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For 'The View,' The Bloom Is Off the Rosie

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell's wild ride on "The View" is coming to an end, not even one year after it began.

"They wanted me three years, I wanted one year . . . it just didn't work. That's show business," she said at the top of yesterday's show.

Barbara Walters, the ABC daytime show's executive producer and on-air den mother, jumped in to make it "perfectly clear" that she had not participated in the negotiations to renew Rosie's contract.

"It was between [Rosie's] agents and ABC daytime. This was not my doing -- nor my choice," Walters said on-air, noting that it was she who had "induced" the longtime daytime talk show host to join "The View" gaggle.

Rosie, who replaced Meredith Vieira as co-host and moderator in September, will stick with the show until the end of June, Walters told the studio audience and viewers at home.

"Yes, per my contract," Rosie said, adding, "They're not kicking me out, don't worry."

Rosie has, in fact, been very very good for "The View." In the time she has been on the show, ratings among all viewers are up 17 percent compared with the same period of time in '06. And among women ages 18 to 34 -- the Holy Grail of daytime TV -- "The View" is up a whopping 20 percent with Rosie on board.

The Reporters Who Cover Television have had a full-time job keeping up with Rosie in her short 7 1/2 months on "The View."

Most famously, she traded insults with Donald Trump, who co-owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

That headline-grabbing war of words started in December, when Trump announced he would let then-Miss USA Tara Conner hang on to her crown in spite of reports of underage drinking, if she went into rehab.

The next day, Rosie called him a "snake-oil salesman" and said the twice-divorced Trump had no right to be a "moral compass" for the pageant winner.

Trump -- whose sagging NBC reality series "The Apprentice" was about to return -- retorted by calling her, repeatedly, fat and unattractive, sometimes adding "pig," and saying that he planned to send someone to lure away Rosie's partner, with whom she has four children. In the course of that media blitz, Trump also said that Walters told him she wanted to ditch O'Donnell. Walters has denied that claim.

Yesterday on "The View," co-host Joy Behar joked: "You know who's going to be really sad? Donald Trump." She speculated that he was, as she spoke, on a ledge, saying, "How am I going to resuscitate 'The Apprentice' now?"

Trump was not on a ledge at the time. He was talking about O'Donnell on Fox News Channel.

"I am not surprised. . . . Rosie is a very self-destructive person; she's a loser by any standard. I mean, she's got nothing going for her," he said.

"Rosie made Barbara look like a fool. She made her look like her lap dog. Barbara's the happiest person in the world that Rosie has been fired."

Then there was the time Rosie leapt to the defense of singer Clay Aiken, who while filling in for Regis Philbin on the syndicated talker "Regis & Kelly," jokingly put his hand over Kelly Ripa's mouth to get a word in edgewise. When Ripa stared daggers, Aiken said, "Oh, I'm in trouble!" and she shot back, "No, I just don't know where that hand's been, honey," which Rosie blasted the next day on "The View" as a "homophobic remark."

Kelly insisted it was a reference to it being cold and flu season; Rosie got attacked for having outed Aiken, who has refused to publicly discuss his sexuality; and the Internet was soon humming with video of Kelly putting her hand over Rege's mouth more than once on the air. Good times.

Hey, and how about the time Rosie went after "American Idol" for broadcasting the lousy auditions of two young men, one of whom had participated in the Special Olympics? The other had very large eyes that, "Idol" judge Simon Cowell said after the guy had left the room, made him look like an animal known as a bush baby.

Rosie assailed, among other things, the humiliation of "people who are obviously not capable to make a decision on whether or not they're strong enough to handle national humiliation."

A rep for Special Olympics International told The TV Column "Idol" should be commended for giving one of its former athletes the opportunity to be seen on national TV getting the Simon Cowell treatment. And both men segued from their lousy auditions to appearances on ABC's own Jimmy Kimmel-hosted late-night show, among other programs.

More recently, this past Monday in fact, Rosie made headlines with cracks about News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch -- and more about The Donald -- that she made at the annual New York Women in Communications luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria.

"This is a celebration of women who changed the world and no one understands why Rupert Murdoch is on the dais," Rosie joked, according to news reports. She added: "I mean that in the kind, loving [New York] Post-like way, sir; it's delightful to see you in person."

Rosie's move yesterday was not entirely unexpected. There had been reports she was interested in having her own talk show, as she did from '96 through 2002, and had been tickled by feelers coming from the direction of Warner Bros., which produced "The Rosie O'Donnell Show."

Back in December '06, trade publication TV Week noted that Jim Paratore, who was president of Telepictures when that division produced Rosie's show, now heads Warner Bros.-based ParaMedia. That company is producing the upcoming newsmag "TMZ," based on the Time Warner Web site of the same name -- the Web site that, incidentally, broke the story that Rosie was leaving "The View."

* * *

"American Idol" raised at least $30 million last night and no one went home. Yes, "Idol Gives Back" had absolutely nothing to do with the singing competition and a lot to do with the cluelessness of Hollywood celebrities, but mostly it was trying to overlook both and focus on the money being raised for needy children in Africa and here in the United States.

At the top of the show, host Ryan Seacrest was standing next to the six remaining Idolettes, all lined up, all wearing white pantsuits, like a Mr. Clean perp walk. Seacrest promised "the most shocking voting result in the show's history." He lied. Apparently the producers were worried you wouldn't stay tuned just to see Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Josh Groban, Earth, Wind & Fire, Annie Lennox, Il Divo, Celine Dion and Elvis Presley perform.

Yes, Elvis. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, he came back from the dead to sing a duet with Dion. Only he wasn't on a big screen, like when Natalie Cole sang that duet with her dear departed dad. Presley appeared to be right on stage with Dion and the Idolettes, singing his hit "If I Can Dream." It was a brilliant performance by Dion.

Some of the other, actually alive singers were also not actually at the Idol studio with Seacrest and gang. They performed instead from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A.; those bits were hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

After Tuesday's performance show, Seacrest said, more than 70 million votes were cast, which is a record. Fox parent company News Corp. is kicking in 10 cents per vote. But only for the first 50 million, which means $5 million. Your other 20 million votes didn't raise any money, because that would have cost News Corp. -- a company with a $3 billion cash flow last year and yes that's billion with a B -- another $2 million.

Did I mention that every three seconds, a child dies in extreme poverty? I learned that on "Idol Gives Back" last night.

For the next hour and 50-some minutes, we were treated/subjected to a hideous mix of excruciating video of mothers dying of AIDS and babies dying of malaria, interspersed with things like a video in which 35 celebrities sing and dance to -- and you have no idea how much I wish I was kidding -- the Bee Gees tune "Stayin' Alive."

On the bright side, you can download the video on iTunes and the money will go toward the fundraiser. Nope, I'm sorry, that doesn't make it any better. David Schwimmer, Hugh Laurie, Lisa Kudrow, Helen Mirren, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Hugh Grant, Teri Hatcher, Keira Knightley, Kirstie Alley, Miss Piggy -- shame on you.

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