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CBS News shuts ‘Public Eye’

Decision guarantees pinkslips

CBS News will halt production on “Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel” at the end of this month, making it less likely the newsmag will return as a midseason replacement.

The decision, confirmed by a CBS News spokeswoman Tuesday, means roughly 40-45 off-camera staffers will be out of a job within the next few weeks. Some may be rehired to work on the upcoming “60 Minutes II” or other CBS News projects.

Gumbel will continue to pull down his estimated $6 million-$7 million a year salary under the terms of a five-year deal with the Eye web. Interim executive producer Jonathan Klein will return full-time, as scheduled, to his position as senior VP of CBS News.

While “Public Eye” was not on the fall schedule announced by CBS in May, the web said the show remains a candidate for midseason. That’s still true, though CBS would now have to go through the process of re-staffing if “Eye” is picked up at a later date.

Insiders say that with “60 II” gearing up production, CBS couldn’t afford to keep the “Eye” staffers on payroll while awaiting word of a midseason order. However, enough “Eye” segs will be in the can to allow the show to return to the air relatively quickly should such an order come through.

As for Gumbel, he may now begin work on the first of several primetime interview specials called for under the terms of his contract. He may also contribute to other CBS News programming.

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