Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Rosie O’Donnell’s long awaited return to series television premiered last night on The Oprah Winfrey Network and all I have to say is I’m Damn Glad you are Back Rosie!

The show is a mash-up of The Tonight Show meets The Oprah Winfrey Show meets Univision’s Sabado Gigante. There is an opening stand-up routine, a question and answer session, a Broadway style musical number, celebrity interview, and the show finishes with a game show.

The Rosie Show is pure Rosie through and through and it is easy to remember why we connected with the Rosie O’Donnell Show 15 years ago. She is real, funny, cheesy, and entertaining every-woman. She is a child of Broadway and retro-television shows like Carol Burnett, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Truth or Consequence, and the Ed Sullivan Show.

No one has ever connected to an audience the way Rosie does - not her new boss Oprah, who appeared to be above the audience, nor the other successful daytime lesbian Ellen DeGeneres. Rosie is one of the audience and has always had an exuberance and passion about her that no one else brings to the table. She is even more relatable all these years later now that she has been in the trenches as a parent for the past 17 years – something that is unique to her when compared to her peers.

Having had the pleasure of meeting, and being in the company of, Rosie several times, I can say that the warmth, compassion, and humor the audience experiences onstage with Rosie is how she is in public as well. She relates to the every day and is possibly more at home with the average stay at home mom then she is with high dollar celebrities, as she has lived the past 10 years as a suburbanite with only fleeting moments of celebrity.

While I loved all things Rosie about the show, there were elements that distracted me – none of them having to do with its host or the content, but more the bricks and mortar.

The set of the old Rosie O’Donnell Show was bright, cheery and upbeat, and it was shot in a much smaller space. The audience always felt like they were participants in the show. That intimate feeling in missing with the move to Oprah’s cavernous state-of-the-art studio. While Rosie’s connection to the audience is always evident, it is only because she is who she is. A smaller personality would get lost in the auditorium like studio.

For the opening stand-up routine, Rosie is positioned in front of a satin curtain backdrop. Prior to the premier, I had seen the curtain in promotions and I wrongly thought it was meant to keep the real stage a secret until the debut yesterday. I was wrong. The curtain appears cheap and almost an afterthought, and I think it needs to go. I would prefer they darken the stage behind her, or at least move the curtain back 10 feet back.

During the interview portion with Russell Brand (more on that in a bit) I found the two overstuffed chairs lost on the massive stage. While it is a beautiful stage, there needs to be a backdrop of some sort that shrinks the size of the space surrounding her and her guest during this segment of the show to make it more intimate. For the big numbers, or whenever necessary, the full stage can be opened.

I suspect the lighting of the show was an important consideration in pre-production. Since the show is sandwiched between daytime and primetime the mood of the show had to have been of concern. Daytime shows are usually brighter and late-night talk shows are typically darker. In the end it appears a more nighttime feel was chosen for the Rosie Show, and since it was still light outside when I watched the show, I’m not sure of the right choice was made.

As everyone who know me is well aware, I am a huge admirer of Rosie. I think her humor and wit are matched only by her compassion and heart, but for the life of me I do not get her new celebrity crush -Russell Brand. While I cannot put my finger on it, there is something about him that … well… creeps me out. I find it difficult to understand him and have an even worse time looking at him. He is like an unattractive and filthy Farrah Fawcett - all hair and teeth - and always in need of a bath.

With a stable full of big named celebrity friends and acquaintances, an “A Lister” such as Rosie should have pulled out the big guns and had a big name sitting across from her on her inaugural show . My choice would have been:

- One of the Ryans -Gosling or Reynolds
- The Casts of Glee or Modern Family
- George Clooney (who I am not crazy about – but still)
- Lady Gaga
- Hilary Clinton
- The Queen of Entertainment – Barbra Streisand
- Or Tom Cruise who she ended her last show with

The problems with the lighting and the staging will not keep me from watching the show – and are just my opinion. I look forward to getting home from work each evening and plopping down to watch the new Rosie Show on DVR. I couldn’t be happier she is back. Her brand of humor and heart have been sorely lacking in television since she left. This time around the koosh balls may be missing but what remains is a good time capped off with confetti.


Liz said...

i agree- with most of what you said- except russell brand!! love him!!

:) xo

Sparroweye said...

Me too. Except, did you find that announcer thing a bit strange? The woman who sat in to like announce. My son said, That has to go. It just does not fit. It was sort of like Kelly and Regis Producer Michael Gelman. So, is she the producer. As far as Russell Brand goes. He is in with the young crowd. My son and daughter in law are in their 30's and know and love his humor. I kind of like him. He and Rosie are both so OCD hyper. And I was amazed how laid back and low key she was. And just followed his lead. I love that about her. She never badgers guests. She just follows their lead. Which makes them very comfortable. Both Barbara, Oprah and Joy Bayhart all badger their guests.