Bill Moyers is just saying no.

Within hours of PBS’ announcement Thursday that Moyers, host of “Now,” would step down after the November elections, he got pitches from three networks.

They all struck out.

Moyers plans to focus on his long-awaited book about President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the two years since he signed a contract, he’s written exactly 10 paragraphs about his legendary former boss.

“The networks want me to be a guest on this, a guest on that, or a political analyst,” says Moyers, 69, a television force for more than three decades. “I’m not making any decisions until I finish “Now’ and do this book.”

Originally, Moyers expected to do one year of “Now,” a weekly public-affairs series launched in January 2002 as a response to 9-11. He was talked into a second, then third season by PBS president Pat Mitchell.

Moyers told Mitchell last week that he wanted to leave “Now” on June 5, his 70th birthday. She persuaded him to stay through the elections.

“I told her, “If I don’t take on another commitment and make it a priority, I’ll just let events carry me forward.’ I don’t feel old, but I do see fewer grains of sand below the hourglass than above it.” Moyers’ PBS contract runs through Dec. 31.

Though “Now” hasn’t been officially renewed, Mitchell says she’s “deeply committed” to the show, seen at 9:30 p.m. EST Fridays.

Moyers “has no doubt” that “Now” will continue, and that former public radio host David Brancaccio, whom he brought in as co-anchor several months ago, will be his successor.

Unless Moyers decides to do a companion PBS series to his “meditative essay” on LBJ (“I’ll leave the biography to Robert Caro”), he’s retiring from the small screen.

“I think this probably means the end of television for me, just because of the tether of time. I’ve done everything you can do in TV – documentaries, interviews, series, field reporting. I’ve done it.

“TV has been so good to me. I’ve won every award you can get. But nothing would change my mind. I learned a long time ago, growing up in Texas and reading Ecclesiastes, there is a season for everything.”

Since launching “Now,” Moyers and his wife and co-producer, Judith Davidson Moyers, 68, have worked 10- to-12-hour days.

“I feel good, but I haven’t taken time off, time for myself,” he says. “I look forward to composing my own life, not letting deadlines decide my day. I look forward to careful research, deliberate writing, and time to review it.

“And long walks at lunch.”

The grandfather of four – with a fifth on the way – Moyers is comfortable with his mortality. He thinks about death, he says, “but not in a morbid way.

“I look at it as an unconscious reality that is inevitable. When you have lived as long and fruitfully as I have, you’re not afraid of what will come. I will miss reading the papers every day.”


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