O’Donnell opts for Oprah’s OWN

Show marks comedian's return to TV

Rosie O’Donnell is heading to the new Oprah Winfrey Network.

OWN, the joint venture between Winfrey and Discovery Communications, announced late Thursday that O’Donnell’s previously announced gabfest — originally targeted toward broadcast syndication — would bow next year on the cabler instead.

“Rosie is an undeniable talent who has captivated TV audiences for nearly 20 years,” Winfrey said. “She’s a true original, who brings her authentic voice, dynamic energy and pure passion to everything she does.”

Show marks O’Donnell’s return to TV after her stint as a moderator on ABC’s “The View.” It’s also O’Donnell’s return to daytime talk shows — she hosted her syndicated “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” between 1996 and 2002.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to work with Oprah Winfrey on her network,” O’Donnell said. “I’m excited to be back on daytime television.”

O’Donnell will exec produce the show with former Warner Bros. syndication execs Dick Robertson and Scott Carlin, now of SantaBu. New show, a daily one-hour strip, will be shot in New York.

Robertson and Carlin, who left Warner Bros. in 1999, launched “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” in 1996 to tremendous success.

After Winfrey announced her plans to retire, the duo decided the timing was right to reintroduce O’Donnell to daytime TV. They called her reps and soon convinced the host to partner on the new endeavor.

Robertson and Carlin pitched stations on the show this spring but they knew it would be an uphill battle. Some station execs were still stung with how political “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” became toward the end of its run, while others were concerned about her controversial time on “The View.”

The market also is cluttered as “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” recently sealed new deals in much of the country. Ultimately, cable — and OWN — made more sense for O’Donnell.

OWN has been aggressively looking for talk content, having made an earlier offer to Warner Bros. to move “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to the channel. “Ellen” continues in broadcast syndication.

O’Donnell and Winfrey are not alone in moving from broadcast to cable. Martha Stewart is leaping from syndication to the Hallmark channel.

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