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NEW YORK — Only weeks ago, “Nightline” almost seemed extinct. Now it has some extra time. A half-hour, to be precise.

ABC News announced the Ted Koppel vehicle will create an extra 30 minutes of programming, tentatively titled “Nightline Close-Up.” The skein will replace recently axed “Politically Incorrect” until early 2003, when Jimmy Kimmel’s latenight laffer bows.

Co-anchored by Koppel and Chris Bury, new skein will feature daily personality profiles. Following the format of the flagship show, Koppel will host on the days that he anchors “Nightline,” as will Bury. Exec producers will be Tom Bettag and Leroy Sievers.

Staffers won’t be paid extra for their efforts, but ABC News spokeswoman Su-Lin Nichols said, “Everyone is doing work that they’re passionate about.”

It could be inferred that the extra duties are part of some sort of agreement for “Nightline” to continue in the wake of the Letterman fiasco — in which the news program was almost terminated in favor of the CBS gap-toothed laffer — but insiders claim informal discussions about the additional half-hour began several months ago.