Last Friday, Rosie O'Donnell composed some poetry about her return to television. Included are lines about how she had blown the deadline for publishing the poem online, as well as observations about the people she met that same night while eating dinner at Gibsons Steak House in Chicago.
As for what's to come on her new talk show, she wrote only this: "as I prepare to return / 2 something much bigger than a show / I am reminded how lucky I am / have always been / thank u oprah / here we go." O'Donnell says, so far, she feels no pressure. "I feel nothing but privilege, truthfully," she told reporters during a conference call Wednesday. ""For Oprah to not only ask me to be on her network, but for her to also give me her studio, her staff, her buildings and welcome me to her city..."
Similar to her poetry, The Rosie Show, which premieres Monday at 8/7c on Oprah's OWN, will take a sort of free-flow approach. The plan is to host one guest per episode — instead of the typical three to four -- in order to get "real, lengthy, insightful interviews," O'Donnell said. And it's just one of several big changes from her last talk show outing. Here's what you can expect to see:
1. She'll still play games with the audience but, alas, she won't shoot Koosh balls at them. But only because she can't! The company who made them doesn't anymore. "And the guy, who was from Scotland, a lovely man who gave us them for free... he no longer owns the company," O'Donnell said. She is, however, on the hunt for something else she can shoot at people "because I enjoy that."
2. The woman who helped write Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg's "D--- in a Box" will lead her house band. Emmy-winning song writer Katreese Barnes, who previously served as SNL's musical director for several years, is now in charge of Rosie's live band. Imagine the possibilities.
3. Tom Selleck will stop by (if she had her way). O'Donnell said the show reached out to him but hasn't heard back. She still feels bad about how they left things in 1999. "I think I probably would have done it a lot differently, now as an older person and as somebody who would understand the ramifications," she said. "We have asked him but I don't know that he's interested and I truly don't blame him... He's a nice man, he really is. Before we had that altercation, he had been on the show many times."
4. Her 50th birthday is going to be "a big blowup." Because she turned 40 just months after the September 11 attacks, she didn't feel like celebrating that particular personal milestone. But O'Donnell has plans to make up for that when she turns 50. The special day will be March 21 and right now the plan is to fill the audience with others hitting their mid-century mark. "We're going to do something huge," she promised.
5. Rosie will do stand-up — not a monologue -- to kick off each show. She's been practicing material at local comedy clubs in Chicago, and she'll also be armed with a writing staff. "I'm going to come out and do stand-up with a microphone like you do in a comedy club," O'Donnell said. She named Craig Ferguson as her show-opening role model: "Every night his monologue is sort of a stream of consciousness about his own truth and his own reality and a little bit of current events and politics woven in but always with a truth and his own voice. That's the goal." She'll also take questions from the audience, Carol Burnett-style.
6. Bring on the 2012 Presidential candidates! Hers won't be a political show — and she really wants to stay away from the kind of "flashy" debate that marked her run on The View -- but O'Donnell said it will be topical. "Presidential candidates are now regularly making stops on daytime talk shows, so I'm sure we'll have [them] on this show as well," she said.
7. ...otherwise, her guests won't necessarily be there to promote anything. Witness the initial list, a mix that includes Roseanne Barr, Wanda Sykes and Gloria Steinem. Also confirmed are Russell Brand, Salma Hayek, Lisa Kudrow, Gloria Estefan, Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, Ricki Lake, the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Kevin Bacon and Fran Drescher. They'll all have quality time with Rosie, too; each will be on for no less than three segments. "Guests today get like five minutes, six minutes, and you can't really get a conversation going in that amount of time," O'Donnell said. Think "more Dick Cavett than Charlie Rose, but with humor."
8. She's done the childhood idols thing. What she wants are the up-and-comers. It's not that Tom and Babs don't still sparkle for O'Donnell, but she's now more interested in getting to know the next generation. "I was really fortunate to have spoken to so many Hollywood luminaries in my career already that it's the new ones and the young ones, the ones that I sort of missed, that I would love to get to sit down with now," she said. Like who? Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling to start. She also really wants newly crowned Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy on, pronto. "I could not believe how funny she was on SNL. Literally, like, honestly, had to wear a Depends undergarment watching that show."
One other thing her show will have (well, for her staff)? Check out this video of "The Cookie Room":
Are you going to watch The Rosie Show?