Don’t be afraid of “‘Celebrity Detox’; O’Donnell uncloaks one of the most fascinating seasons in TV history
By sheer coincidence, the day before Rosie O’Donnell exited “The View,” I interviewed Kathy Griffin. O’Donnell was already getting heaps of media attention mostly negative for her role as daytime TV’s take-no-prisoners moderator.
“I really hate all the shit Rosie has taken,” Griffin said. “You know why are people gunning for Rosie so much? Because she’s a fat lesbian because guys don’t want to fuck her.”
At the time, I thought Griffin might be overly sensitive because O’Donnell is her dear friend. But I’ve changed my mind Griffin is spot on.
The month before the Oct. 9 release date of O’Donnell’s “Celebrity Detox: The Fame Game” (Grand Central, $23.99), passages were quoted all over television: on CNN. “Access Hollywood,” “The Today Show,” etc. The book was depicted as a hate campaign against Barbara Walters because O’Donnell thinks the 78-year-old televisionary might want to consider retiring; and that O’Donnell is a freak because she admitted when she was young, she’d broke her own bones to get sympathy and attention after her mother died.
Yes, “Celebrity Detox” contains those two elements. But they’re brief. And they’re hardly the book’s best or most shocking goods.
What is this book about?
It’s about an awesome season of television when Rosie transformed “The View” into a groundbreaking platform that argued frankly about the war in Iraq, gay rights, 9/11 and what’s happening in this world.
It’s also a love letter to two Babs: Streisand and Walters. In fact, the portion about Walters retiring is mostly O’Donnell’s concern for her old colleague’s welfare and the stress of live TV not a slight about her ability.
But O’Donnell does divulge the tensions between her and Walters. Rosie admits that Donald Trump’s evil tirades damaged their relationship, and she busts Walters for being two-faced that Babs did tell Trump, “Donald, never get into the mud with pigs.”
Another fascinating figure is her co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, whom O’Donnell expertly dissects. Hasselbeck is a fierce force of nature herself. Rosie admits she may have met her match. She even dreamed about Hasselbeck.
Like her previous memoir “Find Me,” O’Donnell isn’t a hack writer. She knows how to hold a reader’s interest. Throughout the book, she does weave her signature annoying bloggy stanzas, which seem out of place for a book. But who’s going to tell Rosie how to do anything?
“Celebrity Detox” explains a lot. Why was “The View” such an incredible, spontaneous, call-it-like-it-is television experience? Because O’Donnell was striving for excellence. She says flat out that apathy and fear hung around the talk-show set. And if she was re-entering the TV biz, “a toned-down, a washed-out Xeroxed version of Rosie O’Donnell would not work. I am successful because I am who I am, this range of color undiluted.”
Unfortunately, O’Donnell left “The View” in May. And if you’ve missed her, you’ll want to read “Celebrity Detox.”
DID LANCE GET LUCKY IN BIG D?
Perez Hilton reported that Lance Bass totally scored in Dallas. The gossip monger says after Bass’ author appearance at the Borders in West Village on Sunday, he partied at S4 where he met a “tall blonde guy.” And apparently, Bass cancelled his Monday interview with iVilllage.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 2, 2007