Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Henry S. Dziekan III
The comedienne, 48, was once Oprah's competition, helming her own successful daytime talk show from 1996 to 2002. She returned to TV in 2006 for a single season of The View, where her fierce political arguments boosted ratings -- and eventually got her fired. Some viewers find her outspokenness to be rude and abrasive; others find her honesty refreshing. Either way, she's great TV.
But before Oprah hired her, she visited O'Donnell personally to make sure she was going to play nice. In a new article about OWN, Winfrey describes visiting O'Donnell at her home in the suburbs to see what she was really like.
"Rosie said, 'I know you're here to assess how crazy I am,'" Winfrey recalls. "I said, 'Basically, yes. I'm doing a crazy check.'"
So what did she conclude?
"What I found is that she is so generous as a mother," says Winfrey, who describes children running around the house and yard during her visit. However, she still warned O'Donnell that she'd need to be on her best behavior in order to appear on OWN.
"If you have an issue that's causing a problem," Oprah told her, "speak to me, woman to woman, so that it doesn't become a worldwide issue."
O'Donnell seems determined to turn her image around with this new talk show, which she has said will "make a difference in people's lives... be real, uplifting, authentic and focus on life, love and laughter." In the "Ask Ro" feature on her blog, she's suggested that she'll carry over some of the elements of her talk show, including Broadway performances and a confetti cannon to shoot at the audience.
Rosie knows she has to avoid getting into the kinds of heated political confrontations that got her in hot water with Barbara Walters -- so it seems like her tactic is to focus on the positive. Sounds like it's worth a shot. And hey, if anyone can keep Rosie O'Donnell in line, it's Oprah Winfrey!
Rosie's show will premiere on the OWN Network in January 2011.
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