Rosie O'Donnell says not to expect any politics or arguing on her upcoming variety show, Rosie Live.
O'Donnell says she talked about contentious issues on The View because it was part of her job. But on her variety show, set to air on NBC at 8 pm/ET on the night before Thanksgiving, her only job is "to give people an hour to forget about their troubles," she says.
"Variety shows were a big hit in the '70s when the economy was in the crapper, and gasoline was scarce, and people's belief in the political system was shaky. It's the right time" to do a variety show again, she told reporters Wednesday.
The show should be packed with entertaining guests: Guests include Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Ne-Yo, Alanis Morissette, Kathy Griffin and one of O'Donnell's childhood heroes, Liza Minelli. O'Donnell said the Cabaret star will sing a song audiences haven't heard in 30 years.
"I'll give you a hint: It was in The Act," O'Donnell said, referring to the Minelli-centric Broadway musical.
The show, a mix of a monologue, comedy bits, and music, is inspired by the variety shows O'Donnell loved growing up in the 1960s and '70s. If the first show finds a big audience, NBC could order six more episodes to start at the end of January. From there the show would be picked up in six-episode cycles, O'Donnell said.
Not only is the the former talk show host not planning to speak out on politics on her show, she says people have been surprised she hasn't more loudly condemned Proposition 8, California's recent measure barring gay marriage. O'Donnell said her February 2004 marriage to Kelli Carpenter in San Francisco speaks for itself.
"I realized when Kelly and I were married it was in some ways an act of civil disobediance as much as it was a love story," she said. "I kind of found it surprising that people say you're not vocal enough. I'm not vocal enough? ... I've lived my opposition to Proposition 8 and have for... years."
The appearance of Baldwin and Krakowski may make the show seem like a real version of 30 Rock's The Girlie Show, aka TGS with Tracy Jordan. O'Donnell would be happy to repay 30 Rock with a guest appearance — "Anytime they want me I'm available" — and she'd also love to land Tina Fey for a future variety show. She said the actress deserves a Nobel Peace Prize because her Sarah Palin impersonation helped elect Barack Obama.
And, if you're wondering, she still isn't happy about how things went down at The View. In May of 2007, she asked to be let out of her one-year contract nearly a month early after she and co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck argued bitterly about the war in Iraq.
"No matter what Barbara (Walters) wants everyone to believe, and think and act as if everyone gets along... it's just not the reality," O'Donnell said. "People don't get together and have dinner once a month. They don't, the View ladies."
She later added: "For me what happened on the show was a personal argument with a friend that was publicly displayed... I didn't want to be paid to fight. When I started and took that job it was with the idea of speaking for the millions of mothers whose voices weren't heard on television."
And elaborated: "I did it for a year and I thought it was really great, right up until the day it went off the track. When you're on a football team and your own team won't support you, and your own guy tackles you, it's time to take off the uniform."