'View' will fill spot this year, ABC says


NEW YORK -- "The View" won't have an empty seat for long.

ABC confirmed Tuesday that the late-morning gabfest would have a fifth co-host by the end of this year. "The View" celebrated its 11th season premiere, along with new moderator Whoopi Goldberg, on Tuesday.

"We have a person in mind," executive producer Bill Geddie said Tuesday afternoon after the program had wrapped with only one guest, Danny DeVito and the requisite talk by Goldberg, creator/part-time co-host Barbara Walters and co-hosts Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Geddie said the new co-host could be on the set by the time Hasselbeck takes maternity leave in November.

Geddie said that he thought Goldberg's first time as moderator went well and by the second segment she had come into her own. He noted that it was no accident that the show had picked a performer with 25 appearances on "The View," including two previous as moderator.

"I think she had a great first day," Walters said after the show. Walters pooh-poohed talk that the show was in trouble in the ratings before last year's moderator, Rosie O'Donnell, joined. She said there were ratings spikes during O'Donnell's feuds, though, in response to a question, she said more weren't planned.

ABC Daytime president Brian Frons, who attended the taping at the network's West End Avenue studios, said he was glad to see that "The View" had returned to its ensemble roots. Frons said he felt that Whoopi and the rest of the co-hosts were bringing insight into the show.

"Last year, we had a lot of judgment," he said.

The first guest this season, DeVito, had been part of one of last season's controversial moments when he appeared to be drunk for the 11 a.m. ET program. Walters asked him during Tuesday's appearance whether he was, and DeVito denied it and said that he had just been tired and stayed up the entire night before taking a nap just before the show. DeVito didn't appear apologetic about his impersonation of President Bush, however.

Goldberg, who took questions from the audience during a commercial break, said she was happy to be there. She told an audience member she had lost 43 pounds though she added 10 back on. And she said that for now, she was committed to her syndicated radio show and "The View."

"No movies, no time soon. I'm in that awkward teenage years where they don't know what to do with me," she said.