Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Barbara Walters will step down as co-host of ABC's '20/20'

Barbara Walters' decision to step away from 20/20 promises a new pecking order in the competition she's dominated for decades - for prime-time, celebrity TV interviews.

Starting in September, Walters will no longer be co-host of ABC's 20/20, the newsmagazine she's called home since 1979.

Walters, 74, will do about six interview specials a year for ABC, including her annual pre-Oscar show. She'll also stay as executive producer and occasional co-host of The View, the daytime talk show she created.

"Because there are so many shows on and because I've been so hands-on - I've had a piece on almost every single week - I don't know how to cut back on that," she said. "You really can't."

ABC hasn't publicly discussed a replacement; Elizabeth Vargas would be one obvious possibility. John Stossel is Walters' current co-host.

At ABC, Walters' decision clears a path for her chief in-house competitor, Diane Sawyer, who was the sounding board for last week's prime-time appearance by Howard Dean and his wife.

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