What will the future crew of The View look like?
Ever since Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy were out as co-hosts — leaving Whoopi Goldberg as the show's lone returnee — a high-stakes game of musical chairs has been playing out behind the scenes.
But there is finally beginning to be some clarity as Rosie O'Donnell has emerged as a virtual lock for one of the open seats.
Multiple sources tell The Insider With Yahoo that O'Donnell is closing in on a deal that could be inked any day now once some final details get hashed out. One source close to the negotiations says O'Donnell will have "meaningful and impactful" editorial control over the show, including sign-off on the other incoming panelists.
But the Rosie choice isn't going over well on all fronts.
On Wednesday morning, former View host Elisabeth Hasselbeck called in from her vacation to her new professional home at Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends to slam her former sparring partner.
"I do believe this has been in the works for a long, long time," Hasselbeck said. "[Rosie] walked around with a lot of control and then when I had the chance to talk to her, Rosie herself, told me, on set while we were mic-ed up that she produced the reunion show to have everybody together and that it was her idea. Now, do you think the woman who left the way that she did would be producing Barbara [Walters]'s goodbye show? Here's the shocker, it was actually her 'Hello Show.'"
"I know Rosie very well. We worked quite closely," Hasselbeck ranted. "Talk about not securing the border. Here in comes to The View the very woman who spit in the face of our military, spit in the face of her own network, and really in the face of a person who stood by her and had civilized debates for the time that she was there."
Hasselbeck added that Rosie is, "coming back with a bunch of control ready to regain The View with a seat at that table, not surprising."
However, a source familiar with the production disputes Hasselbeck's account of the farewell episode, telling The Insider that O'Donnell and Hasselbeck appeared "cordial and they got along famously." The source adds that Hasselbeck's comments this morning were a "slap in the face" to the producers who worked tirelessly to produce Barbara's goodbye show.
Hasselbeck, meanwhile, also suggests the O'Donnell-Goldberg dynamic could be problematic. "Let's not forget Whoopi Goldberg is sitting there and Whoopi is not going to let anyone control her… She has actually more trophies in her case than Rosie. She's the leader on that show. I'm going to be very interested to see how that goes… I don't think it would be wise for Rosie O'Donnell to challenge Whoopi Goldberg on anything."
Later Wednesday, O'Donnell tweeted a response:
Aside from O'Donnell's presumptive return, there are other changes in store for The View. Yahoo has learned that Bill Geddie, The View's co-executive producer and co-creator (with Walters) since its debut 17 years ago, may not return. There was no immediate comment from Geddie or ABC.
As for who else is in play for co-hosting duties, TMZ reported Tuesday that executives were seeking "a Latina and a conservative," with Abby Huntsman (of MSNBC's The Cycle and daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman Jr.) and CNN contributor Margaret Hoover (great-granddaughter of former U.S. President Herbert Hoover) on the top of the list.
Most folks behind the scenes at The View agree that the panel needs a conservative voice to create some good conflict. Both Huntsman and Hoover are relatively moderate Republican voices that lean left on social issues including the often polarizing cause of gay rights. Another name that has been floated: Meghan McCain, daughter of former presidential candidate John McCain.
There has also been increasing chatter that The View is ready for its first male panelist — something that's reportedly been in play since O'Donnell first left the show in 2007. The shortlist currently includes comedian Mario Cantone (who's filled in on The View for many years), E! talk show host Ross Matthews, ESPN/ABC football commentator Jesse Palmer, and conservative commentator and host Will Cain.
By far, though, the biggest name in play has been former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Palin fueled the speculation this week by mentioning The View opening during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about her Sportsman Channel show, Amazing America.
Asked whether she'd ever have interest in doing a political talk show, she replied, "Maybe… It'd be so much fun to shake it up taking on issues that make audiences objectively consider all sides, and I'd do it with my own real-life groundedness, candor and commonsense that I'm known for. Media needs that today, versus the condescension that oozes from TV and radio. I hear everyone recently got canned from The View, maybe a show like that needs a punch of reality and a voice of reason from America's heartland to knock some humble sense into their scripts. You know, someone willing to go rogue."
However, a View source says that while Palin's name was in the mix in recent days, she's just one of many contenders and ultimately unlikely to make the final cut.
Still, nothing is official.
"Any specific names at this point are rumor and speculation," an ABC spokesperson says. "No decision has been made and we are not to ready to make any announcements."
Or, as one View production source tells The Insider: "There are a lot of people in play both in front of and behind the scenes in reshaping the show."
Let's just hope the new View can be as exciting in front of the cameras as it is behind.