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The Baltimore Sun

NBC close to naming 'Meet the Press' host

Sometime between Election Day and early December, NBC News will make a final decision about who will replace Tim Russert and his interim successor, Tom Brokaw, at the helm of Meet the Press, Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, said in an interview.

Capus refused to characterize the network's intentions. But it is leaning toward an ensemble of hosts that would be led by Chuck Todd, NBC's political director, and include David Gregory, a correspondent and MSNBC anchor, according to a person who had been briefed on the proposal but was not authorized to comment. Like the turnover of anchors at all three network newscasts, the process of choosing a successor for Russert has been closely watched in media and political circles.

In the meantime, Brokaw will be moderator of the second debate between presidential candidates Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, on Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn.

Speaking of the debates

The final presidential debate Oct. 15 will have quite an encore: Rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel are teaming up for their first joint concert to benefit Democratic nominee Obama.

Obama plans to attend the concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Oct. 16.

Seeing the two superstars together won't come cheap. Tickets start at $500 and range up to $10,000.

The event was first reported by the Huffington Post Web site and confirmed by an Obama aide.

Drawing a hero

Is Stephen Colbert ready for his comic book closeup?

Comedy Central's conservative parodist and star of The Colbert Report will appear in issue No. 573 of The Amazing Spider-Man. In a preview of the comic book, Colbert is seen swinging from rooftop to rooftop alongside the superhero.

More to Marvel

Actor-director Kenneth Branagh, famed for his film adaptations of Shakespeare's classics including Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost and As You Like It, is in negotiations to direct a live-action version of Marvel Comics' Thor. The comic is about a disabled medical student whose alter ego happens to be the hammer-wielding Norse god Thor.

The week on TV

When the final vote came in Monday, Nielsen Media Research reported the first presidential debate was seen by an estimated 52.4 million viewers on Friday - 10 million fewer than the first debate between President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry in 2004.

Eleven networks televised the debate, including BBC America and Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Telefutura. Nielsen did not have estimates of the audience for the noncommercial PBS and C-SPAN.

For the week Sept. 22-28, shows in the top 10 (in millions): Dancing with the Stars, ABC, 21.3; Desperate Housewives, ABC, 18.7; Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 18.5; Dancing with the Stars, Tuesday, ABC, 18.3; NCIS, CBS, 18.0; Sunday Night Football, NBC, 17.3; CSI: Miami, CBS, 17.2; Criminal Minds, CBS, 17.0; Dancing with the Stars Results, ABC, 15.9; The Mentalist, CBS, 15.6.


Singer Don McLean, 63.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz, 59.

Rock musician Mike Rutherford, 58.

Singer Sting, 57.

Actress Lorraine Bracco, 54.

Country singer Kelly Willis, 40.

Talk-show host Kelly Ripa, 38.

Singer Tiffany, 37.

Actor Efren Ramirez, 35.

The celebrity birthdays in yesterday's People & Entertainment column were for the incorrect day. Yesterday's birthdays should have included former President Jimmy Carter, 84; actor Tom Bosley, 81; actress-singer Julie Andrews, 73; actor Randy Quaid, 58; and baseball player Mark McGwire, 45.The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.
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