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The New Season: Will Whoopi and Sherri bring us a whole new 'View'?

July 26, 2007 |  4:29 pm

Whoopi_350 After a tumultuous season that saw the abrupt exit of Rosie O’Donnell, ABC’s daytime chatfest “The View” is moving to bring on two new outspoken co-hosts: comic Whoopi Goldberg and performer Sherri Shepherd.

Final negotiations with the duo are underway, and an announcement of their hiring is expected next week, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

ABC declined to comment. “We have nothing to announce right now,” said spokesman Karl Nilsson.

Goldberg, the irreverent comedian and Oscar-winning actress, and Shepherd, a stand-up comic who has appeared in movies like “Beauty Shop,” would bring a strong dose of brash humor to the 10-year-old program, which was buoyed by O’Donnell’s presence last season.

But after O'Donnell boosted viewership with her blunt political remarks, her tenure came to an abrupt halt in May when she had a bitter on-air fight with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. O'Donnell exited the program nearly a month before the end of her contract.

That left “The View” with two empty seats -- former co-host Star Jones Reynolds was never permanently replaced after her own rancorous exit in 2006 -- and threatened to stall the show’s ratings gains.

With just Hasselbeck, Joy Behar and Barbara Walters remaining on the all-female panel, executive producer Bill Geddie indicated that he was looking to add at least one African American voice.

"We have, really, two positions open, I think people forget," Geddie said in June. "We got a lot of hiring to do here. So the chances of us hiring two white women ... not very likely.”

Goldberg and Shepherd are both familiar to the “View” audience after having made numerous guest appearances on the program.

O’Donnell was rooting for Goldberg as her replacement, telling readers of her blog this spring that her fellow comic “would rock.”

Known for her acerbic sense of humor, the 51-year-old has had a long career in television, beginning with HBO’s “Comic Relief,” which helped launch a prolific career. Since then, she’s done stints on shows like “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” appeared in numerous TV movies and headlined the short-lived sitcom “Whoopi.”

After spending six years writing and producing Lifetime’s “Strong Medicine,” Goldberg has most recently been hosting a syndicated morning radio show called “Wake Up With Whoopi.”

"She is exactly what the show needs,” said Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. “She is a beloved brand name; she is outspoken; she has done this before, she is a person of color; she is as far left as Rosie; she lives in New York; and she can kick Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s ass."

Shepherd, 40, has appeared in shows like “The Wedding Bells” and “Less Than Perfect.” Her latest movie, “Who’s Your Caddy,” opens Friday.

-- Matea Gold

Times staff writer Lynn Smith contributed to this report.

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