Friday, December 5, 2008

Rosie Live! (NBC-TV, 2008)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2008 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

This morning I watched the Rosie Live! show from last Wednesday as well as the Law and Order episode that followed it — with a “special Thanksgiving edition” of the rancid quiz show Deal or No Deal (which seems to combine the worst elements of Let’s Make a Deal and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) sandwiched in between them (which I used the skip function to avoid). Rosie O’Donnell’s show was her usual mixture of egomania and self-ridicule of her egomania, with a madly assorted guest list including Liza Minnelli — they did a pathetic duet called “City Lights” which was about what you’d expect from a pairing of a once-great singer who’s totally lost her voice with a non-singer who never had one — walk-ons by Alec Baldwin and Harry Connick, Jr. (he sang a nice chorus of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”) and a featured song by Alanis Morrissette (the high point of the program) as well as one by Neo, a fedora-topped Black guy with a low-cut black shirt and matching pants. When he came on I dreaded that we’d hear a rap song, but in fact Neo (thoroughly belying his name) turned out to be a quite nice retro-soul singer.

O’Donnell did an opening monologue joking about her desire to hug every Black person she saw after Obama won (the fact that African-Americans voted 70 to 30 percent to annul her marriage as well as mine and 18,000 others didn’t seem to enter into this) and most of her jokes weren’t all that funny. This show isn’t going to revive the moribund variety genre — not when “narrowcasting” and audience differentiation killed it in the first place (the days when even budding rock ’n’ roll stars like the Beatles turned to MOR showcasers like Ed Sullivan for commercial and cultural validation are long, long gone) — and as it stands it’s a monument to Rosie O’Donnell’s overweening ego more than anything else.