responsible for the “Ends of the Earth” series that aired the first-ever live simultaneous broadcast from the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Equator. He was the executive producer of Matt Lauer’s primetime special “Decision Points: A Conversation with George W. Bush,” the President’s first one-on-one television interview after leaving office. Early in his career, he developed NBC’s AFL in-game interviews, with game announcers interviewing coaches during live telecasts, a technique used throughout the industry today.
Bell’s career as a producer for NBC began in 1990 when he was hired to profile athletes for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. He worked each subsequent Summer Olympic Games for NBC, and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Over the following 14 years, he produced NBC broadcasts of the NFL, MLB, and the NBA, and won Emmys for the 1997 NBA Finals and Wimbledon tennis in 1998.
Bell graduated cum laude from Harvard with a B.A. in government in 1989. He was an All-Ivy defensive tackle and a member of the school’s Ivy League Championship team in 1987. He resides in Greenwich, Conn. with his wife Angelique and their four sons.