It probably can't be a coincidence that in the same week rumors surfaced that she'll stay on The View another year, co-host Rosie O'Donnell announced she's laying down her machete in her very loud, very public, and very ugly feud with Donald Trump.
In the last several months, people have jumped on every challenging statement to drip from Rosie's mouth -- whether daring to call into question the solvency and taste of our most perplexingly follicled business blowhard or suggestion racism by the producers of America's most cherished and holy institution (American Idol). Rumor had it that View boss Barbara Walters was displeased with her new hire, even hated her. Elisabeth Hasselbeck found herself on the other end of a Rosie rant and started crying a lot. Web site and magazine polls eagerly asked readers if Ro should go, and the answers trended toward yes. So why bring her back? Two words: ratings and publicity, both of which The View garnered in spades over the last year.
But now the confluence of her new contract and her surprising attempt to take the high road with Trump have us worried the producers have convinced Rosie to dilute herself. And we can't be the only ones with the fervent hope that's not the case.
Although at this point Rosie is basically a semi-professional bullhorn of brouhaha -- seriously, for a while there, if you sneezed wrong you risked an on-air anti-you diatribe -- our view of her is largely sympathetic. We like Ro. Sure, we see why some people think she's a defensive windbag so powered by her own hot air that it's a wonder she hasn't lifted off and Jules Verne'd herself around the globe. But we find her constant need to court controversy quite entertaining, not to mention highly understandable, based entirely on our own very scientific theory about why she can’t stop stirring the pot: Rosie is restless. She's bored.
The View used to be a screeching, chatty estrogen-fest we loved to hate -- seriously, would Star Jones please shut her yap about the wedding, and Al, and "dieting," and being a lawyer? Did we need to hear one more time that Meredith Vieira doesn't wear underwear? No. And yet: Yes. It was fascinatingly weird. And if Rosie had joined that fray, she'd have blended right in rather than standing alone. (We still feel cheated that we never got to see Star hiss and claw and try to tear a chunk out of Ro's neck.) But tragically, Rosie was only invited to the party to offset the departures of Meredith and the fatally self-righteous Star. What remained were the dregs: Barbara Walters checked in only occasionally so that people could kiss her ring while she all but yawned; Elisabeth Hasselbeck was, and still is, in such a perpetual state of fragile despondence that a hangnail might set her off (making her cry isn't even fun for Rosie any more, although we still kind of enjoy her hair-trigger tear ducts), and Joy Behar was mostly pimping a book she'd written called, we shih-tzu not, Sheetzucacapoopoo: My Kind of Dog. In short, The View had been declawed.
Rosie enlivened the joint more gently at first, inching the show closer to what it used to be with welcome humor and conviction -- a savvy hybrid of her Queen of Nice days and the High Priestess of Nasty she became shortly after her solo talk-show got canned. But not even she could shoulder the load alone. Not one woman on that stiff, sensible, sectional couch could go toe-to-toe with her, and the lack of actual conversation kept the show from returning to its glory days of gossipy nutbars alternately guffawing and sniping. It turned into Rosie Talks, And Some Other Ladies Say Stuff Sometimes Also. So of course she snapped. Put yourself in her place, forced to sit with those people every day -- an absent old lady; a drowning, weakened youngster; and someone who would actually say the word “Sheetzucacapoopoo” on live television -- and it's no wonder Rosie started firing bullets at everything and anything she could. When the going gets tough, you've got to make your own fun.
Ergo, we hope people -- and especially her producers -- give ol' Ro a pass. She's just mixing it up because no one else will. We don't even really think she'll adhere to the spirit of the Don't Thump Trump law and will instead get around it by referring to him using a series of Voldemort-type nicknames, like "He Who Will Never Love Anything So Much As The Sound Of His Own Voice," or something. She won’t last a week.
Which should make the producers happy, because although the show isn't can't-miss yet, it's close. Instead of neutralizing Rosie, The View's execs need to nurture her genius for uncensored discussion by giving her a real reason to stick around longer than the rumored year: A few better partners in crime to bring back the group bitchiness. Someone who'll take some of the heat and even crank up some on her own, relieving Ro of the task of making sure the spotlight isn't dimming. Someone who'll bite back and not just nod and cackle (we're looking at you, Behar). Grab supermodel Janice Dickinson, who's good for a scathing verbal diatribe on any topic of your choice, and who will probably flash her boobs in the bargain. Draft Danny DeVito, who so memorably guested on the show while hammered a few months ago. Bribe Star Jones into coming back for a few weeks. Just take the pressure off Rosie. Because at this rate, she'll only be able to blaze bright and brash for another few months before she burns out, and then where will we go when we want some crazy with our coffee break? —The Fug Girls