The Rosie O'Donnell Show

Last updated
The Rosie O'Donnell Show
GenreTalk show
Created by Rosie O'Donnell
Presented by Rosie O'Donnell
Starring Rosie O'Donnell
John McDaniel
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes1,193
Production location(s) NBC Studios
New York City, New York
Running time42 minutes
Production company(s) KidRo Productions
Telepictures Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
Original network Syndicated
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original releaseJune 10, 1996 
May 22, 2002
Related shows Rosie Live
(NBC; 2008)
The Rosie Show
(OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network; 2011–2012)

The Rosie O'Donnell Showis an American daytime television talk show created, hosted, and produced by actress and comedian Rosie O'Donnell. It premiered on June 10, 1996, and concluded after six seasons on May 22, 2002.

Talk show Type of broadcast show centered around conversation

A talk show or chat show is a television programming or radio programming genre in which one person discusses various topics put forth by a talk show host.

Rosie ODonnell American comedienne

Roseann O'Donnell is an American comedian, producer, actress, author, and television personality. She began her comedy career as a teenager and received her breakthrough on the television series Star Search in 1984. After a series of television and film roles that introduced her to a larger national audience, O'Donnell hosted her own syndicated daytime talk show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, between 1996 and 2002, which won several Daytime Emmy Awards. During this period, she developed the nickname "Queen of Nice", as well as a reputation for philanthropic efforts.


The show was taped in Studio 8G at NBC's Rockefeller Center studios in New York City, New York, and was produced and distributed by KidRo Productions, Telepictures Productions, and Warner Bros. Television. The talk show won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show.


Telepictures is an American television and film production company, currently operating as a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Television. Telepictures was established in 1978 by Michael Garin as a television syndication firm.

Warner Bros. Television Television production arm of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Warner Bros. Television (WBTV) is the television production arm of Warner Bros. Entertainment, itself part of WarnerMedia. Alongside CBS Television Studios, it serves as a television production arm of The CW, though it also produces shows for other networks, such as Shameless on Showtime and Westworld on HBO. As of 2015, it is one of the world's two largest television production companies measured by revenue and library.

The Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show was an award presented annually from 1974–2007 at the Daytime Emmy Awards. In 2008, the award was discontinued and replaced by two new specific categories, Outstanding Talk Show—Informative and Outstanding Talk Show—Entertainment, to split the competition between talk shows that are more informative in nature, and those that are more entertainment in nature.



On June 10, 1996, The Rosie O'Donnell Show premiered, and proved successful. The show was a replacement for Carnie! , which aired from September 6, 1995 to February 23, 1996. [1]

Carnie! is an American daytime talk show hosted by Carnie Wilson that aired for one season from 1995 until 1996. The program was a production of Telepictures Productions, distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.


In October 1996, a fire broke out at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City. As a result, the show resumed taping for four days in the Ed Sullivan Theater (where David Letterman taped his show). The first episode resuming taping in the regular studio featured a beginning scene reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz , in which Rosie awakens from a dream.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Ed Sullivan Theater United States historic place

The Ed Sullivan Theater is a theater located at 1697–1699 Broadway, between West 53rd and West 54th, in the Theater District in Manhattan, New York City. The theater has been used as a venue for live and taped CBS broadcasts since 1936.

David Letterman American comedian and actor

David Michael Letterman is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer and automobile racing team owner. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and ending with the May 20, 2015, broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. In total, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. In 1996, Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

O'Donnell often spoke of her admiration for Barbra Streisand, and in November 1997, Streisand (who rarely grants interviews) agreed to a full hour special. The set was covered in flowers and Streisand memorabilia. Streisand's husband, actor James Brolin, was also interviewed. Prior to this interview, O'Donnell received a brief letter from Streisand which she discussed on-air and held up very briefly. She described Streisand as being very caring in the letter, but would not read it on-air. It was too late, however, as a television camera caught a brief shot of the letter, and within days, savvy viewers distributed its contents. O'Donnell later expressed dismay that viewers would do that. Streisand was interviewed again in 1999 at her home, shortly before her Timeless tour.

Barbra Streisand American singer, actress, writer, film producer, and director

Barbara Joan "Barbra" Streisand is an American singer, actress, and filmmaker. In a career spanning six decades, she has achieved success in multiple fields of entertainment and has been recognized with two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes. She is among a small group of entertainers who have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award – though only three were competitive awards – and is one of only two artists in that group who have also won a Peabody.

James Brolin American actor

James Brolin is an American actor, producer, and director. He is the father of actor Josh Brolin and husband of Barbra Streisand. Brolin has won two Golden Globes and an Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 10, 2016.

On May 19, 1999, a month after the Columbine shootings, which prompted O'Donnell to become an outspoken supporter of gun control and a major figure in the Million Mom March, O'Donnell interviewed actor Tom Selleck, who was promoting a film The Love Letter . After a commercial break, O'Donnell confronted him about his recent commercial for the NRA and challenged him about the NRA's position on the use of assault rifles. According to Selleck, the two had agreed not to discuss the topic prior to his appearance on the show. [2] O'Donnell maintains that Selleck and his publicist had been informed that the topic would be discussed. She later stated the interview had "not gone the way I had hoped it had gone. But, I would like to thank you for appearing anyway, knowing that we have differing views. I was happy that you decided to come on the show. And if you feel insulted by my questions, I apologize, because it was not a personal attack. It was meant to bring up the subject as it is in the consciousness of so many today." [3] [4]

Gun control laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms

Gun control is the set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians.

Million Mom March

The Million Mom March was a rally held on Mother's Day, May 14, 2000 in the Washington D.C. National Mall by the Million Mom March organization to call for stricter gun control. The march reportedly drew an estimated attendance of 750,000 people at the D.C. location, but with 150,000 to 200,000 people holding satellite events in more than 70 cities across the country, the total number of participants was about one million.

Tom Selleck American actor

Thomas William Selleck is an American actor, film producer, and California Army National Guard veteran. He is most known for starring as private investigator Thomas Magnum in the television series Magnum, P.I. (1980–1988), as Peter Mitchell in Three Men and a Baby, and as NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan in Blue Bloods on CBS since 2010.


In April 2001, Rosie had a two-week absence from her show because of a staph infection. She had guest hosts take her place, including Joy Behar, Meredith Vieira, Barbara Walters, Kathy Griffin, Marie Osmond, Jane Krakowski, Ana Gasteyer and Caroline Rhea.

Throughout the final season O'Donnell called on Caroline Rhea to host the program every Friday. Rhea's growing popularity as a guest host gave her the green light to host her own daytime talk show the following year, supposedly succeeding O'Donnell. However, Rhea's program lasted for only one season.


After a 6-year run, the show ended in 2002 when Rosie chose to leave to spend more time with her children.

The final live episode aired on May 22, 2002. It featured an opening musical ensemble number from Broadway, starring Vanessa Williams and John Lithgow (who were both appearing on Broadway at the time). The guests were Nathan Lane and Christine Ebersole. The show's final segment featured a retrospective video made by Rosie that blended scenes from her personal life with her talk show, accompanied by the song "Both Sides Now" sung by Joni Mitchell. The conclusion of the show featured a clip of Tom Cruise mowing a lawn, who then stops to look at the camera and says, "Rosie, I cut your grass, and here is your lemonade." (A reference to one of the show's running gags, that O'Donnell adored Tom Cruise.)

Remaining new, but pre-taped, episodes continued to air until June 27, 2002, the last with guest host Caroline Rhea. Repeats aired until August 30, 2002 (which was a repeat of May 20, 2002.)


Topics often discussed on the show include Broadway, children, extended families and charitable works, people and organizations.

The program was also known for featuring extended production numbers from Broadway shows which were often seen as too time consuming on other shows. O'Donnell was known for keeping a light-hearted nature during the show as she playfully interviewed her guests and interacted with her audience. Commonly, O'Donnell would throw koosh balls into the audience throughout the show; this gag expanded through the years to include automated koosh-projecting devices in the ceiling, as well as O'Donnell firing at a moving target.

The house band was led by pianist John McDaniel, and was dubbed "The McDLTs".

Unique introductions by a member of the audience were made at the beginning of each episode. (Hi! I'm [insert audience member], from [insert resident's address] and this is The Rosie O'Donnell Show. On today's show: [insert guests and/or topics]. Hit it, John!). After the animated intro, the audience member would then say, "And now, here's Rosie!" as O'Donnell made her entrance through the curtain. O'Donnell commented on the DVD release of first season highlights that producers weren't keen on this opening but Rosie insisted upon it as she enjoyed being able to talk to a "real person" every show.

Kids Are Punny

A long-running segment of the show involved telling jokes that children from around the United States mailed into the studio. These jokes were eventually compiled into two books (and eventually a TV special) entitled Kids Are Punny; proceeds from the book went to children's charity programs.

Product endorsements

O'Donnell's endorsement of the Tickle Me Elmo played a large part in the huge popularity of the toy. Likewise when she served Drake's snack cakes to audience members on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, which helped contribute to increased sales of Drake's cakes.


Early on O'Donnell was dubbed "The Queen of Nice" by Newsweek magazine for her sweet personality, which was in stark contrast to many other talk shows of the era.

Awards and nominations

The show won multiple Emmys such as five times Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show (1998-2002) during its run.

DVD releases

A compilation of highlights of the show's first season was available for sale in September 2008, exclusively from the Home Shopping Network. The DVD runs 90 minutes and contains Rosie O'Donnell commenting while watching clips of archived footage. Included are Tom Cruise's first visit, Fran Drescher's parents reviewing Florida restaurants, and the incident in which Donny Osmond made a fat joke at Rosie's expense.

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  1. Would Viewers Truly Miss 'Carnie'?, Los Angeles Times , December 6, 1995.
  2. "Rosie Doesn't Play "Nice" With Selleck" (StudioBriefing). IMDb. 20 May 1999. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
  3. "TRANSCRIPT: Tom Selleck Visits "The Rosie O'Donnell Show"". NRA Winning Team. Archived from the original on 1999-10-04. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
  4. "Transcript of Tom Selleck & Rosie O'Donnell's NRA Discussion". JLRweb. Archived from the original on 2008-03-02. Retrieved 2007-07-11.|first= missing |last= (help)

Season-by-season breakdown