Rosie O'Donnell plots daytime return

Teams with Dick Robertson, Scott Carlin for new talk show

Rosie O'Donnell is plotting a return to daytime.

O'Donnell, who hosted the syndicated "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and did a stint on ABC's "The View," has teamed with syndication veterans Dick Robertson and Scott Carlin for another syndicated talk show.

The show, hosted by O'Donnell, is eyed for fall 2011 launch, which would coincide with the exit of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The news was first reported on

The show will be produced independently by a company formed by O'Donnell, Robertson and Carlin.

As president of Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution, a post he held for 17 years until segueing into an adviser position in 2006, Robertson shepherded the sales of the Telepictures-produced "Rosie O'Donnell Show," which ran for six years and won a truckload of Emmys, including five consecutive best talk show statuettes.

Carlin, who most recently served as head of HBO Domestic Distribution until he left last June, was part of Robertson's team at WBDTD and also was involved in the sales of the "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He worked at the studio under Robertson for nearly two decades until leaving in 1999.

The timing of the the new O'Donnell show targeted launch -- fall 2011 -- as well as the caliber of the auspices involved raises the question whether it is targeted as a successor to "Oprah" on the ABC O&O stations.

But people familiar with the syndication landscape dismissed that possibility.

First, some of the top ABC stations, including those in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, already have said they plan to substitute "Oprah" with news/local programs.

Secondly, the ABC stations carried "Rosie" and, while initially very happy with it and with O'Donnell's "queen of nice" persona, grew increasingly uncomfortable towards the end of the show's run as it became more controversial and political.  

The fact that O'Donnell is doing the show outside of the studio system indicates her intention to stay true to herself, which could mean more of the strong political views and attacking style that got her in hot water on the syndicated show and on "The View."

Given the scrutiny from the FCC that local stations face, they may not be willing to take on the risk.

O'Donnell, who also tried unsuccessfully a primetime variety show on NBC, may be better suited for cable, which has been expanding in the talk-show genre.

"Cable likes controversy and defined personalities with a strong point of view," a leading syndicator said.
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