Rosie O’Donnell will not replace Oprah, but she will work for her

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Daytime television is about to get Rosie … O’Donnell, that is.

The comedian will make her return — again — to television hosting on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, the network announced Thursday.

“Rosie is an undeniable talent who has captivated TV audiences for nearly 20 years,” Oprah Winfrey said in a statement “She’s a true original, who brings her authentic voice, dynamic energy and pure passion to everything she does.”

The program, produced by O’Donnell, will be a one-hour daily show based in New York.


“It’s an honor and a privilege to work with Oprah Winfrey on her network,” O’Donnell said in a statementl. “I’m excited to be back on daytime television.”

When O’Donnell’s plans for a comeback first surfaced earlier this year, the idea was that she would take time slots that Winfrey had occupied, not to go to work for Winfrey.

Dick Robertson, one of the veteran television executives who is distributing O’Donnell’s show said at that time that there would be a “gaping hole” in daytime television and that no one was better to fill it than O’Donnell. Even O’Donnell said in a statement that her plan was to “build on what Oprah began and excelled at for 25 years, in my own style and with new adaptations and ideas.”

Apparently the local television stations pitched by Robertson and Scott Carlin, his partner on the venture, felt differently. The challenge in selling O’Donnell to local TV station was that she had become something of a lightning rod. Her outspoken personality and political stances on ‘The View’ ended up overwhelming the image she’d cultivated as ‘the queen of nice’ on her old talk show. Additionally, there is still a lot of bad blood at ABC over how she left “The View” — and Barbara Walters — which likely would have made getting that network’s stations to carry her new show a challenge.

From 1996 to 2002, O’Donnell hosted the highly successful daytime talk show “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” for which she earned six Daytime Emmys for outstanding talk show host. She joined the mix on “The View” in 2006, replacing Meredith Viera as co-host and moderator — and challenger to Elizabeth Hasslebeck.

OWN will debut in Jan. 1 on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel.

— Yvonne Villarreal and Joe Flint


Rosie O’Donnell can still be a force, but a talk comeback is not without challenges

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