In seven years as a correspondent for Channel One News, the satellite news service for schools, Lisa Ling covered a Colombian cocaine bust, witnessed the Afghan civil war and got booted out of Tibet. Daytime network TV, she has learned these past three weeks, requires its own grace under fire. Trying out as cohost for The View, Barbara Walters’s five-woman weekday chat fest, she led a segment on butt-tightening exercises. Ling was at first appalled to be working out on-cam-era. “I’m kind of a proud journalist,” she says. “But you know what? I can still be an insightful person and do butt-tightening exercises.”
Not an easy act, judging from the seven other on-air applicants who failed to replace Debbie Matenopoulos (she left the ABC coffee klatch in December). In picking Ling, “the No. I thing was chemistry. Lisa just seemed to fit with all of us,” says Walters, referring to colleagues Star Jones, Meredith Vieira and Joy Behar. “Lisa has charm and sweetness,” “waiters adds, “but she’s also able to give her opinions. And she has opinions based on fact.”
The gen-Xer relishes the mind flexing. “I don’t like to watch idiotic twentysomethings,” she says, and hopes to explore topics as diverse as poetry and investing. First she needs to organize her move to New York City from L.A., where her boyfriend, Disney development director Morgan Wandell, lives, as do her parents, retired aviation manager Doug and businesswoman Mary, sister Laura, 22, and a group of cherished friends. “One of my favorite things in the world,” she says, “is girls’ night out.” Now it’ll be mornings.