The View re-launches Monday morning with a new executive producer, new logo, new set, new token conservative, and — maybe most interesting to Monday’s viewers — the triumphant return of Rosie O’Donnell. O’Donnell left under a cloud after a short ’06-‘07 run as co-host, in which she famously clashed with co-creator and on-air Den Mom Barbara Walters, then-token conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Friend Of The Show Donald Trump.
That said, new-new co-host Nicolle Wallace is no slouch on the viewer-interest front, having served as a communications bigwig in George W. Bush’s White House. After that run ended, in 2008 she was a senior advisor for the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, high enough up that she was portrayed by Sarah Paulson in the 2012 HBO film Game Change. She later told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that Paulson’s performance was “true enough to make me squirm.”
Rosie Perez – the panel’s most under-the-radar addition despite her handful of Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe nominations – was a guest host on the show in February. Maybe more importantly, she’s also been a guest on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program, formerly exec produced by the guy who’s now in the same role at The View, Bill Wolff. His hire – and Wallace’s — are seen as a signal that the show is committing to covering politics. Wallace and Perez replaced Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy.
But if you’re the sort who believes no publicity is bad publicity, Rosie O’s re-hire was controversial even before her first co-host slot back with the show.
Last Valentine’s Day, when she showed up for the first time since that hasty ’07 exit, Walters explained at the time, it was “Valentine’s time, heart – everything – to catch up.” It also was National Wear Red Day – a plug for women’s health issues, heart disease being the No. 1 killer of U.S. women, and Rosie a heart-attack victim a couple of years earlier.
Still, the explanation seemed a bit thin – especially when Babs invited Rosie to stick around to join The Ladies of The View for the Hot Topics segment. Rosie stage whispered to Babs as they cut to commercial, “Don’t worry, I’ll be good,” followed by, “Is Hasselbeck here? Just checking!”
After a Hot Topics dance around a report about Dylan Farrow blogging accusations of abuse at the hands of Woody Allen when she was 7, Rosie played to the audience, asking, “How did I do on that one? That one was tenacious. I could’ve been bad. I could’ve said something even worse – but I was editing!” The studio audience loudly applauded its approval.
But after a return stint in May, when Rosie joined all other former co-hosts in saying farewell to Walters, Hasselbeck used her Fox News Channel platform to say Rosie said she’d produced that reunion show. Soon after came reports that Rosie was coming back full time and would have veto power over other new co-hosts.
Back then, Hasselbeck said what’s sure to be on many people’s minds today as they tune in to the season debut: “Let’s not forget Whoopi Goldberg is sitting there and Whoopi is not going to let anyone control her…She has actually more trophies…than Rosie — she’s the leader on that show. I’m going to be very interested to see how that goes.”
So will many others, no doubt, which is exactly what ABC is counting on.