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CNN gets NBC’s Brown

CNN yesterday said it has hired anchor Campbell Brown of NBC News, one day after she announced on “Weekend Today” that she would be leaving as host.

CNN did not say immediately what Miss Brown would be doing. There has been widespread speculation about a prime-time shake-up at CNN, where Paula Zahn has been lagging in the ratings at 8 p.m.

Miss Brown, 39, had been co-host with Lester Holt of “Weekend Today” since 2003 as well as correspondent and occasional fill-in anchor on NBC’s “Nightly News.” She’s a former White House reporter who also covered the 2000 presidential election for NBC News.

According to Associated Press, Miss Brown was considered a potential successor to Katie Couric for the weekday “Today” post, a job that went to Meredith Vieira.

“We wish Campbell the best,” said NBC News spokeswoman Allison Gollust.

Several anchors will be filling in over that time, she said.

Female prez for ‘24’

The United States will have a female president next year — on the Fox TV series “24.”

Tony Award-winning actress Cherry Jones will play President Allison Taylor when the show about the exploits of counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) returns in January for its seventh season, the network announced Sunday.

Miss Jones‘ term will coincide with Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential bid, but Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Liguori said fiction and real-world politics will not intersect.

“It’s a dramatic decision. The president is a very important piece of ‘24,’ ” he told AP. “We’ve had a broad array of presidents on the show; why not a female president?”

The series has been an Oval Office groundbreaker before, with Dennis Haysbert playing President Palmer, the nation’s first black president.

WWE ratings take hit

Will Vince McMahon’s WWE suffer a backlash from wrestler Chris Benoit’s June 24 murder of his wife and son and subsequent suicide?

The preliminary answer may be yes, Variety says. Since the terrible event, Nielsen ratings of the two-hour Monday prime-time “WWE Raw” on USA at 9 p.m. have dropped by 10 percent in total viewers — and, more significantly, by 21percent in men 18 to 34 and 17 percent in men 18 to 49. (The comparisons are to average ratings for the second quarter, Variety notes.)

Similarly, Sci Fi Channel’s Tuesday prime-time “Extreme Championship Wrestling” at 10 p.m. tumbled by 9 percent in total viewers and by 28 percent in men 18 to 34 and 19 percent in men 18 to 49. Mr. McMahon’s writers had assigned Mr. Benoit as a regular performer with “ECW.”

However, a spokesman for World Wrestling Entertainment said there’s no proof these falloffs are traceable to the Benoit tragedy. The two series, he said, faced some stiff competition during July, including “Home Run Derby” on ESPN and even a Larry King interview on CNN with marquee wrestler John Cena.

A USA spokeswoman said that in previous years, the ratings of “WWE Raw” have spiked when the writers have begun to punch up the story lines in anticipation of a big pay-per-view annual event in late August called “Summer Slam.” The network expects the same thing to happen this year, she added.

Laila Ali weds

Boxing champ and “Dancing With the Stars” finalist Laila Ali married retired NFL star Curtis Conway in Los Angeles on Sunday, Miss Ali’s representative told People magazine.

The couple met two years ago when Mr. Conway hosted a small get-together at his house, which Miss Ali, 29, attended with a friend. Mr. Conway, 36, popped the question last Thanksgiving.

“People think she dominates the relationship,” Mr. Conway told People in May, “but she’s a sweetie pie.”

Carey to come on down

Genial comic Drew Carey was tapped yesterday to replace silver-haired legend Bob Barker on the CBS daytime game show “The Price Is Right.” Mr. Carey confirmed the deal during a taping of the “Late Show With David Letterman,” AP said.

After 35 years in the job, Mr. Barker, 83, retired last month following the taping of his 6,586th episode.

Mr. Carey, 49, spent a decade on his own ABC sitcom and also was host of the comic improvisational show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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