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NAB Zeros In On Fritts Successor

The NAB could be setting a course for adventure, for Disney World, or maybe even a beer-bash celebration of its new president.

Three candidates are said to have had their second round of interviews to succeed Eddie Fritts, long-time president of the National Association of Broadcasters.

They include former Congressman, nonprofit executive, Love Boat co-star, and WMAL radio morning jock Fred Grandy. The others are Disney/ABC Lobbyist Mitch Rose--ABC has just rejoined the association after a bitter divide--and David Rehr, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Search committee members had been sworn to secrecy, according to one member, and weren't talking Friday.

The choice of the former Love Boat "Gopher" Grandy would make for lively copy, but the front-runner, said one source, may be the K Street-connected and prominent Republican Rehr, who would certainly know how to throw a beer bash if the other networks also decided to rejoin the group.

Rehr, a onetime staffer for former Republican Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.), is said to have been the headhunters' first choice, though Rose, former chief of staff to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), apparently also interviewed well.

ABC returned to NAB earlier this month, having exited NAB in 2003--the last of the Big Four to do so--in a dispute over the national TV station ownership cap. CBS is said to have told its affiliates it could be open to rejoining the association depending on its direction under new leadership: Translation: They are looking for a uniter, as Fritts tried to be.

Also in the running have been former AOL and Time Warner exec. Lisa Hook, one-time legal adviser to former FCC Chairman Dennis Patrick, as well as veteran CBS executive Martin Franks, an early front-runner, though Franks is said to have been taken out of the running in June.

An NAB spokesman declined comment.