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Gumbel to host ‘Survivor’ reunion on CBS

16 former castaways, Gloria Gaynor and coast-to-coast parties end show

CBS has tapped Bryant Gumbel to host next week’s post-“Survivor” finale town hall meeting.

The “Early Show” host will anchor the hourlong special, dubbed “Survivor: The Reunion,” live from Television City next Wednesday (10-11 p.m. EDT; tape-delayed on the West Coast.) All 16 former castaways — including wacky Greg, who declined to do any publicity after he was booted off Pulau Tiga — are skedded to attend.

The reunion show, which will unfold in front of a studio audience, will feature shots of the booted castaways as they watch the final episode together. CBS is also planning to conduct a quickie scientific poll to gauge national reaction to the winner of the island competish; the results will be revealed at the end of the broadcast.

In addition, “Survivor: The Reunion” will include cutaways to various “Survivor” parties across the country. And regular “Survivor” host Jeff Probts will get some airtime, too: He’ll file a report from Australia, where the next installment of the show will be filmed.

Gumbel’s selection continues the Eye’s practice this summer of using CBS News talent in entertainment division programming. “Early Show” newsreader Julie Chen hosts the weekly live installment of “Big Brother,” a practice that has raised the hackles of some journo purists.

“Early Show” senior exec producer Steve Friedman doesn’t have a problem with Gumbel’s involvement in “Survivor: The Reunion.”

“The idea is, he’s doing everything he’s done on our show since the first week of the show,” he said, noting that Gumbel has been interviewing castaways every week as they’ve been voted off the island. “We see this (reunion special) as a natural outgrowth.”

Friedman says he hasn’t heard any complaints about NBC’s practice of using “Today” anchors Katie Couric or Matt Lauer to host the Peacock’s coverage of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. “They’re up there saying, ‘Oh, here comes Snoopy!’ and reading their scripted (comments).”

“The Early Show” will fully exploit next week’s “Survivor” finale. Gumbel will report from Los Angeles next Wednesday and Thursday (with co-anchor Jane Clayson joining him on Thursday), anchoring from the set of “Survivor: The Reunion.” The final four castaways will also make their first morning show appearance on “Early Show” on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Friedman has booked soul diva Gloria Gaynor to perform her disco anthem “I Will Survive” as the backdrop for a musicvideo featuring highlights from the first season of “Survivor.”

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