OXYGEN MEDIA NEARS DEAL WITH CANDICE BERGEN: TV STAR WILL HOST TALK SHOW FOR WOMEN'S CABLE/INTERNET VENTURE

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Add Candice Bergen to the list of high-power women putting their muscle behind Oxygen Media.

The nascent TV and online venture is close to a deal for Ms. Bergen, the former journalist and actress best known for her role in "Murphy Brown," to host her own talk show. It is not known if she will have a deeper role with the network.

Ms. Bergen will join a high-octane Oxygen Media lineup that already includes Oprah Winfrey, Geraldine Laybourne, and producers Marcy Carsey and Caryn Mandabach.

The addition of the TV talent would give the fledgling network significant credibility with consumers from the moment it goes on the air. A talk show hosted by Ms. Bergen would also have high appeal in the ad community, especially given her work for Sprint Corp.

Oxygen is talking to Ms. Bergen about a time slot "somewhere around 10 or 11 at night," said a TV executive with knowledge of the discussions.

A spokesman for the actress said she was not available for comment.

BENSON HEADS UP SALES

On the sales front, Oxygen tapped Laurie Benson to head ad sales. Ms. Benson, the former VP-ad sales at Home & Garden Television, will report to C.J. Kettler, president of sales and marketing.

Oxygen has already launched its online site (www.oxygen.com), but the cable network is not expected to be introduced until early next year. Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tampax brand is an initial advertiser on the Web site; a banner with the headline "Girls and sports do mix" links to a page titled Tampax's Teen Forum.

Oxygen is still lining up distribution for the cable network, and already has a deal with AT&T Broadband & Internet Services. Once distribution deals are lined

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