NEW YORK — ABC News Thursday confirmed plans to shift “Good Morning America” news reader Elizabeth Vargas to primetime.

Vargas, who had vied for the “GMA” anchor chair being vacated by Joan Lunden, will instead become a featured correspondent on “Prime Time Live” and “20/20,” beginning in September. She’ll also be an anchor of “World News Saturday” and will develop and host occasional primetime specials.

With Vargas out of the running, KABC anchor Lisa McRee is expected soon to sign a deal to replace Lunden as co-anchor of the ayem show, with ABC correspondent Deborah Roberts mentioned for Vargas’ old newsreader job (Daily Variety, June 26).

Vargas, who joined “GMA” in May 1996 from NBC News, said her current ABC contract, which extends until 1999, was replaced by a new three-year deal for primetime.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” Vargas said of her change in venue. “I was very happy about ‘GMA'; it was a great job, but I’m tremendously excited about the new opportunity.”

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