Candid Whoopi Goldberg Looks Just Rosie To ABC's 'View'

By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 2, 2007

Brash, outspoken, politically liberal Whoopi Goldberg will replace brash, outspoken, politically liberal Rosie O'Donnell as moderator of ABC's daytime gabfest "The View," co-host and executive producer Barbara Walters announced on yesterday's show.

"She's brilliant, she's funny, she's an enormous talent, she's an Oscar-winning actress, a Broadway superstar and we have her!" Walters said excitedly when introducing Goldberg to the equally excited studio audience at the end of the program.

"My goodness, can I handle it?" Goldberg said as she settled into the moderator's seat.

The actress, 51, who has frequently served as a guest panelist on "The View," starts on Sept. 4 when the show's 11th season begins. She will continue to host her nationally syndicated morning radio show, "Wake Up With Whoopi."

"There are so many great opportunities in 'The View' to just sit and sort of explore ideas and learn a whole bunch of stuff that I don't know anything about and have some fun," Goldberg said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Neither Walters nor Goldberg would discuss the specifics of the contract. "We have a commitment," Walters said in a separate interview.

The show, with its unique all-woman format and its candid discussions of current events and the panelists' personal lives, has drawn headlines in the last year, mostly because of O'Donnell's no-holds-barred statements. In the spring, O'Donnell announced she would leave the program in June after not being able to reach contract terms with ABC. But she left in May, three weeks ahead of schedule, after an on-air heated exchange over terrorism with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a frequent political foe.

Besides her tiffs with Hasselbeck, O'Donnell also made headlines when she traded insults with mogul Donald Trump, accused daytime host Kelly Ripa of being homophobic, insinuated that "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul was a drunk and insulted News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch at a public event.

"The View" averaged 3.5 million viewers during O'Donnell's turbulent nine-month stint, a 17 percent increase compared with the same period a year earlier. Among the show's targeted audience of women 18 to 34, "The View" increased 20 percent with O'Donnell as co-host.

Regardless of whether Goldberg will be as controversial as her predecessor, life may not get easier for the politically conservative Hasselbeck with the new moderator sitting across the table. During a John Kerry fundraiser in 2004, Goldberg went on a political rant against President Bush and made a sexual pun using his surname, a joke that cost her an endorsement deal with the diet program Slim-Fast.

In a recent interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Channel, Goldberg said, "I'm still not a fan of the war in Iraq. I think we went in under misguided ideals and with no real way to get out."

During yesterday's show, a beaming Hasselbeck said it was a "thrill" to have Goldberg on "The View."

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