More than a decade after Rosie O’Donnell accused Kelly Ripa of being ‘homophobic’ towards Clay Aiken, the former co-host of ‘The View’ says there’s still bad blood between them.
Rosie O’Donnell, 57, hasn’t buried the hatchet with Kelly Ripa, 48, over a 2006 incident involving Clay Aiken, 40, according to Ramin Setoodeh’s new tell-all, Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View. During a disastrous stint as a Live With Regis and Kelly co-host, the American Idol alum put his hand over Kelly’s mouth in the middle of an interview. “I don’t know where that’s been, honey,” Kelly remarked, which prompted Rosie to call the quip “homophobic” on The View the next day. Kelly called in the following day to argue with Rosie, and 12 years later, the beef has not been squashed.
In an excerpt from Ramin’s book, obtained by US Weekly, Rosie explains: “I think Kelly Ripa is mean and she doesn’t like me, and she has never wanted to discuss what happened. She wanted to have this weird feud.” Rosie said that under normal circumstances, she would have bonded with Ripa through her All My Children lineage. “She’s the girl from Pine Valley. She and her husband met on the show. That’s my f–king sweet spot. I would have loved her my whole life.” The two never mended fences after the View incident. “I see her at concerts sometimes,” Rosie said. “She just looks away.”
Kelly, when calling into The View to defend herself, cited she was afraid of catching the flu. “He reached across and covered my mouth with his hand. I have three kids. He’s shaking hands with everybody in the audience. I mean, it’s cold and flu season,” she said in 2006. “That’s what I meant. And to imply that [the comment was] homophobic is outrageous, Rosie, and you know better.”
Rosie, when speaking to Ramin, explained why she called Kelly out that comment. “A few days before he went on Live he had been a guest on The View. ‘He had come into my dressing room, crying about whether or not to come out….Not only do I feel the twenty-years-older mother thing, I feel the twenty-years-old younger-gay thing.” When she saw Ripa on TV that day, Rosie couldn’t bottle her anger.
“So I had just held a crying boy and then watched him be gay bashed by Kelly Ripa,” Rosie said. After the show, Rosie heard from Aiken. First, she said that he thanked her for defending him. And second: ‘I didn’t know how to come out, so you just did it.’”
However, when Clay spoke to Ramin for the book, the American Idol star gave a different version of the story. “I have a horrible memory, but I know exactly how this s–t went down,” he said. While Clay confirmed that Rosie had clocked his orientation in that private conversation (“She said, ‘Listen, I’m your sister.’ I teared up. It was the very first time a stranger had ever gotten me to come out to them.”), he pointed out that Rosie didn’t really protect his sexuality as she promised.
“I didn’t see it the same way that she did,” he said. “The truth is she outed me in a way, because I had not been out yet. When she said the words, ‘If that was a straight man,’ she was confirming that she knew that I wasn’t. That was the worst day of my life. I don’t think I’d had a moment more devastating to me. I remember feeling like shit that day and totally defeated. But I definitely wasn’t mad at her.”
Clay did say Rosie helped him to officially come out on the cover of PEOPLE in 2008 when she introduced him to her publicist. While that beef has been squashed, it seems the bad blood between Rosie and Kelly lingers on.
Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View will be released on April 2.