How Rosie O’Donnell Made Sure a Co-Host at ‘The View’ Got a Higher Salary

If you only had one word to describe Rosie O’Donnell’s time at The View, “tumultuous” might be the one to choose. The first time around (2006-07), O’Donnell started out like an unstoppable force, working as the show’s moderator with the full support of Barbara Walters.

But by the end of the year O’Donnell had alienated both cast and crew of The View. At one point, Mark Gentile, the show’s longtime director, called her “insane” and compared her to Pol Pot. It got so bad that Walters told ABC she would be leaving the show she’d created if O’Donnell stayed on.

While Walters’ ultimatum worked (O’Donnell was out shortly after), O’Donnell’s impact on The View didn’t end there. In fact, she helped Sherri Shepherd, then planning to join the show as a co-host, to negotiate a higher salary from ABC. So O’Donnell managed to stick it to her old show in absentia.

Rosie divulged salary details so Sherri Shepherd could better negotiate

Rosie O’Donnell, pictured here with Sherri Shepherd, returned to THE VIEW to a standing ovation in 2014. | Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

In Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View, Ramin Setoodeh heard directly from Shepherd about her salary negotiations in 2007. At the time, Shepherd’s marriage was disintegrating and she was fighting for custody of her child.

With her legal fees running high, Shepherd was in debt and worried the salary she’d been offered at The View wouldn’t get her out of it. “This is what they are offering me, which is hugely, grossly low,” Shepherd recalled telling O’Donnell.

Right away, O’Donnell started divulging what she and the other cast members had made the prior year. Crunching the numbers, Shepherd realized the show had offered her a salary that was lower than that of Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

O’Donnell believed Shepherd, who had a name a an actress then, should earn more at The View. So she recommended Shepherd return with a counter-offer. And she told her to request more valuable perks as well. Shepherd won on both counts.

Shepherd got the higher salary and added perks

THE VIEW – Rosie O’Donnell poses with the cast of ‘The View’ in 2014. | Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

The advice O’Donnell offered turned out to be golden. On top of the higher salary, Shepherd told Setoodeh ABC paid her rent for her first year in New York. (Shepherd, who has expensive taste in apartments, said that perk alone was worth $85,000.)

Meanwhile, Shepherd also got eight first-class tickets to Los Angeles so she could visit her son. (ABC’s original offer was one ticket.) In short, Rosie’s advice turned out to be worth well over six figures. Shepherd told Setoodeh she paid it forward when she had a chance to help colleagues (including Sheryl Underwood) later.

That encounter didn’t mark the end of the saga of O’Donnell and The View, of course. In 2014, after Walters retired and producers ended the brief Jenny McCarthy experiment, the deck was cleared for O’Donnell’s second coming. But that time around, she didn’t even make it through a full season.

Also seeWhy ‘The View’ Still Hasn’t Replaced Abby Huntsman