As Barbara Walters might say—that is, if she were echoing French King Louis XV—“Apres moi, le deluge.”
And indeed, late Thursday night there came a flood of rumors and unconfirmed reports of a talent massacre at The View, the ABC daytime show that the 84-year-old Walters founded in 1997, co-owns with the network and only left last month as a full-time co-host.
According to TMZ, which apparently broke the story, two of The View’s regular panelists—actress Sherri Shepherd and former Playboy playmate Jenny McCarthy—are toast after a Thursday afternoon meeting with ABC executives who’ve been concerned about the franchise’s recent ratings slide and chemistry issues.
Longtime executive producer Bill Geddie, Walters’ partner in her personal production company, Barwall Productions, may also be headed for the exit, TMZ said.
Host Whoopi Goldberg is staying, TMZ reported. And Shepherd issued a late-night statement suggesting she’s leaving the show of her own volition.
“It's been seven wonderful years on The View and after careful consideration it is time for me to move on,” a representative of the actress said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. “I am extremely grateful to Barbara Walters and Bill Gedde [sic] for giving me the opportunity. I look forward to the business opportunities that lay ahead for me and I am incredibly grateful to my View family and my fans for supporting me on this journey."
On Twitter, McCarthy also confirmed her departure. “If Sherri goes…I go too,” she tweeted with the hashtag #sisters. “My View will be changing too,” she wrote in a second tweet. “As will many hard working folks. Thanks to everyone at the show for your dedication and an amazing year.”
The 41-year-old McCarthy, who began her television career in 1995 as the host of a raucous dating show on MTV, joined The View last year with two strikes against her. Her appointment was greeted with vocal protests from mothers of children diagnosed with autism, influential journalists and the science community because of her scientifically unsupported yet strident views—expressed in a book about her own medically challenged son—that autism is linked to childhood vaccinations. In addition, the blond bombshell-ish McCarthy never connected with the largely female audience to which The View is pitched.
A television insider, intimately familiar with the workings of The View, said the shakeup is probably the handiwork of Ben Sherwood, the recently named president of the ABC Television Group, and ABC Daytime Executive Vice President Lisa Hackner.
An email to the publicist for Goldberg and McCarthy, requesting comment, was not answered as of this writing.
This would not be the first time that the wheels have come off at The View, with trouble both behind and in front of the cameras. Panelist Star Jones left in June 2006 in a blast of bitter recrimination at Walters, and host Rosie O’Donnell departed the following year after a public spat with an enraged Donald Trump (after O’Donnell claimed erroneously on the air that he had undergone personal bankruptcies); she was also rumored to have raged at Walters for not taking her side with sufficient stoutness.
Perhaps it will require the triumphant return of television’s venerable doyenne to put it all back together.