The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, July 01, 2002  

Rosie O’Donnell: Dated and Dull

How about that? It turns out Rosie O’Donnell is just another mediocre potty-mouthed comedian, and a cranky one at that.

That’s the conclusion at which we arrived after reading Village Voice columnist Michael Musto’s write-up of the party celebrating the newly expanded Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.

“It turns out [O’Donnell] loathes Sharon Stone (pretentious), Michael Jackson (‘a pedophile’), Joan Rivers (‘does not look human’), [former President Bill] Clinton (a big liar who ‘really [expletives deleted] me off ’), and Anne Heche [unprintable],” reports Musto, whose name apparently didn’t crop up among O’Donnell’s many objects of scorn, at least this time.

Jokes about President Clinton, Jackson, Rivers, and Heche? This is mid-2002, for crying out loud. O’Donnell, who has made no secret of the fact that she watches an inordinate amount of lousy television, ought to be a little more up-to-date than this. And, according to Musto, O’Donnell worked herself up into such a frenzy of rage that a member of the audience yelled out, “Jealous!” To that O’Donnell offered this hilarious retort: “I have better people to be jealous of than Sharon Stone.”

She gets paid for this stuff?

Rosie, the magazine

And then, of course, there’s Rosie, the magazine, perhaps the most insipid collection of glossy pages this side of Cosmopolitan (recent headline: “Get Filthy on the Fourth”).

MediaWeek, in a piece by Lisa Granatstein published today, reports the obvious: “Rosie: My Mag Is Not Riveting.” (We can only hope, for her own sake, that O’Donnell didn’t pay a consultant to arrive at that earth-shattering conclusion.)

Turmoil in the upper ranks -- editor Catherine Cavender and publisher Sharon Summer both have been shown the door within the past seven months -- together with declining news stand sales, uneven ad pages, and repetitive covers, have left some in the magazine publishing business wondering about the magazine’s mission.

O’Donnell “is clearly disappointed with the year-old magazine’s editorial direction, and with its cover choices in particular,” writes Granatstein. The magazine’s namesake says she would prefer to appear on just one cover each year, a goal toward which even the most casual observer cannot fail to have noticed O’Donnell is falling far short.

Although O’Donnell was pleased with the first few issues, Granatstein reports, the comedian observes, “Then we just took a left down the safety zone. And I don’t want to live there. It’s boring. It’s not what I do.”

Really? Since when? “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” was the very definition of “the safety zone.” We recall O’Donnell once telling her audience she would never publicly criticize a Broadway show because that wouldn’t be nice, and the actors and crew worked so hard, and it would be a shame if people didn’t go see the performance. If O’Donnell can’t even stick her neck out with respect to some lame Broadway musical (ah, but we’re being redundant), what risks would she take?

Coming out

O’Donnell maintains that her much ballyhooed and thoroughly predictable “coming out” has had no effect on the magazine’s performance.

“I think if I came out and said, ‘Look, I got my nipples pierced and I’m joining a separatist movement and all men should rot in hell,’ it might have come across a little different,” O’Donnell remarked in an observation that, try as we might, has us unable to stop thinking about cyber scribbler Andrew Sullivan, at least with regard to her comments about the piercings and the Republican Party, uh, we mean the separatist movement.

“I never want to be on another cover. . . . Having me on the cover is against the manifest [sic] of what I'm about. I didn’t make my fame and fortune by selling me. I made it by observing and celebrating other people.”

Celebrating other people? Including President Clinton, Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers, Sharon Stone, and Anne Heche?

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