Rosie’s taking a little extra time to enjoy The View.
The rumors that the former Queen of Nice – who dramatically abdicated her throne after less than a year on-air in 2007 – is heading back to the morning talk show are enough to make Elisabeth Hasselbeck quake in her boots. While the cast is in flux for now (only Whoopi Goldberg remains from last season’s cast), whomever fills the panel will have a fiery liberal presence to contend with. Never quiet, always honest, Rosie O’Donnell’s first time on The View was a tenure to remember – and one we could never forget.
O’Donnell’s position on The View panel was controversial as soon as the show announced she’d been hired as the new moderator – a somewhat curious position for such an outspoken individual, considering the previous woman in the position was the far more milquetoast Meredith Viera. But the controversy really kicked in when previous panelist Star Jones quit suddenly on the air. Jones and O’Donnell had never quite seen eye to eye – the former’s dramatic weight loss led the latter to accuse her of having gastric bypass surgery. (O’Donnell would later turn out to be correct in that assumption.) Yet her first day quickly proved what would come to be true: O’Donnell’s passion played a huge role in the show’s revived position in the zeitgeist.
O’Donnell launched herself into the cultural conversation on plenty of occasions, but her feud with Donald Trump sticks out as special. Annoyed that Miss USA Tara Conner (remember her?) was being given another chance in the position after getting embroiled in a drug scandal, O'Donnell took aim at Trump on the show, complete with imitated accent and faux combover. Trump, not exactly a bastion of self-awareness, didn't take this well. He tore into O'Donnell, telling every microphone he could find that he was going to sue her. (He did not sue her.) Show matriarch Barbara Walters, a friend of Trump's, felt stuck in the middle, but she did proudly state on an episode that she "never regretted" hiring O'Donnell. No word on if she regrets being friends with Trump.
The split screen
Tensions between O’Donnell and Hasselbeck had been growing for months. The two women didn’t agree on anything, really, but O’Donnell apparently considered Hasselbeck a friend despite all that. So when O’Donnell came under fire for a comment she made on the show (“If you were in Iraq and another country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655 thousnad of your citizens, what would you call us?”), and Hasselbeck didn’t come to her defense, O’Donnell got mad. On the May 23, 2007 episode – which would wind up being her last – O’Donnell exploded at Hasselbeck, and she returned in kind. Things got personal, with O’Donnell complaining that she was constantly cast as a bully to Hasselbeck, while the conservative firebrand bit back with her own defense (“‘'Poor little Elisabeth' isn't poor little Elisabeth," she retorted). It all ended with a split-screen fight that angered O’Donnell, causing her to terminate her time on the show early.
Proving that you can’t keep a good force of nature down, O’Donnell came back to the show – along with every co-host in the show’s history – for one of Walters’ last episodes. Though surely everyone was eager to see what Debbie Matenopoulos was up to, the real story was O’Donnell’s reunion with Hasselbeck. (O’Donnell had returned for an early 2014 episode, but Hasselbeck was already off the show at that point.) Luckily for Walters and unluckily for the rest of us, the two women played nice. We’re hoping that if O’Donnell is joined by another rumored View co-host, they won’t be so cordial.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported that O'Donnell's return to the show was official, but it has yet to be confirmed. We were excited. We're sorry.