It seemed like a sure thing. Rosie O’Donnell is a talented actress and comedian with a stack of Emmys. Why not give her an old fashioned variety show, in the style of Carol Burnett, with some comedy, some singing, and good wholesome entertainment?
Rosie Live, as the new show was called, should have been called Rosie Still Born. Rosie was broadcast live on NBC Wednesday, November 26th, to an audience of all of five million people. Among the guests on Rose Live were Alanis Morissette, Alec Baldwin, Clay Aiken, Ne-Yo and Liza Minnelli.
The LA Times describedRosie Live thus:
“Two words: Dancing food. “Rosie Live” ended with dancing food. There’s nothing else to say, really, except perhaps, Liza Minnelli. “Rosie Live,” shot in New York City, opened with a little song and dance from Minnelli, who rose to the stage as if from the grave to sing a duet with O’Donnell, in a luminous white suit, complete with fetching Broadway hat. Liza, we love you, we will always love you, but there is no shame in retirement.
“In between we were treated to Harry Connick Jr. in a Santa hat, Conan O’Brien taking a pie in the face and Jane Krakowski singing about all the free stuff audience members would get. Some of the items were pretty swell, but I’m here to tell you it wasn’t enough. Rosie made jokes about the slimming-undergarment Spanx, Alec Baldwin appeared in a jacket two sizes too small with weird Einstein hair — neither of which were part of a gag. Clay Aiken strolled over from his ‘Spamalot’ gig on Broadway to participate in the world’s most painfully long gay joke (‘What was the other thing we have in common?’ Rosie mused. ‘Oh, yeah, we’re both Gaaa . . . briel Byrne fans.’), and Alanis Morissette sang a song referencing the 12-step program in front of, I kid you not, an endless loop of geese flying through a sunset.”
It is possible that the time for a Carol Burnett/Sonny and Cher style variety show has passed. They may have gone along with westerns in which the cowboys are the good guys and the Indians the bad guys, war pictures in which the Americans are the good guys, and romantic comedies in which men are men, women are women, and the sex is PG 13 at most.
Or then again maybe the problem was Rosie O’Donnell herself. One cannot help but think that the pre coming out, “Queen of Nice” Rosie might have been able to carry it off . Certainly Rosie’s talk show was pretty good, at least until she started doing bizarre things like berating Tom Selleck for owning fire arms. And Ellen DeGeneris, also openly gay and pretty funny, has got a successful talk show. Maybe Ellen could have pulled off a variety show revival.
It’s likely, though, that the image of Rosie O’Donnell ranting on The View and being so darned self conscious about her sexual orientation that both had stopped being funny and had become painful to watch was just too much. Rosie could stand up all she wanted and announce how the election of Barack Obama had changed all that, had made her back in fact into a nice person, and it would not matter. She has branded herself into something quite grotesque. Between the conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the third grade feuding with Donald Trump, Rosie O’Donnell has effectively wrecked her career for anything except R rated comedy rants on HBO. And that is why Rosie Live died.
Source: ‘Rosie Live’: Rosie O’Donnell’s variety show makes a lame TV debut, Mary McNamara, LA Times, November 28th, 2008