LATEST: US TV presenter STAR JONES REYNOLDS has hit back at former The View co-host Barbara Walters' claim she was 'fired' from the show due to poor individual ratings.
Walters, 74, was stunned when Jones Reynolds, 44, told viewers and her fellow presenters she would be leaving the ABC program after nine years yesterday morning (27JUN06), because the announcement was planned for Thursday (29JUN06).
Walters, who created and produces the show, said, "I love Star and I was trying to do everything I possibly could - up until this morning when I was betrayed - to protect her.
"I would have loved for Star to have left and not said 'I was fired,' and not make it look like the program was somehow being cruel to her."
Walters admits ABC network bosses declined to renew Jones Reynolds' contract after research reportedly showed audiences were turned off by the former lawyer's dramatic weight loss and her 2004 marriage to Al Reynolds, where she plugged companies on air in exchange for freebies for her wedding.
Walters adds, "We tried to talk them out of it and we tried to give Star time to redeem herself in the eyes of the audience, and the research just kept getting worse."
Jones Reynold's representative BRAD ZEIFMAN hits back, telling the New York Daily News, "This was never brought to Star's attention.
"To the contrary, in November Star was told by executive producers that there's no truth to the tabloid rumours and that they were happy with her performance ratings and had no issues or concerns."