'It's Complicated.' Rosie O'Donnell Weighs in on Ellen's Trouble

Friday June 25, 2021

Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O'Donnell  (Source:Associated Press)

Rosie O'Donnell weighed in on Ellen DeGeneres's fall from public grace in a conversation on Wednesday's Sirius XM's 'The Jess Cagle Show,'" the Daily Mail reports.

"It was a lot of things, and it was complicated, and I'm glad that she's, you know, going to be finished and she can get some time to herself," she said.

O'Donnell found herself in a similar position during her popular run as a daily talk show host from 1996 through 2002, on which she was described as "the Queen of Nice." DeGeneres similarly built her brand by adopting the term "Be Kind" as a motto, but her image was tarnished last year amid charges of her presiding over a toxic workplace, which came to a head in a bombshell report last July on BuzzFeed News. "That 'be kind' bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It's all for show," one former employee told BuzzFeed News. "I know they give money to people and help them out, but it's for show."

At the time, Ellen said: "Being known as the 'be kind' lady is a tricky position to be in. So let me give you some advice out there. If anybody is thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the 'be kind' lady. Don't do it."

But, O'Donnell says, it wasn't just the "be kind" label that did Ellen in. "'I don't think it was the 'be kind' thing that got her,'" Rosie said. "I think that's an oversimplification."

Adding, "It's a huge kind of strange thing to be on a show like that, and have all that attention on you," she continued. "And she had it for like 19 years. So, you know, it's a tough thing."

Asked if she thought being called "Queen of Nice" hurt her career, O'Donnell says: "Not in the way that Ellen's talking about, I think. But you know, I said the day it came out, 'Look at this, the Queen of Nice. And [in] a couple of years, it's going to be the Queen of Lice, the Queen of Fried Rice, you know, the Queen of We Don't Like Her Anymore.'"

O'Donnell also discussed her friendship with Tom Cruise, which became a long-running meme on her show. "I love Tom Cruise, and I will always love Tom Cruise," she said, despite not fully understanding his belief in Scientology. "I do not understand, uh, you know, the Scientology religion. I think it's a, a cult and it's scary. And I think Leah [Remini] is a hero for doing what she's done."

And she mentioned their personal connection. "Every year, I think what a classy guy he is that he never has forgotten my birthday. A lot of people say to me, 'It's just his secretary,' but I don't believe that. I think he knows in early March, 'Oh, it's Rosie's birthday coming up,' and he sends me something every single year for 25 years."