— -- When Barbara Walters and former executive producer Bill Geddie created the ABC daytime talk show “The View” in 1997, they envisioned a show that would bring together women of diverse backgrounds, generations and views to discuss and debate current events.
At times the debates have turned into what Walters called “family feuds.”
“And feuds seemed to be fueling the ratings,” she added.
Several current and former “View” co-hosts recalled their time on the show -- including some heated discussions and walk-off-the-set moments -- for an ABC News primetime special, “The View: 20 Years in the Making,” which airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
One memorable heated moment was when co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck got into a shouting match over the war in Iraq during a May 2007 taping.
“It was a horrible day to be in ‘The View’ studios,” Geddie said.
“This was kind of personal, this conversation,” added co-host Joy Behar. “It became a big argument on the air, and then there was a split screen.”
If you see a split screen on this show, “Don’t leave the room,” said former co-host Michelle Collins. “Fireworks, anger, blood, it’s like ‘Game of Thrones’ basically.”
The other co-hosts, along with the studio audience, watched in stunned silence as the debate between O’Donnell and Hasselbeck continued until Sherri Shepherd, who happened to be a guest host that day, and Behar tried to break the tension.
“I said to Joy, ‘We should pretend like we’re walking out of here,’ and that’s exactly what we did,” said Shepherd, who went on to become a permanent co-host from 2007 to 2014.
“It allowed people to laugh,” she continued. “It allowed Rosie and Elisabeth to calm down for a moment during the commercial break … Rosie said to me, ‘I want you to be on the show every day,’ and I said, ‘No, because y’all crazy. All of you are crazy.’”
Both O’Donnell and Hasselbeck declined to comment.
Other memorable moments, the co-hosts said, include when Behar fired back at guest RuPaul, famed drag queen turned TV personality and entrepreneur, for making a negative comment about her outfit. And there was the time when Star Jones, who co-hosted “The View” from 1997 to 2006, walked off the set during an interview with “Rosebudd,” an unapologetic former pimp.
But one of the most famous walk-offs happened when Behar and Whoopi Goldberg, who has been a “View” co-host since 2007, stormed off the set in the middle of an interview with guest Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
“’The View’ is an interesting forum for a guy like me because it’s primarily a progressive show,” O’Reilly said in a recent interview for the special. “And then I come out there and then Whoopi and Behar are looking at me like, you know, Dracula has just arrived.”
During his 2010 appearance, O’Reilly was discussing President Obama's stance on Park51, a Muslim community center slated to be built two blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan. The heated discussion became a shouting match after O’Reilly declared, “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”
Boos erupted from the studio audience as Behar and Goldberg fired back at O’Reilly for his comments and walked out of the interview.
Looking back on that moment, O’Reilly said, “I've never said this on television, but I will say the honest truth is, when Whoopi and Joy walked off the set I said, ‘This is great. This is great, maybe Elisabeth [Hasselbeck] can interview me the whole hour.’”
Goldberg declined to comment, but Behar remembers that day well.
“It was so uncomfortable to sit there with him and listen to this trash talk of an entire group of people,” Behar said. “I felt my behind being propelled out of the seat, you know, like a poltergeist.”
But, she added, Walters was not happy with them for walking out.
“You know, it’s our show,” Bill Geddie said of that day, laughing. “Make him walk off.”