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Rosie, we hardly 'View' ye

Damn.

I was really hoping this mess would be resolved with some class, and that Rosie would finish out her last three weeks on The View and get a proper send-off, borne aloft by a platoon of Broadway chorus boys. But no.

Rosie’s sudden announcement of her early departure was marked by carefully worded spin from nearly everyone involved (except for Elisabeth, who impressed me for the first time ever by saying nothing). Rosie’s statement said she was “grateful” for her “amazing” year on the show, “and I love all three women.” (Translation: I don’t hate Elisabeth, really, I don’t!) For her part, Barbara Walters said she was “most appreciative” of O’Donnell’s contribution to the show and that “our close and affectionate relationship will not change.” (Translation: Don’t expect me to invite you and Kelli to one of my dinner parties anytime soon.) And ABC’s president of daytime TV said, “We had hoped that Rosie would be with us until the end of her contract three weeks from now,” (because the ratings will plummet as soon as she’s gone) “but Rosie has informed us that she would like an early leave.” (And we were only too happy to get this PR nightmare behind us as quickly as possible.) “Therefore, we part ways,” (Please clean up those defaced portraits of Hasselbeck before security escorts you from the building) “thank her for her tremendous contribution to The View” (those cat-fights sure made for great TV, didn’t they?) “and wish her well.” (If you decide to launch your own morning show, may we bid for it? We won’t tell Barbara if you don’t.)

I’m still kinda puzzled; I didn’t expect Rosie to walk away from afight, and I figured she’d stick around for three more weeks just tospite the naysayers. But she seems to feel really hurt and betrayed(judging by her answers to her fans’ questions on her blog),not just by Walters and Hasselbeck, but by the behind-the-scenes folkswho framed Wednesday’s tussle in a, exploitative, Fox News-esquesplit-screen and let it drag out to a punishing length. Maybe she feltit wasn’t worth staying if even the producers weren’t going to supporther, and that the only way to save face was to set her own departure date and leave early, just like Star Jones did a year ago. Which means her final episode was today’s pre-taped installment. No weepy hugs, no montage of embarrassing moments, no chorus boys.

Not sure how the show is going to handle her absence: will it justbe Elisabeth, Joy Behar, and Barbara (or a revolving roster of guestpanelists) sitting around the big table? Will Joy, who startedWednesday’s fight with her own political diatribe, become even moreoutspoken in Rosie’s absence? How quickly will ABC move to name a newpanelist or panelists? And who will earn the honor of sticking their hand in this hornet’s nest being charged with attracting an audience to replace the throng who will leave with Rosie sitting at the right hand of Barbara Walters?

Originally posted May 25 2007 — 10:55 PM EDT

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