‘The View:’ Two Co-Hosts Describe The Day They Were Fired
ABC’s daytime talk show The View has had its share of drama both on and off camera. With revolving co-hosts every couple of years since the show’s launch in 1997, the program finally seems to have some stability with Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, and Meghan McCain at the table.
After show creator Barbara Walters retired in May 2014, several from the panel and crew were fired due to network execs wanting some changes on The View. In a book published last year that delved into the show’s behind-the-scenes issues, two former co-hosts shared their experience when they discovered they were getting the ax.
In May 2014, Walters was greeted by numerous legendary journalists to wish her farewell and good luck in her retirement in a special episode on The View. News women from Diane Sawyer and Connie Chung to Kathie Lee Gifford and even media mogul Oprah Winfrey appeared on the show for Walters’ special sendoff.
Before announcing her retirement, Walters had decided to sell her 50 percent ownership of The View back to ABC. According to Ramin Setoodah in his book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View,” Walters later regretted the decision since it stripped her of decision-making rights on the show, including who stays and who goes.
“She sold her stake,” former executive producer told Setoodah. “By the way, none of us knew this. The moment she no longer had a say, the show, as it was, was essentially over. I don’t think any of us realized that. I think we found out too late that she wasn’t one of the bosses anymore.”
‘The View’ in downsize mode
Setoodah reported that the summer following Walters’ last show, Geddie and show producers were trying to think of ways to reignite The View, which included trying out male co-hosts who had a limited amount of fame such as Mario Cantone and Bill Rancic.
Co-host Jenny McCarthy was enthusiastic about the change. “It had a fun energy,” she told Setoodah. “It was a little bit more my temperature.”
Yet the idea didn’t take off and in late June, everyone with the exception of Whoopi Goldberg was summoned for a mystery meeting. “All of a sudden, everyone gets a phone call that says, ‘Go to this address,'” McCarthy said. “Bill is, like, ‘I’m getting fired.'”
According to Setoodah’s book, Geddie went to the meeting and was told he would have to share his job and title with another executive producer. Geddie immediately wanted out.
“Bill came back, walked into his office, shut the door, spent 30 minutes in there, and never came back,” McCarthy revealed. “And then [co-host] Sherri [Shepherd] called her agent and said, ‘I’m not going to that f****** building.'”
After Geddie, producer Alexandra Cohen was also let go and both Shepherd and McCarthy received the news from their agents. “I was with Jenny when she got the phone call,” Shepherd said. “She was really upset. She had specifically asked [network executive] Lisa Hackner, ‘If you are not renewing my contract, let me know.'”
Shepherd was the next recipient of bad news. “I’m comforting [Jenny] and my phone is blowing up,” the former co-host recalled. “My manager called me and said, ‘They aren’t renewing your contract.'”
Though Shepherd had been in contract negotiations for a higher salary, she felt blindsided at the termination without so much as a conversation. Yet apparently the network thought her price was too high. “Sherri’s ask was astronomical and was not financially possible for the show,” an insider told Variety.
Others at ABC were equally stunned at the downsizing. “I don’t really know why any of those decisions were made, but I do not believe it’s ever a smart call to blow up a program and start from scratch,” a top network exec commented to Variety.
Shepherd, McCarthy, and Geddie commiserated over their sudden unemployment and Goldberg was the last one standing on The View. The show would go through more co-host combos in the following years, which included bringing back the tumultuous Rosie O’Donnell. Despite the usual heated debates and flared tempers the show is renowned for, the current panel on The View seems to be on solid ground… for now.