Launched Loudly, ‘Rosie Show’ Makes Quiet Day-Early Exit

Rosie O'Donnell on "The Rosie Show" last fall (Photo: OWN)

Rosie O’Donnell made a subdued exit from OWN Thursday evening, reportedly one day before she had originally planned to do so, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Thursday’s show concluded with a performance by singer Josh Kelley that had been taped months before, the Sun-Times said in its story here.

The Sun-Times covered the final show because “The Rosie Show” was a Chicago product. It originated from Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo facilities in Chicago and, for a time, even used the same studio in which Oprah produced her own legendary daytime show. Rosie’s last guests were Eva La Rue from “CSI: Miami” and “a woman who made a documentary about crop circles,” the Sun-Times said.

“Have you all noticed at home as the show gets closer to the end, my neckline plunges?” Rosie joked, according to the paper. “We’re pulling out all the stops.”

The quiet farewell of “The Rosie Show” from OWN contrasted sharply with the show’s widely promoted debut on the Oprah Winfrey-run cable channel last October.

Back then, the show debuted with much fanfare. Rosie opened the show with a late-night-style comic monologue, she had a house band, and her first guest was funnyman Russell Brand. And curious viewers tuned in, for a while at least, for a show airing at 7 p.m. (6c) that was kind of a hybrid of a late-night show (such as “Letterman” or “Leno”) and a daytime show (kind of like “Ellen”).

Watch an earlier episode of “The Rosie Show,” with guest Jane Fonda, here:
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But in its final form, the show consisted basically of Rosie on stage interviewing a single guest for an hour, like a female version of Larry King. A new, subdued set was constructed, and the band and monologue were done away with weeks ago, as Rosie struggled to find a format that would stem the audience erosion that had brought the show’s average audience to less than 200,000 viewers a night.

She had even moved to Chicago, purchasing a house that is now for sale.

Our take: The failure of “The Rosie Show” represents a significant setback for Rosie, whose popularity once upon a time was a certainty that producers, networks and business partners could count on. Now, that’s no longer the case (and it may not have been the case when Oprah persuaded Rosie to do this new show in the first place). The question for her is: What now?

As for Oprah, she apparently misjudged the public’s affection for Rosie O’Donnell or, at the very least, she erred by basing Rosie’s show in Chicago (where A-list guests are more difficult to come by than in New York or southern California) and, possibly, by scheduling “The Rosie Show” at 7 p.m., a time period not traditionally associated with that kind of show.

And now, the struggles of OWN continue.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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