NEW YORK -- ABC News on Tuesday appointed Elizabeth Vargas to replace Barbara Walters as co-host of the newsmagazine "20/20," and hired British celebrity interviewer Martin Bashir for the show.
Vargas has been a frequent fill-in on various ABC News broadcasts and a reporter for its newsmagazine. She'll be teamed with John Stossel on "20/20," which retained its Friday time slot in the fall schedule announced by the network on Tuesday.
Walters was the show's original co-host since 1979, and will continue doing interview specials for the network.
Bashir, no stranger to ABC audiences, will fill Walters' role in competition for the big celebrity interviews.
His interview with Michael Jackson was seen by 27 million people in February 2003, and won the enmity of the star, who sold his version of his story to Fox. ABC has also shown other Bashir programs about the late Princess Diana and an investigation into a scandal on the British version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
ABC's other newsmagazine will go back to the name "Primetime Live" and go back to its roots as a live program.
"By broadcasting live, we guarantee a greater energy, immediacy and rapid response to breaking news," said Shelley Ross, the show's executive producer.
That means tougher hours for hosts Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, who also anchor "Good Morning America." So they'll be joined by a rotating team of Chris Cuomo, Cynthia McFadden and John Quinones as anchors, Ross said.
ABC is also starting a weekend edition of "Good Morning America" in the fall. After it was abandoned several years ago in a cost-cutting move, ABC ceded weekend news territory to NBC and CBS, and was criticized for moving slowly on news stories that broke on the weekends.
Bill Weir, a former sports reporter at the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles, was appointed host of the weekend "Good Morning America."
ABC will pair him with another host, but that person hasn't been named yet.