Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rosie Leaves "The View"

Rosie O'Donnell's short but contentious tenure on "The View" came to an abrupt but perhaps expected end yesterday with her announcement she will leave the daytime talk show in June after she failed to secure a contract extension with ABC executives. Groups, such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, lauded the outspoken co-host who made LGBT issues "front and center in America's living rooms."

O'Donnell certainly brought much needed visibility to same-sex families, marriage equality and other important issues with which many LGBT Americans are concerned into the living rooms of millions of viewers each morning. But the controversy she so often sparked alongside the visibility she created continues to distract viewers' attention away from these issues. The Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund and other advocacy organizations blasted O'Donnell after she repeatedly used a slur to mock so-called Asian speech during an interview with a drunk Danny Devito last December. The public feud between the Long Island native and Donald Trump dominated gossip columns earlier this year while open speculation about whether the network had grown tired of O'Donnell's public antics, such as comments Rupert Murdoch reportedly made after the Matrix Awards earlier this week in New York, will certainly continue.

These issues raise an important question that activists and organizations will obviously debate as O'Donnell's departure from "The View" draws near. O'Donnell has certainly used her celebrity to advance the causes in which she believes. But her bombastic approach, combined with her public antics, threaten to alienate the very audience with which she connected on "The View." O'Donnell gave Barbara Walters the renewed ratings she wanted for her one-time struggling talk show. But her on-air and off-camera conduct threaten to significantly tarnish the visibility she brought to mainstream America.

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