When news blew up over the weekend that Rosie O’Donnell planned to quit “The View” — yes, again — it was reasonable to assume that the panelists, never ones to shy from “hot topics,” would, you know, at least mention it on Monday’s episode.
No one said a word about it.
“So,” Whoopi Goldberg laughed at the top of the show. This opener drew a sustained, knowing cheer from the audience, sensing she was about to cue up something big.
Instead, Whoopi was all business. “Hello. Welcome to ‘The View,'” Whoopi said in a stilted tone. She turned to O’Donnell. “You had a big weekend this weekend Rosie, tell everybody about it.”
“Yeah,” O’Donnell said, then offered this: “I had a documentary premiere at the Athena Film Festival.”
Um, okay? O’Donnell spent the next few minutes plugging her stand-up comedy documentary, which premieres on HBO this Saturday. And that was all we learned about O’Donnell. (An ABC rep later confirmed that this is indeed her last week on the show.)
Strangely, she was much more open in the press about her reasons for leaving. She told People magazine that she was leaving because her doctor worried about the stress load attached to her job on “The View,” especially because O’Donnell had a heart attack in 2012. O’Donnell’s rep confirmed to Page Six that O’Donnell recently split with her wife, and that she wants to be home for her five kids.
“She is putting her personal health and family first,” said O’Donnell’s rep. “ABC has been wonderfully understanding and supportive of her personal decision to leave ‘The View.’”
As some may remember, this is the second time that an O’Donnell stint on the “The View” has ended abruptly. In 2007, she quit after a fiery on-air argument with Elisabeth Hasselbeck about the Iraq War. (This was after multiple on-air controversies, including one famous battle with Donald Trump.)
An extensive report in Variety says that after she returned, a more subdued O’Donnell again clashed with executives, who wanted her to bring the ratings — and were unhappy when she could not.
Meanwhile, it could well be a sinking ship that O’Donnell is leaping from anyway. It’s no secret that “The View” ratings have been sinking this season — things haven’t been the same since creator Barbara Walters left last spring. ABC’s news division took over the program last year, but as we reported earlier, even reports of vicious squabbling (once a ratings driver!) may not be enough to save the show.
Later in the day, O’Donnell released a video on YouTube explaining that she didn’t want to talk about her departure on the show because she had already talked to reporters over the weekend while promoting her movie. The real reason she’s leaving, she said, was health-related.
“The truth is, I had a heart attack two years and stress is very big for heart attack survivors,” she said. “I’m minimizing my stress by leaving ‘The View.’ And the stress I’m having at home is not as easily remedy-able.”