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    Rosie O'Donnell Disappears from "View"

    And just like that, The View is clear of Rosie O'Donnell.

    In a surprise announcement Friday, ABC said that O'Donnell would not return to the show. The move comes at O'Donnell's behest, two days after an on-air shouting match broke out between her and cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck and three weeks before she was due to end her run on the daytime chatfest.

    The official statement portrayed the parting as amicable.

    "We had hoped that Rosie would be with us until the end of her contract," said Brian Frons, president of ABC Daytime Television, "but Rosie has informed us that she would like an early leave. Therefore, we part ways, thank her for her tremendous contribution to The View and wish her well."

    Show creator Barbara Walters chimed in: "Rosie contributed to one of our most exciting and successful years at The View. I am most appreciative. Our close and affectionate relationship will not change."

    And O'Donnell was equally pleasant: "It's been an amazing year and I love all three women."

    Even, apparently, Hasselbeck, O'Donnell's regular on-air sparring partner during the past year.

    The political polar opposites routinely debated issues, but things boiled over on Wednesday when talk turned toward the war in Iraq and O'Donnell and Hasselbeck took personal swipes at each other.

    As the bitter split-screen smackdown, in which O'Donnell referred to Hasselbeck as "cowardly" and "poor little Elisabeth," was quickly disseminated online, Hasselbeck moved to downplay the drama.

    "I honestly think, I believe that we are mature women who can resolve this," she told Extra. "I hope we can. I would hope that a disagreement or a heated debate wouldn't be the end of a relationship."

    But O'Donnell signaled she was not ready to return to work via a series of blog posts:

    Following the Wednesday tête-à-tête, she wrote: "it may be time/ to be done/ endings r hard 4 all/ emotions r high/ talking is tough."

    Then in response to a fan query Thursday about whether she would be back on The View, O'Donnell wrote: "when painting/ there is a point/ u must step away from the canvas/ as the work/ is done/ anymore would take away."

    By Friday, O'Donnell's site featured a video montage of her View greatest hits accompanied by Cyndi Lauper's "Sisters of Babylon."

    While the principals attempted to remain publicly civil, things got nasty behind the scenes.

    According to the New York Post, O'Donnell's longtime chief writer, Janette Barber, was escorted from The View's studios Thursday after being caught drawing mustaches and generally vandalizing posters of Hasselbeck adorning the walls of the show's offices.

    ABC confirmed to E! News that "photographs at The View's offices were defaced." While the network did not identify the alleged perpetrator, it did say that "Rosie O'Donnell was not in the building."

    O'Donnell was off Thursday to celebrate partner Kelli Carpenter's 40th birthday. Friday's show was pretaped.

    O'Donnell took over as the View moderator in September, replacing Meredith Vieira. She instantly became a lightning rod for criticism, sparking feuds with the likes of Kelly Ripa, Bill O'Reilly and, most notably, Donald Trump.

    (Predictably, Trump took glee in O'Donnell's departure. "I'm glad," he told MSNBC. "A great service was done by getting her off the airwaves. She was a disaster...She goes out like a total loser.")

    But all the controversy worked magic on the ratings. The View is averaging 3.5 million this season, a gain of more than 17 percent since O'Donnell joined the team. The show is also vying for Outstanding Talk Show and Outstanding Talk Show Hosts at the Daytime Emmys on June 5, but O'Donnell previously said she wouldn't attend.

    O'Donnell announced in April that she wouldn't return full-time for another season.

    "This has been an amazing experience and one I wouldn't have traded for the world," O'Donnell said. "Working with Barbara, Joy and Elisabeth has been one of the highlights of my careers, but my needs for the future just didn't dovetail with what ABC was able to offer me."

    The network was reportedly trying to lock up O'Donnell with a three-year deal, something she was unwilling to commit to. She earned more than $3 million under her current contract, a far cry from the $30 million she pocketed as solo host of The Rosie O'Donnell Show, which ended its run in 2002.

    Until Friday's abrupt announcement, O'Donnell's final day had been scheduled for June 20. No replacement has been named.

    It is not immediately clear if O'Donnell will make good on her promise to come back next season as a frequent guest cohost, as well as produce a series of one-hour specials for The View.

    Even though she's gone from The View, O'Donnell isn't completely disappearing. She has suggested that she has a new TV project in the works and would announce the details "when the time was right."

    A rep for The View told E! News that Whoopi Goldberg will be the guest panelist when the show returns with a live episode on Tuesday.

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