Rosie and Elisabeth: The incredibly true adventure of two girls on daytime TV

In case you had one too many Coronas at your Memorial Day party or were entirely offline all weekend (gasp!), here’s the big news: Rosie O’Donnell has permanently vacated her (shortened) chair at The View. She was supposed to stay for a few more weeks, to the end of the season, but the split-screen fight last week was just too much for her.

Judging by the comments on the blog (here and here and here), many of you think Rosie should have stuck it out to the bitter end. It seems like everyone’s talking about the kerfuffle — on Sunday, three of People.com’s top five stories were about Rosie and Elisabeth.

Here’s a rundown of the weekend chit-chat:

1. Producer Janette Barber really did draw a mustache on a picture of Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Last Friday, I wasn’t sure whether to believe this rumor, but Rosie’s blog entry for May 27 confirms that Barber left some graffiti behind when she left the View studios. It seems Janette (one-third of the JaHeRo trio on Rosie’s blog) scrawled a ‘stache on a picture of Elisabeth that was cut out from a magazine — not a fancy studio pic, as earlier reports suggested. The whole thing makes me giggle. Oh, and the rumor that Rosie trashed Elisabeth’s dressing room? Completely false. (Ro’s too lazy to do that, says Kelli, and Rosie agreed on her blog.)

2. It sounds like the ill will is going to last a while. On her blog, Rosie refers to the day of the fight as "nuclear Wednesday" and calls it "shocking." She laments the complete lack of a "spirit of community" on The View. And she admits that she’s unlikely to speak to Elisabeth ever again. They’ve exchanged e-mail, but that might be the end of it.

“I never tried harder to be friends with someone than I did with [Elisabeth], from the get-go. But I don’t think we ended up there or anywhere close."

Yes, Rosie did issue an official statement in which she said she still loves "all three women," and Elisabeth insisted that she and Rosie are still friends. But you know how these "statements" go; they’re really all about spin. Plus, Elisabeth’s kind words were issued Wednesday, before Rosie quit, so it will be interesting to see what she says on Tuesday’s View. (Monday’s show was pre-recorded; see No. 4 below.)

3. Forget Elisabeth — the people behind the camera are really the ones to blame. On her blog, Rosie says, "When I saw the split screen, that’s when I knew it was over."

Who can blame her? It was a cheap, exploitative, ratings-hungry maneuver. Over the weekend, Kathy Griffin confirmed that the split screen was a major factor in Rosie’s decision to leave early. In her answers to readers’ questions on her blog, Rosie blamed both the split screen and Elisabeth, but seemed to focus on the producers’ shenanigans and said she doesn’t trust the executive producer of The View.

split screen
below my standards

4. On Memorial Day, The View was a bittersweet commemoration of camaraderie. On her blog, Rosie said she was glad Monday’s pre-recorded show was her last appearance, and I agree that it was a good note to end on. As I watched Rosie and Elisabeth smile — and saw their sincere affection as Rosie gave Elisabeth a birthday present (a week at Rosie’s house in Miami) — I felt glad to have a last bit of evidence that they did try to get along. But jeez, did it ever get blown all to hell. Sigh.

5. The Kathy Griffin rumor is alive and well. Griffin neither confirms nor denies that she’s in the running to replace Rosie, which might mean she’s thinking about it — she’s not exactly one to hold her tongue. I think she’d be pretty good at it, but some say she’d be too censored and would lose her edge. She’d certainly have to stop calling herself a D-lister.

6. Rosie has plenty of other things to do. On her blog, Rosie said she’s looking forward to being part of the True Colors tour and to reprising her Nip/Tuck character. She also mentioned that her next book, Celebrity Detox: The Fame Game, comes out September 18.

7. I retract every negative word I’ve ever said about Rosie. OK, not every word. But I think I’ve been quick to judge her, like so many other people, and it occurred to me over the weekend that I’ve been forgetting something: Rosie is an idealist. When she gets too sensitive or too emotional or too whatever-else-we’ve-all-said-about-her-lately, we’re judging her by standards that might not really be applicable to someone who’s ultimately a dreamer.

Rosie’s too raw, too quick to find a conspiracy, and too selective with facts (just like Elisabeth), but you could say those are all just side effects of another “too”: She’s too true to herself. Even when that "self" seems like a train wreck or a quitter, it never serves any other master. She has no agenda but advancing her notions of "light" and "yellow" and however else she chooses to symbolize truth and hope. That’s no small thing at a time when most self-serving behavior aims for sex or fame or money, rather than any kind of ideal. Even imploding idealism is refreshing when the alternative is Paris or Britney or Donald Trump.

There’s a lot to talk about (and speculate about) — the dust has not yet begun to settle. We’ll keep you posted on any major developments, and, of course, we’ll ramble about the minor details too. Like this one: A commenter on the Popwatch blog suggests that Rosie was set up and that Elisabeth was a "willing participant" in a planned sweeps stunt. Any other conspiracy theories out there? Rosie’s a big fan of those.

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