'The Rosie Show' Reflects Rosie O'Donnell's More Sober Take on Hollywood

"The enthusiasm that I had for celebrities is changed," OWN's new talk host says.
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Rosie O'Donnell at TCA Summer 2011 Press Day.

In many ways, what audiences appreciated about Rosie O’Donnell’s first hit talk show was that she was genuinely as excited to meet her celebrity guests as her audience. Several years later, she joined The View and audiences met a woman who was more willing to invite controversy, someone who felt herself on the frontlines of several movements.

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When O’Donnell faced the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles on Friday to talk about he new talk show for OWN, The Rosie Show, we met a woman who was still quick-witted, interested in getting her opinions across, but much less in love with the business of Hollywood.

"When I was 33 I think the appeal of my program was there was an authentic, genuine appreciation of pop culture," she says. "I loved these people, like [Barbra] Streisand and Tom Cruise, the concept that I could meet them was really beyond my belief, and now I'm 50, and both of those people have stayed in my house, right? So the enthusiasm that I had for celebrities is changed. I have evolved and grown, and the show is going to be reflective of that."

She says you won’t see a parade of stars appear on her show when they need to promote a project. "It's not going to be your average show where three celebrities come on promoting something and you'll see them on Letterman and Regis and all those other shows," she explains. "It's going to be one celebrity per show, and they're going to have something to talk about and want to come and play and have a fun kind of 60 minutes together."

Her guests will be stars she finds interesting or who she feels have something to say. She says possible guests will include Russell Brand, whom she thought wasn’t so funny when he hosted the MTV Awards, but she came around to really enjoying him. She also said she’d like to have British singer, Adele, whose music she enjoys and who she believes has a positive message for women.

In addition, the show will have audience segments and a game in which an audience member and, in some cases, the whole audience will receive a prize. After all, she was known for her great giveaways on her first talk show. But O’Donnell says she isn’t doing that this time around. She felt marketing and product placement became more important on her first show than actually being honest about the products she loved herself. So, she’s scaling back on the audience treasures.

"We're going to bring it back a little bit, so you are going to get a little gift if you come to my show, but it's not going to be something huge," mentioning her love of turtle wax and the Schick Intuition Razor. That’s not exactly the sold out Elmo dolls she gave out on her first show, is it?

And as far as controversy, such as her outspoken stand on gay and lesbian rights, she says, “We're not going to look for controversy, but should it be germane to what's happening in the world, I'm sure we will bring up current events." 

In the end, she wants to deliver an entertaining show that the entire family can watch, but she’s not exactly worrying about how it will be received by viewers.

"I think anybody who creates art expecting the result of how it's interpreted never can make anything good," she says. "So what you have to do is just look at that blank canvas and create something that's real and authentic, and how people receive it, you can't really be concerned with."

The Rosie Show premieres Monday, Oct. 10.

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro