Oprah looks to Rosie to boost OWN
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Monday could be the first day of the rest of OWN's life. Two key launches arrive, most notably "The Rosie Show" at 7 p.m., and with them a sense that the struggling network is about to undergo another identity adjustment. With Rosie O'Donnell in the house, how could it not?
What are the new shows?
"The Rosie Show" will be simulcast Monday night on four other Discovery Channel networks (Planet Green, TLC, ID, Discovery Fit and Health). "Oprah's Life Class" will follow at 8. In the latter, Oprah Winfrey, CEO of OWN, will "share her most personal revelations" from her old talk show, and will "teach the lessons that matter most to her," according to an OWN statement.
What's "The Rosie Show" about?
O'Donnell held a telephone conference call with reporters last week, shedding some light on the show that marks her return to the TV talk wars since her departure from "The View" in 2007. "There will be about 10 minutes of standup, then questions from the audience . . . and then single] guests for three full segments," she said. "One of the things I didn't like about my old show was the guests got five or six minutes, and you can't get a conversation started in that period of time.
"It won't always be a celebrity who has something to promote. That's the difference between ours and some of the others." There'll be games too. "People loved the game part on and at the end of the game I cheat so that everyone wins."
The first guest Monday night is British comic Russell Brand.
What does the star have to say about her new boss?
"It's great to be back in the game with an Oprah Winfrey jersey on," O'Donnell said. "It's inspiring to know what she's about, and not simply a corporation of bottom lines and financial gains, but she's spent a lifetime trying to enlighten and encourage and teach.
What's the outlook?
Commack native O'Donnell is what the TV trade likes to call a "hot personality." And (as the trade knows) such personalities usually have an expiration date. They say or do something that gets them in trouble with the audience, co-hosts, guests or employer, and before long, press releases announcing "amicable departures" are issued. For Jack Paar, the demise started over a seemingly innocent joke about water closets. For once hot, now cool, David Letterman, his feud with NBC was over a promotion denied. For Rosie . . . well, where to begin? There were famous contretemps with Tom Selleck, Gruner + Jahr, Barbara Walters, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Donald Trump and MSNBC -- which hadn't even hired her. As the shrinks might say, there's a pattern here, and it's impossible to look at Rosie's latest venture without wondering when the brawl with Oprah will begin.
None of this is meant to suggest she is without talent; she has abundant amounts of that. The traditional American daytime talk show was made for her, and she seemed to be made for it during the late '90s when the syndicated show aired. But she finally rebelled against the strictures -- the light Regis banter, the "cutie-patootie" valentines to celebrities, the bubbleheaded chitchat with stars promoting their latest movie -- with a fury. On "The View," O'Donnell had things to say about the state of the world, and unleashed them with a stridency bound to alienate half of her audience.
Monday night she begins a new show that sounds like "Ellen" -- a monologue, band, guests, games, and good vibes in sync with Oprah's up-with-people groove. How long will Rosie be happy to wear this straitjacket? Is OWN big enough for two huge personalities?
Sorry, but we don't have answers to those questions this morning.