Rosie O’Donnell confirmed multiple reports today by announcing that she is developing a talk show for fall 2011, when Oprah Winfrey is scheduled to leave daytime. O’Donnell, who is teaming with former Warner Bros. TV executives Dick Robertson and Scott Carlin, plans to limit each show to one topic with in-studio guests and will tape them five days a week in front of a live New York audience. “In many ways I am way more equipped and prepared to do this show than my last one,” O’Donnell said in a statement. “I’ve evolved and grown and learned a lot about myself over the last eight years. The business has changed significantly since I left and obviously, come fall 2011, daytime television will change in a very dramatic way. I want to build on what Oprah began and excelled at for 25 years, in my own style and with new adaptations and ideas. I would like this show to make a difference in viewer’s lives, to be real, uplifting, authentic and focus on life, love and laughter.”
Carlin, who spoke with EW, said O’Donnell is not trying to repeat what she accomplished on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, the syndicated yakker from Warner Bros. TV that helped her earn the nickname the Queen of Nice. (The soft-serve, Emmy-winning show aired from 1996-2002.) “She’s already done a variety show and she was incredibly successful,” says Carlin, who, like Robertson, helped to launch her first talk show while working at Warners. “A void will exist starting in September with the single-subject format and Rosie would like to have some serious conversations, to get those big interviews.
“This is clearly a tipping point for daytime,” Carlin continues. “Rosie wants to get out there and do something exciting with water cooler moments. She’s not going to try to be provocative.”
O’Donnell has 18 months to develop the show and create awareness for her return to TV, but she’s already in an advantageous position: she has a two-hour radio show on Sirius XM and also has a devoted following online. It’s unclear whether she’ll be able to secure most of Winfrey’s old time slots — the ABC stations in some top markets have indicated plans to air local news in the afternoon once Winfrey leaves — but Carlin said it doesn’t matter where O’Donnell starts out come 2011. “It’s all about where you end up,” Carlin says. “As long as a show is working in enough time periods, it will eventually evolve. If the show is working, it can move to better stations and maybe even move to the afternoons.”