ABC’s The View is still in search of a replacement to fill the void left by conservative panelist Abby Huntsman in January. Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Meghan McCain, and Sunny Hostin seem to be mainstays at the moment, yet the show has seen its share of revolving co-hosts.
One of the original television personalities selected to help launch The View was rumored to be problematic, yet Bill Geddie, executive producer at the time, and show creator Barbara Walters decided to hire her anyway.
Choosing the first four
According to Time, auditions were held in the spring of 1997 at the Essex House hotel in New York City. ABC had booked two adjoining suites – one for the approximately 50 applicants to wait their turn, the other serving as a mock set with a table and chairs. In the suite bedroom, Geddie and other network execs watched the auditions on a monitor.
Competition to land a seat on the panel was fierce, with names like Mary Alice Williams and supermodel Veronica Webb trying out for the gig. Ultimately, the chemistry between Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Joy Behar ended up being too good to pass up and in August 1997, The View aired its first show.
Star’s rise and fall
At first, the panel was a hit with the four co-hosts, joined by Walters on a part-time basis. The ladies seemed to genuinely like each other while being able to sometimes have spirited debates.
Yet a rift began to form with Jones when she had a dramatic weight loss due to gastric bypass surgery, yet wouldn’t reveal she how slimmed down and required her co-hosts to keep her secret. The panelist also caused tension when she began planning her ultra extravagant wedding to then-fiancé Al Reynolds, with overboard behavior such as dominating on-air conversations about the nuptials and exchanging free services from wedding vendors for a plug on The View, according to the New York Post,
Ultimately, Jones’ contract wasn’t renewed for the 10th season of the show. “They had done a great deal of research, and her negatives were rising,” Walters said in 2006, according to The New York Times. “Not so much because of what she did on the air. It was things she did off the air. The audience was losing trust in her.”
Though there was a plan in place on how to handle her exit, Jones surprised Walters and Geddie by taking matters into her own hands and announcing her departure two days ahead of schedule in June 2006. Geddie saw the act as an ambush. “She blindsided us,” he told People at the time. “It’s one thing for me to sit in the front row The View to hear that. It’s another thing entirely if you’re Barbara Walters and you’ve tried to run a good show for this many years—it’s just disrespectful.”
A sign of things to come?
Perhaps in hindsight, Geddie could see that there were signs regarding Jones’ personality. During auditions, applicants were supposed to leave after their turn but Jones decided to check out the adjoining suite and take a seat next to the network execs.
“All of a sudden, the mattress sags and I look over and Star is sitting on the bed,” Jessica Stedman Guff, supervising producer, told Time.
Stedman Guff let Jones know she had to leave. “You can’t sit here while we’re auditioning,” she told Jones, but the aspiring co-host would not be moved. “I’m in this business,” Jones responded. “I’ve been a producer. I’m a lawyer.”
Equally resolute in her position, the producer stood her ground. “I don’t care what you are,” Stedman Guff said. “You’re getting out.”
Despite the verbal scuffle, Geddie was strongly considering Jones as a co-host even though he “was bombarded with horror stories,” according to Time. Yet he remained undeterred.
“She was considered difficult, a problem person,” Geddie said. “I always said the same thing: everybody is difficult, and everybody could be terrible.” The former executive producer then referred to another previous panelist. “I hadn’t met Rosie [O’Donnell] yet.”
Now serving as executive producer for Tamron Hall’s talk show, Geddie is back in the daytime TV mix after leaving The View in 2014.