Rosie O’Donnell Lectures George Stephanopoulos: Don’t Grill Me; He Doesn’t
Rosie O’Donnell appeared on Tuesday’s Good Morning America and lectured host George Stephanopoulos, "You just have to relax and remember that not everyone's a politician. And you don't have to grill them." The liberal comedienne needn’t have worried. Stephanopoulos only gently approached O’Donnell and her new gay-themed HBO documentary.
After being dressed down by O’Donnell, the GMA host offered this softball question about A Family Is a Family Is a Family: "So, tell us about this amazing documentary." He quickly followed up to see if the query was benign enough: "How was that?"
Although O’Donnell asserted that the documentary is about "equality," Stephanopoulos didn’t bring up the details of the special. A plot synopsis explains that the film features "children with two fathers or two mothers...a pair of mothers who are getting married to make one big family," in addition to stories on kids being raised by grandparents and who are adopted. So, it’s odd that Stephanopoulos would allow O’Donnell to get away with claiming to be non-political.
If the ABC anchor were going to grill O’Donnell, he might have mentioned the fact that the gay comedienne is no longer with her former partner, Kelli Carpenter. Has that disrupted the lives of O’Donnell’s children? Stephanopoulos didn’t ask.
Would anyone on GMA skip the topic with Jon or Kate Gosselin? Not likely. Instead, the host gushed that O’Donnell’s family is "the modern-day Brady Bunch."
Despite the claim that she’s just a celebrity, Stephanopoulos asked O’Donnell about President Obama. She gushed, "I'm not looking for a quick fix. I think we're an instant gratification society. And the last eight years were horrific by anyone's standard. And to right that vessel takes more than one year. And I have faith in him. I think he's an amazing leader." [Audio available here.]
He didn’t object when the actress sarcastically referred to "our lovely senator from Connecticut," Joe Lieberman. She then made a face.
Finally, one of the odder moments came when Stephanopoulos asked about Tiger Woods. O’Donnell lamented, "I feel sorry for him. I'm probably one of the only women I know who does. He was a child prodigy. I equate him in some ways to Michael Jackson. He was pushed out on the scene. I don't know. I think everybody has demons."
A transcript of the January 26 segment, which aired at 8:15am EST, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to look, now, at the modern family. Actually, Rosie and I have been talking for the last five minutes. We can just keep the conversation going. She's here because she has a new documentary on HBO that explores the nature of families. It's called A Family Is a Family Is a Family: A Rosie O’Donnell celebration. Good to see you.
ROSIE O’DONNELL: Good to see you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, I've only been doing this now about a month. You were on daytime TV forever. You know more about it than just about anyone. What do I need to know?
O’DONNELL: Well, I think you’re doing pretty well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Pretty well?
O’DONNELL: You just have to relax and remember that not everyone's a politician. [Stephanopoulos laughs.] And you don't have to grill them. She said lovingly, smiling. No, because, it's a different gig, right?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're right.
O’DONNELL: You're speaking for the people, the populous. You're saying, "Hey, you know, tell me what’s going on? Are you a slimy politician?" I’m going to dig and dig? But, with celebrities, just gentle. Gentle, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let ‘em go. Very good advice. You're taking control already. So, tell us about this amazing documentary. How was that?
O’DONNELL: Well, you know, I had dinner with Marlo Thomas, who I adore. I said I want to do Free to Be You and Me. And I said, "Can I have the rights?" She said, "You don't need the rights." And I just got together with my friends and we really had fun. We talked about equality and we made it geared towards kids. What is your subject? I said, "equality and families." She said, "Just go do it." And I went to Sheila Nevins, who is a genius, who works at HBO. She runs all the documentaries there. I said "What do you say?" This is our third one together. And I think it's really beautiful.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And did anything surprise you about the kids in this?
O’DONNELL: Everything. First of all, the woman, Amy Schatz who works there at HBO and has done the first kids one I did there as well, she finds the most amazing kids and she elicits responses from them, that each sentence is a pearl of wisdom, you know? And it’s very, very moving to see. Kids saying the truth about their life is really accessible to everyone.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you didn't have to look too far. Some of your kids are in this, as well. Your daughter Vivian. We have a scene of you and Vivian.
[Clip from HBO special]
O’DONNELL: What kind of family do you think you're going to have when you get big?
VIVIAN: I don't know.
O’DONNELL: You think you are going to get married and have kids? What about Kai from school?
VIVIAN: He's not even as old as me. He's five.
O’DONNELL: Oh. He's five and you're six?
O’DONNELL: That would be robbing the cradle.
VIVIAN: Why do we need families?
O’DONNELL: We need families so that we have people to take care of us and people we can take care of. And so that we can learn what it means to love all the way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, there is a mother's pride right there.
O’DONNELL: Yes, indeed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: She's not going to go for the younger men?
O’DONNELL: I don't know. This Kai is pretty fantastic. He's the cutest kid I've ever seen. And I was told on the second day that he does not enjoy being called cute. He's little. He has got very long hair. And you just want to pick him up. And every time I see him, I go you're so cuuuuu- curious. You can't call him cute.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have four children. Your new partner has six. That's quite a blended family.
O’DONNELL: That makes ten. I did that in my head. Yes. That's a lot of kids. To some people, that seems insurmountable and ridiculous. But somehow, you know what, it feels all right.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Our eldest daughter, Elliot, is going through a bit of a Brady Bunch phase. She got the DVDs for her birthday and she just can’t stop watching it. This is the modern-day Brady Bunch.
O’DONNELL: Kind of. Or Yours, Mine and Ours. Remember that Lucille Ball movie we used to watch in the ‘70s? Uh, who knew? You know, when something happens in your life. You meet somebody. It clicks. You know, you move forward with certainty. And you go, you know, hopefully with grace.
[O’Donnell and Stephanopoulos briefly discuss Haiti]
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, no grilling. But a little politics. Let's do a lightning round. First thing that comes to your mind. President Obama, year one?
O’DONNELL: You know, I still have faith, is what I can say. I'm not looking for a quick fix. I think we're an instant gratification society. And the last eight years were horrific by anyone's standard. And to right that vessel takes more than one year. And I have faith in him. I think he's an amazing leader.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Anything disappoints you over the last year?
O’DONNELL: Not really. Because, I think I understand the parameters of what's involved. Everybody has the greatest ideals and they walk in there and it's a quagmire. Everyone’s stuck. And Congress is stuck. And people are fighting. People are trying to get re-elected. And, you know, there's our lovely senator from Connecticut. And so, you know-
STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I know which one you're thinking of.
O’DONNELL: That would be Mr. Lieberman. And to think that, you know, you can judge everything about what he has accomplished by what he has not, I think does everyone a disservice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tiger Woods?
O’DONNELL: I feel sorry for him. I'm probably one of the only women I know who do- who does. He was a child prodigy. I equate him in some ways to Michael Jackson. He was pushed out on the scene. I don't know. I think everybody has demons. You know, sexuality in this country is so, kind of, seen in a paradigm that is unrealistic. And it's a difficult thing to be the most famous guy in the world and the most famous golfer. I don't know. I don't feel as hatred about it [sic].