Source: ‘The View’ ‘chemistry testing’ for a conservative host as ‘Rachel Maddow’ producer joins the show

Whoopi Goldberg, Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd on "The View."

Whoopi Goldberg, Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd on "The View."  (©2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. )

The search for a conservative panelist for “The View” continues.

ABC executives are in the process of “chemistry testing” candidates to fill the seat once occupied by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, an insider connected to the daytime talk show told FOX411. Meghan McCain was considered, but she declined an offer.

As it stands right now, the show is skewing largely to the left. Its only confirmed panelists are Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell, who is returning this fall following a controversial 2006-2007 season.

“They’re desperately looking,” the insider said. “After last season, they can’t afford to make a mistake and really need to find the person who will bring spark back into the show.”

The network did not renew Jenny McCarthy’s contract for a second season – we’re told that was because she “simply didn’t appeal to the daytime audience market.” Sherri Shepherd also left the show after seven years.

In an interview with Variety earlier this year, the show’s co-creator, Barbara Walters – whose position is also open following her June retirement – stressed the importance of having a conservative on the program. While executives are looking for a woman on the right, Walters’ departure frees them to make much bigger and broader changes.

Executives are apparently so determined to revive the show’s “familiar” winning formula that there has been talk of bringing back Joy Behar, an original host from 1997-2013 who had “good television chemistry with Rosie,” the insider said. But a representative for Behar said they that had not been approached.

They also have replaced executive producer and co-creator Bill Geddie and hired Bill Wolff, longtime producer of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” to run the show. 

“Other staff members are very happy with the decision and think Bill will bring a lot to the table,” the insider said. “Bill and Barbara were very close, but ABC is shaking things up.”

Over the past year, ABC reportedly offered positions to prominent conservative personalities including The Blaze’s Dana Loesch, S.E Cupp of CNN “Crossfire” and Hot Air’s Mary Katharine Ham. Names including Sarah Palin have also been speculated upon.

The network declined to comment.

“But one thing is for sure,” the source said. “Expect a lot more changes to happen in the coming weeks, both in front of the camera and behind it.” 

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Hollie McKay has been a staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay