Oprah and Rosie O’Donnell are bitchfighting over Rosie’s cancelled show

Yesterday, we briefly mentioned that Oprah had unceremoniously yanked Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show from the OWN network after six months of disappointing ratings. Originally, Rosie and Oprah had signed a deal with the hope that Rosie could help save Oprah’s (clearly dying) network, but it just didn’t work out that way. Certainly, it didn’t help that the show had a small budget and was based in Chicago (where Rosie relocated), and most celebrities weren’t willing to fly in just for an interview while reportedly being asked to travel in coach class. Matters were made worse when Rosie’s show premiered to lackluster ratings that only grew worse after several format changes that started out as an hour-long comedy format with a live audience and ended up as a closed-studio, interview only show that featured the likes of a bunch of C-listers like Kat Von D., Jaleel White, and Dance Moms, not to mention Chelsea Hander and her neverending stream of little people jokes.

Furthermore, Rosie herself seemed to clash with most if not all of Oprah’s former staff, who Rosie took over as part of the deal along with Oprah’s old studio. Soon, Rosie fired Winfrey’s longtime stage manager, clashed with Winfrey’s former director, and humiliated her bandleader because he wasn’t able “play obscure Broadway songs off the cuff right when she named them on live TV.” Here are some more details that are excerpted from The Daily Beast’s discussions with several jilted staffers:

Through all the changes, some 30 employees from producers to writers had left because of budget cuts and possibly because of a boss who couldn’t decide what she wanted and frequently humiliated them in public. “It was such a f#*king hellhole,” says one former staffer.

What went wrong? Multiple insiders interviewed for this story say that both Ro and O are to blame; the network never fit O’Donnell, and O’Donnell wasn’t able to make the splash she was supposed to. At first, the new Rosie Show was a lot like the old Rosie O’Donnell Show, which is to say it featured the Rosie that America used to love. Rosie cracked jokes with her live audience and belted out Broadway numbers. She ended each episode with a game show that paired her celebrity guests (Roseanne, Sharon Osbourne, Valerie Harper, etc.) with regular people. The critics–those who could find OWN on their TV dials–offered a smattering of raves.

OWN wasn’t so sure, however. The premiere debuted with only 497,000 viewers, and by the end of the first week, Rosie had tumbled to less than half that audience. One issue was the time slot. OWN wouldn’t air Rosie during the day, because it didn’t have any original daytime programming. That also meant most of Rosie’s core demographic–soccer moms–would be eating dinner during its airtime.

O’Donnell was confused, too. She didn’t know what she was supposed to be and was losing confidence in the funny material that once made her great. She started spinning in different directions (should she be more political?) and frequently lost her temper, according to staff members.

There was another tricky problem. Market research had indicated that even the show’s gay-friendly audience was tiring of all the gay references and hearing O’Donnell talk about being a lesbian, but O’Donnell disregarded that critique. On a recent Friday night, she advertised on Twitter that she was doing a special where she talked about being gay in America. The show ended up being an interview with Randy Roberts Potts, the grandson of televangelist Oral Roberts, and it featured clips of Rosie talking to her staff about coming out. During another episode, she implied on TV that one of the younger staff members was gay, when he had never talked about his sexual orientation. The incident left him upset and embarrassed.

When O’Donnell returned from Christmas, she ordered that her staff build her a new set. She wanted a smaller, more intimate talk show. A few episodes later, she completely removed the audience. She traded down for a tiny side studio, with no band and no announcer. Without an audience, O’Donnell looked and sounded deflated. Although early test research indicated that O’Donnell didn’t rate well when she spent too much time interviewing celebrities, the new format had that as the focus. O’Donnell spent nearly an hour grilling the character actor Dermot Mulroney about his life, his childhood, his marriage, and fame. If the interview weren’t tedious enough, she had him play his childhood cello. (He wasn’t very good.) The full hour with Tony Danza wasn’t much better. Last week, Rosie had Liza Minnelli on, and the two women gushed about each other for the entire show. The interview was so toothless, it felt more like eavesdropping on two patrons having lunch at the Sizzler.

[From Daily Beast]

Rosie has apparently taken the cancellation very poorly, which is sort of understandable, but she apparently fled Chicago and refused to tell the staff the bad news herself. So they had to find out via the press release, which seems to only add insult to prolonged injury. Now the inevitable bitchfight between Rosie and Oprah has commenced:

It’s becoming the battle of the talk show queens, as Rosie O’Donnell and Oprah Winfrey aren’t talking to each other after Ms. O’s decision to cancel Ro’s talk show on her embattled cable television network, RadarOnline.com is exclusively reporting.

Winfrey did call Rosie to tell her that the show was being canceled and “it was a very strained conversation, obviously,” according to a source close to the situation. “Oprah wanted to handle the announcement of the cancellation in a professional and dignified manner. Rosie thanked Oprah for the opportunity and ended the conversation very abruptly. OWN’s public relations team and Rosie’s publicist handled the language in the press release. Rosie didn’t like the initial language of the press release because she felt that it placed sole responsibility of the failure of the show on her. Oprah didn’t need to get Rosie’s input or approval for the press release, but she was trying to be gracious. Up until the moment that the press release was sent out, Rosie wanted changes made, but Oprah instructed the release to go out, because it needed to go out, and she was just over the drama,” the source added.

In a statement announcing the cancellation of Rosie’s show, Winfrey said: “I thank Rosie from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this journey. She has been an incredible partner, working to deliver the best possible show every single day. As I have learned in the last 15 months, a new network launch is always a challenge and ratings grow over time as you continue to gather an audience. I’m grateful to Rosie and the dedicated Rosie Show team for giving it their all.”

[From Radar]

Radar goes on to mention that Rosie had instructed her own “people” to call Oprah in an attempt to dictate what the press release should include, but since Rosie refused to call Oprah herself, O just released the announcement on her own grounds. It sounds like Oprah at least handled the statement itself in a diplomatic manner, and I don’t see how Rosie could’ve possibly made it sound any better with all of her (likely) crazy demands.

However, Oprah’s troubles continue even after getting rid of Rosie and (unfortunately) firing that show’s staff. TMZ reveals that about 30 other people at OWN got laid off today, and those workers range from high level executives to newcomers. It sounds like the entire network is on the outs and won’t last much longer. At least Oprah seems to realize that these decisions must be made for the sake of business, but of course, Rosie is probably taking this all too personally.

Oprah shown in NYC on 3/1; Rosie shown in NYC on 1/10; Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet

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71 Responses to “Oprah and Rosie O’Donnell are bitchfighting over Rosie’s cancelled show”

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  1. Anne says:

    Oprah could have bowed out gracefully. It’s a shame she couldn’t and now OWN is making her look bad. As for Rosie. O, she has no idea how to treat people and never has.

    • EmmaStoneWannabe says:

      It goes back to the disgusting greediness. Just like the post yesterday of Jay Z wanting B to have a $150M world tour this year. Revolting.

    • apsutter says:

      Oddly, one of the best explanations I’ve heard of what Oprah was doing came from the Howard Stern Show. He was interviewing Perez Hilton (I know) and he asked him what he thought of the whole situation and Perez was spot on. He said that Oprah left her show because she’d been at it for 25 years & she was indifferent and 25 seemed like a good number. And as for the network she thought it would be so easy because it had been so easy in the past to throw her name on something and watch it sell. She thought she’d just be able to announce she had a network and everyone who watched her show would just follow and make her a huge success on OWN. She didn’t know what the hell she was signing on for.

  2. OrangeBlohan says:

    When I heard that Rosie was the very first person that Oprah signed to her new network, I knew her network would never last. Seriously, did Oprah not watch when Rosie was on The View?

  3. Marjalane says:

    Awwww, what a shame. Oprah should have quit while she was ahead. Talk about things that I think “are just great”.

    I doubt if there are many who thought Rosie was show-worthy at this point anyway. She’s a bitch.

  4. Agnes says:

    oprah will destroy rosie with one look from her laser beam-generating eyes. i wouldn’t mess with her.

  5. really says:

    I only saw a few Rosie interviews on Youtube, but I thought she was nicely candid, and brought out the same from her guests, like Handler and Kathy Griffin. I think what hurts Rosie the most is that she is politically outspoken. America doesn’t like politically opinionated women like Rosie and Janeane Garofalo (whose show also tanked). But John Stewart, Bill Maher, Howard Stern, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Corbet are revered. They want their female comics to make sex or gossip jokes.

  6. mln76 says:

    You can’t put Rosie back in the nice box she jumped out of years ago. After the endless feuding with anyone and everyone its time for Rosie to go live on an island with whoever she’s married to @ the moment and leave us alone. I really can’t stand Barbara Walters but Oprah should take a few lessons from her on aging in broadcasting which tells you how low Oprah’s sinking in my book.

  7. momoftwo says:

    Man…we sure do like to kick people when they are down! I guess I don’t like everyone’s “See…I knew Oprah would fail…she never should done something new”.

    Maybe she did fail, but she tried, and instead of applauding her for taking risks (because don’t all the people who have impacted the world the most say that without failures there can be no success) we all play monday morning quarterback.

    As someone who is often petrified and paralyzed at the thought of failure, I can really admire people who are willing to put themselves out there for something they believe in. Sure they might fall flat on your face, but to see them dust themselves off is inspirational!

    (steps off of soapbox…)

    • SleepyJane says:

      Amen to that!

      Success is in the eye of the beholder. I admire Oprah for not just taking her billions and relishing in the good life. She is working hard, and you can’t be mad at that.

      • Original Lucy says:

        If Oprah did not want to retire after ending her show, then thats great…however, If that was me, and I had all her money, I would have retired. Retirement for Oprah, would not be the same as retirement for an ordinary joe. She has so much money, she could travel, golf everyday, and still keep her hand in charity and even producing and occassioinal show. She would’nt be struggling to buy groceries or just sitting watching tv because she didn’t have money for anything else…as for Rosie…that ship has sailed…her reputation follows her…she has become quite unlikeable with her “If you don’t agree with my opinions,then you are stupid” attitude…

  8. Darlene says:

    It will be very interesting to see what happens when OWN fails. What will Oprah do? It’s so strange that her show was so successful but her network is such a fail. I don’t even know what channel it is!!

  9. ladybert62 says:

    It is a titantic clash of the egos – both of them are not nice people (in my opinion).

  10. Ainsley says:

    When the ratings of Oprah’s show started going down, she should have taken that as a hint. Why would she start an entire network when she could barely keep the show going? As for Rosie, I’ve never heard anything about her that was positive. All of her projects fail, and they fail because of her. People who have worked with her make her sound like a monster. Hey, maybe Oprah could get her ratings up by staging a cage match between herself and Rosie. I might watch that!

  11. Jackson says:

    I’m not sure why anyone thought this would end well.

  12. Jayna says:

    Oprah put her show on at seven at night. Rosie was surprised. I knew it was a bad idea. Rosie’s show was a daytime show, never a nighttime show competing with Entertainment Tonight and the game shows on major networks and such. Then they kept changing her show and Oprah took away a lot of it and scaled it way down. Her mistake was leaving it at seven. That was always the issue. Oprah took away her live audience at the end. Rosie’s strength is playing to an audience.

    Oprah’s network is struggling bigtime across the board. I only watch it for those unfaithful shows she puts on. Other than that, I never think about it. Nobody I know watches OWN network. So Rosie isn’t the blame for this. But Oprah couldn’t justify paying that kind of money for low ratings. I’m sure Rosie understands that. Whatever hard feelings are there right now will go away.

  13. Jayna says:

    I applaud Oprah. Why shouldn’t she try to start a network if she wants? Woman need to support women. It’s a startup channel and time will tell if she can turn it around, but congrats on being a driven woman in the field of TV network, a man’s world for the most part.

  14. mel says:

    I have never watched a rosie show after she blasted that guy – damn forgot his name – on gun control. He was there to promote a movie and she was such a BIITCH!

    UGH! Please do us all a favor and go away!

    • dorothy#1 says:

      it was Tom Sellek, and he wouldn’t go on the View when she was there!

      • pwal says:

        I saw that moment and absolutely hated that. That moment and her incessant obsession with discouraging people from seeing Fight Club because of the gun violence, and the fact that she completely spoiled the ending in service of that agenda made me side-eye her big time. Plus I didn’t care for her coming out mere weeks before her show was going to end… it just seemed cowardly, despite her trying to portray herself as some kind of warrior.

        The 90s Rosie show was very enjoyable, but she showed herself in very ugly ways, hence many people’s lack of surprise when each subsequent Rosie endeavor failed.

    • JD says:

      Yes, Rosie is anti-gun.

      Until it comes to her bodyguards.

      Then it’s ok for them to carry guns, because she and her family are “celebrities”.

      We not-so-famous-peons aren’t worth defending, to her.

  15. apsutter says:

    I used to LOVE Oprah! I watched it with my mom every single day. That was back in the 90′s before every single episode was her kissing some celebrities ass for an hour. Back then she cared about making a difference and she was still hungry and eager to make good television. I couldnt watch it by the end because it had devolved into nothing but her self-help psycho babble and celebrities. Now her OWN show is nothing but the worst parts of the Oprah show. That network wont make it another year.

    • JD says:

      I liked Oprah too. She was a female Phil Donahue.

      I still remember her interview with Diane Downs years ago. That woman giggled through most of the show, and even Oprah told her she acted like the murder of her children was a day at the fair.

      One of the strangest interviews I’ve seen.

      Her show seemed to start to go downhill in the 90′s, and I quit watching.

      Same with “The View”. Good show at first, but now the ladies sound like a bunch of screaming chickens. I can’t stand to even LISTEN to that show now.

    • Janay says:

      I have watched her since back in the Phil Donahue days too. Back when she really talked to the common folk and went into the audience to ask their opinions. I pretty much stopped watching about the time she started all that book club mess and all that. Then tuned in to a few shows in her last year. And have watched many of her different shows on OWN. She has gotten to full of herself over the years. The whole EGO thing jumps out at me every time I watch her now. The ppl she considers good friends, all the scientoligy nuts. Her going public and campaigning for Obama. She thinks she knows it all now. She is and has been following the wrong light for awhile now. She’s got it all twisted and gone way to hollywood.

  16. Relli says:

    I am not surprised. Everyday for the last 5 years i have driven by Harpo studios on my way to work, i can literally see it from my office building. During Oprah’s last few years it was always a madhouse of pleated khakis and minivans. But during these last few months of “Rosie’s reign of terror” the studios have been quiet and almost look abandoned.

  17. Linda says:

    I had such high hopes for the OWN network…never did I think the Oprah would try to do a daytime talk show format for primetime…doesn’t work – Jay Leno’s show proved that and she never gave Rosie a chance with the time slot she gave her…put her at 10 PM!! I don’t get what Oprah is trying to do with her network – but she cannot take a bunch of daytime talk shows and put them on prime time and expect people to tune in and watch night after night…it’s not what the people want…also it’s really NOT family programming…which is what prime time TV is all about.

    • Jayna says:

      Bingo. It was a daytime show. Poor judgment by Oprah putting her on a nightime.

    • Janay says:

      I watched several of Rosie’s latest shows. It was bad from start to finish. The entire show was nothing but cursing and gay jokes or gay comments. She would even make her gay fans stand up out in the audience, just to show them off. The games at the end where like watching something from the 1960′s. It was not fit for any time slot. After she switched to interview mode, it was not any better. Rosie wanted to chat not interview. Rosie should have never been asked to do anything on the OWN network. She is not a good fit for anything there.

  18. Mitch Buchanan Rocks says:

    I’d like to see Phil Donahue interview them both, now he was a good talk show host. Either that or they could both go on Jerry Springer, now that would be a hoot.

  19. Day says:

    Oprah’s network is failing because she has lame shows. All her shows are about self help and becoming a better person. Shows like that are great but a whole network of it is too much. She needs other shows to balance those out. I bet when people on her team told her that she didn’t listen. She comes off as very stubborn so she is probably not listen to the advice of people who know how to run a network.

    Rosie is just gross and needs to go away.

  20. Green_Eyes says:

    Both Oprah and Rosie are used to getting things done their own way..only difference Oprah has always been on a much higher level when it comes to ratings, money, and obtaining relevant A Listers. Rosie once had a promising 8th run as a big contender….but after that talk show the real Rosie came out and uses her cildood trauma (loss of mom) and bipolar illness as an excuse to behave & speak to others maliciously w/ no filter. I used to think she was funny…but she is nothing but a bitter person. Oprah has a massive ego also and can be malicious…she is just better at hiding it and killing w/ kindness til cameras are off and in private. seeing the decline of Ro over the last few yrs what an ego O has to think she could control her or that the two of them could save a network. How childish of Ro o not tell the staff. Sadly in all of this…many are out of a job, and that jerk Trump is pumping his chest as in I told you so all over Fox news. So there is now 3 massive arrogant egos in the mix….and a network of peeps w/ no job. Sad….

  21. Amanda G says:

    I admit that last year I enjoyed a few of the shows on OWN, but people don’t want a whole network of “uplifting, inspiring, positive” shows. They want Real Housewives or Pawn Stars. I think Oprah should cut her losses and just do maybe an interview special every week on some other network. Unfortunately her ego is too big to recognize this.

    As for Rosie, The View was her last chance at a talk show. She’s over. Moving on now!

  22. palermo says:

    I loathe Rosie. Remember when she told the cancer stricken woman “liars get cancer”? She can go straight to hell after saying that.

  23. Meanchick says:

    I coudn’t stomach Rosie anymore after she turned into a bat. Insulting her staff, fighting with her co-stars, the crap with Donald Trump, I mean really? The comment to the woman about lying and cancer sealed it for me. She’s a monster.

  24. Cinesnatch says:

    Wow, this sheds a great light on the situation. She definitely should have taken her show with her when she created OWN. I think Oprah will rise, but not on her network. I don’t mind Rosie so much. Maybe she’s bitter, whiny, self-entitled, and has no filter, but she also single-handedly helped pave the way for Ellen (celebrity taking night-time talkshow format and putting a daytime afternoon twist on it) and made The View what it is now. Part of her heart is good and true (maybe not a big enough part for most people). And, sometimes, she’s fun to watch. I don’t know if I’d want to hang out with her, though.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I think that viewers get turned off when the person on the televisions is trying to edify with an attacking tone. Even the most sympathetic person isn’t going to pay to be attacked.

      Hackneyed soundbite of the day: If fun is putting people on trial, I’m changing the dial.

      At any rate, I can barely muster anything more than a shrug for Rosie when that cathode ray tubed harpy Nancy Grace is poisoning up my oxygen with her overly-peroxided finger jabs and her contempt for dignity battles it out with some improperly-secured garment, or other in the fight to find out which first with loose the surly bonds of–well, bonding and explode all over the TV set in a hot flash of–well, hot flashes. Now THERE’S a televised menace. Geez, her bio should be called The Seven Habits Of Highly Salubrious Bullies. She could follow that up with a Lifetime film called, ‘Won’t Anybody Cry For The White Girl?’ Oh, what’s that, Nancy? Did I get some murder on your stiletto manicure? I am a-SHAM-ed! Don’t tell me your ham-handed accusations based on little but Sweeps Weeks are mad on behalf of the viewer, because this viewer knows better than to carry on with those kinds of hateful parlour games.

      Yeesh. And I thought Barbara’s head cheerleader antics were pretty low. I’d adopt Barbara as my BFF 4 Lyfe! before indulging in tequila shot one with the the Acid Pinstripe that is Nancy.

  25. Julie says:

    I would have watched shows on the OWN network but I have to pay extra for it through my cable company. I’m sure many of Oprah’s fans would have moved on over to OWN if it was still free to watch like her Oprah show was. I mean she launched a network and expected people to pay for it then wonders why the ratings are low? I don’t see what the mystery is, make it free and probably ratings will improve. Just sayin…

  26. Alice says:

    I watched Rosie’s show at first but it was HORRID! NOT because of Rosie but the set was ugly and seemed terribly difficult to photograph. Person in charge of music didn’t seem to fit in with what was going on, who’s fault I could not say but it didn’t fit. Audience was too small and when she interacted half the time you couldn’t hear them..the entire thing seemed rather amatuerish and if Rosie yelled about it I’m thinking she should yell it was her face and reputation on the line!

    Oprah has made a huge mistake in allowing others to make these decisions for her-OR whoever didn’t go with Oprah to the net network was the REAL brains behind Oprah!

    I will never understand a day filled with Dr. Phil reruns…I’m all for the self help theme of the network but frankly left Oprah many years ago when she got so “preachy” about everything. Giving info to folks isn’t judgmental.

    I hope Oprah can get it together and I hope Rosie continues to do good work. I loved the last part of her show where she did intimate one on ones even if I had no interest in that person Rosie brought something out of them that made me learn something and that is good.

  27. ezra says:

    This was doomed from the get go.
    By the way, I think Rosie is done.
    Did you see her on Pearce Morgan’s show where she hosted that segment?
    Hope she has enough money left to be a
    stay-at-home sugar momma and drive her girlfriend(s) nuts for the rest of her life.

  28. FFS says:

    If anybody cam find 5 pictures of Rosie with her mouth shut, I’ll be a son of a bitch. I honestly can’t remember ever seeing any of her photos without her gaping maw looking back at me.

  29. ManicPixieDreamGirl says:

    Why do all of Rosie’s shows get canned? Isn’t she on her 5th cancelled show? Too bad, I love her attitude and brutal honesty. . . .

  30. Chris says:

    I don’t know how anyone could like Rosie. She’s always come across as an obnoxious, witless, loudmouth to me.

  31. Jover says:

    Rosie’s a hypocrite on gun control a one per center and a limousine liberal; but how many talk shows do we need recycling the same pedestrian celebutars hawking their overrated products – maybe the whole genre needs shitcanned?

  32. jo says:

    It’s now almost April – I have been a fan of Rosie’s since the time she was “collecting” fans. Sometimes life throws people together at the same time in the same place for whatever reasons, so we’ve had brief encounters (not that kind) in Studio City CA and several times I was in the audience of the shows she was doing here in LA and a memorable episode of WILL and GRACE. Not ONCE did we witness the kind of behavior rumored to have taken place on her OWN show. It’s probably the same old typical song… men are forceful and women are es in the workplace . I wasn’t there in Chicago, I can’t say what took place on a daily basis, but I’lll bet you one thing – those rumors have been greatly exaggerated. Even Oprah said she is a “class act” and complimented her. Really now, Oprah may be diplomatic, but would she lie?!?!? Rosie onward and upward. New start in your private life and new beginnings for your career. Wherever you go, I will always be one of your fans. You’ve done a lot for so many groups of people. I salute you!

  33. Maguita says:

    Rosie is a bully. Always has, always will. She bullies people around, she cannot state things softly, she spews everything with a hint of hatred and obnoxiousness.

    This is not an Oprah problem, whether you like Oprah or not, but a Rosie problem. Like the Rosie problem with her Broadway show, her failed magazine, her other failed TV show, her other failed Radio show, etc.

    Unfortunately, Rosie is just too much at war with everyone, all the time, to make anything work properly.

  34. Meanchick says:

    ITA. This is not Oprah’s fault. O did what ANY business person would do. Plus, I’m sure the way Rosie acted made it easier to make the decision. Rosie IS a bully. Oprah haters, let this one go. This was Rosie’s doing, not Oprah’s.

  35. Marcia says:

    Ugh I agree! I try to like Rosie but she is such an obnoxious bully. I can’t stand the way she has to shove her opinions in your face.

  36. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    That says it all. I don’t know who set Rosie’s tampon string on fire but she’d better do something productive about it because right now she’s just dancing in the flames.