It's official: Whoopi joins `The View' as a moderator

August 02, 2007|By Matea Gold and Maria Elena Fernandez | Matea Gold and Maria Elena Fernandez,Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK -- It's Whoopi time!

Barbara Walters announced yesterday that Whoopi Goldberg will replace Rosie O'Donnell as a moderator on The View when the daytime show's 11th season premieres Sept. 4.

The addition of Goldberg to The View should guarantee the ABC daytime talk show a regular source of controversy and salty humor, ingredients that helped lift the program's ratings during O'Donnell's provocative tenure.

Goldberg jogged down the aisle of the New York studio, slapping hands with the audience, when the announcement was made live on the air.

"I love this show," said Goldberg, one of few performers to win an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy award. "I love coming on it. I love hanging out with you guys."

Goldberg is known for her liberal politics and barbed comedy. In 2004, she famously derided President Bush during a Democratic fundraiser by invoking a sexual pun that played off his name.

The off-color routine was sharply criticized by Republicans, and Goldberg lost her gig as a spokeswoman for Slim-Fast because of the controversy.

In a news release issued by ABC, Walters, the show's executive producer and co-host, said: "I have known Whoopi for years. She is brilliant, funny and irrepressible, and is an enormously popular and talented star. We are delighted that she is going to join the program as our moderator. This is going to be a great new chapter for The View."

In turning to Goldberg to help co-host its daytime gabfest, ABC executives appear to be striving to replicate the kind of buzz that surrounded The View during O'Donnell's tumultuous time on the program, when her outspoken remarks and clashes with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck regularly drew headlines.

"She is exactly what the show needs," said Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, whose former public-relations firm represents Goldberg. "She is a beloved brand name, she is outspoken, she has done this before, she is a person of color, she is as far left as Rosie ... and she can kick Elisabeth Hasselbeck's [butt]."

For the past several months, producers have been weighing how to fill the empty seats on the 10-year-old program left by O'Donnell and Star Jones Reynolds, who was never permanently replaced after her own rancorous exit in 2006.

Goldberg will likely be joined on The View by Sherri Shepherd, another stand-up comedian and actress, according to a person familiar with the discussions. But neither ABC nor Walters mentioned the second vacant spot yesterday.

Goldberg and Shepherd are both familiar to The View audience; both have made guest appearances on the program.

Known for her acerbic sense of humor, the 51-year-old Goldberg has had a long career in television, beginning with HBO's Comic Relief, which helped launch a prolific career. Since then, she's done stints on shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, appeared in numerous TV movies and headlined the short-lived sitcom Whoopi.

Shepherd, 40, has appeared in shows such as The Wedding Bells and Less Than Perfect. Her latest movie, Who's Your Caddy?, opened Friday.

Maria Elena Fernandez and Matea Gold write for the Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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