Rosie O’Donnell is leaving The View in June after only one season, ABC News confirmed Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday’s show, O’Donnell downplayed the news, saying it was simply a matter not being able to come to terms with the network on the length of her contract. “I wanted one year, they wanted three years,” she said. “It just didn’t work. And that’s showbiz, but it’s not sad because I’ve loved it here and I love you guys and I’m not going away. I’m just not going to be here every day.”
O’Donnell, who said she planned to fill in as a guest-host in the future and do specials on autism and depression, added: “They’re not kicking me out. Don’t worry. It’s okay,” and asked those involved not to be sad.
Walters replied by saying, “You keep saying don’t be sad and we should all be upbeat, but I am sad. … We have had, to say the least, an interesting year. We have all loved it. And you will be missed very much.”
Walters also emphasized that it was the network, and not her, who is responsible for O’Donnell’s departure. “I would like to make one thing perfectly clear: I do not participate in the negotiations with Rosie,” Walters said. “This is not my doing or my choice.”
After the announcement, O’Donnell’s nemesis, Donald Trump, weighed in calling her departure from The View “a good move for ABC” and claiming she was fired. (For Trump’s Q&A click here.)
O’Donnell’s rep, Cindi Berger, told PEOPLE that the ABC offer was declined because of O’Donnell’s domestic responsibilities. “In the life of a mother with four kids, three years is a very long time,” Berger says.
On Wednesday morning, Brian Frons, president of daytime programming for the Disney-ABC Television Group, told ABCNEWS.com: “While we’ve tried to come to terms on a deal that would extend her cohosting duties on The View, we find ourselves unable to agree on some key elements.”
Walters, the show’s creator and co-executive producer, said in a statement that O’Donnell’s departure is an amicable one.
“I induced Rosie to come back to television on The View even for just one year,” Walters said. “She has given the program new vigor, new excitement and wonderful hours of television. I can only be grateful to her for this year. I am very sad that ABC Daytime could not reach an agreement with her for a second year.”
Walters added, “We will all miss Rosie on The View, and hope she will be back with us often next season. She remains for me a cherished friend and colleague.”
In the statement, O’Donnell, 45, said: “This has been an amazing experience, and one I wouldn’t have traded for the world. Working with Barbara, Joy [Behar] and Elisabeth [Hasselbeck] has been one of the highlights of my career, but my needs for the future just didn’t dovetail with what ABC was able to offer me.
“To all the viewers out there, I just want to say ‘thank you’ for opening up your hearts and your homes to me this past year. But you can always find me at rosie.com. Here’s hoping there’s more confetti for all of us going forward.”
News of O’Donnell’s exit was first reported by TMZ.com. There are currently no plans to announce a new cohost.
Since her debut on the show in September, O’Donnell has been a lightning rod for controversy (see below). But she has also been credited with boosting the ratings of the 10-year-old show.
Rosie’s Memorable Moments
• In November, O’Donnell chides Kelly Ripa for making a remark about Clay Aiken that O’Donnell deemed “homophobic.” Ripa calls in to defend her comment, telling O’Donnell: “You know better. You should be more responsible.”
• The next month, O’Donnell’s infamous and long-running feud with Donald Trump begins when she calls him a “snake-oil salesman” following his announcement that he would not fire troubled Miss USA Tara Conner. He calls her (among other things) “a loser.”
• A joke about Danny DeVito that mocks the Chinese language outrages members of the Asian-American community in December. O’Donnell eventually apologizes on the air.
• In January, the New York Post reports that O’Donnell and Walters clashed backstage over O’Donnell’s feud with Trump. A View rep tells PEOPLE the incident was “only a squabble.”
• During a heated discussion with Hasselbeck in March about the government’s access to citizens’ telephone conversations, O’Donnell says, “Elisabeth, you are very young, and you are very wrong.” She later apologizes on her Web site.
• In April, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay calls for her to be suspended from The View, writing on his Web site: “If the left takes Imus, we’ll take Rosie.” On her site, O’Donnell calls him a “criminal.”
• On Monday, O’Donnell draws fire for her off-color remarks as emcee of the Matrix Awards luncheon for women in media. In the audience, Walters is seen burying her face in her hands.