Will Debbie Matenopoulos replace Meghan McCain on ‘The View’? ‘Never say never,’ says rep

Debbie Matenopoulos may find herself back at The View table permanently — in the seat vacated by Meghan McCain.

On Friday, a report circulated that the ABC chat show is looking to bring back Matenopoulos, one of the original hosts, who was on from 1997 to 1999. Her rep doesn’t rule it out.

“Debbie will always have a fond place in her heart for The View, the show that launched her career as a 21-year-old straight out of NYU,” her spokesperson tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Her rep has in fact been having conversations with senior executives at ABC News over the past few months about many things, including her participation in celebrating the 25th season of The View, and she appreciates all the interest in her returning.”

That said, the California-based Matenopoulos has a busy calendar right now.

“Currently, she is in development on two food shows and her own lifestyle show, but she’d never say never to returning to her first television home,” the rep adds. 

Yes, Matenopoulos was just 21 and an MTV production assistant when, on a whim, she auditioned for the then-brand-new talk show. Rocking pink hair and a cut-off T-shirt at her audition, show creator Barbara Walters brought her on as the young voice in a group rounded out by moderator Meredith Vieira, Star Jones and Joy Behar. 

The original hosts of The View: Star Jones, Joy Behar, Meredith Vieira, Debbie Matenopoulos and Barbara Walters. (Photo: ABC)

As that young voice amid the crew of seasoned TV professionals, her run made headlines as she was mocked as a ditz and often parodied on Saturday Night Live. In 1999, she was replaced by Lisa Ling after Walters reportedly grew frustrated with her, feeling she couldn’t hold her own with the other co-hosts and becoming irritated about her being in the tabloids too much.

“Let’s just say I wasn’t treated properly,” Matenopoulos said after her firing. “Those people who were tremendously cruel to me know who they are.” She said producers, then under Bill Geddie, routinely told her “how horrible I was and how the viewers hated me” and “couldn’t relate to me.” She said Walters was behind it, despite telling Matenopoulos when she was fired, “I’m so, so sorry. I love you like a daughter. We’re really sorry to do this.”

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Matenopoulos also recalled Jones badmouthing her in interviews following her firing, noting, “That really upset me.”

Matenopoulos went on to successfully work for TV Guide Channel, E! and VH1. Despite the negative experience, she was also a good sport returning to The View multiple times as a guest co-host, most recently in 2016. In 2014, she reunited with the whole original crew.

The original hosts reunited on the show in 2014 ahead of Walters’s retirement. (Photot: Walt Disney Television via Getty Images/Ida Mae Astute)

The open slot at The View — a show that has constantly been in the headlines for its comings, goings and catty on-air spats — is the one vacated by McCain. The conservative voice announced her surprise exit on July 1, explaining that she relocated full-time to Washington D.C. during the pandemic, and that is where she now wants to remain as she raises her newborn daughter, Liberty. The View tapes in NYC.

The remaining co-hosts are moderator Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin and Sara Haines. 

Walters stepped down as a co-host in 2014 — and retired the next year. She maintains an executive producer title.

An old co-host returning to The View isn’t unheard of. Behar, Haines and Rosie O’Donnell all left and later returned. In O’Donnell’s case, she departed again swiftly.

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