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Ferguson gets in ‘Late’

New host expected to start on Jan. 3

Craig Ferguson has won “The Late Late Show” derby, landing the permanent gig to host the bedtime CBS yakker.

Ferguson, who’s expected to start on Jan. 3, beat competing finalists thesp Michael Ian Black (“Ed”), Damien Fahey (MTV’s “TRL”) and comedian D.L. Hughley (“The Hughleys”) for the spot.

A CBS spokesman declined comment, but the net is expected to announce Ferguson’s appointment today. Insiders said Ferguson’s energetic style won the Eye over. The final choice was made by “Late Late Show” producers, including Worldwide Pants, and CBS execs, with strong consultation from net honcho Leslie Moonves and David Letterman.

Ferguson becomes the third host of “The Late Late Show” following Tom Snyder, who launched the show as a low-key chatfest, and Craig Kilborn, who turned the show into a more traditional latenight talkfest.

Ferguson guest hosted “The Late Late Show” on Oct. 14 and 15, then returned to host the week of Nov. 8. Thesp, who’s best known for playing Mr. Wick on “The Drew Carey Show,” will next be seen in the feature “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.” His credits also include writing and exec producing the film “The Big Tease.”

“The Late Late Show” has been stunting with guest hosts since Kilborn left in mid-September; show airs weeknights at 12:37 a.m., following “Late Show With David Letterman.”

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