When Rosie O’Donnell returns to ABC’s The View on Monday (15 September), she will join a revamped show that has her co-hosting with a returning Whoopi Goldberg and newcomers Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace.
One person who won’t be there will be Elisabeth Hasselbeck whose on-air clash with O’Donnell in 2007 was so traumatic (see video below) that O’Donnell left the show nearly a month before her one-year contract had expired.
‘The day it happened, I was definitely crying,’ O’Donnell tels Variety. ‘I got my stuff and walked out.’
She called her publicist and said: ‘‘I’m never going back. You have to call and tell them. Call the lawyer. No matter what they say, I will not go back.’
But that was then.
Since that rocky time, O’Donnell has lost 55 pounds after suffering a heart attack, hosted a short-lived talk show on The Oprah Winfrey Network and taken on various acting gigs including a recurring role on the ABC Family series The Fosters.
She also returned to a far different The View twice last spring and was so impressive that ABC executives set out to get her back on the show which had lost its creator Barbara Walters to retirement.
And this time around, there would be no Hasselbeck who left in summer of 2013 to host Fox and Friends for Fox News. Also gone is producer Bill Geddes who O’Donnell had been upset with for running a split screen of her infamous on-air verbal battle with Hasselbeck.
O’Donnell recalled what life was like under the old regime during her previous run on the show.
‘Elisabeth would go into the dressing room with (Bill) and go over Republican talking points that are sent out every day, and then come out and recite what she had ingested,’ O’Donnell says.
‘I tried to get her to talk more about her own self and how she felt rather than being a robotic pundit.’
Last May, O’Donnell and Hasselbeck appeared friendly on the air when all of the show’s co-hosts – past and present – turned out for Walters’ farewell show.
Before the screening, O’Donnell said she knocked on the door of Hasselbeck’s dressing room to take a selfie with her.
It was the first time they’d spoken in seven years.
When it was announced a few months later that O’Donnell was returning to the show as a co-host, Hasselbeck had some very harsh things to say to her Fox and Friends audience.
‘Here in comes to The View the very woman who spit in the face of our military, spit in the face of her own network, and, really, in the face of a person who stood by her and had civilized debates for the time that she was there – coming back with a bunch of control, ready to regain a seat at The View table,’ she said.
‘Not surprising,’ Hasselbeck added, ‘I think that it’s been in the works for a long time.’
O’Donnell says she wasn’t surprised by the tirade.
‘I’ve come to expect nothing from her, even though I feel I continually make the effort to break through,’ she says.