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Rosie on 'Oprah': Transcending Networks

Television: With sweeps still underway, O'Donnell will appear next week on her rival's show--much to some executives' displeasure.

May 15, 1997|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The so-called war of the Rosie and Oprah talk shows will have an unexpected one-day truce when Rosie O'Donnell appears on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Tuesday for a one-hour interview.

But the timing of the appearance--during the critical May ratings sweeps--has rattled more than a few executives at KNBC-TV Channel 4, which broadcasts "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" at 3 p.m., in direct competition with KABC-TV Channel 7's airing of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Not only are the two syndicated shows battling for viewership during the sweeps, in which ratings help determine advertising rates, but KNBC and KABC have competing 4 p.m. newscasts that depend on the delivery of viewers from the respective talkfests.

KNBC's 4 p.m. newscast emerged victorious over traditional front-runner KABC during the February sweeps, thanks in large part to the lead-in from O'Donnell's show. Preliminary results from the current sweeps show "Oprah," the top-rated daytime talk show nationally, substantially out in front of "Rosie," but the two newscasts are neck-and-neck. The sweeps period ends Wednesday.

The two talk shows also compete against each other in 62 other markets around the country.

Executives for KNBC could not be reached for official comment Wednesday, but sources at the station indicated that they were less than pleased with the O'Donnell appearance, which will be taped Monday in Chicago.

But O'Donnell and Winfrey are apparently looking forward to the interview, which will address their rivalry and also serve to promote O'Donnell's new book, "Kids Are Punny." Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to charity.

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Television, which produces O'Donnell's show, said: "It's a wonderful opportunity for Rosie to put to rest totally erroneous tabloid reports about animosity [between the two women], and at the same time to do a good deed for some very worthy charities."

O'Donnell has often praised Winfrey and has long wanted to appear on her show, but their respective schedules did not previously permit them to get together, said O'Donnell spokesperson Lois Smith.

Winfrey is planning to return the favor next fall by appearing on O'Donnell's show, Smith said.

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