Rosie O'Donnell Describes Strife on 'The View'

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rosie O'Donnell, promoting her forthcoming NBC Thanksgiving Eve variety special/backdoor pilot, told reporters yesterday that being on "The View" -- from which she departed hastily and publicly -- left her with something akin to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The experience was like gathering the whole family at Nanna's for Thanksgiving and Nanna wanting everyone to get along and pretend everything is hunkydunky even though one couple is on the verge of divorce and another family member is a drug addict, O'Donnell elaborated.

In much the same way, O'Donnell said, "The View" exec producer and sometime star Barbara Walters "wanted everyone to believe and think and act as if [the show's on-air personalities] get along and are really good friends and happy and hang out together and . . . that's just not the reality."

"I'm not saying we loathed each other, but there wasn't a lot of off-camera camaraderie. . . . What happened on the show was a personal argument with a friend [Walters] that was publicly displayed. I didn't want to be paid to fight."

If O'Donnell's new variety show attracts enough viewers -- the night before Thanksgiving is traditionally one of low television use as family members travel over the river and through the woods to Nanna's house -- NBC will probably order six more episodes, to debut in January. After that, NBC can keep buying the show in six-episode increments, O'Donnell told reporters in a news conference call.

The special is live with a five-second delay, which O'Donnell insists isn't needed because "this is not a show about Guantanamo" and "there is no production number about torture," she said.

Contrary to what appeared to be the common view among reporters on the phone call, O'Donnell said she can host a show without being political, citing her first daytime talker.

"Your perception of my career may be skewed" by recent events, she finally told one reporter.

"I didn't grow up thinking, 'I hope I can talk about politics.' . . . It only became about that with the job on 'The View,' " she said. "I took the job on 'The View' . . . knowing what the job description was.

"It was conversation that needed to be had and I started the ball rolling," O'Donnell said. "For that show to be taken seriously as a political show -- I had to fight long and hard to get them to address [political hot-button issues]. They wanted to talk about lipstick shades."

O'Donnell said she does not regret doing a year on "The View," even though it ended so angrily, because she thinks she "kicked it up a notch" and made it "relevant in pop culture in a way that it hadn't been before."

On the other hand, what she thinks the TV-viewing country needs now is not arguing over politics but a variety show -- one without judges, that is, one that will "never" have Donald Trump as a guest, and one that does not book celebrities who have something to sell and who tell the "same four stories" from program to program.

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