By the looks of it on premiere night, Rosie O’Donnell’s new show seemed designed to come across like a combination late-night show and daytime show (with the emphasis on the former).
The approach makes sense when you consider that its time slot – weekday evenings at 7/6c on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network – lies about equidistant between day and night. Sort of.
Whatever it is, or turns out to be, “The Rosie Show” on Night One aired live (Rosie said that was a decision made only recently), and had a single guest – Russell Brand, the British comedian and, more recently, a star of American comedy movies (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him to the Greek”). We happen to like seeing Brand on the talk shows – the late-night shows such as “Leno” and “Letterman” – where he usually proves to be amiable, funny company.
At 7 p.m., though, we’re not so sure. When he and Rosie discussed Russell’s reputation as Britain’s “Shagger of the Year” (that is, ahem, a person recognized for his sexual prowess), we couldn’t decide if we were comfortable with that at such an early hour. Funny, isn’t it, how we almost instinctively expect – and accept – bluer material the later it gets?
In fact, we’re not sure an entertainment show such as the one Rosie has designed for herself and OWN will really work, in the long run, at 7 in the evening (although time will tell on that).
Like a late-night show, “The Rosie Show” has a band, and the host starts the show with a monologue. The band barely made itself known on Night One, but it was fun to see Rosie doing stand-up again. Her stage even seems designed to be comedy clubbish – it’s really just a small stage with some curtains as a backdrop. We liked Rosie’s comedy (we always have), but a bit she borrowed from the (very) old “Carol Burnett Show” in which Rosie took questions from the audience was a dud.
One question: “Throughout your career, what are you most proud of?” she was asked. The answer: “I’m not wearing Spanx right now!” OK, that was pretty funny, but when another man stood up and informed us his personal “bucket list” consisted of meeting three celebrities – Paula Deen, Bill Clinton and Rosie – we kind of felt sorry for him. Rosie allowed him to come on-stage and hug her, though.
Then “audience member” Suze Ormon rose to ask a question and Rosie pretended to not know who she was. Their banter probably lasted all of two minutes but it felt like hours. Ormon, the tireless financial adviser seen on CNBC, is also part of the OWN “family.”
Rosie then did a song-and-dance number, with a handful of shirtless male dancers, about how she happened to come to Chicago to host a show on OWN. Then it was time for her interview with Brand, which filled about 40 minutes. At one point, Brand was seen in a pre-taped segment visiting a substance-abuse rehab facility for women and talking to some of the residents there, and the nice woman who ran the place. Brand is a recovering drug addict, so his interest in the facility made a certain amount of sense. On the other hand, the segment seemed to come out of nowhere.
Rosie didn’t come out of nowhere, though – she’s been around a long time and, as much as anyone, ought to know how to put on a show. Our guess is, she’s just getting started.