Friday’s edition of the ABC chat show found its three panelists — Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy — predictably chipper, loquacious and sisterly, especially when they welcomed the show’s creator, Barbara Walters, for her first visit back since relinquishing her on-air role last month.
But the happy mood was undercut, and even puzzling, for viewers who had learned just hours earlier that Shepherd and McCarthy are leaving the show, and not under especially happy circumstances: Shepherd is exiting after seven years since she and ABC failed to agree on a new contract, and McCarthy wasn’t being asked to renew her one-year contract, according to a person familiar with the situation who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Friday’s show of unity was explained by the fact that, unlike most mornings, when “The View” airs live, this particular installment was pre-taped on Wednesday.
Both Shepherd and McCarthy are expected to be on hand when the show resumes live broadcasts the week of July 7. Then they’ll make their official departure when the end-of-season hiatus starts a month later.
In the meantime, a familiar guessing game — Who will fill the vacancies? — should keep fans of the show busy, with potential candidates expected to include, for the first time, men as well as women.
If the show seems in upheaval after this week’s surprising announcements, it’s worth recalling that behind the scenes, continuity reigns. Walters remains with the show, and her fellow executive producer, Bill Geddie, is expected to stick around, as well. They have been partners for a quarter-century, and created “The View” in 1997.
Since then, “The View” has shuttled through no fewer than 10 hosts besides Walters, who was one of the original foursome along with Meredith Vieira, Debbie Matenopoulos and Star Jones.
Some of those panelists have left amicably and by choice, notably Vieira, who bid the show farewell in 2006 to become co-host of NBC’s “Today.”
Others have created a bit of a stir on the way out. For instance, Jones revealed on a June 2006 airing of “The View” that her contract wasn’t being renewed, taking Walters by surprise with the timing of the disclosure. Jones was pulled off the air that day, which sparked a public war of words between the two women.
It remains to be seen how quietly the latest pair of “View” expatriates will go.
But on Sept. 15, the 18th season of “The View” will get under way with Goldberg as the only carry-over panelist.
For the upcoming season, ABC is promising (with names and other details still under wraps) “an exciting new direction.”
Meanwhile, the unprecedented tribute to Walters on the May 15 show — a reunion of all 11 past and present co-hosts — remains just a happy memory.
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