Rosie O’Donnell dishes on her new variety show, “The View” and civil rights


Photo courtesy: NBC

Rosie O’Donnell grew up with variety shows, so it’s only

fitting that she take a stab at bringing back the genre with her Rosie Live special, which airs on NBC

next Wednesday at 8/7c.

The ever-candid Rosie took a break from rehearsals in New York City to talk

about the show and the possibility for more.

Why is this the right time to bring the genre back to prime

time television? “I think the fact that we’re doing it live and variety shows

were a big hit in the 70s when the economy was in the crapper and gasoline was

scarce and people’s beliefs in the political system was shaken…it’s the right

time, I think,” Rosie explained.

“When I did my first daytime show, the climate was right

then, as well. At the time when I grew up, when you thought of a daytime show

you thought of Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, DinahShore…celebrities

who were friends, nobody got hurt.”

The “Rosie Live” special is a concept Rosie has been

pitching for the last six years, she said, and she finally got the “yes” she

was hoping for when she pitched the concept to NBC’s co-chairman of

Entertainment, Ben Silverman.

“[NBC] wanted me to do a taped pilot but I said I was

selling a live show so I preferred to do one live show and then if they like it

then they can pick it up in groups of six.”

Rosie had many previous variety show hits to draw from when

she was figuring out the format for her new show. “Sonny & Cher. Fantastic.

Carol Burnett. Donny & Marie. 

Shields and Yarnell. The King Family. I watched them all. It was the

O’Donnell tradition to just sit around…we’d watch them together and it was a

huge event in our house back when there were three channels.” 

With a guest roster including Alec Baldwin, Alanis

Morissette, Ne-Yo, Kathy Griffin, Gloria Estefan, Jane Krakowski and Liza

Minnelli, Rosie sees Rosie Live as “a

night time live variety show. Carol Burnett meets Ed Sullivan, Sonny &

Cher. Donny & Marie.  All rolled into

one, live from a Broadway theater exploiting the talents of Broadway.”

An interview with Rosie will inevitably come around to

talking about her tumultuous year on ABC’s The

, the daytime talk show that generated many headlines for the arguments

between Rosie and co-star Elisabeth Hasselback.

“For me, what happened on the show was a personal argument

with a friend that was publicly displayed,” she explained. “What happened there

was personal, not political, and it was viewed for everyone and I didn’t want

to be paid to fight. When I started and took that job, I made the decision that

it was with the intent of speaking for the millions of mothers whose voices

were not represented on television.”

She also admitted to not watching the show, though she does

check out clips that may pop up on YouTube or The Huffington Post.