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The hunt for Regis opposite number

It's an interesting time on the New York set of Live With Regis & Kathie Lee.

Although there's less than a month to go before Kathie Lee Gifford exits, Buena Vista Television executives are taking their time finding the show's new co-host.

Gifford's final episode will be Friday, July 28, and studio officials say they are planning a big send-off. "We're going to make sure the last few weeks and the final episode of Live with Kathie Lee is memorable for the viewers, as well as for Kathie Lee herself," says a Buena Vista spokeswoman. "It's going to be good TV."

Gifford has been paired with her Millionaire partner Regis Philbin for the last 15 years, including 12 years in syndication with Buena Vista. For the last month, Philbin has appeared with more than a dozen potential co-hosts including Joan Rivers, Pat Sajak and Nathan Lane. Others who have filled in for Gifford include Mercedes Woods, Jillian Barberie, Arthel Neville, Kathleen Murphy and Roger Ebert, who co-hosts his own syndicated series with the Disney-owned syndicator.

Buena Vista executives say they are going to take their time selecting a new host and say that "we are not going to let the start of the 2000-2001 season dictate our process."

"I think they are handling this in the correct manner," says Petry's Dick Kurlander. "The Mike Douglas Show did a co-host of the week 30 years ago, and it did very well for him. I think it's a viable concept, and maybe they are considering just keeping it that way as well at Live. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea."