General News

Rhea to replace O'Donnell

By:
Jul 30, 2001 | 9:41am EDT

Caroline Rhea, who currently stars as Aunt Hilda on the WB's Sabrina the Teenage Witch, will officially step in to replace host Rosie O'Donnell for the 2002-03 season of the syndicated talk show, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Rhea guest hosted for The Rosie O'Donnell Show several times last season, touching off rumors that the actress would replace O'Donnell as host. Rhea also is a regular on the syndicated game show Hollywood Squares.

The show, which has yet to be named, will replace Rosie when O'Donnell signs off at the end of this season. O'Donnell, who has been hosting the show since its 1996 debut, said she felt it was time to pass the baton but will stay on as an executive consultant.

While the series will keep the same format as Rosie, new elements will be designed for Rhea's comedic style.

In a bid to introduce viewers to Rhea and smooth the transition, the actress will make several appearances on Rosie during the show's final season, guest hosting and co-hosting with O'Donnell.

Six months ago, Rhea tried to launch her own daytime talk show Caroline for Paramount Domestic Television Distribution, but the show was cancelled for financial reasons before it premiered.

Although ratings for the daytime talk show have suffered this season, Variety reports that syndicators have begun snatching up Rosie time periods in certain markets, competing with shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

The Rhea show will not automatically take over The Rosie O'Donnell time slots. Telepictures, the show's producers, will still have to sell the show to its current stations, complete with new contracts.

O'Donnell says she feels confident that viewers will feel comfortable with Rhea because they know her from her appearances Sabrina and Hollywood Squares.

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