'The View': Rosie O'Donnell Returns, Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace Debut

The View New Cast - H 2014

The View New Cast - H 2014

The View returned rebooted on Monday morning with a panel featuring Whoopi Goldberg, returning co-host Rosie O'Donnell, and new additions Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace.

The new foursome opened the show by curtsying and kissing the hand of a mysterious woman seated in a regal red chair: none other than the now-retired co-host, Barbara Walters. "Thank you, my pals. This is wonderful, but it's unnecessary because of course you have my blessings," she told the camera. "I don't know what all the fuss was about — and by the way, I was told I'd have a crown!"

Goldberg kicked off the premiere of its 18th season by introducing it as "the newer View," filmed in an ABC Broadcast Center studio space and featuring a tweaked logo. "We're gonna try a lot of new stuff — some of it will work and some of it won't, but the thing that will never change is its great conversations with great women."

O'Donnell — who sat cross-legged and barefoot on her chair — told the audience that she has gotten married and lost weight surgically since she last co-hosted the show. The recently married Perez — noted by Goldberg that "because we love the name so much, we had to do it twice" — plugged her role in the upcoming Larry David play on Broadway and joked, "I could go on and on and on and brag about myself, but I usually like other people to praise me. It's a Latin thing!" Wallace, who has worked for George W. Bush, John McCain and Sarah Palin, clarified early that "I am a Republican, I should get that out of the way," with O'Donnell chiming in, "And I really like her, I swear to God! We're all real this year!" Then Goldberg closed the introductions by joking, "And like bad gas, I've returned!"

The episode's Hot Topics segment began with a chat about football player Ray Rice's domestic abuse scandal. "He cold-cocked her, and I felt he did it in a way that was perhaps too casual," said Perez, and Wallace added, "It's all about the money, it's all about the brand being jeopardized." Perez countered O'Donnell's point that football players can be inherently violent with the fact that Nelson Mandela was a boxer, but refused to address the latest allegations against boxer Floyd Mayweather, of whom she's a fan. O'Donnell noted that she can separate Chris Brown's actions against Rihanna from his body of work, but cannot do the same for Woody Allen. "I haven't seen a Woody Allen movie since the initial allegations came out."

The co-hosts also briefly offered tribute to some of those who died during the daytime show's hiatus, including Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams, among others. Wallace also told the panel that she believes Hillary Clinton will run for president, "a hundred percent."

O'Donnell and Perez later debuted a segment called "Ro or Ro?" that quizzed audience members on fun facts about the co-hosts who share the same name, but was actually a vehicle to further familiarize viewers with the show's newer face. To further introduce Wallace, Goldberg poked her for insider political secrets, but ended up with humorous anecdotes about Dick Cheney's hunting incident and working with Palin. Of the latter, Wallace explained, "Our relationship really erupted and exploded, and it was irreparably damaged after the Katie Couric interview, when she thought I had set her up."

Kristin Chenoweth then took the stage to help the panel pay tribute to Joan Rivers by performing her song, "Borrowed Angels," which brought Goldberg and O'Donnell to tears. "Joan always knew how to leave people laughing, and nobody did it like she did. ... she was our best friend," said Goldberg, before the show aired a reel of the late comedian's many View appearances over the years. "There'd be times when I'd be sitting on the couch, and she'd say something, and the laugh was from deep down. When you get the chance to see a great artist — and she was a great artist — it's hard when they go."

Perez and Wallace joined The View following the exits of Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy. The new season also sees MSNBC exec Bill Wolff stepping in as showrunner, replacing founding showrunner Bill Geddie.

Sept. 15, 2 p.m. An earlier version of this story incorrectly noted the current season as the eighth, rather than the 18th. THR regrets the error.

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee