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Star Jones: ‘I wanted to reclaim my life’

Ousted ‘View’ host tells ‘Today’ she wanted to be truthful with viewers
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Star Jones Reynolds said the tabloid rumors circulating about her ouster from “The View” and a desire to “reclaim my life” spurred her to announce her departure from the show — two days ahead of the agreed upon time — during an interview with Al Roker on Friday's “Today” show.

The news that Reynolds wouldn’t have her contract renewed for a 10th year on the daytime talk show exploded this week into a bitter war of words involving show creator Barbara Walters. Jones' decision to make her announcement on Tuesday angered Walters, who, along with co-executive producer Bill Geddes, told Jones' agent that the lawyer-turned-talk host would no longer be working on the show.

Walters and Geddes declined invitations to appear on the “Today” show. But Roker spoke with “The View” producers and reported they felt “betrayed” by Jones' decision.

“The word choice was very unfortunate especially since Barbara and Bill have both known since April exactly what was happening,” Jones told Roker. “I understand this. This is a business decision. Millions of people get pink slips every single year. My contract was not re-renewed. But I think the American people understand that corporations protect themselves. We’ve watched Enron and Tyco and all of that. When there’s a corporate entity in jeopardy they gather around and they protect themselves. And it would be an affront to my character and an insult to the viewers if I got into the muck and mud.”

ABC told the Associated Press on Thursday that Reynolds was canned immediately after Tuesday’s show because her announcement, and an interview with People magazine, took the network by surprise.

Roker asked Jones about the People interview, which was conducted on June 23. Portions of that interview were released by People on its Web site on Tuesday — while “The View” was still on the air. Jones claims the interview was supposed to be published on Friday and denies that she orchestrated her announcement to coincide with the Web release of the People interview. “I don't have that kind of power,” she told Roker.

“There was always a plan for me to say that I was leaving on Thursday [June 29],” Jones said. "There was never going to be a time when anybody was blindsided. … But because of the media leaks and the nastiness that had occurred in the beginning of the week I really wanted to reclaim my life. And I just didn’t think it was fair to the viewers to go with a story that was not the truth.”

During an interview with Larry King on Thursday night, Jones Reynolds said she was told she could “make up a story” about why she was leaving "The View" and her colleagues would have gone along with it.

“They said you can make up a story,” Reynolds said Thursday night. “The audience didn’t deserve for me to make up a story. That’s not fair.”

Walters has confirmed the intended deception, but said it was done to protect Reynolds’ reputation and feelings.

Jones told Roker that she found out in April from her husband, Al Reynolds, that her contract was not being renewed after he received a call from her agent. “I was never told by my producers, or my friends from nine years,” Jones said. She said understands that it was a business decision and told Roker that Friday would be “the last day I'm going to discuss this. I've made some mistakes. I've grown. I'm moving to the next part of my life.”

One of the mistakes she acknowledges was her on-air discussions about her wedding. “I was a 40-year-old, who was worried about getting married,” Jones said. “I was caught in the euphoria and I don't think I took the viewers on the right journey.

“I think I used, and some would say abused, my celebrity in planning the wedding. My husband said, ‘Star, you don't want a wedding, you want a parade’ and I don't think I've really fully understood the ramifications of that parade until the last year and a half.”

Roker also asked Jones about questions surrounding her weight loss. In an ABC press release, the network said that one of the reasons it opted not to renew her contract was because of her lack of honestly, both on and off the air, about her dramatic weight loss. Jones has attributed her loss to “medical intervention,” but has stopped short of saying she had stomach reduction surgery. Rosie O'Donnell, who will be joining “The View” cast in the fall, has criticized Jones for not being forthcoming about her weight loss.

“I've talked about this very openly to everyone who is close in my life,” Jones told Roker. “And I've also told my audience that a medical intervention — doctors — had to step in to save my life. And for (ABC) to use something so private is so disheartening at this moment.”

When Roker asked her if she wanted to say anything on camera about her weight loss, Jones thanked fans for their support and asked them “for the time to mentally wrap myself around what has happened to my body and my mind and my spirit.”

Roker also asked her about a statement from ABC daytime president Brian Frons, in which he said, “My only regret in this whole situation is that we didn't take care of this last November when her connection to viewers was at an all-time low and I told Barbara we had to fire her. If we had done that then, there would be no connection to Rosie now.”

Jones said she asked executive producer Geddes in November, based on rumors swirling in the tabloids about her waning popularity, if her job was in danger and she said Geddes told her no. She denied every speaking to Frons or Walters in November about her job security. “The first time I was ever told, and I know the exact date, was April 21 (the day she was told her contract would not be renewed), and within days I was told that Rosie would be joining ‘The View’.”

Jones said she was surprised by critical comments made by O'Donnell about her. “When she started making comments about my family and about me personally I didn't understand it, and then within days of being told that my contract wasn't renewed, I was told that she was joining ‘The View’, and then from the stage of the (Daytime) Emmy Awards, two days later, I was told that in the midst of her nastiness, Barbara had invited her to join ‘The View’. It all happened within a week.”