Why Rosie O’Donnell Says She Could Never Do A Daytime Talk Show Again

When The Rosie O’Donnell Show aired from 1996 to 2002, O’Donnell dominated daytime talk. She was responsible for turning Tickle Me Elmo into a phenomenon simply by recommending it on her show. Since hosting her own show, O’Donnell has done stints on The View and the short-lived Rosie Show on OWN.

Talk show host Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O’Donnell | Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

O’Donnell has no regrets, but she also says she wouldn’t do it again. O’Donnell spoke with Marc Maron on his WTF podcast on April 20 and shared her memories of The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and why she’s too old for a talk show now. 

‘The Rosie O’Donnell Show’ was a young woman’s game

O’Donnell turned 58 on March 21. She recalls beginning The Rosie O’Donnell Show as a relatively fresh faced idealist, although she was already well established in her career by then.

“I don’t know that I’d be able to do it now at 58,” O’Donnell told Maron. “I was in my 30s. I was like 34 years old when I did it. I think that I had a different worldview than I did now.”

Rosie O’Donnell couldn’t fake her way through an interview anymore

O’Donnell has also been a guest of talk shows throughout her life, so she knows the drill. In the ‘90s, she could smile her way through a canned story, but now she doesn’t have time for that.

All that aspirational bullsh*t that we go through to be on talk shows and all the part that’s pretense, I no longer would be able to do I think. The fake bullsh*t, someone who was on Letterman the day before or Kelly Ripa the day and had the same story. You feel bad for being the guy that has to tell the story for the fourth time. I know what it’s like to go do press for a movie so you feel sorry for them but you also feel like I just heard this exact thing.

Rosie O’Donnell on The WTF Podcast with Marc Maron, 4/20/2020

Rosie O’Donnell would try to go off script on her talk show

Talk shows always do a pre-interview with guests so they can prepare the host to ask the questions for which the talent has the best stories. Having been on both sides, O’Donnell would sometimes throw out the pre-interview.

Madonna on The Rosie O'Donnell Show
Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell | Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

“Sometimes I wouldn’t look at the notes,” O’Donnell said. “I wouldn’t look at the questions. I would just be like let’s see where this goes. Then the producers are like, ‘You didn’t ask question number two!’ I know. I was trying to make it real.”

2020 is all about connecting social media 

O’Donnell still wants to host in some form. It just wouldn’t be the daily talk show anymore. Now, social media appearances like podcasts, and a fundraiser she participated in for The Actors Fund, appeal to her. 

“We raised money in a one night thing like this,” O’Donnell said. “I find on this format, you’re much freer and you’re much more able to reach people on a human level. That’s what I think we’re going to need as a nation after this. I think that’s what people are going to want in their entertainment.”

In the meantime, you can find O’Donnell on Instagram Live every day.

Rosie O'Donnell and Elmo
Rosie O’Donnell and Elmo | Mae Astute/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

“I’m doing a live Instagram thing like this every day for like 20 minutes,” she said. “It’s so easy and people seem to get a thrill of me going, ‘Hi Mindy.’ I feel like I’m on Romper Room. ‘Hi Mark.’ Just say hi to people. They ask questions sometimes. Everyone’s like thank you for doing this. I think I need it more than they do.”