‘Access’ host now ‘Insider’

O'Brien brings 10 staffers to new gig

NEW YORK — Paramount has tossed the next grenade in the increasingly brutal entertainment newsmag wars, confirming that Pat O’Brien has indeed been tapped to host new strip “The Insider.”

With O’Brien’s contract up at “Access Hollywood,” Par had been pursuing him for sometime to serve as sole anchor on “The Insider.” Once it became apparent a few weeks ago that O’Brien was jumping across town, NBC Universal hastily announced that Billy Bush would become Nancy O’Dell’s new “Access” partner.

O’Brien brings a staff of 10 people who worked with him during his seven-year stint as co-host of “Access Hollywood.”

That’s the word from O’Brien, who was able to talk to the press for the first time following the announcement of his new job. Paramount made official the worst kept secret of the last six weeks — that it has hired O’Brien to take charge of “Insider,” which premieres Sept. 13 on TV stations in 98% of the country (Daily Variety, June 17). Many of these stations have bought “Insider” as a complement to Par’s bellwether “Entertainment Tonight.”

In the interview, O’Brien said the 10 staff people he’s importing from “Access Hollywood” range from producers to graphics designers. “My role with ‘Insider’ will be hands-on,” O’Brien said. “I’m not going to phone it in.”

In addition to reporting stories and conducting on-air interviews, O’Brien said he would end many of the half-hour editions of “Insider” with commentary and editorials “to put the big showbiz story of the day in perspective.”

Over at “Access,” Bush and O’Dell will make their on-air “Hollywood” debut as a team Aug. 12 from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

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