I remember watching Rosie O’Donnell’s first talk show when it made its debut in 1996, pretty much through it’s entire run (it ended in 2002). It was a good mix of entertainment…well that’s really all it was. From her Koosh ball attacks on the audience, to the barage of actors, comediens and musicians Rosie was something to watch after school and I loved every minute of it!
When I heard about Rosie Live I was a bit skeptical. Lots has happened since then and not all of it good. But I have to admitt, after having watched it – I was plesantly surprised! While I could have done without some of the schtick in between, there were some memorable performances. I don’t think any talk show really does that much with Broadway these days – not as much as Rosie used to do on her show anyway. And with Broadway hurting like it has been recently, now is the perfect time for Rosie to start spotlighting some of that talent.
Here are some of my favs from the night:
Liza Minelli: Wow. Liza is looking GREAT! A true class act – though honestly I could do out with Rosie trying to sing. She’s definitely a character, but a singer she’s not (and her self-effacing jokes were definitely noted)
Jane Krakowski: Jane did a fantastic striptease number with Rosie (Rosie was not stripping), introducing a slew of prizes being given away to the studio audience. Admittedly, I first knew of Jane Krakowski from her role as sex-crazed secretary Elaine on “Ally McBeal,” but I later learned that she was a Broadway singer prior! When I in “Once Upon A Mattress” in high school, I purchased the 1996 Sarah Jessica Parker cast album and there was Jane Krakowski on the soundtrack! She’s also graced the stage in Starlight Express (1987), Grand Hotel (1989) – (Tony Nomination), Company (1995), Nine (2003) – (Tony Win, Best Actress), Guys & Dolls (2005 – London), and in Damn Yankees (2008)! Did you also know she appeared in the Dixie Chicks video for “Goodbye Earl?” Ha! While she’s a terrific comedic actress – I wish more people knew her for her tremendous voice (which she does showcase from time to time on “30 Rock”). I was kind of hoping that she would be cast in the movie version of “Nine” that they are filming now, but her role went to Penelope Cruz. Oh well! OH…she also recorded a song called “You” with piano-great Jim Brickman. It was remixed for the clubs by Giuseppe D and Monster Taxi.
Kathy Griffin: When I first saw the Nancy Grace clip go up, I thought Nancy was making an appearence, but apparently Nancy thinks Rosie is undeserving of a prime time variety show. The sketch turned into a Nancy Grace parody with none other than Kathy Griffin playing Nancy Grace. Very amusing, if not a bit too over the top. How can you not love Kathy Griffin, though?
Urinetown Parody: Urinetown was a Broadway show that I was fortuneate enough to see in NY when it was still…technically…a little bit OFF Broadway. Rosie played Officer Lockstock, while Broadway actress Jen Cody recreated her role as Little Sally. It was awkward and funny to watch as the two of them went on, ultimately introducing Alanis Morisette.
Alanis performed her new U.S. single, “Not As We.” We first heard this song last year on an episode of “House,” before her album “Flavors of Entanglement” was released. This song is beautiful (albeit, a little whiny). Check out the original music video here. I also just bought the remixes for the track (available on Masterbeat). They aren’t bad.
“Not as We” (Jack Shaft Remix)
“Not as We” (Blow-Up Remix)
“Not as We” (Dangerous Muse Remix)
“Not as We” (Eddie Amador’s Multipressor Remix)
“Not as We” (DJ Lynnwood’s Reborn Remix)
“Not as We” (Holosound Remix)
Rachael Ray: Rachael Ray (whom I normally can’t stand) came out in the middle of a really awkward Thanksgiving duet with Rosie and Gloria Estefan. Wearing a really hot red dress, stilettos and carrying a big, fake turkey, she slinks out and closes out the show with a lot of confetti.
All in all, the show was a hot mess with some good bits in between. I fast forward through performances by some dancing twins, Ne-Yo, and Harry Connick Jr. Alec Baldwin and Conan O’Brian also made brief cameos. Oh…and Rosie did get another jab in at Donald Trump.
If Rosie is planning on doing this variety show full time, she definitely needs to fine tune her act and get rid of a lot of the filler. That being said, I do honestly think she has a place on TV and hope that the ratings are solid enough to carry her forward.