Gibson getting a grip on A&E

He'll ink deal to host 'Biography'

NEW YORK — Charlie Gibson, co-anchor of ABC’s troubled “Good Morning America,” is expected to ink a new pact to host A&E Network’s signature series “Biography,” but likely will remain with the Alphabet web and possibly the ayem show.

Gibson, whose future at ABC has been the subject of much speculation, turned down an offer to join CNN in Atlanta, reportedly for personal reasons. Instead, he’s wrapping a deal to host “Biography” while simultaneously renegotiating his contract with ABC, which owns a 37.5% stake in the cable web.

“We blessed those discussions and encouraged them on some level,” an ABC News spokeswoman said. “It’s extremely complementary to the work he’s doing at ABC News.”

ABC News chairman Roone Arledge is said to have discussed the plan with A&E Networks prexy Nickolas Davatzes. Gibson would replace current hosts Jack Perkins and Peter Graves, introducing the hourlong segments that run weeknights on A&E’s flagship program. A sixth edition runs Saturdays.

In the meantime, Gibson is mulling whether to pull out of “GMA” when a replacement is found and segue to a different role at ABC, but the spokeswoman said no decisions have been reached. A spokesman at A&E declined to confirm Gibson’s hiring.

Gibson’s current deal includes a clause enabling him to leave the struggling “GMA” with six months’ notice, providing ABC a chance to find a suitable replacement to pair with new anchor Lisa McRee, who succeeded Joan Lunden in August.

ABC is loath to make too drastic a change at “GMA,” which has become a distant second to NBC’s surging “Today” after leading the morning pack until two years ago. Substitute anchor Tom Bergeron didn’t improve ratings during a recent stint, but news anchor Kevin Newman is considered a viable candidate to replace Gibson.

As for Gibson’s future role, the anchor is a rumored contender to replace Hugh Downs as Barbara Walters’ co-anchor on “20/20” when Downs chooses to retire, but that timetable is unclear. The extent of Gibson’s future role at ABC won’t be hammered out until close to year-end.

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