Everything’s coming up Rosie again.
Following a few years out of the spotlight, the unsinkable comedian and actress has resurfaced in The Rosie Show.
Born in Queens, N.Y., O’Donnell made her mark in several films ( A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle) before signing on for The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1996. The popular daytime talker ran until 2002 and earned multiple Emmys for O’Donnell, who joined the panel of The View in 2006.
Although she generated her share of controversy on the show – including a feud with co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck – O’Donnell is in a more nurturing environment on her new show, which airs on the recently launched Oprah Winfrey Network. She spoke to us recently from Chicago.
How has the daytime TV landscape evolved since your last show?
It’s changed completely. When I started in 1996, I had to convince people I was not going to do a Jerry Springer-type show. What was drawing all the attention then was the news that a Jenny Jones guest had been murdered and Geraldo Rivera had his nose broken. With the exception of Oprah, there was no other daytime show putting forth messages of positivity in 1996. When I entered the fray, I was dubbed the Queen of Nice.
Is it a different TV vibe working for Oprah?
Well, Oprah is sort of magical. I don’t think she gets the effect she’s had on most of the country, if not the entire world. I do believe in what she taught us all, that you can live your best life, and if you dream it, you can live it. A large part of my career and success is because of watching her and learning from her, so to be here now with her is beyond a dream come true. For me, it’s like winning the lottery.
Was Oprah’s former daytime program your template going into this show?
If there was anything to pick what it will be most similar to, it would be Craig Ferguson’s show. I think he’s a genius. We’ll have a little bit of comedy, a lot of heart and a bit of information thrown in. It’s not going to be like Crossfire or people arguing about topics. It’s going to be more like the tone of my other show. We cover relevant things, but in a unique manner.
What’s different for you this time around?
One thing I really didn’t like about my old show, which is the trend happening on talk shows today, is the guests get five or six minutes. You can’t really get a conversation going in that amount of time. So we’re going to have a real lengthy sit-down, an insightful interview. Then we’re going to have a human-interest segment or a rolled-in piece, and we’re going to play a game at the end of every show.
What role will social media play?
We’re going to incorporate social media to guide the show, in terms of direction. So if there are guests people want to see or questions they want to ask, we have a whole division to cull through that. Facebook we’ve just started. I truthfully tried to use it five times and it was too confusing, with the wall and the friends and all. Twitter, I totally get. We’re going to use both fully.
You’ve relocated from New York to Chicago for the new show. First impressions?
I love it. It’s like a beautiful, clean, European kind of version of New York. Now, I have yet to do a winter, and the people in the audience laugh at me and say “Just wait,” but I’m astounded by the beauty of the city. The only thing I’m afraid of is this snowmageddon winter thing, but my garage is heated.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
The Rosie Show airs weekdays at 7 p.m. on OWN.