It was a great idea, and it worked for years.
But lately "The View" seems to be adding "The Jerry Springer Show" to its mix.
Where before, the sisters were doing it for themselves, now they seem just a little too keen to do it to each other. In the process, they're tarnishing the series with discord and tacky behavior.
So what's in sight for "The View" upon the imminent arrival of Rosie O'Donnell as its new panelist and, omigosh, its moderator? Anything but moderate, is Rosie really the right choice to restore cohesiveness, fruitful debate and good vibes to this sisterly salon?
She joins the show (which airs weekdays at 11 a.m. EDT on ABC) Tuesday, Sept. 5, as the program kicks off its tenth season. But she seems less a solution than another problem brewing — and an odd replacement for Meredith Vieira (who left in June for NBC's "Today").
Vieira, the show's original moderator, was both traffic cop and cutup, not to mention easy on the eyes. With equal dexterity she could drop a candid revelation (say, her personal aversion to underwear) or draw on her distinguished TV news background for the "Hot Topics" segment that kicks off each hour. She even displayed a knack for handling the increasingly diva-ish, exhibitionist Star Jones Reynolds.
Reynolds finally wore out her welcome and was fired or quit (take your pick) in June. That took care of the tacky behavior.
But the strained mood remains, in no small part thanks to Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who since late 2003 has filled the show's twentysomething slot — despite acting more like a high-strung teenage priss.
Besides Walters, the other remaining charter member is Joy Behar, a standup comic whose role as the middle-aged wag has become more urgent as she's called upon to use her wit to help defuse the tension.
But sometimes only the show's grande dame can put the brakes on Hasselbeck's motor mouth. Growing more and more exercised during a recent discussion of the "day-after" birth control pill, she finally compelled Walters to restore order. "Elisabeth," said Walters with don't-push-it-I'm-the-boss firmness — "calm down."
Will Walters be forced to keep Rosie in line, too?
To put it mildly, Rosie is a creature of extremes. She was dubbed the "Queen of Nice" for her hit daytime talk show that aired for six years starting in 1996. But one element of this overwrought "niceness" was her fetish for celebrities.
Routinely she mooned over Tom ("my Tommy") Cruise, of course. But her fawning reached record heights with the legendary visit to her show by Barbra Streisand, whom Rosie received with a pageant of trembling hands, confessions of nervous diarrhea and a sobbing pronouncement that "you were a constant source of light in an often dark childhood."