Jenny McCarthy in Talks to Join 'The View' as Part of On-Camera Facelift

UPDATED: The comedian is seen as the heir apparent to 70-year-old Joy Behar, who will exit the ABC daytime show when her contract concludes in August.
Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy is in serious talks to join The View as a regular panelist when the show begins its 17th season this fall, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter.

The comedian has appeared as one of multiple guest panelists on the couch alongside Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar, who will leave the show when her contract concludes this August.

McCarthy, who last May finished a run fronting her own talk show on VH1, does not have a deal yet, but talks are ongoing. A source confirms that she has turned down other work that might conflict with The View in anticipation of working out a deal. News of the talks was first reported by Us Weekly. An ABC spokesperson declined comment. Representatives for McCarthy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McCarthy’s addition to the ABC show will be the first of multiple moves in an effort to re-energize the veteran franchise. Walters is the show’s co-creator, co-executive producer and sole journalist since Meredith Vieira (who will launch her own daytime talk show this fall) left in 2006. Walters, who turns 84 in September, will retire in the spring of 2014. And Hasselbeck is expected to depart at the end of the current season, though she has yet to publicly confirm her exit. McCarthy, 40, is seen as the heir apparent to fellow comedian Behar, 70, who has been with the show since it premiered in 1997.

The View is still among the top-rated daytime programs on TV, but the show has seen its audience slip in recent years; this season it has declined double-digits among total viewers and women in the 25-54 demographic, upon which the bulk of daytime programming is sold to advertisers. And a market research study commissioned earlier this season by ABC executives showed that viewers were turned off by the political debates that have defined the show, especially during its heyday when Rosie O’Donnell and Hasselbeck, who is a conservative, regularly engaged in on-air dust-ups. Specifically, the study revealed that Hasselbeck and Behar were deemed too “polarizing,” said one source.

But executives are also cognizant that appearing to force any of the hosts out could damage the valuable franchise. Behar made the announcement of her exit herself last March. Hasselbeck has yet to publicly acknowledge her exit, and earlier this year Walters offered a carefully worded denial that there were any “plans” for Hasselbeck to leave, adding that she and co-executive producer Bill Geddie "have always said that when one of you makes the choice to leave, that's your choice, and we will support your decision."

But Shepherd, 46, appeared to confirm the obvious during a June appearance on The Wendy Williams Show when she noted all the “changes” afoot.

“The two black women are left,” she told Williams referring to herself and Goldberg. “Usually they kill us off in the beginning."

(UPDATE: Hasselbeck's exit was made official Tuesday, July 9 when Fox News chairman Roger Ailes announced that she would join FNC's morning show Fox & Friends this fall.)


Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie