Star Jones returns to 'The View,' reunites with Barbara Walters and talks weight loss
Star Jones returned to "The View" on Wednesday, February 22, more than five years after she exited the ABC morning show and had a falling out with head co-host, Barbara Walters.
The two hugged before Jones, 49, walked to the stage and sat down on the middle of the sofa occupied regularly by Walters, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd.
"You have a new couch," Jones said, looking around. "You got two black girls. Mmm hmm. ... God has blessed me - I am here."
Jones returned to the show to promote her involvement in the American Heart Association's "Go Red for Women" public information campaign. In 2010, both she and Walters underwent open heart surgery to repair faulty heart valves.
"The View" debuted in 1997 with four co-hosts - Jones, Walters, Meredith Vieira and Debbie Matenopoulos, who was axed two years later. The panel changed throughout the years.
Viera left in 2006 and joined NBC's "Today" show, while Jones departed after ABC opted not to renew her contract after market research showed that her dramatic weight loss and 2004 wedding to banker Al Reynolds had turned viewers off. She announced her exit on an episode of "The View," two days before the network had planned to confirm her departure to viewers.
"We were trying to protect you," Walters said on Wednesday. "Instead, you surprised us on the air."
The two later exchanged harsh words about one another in media interviews.
"It was ugly," Jones replied. "Everything around was ugly. It was bad, emotional time. Nasty things were being said in the media. I made the decision that I wanted to go out on my own terms."
Walters said she and Jones "cleared the air" between them.
"You've had a wonderful career," Walters said. "You look great. You look happy and we really are happy that you're back."
"You're now a skinny bitch, congratulations," Behar joked to Jones on Wednesday's episode.
Jones appeared overweight during the first few years she co-hosted "The View" and later looked visibly thinner. At the time, she maintained she lost weight due to diet and exercise. Rosie O'Donnell, who ended up replacing Viera on "The View," had questioned her methods. Jones revealed several years later that she had undergone gastric bypass surgery in 2003.
She addressed the controversy on "The View" on Wednesday, saying: "In this place that should've felt like my home, I didn't feel safe enough to talk about it."
"I really want people to understand that women who are massively obese, they are not healthy," she added. "The day of the surgery, I weighed 317 pounds. The first, I would say, 80 to 100 pounds, really came off through gastric bypass because you have to change your eating habits a lot. The next 60 pounds ... that really came off from a tremendous amount of hard work. I got emotionally healthy."
After her departure from "The View," Jones went on to appear on various celebrity news, game shows and reality programs, such as " Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" and "Celebrity Apprentice," which saw her feuding with "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star NeNe Leaks, who called her "a disaster."
Jones is also an author. Her latest book, "Satan's Sisters," hit stores in March 2011.