‘The View’: Inside Bill Wolff’s Disastrous Year as Executive Producer

The View Moves to News Division

When Bill Wolff started as the executive producer of “The View” last fall, he was heralded at ABC as a force that would rejuvenate the morning talk show in its 18th season. Eleven months later, “The View” is a pale shadow of its old self. Three of the four co-hosts — Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace — have left under Wolff’s watch. Viewership is down 16% in the second quarter of this year compared to 2014, and for the first time the show has a smaller audience (2.52 million) than that of CBS rival “The Talk” (2.55 million).

As “The View” prepares for the season 19 premiere next week, Wolff announced on Monday afternoon that he will exit the talk show despite his multi-year contract. Although Wolff is telling the staff it was his decision to leave, sources tell Variety he was never a good fit for the show from the start, with his rocky tenure marked by talent and staff exoduses, behind-the-scenes chaos and declining ratings.

A rep for ABC and Wolff didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The stakes for “The View’s” success in season 19 are high. Disney/ABC Group president Ben Sherwood made fixing the show one of his top priorities, and local affiliates have been vocal about the ratings slide. A new panel of co-hosts for season 19 has been cobbled together for a Sept. 8 premiere without much rehearsal time: returning moderator Whoopi Goldberg, comedian Michelle Collins, “GMA Weekend” anchor Paula Faris, ex-Disney star Raven-Symone, Joy Behar and the new resident conservative Candace Cameron Bure.

Insiders say the writing about Wolff’s departure was on the wall with the arrival in late July of former CBS executive Hilary Estey McLoughlin, who was brought on as a consultant to rescue “The View.” She’s now spearheading changes on “The View” for next week’s reboot, working with the ABC News team that Sherwood ordered to take control of the show from the daytime division last October. Sources say that in recent months, Wolff felt like the ABC News team had started to sideline him, and he was publicly negative about the executives in charge, arguing they didn’t give him enough feedback to succeed.

For now, “The View’s” daily duties will be handled by consulting producer Candi Carter, who will serve as the interim executive producer. She’ll report to the ABC News team and oversee the show’s day-to-day production. McLoughlin will serve a larger role, making new hires and advising on the show’s strategy for publicity, marketing and booking.

ABC bosses are hopeful that Wolff’s exit will add some stability to “The View,” which has been like a rudderless ship since Barbara Walters retired in 2014 and longtime executive producer Bill Geddie exited with her. Under normal circumstances, insiders say, Wolff may have been moved off the show sooner. But the situation was sensitive, because Wolff’s hiring came at the insistence of Sherwood. Both men hail from Harvard and know each other as producers who came up in the New York media world, and Wolff was given an expensive contract to lure him from MSNBC.

But the former “Rachel Maddow Show” producer was never a good fit for a daytime talk show targeted to stay-at-home moms, sources tell Variety. He wasn’t informed about lifestyle or celebrity segments, the bread-and-butter of daytime, and he wasn’t used to working on a show with four women with strong — and often conflicting — personalities.

For example, when O’Donnell and Goldberg couldn’t agree on when to start the Hot Topics meetings (O’Donnell wanted an earlier time), Wolff wasn’t able to ease tensions. He was responsible for hiring Perez as a last-minute co-host for season 18, since he’d known her as a guest pundit on MSNBC. He selected her without conducting a chemistry test with the other co-hosts, who were taken by surprise by her hiring. (“I didn’t even know she was being considered,” O’Donnell quipped to Variety last year, although Perez ended up getting along with her co-hosts.) He’d bonded with Perez in his interview by talking about their mutual love of boxing, but “The View” hasn’t traditionally been a show about sports. ABC bosses quickly soured on Perez, blaming her for a decline in viewership. He also struggled to manage O’Donnell, who thought the producer of “The View” was weak and exited in February, citing health concerns as a result of a chaotic work environment.

“No one was leading the show,” says another source. Staffers say he’d defer major decisions to the ABC News executives that have been micro-managing “The View.” The co-hosts were putting together the Hot Topics segments on their own, with little input from their executive producer, sources say.

But others maintain that Wolff tried his best to keep the show together as the ABC News team kept changing what they wanted from “The View,” asking for less politics and more celebrity fluff and flash sales. “No one lost more sleep worrying about the human beings who work at ‘The View’ than Bill Wolff,” says one insider. “He cared deeply for the staff, the producers, the crew and the on air folks.”

“The View’s” producing was so wobbly last season that it regularly came under critical scrutiny. Earlier this summer, Yahoo TV critic Ken Tucker pointed out that the show’s opening credits teased a story about Donald Trump that never made it into the broadcast, and bungled an emotional interview with Kelly Rutherford about the custody fight for her children by adding an ABC News pundit. On another episode, the show teased a segment about Naomi Campbell’s arrest that never materialized.

For 17 years, “The View” chugged along with only occasional interference from ABC under the direction of longtime executive producer Geddie, who launched the talk show with Walters in 1997. But after it was obvious that Geddie would be out last fall (O’Donnell didn’t get along with him either), ABC realized “The View” needed a new manager. But Wolff wasn’t everybody’s choice for the job. Daytime executives, who worked on “The View” through last summer, had wanted to hire Brian Balthazar, a former producer from “Today,” to lead “The View.” That’s when a tug-of-war ensued: The ABC News executives passed over Balthazar (who was instead named co-executive producer) and hired Wolff instead.

There’s been a staff exodus on the show under Wolff, including Balthazar (who left in February), the show’s director Ashley Gorman and several producers. Earlier this month, “The View” announced a new co-executive producer, Brian Teta, a supervising producer from “The Late Show With David Letterman.”

Wolff came to “The View” in a highly publicized trade, after ABC released “ESPN” programmer Jamie Horowitz, who was named general manager of “Today,” in exchange for him. But Horowitz was fired from NBC in November, after a controversial plan to reshuffle “Today’s” anchors, and Wolff’s tenure at “The View” didn’t fare much better.

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  1. HAYDEE PIERRO says:

    The View without Woopie and Joy would not be the View. They both are well read, well informed and yes very outspoken. Of course it helps that I’m a liberal, 69 years old and happened to “agree” with their political stance. They make me feel empowered, proud to be a women and can’t wait to watch the show everyday. I also think that this panel is the best so far, well balanced (?), Jedediah (always on the fence), Sunny (a conservative liberal, straight line), Sara (adorable, likeable, upbeat and more important, intelligent), don’t care for Paula (too conservative, way too old fashioned, formfitting and more). All and all, I’m a big fan.

  2. Janet Hasler says:

    It is time for Whoopie Goldberg and Joy Behar to exit the View. They add nothing to the show, but racism, ignorance and cruelty. All of my friends have given up on the “View” and are watching “The
    Talk” I thought the show in its beginning stages was fantastic. Since Rosie O’Donnell was on, the show is so biased. Thank goodness she is longer part of the cast. No one can have an opinion but Joy and Whoopie, who I consider both the personification of ignorance. Maybe the show can survive, but
    I doubt it. The sooner the two witches are gone the better. Please, remove these two gals as soon as possible.

  3. pattie wojciechowski says:

    I have tried several times to watch The View, but each time I do I change the channel. How does Whoopi get away with the crap that she talks about? For a so called actress to say such hateful and negative things about our upcoming president, I find that deplorable! Who in the heck does she thing she is? Her job is to discuss topics with guest, not make The View her soapbox for her own personal views during the whole show about Trump EVERY day. I will no longer watch The View. And why can’t Whoopi dress appropriate for TV? I’m tired of her jeans and casual looking clothes. Wear dress slacks or anything but jeans.

  4. Julie says:

    The women on the view are the meanest, most divisive, racist Hillary pushers I have ever heard in my life. We all quit watching the view and GMA because of George’s portrayal of Hillary and his refusal to be fare to any republican.
    Replace Whoopi, joy and Sunny and we will all watch again. Sara and Paula are too one sided politically also, just since joining the view.
    An iimprovement would be to get rid of Whoopi with her eye rolls and sloppy clothes. Joy usually has a dirty mind. Oh gosh. I’m just done with you all. I
    America needs to turn back to God.

  5. Sandy says:

    Why Candace Cameron Bare and Paula Farris were ever brought on board I will never understand. The loss of Nicole Wallace was a huge hit to the show as well as adding these two. Whenever Paula Farris talks is frequently when I turn off “The View”. I wasn’t sure about Raven, but she is groeing on me.

  6. Linda hubbard says:

    Time to call it quits, they spend so much time talking over each other,what’s the point—-and don’t even disagree with Goldberg. I keep going back to see if anything has changed. Well that hasn’t happened.. Just not enjoyable any more. Never should have let Nicole go, that was your first mistake.

  7. Carol krysko says:

    Now that joy is back and political talk is back I began watching The View again.
    Last year had so much fluff and nonsense I could not stand it. Welcome
    Back Joy. Whoopie is great too.

    Keep up the good work
    Carol

  8. sylvia Jorgensen Villegas says:

    What’s going on with The View? Who is in charge? What are your objectives? Whoopi is fantastic in her timing and professionalism but it’s a wonder she has stayed. Just when I adjust to the ever changing host group, it’s changed again. Rosie Perez although an unexpected choice was knowledgeable, intelligent and fit in well as did Nicole. I tuned in today and thought it was so substandard. Was anyone producing or did Whoopi have to wing it? I’ll give it a couple more days but am ready to ditch it. Unfortunate because I thought the show filled an interesting niche. Too bad.

  9. Marcia Taylor says:

    I ambso disappointed of the firing nicole wallace. I’m thru with the view. I watched it for many years.

  10. Melody O'Connor says:

    I have NEVER and will NEVER watch this show … can’t believe that it is robbing airtime from the two shows that should have NEVER been cancelled – “ALL MY CHILDREN” & “ONE LIFE TO LIVE”! Get rid of “The View” and any other so-called replacement shows and bring back “AMC”/”OLTL”!!! Then, watch your daytime ratings soar again! Currently, any programming on ABC (except for “General Hospital”) are not viewed by me … not even my local news! Give respect back to the loyal fans of “AMC”/”OLTL” – bring back our shows!

  11. Denise Wolfe says:

    Please put this show out of it’s misery and bring back One Life to Live and All My Children. Hasn’t been the same since Lisa Ling left.

  12. Xanna Dont says:

    Yes, The View is still a “rudderless ship,” drifting hopelessly for about 4 years now. Why? Because it is no longer anchored by All My Children and One Life To Live. ABC lost the soap fans who would casually yet automatically watch The View as part of their daytime routine. Now those fans are boycotting all ABC programming 23/7 (except for GH). It’s so obvious when its decline began–when we lost the two iconic shows that made us tune into ABC in the first place.

  13. A big shout out for Nicole Wallace, who’s getting the last laugh, I love it. Maybe Bill knows about the Kardashians, In fact maybe he can get a job on their show, The people have spoken, you are respected and loved Nicole, by millions of people.

  14. Sally says:

    This show is and has been sinking, and its “hosts,” should go down with it. A total waste of air time. Enough already.

  15. Vi one says:

    The view needs to lose Rose Perez instead of Nicole and Rosie odonnel. After all of my years I’ve sworn off.

  16. Janine says:

    The view is supposed to be constructive and civilized debates by different women with different views. Whoopi Goldberg does not allow that. ..As moderator she dominates the discussion with her often rambling, incoherent, opinionated, erroneous, unfunny irrelevant interjections that take the steam out of any attempt to rationally talk about current events. The only way this show has a chance is to get rid of her. Three comedians (Whoopi, Michelle and Joy) are just too much to bear…especially when Whoopi’s humor is that of the corny, predictable hack she is. Her outmoded way of thinking makes the show stale and her touchy defensiveness makes the show awkward. She has to go.

  17. Jacques Strappe says:

    As interesting a choice Nicole Wallace was, she was undoubtedly too cerebral for a morning yak-fest catering to a faction of housewives who couldn’t care any less about politics and world affairs and only want to hear salacious gossip about celebrities. The smartest move of the past few years at The View was to fire Hasselback who was a shrill idiot who happened to be conservative. Morning audiences want mindless television that is mostly funny or shocking. CBS’s wretched awful The Talk is a pale imitation of the original View.

  18. Firing Nicole Wallace was a big mistake, you have hired 3 comedians, Raven is just too Disney for adult conversations, why don’t you do a poll and check and see what your viewers want? We don’t want fights, we don’t want to shop, we do not care how big the Kardashians asses got, we want to know politics, what’s going on in todays world news, about vaccines for our children and they’re safety, human trafficking, etc. Halloween costumes, a little fashion maybe, How to cover up aging skin, We are a group of intelligent women who care about intelligent conversations, Even drawing in men who care about their families, and get involved in raising their children, and the social problems that come with it. Everyone was angry at the view for firing Nicole, that should have given you a clue? .American’s are getting smarter with technology, and so are there children. Stick with hot topics, [hence current events] and entertainment, and intelligent co-hosts.

  19. Matt says:

    Why would you hire a producer of a liberal cable news show to helm a female centered daytime talk show when he had no experience. They’ve ruined The View. Without rehearsals, this cast is probably not going to do well in the first week and curious viewers will give up. The Talk avoids controversy by avoiding politics and concentrating on softer topics. But they’ve had the same cast now since Season 2 & they’ve got great chemistry. They incorporate social media seamlessly and are able to add fun & humor with Sheryl Underwood. Nicolle Wallace had improved a lot over the season. They should have kept her and added a minority Republican to balance the panel in an election year. You’re going to have a conservative, Christian actress reading GOP talking points vs Raven, who sadly isn’t very educated about politics do often has no clue what she’s talking about. And I live Joy but she’ll be battling with Michelle for the funny lines and youre going to have a panel full of liberals. And of all the women at ABC, Paula Faris isn’t someone that stands out to me as a “personality”

    There’s a black Republican consultant that often was on CNN. Someone like that would have been a good edition.

    Hope they save The View but I think we’re in store for more Whoopi eye rolls and stupid flash sales & product placement

  20. Gary Joseph says:

    Are kiddin’ me!!! the best producer in the business couldn’t save this show as long as the ultra decision makers are walking on egg shells of the race consideration issue; they’re gutless cowards…….could you imagine if Nichole Wallace or Elizabeth Hasslebeck had come out with the statement “it wasn`t really rape, rape“ when discussing the sexual violation of a 13 year old American girl of African heritage;………..just one of many painful examples of the intellectual deterioration of a once interesting television offering;

  21. Marsha says:

    I haven’t enjoyed that show for some time now. I thought that when Barbara Walters decided to leave, she would end the show so it would go off with what little dignity was left. I will never understand why they have allowed Whoppi Goldberg to dress like she’s doing her Saturday errands. Raven Simone is no longer the cute kid from The Cosby Show. She is a full grown woman who seems to have developed some twisted way of thinking (that’s a kind way of saying she had some mental challenges). The View was at its best when it had Meredith Viera, Joy Behar, Starr Jones (before she lost weight and her mind) and of course, Lisa Ling. If you cannot have the original core group then you may as well shut it down.

    • Dave says:

      I couldn’t agree more with you especially your comments on Whoopi and how she dresses. I have long been a fan of Whoopi however, it appears she has turned into a loud mouth who over speaks the othe panelist. If there is my hope left for this show, they must remove Whoopi as the moderator. I also feel that in removing Nicolle they have done themselves a fm great injustice especially for the way they went about it.

  22. meb says:

    He did better on the news side…I said that after his first week.

  23. Lloyd says:

    Should have just canceled the show after Barbara left. Move on to something new and different.

  24. EK says:

    Not salvagable. Time to move on. New cast will be hard to watch and will be loudly irritatingly annoying as they talk over one another battling for screen time.

  25. Rochelle J. says:

    Gee, maybe he should have been the FIRST to go! THE DAMAGE IS DONE! Is this one of the “BONEHEADS” that let Nicolle Wallace go? He can take his “Ouija board” or his “8 Ball” with him, and go ruin another show.

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