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‘Affair’ calls it off with Dunleavy

The bloodletting has begun at Twentieth TV’s struggling tabloid strip “A Current Affair.”

On June 1, their first day on the job, new show runners John Tomlin and Bob Young axed chief reporter and managing editor Steve Dunleavy – who was considered the heart and soul of the show since its inception nearly a decade ago – and three of his minions.

Sources say Dunleavy was informed at a breakfast meeting the show is headed in a different direction. While the producers and Twentieth execs held out the possibility of a writing job for him at the New York Post, which is owned by Fox-parent News Corp., Dunleavy is thought to be looking at new opportunities in TV.

Because the tabloid vet represented the past, sources say it would have been impossible for him to remain as Tomlin and Young, the former exec producers of “Inside Edition” and “American Journal,” try to revive the series by making its more newsy and possibly stop paying for stories.

Along with Dunleavy, “Affair” is not renewing the contracts of veteran reporter/producers Mike Watkiss, the show’s West Coast bureau chief, and George Ciccarone, who handles features. Sources said another reporting vet, John Johnston, will give up his on-air duties but may remain as a producer.

Johnston and Watkiss joined in 1989, while Ciccarone came aboard in ’91.

The new producing team has also hired “Inside Edition” producer Jacqui Donaldson for the newly created post of senior broadcast producer.

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