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December 22, 2014

Rosie O'Donnell on 'Glee,' 'Family,' Team Coco and Love

by Michael Maloney, posted Jan 26th 2010 9:30AM
Rosie O'Donnell may not be voicing her opinions on 'The View' anymore, but she's still letting America know how she feels.

The outspoken and philanthropic Daytime Emmy-winner's next project is the HBO special 'A Family Is a Family Is a Family: A Rosie O'Donnell Celebration,' set to air Sunday, Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. The documentary's goal is to heighten America's understanding of nontraditional families.

AOL was on the scene at the recent TV Critics Association's winter press tour when O'Donnell shared her thoughts on her HBO show, the pros and cons of TV versus radio and possibly guest-starring on 'Glee.'Rosie O'Donnell may not be voicing her opinions on 'The View' anymore, but she's still letting America know how she feels.

The outspoken and philanthropic Daytime Emmy-winner's next project is the HBO special 'A Family Is a Family Is a Family: A Rosie O'Donnell Celebration,' set to air Sunday, Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. The documentary's goal is to heighten America's understanding of nontraditional families.

AOL was on the scene at the recent TV Critics Association's winter press tour when O'Donnell shared her thoughts on her HBO show, the pros and cons of TV versus radio and possibly guest-starring on 'Glee.'

Do you miss being on a daily national TV show where you can reach people with political views?
On my show ['The Rosie O'Donnell Show'], I didn't do much in terms of politics. We were trying to do 'Merv Griffin' and that's what we did. Now, I'm [actually] doing radio for Sirius and they put a studio in one of my homes. It's unbelievably fulfilling to have two hours a day. I really appreciate that kind of freedom. I don't know if I could ever go back to a network paradigm. I think that radio may be what I do for a long time.

Where did you film 'A Family Is a Family Is a Family: A Rosie O'Donnell Celebration'?
We went to different schools in San Francisco, New York, Houston and all over the country. We told the schools that we were looking for families that wanted to participate. Amy [Schatz], who did this documentary, is a genius. There were so many families we had to leave [because we had so many]. We could probably make another one of just the stuff that's on the editing room floor.

Did you make this documentary in response to Prop 8 in California?

Way before Prop 8, [but it's] sort of fortuitous timing in a way with what's going on in the Supreme Court in California today. We want to celebrate families and differences and give kids in all different kinds of families a way to see themselves.

What do you think of celebrity involvement with Haiti?
I think celebrities have been doing a lot in terms of crises like that. Look at Brad Pitt and Hurricane Katrina. I know somebody asked if [some celebrities] do it for press reasons, which I think is absurd because there are so many other ways to get press than to build houses for people who've lost theirs at a time when the government was not doing nearly enough.

There should be a demand that every person who participates [in events like George Clooney's telethon 'Hope for Haiti'] donates a minimum. It was very infuriating to me after 9/11 to see millionaires asking people in the country for their pennies. If you're going to go on [TV] and you're a millionaire, please give a million dollars. There should be a cover charge to do those, in my opinion. I think it would be great to do a 'match me' thing. I think it would be amazing if a celebrity would say, 'I'm giving this. Who'll match it?' I know that Brad and Angelina Jolie gave a million dollars to the Red Cross as well as all that they've done in New Orleans. I think celebrities should definitely step up and that America should stop asking for just their presence at a publicized event.

You've worked with Ryan Murphy on 'Nip/Tuck.' Is there any chance we will see you on his series 'Glee'?
In. A. Heartbeat. I would do it in a moment.

What would you sing?
I would sing anything they asked. I'd like to have a competition with a cheer-leading team against Jane Lynch [and her character Sue Sylvester]. Maybe she and I fall in love and have a torrid affair?

Are you going to go back on 'Drop Dead Diva'?
Yes. I discovered the young girl on that show, Brooke Elliott, and gave her her first job on Broadway. When she got ['Diva'], she asked me to come do it. I said it would be a thrill. She came in and she hadn't worked anywhere except for Disney World. She looked like she was from Disney and it was a punk rock musical in the 80s. I told her to go get some clothes that were appropriate. She used her last $112 and bought fishnet stockings. She ripped them up, wore a black T-shirt and put on eyeliner and she came in and got the job. She's immensely gifted and I'm happy to see her [working].

Do you have any other projects planned?
Yes. I'm touring this summer, doing stand-up and am going to do another comedy special for HBO, hopefully. I have a book coming out on auditory processing disorder, called 'The Sound of Hope.' My 10-year-old son [Blake] has that. Two years ago, he began an intensive tutoring program with this amazing woman specialist [Lois Kay Heymann]. It was like watching her bring a withered plant back to life and it was so astounding I asked if we could do a book so that parents who didn't have access to such costly treatment would have a way to help their children because it's an epic problem.

What advice do you have for Conan O'Brien?
I think I've said everything that I want to say. He's a fantastic talent and he gave 17 years to that network. Shame on Jeff Zucker and Jay Leno. I think it would serve [Jay] well if he were able to let go and grab onto whatever the next rung is.

Are you 'green'?
Not green enough, but we recycle. Chelsea [my daughter], I'm seeing now, is quite green. She's saying we have to get rid of the plastic water bottles and that we have to get an aluminum bottle and refill it.

How did it feel to be nominated for an Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for your role in 'America'?
Fantastic. I'm going. I can't wait. I hope we win [for Outstanding TV Movie]. I hope [fellow nominee and co-star] Ruby Dee wins. She's fantastic and is a living legend.

What does 'love' mean to you?
Happiness. Kindness. Peace. Forgiveness. Compassion. It's the goal for everyone. It's why we're on earth. I think that we decide it's time to come down and learn some more lessons and into human form we come. What's the goal? To learn to love all the way, [move] past feuds and wars and fighting and try to get to some kind of stillness or peace.

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