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Inside Move: Eye net circling ‘Early’ birds

CBS considers anchors to replace Gumbel

As the fall season draws near, we still don’t know if “The Early Show” will find a Mr. October to lift it from the doldrums.

Months have passed, and still there’s no replacement for Bryant Gumbel. The fate of his former co-anchor, Jane Clayson, remains unclear.

Last week, there were ominous whispers at CBS involving Clayson: Her days were numbered at the third-place morning show, she was “visibly glum,” and her father was in town, in effect, to be her Kleenex-bearer.

Inside Edition anchor and “Early Show” candidate Deborah Norville would take her seat.

Denials quickly issued from all corners. Two sources mentioned that it may, in fact, have been a hairstylist who served up that dish to columnist Cindy Adams. The N.Y. Post scribe didn’t return a call for comment.

Why the hairdresser, one may ask? Well, who else but the all-knowing confessee coiffeuse would have known that Clayson’s father was in town?

Though there still may be a Final-Net fog about Clayson’s fate, she’s still slated to appear July 30 with guest anchor and A&E “Biography” host Harry Smith, a former longtime host of “CBS This Morning.”

The Eye confirms that short-list contender Tom Bergeron will make his third week-long appearance on the skein, and the following week CBS sports personality Lesley Visser will pinch-hit. Visser has denied interest in the job.

Last week, another purported shortlister, CBS News’ Saturday mainman Russ Mitchell, was given expanded responsibility at the division, effectively ruling him out as a candidate. But others remain in the running, including chief White House correspondent John Roberts.

Meanwhile, Norville appears to be campaigning for the job, giving enthusiastic quotes to the New York Post and USA Today. But some Eye execs say privately that it’s not a winning tactic.

As unusual as this drama seems, less than four years ago “Good Morning America” was in a similar bind — stalled in last place, its anchor situation grim. Yet with the help of “temporary” hosts Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson, the show eventually climbed out of the basement to second place. GMA now claims to be the most improved player in the ayem broadcast-gab scene this year.

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