With Rosie O’Donnell as its newest co-host, “The View” brings a six-time Daytime Emmy winner onto a cast that has made a joke out of its inability to win an Emmy.
“The View” creator Barbara Walters confirmed Friday that O’Donnell will join her show in September, replacing the “Today” show-bound Meredith Vieira. Walters made the announcement from the stage of the Daytime Emmy awards.
“We were amazed when she said yes and we’re thrilled to have her,” Walters said.
It wasn’t quite the secret that Walters wanted, since word of O’Donnell’s selection leaked out on Thursday. O’Donnell made a joking reference to that, noting she had read about her and Walters on the Internet.
About her new job, she joked, “it was either that or the celebrity fit club.”
The move marks a plunge back into daytime television for O’Donnell. With a large resume that includes stage, film and TV work, it’s the place where she found the greatest success. She won six Daytime Emmys in six years as best talk show host before shutting down her show because she wanted to spend more time raising a family.
O’Donnell also was disgruntled toward the end of her TV run.
“I agree, I was cranky for a while,” she said backstage, joking, “Oh, honey, I can just say even though Tom Cruise doesn’t believe in them, antidepressants do work.”
O’Donnell explained that money and fame didn’t provide the magic wand that she thought would fix the world’s problems.
“It was overwhelmingly sad,” she said, adding that the Columbine school shootings in 1999 left her “spiritually defeated and deflated.”
“I needed to refuel myself,” she said. “It was my four-year celebrity detox.”
Some of those Emmy victories were against her new partners at “The View,” which has made a joke out of an Emmys losing streak that was extended Friday when Ellen DeGeneres won best talk show host.
“The View” got a bigger star than it imagined to replace Vieira, who often serves as the emotional center of an ensemble that also includes Joy Behar, Star Jones Reynolds and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
“They went in a different way,” said Bill Carroll, an expert on the syndication market for Katz Television. “There was a lot of speculation focused on them finding someone who fit in the Meredith Vieira mold and they obviously didn’t go that way.”
With two comics in Behar and O’Donnell, “The View” will likely turn into a funnier show, he said.
The danger is, between Behar, O’Donnell and Reynolds, “the three of them will want to talk at the same time.”
O’Donnell addressed the rumored tension between herself and Jones Reynolds.
“She and I have traded barbs on ‘The View’ for as long as they’ve been on the air,” O’Donnell said. “She will go toe-to-toe with me and that’s what makes the show exciting and fun. I look forward to arguing with her starting in September.”
O’Donnell has become a more vocal advocate in favor of gay and lesbian marriage and adoption since leaving her talk show. She and her partner, Kelli Carpenter O’Donnell, have four children and ran a cruise line for gay and lesbian families that was recently featured in an HBO special. But Carroll said O’Donnell’s a professional entertainer and he doesn’t expect her advocacy will create much controversy.