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TV Column
Posted at 11:23 PM ET, 10/10/2011

Rosie O’Donnell makes her OWN debut


Rosie O’Donnell returns to TV with “The Rosie Show” on OWN. (George Burns - OWN)

Oprah Winfrey Network re-launched Monday night – or was it re-re-launched?

Anyway, Rosie O’Donnell’s new talk show for OWN debuted at 7 p.m., followed by new “Oprah’s Lifeclass” – reruns of her syndicated talk show dolled up with Oprah’s new musings about her favorite moments and lessons from over the years.

OWN, a co-venture of Oprah’s Harpo company and Discovery Communications, hasn’t been doing so well. From Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, it has averaged 247,000 viewers in primetime; the channel it replaced, Discovery Health, averaged 250,000 viewers over the same period of time in ’10.

But, while promoting her new show, Rosie has explained that a brand new network is practically an idiot anyway. And now that Oprah’s on the job full-time, before you know it, OWN will churn out ratings gold – like everything else Oprah touches, Rosie says.

Discovery was taking no chances, simulcasting “The Rosie Show,” which is made in the old “The Oprah Winfrey Show” studio in Chicago — not only on OWN, but also across four other Discovery networks, including the company’s too-many-kids-reality-series flagship network TLC. Also pitching in are Investigation Discovery, Discovery Fit & Health, and Planet Green.

So how did Rosie’s first show go? It went like this:

First opening night monologue:

“People in Chicago are a lot nicer than people in New York. … I’ve been here three months and nobody has given me the middle finger yet. … Six months ago I was in Macy’s and a guy came over to me and said, “Excuse me, I don’t want to insult you, but you look like Rosie O’Donnell’.”

First guest:

Russell Brand: “I like it when I put my bottom somewhere and think I’m the first person.”

Russell says the materialistic age has reached its natural conclusion. And, being a star is really hard.

First cringe-worthy moment:

Russell plucking from the audience one Kyle – a cute little kid who, Rosie said, saved her when she was on the roof of her new house, locked out. He did so by climbing over a wall and entering a window. Russell wants to use Kyle to start a little band of thieves, like in “Oliver Twist.” Rosie asks Kyle if he is uncomfortable being made to sit in Russell’s lap. Russell tells Kyle to steal his mother’s purse. Kyle declines. Russell tells Kyle to put his hands together and say, “Please sir, can I have some more?” Kyle does so – presumably in hopes Russell will then let him get down off his lap. Remember how Russell died at the VMAs that time? Yeah, it was kinda like that.

Only, on Rosie’s show, Russell at least died for a good cause – plugging an establishment in which women with substance addictions go to get treated. Except for the taped bit, in which a greasy-haired Russell is seen visiting the home and asking women being treated there if their attitude is better now that they’re in the house. That part was tragically weird.

First game-show segment (Rosie is still harboring ill feelings over not getting Bob Barker’s game show gig when he retired from “The Price is Right”):

Doctor Charles and Receptionist Debbie compete to answer correctly five questions in which the answers include the letters “ro” (as in “Rosie”).

Q: After 10 years, Mister Big finally did this to Carrie.

“Romance!” screams Debbie.

Charles hasn’t a clue.

“Proposed” is the correct answer, Rosie says.

“Woo hoo! – got the point!” Debbie yells.

“No, you didn’t,” Rosie has to explain. Yes, really.

“Does she get negative points?” Doctor Charles asks Rosie. We are glad we are not a patient of Doctor Charles’.

Q: Cupid’s weapon of choice.

Q: Angela Lansbury’s hit series.

Q: Famous word uttered in “Citizen Kane.”

And so the long night wears on, until Doctor Charles wins a trip to Jamaica. Debbie gets a T-shirt.

First show closing:

“This show has been fun – but it’s missing just one thing,” says Rosie.

(Pregnant pause)

Out walks The Oprah. Down comes the confetti. They hug. Rosie clasps Oprah’s hand and holds it up high.

The winner!

harry

GALLERY: Click the image above to view more photos of Rosie O'Donnell.

By  |  11:23 PM ET, 10/10/2011

 
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