By Ronnie Cohen
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Gavin Newsom, California's lieutenant governor who made international headlines when he granted marriage licenses to gay couples as San Francisco's mayor in 2004, will host a weekly talk show for left-leaning Current TV starting next month.
The announcement by the network on Wednesday came amid a war of words and legal filings over Current's firing last month of former host Keith Olbermann.
"The Gavin Newsom Show" will not replace Olbermann's "Countdown." "Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer," hosted by the disgraced former New York governor, filled that spot.
Newsom's hour-long, pre-taped show promises "a decidedly California touch as Newsom interviews notables from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond," Current said in a written release.
Newsom, considered a likely future U.S. Senate or California gubernatorial candidate, has been allied politically with the network's chairman, former vice president Al Gore.
"Gavin Newsom is a courageous leader who has boldly seized every opportunity to create positive social change," Gore said.
While he was mayor, Newsom hosted a similar radio show on San Francisco's "Green 960." Among his guests were MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, chef Alice Waters and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. He taped one radio show inside San Quentin State Prison, where he interviewed staff and prisoners.
About a month after he became San Francisco's mayor, in 2004, city and county officials under Newsom's direction granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Courts annulled the marriages, but Newsom's bold move set the stage of legal action that led the California Supreme Court in 2008 to overturn the state's ban on gay marriage.
The ban was reinstated later that year by a voter-approved state constitutional amendment, which has since been struck down by a U.S. appeals court in a case that remains under judicial review.
"Through the show he intends to showcase California, which would only, of course, benefit our state," said Francisco Castillo, Newsom's spokesman.
Cynthia Arntzen, a Current spokeswoman, said the network does not disclose salaries. But she said Newsom, who lives with his wife and two young children in Marin County, California, would donate his pay to charity.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Paul Simao)
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