“I’m about to turn 50 in March, and for half my life I’ve watched her on television. I was one of those crazy super fans that used to VCR her in the old days and watch it every night.
“The truth is, when I was about to sign with NBC I questioned whether I would be able to do it and withstand the network pressure.”
After the famous Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien scraps over broadcast times -- a fiasco that ended with O’Brien walking -- O’Donnell admits she was not feeling very safe or secure about the network’s investment in their talent.
“When Oprah Winfrey said, ‘Would you do it for me?’ I called my agent. You make a lot more on the networks than you do on cable,” O’Donnell said.
“But no part of my career was ever about money, it was about trying to do the best job in the best place that would be most congruent with my life and my values. And that’s where I ended up. For me it’s like winning the lottery and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
“Oprah made me believe I could do it. I told her she had played a starring role in my life. She just didn’t know she’d been cast in it. ”
Chicago, says O’Donnell, is like a cleaner, more European version of New York.
“Now I have yet to do a winter here and the locals are already saying just wait. But it’s epically beautiful, and the only thing that concerns me is that snow-mageddon winter they’re all talking about. “
Guests both actual and desired in the coming months will include Adele, Russell Brand, Melissa McCarthy (from Bridesmaids and Mike and Molly) and Ryan Gosling.
But there will be discussion of the issues of the day – and game shows, where everyone wins.
Expect some straight talking on occasion too, because over the last decade O’Donnell has grown into a passionate and articulate debater on many issues.
“Growing older and being almost 50 years old gives you a perspective on who you are in a way that you can’t possibly have in your thirties,” she feels.
“I think on my new program we’re going to have the time and the space to go in depth about the things that we feel and think and on the points we disagree on without the antagonism and the vitriol of my time on The View.”
The Rosie Show airs weeknights at 7 p.m.