New Yawker Rosie’s show leaves a lot to be desired

Rosie O’Donnell’s show premiered with guest Russell Brand

Rosie O’Donnell, the VERY New Yawky talk show host unveiled her new talk-and-whatever fest, “The Rosie Show,” on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, this week. “The Rosie Show” is housed at Harpo Studios, formerly home to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

The first installment of “The Rosie Show,” which we watched in its entirety, left much to be desired.  And we presume the producers already are hard at work trying to rework what was, at its inception, a very odd and ultimately unsatisfying mix of stuff.

First off, there’s the matter of O’Donnell’s band of musicians.  When we weren’t looking, bands became an essential part of a lot of talk shows. Some of these shows have found a way to successfully incorporate music and musicians into the format. But O’Donnell most definitely has not done that yet.  We note, parenthetically, that Winfrey never employed a band on her talk show.

O’Donnell needs to resonate with a national audience

But O’Donnell has more to worry about than just the band.  She made clear in practically the first words she uttered on the new show, what for us has always been our biggest problem with her attempts to resonate with a larger national audience.  She is the consummate New Yorker, starting, of course, with her accent.

And she did herself no favors at the top of her first show by pandering to Chicago, where her new program is being taped in front of a live audience.

She gave the city’s residents a little compliment by observing how “nice” they are, which we took to mean “boring,” especially after she suggested New Yorkers are the ones with all the attitude she had learned to live with and even love.

Guest selection could be improved

For her new show to succeed, O’Donnell and her producers are going to have to do a much better job of picking guests too.  Of all the thousands of people O’Donnell could have welcomed to the set first, she chose Russell Brand, a comedian and performer who is way too in love with his own ability to turn a clever phrase.
What’s worse, though, is that O’Donnell barely seemed to have a clue who Brand was or why she was talking to him. But given all that, we must admit she still managed to soldier her way through it without the prolonged interview turning into a total train wreck. Close, but not total.

O’Donnell apparently intends to end each installment with some sort of audience-participation game.  The first game, requiring two players to come up with answers to questions that contained the letters “ro,” grew tiresome fast.  We suspect this segment will be among the first components of the new show to be jettisoned.

Though we have no doubt O’Donnell has a loyal fan base out there, the real reason she is being given another chance to front a talk show was made manifest at the very end of Monday’s debut.

That reason would be none other than one very important O’Donnell friend and fan, Winfrey herself, who walked out, smiled a big smile and looked as if she was hoping O’Donnell and her team will be able to pull it all together before the ratings ax falls with a showstopping thud.

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