LOS ANGELES - Keith Olbermann has returned to the place where his network-hopping TV career began.

The former Fox Sports, MSNBC and ESPN anchor has signed on as a contributor to CNN's "NewsNight," the channel's prime-time program anchored by Aaron Brown. He will provide essays and commentary on sports and a number of other topics on the program.

"We are thrilled to have Keith at CNN." says Sid Bedingfield, executive vice president and general manager for CNN. "He has a wealth of expertise and is an excellent storyteller, which made him an obvious choice for `NewsNight.' "

Olbermann's first TV job was as a free-lance sports reporter for CNN in 1981. He joined the network full time the next year and anchored a sports report during CNN's late-afternoon broadcast in 1983 and `84. He then took local sports anchor jobs in Boston and Los Angeles before joining ESPN in 1992, where he rose to fame as co-anchor of the flagship "SportsCenter" with Dan Patrick.

He left ESPN for MSNBC in 1997, and the split was far from amicable. An ESPN executive said at the time that Olbermann "didn't just burn the bridges here, he napalmed them." His stint at MSNBC didn't last long either, as he had little taste for the channel's all-Lewinsky, all the time M.O. during the Clinton impeachment saga.

Olbermann did quality work at Fox Sports, but ratings for his weekly show were low, and the net bought out his contract earlier this year.

Of returning to CNN, Olbermann says "It's wonderful to be home. A part of me has always remained at CNN, and it's an honor to be working again at the world's pre-eminent news organization."

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