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Robin Roberts' Guest Hosts On 'Good Morning America': Stephen Colbert, 'Modern Family' Cast

Robin Roberts

DAVID BAUDER   09/17/12 12:03 PM ET  AP

NEW YORK — Stephen Colbert and the cast of "Modern Family" are next up as "Good Morning America" guest hosts for Robin Roberts, who is scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant this week.

The surging ABC morning show hasn't missed a beat since Roberts exited on Aug. 30. The co-host has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease, and is out indefinitely for treatment that includes a transplant of marrow donated by her sister, Sally-Ann Roberts. Robin Roberts had to undergo chemotherapy before the procedure, said Tom Cibrowski, the show's senior executive producer.

Cibrowski offered more details about the schedule of substitutes for Roberts, which is expected to include Oprah Winfrey and newswomen Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer sometime next month.

Celebrities will be deployed in much the same way as Jessica Simpson was one day last week, appearing on the pop culture-heavy second hour alongside show regulars George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Amy Robach.

"It shows them in a different light for a little bit and you get to see them do something different," Cibrowski said. "It might be a little funny if they have to read the prompter and there's some slip-up. It's all spontaneous."

The show will feature a different cast member of "Modern Family" each day for a week as the new television season begins. Actor Rob Lowe is also scheduled, Cibrowski said.

While the idea of celebrity guest hosts has been tried before in morning television, ABC's rivals at the "Today" most recently showed its potency when Sarah Palin guested and got strong ratings one day last spring.

With their experience in news, Walters, Sawyers and Couric will work for the full two hours when they come on "Good Morning America" for a day. Each has had extensive morning experience: Walters and Couric on "Today" and Sawyers on "GMA" and a CBS morning show.

"Good Morning America" has consolidated its gains in stunningly fast fashion in a morning television world where loyalties are hard to change. "GMA" beat the "Today" show in the weekly ratings for the first time in 17 years this spring. Except for the weeks that "Today" was in London with the Summer Olympics, "GMA" has won most of this summer. Viewers have punished "Today" for the awkward replacement of Ann Curry by Savannah Guthrie early in the summer.

During the weeks starting Aug. 27 and Sept. 3, the ABC show won by more than 800,000 viewers.

Even Cibrowski admitted to some surprise at how quickly the fortunes have changed and how loyal viewers have remained through Roberts' absences.

"It heartens us," he said. "It really heartens us to know that the viewers are still with us because they enjoy `GMA' and `GMA' is so strong right now."

Simpson was brought in as the first celebrity host on Sept. 11, a decision that had the potential for looking tone deaf on the solemn anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Yet it was "Today" that got in trouble that day, airing an interview with Kris Jenner talking about her breast implants while its rivals paused for a moment of silence to honor attack victims. NBC News President Steve Capus reportedly apologized to affiliates for putting them in a difficult position.

Cibrowski said there would be no guest hosts just before Election Day with a concentration on the campaign.

A report by the conservative watchdog Media Research Center illustrated a sharp difference in how the morning news shows covered the Republican and Democratic conventions. During the two weeks when the convention was held, "CBS This Morning" aired 250 minutes of political coverage and the "Today" show had 152 minutes. "Good Morning America," which emphasizes lighter fare, spent under 70 minutes on politics during those weeks, the MRC said.

Cibrowski, noting that "GMA" aired a Stephanopoulos interview with Mitt Romney last week, said ABC is resisting segments with political surrogates arguing when they can be seen so frequently on cable news networks.

"We're not going to get into the game of minute to minute in political coverage," he said. "We want to make sure we have the best political coverage."

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  • ROBIN ROBERTS, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

    FILE - This Aug. 20, 2012 file photo released by ABC shows co-host Robin Roberts during a broadcast of "Good Morning America," in New York. Roberts has said goodbye to "Good Morning America," but only for a while. The "GMA" anchor made her final appearance Thursday, Aug. 30, before going on medical leave for a bone marrow transplant. Roberts' departure was first planned for Friday, but she chose to exit a day early to visit her ailing mother in Mississippi. In July she first disclosed that she has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease. She will be hospitalized next week to prepare for the transplant. The donor will be her older sister, Sally-Ann Roberts, who was on hand for Thursday's emotional send-off. (AP Photo/ABC, Donna Svennevik, file)

  • Luke Bryan Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America"

    NEW YORK, NY - JULY 13: GMA Co-Host Robin Roberts addresses the audience on ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 13, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

  • Mary J. Blige Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America"

    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Television personality Robin Roberts and singer Mary J. Blige attend ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on June 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

  • Obama Expresses Support For Same-Sex Marriage During Television Interview

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 9: U.S. President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House on May 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. During the interview, President Obama expressed his support for gay marriage, a first for a U.S. president. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House Photo via Getty Images)

  • 84th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

    HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: TV personality Robin Roberts arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at the Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • 2011 US Open Opening Night Ceremony

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Television personality Robin Roberts attends the 2011 US Open opening night ceremony at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • Taio Cruz Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: (L-R) Good Morning America correspondents Robin Roberts and Josh Elliott present singer Taio Cruz with a poster commemorating his 10 million singles sales from the song Rokstarr during his performance on ABC's 'Good Morning America at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on August 19, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

  • Nicki Minaj Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America"

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: ABC's 'Good Morning America' co-host Robin Roberts and singer/rapper Nicki Minaj onstage at ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on August 5, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Cast Of "Dancing With The Stars" Visits ABC's "Good Morning America"

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Lara Spencer, George Stephanopoulos, Mark Ballas, Chelsea Kane, Hines Ward, Kym Johnson, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Kirstie Alley, Robin Roberts, and guest visit ABC's 'Good Morning America' in Times Square on May 25, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

  • 83rd Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

    HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Robin Roberts arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Sesame Workshop's 8th Annual Benefit Gala

    NEW YORK - JUNE 02: Journalist Robin Roberts attends Sesame Workshop's 8th Annual Benefit Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 2, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

  • Sesame Workshop's 8th Annual Benefit Gala

    NEW YORK - JUNE 02: (L-R) Musician John Legend, Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden and journalist Robin Roberts attend Sesame Workshop's 8th Annual Benefit Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 2, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

  • Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade

    INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 29: Robin Roberts of Good Morning America waves from a car during the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade on May 29, 2010 in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

  • Steve Harvey Hosts NY Gala Benefiting Steve Harvey Foundation - Arrivals

    NEW YORK - MAY 03: Television personality Robin Roberts, host Steve Harvey and Marjorie Harvey attend the New York Gala benefiting The Steve Harvey Foundation at Cipriani, Wall Street on May 3, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for The Steve Harvey Foundation)

  • 2010 DVF Awards

    NEW YORK - MARCH 13: News anchor Robin Roberts attends the DVF Awards at the United Nations on March 13, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

  • 2010 DVF Awards

    NEW YORK - MARCH 13: (L-R) Melanne Verveer, Danielle Saint-Lot, Diane von Furstenberg, Ingrid Betancourt, Meryl Streep, Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, Christiane Amanpour, Robin Roberts and Katherine Chon attend the DVF Awards at the United Nations on March 13, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

  • 2010 AFTRA AMEE Awards - Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 22: *EXCLUSIVE* (L-R) David Salvador, Robin Roberts and Phil Denniston attend the 2010 AFTRA AMEE Awards at The Grand Ballroom at The Plaza Hotel on February 22, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for AFTRA)

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Filed by Katherine Fung  |