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NEWS & NOTES : NEWMAN GETS EVEN CLOSER TO CO-HOST JOB ON `GMA'.

Byline: Daily News Wire Services

Speculation that ABC's ``Good Morning America'' news anchor Kevin Newman will replace co-host Charlie Gibson ratcheted up distinctly Monday with a trade-paper report that ABC had offered him the job.

Gibson has made it clear he's looking to leave the show.

Newman has been the center of the who-will-replace-Gibson rumors since last August, when he impressed ABC News brass with his anchoring of the network's live coverage the night Princess Diana died.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, ABC has offered the job to Newman. However, an ABC News spokeswoman declined to comment Monday. ABC insiders say that while Newman is very high on the list and is likely to get the offer, he has not yet been formally offered the position.

Gibson has been talking with ABC News executives about leaving ``GMA'' for nearly a year.

Initially, he talked with CNN about a job, but ultimately decided to stay and negotiate with ABC. He's also got an offer to host A&E's ``Biography.''

Gibson's contract with ABC expires this summer.

Newman joined ABC in 1994 as anchor of its overnight newscast ``World News Now.'' While he was dropped from that role last year, in the fall he became the news reader on ``GMA'' when Elizabeth Vargas left for a correspondent role on the network's prime-time newsmagazines.

ABC hovers over Midler ghost: Speculation was rampant Monday that ABC was on the verge of closing a deal for a much-anticipated comedy series starring Bette Midler. All the networks showed interest in the sitcom, described as a cross between ``Topper'' and ``The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,'' with Midler as a cantankerous ghost.

Green gets regular `Buffy' role: Seth Green (``Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery'') will become a regular cast member on the WB network's ``Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' next season. Green, who stars in the upcoming film ``Can't Hardly Wait'' from Columbia Pictures, will play a werewolf named Oz, the love interest of Willow (Alyson Hannigan). His character, a high school senior, was introduced last month on the drama. ``The show is so fun and quirky, but there's a lot of heart to it; that's what's so appealing,'' Green said.

Lifetime gives birth to 2 sitcoms: Lifetime Television has green-lighted two sitcom pilots, one of which will be chosen as a comedy series to be introduced on the network this summer. ``Maggie Day'' is an offbeat sitcom about a 40-ish wife and mother. Less is known about the second pilot, ``Oh, Baby.'' The moves follow Lifetime's recent go-ahead for two one-hour drama pilots, ``Any Day Now'' and ``West Wing,'' one of which will also be chosen to join the Lifetime schedule in August.

Couric on vacation: Fans wondering about Katie Couric's absence Monday from NBC's ``Today'' show needn't worry. She's just taking a long-planned vacation.

Couric returned to the airwaves last month after taking off several weeks following the Jan. 24 death of her husband, attorney and broadcaster Jay Monahan.
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 18, 1998
Words:493
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