Race to Replace Vieira Heats Up

04/10/2006 at 07:00 AM EDT

Race to Replace Vieira Heats Up
Yolanda Perez/ABC
The game of TV musical chairs continues with the search for a replacement for Meredith Vieira, who will leave ABC's The View to cohost NBC's Today show now that Katie Couric is jumping to the CBS Evening News.

"I think every agent in America is calling," View vet Barbara Walters, 76, tells the Associated Press. Vieira tearfully announced her departure on Friday's episode, although she will remain on the program through next month. Her replacement is due to begin in September.

Walters says that "chemistry" and "humor" are key ingredients for the new costar who will sit alongside herself, Joy Behar, Star Jones Reynolds and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

"We're looking for somebody who can do the interviews and also the hot topics at the beginning of the show," she says. And while she won't name names, Walters admits, "I've seen rumor after rumor after rumor."

Among those rumored to be in the running, according to published reports: CNN's Soledad O'Brien, Everybody Loves Raymond Emmy winner Patricia Heaton, actress Mimi Rogers and the latest, according to the New York Post, newswoman Connie Chung. (Heaton is already developing a talk show of her own for Disney, which owns ABC.)

Walters insists that no matter who lands on the program, The View will not undergo an extreme makeover. "It will change because we have a new person," Walters, herself a Today veteran, tells the Post.

"But as much as we will miss Meredith – and we will – it's exciting for us to have a new member of our panel, just as it's exciting for the Today show and for CBS."

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