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Anchor goes to the dogs

Lester barks up canine show tree

NBC Universal has found a way to get MSNBC anchor and star-in-waiting Lester Holt some much-needed primetime air.

Holt, MSNBC’s mainstay for breaking news and self-described “dog person,” will be teamed up with USA Network canine analyst David Frei for its primetime broadcast of the 129th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

As host of “Lester Holt Live,” the MSNBC anchor speaks to a relatively small audience (200,000 viewers) during the week.

Increasingly he’s heeding the call of the parent network — he co-hosts “Weekend Today” for NBC and subs frequently for Matt Lauer on “Today.”

But the Westminster Dog Show will significantly boost his primetime exposure. Interest in the event, parodied in Christopher Guest’s “Best in Show,” peaked in 2003 with 4.65 million viewers.

Last year, viewership dipped to 3.7 million, perhaps because a host of imitators gained traction. Discovery’s Animal Planet has aired the “AKC Eu-kanuba National Championship” for the past four years and airs yearlong competition “Pet Star.”

Holt, known as “iron pants” at MSNBC for his ability to sit in the anchor’s chair for long periods, has had less time for the cabler as demand in-creases from the Peacock, and now the dog show.

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