ABC Fetes Gibson, but Star Jones Plans Her Own Parting Party

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- ABC was all ready for a goodbye of sorts this week, as longtime "Good Morning America" co-host Charlie Gibson aired his last show this morning before moving up to take over as the sole evening-news anchor of "World News Tonight." But yesterday on "The View," longtime co-host Star Jones had her own goodbye planned.
Star Jones
Star Jones Credit: AP

In contrast to "GMA's" lineup -- which featured tributes from past Gibson co-hosts and video montages of Charlie gamely serenading Diane Sawyer, engaging in water-gun fights and getting splattered with whipped cream -- Jones surprised her fellow View-ers with her announcement on yesterday's show, taking even Barbara Walters by surprise.

Jones, it has long been rumored, was not long for "The View," anyway. But just how she was to exit was obviously something that was still in the works when she decided to take the matter into her own hands and announce it on live TV. Just as the women were getting ready to move into the usual opening talk about the day's events, Jones apologized for interrupting Joy Behar, and then said she wanted to say something.

"Something has been on my heart for a little bit, and after much prayer and counsel, I feel like the time is right to tell you, the show's moving in another direction for its 10th season and I will not be returning as co-host next year." She then grabbed the hands of Walters and Behar and began an obviously prepared speech thanking her fans, the crew and her co-hosts. She ended by saying: "I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future." She then looked at a still stunned Walters and smiled smugly before turning back to the audience and acknowledging their applause.

Before Jones went on the air yesterday, she gave an interview to People that appeared online 10 minutes before the show went live, in which she is quoted as saying, "What you don't know is my contract was not renewed. ... I feel like I've been fired."

Walters was quoted in an AP articleafter the show that Jones' contract had not been renewed, and that she was aware of that as far back as April, long before Meredith Vieira had decided to leave for NBC's "The Today Show," and before the announcement that Rosie O'Donnell would be replacing her.

Jones told People.com, however, that she only found out a few days before the O'Donnell hiring was made public.

Walters was so taken aback by the surprise announcement that she asked Jones on air how long she would be with the show. Jones said she wasn't sure, but most likely til mid-July. But it looks like yesterday was her swan song. Someone in Jones' camp gave another interview to People.com saying that after the show, ABC asked her not to come back for today. And Barbara Walters started the show alone, saying that Jones would not return.

Don't you just love the warm and fuzzy world of chatfest TV?

"The View" took in $93.5 million in ad revenue in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence, and was started by Walters, who said she always wanted to have a show that sounded like the chats she had with her girlfriends. Yesterday was one chat she wasn't banking on.
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