I was disappointed to wake up this morning to find that the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) cancelled The Rosie Show. OWN launched in January 2011 but has struggled to find a sizeable following. They were hoping that Rosie O’Donnell would help turn their luck around.
The Rosie Show made it’s much hyped debut in October 2011 and immediately attracted over 500,000 viewers, a sizeable number for a cable network. However within a week numbers fell below 200,000 until levelling off and averaging 230,000 a show.
Similar programs on OWN have met the same fate, including shows featuring Oprah Winfrey. For example, Oprah’s Next Chapter opened to 1 million viewers, but fell dramatically after its third episode. It’s curious then as to why OWN axed The Rosie Show.
O’Donnell had recently changed the show’s format. For the first three months The Rosie Show was filmed on the lavish stage that was once home to The Oprah Winfrey Show, but O’Donnell quickly grew tired of having to perform in front of a live audience, in part because she felt that it didn’t allow for a more natural interview with her guests. After Christmas break she introduced a new set and intimate one-on-one celebrity interviews sans audience. She cut the shows budget in half and fired 30 Harpo staff members. Viewership was growing. And then late last night news came that the show was cancelled.
I understand that Rosie is a polarizing figure but I’ve always admired her. In a society that says overweight lesbians shouldn’t have a voice, she does, and unapologetically so. Her syndicated talk show The Rosie O’Donnell Show was a huge success, and in 2007, she helped make the The View relevant again. In 2011, after her appearance on the last season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, offers for her to return to daytime television intensified.
She was about to sign a contract with NBC, but disagreed with their treatment of Conan O’Brien, and began to inquire about joining OWN’s fledgling schedule. Oprah learned of this, and flew out to Rosie’s compound in Nyack, New York. After a four hour meeting, Rosie abandoned her deal with NBC and signed on with OWN for a reported $10 million annual salary. Initially the show was going to take the 4 p.m. time-slot made vacant by Winfrey, but the decision was made to air it at 7 p.m. The rest is history.
It’s perplexing that the show was cancelled as it was beginning to find its stride. I believe it might have had something to do with the format change, and that the executives were not informed about it. But who knows. The truth is that OWN is struggling, and even Oprah can’t save it. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen.
Below is an amazing interview that Rosie gave Piers Morgan a month ago. If you skip near the 25:30 mark she talks about her dark childhood and visiting a centre for abused children in protective custody. It’s a great example of how genuine she is, and what a generous heart she has. It’s well reported that she has given more than half of her $100 million fortune to charity.
This is why I love her.