Why Whoopi Almost Left ‘The View’ Right After Rosie O’Donnell
If you want see peak TV turmoil, just look at ABC’s The View in 2014. Barbara Walters, the show’s creator and eternal co-host, had retired in May. New co-hosts Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd both got fired in June. And longtime producer Bill Geddie got forced out with them.
Enter Rosie O’Donnell (not known as a stabilizing force), who would make her second run at The View beginning in the fall. Before long, the idea that Rosie would be the show’s savior became absurd, and Whoopi Goldberg knew almost instantly that Rosie would again be a disaster.
Rosie’s departure came in early 2015 — sooner than even skeptical observers could have predicted. At that point, you could safely say the show was in a shambles and in danger of being canceled altogether. Ratings were poor, morale was in the toilet, and turnover was high.
In Ramin Setoodeh’s Ladies Who Punch, the reader finds Whoopi as the last titan standing at that moment in time. However, she hadn’t planned to wear the crown and save The View. In fact, Setoodeh said Whoopi also considered leaving the show right after the Rosie debacle.
Whoopi had problems with ‘View’ staff both on- and off-camera.
If you were Whoopi Goldberg, you’d probably take stock of the situation after the tense final years of Barbara Walters and the brief, nightmarish return of Rosie. After all, Whoopi had had a huge film career in the ’90s and remained a star in movies and TV into the first decade of this century.
In other words, she could probably leave the View drama behind and find her way on another winning project. According to Setoodeh in Ladies Who Punch, Whoopi’s issues at ABC extended beyond Rosie’s second coming on the show. There were also major troubles behind the scenes.
Setoodeh says Whoopi also had problems with the ABC News staff that had taken the reins of The View from the network’s daytime division around that time. She thought they’d botched various aspects of the reboot, leaving her to defend the show on her own.
She even mentioned to producers that she was ready to quit, Setoodeh wrote. But she decided to stay on in a reduced role (with reduced pay) in 2015 so she could plot her next move.
Whoopi’s shift to 4-day weeks made ‘The View’ work for her.
Because of the ratings decline and generally messy situation, Whoopi wasn’t in a position to keep her $5 million a year salary going after 2015. According to Setoodeh, she agreed to have it knocked down to $4 million with the understanding she would take Fridays off.
With that deal, Whoopi would have the chance to set up an escape hatch if the show crashed and burned that year. (Besides, who doesn’t like four-day weeks?) Of course, the show didn’t flame out. In fact, it enjoyed a rebound when Joy Behar returned to the fold.
After the 2016 election, ratings had returned to what they had been in Barbara’s last years. What the show needed turned out to be Barbara’s original concept: a group of ladies who could entertain and discuss important issues at the same time.