“I’m not using the ‘R’ word. I have no intentions of retiring,” Hart tells Variety. “There are other opportunities out there.”
By some accounts, Hart is bowing out after seeing a $5 million-a-year paycheck slashed due to budget cuts. In a nutshell, the syndicated TV market simply can no longer afford superstar salaries .
But to hear Hart tell it, she is amazed she has been with ‘ET’ this long.
“Every time my contract has come up, I’ve said, ‘That’s it.’ I said it at 15 years, I said it at 20 years, I said it at 25 years…. But this time, as I look at my son going off to school, I’ve taken stock of the other things in my life. I’m not gunning for 40 years,” she says.
Watch pre-‘ET’ video of when Mary Hart was a local news anchor:
Whomever fills Hart’s shoes at the celebutainment show – be it front runner Lara Spencer (of ‘The Insider’) or, say, Samantha Harris (ex-‘Dancing With the Stars’) – she wishes only that they love the gig as she did.
“When the decision is made, if it’s Lara or whoever,” she says, “I hope they cherish it as much as I have.”