The game's the same

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Her name starts with a "K" and has two syllables. Already Kelly Ripa is shaping up as a replacement for Kathie Lee. But seriously, Ripa, anointed Kathie Lee Gifford's replacement last week, had already been displaying some ratings-related results during her nine "try-out" sessions on Live With Regis, soon to be rechristened Live With Regis and Kelly.

Ripa revved up Live's
performance within the females 18-34 demographic, which is an accomplishment considering that Live
currently pulls the worst numbers in that advertising-friendly bracket among the top nine talk shows, posting a 1.0 average during last November sweeps, according to Nielsen Media Research. Among those topping Live
are Oprah
(3.0), Rosie
(2.1) and Sally
(1.5).

In her nine Live
gigs (three dates each in November, December and January), Ripa averaged a 1.2 in females 18-34, which is 20% higher than the show's sweeps average.

"We're hoping we can add a younger demographic," notes Janice Marinelli, president of Live
distributor Buena Vista Television. "We have our core 25-54 audience, and that's who are audience has always been. If we can add the 18-34s on top of that, that would be wonderful."

Yet Marinelli insists that, while Ripa "does have the ability to draw in a younger, female audience,.all that was secondary to the fact that she and Regis really have this wonderful, wonderful on-air chemistry." She adds, "We liken it to his being married for a very long time and that ended. Then he went dating, and he kept coming back to the very same girl. He knew there was something special there."

Another bonus is the fact that Ripa brings to Live
a faithful ABC-based audience from her days at All My Children
(she insists she'll continue to do both). This can only help Live, a show that has a big ABC-station base in syndication. "That ended up being an added benefit," notes Marinelli. "But it wasn't really factored into the decision. What we, including Regis, made the decision on is that he loved sitting next to her. There were so many times when Kathie would say something that would just stop Regis in his tracks. And Kelly really has that ability."

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