Rosie O’Donnell Is Leaving “The View!” Again! And None Of Us Saw This Coming!
SAY it ain’t so, Ro! Leaving “The View?” Again?! You could knock me over with a Koosh ball!
Of course I’m joking.
It was a foregone conclusion that she’ d be leaving as soon as it was announced she was re-joining “The View.” And, Christamighty, it’s “The View!” It’s Rosie O’Donnell! Who the hell cares?!
And yet, I admit I’ve been oddly fascinated with Rosie, her career and her unique personality for the last twenty years or so.
Like you, I was only vaguely aware of Rosie O’Donnell in the early 1990s when — based seemingly solely on a vocal gimmick — she was cast as Betty in “The Flintstones” movie. And to her credit, yes, she really nailed that Betty Rubble giggle.
And also in the 1990s (among other things of course), she appeared on two “Jeopardy!” celebrity tournaments. A little internet digging reveals she appeared on a 1992 episode — fresh off her success from “A League of Her Own” (apparently she was in that, too – never saw it!) — and she wins the game!
In the 1992 episode – VERY low-quality video of it can be found here – she does some grandstanding, a little over-the-top waving to the cameras – but the first thing host Alex Trebek does after introducing the contestants — Robert Guillaume, Ed Begley Jr. and Rosie — is make this little speech:
“Before we get into the game, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to in all honesty alert you to the possibility of a problem in this half-hour and I say this not because I am a big fan of Rosie O’Donnell, not because of the fact that she happens to come from the same part of Long Island as my beautiful wife Jean but she talked to me a few moments ago and she was worried about the fact that we may be skewing the material towards the gentlemen contestants and she warned me that if there are any clues that come up about Phantom of the Opera in which Robert Guillaume stars or about solar cars which are advocated by Ed Begley Jr. she will lodge a protest.”
Meanwhile, Rosie, with hair done up and lips pursed to evoke Betty Boop, nods in mock seriousness as Alex announces this.
It’s mildly cute, vaguely amusing (if a tiny bit cringe-inducing and embarrassing) but it’s noteworthy because by arranging to have Alex make that speech, she gives (pursed) lip service to her opponents, but the focus is on her.
It’s definitely a harbinger of things to come – especially if you happened to see her 1999 appearance, facing opponents Noah Wyle and Carol Burnett. In that episode, a whopping seventeen answers remained unrevealed, and it was mostly due to Rosie running out the clock of the two timed rounds by cracking little asides and jokes after most clues were answered, whether she was the one to ring in or not.
Unfortunately, video of that appearance does not seem to exist online but as I recall, even Alex Trebek seemed to tire of the way Rosie was disrupting the flow of the game and hijacking the entire program. No surprise that she hasn’t been back as a celebrity contestant on “Jeopardy!” since then.
It was that appearance where I started to see her as someone who seems to suffer from a near-pathological need to constantly be the center of attention.
The 1990s also brought us “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” that enjoyed a 6-year run and for a time, at least, inexplicably christened her with the mantle “The Queen of Nice” — something I never understood because hosts of other similar daytime talkers [industry term] never seem to be particularly abrasive by comparison.
The always underrated “Mad-TV” lampooned Rosie a bunch of times in various sketches, but none was funnier than a March 2002 spoof of her show, where Rosie, played by Alex Borstein, welcomes a cast member (Debra Wilson) from the then hit Broadway play “The Lion King” and all but ignores her guest to make funny comments about how her hair resembles Cheez-Doodles. Borstein and the “Mad-TV” writers mocked Rosie and her show perfectly.
2002 was the end of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” — Rosie famously ended the show “to spend more time with her children.”
Her kids presumably grew up very quickly, or she grew tired of spending time with ’em: By 2003, Rosie was back in the spotlight with a role in an episode of “Judging Amy;” in 2005, she starred in a TV Movie “Riding the Bus with My Sister” and appeared on three episodes of “Queer as Folk;” and followed that up with four appearances on “Nip/Tuck” over the next three years.
Certainly, I’m not implying the grind of a daily show is the same as the occasional role, but still: If you’re going to make a point of leaving to spend time with your kids, maybe – I don’t know – disappear for a couple years. Do the stay-at-home Mom thing for at least a little while.
At some point around there, she found time away from the kids and away from the camera to write her first memoir, “Find Me,” and this being Rosie, one can’t help but imagine a scenario between her and an editor trying to talk her down from a slightly different title: “Look At Me!!!”
Shortly before Drew Carey debuted as the new host of “The Price Is Right,” I had a chance to ask a producer on the show whether the rumors of Rosie wanting to host the show were true. He confirmed they were: Not only did she want to host, but according to him, she wanted to move “TPIR” to New York and cut down the number of pricing games played so she could turn it into more of a talk show. Had that happened, I imagine within a few short months, she’d have done away with all the pesky “game” elements completely and somehow transformed it back into the program she had left five years before – after all, is this really someone who’d want to have to share the stage with unknown contestants each day?
In 2007, Ms. O’Donnell followed up her best-seller (!) “Find Me” with “Celebrity Detox: The Fame Game.” Like you, I’ve never read it, either, but the book is described on Amazon.com as “Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and always brutally honest, this is Rosie O’Donnell’s surprising account of the pain, regret, and euphoria involved in withdrawing from celebrity life—and the terrifying dangers of relapsing into the spotlight…CELEBRITY DETOX is Rosie’s story of the years after she walked away from her top-rated TV show in 2002, and her reasons for going back on the air in 2006.”
Mm. “Withdrawing from celebrity life.” What specific date was that briefly accomplished?
What’s so fascinating about Rosie is not the obvious narcissism, not the addiction to fame, but rather the way it manifests itself. Johnny Carson left “The Tonight Show” after 29 years with arguably less fanfare than Rosie left her show after hosting it for roughly one-fifth of that time.
When she re-joined “The View” last fall, I told a pal, with characteristic accuracy of course!, that the clock was already ticking down to her next departure. There’s not room at that televised cackle-fest of overlapping dialogue and constant passive-aggressive interruption for more than one head chicken and Whoopi already rules the roost.
By now it had become clear, at least to me, that Rosie only joins these shows for the sole purpose of leaving. She seems to love the publicity surrounding her exits. And what better way to tighten the spotlight on an ensemble panel until it’s laser-focused on one person — her!
Remember her first petulant exit from “The View,” following an on-air argument with Elisabeth Hasselbeck? Rosie is the little brat at the party who is so jealous of the birthday girl and any attention showered on others that she throws a temper tantrum and demands to leave so everyone will dote on her until a parent comes to pick her up.
Rosie O’Donnell is leaving “The View” this time because, according to a spokesperson, “Rosie has teens and an infant at home that need her attention,” and, in another statement, “She’s focused on her kids now. This is the right thing for her to do.”
But…oops! She’s used that one before.
Time to switch things up! By today, Monday, the reasoning behind her impending exit had been elaborated on a bit and so now, this time, it’s all about heart health!
So, today, using a new method, the Elephant-In-the-Room Technique, Rosie’s leaving wasn’t discussed on “The View” whatsoever. This makes for a bigger buildup when it is discussed on the show at some point before she tapes her last episode on Thursday.
“Why didn’t we talk about my leaving the View on the View today? I want you to know that everybody wanted me to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about it,” she explains in a video posted today on YouTube, where she, uh, talks about it. But know one thing: the fact that “everybody wanted [her] to talk about it” means the world to this woman.
Anyway, the new angle is that she’s leaving because she “had a heart attack.”
Two years ago.
“…And stress is very bad….for heart attack …survivors,” she continues. “You should minimize your stress. Maximize your exercise and control your diet. That’s what you need to do for a healthy heart. So that’s what I’m doing.”
Thank God! Thank God she’s on top of this with such lightning-fast immediacy — now, a mere two years later, instead of maybe a decade from now!
“I’m minimizing my stress by leaving ‘The View.'”
And, as usual, maximizing focus, spotlight, fanfare, attention, sympathy.
So long, Ro!
Good luck and good health to you, enjoy the time raising your kids, and make the most of that well-deserved rest you’ll be taking until whenever it is we see you again.
…Which I’m guessing will probably be in about a week and a half, when she’ll no doubt be making the rounds on other talk shows where she’ll talk at length about leaving “The View,” while an agent works frantically behind the scenes to get her a brand new gig from which — with an appropriate number of trumpets blaring, maidens throwing rose petals before her, and standard bearers marching with flags held high — she can make her next triumphant exit.