O'Donnell Leaving 'The View'


April 25, 2007 — -- ABC has been unable to come to a contractual agreement with Rosie O'Donnell. As a result, her hosting duties on "The View" will come to an end mid-June.

"They wanted me three years, I wanted one year, and it just didn't work," said O'Donnell on today's show.

Despite controversy -- or maybe because of it -- O'Donnell was good business for ABC, owned by the Walt Disney Co. Ratings for "The View" during February sweeps were up 15 percent in key women demographics over the same time in 2006.

Those fans don't have to worry -- she will still be on the show in smaller doses.

"I'm not going away. I'm just not going to be here every day," added O'Donnell.

According to Barbara Walters, creator and co-executive producer of "The View," the co-host will be missed.

"We have had, to say the least, an interesting year … an exciting, fun-filled, provocative year. We have all gotten together and you will be missed," Walters said, adding, "I do not participate in the negotiations for Rosie. It was between your representatives and agents. This is not my doing."

Brian Frons, the president of daytime programming for the Disney-ABC Television Group, told ABCNEWS.com, "Going in we knew we would have an amazing year with her, and that anything beyond that would be gravy...So here we are a year later, and while we've tried to come to terms on a deal that would extend her co-hosting duties on 'The View,' we find ourselves unable to agree on some key elements."

ABC executives weren't the only ones unable to agree on "key elements" with O'Donnell. The co-host and comedian has been the subject of recent headlines for her ongoing feud with real estate mogul Donald Trump, and a dispute with Bill O'Reilly over the war in Iraq.

Trump and O'Donnell butted heads when O'Donnell called him a "snake oil salesman," after he announced he would not fire scandal-plagued Miss USA Tara Conner. Trump threatened to sue O'Donnell, but later backed down. Conner's crown was in jeopardy after a bout of underage drinking and substance abuse, but Trump gave her a second chance.

Trump pushed Walters to fire O'Donnell for her wayward comments, even saying, "And here's my prediction. She will have a huge fight ultimately with Barbara Walters, and she will be fired."

On today's show, in response to O'Donnell's announcement, comedian and co-host Joy Behar had something to say about Trump. Behar said, "Donald Trump, he's on a ledge right now, thinking how am I going to resuscitate 'The Apprentice' now?"

In a statement released to ABCNEWS.com today, Walters said: "I induced Rosie to come back to television on 'The View' even for just one year. She has given the program new vigor, new excitement and wonderful hours of television."

Part of that excitement involved some of O'Donnell's heated debates with "The View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck and O'Donnell denied media speculation that their differences on set translated into animosity off the set. After O'Donnell's announcement today, Hasselbeck said to O'Donnell, "I think I'm kind of in denial. You are such a catalyst, you know how to just get in there, and because of that we've just taken off the shackles and had some real honest conversation here."

O'Donnell said: "This has been an amazing experience, and one I wouldn't have traded for the world. Working with Barbara, Joy and Elisabeth has been one of the highlights of my career, but my needs for the future just didn't dovetail with what ABC was able to offer me. To all the viewers out there, I just want to say 'thank you' for opening up your hearts and your homes to me this past year. But you can always find me at rosie.com. Here's hoping there's more confetti for all of us going forward."

Frons concurred: "That's the business, and something we knew was a real possibility the entire time. So we part as friends, and hope that we can entice Rosie back next year to take part in a series of one-hour specials for us like our recent show on autism. And maybe, if we're lucky, we'll be able to convince her to guest co-host once in a while as well."

A source close to O'Donnell told ABC News that co-hosting the show, and all the attending controversies, has been "stressful" for her, and added that O'Donnell is pursuing other TV show opportunities.

Walters added on today's show that they are prepared to be inundated with letters, and said, "We have not thought about a replacement."