The one on yesterday’s The View I really feel bad for is guest panelist Sherri Shepherd. These Rosie-vs.-Elisabeth sandbox fights are kept under control when Barbara Walters is there to play kindergarten teacher, but when the substitute’s there, the kids get rowdy. The usually game Shepherd kept mostly quiet, outshouted by the others, while producers milked this wrestling match for all it was worth by airing it in split-screen (pictured) and refusing to cut to a commercial despite repeated pleas from Sherri and Joy Behar. Again, this wouldn’t have happened if Barbara had been around; I predict heads will roll, and they won’t be Rosie’s or Elisabeth’s.
I don’t want to go into the particulars of Wednesday’s face-off (which appeared different from previous O’Donnell/Hasselbeck arguments only in the producers’ willingness to let it drag on), except to say this: Joy started it. It began as a shoutfest between Elisabeth and Joy, who had kicked off the segment by reading a laundry list of criticisms of President Bush. At first, Rosie admirably refused to get involved, noting that when pundits discuss these skirmishes later, they distort them so that they seem to be about the personality clashes between Rosie and Elisabeth and not about the merits of their stated positions. (O’Donnell seems to be marking time until her tenure on The View ends in three weeks, hoping her last few shows will be trouble-free.) But finally, she couldn’t help herself and jumped in. Soon, this dispute really was about the personal, with Rosie accusing Elisabeth of being insufficiently supportive of her in public after the pair’s last dust-up. (It’s the same complaint she supposedly had about Barbara after Walters remained mum for too long about the O’Donnell-vs.-Trump war of words last winter.) You can watch a brief sample of yesterday’s fracas here; believe me, it’s plenty.
There have been rumors that, after yesterday’s fiasco, Rosie will leave the show before her final three weeks are up, but I guess we won’t know for sure until Monday. (Today, she’s scheduled to have a day off — it’s Kelli’s 40th birthday! — and Friday’s show is pre-taped.) If she does leave early, I’m going to stop watching now instead of next month. Unless Barbara moves quickly to announce a compelling new replacement for Rosie. Which brings me to my actual point: who should take Rosie’s place?
After all, as ugly and pointless as these arguments have been, let’s face it, they’re compelling television. (And the show’s ratings boost this year proves it.) With Rosie gone, who else could be opinionated, vocal, and fearless enough to keep this kaffeeklatsch interesting? I’m worried that Barbara will go back in the Meredith Vieira direction and hire someone more diplomatic to serve as moderator. But I’m hard-pressed to think of someone who could be as forceful as Rosie without being off-putting. My ideal choice would be Wanda Sykes, but who knows if she’d even want the job? Help Barbara out, PopWatchers, and suggest someone, because if it takes her as long to replace Rosie as it’s taken her to replace Star Jones (still waiting on that one…), the show will slump and never recover.