‘Later’ is now for Kinnear

NBC confirmed that Greg Kinnear is taking over as host of the network’s latenight talk series “Later,” as reported (Daily Variety, Nov. 24), with production of the NBC Prods. half-hour to shift from New York to Burbank.

“Later With Greg Kinnear” will premiere in January and feature a new production team, with Kinnear — who’ll continue to host E! Entertainment Television’s “Talk Soup”– serving as an exec producer. The single-guest format is expected to remain similar to the current set-up, although interviews will now be taped daily before a live audience.

“Later,” which plays Monday through Thursday at 1:35 a.m., has aired on NBC with Bob Costas as host since August 1988. Kinnear, 30, is believed to have signed a multiyear deal.

“I think it’s a great step,” said William Morris Agency’s Greg Lipstone, who reps Kinnear. “Making the leap to NBC is an exciting move for Greg, (and) this sets the path for more exposure.”

Costas mulls future

Separately, sources say the ball remains in NBC’s court regarding whether Costas will remain at the network, with ongoing interest from CBS for him to anchor a Monday-through-Friday strip to follow “Late Show With David Letterman.”

Costas is still talking with NBC Sports, which has the advantage of rights toMajor League Baseball (split over the next six years with ABC) as well as the big carrot of the 1996 Summer Olympics from Atlanta.

There’s also some question about where a new Costas latenight show would originate, with sources saying Costas’ desire to remain near his St. Louis home could present a major stumbling block. Costas’ agent, Barry Frank, said negotiations were still very much in progress at NBC but acknowledged that CBS has expressed interest in his client.

Kinnear, who hosted Fox Broadcasting Co.’s shortlived reality series “Best of the Worst,” was rumored at one point to be a candidate for that network’s vacant latenight slot. Recently, however, attention has increasingly focused on Howard Stern, with the controversial shock jock fanning the flames by making a number of cryptic remarks on his syndicated radio show about the Fox opening.

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