Rosie O’Donnell focuses on family on HBO special
BY GREG HERNANDEZ
Whether she’s feuding with Donald Trump and Elisabeth Hasselbeck or publicly taking Conan O’Brien’s side in the recent late-night show debacle, Rosie O’Donnell often finds herself getting quite a bit of attention.
She’s hoping the attention will translate into ratings on Sunday for the premiere on HB0 of her documentary “A Family Is a Family Is A Family: A Rosie O’Donnell Celebration.” It’s a special that is near and dear to Rosie’s heart because it focuses on all different kinds of families from those with a mom and dad and biological kids to biracial families, adoptive families, gay families and single parent families, among others.
“We wanted to celebrate families and differences and give kids in all different kinds of families a way to see themselves and their life back on television,” she said while promoting the show at the Television Critics Association press tour this month. “I think it’s vital and important [for children] to grow up being strong, self-centered, focused humanitarians that understand difference is essential to the world, difference should be celebrated and not feared.”
Rosie knows the special comes at a time when the nation is engaged in the same-sex marriage debate with a landmark federal case currently underway in California. As a lesbian who has four children with ex-partner Kelli Carpenter, Rosie tries not to let the opposition to same-sex marriage and gay people in general get her down.
“I think basically life comes down to one basic choice over and over again: faith or fear,” she said. “You have to serve somebody, the dark or light. … There are people who really haven’t gotten there yet or who don’t really see that, you know, faith and love and positivity and all that sort of thing is really the only viable option. I don’t really spend too much time thinking about what the people in the dark think. I try to sort of live my life and hope that people can be inspired by it and that my children are not damaged by it.”
The ‘Family’ special and doing the promotion for it has allowed Rosie to surface on television more in recent weeks than she has in some time. That’s because her current regular gig is a daily two-hour show on Sirius radio.
She explains why she decided to do radio following her long and very successful stint as host of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” followed by a tumultuous year as the moderator on “The View.”
“On my own show, I didn’t really do much in terms of politics. That was a different time and a different type of show. We were trying to do ‘Merv Griffin’ and that’s sort of what we did. And then I did ‘The View’ and that was much more politically oriented. And then when I left that show, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in terms of television and performing and how to best use my voice.”
Now she is free to be as political as she likes without being constantly interrupted on “Hot Topics.”
“It’s unbelievably fulfilling in that you get two hours a day. So if something happens in Haiti, it’s not like something on ‘The View’ where you get six minutes. You can spend two hours talking about that. Or if there’s a book I love, we can have the author on no matter what the subject matter is. You know, if Liza Minnelli drives out to my house, you can two hours with Liza Minnelli and I really appreciate that kind of freedom.”
“I don’t really think that I could ever really go back to sort of the network paradigm,” she added. “I don’t really think it works anymore in this multi-media savvy world where people can YouTube anything they want and TiVo and DVR. I think that authenticity has to come back into the entertainment field.”