What hath Katie Couric wrought? A round of morning television musical chairs the likes of which have never been seen.
Less than three weeks after cohost Meredith Vieira signed off The View, Star Jones Reynolds has announced plans to vacate her own seat after nine seasons on the chatfest.
Reynolds made the announcement on Tuesday morning's show.
"I've spent an amazing nine years as a part of the View family, and they have been the most professionally and personally rewarding years of my life," Reynolds said. "Through it all, I have appreciated the support of my family, my friends and most importantly the viewers, and I am grateful for all of the love that has been shown to me.
"The View is now moving in a new direction, and I will not be returning this fall--but wherever I go, I will carry a lifetime of memories with me."
Rumors of the daytime diva's departure first started circulating in April, when Rosie O'Donnell was named successor to Vieira, who will return to the airwaves this September as coanchor of the Today show.
Barbara Walters' choice of O'Donnell to take over the moderator chair, a gig Reynolds was rumored to have been vying for, led gossip rags and reputable media outlets alike to view the hiring as a passive-aggressive--or in some cases, just aggressive--attempt at edging Reynolds out of the show, a claim Walters denied. Sort of.
Shortly after announcing the addition of O'Donnell, Walters told the New York Times that she was unconcerned that O'Donnell, who has a well-known history of feuding with Reynolds, would be an unsettling presence for the former prosecutor.
"The only concern would be Star's," Walters said at the time. "Rosie will be there. And if Star wants to continue to be there, she is welcome. Star's part of the View family and will be in The View as long as she wants to."
Not according to Reynolds. The exiting personality tells People that the decision to leave was hardly her own.
"What you don't know is that my contract was not renewed for the 10th season," she says in the magazine in its issue on newsstands Friday. "I feel like I was fired."
The departing cohost says that she found out her contract would not be renewed just days before O'Donnell's addition was announced.
But while Reynolds' departure was hardly a surprise, the method in which she departed certainly was.
Walters told the Associated Press shortly after Tuesday's show that Reynolds' announcement was supposed to take place Thursday and that she was shocked and "betrayed" by the unplanned announcement.
"I love Star and I was trying to do everything I possibly could--up until this morning when I was betrayed--to protect her."
Walters also told the AP that her soon-to-be former cohost's ousting had nothing to do with O'Donnell and instead was prompted by Reynolds' drop in popularity among viewers.
"I would have loved for Star to have left and not said 'I was fired' and not make it look like the program was somehow being cruel to her," she said.
ABC apparently felt the same. According to People magazine, Reynolds' abrupt announcement on air Tuesday led the network to cut its losses with the cohost.
"ABC has asked her not to come back to The View tomorrow morning," a source told the magazine. She had been due to exit the show in July.
Reynolds' contract, along with those of fellow mouthpieces Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, was due to expire in September, the same time O'Donnell comes aboard.
The long-standing rumor that Walters has been looking for an opportunity to ditch Reynolds from the show first began during Reynolds' days of unabashed, on-air shilling for sponsors of her 2004 wedding to Al Reynolds.
Reynolds' preemptive exit, however, is sure to disappoint fans of awkward tension and verbal smackdowns, both of which were expected to take place at a Reynolds-O'Donnell meeting.
O'Donnell, the onetime Queen of Nice who has become increasingly outspoken on matters of, well, everything since quitting her own talk show in 2002, has regularly taken issue with Reynolds' failure to disclose the details of her recent weight loss.
Reynolds, who dropped 150 pounds in seeming record time, has refused to discuss how she shed the weight so quickly, claiming she did not wish to endorse any one technique or program and instead encouraged dieters to seek out the method that was right for them.
O'Donnell, however, called foul. Repeatedly.
In a May 14 posting on her blog, O'Donnell blasted Reynolds for her alleged less-than-full disclosure.
"Star jones had weight loss surgery/she had part of her stomach bypassed/that is how she lost 1/2 herself/she refuses to say this/which is her right/but we do not have to pretend/we do not know.
"so star shrinks b4 our eyes/we know the truth/but nod as she talks about/pilates and will power/i am sure star jones/beneath the beyoncé bravado/is a scared lil girl/who grew her body big/strong and safe."
Even after landing the daytime gig, O'Donnell didn't shy away from voicing her, well, views.
On Apr. 5, the day before Vieira made her on-air announcement that she would be leaving, O'Donnell was interviewed on Good Morning America. At the time, O'Donnell had already accepted the new job, though it had yet to be announced.
When asked about Reynolds, O'Donnell called her, "An interesting woman on many levels. I do not wish her any ill will. I just think it's very hard for everyone to participate in, you know, the illusion that she presents as her truth."
Feuding aside, Reynolds' role on the show was an important one. A former prosecutor, a job she so frequently referenced it led to a parody on Saturday Night Live, Reynolds broke down complicated legal cases in terms more understandable to the View audience.
It was a perfect fit for the TV star, who first gained prominence in 1995 as a lawyer-turned-pundit who made the media rounds during the O.J.Simpson trial. She has been with The View since its inception in 1997.
(Updated June 28, 2006 at 6:45 a.m. PT.)