ABC to announce replacement soon

ABC News expects to announce Diane Sawyer’s “Good Morning America” replacement sometime next week.

That would rep the final prong in ABC’s “World News” transition plan, which was further revealed with little fanfare by the net Tuesday — including a firm date for the departure of anchor Charles Gibson.

Under the timetable, Sawyer is set to depart “Good Morning America” on Friday, Dec. 11 — and then take just one week off toprepare for her new gig as anchor of “World News.”

Gibson will sign off from ABC’s “World News” for the last time the following Friday, Dec. 18. Then Sawyer will take the anchor chair the following Monday, Dec. 21.

That settles every question but one: Who will be sitting permanently next to “GMA” anchor Robin Roberts?

ABC News execs have said they would like Sawyer’s replacement in place before she departs — and now that she’s leaving on Dec. 11, that gives them a little over a week to finalize a deal with her successor.

The short list continues to include “This Week’s” George Stephanopolous, “GMA” news anchor Chris Cuomo and Weekend “GMA” anchor Bill Weir.

ABC insiders said the decision to keep the transition low-key is intentional — down to the fact that Sawyer will take the “World News” chair during the week of Christmas, when people are busy focusing on the holidays.

As for Gibson, the anchor, who has been at the helm of “World News” (formerly known as “World News Tonight”) since May 2006, announced more than two months ago his plans to exit.

“We’ve known this day was coming; Charlie first told us of his desire to retire in early September,” “World News” exec producer Jon Banner said in a post on ABC News’ website.

“As he said then, it’s the right time for him and his amazing family,” Banner wrote. “We’re going to spend a good deal of time during his final week on the air looking back at the stories Charlie covered, hearing again from some of the remarkable people he interviewed, and paying tribute to our friend and colleague, and the enormous contribution he has made to ABC News over the last three decades.”

Gibson replaced the short-lived “World News” team of Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff, who in turn had replaced the late Peter Jennings. Gibson stepped in after Woodruff was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq and Vargas departed for maternity leave.

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