Insiders are buzzing that a gay man may take over O'Donnell's seat on The View

By Mark Dagostino
Updated June 21, 2007 08:45 AM

Could the next View co-host be a man?

Insiders are buzzing that Rosie O’Donnell‘s replacement could be male. Specifically, they’re mentioning two names: Mario Cantone and Ross Mathews.

Cantone, a frequent guest on the ABC chat-fest, played Charlotte’s friend Anthony on Sex and the City; Mathews is better known as “Ross the Intern” from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Both of the men are slated to fill in as guest co-hosts next month: Cantone will appear on The View on the July 12; Mathews will take a turn in O’Donnell’s old seat on July 17.

“Barbara’s really fond of Mario,” says one View insider. “So who knows?”

O’Donnell herself is a big fan of Mathews. The two have co-hosted video segments on each other’s blogs, and she even gave her blessing to his appearing on The View during one video blog session.

While a View spokesperson confirms that Cantone and Mathews will be guest co-hosting, he would not comment on who might fill the vacant seat permanently. “No offer has been made to anyone at this point,” he said.

View executive producer Bill Geddie tells PEOPLE: “We are open to trying a variety of guest co-hosts who bring a unique voice to the show. As I have said before, some are friends of the show, some are people we thought could mix it up, some are stunts and some are potential candidates.”

Former View co-host Debbie Matenopoulos has championed the idea of hiring a man ever since O’Donnell announced she was leaving. “It is high time they put a gay man on that panel,” Matenopoulos tells PEOPLE. “They’ve said ‘We can’t put a man here.’ I disagree. Why does it have to be guys against girls? I have a better time and solve more problems sitting with my gay guy friends than my girlfriends!”

Barbara Walters would not speculate about new co-hosts – male or female – when she was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week. She said she and Geddie are still looking at candidates, and may take until late July to make a decision.

Other names that have been tossed around as serious contenders to join The View include Kathy Griffin, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd – all of whom have filled in as guest co-hosts in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, O’Donnell wrote on her blog Wednesday night that she would be meeting with the Price Is Right team Thursday, furthering the buzz that she’ll take over for the recently retired Bob Barker.

Last week Barker told reporters at the Daytime Emmy Awards that he had “no doubt” O’Donnell would be a good host for the game show. But he told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he was neither endorsing nor choosing a replacement.

“I have not been asked for my opinion, nor have I expressed one,” Barker said. “I think there are several candidates who could do the show, and Rosie is certainly one of them.”

And O’Donnell herself sounded pessimistic about her chances in a recent video post on her blog: “I don’t know if it’s gonna work out,” she told fans. “I watched that show the entire 35 years that Bob Barker was on it, and I just think it’s a part of American nostalgia, and it’s what America needs right now. It would be good for me, but I don’t know if it’s right for them.”