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`The View' set still less than rosy

Rosie O'Donnell takes a day off after a heated exchange with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Her return is uncertain.

May 25, 2007|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — A day after she and Elisabeth Hasselbeck clashed angrily on "The View," Rosie O'Donnell took the day off Thursday to celebrate her partner Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell's 40th birthday and indicated that she is unsure whether she will return to the program.

O'Donnell told a viewer on her personal blog that she has "no idea" when or if she will go back on the ABC daytime talk show for the remaining month of her contract. To another fan who urged her to walk away, she wrote: "well u know when its time 2 go."

With the program running taped editions Friday and Monday, O'Donnell's next live appearance is scheduled for Tuesday. A spokesman for "The View" did not respond to a question about whether she would return.

O'Donnell and Hasselbeck, who have professed to be friends despite their political differences, waged a fierce verbal battle Wednesday over a remark O'Donnell made last week in which she implied the U.S. has engaged in terrorism in Iraq.

O'Donnell complained that Hasselbeck did not defend her against conservative critics who claimed she had called the troops "terrorists." The younger co-host pushed back, saying O'Donnell had a responsibility to defend her own words.

The back-and-forth escalated as the two women raised their voices, pointedly jabbed their fingers in the air and called each other "cowardly."

Barbara Walters, the show's creator and co-producer, was not on the program Wednesday, but when she returned Thursday, she declared that "Aunt Barbara is back and there will be peace in the kingdom."

"It's a hot weekend, so everybody can cool off," she said in a video statement on ABCNews .com.

Indeed, Hasselbeck was substantially calmer during the program's "Hot Topics" segment. Noting that the show was being preempted on the East Coast for President Bush's news conference, the co-host said wryly: "I just want to know where he was yesterday. We could have used a little of that."

It remains to be seen whether she and O'Donnell can mend their relationship. The comedian, who announced last month that she and ABC could not agree on terms for extending her contract, is set to the leave the program June 21.

During Thursday's show, Walters noted that O'Donnell had the day off but did not address the question of her return. She said she did not want to rehash the fight.

"What this show was for many years, and for most of this year, was that women could talk and argue and debate without it getting personal and nasty," Walters said. "And this is the way women are at home, and this is the way we want it to be and the way it has been. And that's the way it will be."

"We were all on the same team," she added later. "And usually, if we had big things to discuss we used to do them off camera. Yesterday it was on camera. But on the other hand, the show went on yesterday as normal -- if there's such a thing as normal on this show."

Times staff writer Maria Elena Fernandez contributed to this report.

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