When Whoopi Knew Rosie O’Donnell’s Return to ‘The View’ Would Be a Disaster
In 2007, ABC’s The View was still reeling from brief but explosive reign of Rosie O’Donnell. Looking for a moderator with wit and real star-power, Barbara Walters and her producers picked Whoopi Goldberg over Gayle King and other contenders.
Audiences simply loved Whoopi, and within a few years Barbara really came to admire the Oscar-winner who steered The View safely into the Obama era. Ratings were great, Rosie’s drama was gone, and it seemed like nothing could topple the show.
But there are no guarantees in TV. After lackluster View ratings during and after the 2012 election, ABC executives went looking for scalps. They quickly fired Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar in hopes of rebooting the show.
That didn’t work, either. The addition of Jenny McCarthy turned out to be a disaster for Barbara’s last season, and ABC execs got desperate: They decided to bring Rosie back. As has been reported, her second coming was worse than the first — and Whoopi knew it almost instantly.
Rosie antagonized Whoopi before the new season even began.
After Rosie’s re-hire in 2014, she had to learn how to fit back into The View with someone else (i.e., Whoopi) as moderator. Right off the bat, it looked like it would be an awkward transition. In the essential Ladies Who Punch, Ramin Setoodeh details Rosie’s bad approach her first day back.
While addressing the View staff, Rosie spoke of how it was everyone’s job “to make Whoopi better.” Setoodeh reports that this line stunned the room into silence. Rosie next said that they shouldn’t be planning to force Whoopi to retire like Barbara.
Needless to say, Rosie had a different take than everyone on staff — and one of the producers let Whoopi know right away. When Whoopi showed up on the set a little later that day, Setoodeh writes that she immediately sought out Rosie.
“What’s going on here?” she asked her. But it was about to get much worse in the weeks to come.
Rosie’s idea to start ‘View’ meetings earlier also irked Whoopi.
Can you imagine a co-worker (basically, a subordinate) suggesting everyone start meetings 30 minutes earlier in the mornings? Setoodeh reports that was Rosie’s idea upon her return in 2014, and it was basically Strike Two in the working relationship. (Whoopi didn’t do it.)
Strike Three came about two weeks into the season, when Rosie went off on Whoopi — directly to the audience — after Whoopi cut her off to go to a commercial break. After that, it seems to have escalated to an all-out war.
In a line that’s been quoted about a thousand times since Ladies Who Punch came out in April, Rosie said Whoopi was “as mean as anyone has ever been on television to me. Worse than Fox News.”
Clearly, self-awareness wasn’t Rosie’s strong suit. She didn’t seem to consider what taking on The View’s most popular host would do to her professionally or personally. By February, Rosie was gone from the show for the second time. There won’t be a third.