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After the Storm

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Forget fireworks. After a very explosive week, all Star Jones Reynolds wanted Independence Day weekend was some peace. So she grabbed her husband, Al Reynolds, and headed for her home in the Hamptons. “Friday night she had a gang over to the house,” says a source. “People just wanted to rally around her to make sure she was okay.” The next night, the Mr. and Mrs. went dancing at Pink Elephant, a club in Southampton. “She and Al were holding hands the whole time and having so much fun,” says a source. “She got a very warm welcome. A lot of guests were congratulating her on how she handled everything leaving The View.”

Reynolds, 44, certainly went out with a bang. Her surprise announcement on June 27 that she would not be back in the fall, combined with the interview she did with PEOPLE (July 10, 2006) divulging that she was, in fact, fired, threw everyone from View viewers to creator and co-executive producer Barbara Walters for a loop.

Of course, it didn’t result in a very graceful exit. In addition to her immediate dismissal and the public scolding from Walters on the show the following day, all evidence of Reynolds was removed from The View and The View‘s Web site. Still, she managed to find plenty of TV viewers away from her old network. Her June 29 appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live was watched by nearly 3 million, triple its usual ratings. And the next day, the Today show’s Al Roker filled a full 20 minutes talking to Reynolds about her View departure. Plus, she’s been using her own Web site to rally fans behind her: She’s provided, for anyone who wants to comment on her ousting, the mailing addresses for Walters and other executives at ABC. As she told PEOPLE of her job loss, “Yeah, this is an obstacle, but inside every obstacle is an opportunity.”

Will Reynolds manage to keep ahold of her seemingly loyal fan base even after the smoke clears? “How this pans out for her career all depends on what she does in the next 18 months,” says media analyst Bob Thompson. “She’s not going to take [former host] Charlie Gibson’s place on Good Morning America because she doesn’t have those kind of journalistic credentials. But even if she tries a bunch of things and none of them work, I don’t think she’s going to end up on The Surreal Life 9.”

So what is next for Reynolds? Starting July 10, she’s hosting a weeklong stint on HGTV’s House Hunters, helping home buyers navigate the New York City real estate market. But after that her calendar is clear. Still, one thing’s for sure—she’s not moping around at home (in fact, she made appearances at two high-profile Hamptons parties over the Fourth of July weekend). “She’s incredibly hurt, but she’s also incredibly resilient,” close friend LaTanya Richardson Jackson (wife of actor Samuel L. Jackson) told PEOPLE. “She’s moving on.”