Forget Barbara Walters' retirement: Rosie O'Donnell's return may mark the real end of an era on "The View."
Rosie could be the last Celebrity-with-a-capital-C to snag a seat at the table.
With the exception of creator Barbara Walters, "The View" has been populated since 2006 by women plucked from entertainment. Think Elisabeth Hasselbeck, "Survivor" star; Jenny McCarthy, Playboy model-turned-actress; Sherri Shepherd, comic and actress; Joy Behar, comic and actress; and of course Whoopi Goldberg, a comedian, actress and Oscar-winner.
But change appears to be afoot. While the names being bandied about in recent rumors might belong to familiar faces from TV news, there's not a Playboy spread, reality show or stool-and-a-mike setup among them.
This could get serious.
Conservative radio host and Fox Newschannel contributor Tammy Bruce has been interviewed. WGN Morning News reporter Ana María Belaval and "Take Part Live" host and pundit Meghan McCain were guest hosts this week, with those visits being seen as auditions. CNN's "Crossfire" host and conservative writer S.E. Cupp is said to be up for consideration. NBC journalist Ann Curry, a former "Today" host, is reportedly on the list.
Of course, there's also the rumor about a possible seat for fame-hybrid Sarah Palin, who while hitting the "politics" and "punditry" bells also rings the ones for reality TV and gossip headlines. Still, probably not going to happen if they call Meredith Vieira as a reference.
In any case, with only O'Donnell and veteran moderator Goldberg having Hollywood resumes, rival CBS show "The Talk" would suddenly look a lot more starry in the mornings. Yup, the same "The Talk" that last week beat "The View" in the most desirable ratings demographics for the first time in its four-year history.
Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler, Sara Gilbert and Sheryl Underwood all come from the entertainment industry, and even journalist Julie Chen has made gossip headlines talking about her plastic surgery. Plus she hosts "Big Brother," for Pete's sake.
"The View" now appears to be "going for fireworks rather than camaraderie," Behar told the Daily Beast the other day, noting that the tone of the show had gotten more intense after the additions of Hasselbeck and O'Donnell (in her first tour of duty) and then shifted back.
"By the time I left last summer it became goody-goody again," she said. "Fluffy."
Fluffy? Ahh -- the good old days.