US TV veteran Barbara Walters feels "betrayed" by her The View co-host STAR JONES REYNOLDS following her shock on-air announcement of her departure from the talk show. Walters, 74, was stunned when Jones Reynolds, 44, told viewers and her fellow presenters she would be leaving the ABC program after nine years yesterday morning (27JUN06), because the announcement was planned for Thursday (29JUN06). Speaking to camera, Jones Reynolds said, "Something's been on my heart for a little bit, and after much prayer and counsel I feel like this is the right time to tell you that the show is moving in another direction for its tenth season and I will not be returning as co-host next year." And in this week's (ends30JUN06) issue of People magazine, Jones Reynolds says, "What you don't know is that my contract was not renewed for the tenth season. I feel like I was fired." Walters, who created and produces the show, says, "I love Star and I was trying to do everything I possibly could - up until this morning when I was betrayed - to protect her. "I would have loved for Star to have left and not said 'I was fired,' and not make it look like the program was somehow being cruel to her." Walters admits ABC network bosses declined to renew Jones Reynolds' contract after research showed audiences were turned off by the former lawyer's dramatic weight loss and her 2004 marriage to Al Reynolds, where she plugged companies on air in exchange for freebies for her wedding. Walters adds, "We tried to talk them out of it and we tried to give Star time to redeem herself in the eyes of the audience, and the research just kept getting worse."