The Hot Seat: Rosie O'Donnell

The loudmouth tackles yet another tough subject-families.

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Illustration: Rob Kelly


Now that Rosie O'Donnell—the comedian, actor, blogger, activist, former talk-show host, crafter and mom—has her own Sirius XM show, Rosie Radio, it seems fair to crown her the Queen of All Media. (And not just because the self-proclaimed King, Howard Stern, helped her land that job.) Seriously, is there anything she hasn't done? "I'd love to direct a movie, but that's what everyone says in show business," she says. "I'd love to produce a musical that ran forever. I'd love to solve the issue of foster care in the United States." Lofty goals, but if you consider some of the challenges she's faced—like cohosting The View, or feuding with Donald Trump—they're not impossible. Her latest project, A Family Is a Family Is a Family, is a documentary that explores the changing familial dynamics in the United States. We chatted with her about the film and her love for the crafting site Etsy.

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I was just checking out your Etsy page—you're a pretty prolific crafter, especially with your painted Munny dolls.
Well, I've always done crafts. I don't call myself an artist. I got the Munnys for Christmas two years ago, and it's a really beautiful toy. I started doing so many of them—I'm a little OCD—and somebody said, "Why don't you sell these on Etsy?" And I found it, and we sold a whole bunch. I'm very into the wrapping and making sure everything gets delivered with a little surprise.

Have you seen the site Regretsy?
No, I'd love to see it! Is it things you regret buying, or just handmade stuff again?

It's weird stuff that people sell on Etsy—like a bejeweled thong for a guy.
See, I would purchase that. I have a lot of purchases from Etsy, and I've traded with a lot of people. That's the greatest thing, because I get all these funky, amazing pieces of art that I traded for a doll I doodled on. So I end up the winner.

So your latest project is A Family Is a Family Is a Family. It's from the perspective of children, who are all unintentionally really wise.
Exactly. It's like little prophets, each one of them.

How did you find the families that were featured?
We put out notices at different schools saying that I was doing a documentary about families. We filmed a lot more than ended up in the documentary. I wanted to make a bonus DVD that we could give to schools so that kids could see it, and open up a discussion about diversity and tolerance.

It's not overtly political, but there is definitely a political viewpoint throughout the film.
Well, I tend to be somewhat polarizing to a fraction of the universe, so I thought if it were coming from children, there's no way to argue with that.

You've been blogging and connecting with fans through your website for years. Now all these celebrities have Twitter accounts—do you think you were ahead of the curve?
Yes. This sounds arrogant, but I think it's true. I was on AOL when I could have a three-letter screen name. I've been doing it for a very long time. I really like it; I think it's an amazing medium, and I think it allows some level of authenticity in presenting my image. It defeats the need for a publicist.

You've always been outspoken about politics. Since we've reached the first anniversary of President Obama being in office, how do you think he's done?
I still have complete and total faith in him as a human being. He's a man of peace. It's hard to not be moved when he speaks so eloquently and concisely to the people of Haiti 40 hours after the earthquake. You can't help but think back to Katrina, and where the President was during that, and how long it took for him to address his nation. I don't forget easily [Laughs]. I don't know—he's just begun. I believe in him and I support him.

Yeah, it has only been one year.
Yeah, one year, 365 days. Nothing happens overnight. Everybody breathe!

So, Glee. You expressed interest in a guest spot—will it happen?
Listen, I'm friends with Ryan Murphy [cocreator of Glee], and I think he's a great guy. I was thrilled to do two episodes of Nip/Tuck. I love Glee; I sit with my kids every week, and we watch it. I'm a musical-theater geek. It's the perfect dream show for me. I don't think you need Prozac if you watch that show. Of course I would do it, but it's not like they're working on it.

If you did end up on the show, what song would you sing?
Tina Turner, "Better Be Good to Me."

A Family Is a Family Is a Family premieres Sun 31 on HBO.

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