The comedian also reacts to Hasselbeck calling her “crush” “disturbing,” whether she was in talks to join “The Talk” and what she’s working on now.
Rosie O’Donnell was basically given the rundown of everyone she has history with to see where things stand now, including her former "The View" co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, as well as Roseanne Barr, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna and more.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg, as Rosie was totally Rosie on "Watch What Happens Live" Monday night, giving very candid and honest answers about her relationship with all of those women, as well as rumors she was asked to join "The Talk" and why she’d probably radically change the show if she ever did join its panel.
Andy Cohen was able to get a lot of dirt out of her simply by playing a little game where she had to identify the "rosie" and the "thorn" of each of the various topics he came up with. And for those topics he didn’t get to, his callers had no problem filling in the gaps and asking their own probing questions.
One topic Rosie didn’t quite play right was social media, where she didn’t get into any specifics about her personal experiences with it, rather saying that "it can become an obsession" and joking that "when they started sending you the alert, you’ve spent seven hours of screen time yesterday, you go, what is wrong with this person’s life? What a loser. Oh, it’s me!"
She also had nothing really to dish about Madonna — "all rosies" — or her time hosting her own syndicated talk show, saying, "There really were no thorns. It was so much fun."
Rosie had two tumultuous tenures on "The View." The first blew up after a split-screen argument between her and Elisabeth Hasselbeck while the second broke down over contention between her and moderator Whoopi Goldberg.
"The rosie was getting to do that," Rosie said of her experience there. "It’s just fun having a show, having people; it’s a fun way to make a living. And the thorns were just, you know, it got a little thorny there. And that’s being diplomatic."
In Ramin Setoodeh’s recent book "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View," Rosie said of her former co-host, "Whoopi Goldberg was as mean as anyone has ever been on television to me, personally — while I was sitting there. Worse than Fox News. The worst experience I’ve ever had on live television was interacting with her."
As for Whoopi, she told Andy last month she hadn’t read the book and when she was approached about it, she wasn’t interested. "Because what happens for me at work is not for everybody– It’s not their business," she explained. As for Rosie’s comments, all she would say was, "That’s okay."
And as challenging as Rosie felt that experience was, Rosie says she and Whoopi are okay, revealing that the two were cordial when they "bumped into each other physically" at Megan Mullally’s live show and they’ve even worked together on a project for ABC since.
"I’m always going to respect her. I’m always going to look up to her," Rosie said. "She was somebody who was inspirational in my career. You like to keep those people in a place of reverence if you can and that’s what I’m hoping to do."
Rosie sounded almost disappointed when Andy asked her if Elisabeth maybe took her comments in the book out of context, with Rosie emphatically singing, "Ye-e-e-e-es!"
She went on to say, "Come on, she knows, too. That’s the thing is that she knows. She knows exactly what I’m talking about."
Rosie was complimentary in the book, admitting to a little workplace crush on her former co-host. She did also say there were some "underlying lesbian undertones on both parts" and suggested Elisabeth was at least "a little bit gay" because she was a talented softball player.
Elisabeth did not take any of it well at all, saying on Fox & Friends, "I read it and I immediately started praying. Because I’m like, how I’m gonna handle this in my old self would be another split screen moment."
"I feel like the truth is, what she said, if you took her words and you replaced Rosie for Ronald, there would be an objectification of women in the workplace," Hasselbeck continued. "So that is disturbing and it’s wrong. And whether you’re a man or whether you’re a woman, and you’re objectifying women in the workplace, it’s wrong."
Rosie responded at the time, as well:
When asked what her current relationship was with Roseanne Barr, Rosie spoke very gently. "I’ve always looked up to her," she said. "I love her, I care about her as a friend and as a woman … and I don’t support a lot of the things that she says."
She went on to add say that she wishes Roseanne "could be her best self at every moment, as I’m sure she wishes for me. It’s hard for some people to grasp that, but that’s how it is. That’s how love works like that."
Before she was known primarily for her various talk shows, Rosie O’Donnell was a standup comic first and foremost. She even teased Andy that she’s hitting the stage again and working on a new set for an HBO special.
And it was through this facet of her career that she became close with Roseanne Barr. At nearly ten years her senior, Roseanne was in many ways a pioneer and mentor for Rosie in the nearly-all-boys club of the traveling standup comic. So her feelings about the recent developments in Roseanne’s life are complicated at best.
Roseanne came under fire and ultimately lost her show for a late-night tweet where she compared former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, a black woman, to the "Planet of the Apes," but this wasn’t her first bout with saying offensive or controversial things, nor would it be her last.
"She was very honest about her struggles with mental illness for her entire career," Rosie said of Roseanne. "She talked about having dissociative identity disorder and that is not an easy thing to cure or fix, and I have tremendous respect for her."
The rumor mill has tried to create a friction between Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O’Donnell after the latter’s eponymous talk show was canceled in 2012 on Oprah’s network after two short years, but both women have insisted that it’s simply not true.
When asked how her relationship is with Oprah these days, Rosie said, "It’s great, actually. We never really had a big thing. She tried her best and I tried my best and, you know, the show was what it was."
As for her respect for Oprah’s legacy, and even the time they competed in the same genre with their respective talk shows, Rosie insisted that Oprah will always win. "I think she’s like a meteor talent, a once-a-generation light in the world and she is incomparable," she said.
When Julie Chen announced she was stepping down from "The Talk" amid the controversy surrounding her husband Les Moonves, rumors began circulating that Rosie might replace her there, but Rosie said that was never even discussed. "I just went when Julie Chen was having people fill in," Rosie said. "I was one of the many people. I live in New York; it would be very hard for me to move with my family out to California, so that was never a real thing."
On top of that, neither she nor Andy were sure it would have been a good fit anyway. Andy asked how she would feel about "The Talk’s" general stance of avoiding political topics, at which point, Rosie noted that she was the one who pushed "The View" deeper into those issues.
"When I first went on there, I said why are we not talking about all of the things that’s going on in the world," she said. "So it became a little bit more political."
And yet, "The Talk" is a very different beast, or as Rosie described it, "happy" and "light" and "airy."
"I could get into the deep, dark dungeons of what’s going on and what we have to do as Americans," she laughed with a smile. It almost sounded like the politically-active comedian and actress wouldn’t know how to not do that.
Aside from continuing to make standup appearances and working toward another HBO special, Rosie O’Donnell can next be seen on the network’s upcoming "I Know This Much Is True," also starring Mark Ruffalo, Melissa Leo, Archie Panjabi, Imogen Poots, Juliette Lewis and Kathryn Hahn. It does not yet have a release date.
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