Nearly ten years after her talk show ended—and three years after her short-lived stint on The View—Rosie O’Donnell is stepping back into the spotlight. We had a few questions about her life’s “part two.”
O: The last time we saw you on TV, you were sparring with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View. How does it feel to be commanding your own stage again?
Rosie O’Donnell: Exciting, scary—and right. I feel like everything’s sort of aligned now. I’ve been offered other shows over the years, but it never felt like the right time. There was something about getting to do it for OWN, with Oprah’s sensibility, her touch, her world presence—what she stands for and who she is—that felt like a gift. To be on the field wearing an OWN jersey is the way to go.
O: Aside from a radio show on Sirius, you’ve been a pretty full-time parent for several years. Did you ever think you’d return to the daily grind?
RO: I’ve been off TV for so long that sometimes my kids forget I’m famous. We’ll go out and they’ll be like, “Why does everyone talk to you?” and I’ll say, “Before you were born, I had a TV show.” When you’re at home being a mom, you’re isolated. To go back to having a staff and working relationships—you have to open yourself up again. I had a plan until I was 40: Be as successful as possible and then retire. My mom died at 39, so I never thought beyond that. It didn’t occur to me that my life would have a part two.
O: You were 40 when you left the previous Rosie O’Donnell Show. Now you’re nearly 49. You’ve been very open about the changes in your life since then.
RO: I got divorced, which I never imagined would happen to me. It’s a humbling experience. Raising teens is a big challenge, and that came as a surprise—when I had children, I never thought, ‘What happens when they’re teenagers?’ I just thought, ‘Look how adorable and cute they are!’ And I went through menopause at 41, so I’m learning to take control of my health—or trying to, at least.
O: How will this show differ from your famously friendly syndicated show? Can we expect to see “the Queen of Nice”?
RO: This show won’t be as celebrity focused; guests won’t be promoting their movies for eight minutes. The show will be about real people and real issues. I’ll focus on a single topic for one hour, things people deal with every day. Raising children. The education system in America. Autism. Relationships, health, weight, depression—and happy stuff, too, of course. I envision the show being full of love and laughter.
O: What are you most excited about?
RO: The chance to reach millions of people on a daily basis. Not many women get access to a microphone that powerful. I take that privilege very seriously, and I want to make sure to use my show to benefit the most people in the best way.
By Meredith Bryan and Katie Arnold-Ratliff