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MONITOR

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EXITS Today anchor Bryant Gumbel, 47, announced that 1996 will be his last year sitting beside Katie Couric on the NBC morning show. ”The world’s too exciting to enjoy from just one vantage point,” the 15-year veteran said in a statement. Gumbel has no firm plans yet…. Also leaving the airwaves, several new, yet hardly improved, TV talk shows. On Jan. 2, Gabrielle and Charles Perez bit the dust, joining the recently departed Stephanie Miller Show and Danny Bonaduce’s Danny! (see story on page 21).

WINNERS Add fire fighting to the talents of actor-director Kevin Costner, 40. On New Year’s Eve, the Waterworld star used a garden hose to fight a blaze near his new home outside Santa Barbara, Calif. ”The sparks were blowing 30 feet high. A lot of trees were going down,” Costner said at the scene. After an hour-long struggle, the star doused the flames…. Costner wasn’t the only hunk who turned Good Samaritan. On Jan. 3 onetime ”Sexiest Man Alive” Mark Harmon, 42, rescued a teenager from a burning auto that had crashed into a gate outside Harmon’s Brentwood, Calif., home. Harmon broke the car’s window with a sledgehammer and pulled out a trapped passenger, Colin Specht, 16; the driver of the car managed to escape on his own.

CASTING Elizabeth Berkley, 22, the star of last year’s NC-17 Las Vegas flopola Showgirls, is getting another chance at the box office. Early this month, the actress landed a part as a trophy wife in Paramount’s The First Wives Club, currently shooting in New York City and starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton. Berkley reportedly blamed her problems in finding a follow-up to Showgirls on her agency, CAA, and in October switched to the United Talent Agency. First Wives is due in theaters in the summer.

SPLITS William Moses, 36, and Tracy Nelson, 32 — best known as Courtney Thorne-Smith’s stalker and sister on TV’s Melrose Place — filed for separation Dec. 29 in L.A. after eight years of marriage. The couple, who have a 3-year-old daughter, Remington, cited irreconcilable differences.

ENGAGED/EXPECTING Ending a romantic cliffhanger, Sylvester Stallone, 49, says this time he will indeed wed his on-again, off-again girlfriend, model Jennifer Flavin, 26. No date has been set, but the couple has already decided to have a family. Flavin is pregnant with their first child. This will be Stallone’s third marriage and third child, Flavin’s first marriage and first child.

DEATHS Adrienne Lois Brown, 47, the wife of soul singer James Brown, Jan. 6 in L. A., two days after undergoing cosmetic surgery. ”There was no foul play, and no trauma noted,” says Scott Carrier, spokesman for the L.A. County coroner, noting, ”There are early signs of heart disease.” Results of an autopsy won’t be available for two weeks.

— Casey Davidson, with Ben Hellwarth and Andrew LePage

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