Rosie O'Donnell will not return to 'The View'

NEW YORK — Rosie O'Donnell's turbulent tenure on "The View" officially came to an end Friday as ABC announced that the outspoken comedian had asked to be let out of her contract nearly a month early.

O'Donnell's abrupt exit from the program comes two days after she and co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck quarreled bitterly on the air over statements O'Donnell had made about the war in Iraq.

After their fight, O'Donnell hinted on her personal blog that she did not want to return to the show. She told ABC on Friday that she wanted to be released from her contract, which was scheduled to end June 20, a network source said.

"We had hoped that Rosie would be with us until the end of her contract three weeks from now, but Rosie has informed us that she would like an early leave," Daytime President Brian Frons of Disney-ABC Television Group said in a statement. "Therefore, we part ways, thank her for her tremendous contribution to 'The View' and wish her well."

In a statement, O'Donnell said simply that she was "extremely grateful."

"It's been an amazing year, and I love all three women," she added, referring to co-hosts Hasselbeck, Joy Behar and Barbara Walters.

O'Donnell's decision to pull out of the show early cuts short one of television's liveliest interplays and puts added pressure on ABC to select a replacement who can sustain the program's brand of no-holds-barred discussion.

Since O'Donnell's arrival on "The View" in September, her denunciations of the Bush administration — along with her frequent debates with Hasselbeck, the only conservative on the four-person panel — have generated a storm of attention and lifted the show's ratings. The program has been nominated for 10 Daytime Emmys.

But this spring, O'Donnell seemed to be wearying of the back-and-forth. She announced last month that she would not be returning for another season after she and ABC failed to agree on terms for a new contract.

Her on-air clash Wednesday with Hasselbeck, during which both women raised their voices and called each other "cowardly," appeared to be the final straw.

In her usual lowercase, free-verse style, O'Donnell wrote Friday on her personal blog, "i have said all i needed."

She also posted: "when painting / there is a point / u must step away from the canvas / as the work / is done," she added. "anymore would take away."

O'Donnell also posted a video scrapbook of photos from her time on the program, titled "True Colors 2007."

She replied to a fan who inquired how she was. "so sad / but i will b ok." She said she had not spoken to Hasselbeck.

Walters, the show's creator and co-executive producer, said in a statement that O'Donnell "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."

It remains to be seen what O'Donnell will do next, aside from a guest appearance on FX's "Nip/Tuck" this fall. Several syndicators and network studios have approached her about launching a solo show again in 2008.

So far, O'Donnell appears uncommitted. When a fan on her blog suggested recently that she develop a daytime show similar to Bill Maher's HBO program, she responded:

"a good idea

but a lot of work

once a week sounds good 2 me

real life awaits"