Poor Rosie O'Donnell.
Imagine doing a conference call with a bunch of reporters on the line to promote a variety show you've been trying to get on the air for years -- and it turns into gossip fodder about The View.
on The View.
"Barbara wants everyone to believe and think and act as if everybody gets along and is really good friends ... It's just not the reality. I'm not saying they loathe each other. The fact is there wasn't a lot of camaraderie off-camera there," O'Donnell says. "I didn't want to be paid to fight."
Rosie says when she joined the show, the discussions were more about lipstick shades than politics.
"I had to fight very long and hard at the beginning of that program to get them to address politics in any capacity," Rosie says. "The fact that they're now having all of these wonderful political discussions is great. It's great for women. It's great for that show. And in some ways it was great for me. As a citizen, I was proud of what I did there, but I'm not proud of the arguing or the fighting. I did enjoy the program right up until the day that it all went crazy."
But while she was happy to chat about her views on The View, the Iraq War, gay marriage, Barack Obama and even nemesis Donald Trump, what Rosie really wanted to talk about was Rosie Live, a variety show airing at 8 p.m. Nov. 26 on NBC. The show, which is live on the East Coast and taped for the West Coast, broadcasts from New York's Little Shubert Theatre and features Broadway-style singing and dancing. Among Rosie's guests are Gloria Estefan, Alec Baldwin, Ne-Yo, Alanis Morissette, Kathy Griffin, Jan Krakowski and, of course, Lisa Minnelli.
O'Donnell grew up watching variety shows on TV and thinks it's time to bring back the genre with a big emphasis on Broadway musicals -- which she loves even more than her crush-boy Tom Cruise. She shared with reporters a touching moment when she took her son to see "Billy Elliot" on Broadway and saw that the show had brought the 13-year-old to tears.
It's a feeling she hopes she can bring to TV audiences.
"To give people an hour to forget about their troubles, to have an hour of fun, laughter and singing and dancing, no politics, no arguing, just a fun hour around the TV with everyone in your family and laugh, I think is needed now," O'Donnell says. "You know, there are variety shows on TV now, only they have judges which I think kind of ruins the concept of a variety show."
And she's particularly excited about singing with Liza Minnelli.
"It's a song you haven't heard her sing in about 30 years that I grew up singing very loud on the shag rug in my living room, pretending to be her friend and dance with her," O'Donnell gushes. "And now that dream is coming true."
The song is a lavish duet, and while O'Donnell doesn't want to reveal the title, the smart bet is on "City Lights" from The Act, which earned Minnelli a Tony Award in 1978.
O'Donnell had been pitching the idea of a primetime live variety show since 2002. She says she would go to meetings only to be told that variety doesn't work on TV any more.
"I'd say, 'But sir, American Idol is a variety show. Dancing with the Stars is a variety show. Imagine if you took out the judging and just put even more talented people on,'" O'Donnell says. "[They would reply,] 'We don't think it would work.' I would leave so frustrated."
She says she finally sold it to NBC entertainment president Ben Silverman because of Silverman's mother, who is a big fan of O'Donnell's.
"I think he went home, had dinner with his mother and [she] said honey, do that," O'Donnell says. "So I've never met the mother, but I'd like to thank her."
NBC wants to see if viewers tune in to the live show -- which could be tricky given the fact that it's the day before Thanksgiving -- before committing to any more episodes. If it's a go, then O'Donnell's ready to whip up shows in groups of six to premiere throughout the 2009-2010 season.
And, if you are wondering, don't expect O'Donnell to have Donald Trump on the show any time soon.
"I know they never say never," O'Donnell says. "But as far as my show is concerned I think we can adequately and accurately say never."
to come waltzing out on stage either.