Rosie O’Donnell returned to The View healthier, happier and ready to rumble. O’Donnell took Barbara Walters seat on ABC’s daytime talk show at the start of season 18. She sits on the right, but will she be the voice of reason and wisdom that Walters lent the show? Probably not. She is more likely to add spice and verve to the program by stridently declaring her adamant viewpoints.
The View has an entirely new studio and a mostly new cast. Whoopi Goldberg has retained her position as moderator so she is responsible for keeping the show on track and civil. She says the changes are exciting and she is eager to discuss topics with her new co-hosts. Her mettle and authority will certainly be tested by O’Donnell who likes to have center stage to air her opinions.
The show has stayed true to its original intent of bringing together women with different points of view about what is happening in the world. To that end, the show hired Nicole Wallace as the conservative voice at the table (which is more of a coffee table due to the chic modern overhaul of the set.)
Wallace served as communication’s chief for George W. Bush’s House and reelection campaign and was also a senior adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign. Wallace knows her way around politics and the press. Her opinions should be insightful and knowledgeable, but she will doubtless be clashing with with Rosie O’Donnell on a regular basis. The season’s second episode proved that sparks will fly as the co-hosts displayed loyalty to different presidents. O’Donnell took offense at Wallace’s comment that President Obama “doesn’t love people,” and countered by slamming G.W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina. O’Donnell showed that she is ready to steamroll her colleagues when issues hit close to her heart. Although a comic, she readily moves from light banter to staunch defense of her positions. Wallace is more experienced, confident and sure of herself than past hosts have been. She is not likely to back down from an argument or allow O’Donnell to force her into a battle of histrionics. If O’Donnell makes political differences personal she may once again be the one running from the table. Hopefully, the new O’Donnell is more emotionally stable with the happiness she has created in her private life.
O’Donnell married Michelle Rounds in 2012 and they adopted a baby girl named Dakota. O’Donnell is thrilled to be married and loves being a mom again, even though she admits that raising a toddler at age 52 is much different than at age 32. This happiness comes after Rounds was diagnosed with cancer and O’Donnell had a heart attack. After the medical scares, O’Donnell became more serious about her health issues and underwent a procedure known as a vertical gastric sleeve which removed most of her stomach so she could lose weight. O’Donnell has lost 50 lbs and is elated to feel more trim and fit, but admits that shedding weight has laid bare some of her insecurities and required some emotional adjustment. By dealing with her physical and mental issues, O’Donnell is returning to The View healthier, happier, and ready to rumble.
When O’Donnell co-hosted The View in 2006-2007 she was not in such a happy place. She was going through a divorce and dealing with custody issues. Dissolving a relationship is a long and messy process. It left O’Donnell short-tempered and sensitive, and her on-air and personal relationships suffered. Barbara Walters hired O’Donnell and took her under her wing. As she has for many other hosts, Walters became O’Donnell’s mentor and provided both professional and personal support. In a 2008 interview with Oprah Winfrey Walters said their relationship suffered because she did not always meet O’Donnell’s expectations of her as a mother figure. But she loves and understands O’Donnell and believes she is greatly talented.
This season of The View kicked off with the highest ratings since the last time O’Donnell hosted in 2006. It may be that the audience is ready for some fire on the set. Walters’ retirement was the perfect time to shake up the show and the next few months will determine whether The View can survive without the iconic host.
It should be mentioned that the fourth chair is filled by Rosie Perez who brings an air of lightheartedness to the table. She is also The View’s first Latina host so will provide a new perspective for the show. Rosie O’Donnell now has the first week of the new season under her belt. She has disagreed vehemently with her co-hosts but also proclaimed her affection and respect for them. The 18th season may be entertaining day time television, or it may implode under the weight of the hosts’ strong personalities. O’Donnell, for one, has returned to The View healthier, happier and ready to rumble.
By: Rebecca Savastio