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ABC high on Stossel to fill Oprah void

Web finds daytime host for new show in wake of K-W, Eye merger

It appears that the Alphabet’s search for a replacement for Oprah Winfrey is finally over.

Disney’s newly created programming unit, Buena Vista Development, has tapped ABC News reporter and 20/20 staple John Stossel as the heir apparent to the queen of talk. Yakker is slated for debut as early as fall 2001 in a one-hour contemporary, news-oriented format. Stossel has hosted a number of primetime specials for the net, which remains high on his potential.

King World’s contract with the ABC O&Os for “Oprah” expires at the same time, and Stossel’s show will likely fill the void left behind by the daytime diva.

Buena Vista execs had no comment on the situation, although one source in the station group said that while negotiations for the series are ongoing, the merger of King World and CBS will almost certainly move the “Oprah” to the CBS O&Os. Winfrey has also publicly considered retiring from the syndie game to move onto other projects. King World execs had no comment.

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