By Elizabeth Darst
Updated December 19, 2001 01:00 AM

Sorry Kathie Lee, but younger viewers seem to prefer Kelly with their coffee. Since perky blonde soap star and young mother Kelly Ripa, 31, stepped in as Regis Philbin’s cohost of ABC’s a.m. gabfest “Live,” the number of under-35 female viewers has almost doubled, Variety reports. During November’s ratings sweeps — the first since Ripa joined the show — viewership among women 18 to 34 was up by 80 percent. Among daytime talk shows during that period, only ratings powerhouse “The Oprah Winfrey Show” outperformed “Live.” Only a few months into her tenure in the seat next to Regis, Ripa revealed that she was going to have a baby, and many viewers tuned in to watch the petite hostess as her pregnancy progressed. Philbin, 68, also has gained new fans through his hosting duties of nighttime game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Michael Gelman, the producer of “Live,” attributes some of the show’s new popularity to popular music acts it has been booking, such as The Backstreet Boys, Jewel and Destiny’s Child. “Younger people like to see change on the show,” Gelman told Variety. “And my feeling is the younger viewers like to see the new stars, the celebrities, and the older viewers like it also.”