ABC’s “The View” has been a daytime staple in many American homes since 1997 when it was created by veteran journalist Barbara Walters.
Since that time the show has been the format for many public figure to be interviewed by women with strong voices.
Possibly most notably since the exit of Walters, has been the tutelage of silver screen greats Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg, but one of the original hosts, Meredith Vieira recently recounted her frustration with one of the show’s staffing decisions.
Vieira began on the show in 1997 with Walters and stayed until 2006. During that time Debbie Matenopoulos was brought to the show with no TV experience to help give the show a younger vibe, according to Cheat Sheet
“I was a kid. I had no clue,” Matenopoulos told Ramin Setoodah while being interviewed for his book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View.“How are you going to have an opinion if you haven’t lived it. I didn’t have the experience like the rest of them had.”
Matenopoulos, however, didn’t have the desired effect on the audience, in fact she was failing to the point that she now feels that someone from the studio should have done more to help her out during her first season:
“They sent me to a coach to learn how to do things on television – blah, blah, blah,” she told Ryan Setoodah. “That was a waste of money. In hindsight, they needed to sit me down and go, ‘Here’s the deal: you’re too nervous.’”
“The audience just didn’t like Debbie,” former executive producer Bill Geddie said later, according to Cheat Sheet.
“The older people were okay with her. They thought she was an idiot, but it was funny. Younger people didn’t see themselves in Debbie. They thought by picking someone like that, we were talking down to them.”
“I remember sitting there and all the blood rushing out of my head,” Matenopoulos recalled to Setoodah when she was told she was being fired. “I screwed this up so bad. All I wanted to do was be good for them. Of course I cried. I was so sad. These people were my friends. Here’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and I blew it.”
Along with Matenopoulos’ Setooda said that Vieira was also upset about the chage, saying that she “started bawling” when she heard that her friend was being let go, and she even advocated for Matenopoulos to Walters.
“Debbie was like a kid sister to me. I think of her as a puppy or a deer,” Vieira told Setoodah. “I always felt bad because it was like they were trying to put words in her mouth. Her opinions were not as respected. I could have never done the show at her age.”
However, her plea fell on deaf ears and Matenopoulos was gone by January 1999.
“Let’s just say I wasn’t treated properly,” Matenopoulos said in April of 1999, according to People. “Those people who were tremendously cruel to me know who they are.”