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Ferguson to replace Kilborn

NEW YORK -- Craig Ferguson spent the first night after finding out he'd been selected as the new host of CBS's ''The Late Late Show" sleeping in his car.

After months of on-air tryouts for Craig Kilborn's replacement, CBS announced yesterday the selection of Ferguson, the Scottish actor who portrayed boss Nigel Wick on ''The Drew Carey Show" for eight years.

He'll start Jan. 3.

Ferguson was in Vancouver filming a movie when he got the word late Monday, and he immediately began driving toward his Los Angeles home.

Near Grant's Pass in Oregon, he searched for a hotel room but couldn't find one. So he slept in a parking lot.

''It made me laugh," he said. ''I should probably do that every now and again."

Ferguson, 42, who wrote and starred in the films ''Saving Grace" and ''The Big Tease," passed through a gauntlet of tryouts set up by Worldwide Pants, David Letterman's production company.

Kilborn announced in August he was leaving the 12:35 a.m. talk show after five years.

Ferguson had no aspirations to be a talk show host when he was asked to try out, so he relaxed and tried to be himself.

Then after a few times on the air, he realized he really wanted the job.

''It was like show business crack to me," he said. ''Once I was in, I was totally addicted."

A top comedian in Britain before moving to Los Angeles in 1995, he studied tapes of Letterman, Johnny Carson, and Regis Philbin for pointers.

''Once I sat in the chair, I thought, I love this. This is great fun," he said.

''You do comedy, you talk to people, you meet hot-looking women and movie stars. This is fantastic!"

On-air disclaimers

A ''60 Minutes" interview with Bob Dylan that aired Sunday about his new autobiography marked the third Simon & Schuster book this year to get exposure on television's most venerated newsmagazine.

S&S and the network ''60 Minutes" calls home, CBS, are both owned by Viacom. The newsmagazine stirred up angst in March for not disclosing that fact during a report on the S&S-published book by former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke.

After the Clarke flap, ''60 Minutes" made sure to include a disclaimer before an April segment on another S&S book, from Bob Woodward.

The disclaimer was there Nov. 21 for a profile of Jim Carrey, complete with footage of ''Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events." Was it a coincidence that ''60 Minutes" profiled Carrey before ''Lemony Snicket" is released by another Viacom division, Paramount Pictures?

The month before, ''60 Minutes" treated two stars of Viacom-owned Comedy Central, Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle, to separate segments four days apart. ''60 Minutes" had a double disclaimer Oct. 13 with a profile of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of Comedy Central's ''South Park" and Paramount's ''Team America: World Police." On Sept. 5, the newsmagazine also covered ''Jeopardy!" , which is distributed by CBS's King World Productions.

Jeff Fager, executive producer of Sunday's ''60 Minutes," denies that the show serves as a promotional platform for Viacom.

''Nobody [within Viacom] has ever once suggested to me, 'You might want to look at this story because it's Viacom,' " he says. ''These are all perfectly newsworthy stories."


Changes at WBUR

In the first pruning of personnel since interim general manager Peter Fiedler took over WBUR-FM (90.9) in October, six employees of the public radio station were laid off this week. Station spokeswoman Nancy Sterling confirmed that a senior manager, two mid-level managers, and three support staffers were among the departed. Two other employees also recently resigned. According to a source close to the station, the senior manager who was laid off is assistant general manager Robert Ayles. The future of Ayles, a controversial figure at WBUR, appeared to be in jeopardy after general manager Jane Christo resigned in October amid allegations of mismanagement. Several of the laid-off employees worked for two WBUR programs -- the International Journalist Training program and the Citizens of the World tours -- that have been discontinued.


Talk of the dial

Noon WUMB-FM (91.9) -- ''Live At Noon." Guests: The Christmas Revels.

Other radio highlights

8 a.m. WGBH-FM (89.7) -- ''Classics in the Morning." Bach's Harpsichord Concerto No. 4 in A; Britten's Simple Symphony.

9 a.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Mozart's Flute Concerto No. 1; Schumann's Cello Concerto in A.

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