Star 'Will Not Denigrate Ms. Walters'

Reynolds says she learned from Barbara – but calls Rosie O'Donnell "vicious"

In her first TV interview since leaving The View, Star Jones Reynolds said she would not engage in a war of words with former cohost Barbara Walters.

“I will not denigrate Ms. Walters. That’s not who I am,” Reynolds told CNN’s Larry King on Thursday. “I have learned from that woman … as much about television as I did about the law from my mentor, the late Johnnie Cochran.”

She did, however, express dismay that Walters had asked Rosie O’Donnell to join The View just days after Reynolds was told her contract would not be renewed. Reynolds termed the maneuver “strange in terms of timing.”

O’Donnell had previously criticized Reynolds about her weight loss and other issues. “She went on a very public attack on me and my family,” Reynolds told King. “She talked about my weight. … I was so shocked by the viciousness of it.”

Reynolds also revealed that her bosses at ABC encouraged her to lie about the reason for her departure from The View. “They said, ‘You can make up a story,’ ” she said. “The audience didn’t deserve for me to make up a story. That’s not fair.”

Walters has said she was “blindsided” by Reynolds’s on-air announcement Tuesday that she was leaving the show, and was further stunned to learn that Reynolds had revealed to PEOPLE that she’d been fired. On Wednesday’s episode, Walters told viewers that Reynolds would not be returning to the program.

King read Reynolds a statement from ABC claiming that she had been dismissed from the show immediately because, after her remarks to PEOPLE, the network could not trust her to tell the truth on the air.

Reynolds said she was “having trouble reconciling” that charge with the fact that ABC had previously asked her to lie.

On another topic, King asked Reynolds whether she’d had surgery to lose 150 lbs. She said only, “Because of my health I needed a full-scale medical intervention, and my doctors had to step in to save my life.”

On Friday’s Today show, Reynolds said she was weathering the storm “thanks to the love and support of the fans, the viewers, my friends and family.” She added, “The truth is very freeing.” Walters and The View co-executive producer Bill Geddie declined to appear on the show with her, Today’s Al Roker said.

Asked by Roker, who chronicled his own gastric bypass surgery for the public, if she had anything to say about her own significant weight loss, Reynolds would only thank everyone for their prayers.

Later on Friday, Reynolds’s former network released a statement from ABC Daytime president Brian Frons. “The decision to end our working relationship with Star was a difficult one and made with great thought,” the statement said. “The network and the show’s producers attempted to be compassionate towards Star in the timing and handling of this announcement.

“It is never our practice to initiate public discussions about private business matters, but given what happened on air Tuesday, and in learning of the PEOPLE magazine interview, we felt we had to.

“It has been a difficult week for everyone but we don’t want any of that to take away from the fact that we greatly value Star’s contributions to the show over many years. She is a talented, professional woman, and we wish her the best going forward.”

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