7 Juicy ‘View’ Revelations From Vanity Fair: Barbara Walters’ ‘Velvet Steel Fist,’ Rosie O’Donnell’s ‘Bumpy’ Temper

A new in-depth report reveals the drama behind the scenes of ABC’s daytime talker during its first post-Walters season

Last Updated: May 12, 2015 @ 10:15 PM

The drama on and off camera at ABC’s “The View” has been well documented, but new revelations have come to light.

Stories of near-physical altercations between Rosie O’Donnell and producers, plans to poach Matt Lauer from NBC and Barbara Walters’ tendency to still send in notes to producers–even after leaving the show–were all revealed in a new report from Vanity Fair.

Here’s 7 tidbits from the far-ranging story:

Barbara Walters Still Watches–And Sends Notes to Producers
The show’s co-creator and former host still watches “almost every day.” She even sometimes calls the control room when a segment starts to stray. “We’re not ‘Meet the Press.’ “Or I’ll correct them if they get a fact wrong,” Walters said in the article. Walters also sends regular emails to producers with thoughts on how to make the show better.

Walters Ran the Show With a “Velvet-Gloved Steel Fist”
“There was a certain imperiousness, as you’d expect–[Walters] was a living legend,” a former producer said. “She was well respected. Beloved might be too strong a word.” Walters also exercised a great deal of control over the show. She re-wrote every question that the panelists asked of the President Obama when he visited the show in 2010. She even chose the order in which they would be asked.

Rosie O’Donnell Talked Herself Out of Her Own Show
O’Donnell generated plenty of controversy and ratings when she began co-hosting the show in 2006. ABC was even considering giving her her own syndicated talk show. However, the deal died in March 2007 after O’Donnell said on-air “in America, we are fed propaganda and if you want to know what’s happening in the world, go outside of the U.S. media because it’s owned by four corporations. One of them is this [Disney/ABC].” The market affiliates who originally were onboard to slot a Rosie-led daytime show jumped ship and turned on her.

O’Donnell’s Temper Was Like a “Bumpy Trip on a Fast-Moving Bus”
Never one to slip quietly into the shadows, O’Donnell got into numerous altercations with both her co-hosts and the show’s crew. From an altercation with a senior producer that was so intense the women had to be physically separated, to a screaming on-air argument with Elisabeth Hasselbeck over American troops in Iraq – it’s not surprising that Walters described her as “like a roller-coaster ride or a bumpy trip on a fast-moving bus” in her 2008 memoir. Even O’Donnell’s chief writer was escorted out of the building after she was caught drawing mustaches on photos of Hasselbeck hanging in “The View” studio.

“Fred & Ginger” — ABC Code Name for Operation Katie Couric-Matt Lauer Reunion
Ben Sherwood, the current president of the Disney/ABC Television Group and former head of ABC New, desperately wanted Matt Lauer on ABC. The idea was to lure Lauer away from “Today” and again pair him with his former co-host Katie Couric, who had just begun hosting “Katie” on ABC. The project to reunite the two was code named “Fred and Ginger.” Unfortunately, “Katie” ended after just two seasons and Lauer signed a new contract with NBC.

The Absence of a Post-Barbara Walters Plan Was “Simple Incompetence”
Walters announced her retirement in 2013, but no one made any plans for the show for after her departure. Producers claimed this was done out of respect for Walters, but the fact remains that no serious changes were made to the show until she had left. The changes eventually instituted under Sherwood led to long-time executive producer Bill Geddie leaving the show, along with his number two, Alexandra Cohen, being escorted out of the building.

Whoopi Goldberg Became So Fed Up She Refused to Speak to a Producer
Less than a month before the show relaunched in September 2014, the only two co-hosts locked in were Whoopi Goldberg and returning host Rosie O’Donnell. Likewise, the show still did not have any executive producers. People felt that ABC’s head of daytime, Lisa Hackner, was in over her head and that the show was going to fail. Whoopi Goldberg was so fed up with Hackner’s efforts that she reportedly refused to speak with her or even allow Hackner to approach her on set.