In the Wake of O'Donnell, 'The View' Searches for a Replacement

After months of insults, controversy and showdowns, the news of Rosie O'Donnell's departure from "The View" spread fast and furiously.

Though her contract wasn't up until June 20, O'Donnell announced Friday she would not return to "The View" after a controversial blowout Wednesday with her co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

On "Good Morning America Weekend," Michael Ausiello, senior writer for TV Guide, said the search for O'Donnell's replacement is already in full gear.

"We're hearing that Whoppi Goldberg is maybe the front runner," he said. "Personally, I think they should go with Gayle King."

The Feud to End All Feuds

O'Donnell and Hasselbeck's fight began two weeks ago, when O'Donnell commented on the number of Iraqi deaths and was accused of insinuating U.S. troops are the real terrorists in Iraq -- a claim she vehemently denies. On Wednesday, she called Hasselbeck a coward for not standing by her.

O'Donnell was absent from "The View" for the rest of the week. In a statement to Thursday, Barbara Walters, the show's creator and co-executive producer, said O'Donnell was off to celebrate her partner's birthday and there would be "peace in the kingdom" of "The View."

But Friday afternoon, ABC announced O'Donnell's stint on the talk show was done.

In a statement Friday, Brian Frons, president of Disney-ABC's Daytime Television Group, said, "We had hoped that Rosie would be with us until the end of her contract three weeks from now, but Rosie has informed us that she would like an early leave. Therefore, we part ways, thank her for her tremendous contribution to 'The View' and wish her well."

Walters said, "I brought Rosie to the show. Rosie contributed to one of our most exciting and successful years at 'The View.' I am most appreciative. Our close and affectionate relationship will not change."

In her own statement, O'Donnell said, "It's been an amazing year and I love all three women."

Raising Ratings, Causing Controversy

O'Donnell's one-year run produced the best ratings ever for "The View," which are up 18 percent thanks in part to many controversial moments.

"People like watching Rosie. People also like to watch Rosie because they don't like Rosie," said Joe Adalian, television editor for Variety. "People love her and people love to hate her."

In November, O'Donnell scolded talk show host Kelly Ripa for what she believed to be a homophobic slur toward Clay Aiken. The following month, the "Rosie verses the Donald" saga began, each insulting the other's character after O'Donnell derided Donald Trump's handling of the Miss USA controversy.

Trump jumped on the opportunity to respond to the latest O'Donnell development, telling the entertainment show Extra, "she's self-destructing, and it's too bad."

On Thursday, O'Donnell hinted at her decision to leave on her blog, writing, "When painting there is a point you must step away from the canvas as the work is done. Anymore would take away."

While O'Donnell will likely take some time off from TV, those who have followed her career have no doubt she'll make a comeback.

"She's a hot commodity even though she kind of went down in flames this time," Ausiello said.

As for the future of "The View," fans can expect to see O'Donnell replaced with a similarly opinioned, strong-willed woman. But filling her seat won't be an easy task.

"It's a big challenge now, filling her shoes -- whether you can fill her shoes," Ausiello said. "You need someone in there who's going to be unpredictable, who's not going to be afraid to speak her mind."