Rosie O'Donnell compared to a murderous dictator by 'The View' director: 'She was going to kill everybody and have it her way'

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·6 min read

Rosie O’Donnell’s time on The View was brief but drama-plagued.

Stories from the headline-making upcoming book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story ofThe View” continue to make waves. While O’Donnell was only on the show from 2006–2007 and 2014–2015 (abruptly leaving both times) — a mere blip in the ABC daytime show’s nearly 22-year history — there is no shortage of stories about how her behavior made the set combative and hostile. One director even likened her to a murderous dictator and called her “medically insane.”

HuffPost obtained a copy of the book, out April 2, which details the widespread dysfunction on the show, under the helm of Barbara Walters until she retired in 2014. (She still serves as executive producer.) The book claims Walters caused a lot of the hostility herself, including leaking embarrassing stories to the press about present and past co-hosts. However, O’Donnell seemed to have the run of the place.

Among the 100 examples of a hostile work environment cited in the book, was a dispute between O’Donnell and Nicolle Wallace, who was a co-host from 2014-2015. It stemmed over Wallace, a former George W. Bush administration official, defending the former president on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Apparently, O’Donnell blew up at her backstage over it. Later, in another meeting, O’Donnell became angry again, leading Wallace to report her co-worker’s outbursts to HR.

O’Donnell, who also had issues with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, recalled her version of events to author Ramin Setoodeh, saying, “Are you kidding me? I raised my voice. I was in my dressing room, getting my makeup done, and somebody comes and goes, ’Nicolle Wallace just went to HR…” O’Donnell, pointing to the lack of oversight by ABC brass, quipped, “I didn’t know what HR was.”

The book didn’t note if HR followed up with O’Donnell, but the women worked things out — eventually. The day after the incident, Wallace showed up at work with her husband as a bodyguard. According to O’Donnell, Wallace told her, “I just felt you were threatening me.” The women are friends now, the book notes, with Wallace going on to host MSNBC’s Deadline: White House.

‘She was going to kill everybody and have it her way’

O’Donnell also had issues with off-camera personalities — specifically director Mark Gentile, who worked on the show for 17 years. According to sources, O’Donnell didn’t like him going into the show because he had once declined to an offer to work for her on her eponymous daytime talk show. However, she told the author she didn’t like him because of his incompetence.

Rosie O’Donnell and Barbara Walters announced at the 2006 Emmys that she would be joining the show. A year later, O’Donnell left the show. (Photo: Getty Images)
Rosie O’Donnell and Barbara Walters announced at the 2006 Emmys that she would be joining the show. A year later, O’Donnell left the show. (Photo: Getty Images)

O’Donnell told Setoodeh that Gentile, who was married, was having an affair with an unidentified female producer on the show, and it was an open secret to everyone on the set — including Walters. (Gentile did not deny the affair in the book.) One day, O’Donnell walked into the meeting and the female producer was holding a baby in her arms, leading O’Donnell to ask a group of staffers, “Is this Mark Gentile’s baby?”

After multiple incidents between O’Donnell and Gentile, he and two other employees filed a joint complaint to HR about O’Donnell’s abusive behavior. There was no followup, the book noted.

“I don’t know what he went to HR for… What, that I told people he had a child with one of the other staff members while being married?” O’Donnell said to the author.

Meanwhile Gentile, who apparently started leaving to the studio when O’Donnell arrived, called O’Donnell “medically insane” during his interview with Setoodeh. He said, “Not like Bill O’Reilly, he’s crazy,” he said of the Fox News personality, who has paid more than $50 million to settle claims of sexual misconduct in the workplace. “She’s medically insane, the best talent she has is making you believe she’s normal. She was like Pol Pot in Cambodia,” he said referring to the dictator who led the country’s genocide, which resulted in almost 2 million Cambodian deaths. “She was going to go through the country and she was going to kill everybody and have it her way.”

Rosie O’Donnell’s original run on the show was highly touted, but high-profile drama, including spats with Donald Trump and Kelly Ripa, led to bad press and bad relations with executive producer Walters. (Getty Images)
Rosie O’Donnell’s original run on the show was highly touted, but high-profile drama, including spats with Donald Trump and Kelly Ripa, led to bad press and bad relations with executive producer Walters. (Getty Images)

O’Donnell is also accused in the book of “berating” executive producer Bill Geddie so much “he took a temporary leave of absence to get away from her,” according to another report.

By that time, O’Donnell had fallen out of Walter’s good graces. According to the book, Walters then “issued her ultimatum” to then-ABC Daytime President Brian Frons, telling him, “If you re-sign Rosie to this show, Bill and I are going to quit.”

“Ranting Rosie O’Donnell is full of rage”

Once O’Donnell did leave in 2007 — three weeks before her contract was up after an on-air war of words with her “crush” Elisabeth Hasselbeck — she wrote her book Celebrity Detox, which said that Walters, then 77, should retire. O’Donnell and Walters weren’t talking at that point, but she sent her a copy of the book. According to Setoodeh, Walters leaked the book to the New York Post after the outlet agreed to have a psychological evaluation of O’Donnell’s mental health when covering her memoir. The article came out in Sept. 2007 and started with: “Ranting Rosie O’Donnell is full of rage, has a profound distrust of men, craves public adoration, shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and dishes out her anger mostly to women because of deep-seated abandonment issues over her mother’s death, said a psychiatrist after reading her latest memoir.”

Despite the claims made against O’Donnell, she was brought back for a second run on the show. She lasted less than a year.

On Wednesday night, O’Donnell talked about the book a little during an Instagram Live. She addressed Hasselbeck’s reaction to her “crush” quotes in the book. “It’s crazy. She was so afraid of the concept of a lesbian having a crush on her that she had to go directly to Jesus, do not pass go, do not collect $200,” O’Donnell quipped. “She kept on calling on Jesus. Yeah, Jesus was going to save her from the gay who thought she was cute!” O’Donnell cracked.

Meanwhile, there’s been reaction to the O’Donnell stories coming from the book, including this one, which is seemingly from Jennifer Shepard-Brookman, a former senior producer from The View, who sued O’Donnell for slander and lost.

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