Rosie O'Donnell may be taking over Oprah Winfrey's Chicago studio to launch her talk show, but she's not trying to be the next Oprah.
Appearing in front of reporters Friday during OWN's fall TV preview session, O'Donnell said her appeal is very different from Oprah's. "I think the reason for my previous success is that I'm really not aspirational [like Oprah is]," she said. "I'm inspirational... in the sense that people at home so related to me that they felt they could be at the table with me and Madonna."
"I really am more the audience," she continued. "No one at home is going, 'I wish I could be Rosie O'Donnell, an overweight lesbian who yells too much."
That said, The Rosie Show, which will premiere Monday, Oct. 10 at 7/6c, will be quite different from The Oprah Winfrey Show. "My job is mostly to be entertaining and funny, which is what I'm hoping to do," she said.
Here are seven things to know about the show before its debut:
No Tom Selleck Moments. Promise. To hear O'Donnell tell it, she is older, wiser and hoping her new show can remain feud-free. "We're going to have a controversy segment," she deadpanned, right before cracking up: "No, we're not!" No reporter brought up her public spats with Donald Trump and Barbara Walters, but O'Donnell volunteered that she'll still cover controversies, but "not in a way like Tom Selleck or anything, because once you've done that..."
The audience will get freebies — but there will be no Rosie's Favorite Things. Just because she's on Winfrey's network doesn't mean she'll be rewarding people with cars or trips to Australia. "You will get a gift if you come to my show, but it's not going to be something huge," she said. Like Oprah, however, she'll endorse products she actually loves. Her favorite? Schick Intuition razors, "the best thing to happen to women since Tampax Multipax!"
Games! A holdover from The Rosie O'Donnell Show, games will round out every episode. Cross your fingers that this means the return of Koosh balls!
Celebrities, yes! Fawning, no! "It won't be your average talk show," O'Donnell said, explaining that she'll have one guest per episode — and that person will be someone with something to say. Also, having already lived most of her star-studded dreams — "[Barbra Streisand] has stayed at my house," she said — there will be less unabashed adoration. "The enthusiasm I've had for celebrities has changed," she said. "I've evolved and grown." On her wish list? Russell Brand and British singer Adele.
Basic cable be thy name. Why did O'Donnell forgo a chance for a splashy broadcast comeback and instead plant herself on a startup like OWN? O'Donnell said Winfrey asked her the same question. Her reply: "Because it's you." "You may not get you," she said to Winfrey, who introduced O'Donnell's session. "But I'm 50 and half my life I've gotten [you]." (O'Donnell confessed she still gets nervous when Winfrey calls.) She added that she didn't want to align herself with a major network that treated Conan O'Brien they way NBC did.
Behind the Scenes will live on. There are only three episodes left of Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes — sniff-sniff! -- but O'Donnell plans on including similarly warts-and-all segments within The Rosie Show. "In addition to guests and games, viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to do a talk show," she said. You'll also have an up-close-and-personal view of O'Donnell herself: "You're going to see what it feels like to be 50 years old, to move to another city, to be divorced, which I never thought I would be," she said. "I wasn't what I thought it would be [at this age] ... You've got a blueprint when you're in your 20s and 30s and you get to your 50s and you're like, 'Holy crap, I didn't expect that.'"
Comedy Tonight! O'Donnell is first and foremost a comedian, and not unlike other late-night shows, The Rosie O'Donnell show will kick off with a comedy segment. Call it your "ha-ha moment."
Will you tune in to Rosie's new show?