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Rosie O’Donnell’s OWN show to use Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo stage

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Oprah has always had her favorites, but it’s Rosie O’Donnell who’s won Oprah’s ultimate blessing: O’Donnell will tape her new OWN talk show this fall in Winfrey’s legendary Harpo Studio One.

“There is an enormous personal respect and value to that little bit of real estate to Oprah,” says Sheri Salata, president of Harpo Studios. “I think it’s safe to say they have an excellent relationship.”

This news, as they say, is win-win-win.

The fans win: Any lingering sadness about the end of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will be eased knowing the stage at Washington and Carpenter will be humming again so soon.

Chicago wins: Not only will Harpo retain jobs, but Chicago will gain another celebrity ambassador. Rosie will arrive with her four kids, and her last reported girlfriend had six. That’s a lot of new voters.

O’Donnell wins: No show is a sure thing, but her talk show will benefit from Winfrey’s handpicked bookers and producers.

O’Donnell was not available for an interview, but in a taped message to the Harpo staff, she introduced herself by saying, “It’s me, Rosie O’Donnell, star of ‘The Flintstones!’ ” In between barking “Quiet! Mommy’s working!” to a rowdy child, O’Donnell said, “Thank you, Oprah. And thank all you people there. Some of you are going to be sticking around and helping us make a kick-ass show for the Oprah Winfrey Network.”

Says Salata, “It’s exciting for the neighborhood here, and certainly for Harpo. To have Rosie come here and do 130 original hours — it’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of energy and excitement.”

O’Donnell told O magazine that her new show will be less celebrity-driven. “The show will be about real people and real issues,” she said. “I’ll focus on a single topic for one hour, things people deal with every day. Raising children. The education system in America. Autism. Relationships, health, weight, depression — and happy stuff too, of course. I envision the show being full of love and laughter.”

In addition to her Sirius XM “Rosie Radio” show, O’Donnell largely has been a full-time parent of late. Her successful “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” ran in syndication from 1996-2002 and earned her six consecutive daytime Emmys. Her tumultuous stint on “The View,” though, lasted just a year and cost her a friendship with Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

There’s no doubt that O’Donnell takes her work very personally, but Winfrey’s done her due diligence there. Even O’Donnell’s feud with Donald Trump was great for ratings. In October’s issue of Fortune magazine, Winfrey told of visiting O’Donnell in New York. “Rosie said, ‘I know you’re here to assess how crazy I am.’ I said, ‘Basically, yes. I’m doing a crazy check,’ ” Oprah admitted.

She told O’Donnell “she had better behave on OWN,” according to Fortune. Winfrey also instructed her, “If you have an issue that’s causing a problem, speak to me, woman to woman, so that it doesn’t become a worldwide issue.”

O’Donnell must have passed the test — and then some. “Rosie so values Oprah’s team,” Salata says. “She’s thrilled to walk onto a stage that was once Oprah’s. It gives me a little tingle.”

And can we expect an accompanying “Rosie: Behind the Scenes”?

“We might as well keep the cameras rolling,” laughs Salata.



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