Hasselbeck Still on ‘View’ Chopping Block: Report

Joy Behar (left) is leaving "The View," while Elisabeth Hasselbeck's status is the subject of conflicting reports (Photos: ABC)

Despite Barbara Walters’ strong public statement to the contrary, Elisabeth Hasselbeck may still be ending her run on “The View” this summer, according to a published report.

The report in the New York Post — here — tells a far different story than the rosy picture painted by ABC and Walters this month in the wake of Joy Behar’s announcement that she’s leaving the show, and then the news, denied by Walters, that Hasselbeck was being let go. In fact, the Post story says Behar didn’t resign voluntarily.

Let’s sort it all out:

First, the “official” version of all this, as stated by ABC, Walters and Behar, is this:

Behar, 70, decided on her own to end her run on the show — after 16 years as the only original member of the “View” team, other than Walters herself. The reason, given by Behar in an interview with Deadline.com earlier this month, was that she simply felt it was time to move on after doing the same thing for so many years.

Then, Us Weekly reported that Hasselbeck, 35, would also be leaving at the same time — with her last show, and Joy’s, airing just before the show goes on its summer hiatus in August. The Us story, denied by ABC and then by Walters, said audience research indicated Hasselbeck was no longer popular with viewers, due mainly to her right-leaning political views.

On March 11, Walters stated unequivocally on “The View” that that’s not true. Walters, 83 — the producer and star of the show — said Hasselbeck’s views are prized by the show because they serve as a counterpoint to the liberal views of Behar, Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg. Contrary to the Us story, Walters — and ABC — said Hasselbeck is not being fired (Us reported that Hasselbeck’s contract would not be renewed for next season, which is tantamount to a dismissal in the TV business).

Here’s what Walters had to say on “The View” on March 11:
[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/The-View/6813604792316103112/21380164001/Barbara-Addresses-Rumors/embed 580 476]

Now, here’s the Post story’s version of events — which stand in stark contrast to ABC’s:

According to the Post, ABC execs decided that Behar and Hasselbeck would both have to go in order to “freshen” the show, which, according to the story, is declining in the ratings. In addition, the show’s audience is aging and ABC wants to work on lowering the audience’s median age.

Thus, the Post story is saying that Behar’s “voluntary” resignation is really a cover story for what really happened — which is that she wasn’t getting her contract renewed either. The resignation story would allow Behar “to bow out gracefully,” the Post story said.

As for the Hasselbeck side of this story, the Post story says Walters “called off” the firing before the show on Monday, March 11, because she was angry about the news leaking the week before. “Barbara was spitting mad that it got mishandled, and called off the firing,” the story said.

So, Walters went on the show March 11 and stated Hasselbeck would be staying. The Post story insists Hasselbeck will still be going — if not this summer, then the following summer when her contract expires. (ABC has insisted all along that Hasselbeck’s contract does not allow the network to drop her now.)

The Post story also had the names of possible replacements for either Behar or Hasselbeck or both — actress Ali Wentworth, who is married to George Stephanopoulos, who already works for ABC, and model Christie Brinkley. Brooke Shields has also been mentioned as a possible new co-host.

“The View” aired a repeat episode on Monday (March 18), so there was no comment from the show on this latest news.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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