KATHIE LEE IN, PAT OUT!
By PATRICIA SHIPP
Kathie Lee Gifford could soon be back in the spotlight — as a replacement for disgraced entertainment anchor Pat O'Brien.
Our own insider on The Insider leaked details of a top secret plot to oust O'Brien in favor of TV's most popular drama queen.
Kathie Lee, 52, is already on the show as a New York-based celebrity correspondent, but sources say even she doesn't realize the show's bosses have earmarked her for a more major onscreen role.
In 2000, Lee quit Live With Regis And Kathie Lee after 15 years on the daytime chatfest, but after five years out of the action, she jumped at the chance of a comeback on The Insider even though she was already starring in a Broadway show.
The surprise news follows O'Brien's public disgrace after he went on a drink-fueled binge in New York that resulted in him checking into a rehab clinic for treatment.
"Pat is a strong personality and good on the show but his actions off the show may have turned off some women viewers and that's where Kathie Lee comes in," said the source. "Kathie Lee is a strong personality too but her reputation is squeaky clean and women love her!
"That's the real reason why they went to Kathie Lee to join the show. She's already an established TV personality who is popular and would automatically increase the ratings," the source said.
"If Kathie Lee took over, Pat O'Brien probably wouldn't even be missed on TV or by the staff." A spokeswoman for The Insider said: "It is absolutely not true."