‘The View:’ Sherri Shepherd’s Co-Hosting Career Almost Ended Because of One Conversation
Actress and television personality Sherri Shepherd took some time to enjoy The View as a co-host for several seasons, even returning after her tenure to sub when the show was short on panelists. While she’s grateful for her time on the iconic daytime program, Shepherd recalled a time when one blunder during a talk at the table almost abruptly concluded her career.
Shepherd gets her seat
Network execs started wooing Shepherd in 2006, around the same time ABC knew they would be letting go of Star Jones. Shepherd had already appeared as a guest on the show and did well with the audience. Yet the actress had some reservations at the idea of signing on.
“I knew there were some things going on with Star, and I didn’t like being a part of it,” Shepherd told Ramin Setoodah, author of Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View. “I don’t like drama.”
The 30 Rock star served as a guest host on the show in May 2007 during the now-infamous on-air fight between co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, scoring some major points with show creator Barbara Walters when she didn’t dish about the legendary argument to the press. According to Setoodah’s book, guest co-host Kathy Griffin wasn’t as restrained.
“When Kathy came on the next day, she kept trying to go there and make jokes,” Shepherd recalled. “They were really uncomfortable. They knew I could keep my mouth shut.”
Shepherd eventually was offered the gig and was officially announced as a co-host in September 2007.
Conversation on geography takes a bad turn
Though Shepherd was excited to take on the high-profile role, she felt a bit out of her element when topics got heated. “I don’t like conflict. I don’t like debating and arguing,” she told Setoodah. “I was raised not to speak back to my elders. The lady who created the show was an elder. That was very hard for me. I was just a funny girl.”
The Brian Banks actress found herself almost losing her seat at the table during her second week on the show when a seemingly harmless topic about something everyone learns in school was brought up. “Is the world flat?” Goldberg posed to the panelists.
Shepherd, taken a bit off guard, replied, “I don’t know.” When her response was met by silence, Goldberg probed further. “What do you think?” she asked Shepherd.
“I never thought about it, Whoopi,” she responded, doing her best to recover from the faux pas. “I’ll tell you what I’ve thought about. How I’m going to feed my child. Is the world flat has not been an important thing to me.”
Despite Shepherd’s attempts to regain her composure during the ill-fated dialogue, the damage had been done and the critics were having a field day at her expense.
“I was so nervous. I don’t debate. I swear I blanked out in that moment,” Shepherd revealed. “I didn’t realize until my phone was ringing off the hook how serious this was. People who had been rooting for me were completely ashamed. Bill Maher said I should be fired with a stupid stick. Bill O’Reilly called me a pinhead.”
The massive public fallout made Shepherd realize the power of The View. “That’s when it hit me: This is a huge show,” she said. “I found out I was the second-most-googled person in the country.”
Whoopi to the rescue
Shepherd recalled hearing Wendy Williams on the radio the following day saying she should be replaced with a potato sack, which made the co-host dissolve. Fortunately, one of her colleagues gave her the encouragement she needed. “I broke down and cried. Someone went and told Whoopi, and she flew into the room,” Shepherd told Setoodah.
“Sherri, Barbara picked you, which means she wants you,” Goldberg reminded her.
Shepherd was grateful for the support from the show’s moderator. “She really encouraged me,” she said
From then on, the actress began pouring over headlines to be better prepared at the table. “I started reading the newspaper,” Shepherd said. “I never used to do that.”
Thankfully, Shepherd recovered from the debacle and became a fan fave on The View until 2014. She occasionally still fills in on the talk show, but doesn’t miss being at the table full time. “It’s fun when I go back to guest co-host, but it’s almost like going back with an old boyfriend,” she said.