Hasselbeck Saga Took Many Twists and Turns; ‘View’ At a Crossroads

Anyone else thinking about leaving?! At the moment, it's just Elisabeth Hasselbeck (left), Joy Behar and, next year, Barbara Walters (inset) who are leaving "The View." (Photos: ABC)

Whoever it was who first reported back in March that Elisabeth Hasselbeck would follow Joy Behar out the door at “The View” turns out to have been right.

And whoever reported, also in March, that Barbara Walters would retire from the show, well, they were right too.

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Confused? If you’re a “View” watcher or even a casual follower of this mid-morning talk show that can sometimes feel like a daytime soap opera, that’s understandable.

Both the Hasselbeck and Walters exits were hotly denied — by Walters, among others — back in March when the you-know-what was first hitting the fan.

Whether or not you come to the conclusion that the news about Hasselbeck, 36, and Walters, 83, was mismanaged, possibly by Walters herself, the fact remains that “The View” is at a crossroads as it prepares for its 17th season as a staple of ABC’s mid-morning schedule.

When the show returns for its new season in September, gone will be Hasselbeck, a 10-year veteran of the show, and Behar, the only original “cast” member still left on the show other than Walters herself. Then, at the end of next season, Walters will bid adieu.

The exits of three members of a five-member panel will leave just Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd from the current group. Of course, the show will now seek to hire various replacements and, if prior history is any guide, Walters and executive producer Bill Geddie will likely take their sweet time doing so. In the meantime, look for a succession of temporary “guest” hosts, some of whom will be viable candidates to fill the vacant seats, while others will just be passing through.

Among the challenges for the “View” producers as they look to the future: Do they introduce their new tablemates gradually, perhaps one at a time, so as not to jar the show’s viewer base? Or, would they consider taking all of next season to make their final decisions, and then introduce a new re-cast and rebooted “View” in September 2014 all in one fell swoop? And if they are leaning toward making sweeping changes, will Whoopi and Sherri still be a part of it?

Hopefully, following Elisabeth’s exit from the show on Wednesday, Walters and Geddie will take the rest of the summer to just let the show rest for a while (as usual, it will likely be in repeats for most, if not all, of August) since the last few months have been tumultuous.

As our chronology — below — of this latest “View” saga demonstrates, the story has taken many twists and turns ever since Behar, 70, revealed in March that she’s had enough of the show after 16 seasons. She’ll say her own good-byes any day now.

The most notable twists and turns: Rumors about both Hasselbeck and Walters also leaving — the former getting pushed out and the latter mulling retirement from ABC News — were both hotly denied. Walters denied Hasselbeck’s exit on March 11. Walters denied her own retirement rumors on April 1. On May 13, however, she announced her retirement. And, as recently as May 11, Shepherd was telling Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” that Hasselbeck was “here to stay.”

Daytime Soap: Latest ‘View’ saga started last March — our coverage so far:

What happened? Well, in hindsight, we suspect the rumors that ABC was leaning toward not renewing Hasselbeck’s contract for next year were probably true. But with Behar announcing her own exit, Walters didn’t want to announce two high-profile exits at the same time.

In fact, several stories coming out this week, on Wednesday morning, say ABC “encouraged” Hasselbeck to seek other opportunities so that they could all make her exit seem like it was her choice to accept another job offer. So, instead of just being dropped, Hasselbeck got a chance to say she’d been wooed by Fox News Channel and couldn’t resist accepting the offer to co-host “Fox & Friends.”

The fact is, with her conservative views, she’ll fit right in at FNC. She’s apparently due to replace Gretchen Carlson, who said her own good-byes to “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday morning, according to this story. For “Fox & Friends,” the addition of a nationally known network TV personality such as Hasselbeck will likely give the FNC show a boost in the ratings.

The loss of Hasselbeck and her right-leaning views at “The View” raises another question for Walters and Geddie: Will they consider co-host candidates with the kinds of divergent political views that created fireworks — and boosted ratings — whenever Hasselbeck debated with Behar and Goldberg and, earlier, Rosie O’Donnell?

Stay tuned.

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

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