O’Donnell talked to the “Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best” podcast this week and compared her own professional experiences to those of DeGeneres, who was recently beset by reports of fostering workplace toxicity.
“If you have a daily show, you can’t fake your essence,” O’Donnell said. “That’s why I have compassion for Ellen. I have compassion, even though I hear the stories, and I understand.”
“I think she has some social awkwardness,” she added. “It’s hard for women, period.”
Influenced by the likes of Merv Griffin, O’Donnell set a new precedent for celebrity-hosted talk shows when she created and launched “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” in 1996. The daytime series nabbed five Emmy Awards during its six-season run.
In 2011, she began hosting an evening talk show, “The Rosie Show,” on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Her initial guests included Kevin Bacon and Lisa Kudrow, but the show failed to catch on with viewers and was canceled after just one season.
O’Donnell has been friendly with DeGeneres for years, but she’s yet to appear on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in any capacity. She told Philipps that DeGeneres’ fondness for playing pranks on her guests was to blame.
“You know how Ellen surprises everyone?” she said. “I’ve never done that show because I’m terrified she’s going to scare me and give me a heart attack.”
All eyes will be on DeGeneres Sept. 9 when she kicks off season 18 of her talk show. The host has spent much of the summer in a fog of negative press, much of it stemming from two BuzzFeed articles published in June.
The outlet interviewed current and former “Ellen” staffers, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity and who alleged racism, intimidation and sexual misconduct while working on the talk show.
Warner Bros. Television, whose Telepictures subsidiary produces “Ellen,” responded to the claims by launching an internal investigation.
Earlier this month, Variety confirmed that executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, as well as co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, had “parted ways” with the show following the probe.
Listen to Busy Philipps’ interview with Rosie O’Donnell below.