Barefoot Rosie O’Donnell Professes Love For Nicolle Wallace In Return To ‘The View’

An overhauled The View kicked off this morning with no fireworks, but, of course, it’s only Day 1. The show opened glutinously, with The New Ladies Of The View kissing the rings of Barbara Walters, sitting on a throne, who ordered them to “go out there and let them see why we have the best show in daytime TV.” (Babs stuck around for the rest of the show,  looking sort of third wheel-ish, according to a source.)

Whoopi Goldberg assumed her long-held position of air traffic controller, settling that question for now as to whether she or Rosie View PremiereO’Donnell would get the controls. Rosie, however, made sure all eyes were on her as the new gang gathered around The View’s traditional kitchen table — only now a much smaller table, and shiny white in keeping with the show’s new shiny white in-the-round set. Rosie sat barefoot, with her feet up on the seat of her chair as she assumes the lotus position.

“I haves sciatica, and I’m trying to stretch,” Rosie explains. Anybody buy that? Me neither. She shows off her pedicure, and says she’d happy now, having married and lost 50 pounds after having a heart attack two years ago, thanks to a vertical gastric sleeve which she said can “save your life” after you’ve tried everything else and your body “starts to break down, like my heart did.”

Rosie manages to remain front and center through the rest of the new-cast introductions.

When Rosie Perez is introduced, O’Donnell high fives her.

When Nicolle Wallace is introduced, Rosie jumps in: “I really like her – I swear to god! It’s all real this year. Everything is true – I actually love her!” Wallace looks uncomfortable.

When Whoopi notes she’s returned “like bad gas,” and mentions she lost some weight during the show’s break because she had gotten up to 217 pounds “which was way too much of me,” Rosie trumps that by about 15 pounds Before Sleeve.

Wallace, maybe the most interesting add to the panel, imitates a deer caught in headlights until the talk turns to Hillary Clinton showing up on “book tour” in Iowa. Then Wallace blossoms, but not in a strident way. Wallace is one of those insiders who treats politics like a contact sport, rather than a religious calling, as did her predecessor on the show, Elisabeth Hasselback, with whom Rosie famously clashed during her previous time on the show. In a video ABC posted before this morning’s debut, Rosie said that Hasselbeck period had been very stressful and, going forward, “I don’t ever want to be paid to fight with another woman. I’m a feminist. Proud to be one…No matter what the price, I would never argue with a pregnant woman, for money. So I had to go.”

Wallace talks about Hillary showing up in Iowa recently. Hillary has no good reason to show up in Iowa on “book tour,” Wallace says. “Hillary and Iowa are not good friends.” Whoopi resents people assuming she will vote for a woman just because. Wallace notes nobody gets pandered to more than Latinos during presidential elections — Perez says she loves that. Wallace notes Hillary last time she ran got nicked for “not tapping into the sisterhood” and wonders if she’ll get that right this time and insists Hillary is running — “100 percent.” Rosie mostly does not engage.

View New Logo ABCThe Hot Topics segment is clunky — like a bunch of ladies just getting to know each other — Wallace says she only found out 10 days ago she was a go. Hottest Hot Topic: Ray Rice suspension from the Baltimore Ravens after TMZ released video of him punching his now-wife in an elevator back in February. It’s a pretty tired subject at this point, given the exhaustive 24/7 coverage on cable news and The Ladies divvy up reactions: Whoopi doesn’t understand why people are freaked out now, given that the incident happened months ago. Perez thinks the video showed Ray “cold clocked” her in a way that was “perhaps just too casual.” Wallace notes the “head of the NFL came up through the PR ranks and “he knows” what a public relations nightmare this is. Rosie says it would be wonderful if people who engage in violent behavior professionally could separate that from their private lives “but I don’t think that’s how the human brain works.”

After the break, Whoopi tries to talk to Wallace about Sarah Palin, but can’t do so without laughing. It’s Rosie Perez, not Rosie O’Donnell, who asks Wallace:

What was it like when you first met her?

Did the winking get on your nerves?

When did you want to just pop her?

Wallace says she was high on Vicodin after root canal surgery when she met Palin, who seemed “pretty cool” at the time, but their relationship went south and died entirely with the infamous What Newspapers Do You Read interview with Katie Couric which, Wallace says, Palin thought was a set up.

Rosie  — O’Donnell, that is — does bring up the whole President Bush flying over Katrina PR disaster — Wallace says she was off-duty at the time, getting married. Phew!

Wallace also talks about her worst PR disaster in the Bush White House : VPOTUS Dick Cheney shooting a pal in the face while hunting and the Cheneys wanting to keep it under wraps — out of consideration for their friend, of course — and she finally had to get Bush himself to convince Cheney to do an interview about the shooting, on Fox News Channel.

The show ends saccharinely, like it began, with a tribute to Joan Rivers, who was a frequent guest on the show. No In Memoriam is complete without  live singing —  Kristen Chenoweth does the honors. The Ladies of The View who knew Rivers — she was on the show 34 times — reminisce. They all hug.

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