In her first public appearance since she announced her marital split from Michelle Rounds and her exit from The View, Rosie O’Donnell looked chipper and healthy at the premiere of her documentary,“ Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up,” Saturday evening at the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College. (The documentary airs on HBO Valentine’s Day.)
Later that evening at the festival’s awards ceremony, O’Donnell presented the President’s Visionary Award to Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films.
Other honorees included “Beyond the Lights” writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood and producer Cathy Schulman. The night before Jodie Foster received the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement award.
On the red carpet O’Donnell explained why she decided to leave the popular daytime talk show. She also told journalists about her marital problems. She also made some cracks about Brian Williams and the Iggy Azalea Grammy controversy.
On why she decided to leave The View:
“I work out for my heart and my doctor were noticing was that there was an uptick on some of my numbers since I started on the show. And as it got a little bit worse right before the holidays she was kind of concerned, so that when I came back after the holiday break she said to me, ‘You know, the stress level is too much.’ And I’ve got a lot going on in my personal life that’s kind of stressful. And you know with five kids, four of them teenagers, it’s a lot of attention you need… and I am going through some hard stuff, so I can’t really fix those things right away but I can fix this.
On the network’s reaction:
“I talked to them at ABC and I told them and they understood. They’ve been unbelievably supportive and loving and I’m still going to do The Fosters on ABC Family.”
On how the rest of the cast reacted when she told them she was leaving:
“Actually they were told when it was (ABC) released (the press release) on Friday. We don’t shoot on Friday so I’ve heard from everybody since then over the weekend and 99,000 people that I know but, you know, everybody cares about me and nobody wants to do anything that’s going to effect someone’s health right? So they get it and they know. You know? It’s ok. Not everything works out as you plan but you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. You don’t know if you’re gonna be here. You don’t’ know anything.”
On her next gig:
“I’m going to host the Disney ‘Frozen’ cruise, the inaugural one…. I don’t care what I have to do, but I want to host with the other ‘Frozen’ freaky families like me. “ (Disney launches the Frozen Cruise, a trip head to northern destinations including Norway, Iceland, Scotland and Alaska, inspired by the film, this summer.)
Is she taking her entire family of five kids?
“Yeah, you kiddin me? My oldest boy probably won’t go, Parker’s 19, but the rest of them will go. Are you kidding me?”
She weighs in on the Iggy Azalea controversy. The Australian rapper is up for four Grammy Awards:
“How bad is this? Who she’s against, Kanye? Well I have to say as a 52-year-old woman I’m not up I’m not up on Iggy Azalea controversy but I have seen it on Huffington Post when I look quickly…. But I think she’s pretty good. My daughter, who is 12, knows every lyric.” And then from Azalea’s song “Fancy,” O’Donnell started rapping, “First thing’s first, I’m the realest (realest) First things first.”
On whether she thinks Brian Williams should resign:
“I think he said he stepped down,” she replied. When told he was just going to sit out a few nights, O’Donnell added, “I don’t know how you can have somebody embellish and have the trust eroded when they’re delivering the news. But I hope that everyone in America wakes up to the fact that what we get as news is not often true.”
On announcing her marital split after the New York Post called her publicist Cindi Berger for confirmation:
“You have to say something. It’s like in this day and age, as Brian Williams knows, you can’t claim something’s true if something’s not true. All you have to do is go on Instagram. You can see she’s not in the house with me. Right? It’s been since Thanksgiving. People are not idiots, so I don’t want to lie and fabricate, but, you know, I also needed some time to sort of both of us figure it out. We’re separated. We’re not living together. And like most married couples I know, we’re trying to figure it out. And I love her very much as you can see on there and she loves me as well. So what it can be and in what way, we’ll figure out.”
Later at the awards ceremony when she presented Sheila Nevins with her award she turned her speech into a stand-up comedy routine and cracked up the room, compromised almost entirely of women.
“Wow this is really fun!” she enthused. “All these young, smart women in college number one. That’s inspiring! And all these amazing filmmakers getting awards, looking fly in those tan boot things.”
Then she turned her attention to a group of attractive women sitting at the front row table with Gina Prince-Bythewood.
“The woman I admire the most is the woman in those boots. I like this whole area. I especially like the one with the grey hat. I saw you walking by and I’m like, ‘I don’t know who she is, but she might be my next wife.’” The audience roared. “I don’t know. I just had a feeling. I’m not saying you have to feel that way back. But I did see you walking and I thought we had a moment. Was it only me?”
“Maybe that’s the problem in my relationships,” she cracked. “I see someone and I make shit up like Brian Williams. I escaped on 9/11 from the Twin Towers. Oh No, I didn’t. I got mixed up. F—ing Lance Armstrong liar.”