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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Suits 1, Talent 0 

From ABC (as of noon Pacific time):

The View, recipient of the 2003 Daytime Emmy® Award for "Outstanding Talk Show," is ABC Daytime's morning chatfest, featuring a team of dynamic women of different ages, experiences and backgrounds discussing the most exciting events of the day. The program has received critical acclaim since premiering August 11, 1997. It's broadcast live Monday through Friday from NYC (11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon, ET; CLOSED-CAPTIONED; broadcast in stereo; TV-14).

The View is produced by and features ABC News correspondent Barbara Walters -- who appears on average three days a week -- prosecutor-turned-commentator Star Jones Reynolds, comedian Joy Behar and television personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck. The show consists of hot topics in the news, the best experts in their field, celebrity interviews and general entertainment. The program celebrated its 2000th show on February 2, 2006, and is currently in its ninth season.

The text above is slightly out of date, since Star Jones Reynolds no longer appears on the show.

For purposes of the argument below, assume for the moment that Star Jones Reynolds has talent. While some may disagree with that notion, the fact that she has made a living on-air for over a decade indicates that someone thinks that she's worth something.

In the entertainment business, as in any business, it is essential that all...umm...transitions appear to be wonderful and cool and peachy keen. This includes any transitions that take place on "The View," a show on which the hosts are supposed to be refreshingly honest.

Well, to a point.

Here, re-presented in roughly chronological order, are the recent events surrounding Star Jones Reynolds, who disappeared from view in "The View" in a Stalinesque move.

ABC had decided against renewing Reynolds' contract months ago and the show was planning to let Reynolds announce it later this week, according to Walters. Reynolds could say whatever she wanted to about why she was leaving, "and we would back her up," the longtime ABC newswoman said....

"We gave her time to look for another job and hoped that she would announce it on this program and leave with dignity," Walters said.

In other words, the preferred scenario for The View would have been something like this. Star would gather the girls around and then confide, "Hey, girls! You know how Meredith got a new job back where Barbara used to work? Well, girls...I have a new job too. I'm replacing Julie Chen as host of Big Brother!" Then the girls would squeal with girlish delight, hugs would ensue, and a heart-rending montage of Star moments would play on the air. Everyone would be happy that Star would be moving on...just like Scott McNealy.

But evil evil Star did two very bad things, for which she had to be punished.

First, she apparently grabbed the wrong calendar or set her clock wrong on the way to work on Tuesday. Instead of saying her goodbyes later in the week, Star inexcusably said her goodbyes on Tuesday. The nerve of her, to bring up a topic that everyone already knew about except the viewers (but which was apparently rumored anyway)!

Second, she uttered those famous words to People Magazine, "I feel like I was fired." Just because her contract wasn't renewed doesn't mean that you're actually supposed to admit it.

This led to a situation that television networks hate - namely, having no control over a situation whatsoever. NBC was blindsided by Johnny Carson's announcement of his retirement at an NBC meeting, and the suits at ABC (including Walters) were blindsided by Reynolds' timing. Now forced to admit that Reynolds had been effectively fired, Walters had to explain why.

Walters didn't discuss on the air why Reynolds, an original cast member who's been on the show for nine years, wasn't being asked back. She said in an interview Tuesday that research showed audience members were turned off by Reynolds' dramatic weight loss and glitzy wedding to banker Al Reynolds in 2004.

Reynolds later retorted that TV ratings and her book sales indicated this wasn't true.

You have to wonder if Walters and the other suits thought through the implications of their conclusions from their research. If the conclusions were correct, then watchers of The View prefer that their co-hosts be fat and manless.

Actually, I guess they did think this through. Rosie O'Donnell is joining the show in the fall.

Meanwhile, Star was talking with Ryan Seacrest:

Star Jones: I was told yesterday that they did not want me to return today.

Ryan Seacrest: So you’re not going on today?

SJ: Nope, not at all. I was told yesterday was my last day.

RS: And originally you thought you would be on until when?

SJ: Originally they asked me to be on until July 13. This was a request from Barbara [Walters] and Bill [Geddie, executive producer], the date was chosen by them. They requested it. This was…negotiated They wanted to not leave the show without a fourth anchor. I agreed to do that for the show. I agreed to do it.

RS: But wait, their reaction, they’re asking you not to come back today for the show?

SJ: They told me.

RS: They told you do not come back to the show. Was that a result of what you said yesterday on the air?

SJ: No, no, no, it’s not a result of what I said yesterday on the air. It’s because I tell the truth, and it was a beautiful tribute to them, I’m not really sure. It was their decision. And I wasn’t called personally, my agents were called.

RS: So you haven’t spoken to any of the girls?

SJ: No that’s not true. I did speak to one and I don’t want to share because that’s very personal and private

RS: Out of respect did Barbara call?

SJ: No, not at all.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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