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Clayson to be ‘Early’ Eye-opener

'Operation Glass Slipper' complete

CBS News officially tapped Jane Clayson as co-anchor of the Eye’s new “Early Show” on Wednesday, with division topper Andrew Heyward declaring the net had never offered the gig to anyone else.

The expected announcement (Daily Variety, Sept. 7) brought to conclusion an exhaustive, months-long search for a female counterpart to “Early” anchor Bryant Gumbel. Heyward said he and “Early” senior exec producer Steve Friedman considered nearly 300 candidates for the gig, viewing 100 videotapes of potential co-anchors before finally settling on Clayson, a correspondent on ABC’s “World News Tonight” for the past three years.

Still, “The only person who was offered this job was Jane,” Heyward said Wednesday during a telephone press conference announcing Clayson’s hiring.

Heyward said Clayson, 32, emerged as a favorite for a role on the new ayemcast at the start of the summer. The final decision to hire her was delayed because of a need to look at all possible anchor options and because of a contract skirmish with ABC News, which “was certainly interested in keeping Jane,” Heyward said.

“At the end of the day, she’s here,” the CBS News topper added.

Shoe fits

While CBS had dubbed its hunt for a Gumbel co-anchor “Operation Glass Slipper,” Clayson is discouraging any fairy-tale-come-true comparisons.

“Enough about this glass slipper,” she quipped. “This Cinderella is going to need some running shoes.”

Clayson said she and Gumbel have already established a good working relationship. “Meeting Bryant was like seeing an old friend,” she said. “We really like each other, and we really get along.”

Gumbel issued a statement praising Clayson as “someone who’s genuine, that I can trust and respect.”

“In class and style, she reminds me of another Jane with whom I once teamed,” he said, referring to his former “Today” co-anchor, Jane Pauley.

Before joining ABC News in 1996, Clayson spent six years as an anchor and reporter at KSL in Salt Lake City.

CBS News relaunches its breakfastcast as “The Early Show” on Nov. 1.