June 12, 2001 01:15 PM

The future of Jane Pauley on “Dateline NBC” seems open to question after the TV news-magazine anchor announced a surprise, two-month sabbatical in March and then failed to return for the May ratings sweeps, USA Today notes on Tuesday. The paper also reports that Pauley, a TV presence for more than two decades, did not surface in a recent farewell video for her executive producer, Neal Shapiro, who went on to become president of NBC News. Pauley, 50, is said to have been spending time in Europe and Massachusetts. She is married to “Doonesbury” cartoonist, Gary Trudeau, 53. Stone Phillips, her “Dateline” cohost, has been flying solo on the show. Through a spokeswoman Pauley said that she will return to the air after Labor Day. A network spokeswoman says that NBC extended her sabbatical until September. “Jane asked us for more time to work on her book,” he said. “And it was clear that it was something that was very important to her, so we granted it.”

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