Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Rosie Live"? Not So Much

The public has spoken about "Rosie Live", the NBC variety show hosted by Rosie O'Donnell, and the word isn't good. Critics and fans alike have panned the show as being boring and painful to watch. Even people who normally support whatever Rosie does weren't thrilled. The ratings for "Rosie Live" equaled that of a show on ABC...that was just canceled.

I must admit that I didn't watch "Rosie Live" because I had something important to do and I just couldn't get away. I think I was scratching myself at the time. I don't remember, but I do remember it was pretty important at the time. This, of course, means I can't comment on the show itself except from what I was able to glean from reviews of the show. And what I read wasn't impressive. Whether it was tasteless sight gags involving Rosie putting a microphone in her cleavage, references to her sexual preference, or the occasional subtle rant against Donald Trump and Republicans, Rosie forgot the first rule of the variety show: the star of the show isn't always the focus of attention.

One of the questions this arouses is whether America wants a prime time variety show these days. Personally, I think we do, especially in these economic times. With shows like "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent" still popular with the viewing public, it's a no-brainer. If a variety show is done right and is family-friendly, I think it would be a ratings smash.

Ah, but there's the rub. A variety show done well, like "The Carol Burnette Show", doesn't need gimmicks to make it work because the work is evident in what is produced. The minute a variety show has to resort to gimmicks to try to get viewers, you might as well slap a pair of water skis on it because it's about to jump the shark.

With the ratings being so low that I could have tied them and I didn't even have a show on at the time, NBC may consider pulling "Rosie Live." If it was a one-shot show to see if people would respond favorably, I would suggest they retool it to make it more like a traditional variety show. If that involves Rosie taking a role behind the scenes more, I think it could work. But if they put on another show like the first "Rosie Live", I guarantee the ratings won't move very far.

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