Almost a year after she started on the program, ABC executives have decided to cut comedian Michelle Collins as a co-host of “The View,” Variety has learned.
Collins joined the show last July after a lengthy trial period, where she impressed viewers (as well as moderator Whoopi Goldberg) with her well-timed zingers and commentary. ABC bosses were heralding her as a fresh face of the struggling daytime talk show, but they experienced buyers’ remorse shortly after she became a permanent co-host for season 19 last fall.
Starting in January, Collins’ co-hosting duties shrank to just one or two appearances a week, and ABC executives recently made the decision not to renew her contract, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks. Collins, who is on vacation in Europe, is expected to stay on “The View” through the end of the summer.
“Michelle is smart, opinionated and funny,” said an ABC spokesperson. “She’s been a great addition to the panel this year. When we are ready to make an announcement about next season, we will.”
Rumors about Collins’ exit started to swirl almost as soon as she began her stint on “The View.” It was a chaotic time on the talk show, with “The View” suffering from a staff exodus—with the departures of co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell, Nicolle Wallace, and Rosie Perez, following Barbara Walters’ retirement one season prior. To fight a steep ratings slide, Disney-ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood brought in a new team to revamp the program, including executive producer Candi Carter and consultant Hilary Estey McLoughlin. For season 19’s premiere last September, these execs cobbled together a Hot Topics table with six rotating co-hosts (instead of five), to see what would stick.
According to knowledgeable sources, the new managers soured on Collins early, and criticized her internally for sidetracking the Hot Topics debates with personal stories and other asides. In an election year, “The View” has been trying to re-emphasize politics as a way to gain buzz (and has seen an uptick of 9 percent in total viewers from last year’s May sweeps). But the 34-year-old personality’s areas of expertise were in pop culture, social media and “The Bachelor.”
It didn’t help that Collins’ time on the show was marked by two unpleasant controversies: ABC lost advertisers after a discussion where she criticized nurses; and in October, she came under fire for mocking Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s face.
Without Collins at the table, “The View” is in the midst of yet another reboot for season 20, which launches in September. Goldberg’s contract expires in August, and the network has been in prolonged negotiations to convince her to stay as “The View’s” moderator, fully aware that the Oscar-winning actress (who joined in 2007) is a key ingredient to the show’s success.
Although ABC bosses were down on Symone early in the season for her lack of knowledge about politics, the ex-Disney star might get a reprieve. Sources say the network is on the fence about bringing her back (with her supporters pointing out that, at 30, she’s the millennial voice for Hot Topics). The rest of the panel for season 20 will consist of a combination of current co-hosts like Joy Behar, Paula Faris and Candace Cameron-Bure (who may not return due to shooting Netflix’s “Fuller House”), along with one or two wildcard names.