I must have missed the groundswell of support and the public clamor for the return of Rosie O'Donnell to the daytime airwaves. It seemed that her time in the cultural spotlight had passed following her notorious 2008 variety show failure (It was hailed by one merciful critic as "dead on arrival") and her exile to a daily Sirius XM radio show that caters to creepy shut-ins and those unlucky listeners who can't figure out how to tune-in to Howard Stern. But like some sort of loudmouthed, frumpy, left-wing vampire who just won't stay in the ground, she is threatening to rise again with a terrifying plan to replace Oprah once the Queen of Daytime TV retires in 2011. Someone in Hollywood, please - break out the garlic.
Of course, I'm hardly Rosie's daily television show target demographic. I work for a living instead of sitting at home staring slack-jawed at the succession of Sham-Wow commercials and ads for shyster lawyers promising big payouts for the imaginary injuries of their deadbeat clients that fill the time between inane segments of mindless yak. And while the social parasite demographic seems to grow larger after every freebie, hand-out and pay-off the Administration and its Congressional flunkies issue in favor of their employment-averse constituents, Rosie O'Donnell still seems like a bad economic bet.
This is no longer the same country as it was back in 1999 when Rosie was honchoing her first daytime gabfest and hassling Tom Selleck over his support for the Second Amendment of the Constitution. It's not even the same country as it was in May 2007, when the former "Queen of Nice's" anti-conservative bile culminated in her slandering American fighting men and women as terrorists on The View:
ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, "THE VIEW": 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, "VIEW" CO-HOST: Who are the terrorists?
O‘DONNELL: 655 Iraqis-I‘m saying you have to look-we invaded...
HASSELBECK: Wait, who are you calling terrorists?
O‘DONNELL: I‘m saying that, if you were in Iraq, and another country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?
She also takes particular pleasure in attacking the Catholic Church and seems to consider anyone not buying wholesale into her radical agenda against traditional marriage and adoption as a contemptible bigot. And let's not forget her equally insightful foray into that moronic twilight zone known as 9/11 trutherism; it completes her personal trifecta of idiocy.
Rosie's backers for the new show seem excited at the chance to pick up Oprah's viewers, whose departure will apparently leave them without a reason to live. "Those 4, 5, 6 ratings points have to go somewhere," one told Variety. "Something's going to come in and fill that vacuum."
But with the President's approval ratings in freefall, and with Congress envying the polling numbers achieved by such public favorites as Kim Jong-Il, Vanilla Ice and syphilis, it is a new world. Rosie's kind of aggressive, grating, in-your-face liberal stupidity may well serve to alienate a substantial part of today's potential audience. Her partners seem to know it too, assuring Variety that:
"If Rosie wanted to just have a platform for her causes, she would go get a show on cable news . . . . She's a comedian, not a political pundit."
Except no one is laughing - her Rosie Live! variety show was cancelled the first night after scoring an anemic 5.25 million viewers, though the presence of such hip, relevant and cutting edge guest artists as Alanis Morrissette and someone/something called "Ne-Yo" probably didn't help.
The fact is that Rosie O'Donnell is an unpleasant, smug and actively dumb woman who is unlikely to garner anything like the following she once had before embracing her personal jihad against the most deeply held and sincere beliefs of a significant majority of the country. The stay at-home mommies I know are too busy to sit and watch television without a very good reason, and being bitched at by a sanctimonious harpy isn't one of them. Oprah likes Barack Obama, but (I assume) she doesn't spend an hour a day telling her audience that they are the scum of the Earth for not agreeing with her. Rosie probably couldn't resist - and watching her show would probably make the Bataan Death March look like a week at Club Med.
So, there are two possible reasons behind the resurrection of Rosie as a daytime talk show hostess. The first is that the producers think they can make some money by harnessing what they believe to be her undeniable audience appeal. Perhaps that's true, but that seems like a triumph of hope over recent experience considering the unbroken track record of audience alienation and failure that has haunted her since she left her original talk show back in 2002 as well as the increasing polarization of the American public into liberal and conservative camps. Does it seem smart to invest in a show that at the threshold flips the bird to at least 50% of the people who might be enticed to watch it?
The other possibility is that Rosie's aggressive lefty political stance is a net positive for her backers, and that they believe she would provide a valuable, if only intermittently coherent, liberal voice in the vast wasteland that is daytime television. And they may be willing to suck up the potential losses in order to let that obnoxious voice be heard.
The truth is probably somewhere in between. It's not unknown for Hollywood to try to mix business with leftism (*cough* The Green Zone *cough*). Of course, that doesn't always work real well. (*cough* The Green Zone *cough*).
Will Rosie O'Donnell succeed with her career resurrection? No one can know for sure, but just in case, I'm keeping a crucifix and some garlic handy.
Originally published at Big Hollywood on March 31, 2010.