One of the vacancies on ABC’s longtime hit daytime television talk show “The View” has been filled by Jenny McCarthy, the former Playboy Playmate and actress.
The show’s creator, Barbara Walters, announced on the air Monday morning that McCarthy would become the next co-host on the program.
Her selection had been widely expected; she has been a frequent guest host on the program and her name was at the top of the list for prospective permanent hosts.
McCarthy will fill one of the empty chairs left by the departures of Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, both of whom had long been regulars on the program. Hasselbeck left for Fox News last week and Behar is scheduled to leave next month.
McCarthy will start on “The View” on Sept. 9.
To accept the position, McCarthy had to win a separation from the VH1 network, where she had been hosting a late-night show. That show has not been scoring big ratings.
McCarthy, 40, has had roles in a few short-lived situation comedies but is probably best known on television for the game show “Singled Out” on MTV, where she was a host in the 1990s.
In a statement, Walters said, “Jenny brings us intelligence as well as warmth and humor.”
“She can be serious and outrageous,” Walters added. “She has connected with our audience and offers a fresh point of view.”
But McCarthy has also been the subject of intense criticism from groups associated with autism for her frequent statements tying the condition — from which she has said her son suffered — to vaccines for immunization.
That much-debated and widely disproved theory has led to unnecessary illnesses in children, according to child health experts.
One group, Every Child by Two, which has begun a campaign to urge parents to vaccinate their babies, sent a letter Monday to producers of “The View,” including Walters, saying:
“Ms. McCarthy’s unfounded claims that vaccines cause autism have been one of the greatest impediments to public health in recent decades. These false assertions, in addition to her condemnation of public health officials and the medical community overall, has spread fear among young parents, which has led to an increased number of children who have not received lifesaving vaccines.”
Lauri Hogan, a spokeswoman for “The View,” said the show had made no request to McCarthy that she keep the vaccine issue off limits.
“All the hosts speak openly on a variety of topics and as has been stated repeatedly, Hot Topics are not scripted,” Hogan said in an email, referring to the part of the show in which the hosts discuss issues in the news.
Even after naming McCarthy, “The View” will still have decisions to make, first to fill the other current vacancy, and then whether another person will be added when Walters herself leaves the show a year from August.
PHOTO: This undated image released by ABC shows Jenny McCarthy on "The View," in New York. The actress and former Playboy playmate was named Monday, July 15, to join the panel of the ABC weekday talk show "The View." Barbara Walters, who created “The View” in 1997 and has since served as a co-host, made the widely expected announcement on the air. (AP Photo/ABC, Donna Svennevik)