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CH. 8 SCHEDULE: 8 p.m.-midnight - Opening Ceremony, parade of nations, lighting of the Olympic cauldron. 2:39-6 a.m. - prime-time replay.

By SHARON GINN
Published February 10, 2006


Serious news anchor Brian Williams - who seems more like Peter Jennings all the time - will be sitting next to Bob Costas during tonight's Opening Ceremony, likely decreasing the frequency of corny jokes.

Williams, Tom Brokaw's replacement on NBC Nightly News, is filling the role usually held by Katie Couric, who was Costas' Opening Ceremony partner for the Sydney, Salt Lake City and Athens Olympics. Officially, the network says Couric has been too busy this week anchoring the Today shows from Rome, Florence and Milan to reprise her role as co-host.

Unofficially, theories abound. Is the network just preparing for Couric's possible move to CBS when her contract expires? Is Couric tired of doing parades after an NBC Macy's snafu on Thanksgiving? Did she run out of corny jokes?

In making the Williams announcement, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol emphasized the worldwide appeal of the Olympics, saying that "it represents a greater sense of nations working together than we ever get from the U.N."