BRIAN WILLIAMS CAREER SWITCHEROO – THANKS TO TOM HANKS!

Disgraced “NBC Nightly News” anchor BRIAN WILLIAMS is preparing for a dramatic career swap with the help of one of his closest pals, TOM HANKS.

As the newsman dubbed “Lying Brian” fights to save what’s left of his journalism career, Oscar winner Tom is nudging his buddy to turn to Tinseltown, a source revealed to The National ENQUIRER.

“Tom thinks Brian has got what it takes to even become an actor,” said an insider.

So much so, he’s been giving Brian acting lessons to keep him from “moping around at home.”

Said the pal: “Brian’s very good at slipping into character and pretending he’s someone else. But then, I guess he’s had years of practice!”

According to  ENQUIRER informants, Brian, 55, has been “down in the dumps” since he was effectively knee-capped with a Feb. 10 unpaid suspension for exaggerating his exploits covering the Iraq War.

“Brian’s in a real state,” a friend added. “Some days he seems like he might even be suicidal.”

But “Forrest Gump” star Tom, 58, has been an “emotional rock” for the troubled newsman, with the pair staying “in touch every day, sometimes several times a day.”

Tom has urged Brian to widen his career options in the wake of the dramatic sideline that is costing him half his reported $10 million salary.

“Tom’s been encouraging Brian to think outside the box for his next career move,” divulged the source.

“If it’s not acting, he’s suggested Brian could be a sports anchor or a talk show host.”

It’s a path that Brian would apparently be interested in, too – he reportedly tried to jump ship to CBS and succeed David Letterman as the host of “Late Show.”

But Brian’s luck just might turn around! The anchor’s longtime pal, Andy Lack, has returned to NBC News as chairman, which could restore Brian to the anchor desk when the hullabaloo subsides, according to reports.

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