Rosie O’Donnell’s special “Rosie Live” fails to impress

November 28, 2008

(ChattahBox) — Rosie O’Donnell’s pre Thanksgiving NBC special proved to be more turkey then viewers cared to consume. NBC had high hopes for the special and planned to expand the program into a series should viewers re-embrace the decades-old variety format. Other networks, too, were watching closely since several are developing variety shows of their own. However the network’s attempt to revive the primetime variety show failed to draw an audience Wednesday night, tying for the evening’s lowest-rated program. A mere 5 million viewers tuned in for the 8 p.m. premiere of “Rosie Live,” with the program earning a 1.2 preliminary adults 18-49 rating. The telecast matched ABC’s recently canceled “Pushing Daisies” as the night’s lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network.

Networks have been looking for variety show programming as a cheap option to fill their schedules. In other words, the neo-variety show is a retread designed to solve financial woes rather than an act of programming inspiration. NBC’s variation, in particular, seemed unlikely to attract a broad audience given O’Donnell’s divisive personality. Though stocked with appearances by Alannis Morrisette, Ne Yo, Rachael Ray, Harry Connick Jr., Clay Aiken and Gloria Estefan, along with Minnelli, Baldwin, Griffin and Krakowski, the lineup’s appeal also skewed heavily female for a primetime show airing on the eve of a family holiday.

Segments included Kathy Griffin impersonating Nancy Grace, Alec Baldwin hitting Conan O’Brian with a pie, O’Donnell singing “City Lights” with Liza Minnelli and Jane Krakowski doing a product-placement-themed striptease for White Castle burgers and Crest Whitestrips. In between skits, celebrity cameos and hokey novelty acts, the legendarily thin-skinned Ms. O’Donnell found time to take potshots at some of her favorite targets, including Donald Trump, Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly.  Swats at detractors were light, but they clashed with the context, of a heartfelt homage to variety shows of yesteryear. Critics were not kind. The NY Times described it as “hokey comedy with an enemies list.” TV Guide called it a “ghastly ego trip.” And the LA Times asked, “Rosie, what on earth were you thinking?”

While Rosie’s show flopped on the same day her former coworker Barbara Walters rolled out her own TV special. In the end, however, only one stood tall: Walters, whose interview with President-elect Barack Obama and First Lady-to-be Michelle Obama on ABC’s Barbara Walters Special netted 11.7 million viewers at 10 p.m. That was the night’s third best total and a huge improvement on the 5.6 mil people who watched Dirty Sexy Money in the same period a week prior.


2 Responses to “Rosie O’Donnell’s special “Rosie Live” fails to impress”

  1. Kathy on November 28th, 2008 1:51 pm

    In a live show we can expect some interesting things, but the whole production should have never made it to air. Three of us watched it on Wednesday night hoping to be entertained, but found ourselves to be disappointed. She didn’t appear to be in “her” comfort level at all…not even when she was trying to be funny at the beginning. This is not a time for her to live out a fantasy of singing and dancing. Let the guests or performers perform. The closest thing to funny was Kathy segment. Everything was rushed on and off without a flow or theme. We all were very, very disappointed.

    Rosie needs to stick with talk shows with a bit of entertainment.

  2. Randy on December 9th, 2008 8:47 am

    haha too bad. now go away forever Rosie, your fifteen minutes have been over for a long time.
    your fiend-
    tom cruise

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