Executive producer and host Barbara Walters told The New York Times the day before that ABC research showed that Jones' "negatives were rising" and "the audience was losing trust in her. They didn't believe some of the things she said."
One wonders what ABC research says about the remaining "View" personnel, Walters, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Where are the negatives, the positives, the neutrals? Stuff for the upcoming TV critics' tour, for sure.
TV research executives would say research only tells you so much. How many times have TV reporters heard the refrain that a particular new show "was the highest tested we've ever done"?
But Jones was on the air since the show's inception, so she is no fleeting talent. And ABC didn't take that responsibility lightly. As has now been known, the decision was made months ago that Jones' contract wouldn't be renewed.
ABC executives also must have known--since that time--that Vieira would probably be moving to "The Today Show" when Katie Couric put herself into play for the "CBS Evening News" job. So research must have also shown what life would be like without both Vieira and Jones.
What remains is finger-pointing. Walters wanted Jones to properly and exclusively discuss her departure on "The View." Instead, People magazine got the scoop. "The View" would have got a different story. You know, something to the effect that Jones would be "pursuing other opportunities." That's because no one ever discusses on their last show any sort of truth--that they were fired, for example.
The truth doesn't count here. In retaliation, ABC just dropped Jones--with Monday being her last day, the day People came out. Star told Ryan Seacrest on his radio show yesterday she got word late Tuesday "they did not want me to return today."
But ABC shouldn't feel too hurt. Such press and drama will no doubt have a boomerang marketing effect--which will crescendo when Rosie O'Donnell arrives in the fall.
In a generally slow summer period for TV news, it's a bit of welcomed press coverage for any TV show. Sad that it is, you need talent to get fired.
Here's to more sackings in July and August.
Truth, Justice And The Upfront Way: Let Us Know What You Think
Is this year's upfront more secretive, more protracted or much different than in year's past? What do you think is the role of the trade press and public spin in upfront ad negotiations? Let us know your opinions. They will be kept confidential and results will be reported next week by MediaPost. Please click here to participate in a brief online survey conducted via InsightExpress.
Be An Upfront Expert, Win A Free Slingbox
You can still enter TV Watch's upfront predictions contest by replying to this e-mail with your best guess for the following:
*Total network prime-time sales for the six broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW and MyNetworkTV) in billions of dollars to two decimal points.
*The individual prime-time sales totals for ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW and MyNetworkTV.
The tiebreaker: Predict the CPM percentage change from last year's prime-time upfront for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.
The winner must match MediaPost's compilation of a consensus from leading trade publications, newspaper coverage and securities firms.
In the event of a tie, MediaPost will pick one winner from a random drawing.
The winner will receive a free Slingbox to watch TV on the go, even as the upfront is going, going, gone.
As a point of reference, here's how the networks performed during the 2005-06 prime-time upfront:
ABC: $2.08 billion
CBS: $2.60 billion
NBC: $1.90 billion
Fox: $1.60 billion
UPN: $0.24 billion
WB: $0.68 billion
Six-networks (including UPN and WB): $9.09 billion.