Sunday, April 14, 2024

Broadway: Rosie O’Donnell Raises $500,000 for the Actors Fund Including Her Own Donation During Streaming You Tube Special Featuring Dozens of Top Name Stars


Rosie O’Donnell’s three and a half hour YouTube special for the Actors Fund has just ended. O’Donnell herself donated $100,000 and raised another (at least) $400,000 from viewers. The money goes to all the out of work actors and crew currently suffering through the temporary closure of Broadway.

Rosie and producer Erich Bergen (actor from “Madame Secretary” among other productions) brought together dozens upon dozens of Broadway stars including anyone who’s anyone from the Great White Way. She even added Barry Manilow and Gloria Estefan.

What was so impressive is that all these people performed from home, many accompanying themselves on the piano or guitar. They didn’t wear make up. They had bad lighting and sound. The show was as homemade as it could have been. But it was a total delight.

Rosie herself hosted the show from the garage/art studio of her house in Saddle River, New Jersey. She wore no makeup herself, and the lighting was adequate, let’s say. But she was at her best, no politicizing, just talking her love of Broadway with all the stars. Behind her on the floor there seemed to be some detritus. It took Harvey Fierstein to finally say, “At least I cleaned up my crafts room!” Rosie replied: “It’s paint on the floor. It doesn’t come up!”

Where else, how else could we have seen so many top line stars, all talking off the cuff, singing out their hearts. This was pretty brave. The show, when the dust settles, has to be preserved for Broadway history. What a coup!

Of course, we got to hear two versions of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”– one from Patti Lupone and the other from Audra McDonald and Will Swenson. Kelli O’Hara sang, so did Adrienne Warren from her bathtub full of water! Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber sang “Happy Birthday” to each other! Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker did a rare interview together. It was pretty swell!

The show had echoes of Edward R. Murrow’s “You Are There” and Golden Age of Television. No artifice. And frankly, Rosie should have a daily show again.

Dip in anywhere, or watch it from beginning to end. Rosie and Erich made history tonight.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News