Where will Rosie O'Donnell go? A late-night show, a return to syndication and even an online project—maybe an expansion of her well-publicized blog—are among the possibilities.
Although some sources with knowledge of the situation say ABC has considered O'Donnell for a late-night show, network executives said last week that nothing is in the works. Given talk that she wore out her welcome at Disney, an immediate return to ABC, even in another division, would seem unlikely.
Fox is also in the market for a late-night host, but the prospects appear slim that Rupert Murdoch would want O'Donnell—or she would want to work for him—after she bashed the News Corp. chief last week at an industry lunch.
Disney had reportedly offered O'Donnell $10 million annually for a three-year deal to stay on The View, up from $3 million for her current one-year contract. But O'Donnell's camp, led by her agent Nancy Josephson at Endeavor, countered with a one-year deal before the talks ended in a stalemate and O'Donnell announced she will leave in June.
For O'Donnell to do a late-night or daytime syndicated show, say sources, she would want in the neighborhood of $40 million per year, about what CBS' David Letterman reportedly makes.
In daytime, that salary would put her $5 million ahead of Dr. Phil McGraw, who hosts the second-ranked talk show in syndication, and $10 million higher than her first Warner Bros. talk show.
If O'Donnell had agreed to ABC's daytime offer, she would have lost the ability to negotiate with other bidders, a move that could have cost her $60 million in the second and third years of the pact.
To fetch the ad dollars that O'Donnell's high salary would require, a daytime talk show could run only in high-profile 4 or 5 p.m. time periods, which only the NBC and Fox stations have available.
CBS TV Distribution has the “inside track” for syndication. Warner Bros. also has the ability to write a big check, but its interest is thought to be mild. NBC Universal could get into the act, but that seems unlikely given NBC Universal President/CEO Jeff Zucker's probable reluctance to produce another big-ticket talk show after recent costly failures with Jane Pauley and Megan Mullally.
O'Donnell has little chance of capturing her “dream job”: replacing Bob Barker as host of CBS' The Price Is Right.
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