Another 'View' of open chair

Empty

NEW YORK -- "The View" will soon find itself with another empty seat.

Rosie O'Donnell announced on Wednesday's show that she will leave in mid-June after her contract expires. ABC couldn't come to terms with O'Donnell, who wanted a one-year contract at a reported $10 million, while the network wanted a three-year deal.

"It just didn't work," O'Donnell told viewers Wednesday. "That's show business. But it's not sad."

It's the third high-profile departure from "View" in the past year. It started in June when Meredith Vieira left as moderator to take over Katie Couric's co-anchor chair at NBC's "Today." Fireworks ensued on and off the screen when O'Donnell took over for Vieira. Star Jones Reynolds, one of the original co-hosts, left June 27 in an acrimonious split with "View" creator Barbara Walters. ABC never filled the seat left empty by Jones Reynolds' departure.

Walters said Wednesday that there has been no thought yet to who might fill O'Donnell's chair.

"We have not thought about a replacement because we were hoping that you would be back," Walters said. She added that she didn't participate in the negotiations and it wasn't her choice but ABC Daytime's. O'Donnell will occasionally appear on "View" next year as a guest host and what O'Donnell said would be one-hour specials about causes she cares about including depression and autism.

O'Donnell has had a controversial run at "View" since Walters recruited her for the initial one-year stint that marked O'Donnell's return to daytime television. Among other things, she's had a public battle with Donald Trump over what to do with Miss USA Tara Conner after her alcohol problems. Trump wanted O'Donnell fired for her remarks, but Walters and ABC Daytime resisted.

"You know who's really sad right now," co-host Joy Behar said. "Donald Trump."

But this season, "View" also has posted some of the highest ratings in its 10-year history.

Disney-ABC Television Group Daytime Programming president Brian Frons said they were happy to have O'Donnell for the year they did.

"We were willing to take the chance because we understood what a coup it was to entice Ro back to daytime television," Frons said. "So here we are a year later, and while we've tried to come to terms on a deal that would extend her co-hosting duties on 'The View,' we find ourselves unable to agree on some key elements."

The news of O'Donnell's departure from "View" follows rumors that surfaced this year that she was eyeing a return to syndication with her own daytime talker, possibly at Telepictures Prods. -- the studio where her previous talker was produced. Telepictures has not commented on the rumors.

Asked about O'Donnell's plans, her publicist, Cindi Berger, said the actor-comedian is weighing her options and hasn't decided her next move.

"She's sitting back and deciding what she wants to do and where her creative passions lie," Berger said.

Kimberly Nordyke in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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