Walters Airs 'The View's' Dirty Laundry

It seems like only a few weeks ago that "The View" was chock full of feisty women. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago.

First, Meredith Vieira said good-bye at the beginning of the month as she heads to NBC's "Today Show" to replace Katie Couric. Then, Tuesday, Star Jones hijacked the show to announce that she is also on her way out. Jones planned to stay until the fall -- when Rosie O'Donnell will join the ensemble that includes Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck -- but show creator Walters made her walking papers effective immediately on Wednesday morning's show.

"Good morning and welcome to 'The View,'" the veteran newswoman started the program, seated at an austere drop-leaf table next to Behar and Hasselbeck, before turning to Behar and saying, "Then there were three."

"Then there were three," Behar repeated to nervous laughter, throwing up her hands and shooting the audience a look that said both "She's the one who said it" and "Well, it's true."

Walters then turned to the camera and delivered the following statement:

"This is truthfully a very difficult day for us; and it is a sad day for us. If you were watching the program yesterday you would have heard Star announce that she's leaving 'The View' and will not be on the program next fall. We didn't expect her to make this statement yesterday -- she gave us no warning -- and we were taken by surprise.

"But the truth is Star has known for months that ABC did not want to renew her contract and that she would not be asked back in the fall. The network based this decision upon a variety of reasons, which I won't go into now. But we were never going to say this. We wanted to protect Star, so we told her that she could say whatever she wanted about why she was leaving and that we would back her up. We worked closely with her representatives and we gave her time to look for another job, and we hoped then that she would announce it on the program and leave with dignity.

"But Star made another choice and since her announcement yesterday she's made further announcements that have surprised us. So it is becoming uncomfortable for us to pretend that everything is the same at this table and therefore, regrettably, Star will no longer be on this program except for some shows that have been prerecorded. 'The View' helped make Star a star and Star helped make 'The View' the success that it is and we will never forget that. We wish her well in this new chapter of her life as we begin a new chapter on 'The View.'

Jones, a former lawyer, has been criticized widely over the past couple of years. First, was her incessant talk about her over-the-top wedding (complete with frequent mentions of sponsors and expensive freebies) to Al Reynolds, followed by her red carpet coverage for E! that many considered excessively self-involved and pandering.

The impending arrival of O'Donnell has also added pressure to the situation, as the comedian has openly challenged Jones' rapid weight loss of over 100 pounds. O'Donnell contends that she underwent gastric bypass surgery, but Jones refuses to reveal her "diet" secrets.

No announcement has been made as to who will replace Jones, but Oprah Winfrey's best friend and frequent partner-in-crime Gayle King (who previously hosted her own talk show) has been mentioned as a frontrunner.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Jones remains listed on ABC's Web site as a co-host.