Views on the New View: Media Coverage of Rosie’s Return

 
 

Even moderate newspapers covering Rosie's appointment cannot seem to decide whether or not to refer to her spouse as Kelli Carpenter or Kelli O'Donnell. Multiple articles, including one from E! News, mentioned that only one of the children is biologically Kelli's. What possible relevance could this fact have to anyone but conservative critics seeking to question the legitimacy of lesbian motherhood?

A good deal of speculation has already begun over how Rosie will get along with the other co-hosts Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Star Jones Reynolds.

The New York Times wrote, “…Her impending arrival… raises the immediate question of how she will fare as a member of a very vocal, opinionated ensemble.” The Times wrote that “there could be fireworks…” between Rosie and Star Jones. In an interview on Good Morning America, Rosie described Star Jones as “an interesting woman on many levels,” and added, “I think it's very hard for everyone to participate in the illusion she presents as her truth.”

Speculation has already begun about Star Jones possibly leaving the show when her contract expires in the fall.

The Detroit Free Press wrote that, as “a lesbian in a committed relationship and known for being outspoken, O'Donnell's addition will provide a challenge to the show's ego mix.”

A columnist for Guide Live wrote that Rosie joining the show as “a frightening thought,” and characterizes her as “so outspoken it can be polarizing,” and criticizes her “commanding nature.” She writes, “Inviting Rosie to the table is risky. Who wants to hang out with some woman who a) won't ever shut up, and b) is always eager to offend? …The potential for yelling is huge.”

Fox News columnist Roger Friedman complimented Rosie, saying that her “empathy and sincerity radiate from the television set.” On the other hand, he also wrote that “She doesn't suffer fools gladly… The View will become… edgy-–particularly if O'Donnell and Hasselbeck, who has identified herself as right wing-–tangle on issues involving gay parenting, adoption… etc.”

Friedman also reported that there is a proviso in Rosie's contract that states that she will not be allowed to cut her hair. Although it is somewhat common in the entertainment world for contracts to stipulate that stars not alter their appearances, Fox News made this proviso headline news, writing “You may recall there was an uproar toward the end of Rosie's run as a syndicated talk show host because she chopped off her locks to emulate Culture Club songstress Helen Terry…ABC apparently wants Rosie to look as glamorous as possible…”

The column begs a few questions, the most obvious being, “What's so un-glamorous about short hair?” (Not to mention, “What exactly is a songstress?”)

But this column also points to a concern that instead of Rosie bringing gay and lesbian advocacy to daytime TV, daytime TV might try to take the activist out of Rosie. Is ABC concerned about Rosie “chopping off” her locks because a short haircut would make her seem less “glamorous,” or because it would make her seem more lesbian? Or is the Fox News columnist looking for anti-gay sentiment (or solidarity) where it doesn't exist?

If ABC does plan to try to water down Rosie's lesbian identity or liberal politics on the show to avoid alienating conservative viewers, it seems unlikely that they'll have any success. LOGO has announced that Rosie will be producing a sketch-comedy showcase called “The Big Gay Show.” In January, she announced that she would be partnering with novelist Alice Hoffman to write a new sitcom about a lesbian newspaper columnist with a blended family. These projects, along with a glance at Rosie's personal web site and blog, reveal that this kick-ass-take-names lesbian is the least likely person in the world to let herself be pushed back in the closet.

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