A DRIFTING ANCHOR

Time was when Paul Berry was a popular and respected Washington news anchor. Then, after going on vacation in late March during negotiations over his contract with WJLA-Channel 7, he was unceremoniously dumped. But Berry is still on local television, reports The Post's Paul Farhi. To see his work, you just have to be a tourist watching closed-circuit TV in your hotel room.

These days, Berry touts the charms of hotels and restaurants in "Discover Washington," a 30-minute video that greets guests in about 4,000 hotel rooms throughout the city. To launch his new business, Berry became partners with Will Howard, a former TV cameraman and restaurateur, about six months ago. It was a sideline then; it's a full-time gig now.

Berry, 55, describes the video as "a PBS-style documentary." Maybe. Here's his narration in a video on the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel: "The grace and splendor of the lobby is unparalleled in Washington, as is the fun and relaxation in the Town and Country bar and lounge. ..."

Berry's contract at WJLA, where he toiled for 28 years, runs out June 30, and he has no comment on their parting. But several sources say there were hard feelings on both sides -- so much so that Berry hasn't been back to the station to collect his belongings. He still hopes, at some point, to return to journalism. "I'm a journalist at heart," he says. "It's what I love to do. It's what I want to do."

THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING

* The Source dearly hopes that publishing this photo of Larry King's infant son Chance -- snapped by Chance's mom, Shawn Southwick-King, after dressing him up to look just like Dad -- won't result years from now in unreasonably high shrink bills. But it's all for a good cause: publicizing "A Night at the Beach," benefiting the Larry King Cardiac Foundation tomorrow night at the Four Seasons Hotel.

WHY IS THIS MAN LAUGHING?

* Come on, Strobe, what's the big secret? We won't rest until we get an answer -- or until we lose interest, whichever comes first.

THIS JUST IN . . .

* Scottish lawmakers are in a lather at Pat Robertson over his recent claim on his "700 Club" TV show that Scotland is "a rather dark land" where "you can't believe how strong the homosexuals are." The Scotsman newspaper reports that Robertson's remarks may queer a $48 million deal to start a telephone and cyberspace operation with the Bank of Scotland.

* A Kentucky woman is suing Dennis Rodman for $1 million, the Associated Press reports. Rebecca Mardis claims Rodman roughed her up in a Las Vegas casino, breaking her camera, hoisting her into the air and then laughing at her terror. This suit is not to be confused with the one filed last month by a security guard who accused Rodman of grabbing her breast at the Las Vegas Hilton.

SUFFERING FROM HIS SUN BURN

* Keeping abreast of the Sophie Rhys-Jones controversy, The Post's T.R. Reid reports from London that Rupert Murdoch got a public spanking yesterday for splashing a topless photo of Prince Edward's bride-to-be in last week's Sun.

Britain's Press Complaints Commission condemned Murdoch's News Corp. as "reprehensible" for printing a fuzzy 11-year-old snapshot of Rhys-Jones's exposed right breast -- for which one of her "friends" received $160,000. The quasi-official watchdog agency ordered the tabloid -- which has already apologized and promised to give all proceeds from syndicating the photo to charity -- to grovel again, this time with feeling.

Even worse for Murdoch, rival news outlets are making thinly veiled threats to give him a dose of his own medicine. The 68-year-old media mogul -- who is in the middle of a nasty divorce from his wife of 31 years, Anna -- recently took up with Wendy Deng, a 31-year-old executive in his company. "How would you like to see your lover nude on Page 3, Mr. Murdoch?" asked a headline in the Daily Telegraph, which is owned by Canadian press lord Conrad Black. Murdoch is mum, but the betting in London is that the Sun's editor, David Yelland, will soon be sacrificed on the altar of English indignation.

CAPTION: Berry: Local booster.

CAPTION: Murdoch, watching his back.

CAPTION: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, in a condition of maximum amusement last week in Moscow during talks on Kosovo.