By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 17, 2002 10:00 AM

As Bryant Gumbel gets ready for his departure from his CBS “Early Show” perch on Friday after 2 1/2 years on the ratings-challenged program, he chose Barbara Walters for his exit interview instead of his ex-colleague Katie Couric, and uses the opportunity to discuss the “Today” host. “We never exchanged a bad word” while working together on “Today,” Gumbel, 53, tells Walters, 70, as quoted in Variety and the New York Post (the interview is set to run on Friday night’s “20/20” on ABC). “We were two different people. We saw things in different ways.” Gumbel also goes on to say about Couric, 45: “What sometimes she thought was funny I would think was not; what I thought was funny, she thought was juvenile. We got along for television purposes and off the air we got along. But we weren’t particularly close.” Asked by Walters if he feels responsible for the poor ratings on the “Early Show,” Gumbel says, “I’ve got terrible Catholic guilt about everything . . . To try to come in and set up a burger chain between McDonald’s and Burger King and make it a successful franchise in 2 1/2 years I think was — is — a little unrealistic.” As for the future: “You’ll never see me working five days a week again,” he says. “I’m still going to continue to do television. I’m just not going to do morning television.”