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Ed Driscoll

Rosie O’Donnell’s OWN Epic Fail, and Life Inside the Cocoon

March 19th, 2012 - 7:30 pm

This Daily Beast article on the Rosie O’Donnell’s epic fail at Oprah Winfrey’s low-rated OWN cable channel starts off OK, and gets progressively sillier, until, like a black hole — or Rosie’s career — it implodes upon itself:

As the final credits rolled, the Oprah Winfrey Network issued a press release announcing The Rosie Show had been canceled, following six months of humiliating ratings.

At the Harpo offices in Chicago, O’Donnell’s staff had been alerted of the decision only hours before, after weeks of rumors that the show was on the chopping block. Over a short TV life span, through countless reboots and hiatuses, the series had morphed from a delightful comedy hour that nonetheless premiered to weak ratings in the fall to a bleak, Larry King–style interview program with C-list guests like the cast of Dance Moms and Jaleel White. Through all the changes, some 30 employees from producers to writers had left because of budget cuts and possibly because of a boss who couldn’t decide what she wanted and frequently humiliated them in public. “It was such a fucking hellhole,” says one former staffer.

O’Donnell, despite her warm TV persona, has always had a reputation as a demanding perfectionist.

That last link goes to a hagiographic Newsweek profile of Rosie.

Written in 1996.

What’s happened since? In 1999, she famously demonized Tom Selleck, just at the moment Rosie’s fellow Democrats began losing the PR battle on the Second Amendment, a skirmish Rosie says she since regrets. I wonder if she also regrets this moment from 2007…

Was that last outburst merely just s*** Rosie says? It has to be, because, as Mark Steyn said back then:

When I was on the Rush Limbaugh show a couple of months back, a listener called up to insist that 9/11 was an inside job. I asked him whether that meant Bali and Madrid and London and Istanbul were also inside jobs. Because that’s one expensive operation to hide even in the great sucking maw of the federal budget. But the Toronto blogger Kathy Shaidle made a much sharper point:

“I wonder if the nuts even believe what they are saying. Because if something like 9/11 happened in Canada, and I believed with all my heart that, say, Stephen Harper was involved, I don’t think I could still live here. I’m not sure I could stop myself from running screaming to another country. How can you believe that your President killed 2,000 people, and in between bitching about this, just carry on buying your vente latte and so forth?”

Over to you, Col. de Grand Pre, and Charlie Sheen, and Alan Colmes.

And presumably, if you believe the entire Federal and New York government are in on the destruction of the WTC and the attack on the Pentagon — which they would have to be — surely President Bush and Mayor Giuliani’s successors are, too. So why did Rosie feel safe enough to go back on the air?

Perhaps Rosie thought her staff would protect her, which is why she treated them with kid gloves:

Through all the changes, some 30 employees from producers to writers had left because of budget cuts and possibly because of a boss who couldn’t decide what she wanted and frequently humiliated them in public. “It was such a f***ing hellhole,” says one former staffer.

O’Donnell’s bullying behavior included belittling her colleagues.

Several staffers were very upset when O’Donnell clashed with Winfrey’s longtime director Joe Terry (who has since been hired by Katie, the forthcoming Katie Couric talk show). People thought she humiliated him when she scolded him in front of a live audience for using the wrong camera shots, suggesting he didn’t know what he was doing. She fired Winfrey’s stage manager because she felt like he was ignoring her and not doing his job properly. But some of her biggest fights were with “the games department.” She couldn’t decide what she wanted—The Price Is Right, physical games, or trivia—and was constantly belittling the people who worked on them.

And speaking of staffers at OWN, there will soon be less of them:

The struggling OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has laid off 30 employees or 20% of its workforce today as the network is restructuring its operations in Los Angeles and New York. The responsibilities handled by the eliminated positions will be redistributed among remaining OWN executives as well as employees of OWN’s owners, Discovery Communications and Harpo Studios. “It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives,” said Oprah Winfrey, OWN’s CEO and chief creative officer, “but the economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place. As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step.” …

The headcount reduction also follows the latest high-profile OWN executive exits of EVP of production and development Lisa Erspamer, one of Winfrey’s closest and most trusted executives, and Saxe. OWN had been in cost-cutting mode in the past couple of months, with the efforts spearheaded by new Discovery CFO Andy Warren, who had been examining OWN’s books. In a first step, the network already eliminated temp positions.

As Glenn Reynolds recently quipped, “Oprah’s brand sure has declined since 2008. Did she do something to alienate her audience back then?”

Big Hollywood majordomo John Nolte tries to explain life out here in the real world to those inside the Daily Beast’s tightly-woven cocoon:

By any reasonable standard, Oprah Winfrey could not have found a worse person to prop up her fledgling network. To those of us who have spent a little time outside of Manhattan and Los Angeles, hiring O’Donnell looked the move of a suicidal executive determined to bring down her own network. Why would any sane person choose as their savior the most disliked and unlikable celebrity on a planet where the competition for that title is fierce?

So why does the entertainment media refuse to point out that which is so obvious to the rest of us?

Because the entertainment media is almost exclusively made up of leftists and leftists don’t want to believe that spreading left-wing propaganda into popular culture turns off the audience. Once that truth is spoken out loud, there will be less propaganda-driven entertainment and that is unthinkable to these folks.

Go to that last link and read the whole thing. Because you know that Oprah and Tina won’t.

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