Controversial View co-host Rosie O'Donnell is exiting the show after a final on-air dust-up with fellow co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck over the Iraq war. Disney-ABC allowed O'Donnell's early exit, although her contract did not expire until June 20. She had announced in April that she would not return to the show after this, her first season.
O'Donnell in this case accused Hasselbeck of not coming to her defense when members of the conservative press interpreted a comment she made to mean that U.S. troops were terrorists. In a commercial-free segment that ran longer than ten minutes, producers displayed a split screen of the two sparring on air.
"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,” said Disney-ABC's Daytime Television Group President Brian Frons. “Therefore, we part ways, thank her for her tremendous contribution to 'The View' and wish her well."
O’Donnell’s on-air antics helped lead The View this season to the best ratings in its ten-year history, but the former so-called Queen of Nice fought with Disney-ABC over terms for a new contract (she wanted $10 million for one year; they wanted to pay her $6 million a year for three years). She is now said to be weighing options for another solo TV venture, including producing her own syndicated talk show and farming it out to an outside distributor
"I'm extremely grateful,” said O’Donnell in a statement. “It's been an amazing year and I love all three women."
When O’Donnell announced her departure from the show, she said on-air that she intended to return for guest-hosting stints.
Said View creator/co-executive producer Barbara Walters in a statement, "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."
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