Walters: 'View' Will Go On but Rosie's Still Welcome

Walters Said the Former Co-Host Is Welcome to Return to 'The View' Anytime

May 29, 2007 —

With Rosie O'Donnell out, "The View" will bring new personalities to the table.

"There will be new people added to our panel," Barbara Walters, the show's creator and co-executive producer, said today. "We've been a hot show for 10 years. We're going to be a hot show for many years."

Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who engaged in the explosive debate last week that led to O'Donnell's early departure from the show, tried to patch things up with her former co-host over the weekend, saying the two are trying "to move on in a positive way."

O'Donnell was supposed to stay on the show for three more weeks, after deciding not to return next season.

Walters also said she had been in contact with O'Donnell over e-mail. She asserted they remained friends and said O'Donnell was welcome on "The View" at any time.

"We are very close friends and my admiration and affection for her, Rosie, if you're watching, nothing will change that," Walters said. "We will always be grateful to Rosie for her contribution this year. She's welcome to come back anytime she wants and we hope that it will be often."

Comedian Whoopi Goldberg joined Walters, Hasselbeck and Joy Behar on "The View" today. Goldberg is reportedly one of the top candidates being considered to replace O'Donnell, but she revealed nothing about her future on the show.

Sitting next to Walters, Goldberg said, "I'm just grooving. I'm just here, just hanging out."

O'Donnell Reflects on 'The View'

Over the weekend, O'Donnell painted a bleak picture of her yearlong stint on the talk show. In a video posted on her blog Saturday, O'Donnell said she felt like "the foster kid" on "The View" and admitted her chief writer vandalized a photo of Hasselbeck after their on-air shouting match.

"I was really just like the foster kid for a year," she said about her time on the ABC talk show. "I came and we considered adoption, but I really didn't fit into the family, and then it was time for the foster kid to go back home."

O'Donnell said in the video that she tried to get along with Hasselbeck but suggested they weren't compatible.

"I never tried harder to be friends with someone than I did with her from the get go, but I don't think we ended up there, anywhere close," she said.

O'Donnell's chief writer, Janette Barber, was allegedly escorted out of "The View" studios Thursday after she was caught drawing a moustache on a photo of Hasselbeck. In her video, O'Donnell shrugged off the prank.

"Janette, I love ya," she said. "It was only one photo, people, and it was a magazine cutout."

In the video, O'Donnell clarified her comments about the war in Iraq -- the comments that sparked the now-infamous debate with Hasselbeck.

"I don't defend the mullahs. I defend the innocent civilians living in Iraq who had nothing to do with attacking the United States and who are dying in unprecedented numbers because of the occupation by the U.S. forces," she said. "So I am against us being a bully, the U.S."

Answering a fan's question about whether "EH," apparently meaning Hasselbeck, offered any apologies, O'Donnell said EH spoke with "Kelli," apparently referring to O'Donnell's domestic partner, Kelli Carpenter.

"She called, and Kelli and her spoke for a long time," O'Donnell said. "And I haven't spoken to her, and I probably won't, and I think it's just as well. And I wrote her an e-mail, and she wrote me back. And there you have it."

The End of an Infamous Stint

After months of insults, controversy and showdowns, the news of 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 Saturday, Michael Ausiello, senior writer for TV Guide, said the search for O'Donnell's replacement is already in full gear.

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

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.

On Saturday's video blog, O'Donnell said, "If you do see me back on TV, it will be in a more peaceful forum."

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."