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Jewish World Review
Jan. 23, 2007
/ 4 Shevat, 5767
A few years ago, when Rosie O'Donnell's ratings fell and her magazine stopped selling, she took her millions and went quietly into a less-public existence. For some, however, life out of the spotlight can be lonely, so she became one of the ladies of The View, a daytime talk show. The only problem with that show was she had to share the spotlight with others. The solution? Create some feuds. And, in this age of celebrity overdose, that's pretty easy to do. You go on TV and express an opinion about another celebrity's words or actions, and then sit back and wait for that celebrity to comment about your opinion. Then you react angrily to the "attack" and voila! instant feud. Everybody's talking about you, the ratings are up, and that shared spotlight glows a little brighter in your quadrant.
It worked with Kelly Ripa. When a guest co-host on her morning show put his hand over her mouth, Kelly objected on grounds of propriety and sanitation. O'Donnell found her opportunity, decided homophobia was to blame (even though the co-host in question had never publicly announced his sexual preference); the feud was on, and the ratings were up. When that quieted down, it was time for Donald Trump. I've lost sight of what this one was about, but it received even more attention than the dirty hands business. The Donald and The O tossed personal insults at each other, other celebrities were drawn in, the late-night comics had great fun, and ratings were even higher. Talk about a feud you hoped both sides would lose! If this were Hamilton vs. Burr, you'd want to be sure both weapons were fully loaded and their sights perfectly aligned.
Thanks to the Trump ego and the breathless complicity of the media, that "feud" was enormously successful, but it presented the challenging dilemma of how to top it. Well, how about taking on the most popular show in the country, American Idol? Like Claude Rains in Casablanca, O'Donnell was shocked shocked! to find that judges were insulting players during the auditions, and she decided to expose this little-known scandal to her public. And just to help make sure a feud resulted, she threw in the comment that Paula Abdul, one of the show's judges, was "probably intoxicated" (another startling revelation). It's too soon to tell whether this one will stick. The celebrity "news" shows will try to fan the flames and O'Donnell will keep it up for a while, but it really takes two to feud.
When the Idol spat goes away, what's next? I'm sure she's using her TiVo to spot other transgressions even as we speak. Well, in the spirit of celebrity cooperation, I'd like to offer some suggestions. On ESPN's SportsCenter, I saw a studio host flinch when his co-host poked his shoulder, an obviously homophobic reaction. I'll be happy to supply details on request. I saw a Food Network show the other day in which the host prepared a low-calorie dish, implying, it seemed pretty clear to me, that there was something wrong with carrying a few extra pounds. Again, I'll be happy to provide the identity of that host. There are other issues ripe for a TV feud, including: Why are there only heterosexual couples on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? Why does Fox News Channel have so many young, blonde anchors? Why are there so many cheerleader shots during Dallas Cowboys games? Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?
In any case, welcome back to the spotlight, Rosie, and thanks for the diversions. The world is a very serious and threatening place these days, so I suppose it's good to be able to have something totally silly and useless to occupy our minds for a while. Keep up the good work.
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JWR contributor Pat Sajak is the recipient of three Emmys, a Peoplesí Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He's currently the host of Wheel of Fortune.
© 2007, Pat Sajak