Rosie O’Donnell was just as outspoken as ever as host of a private function for powerful women in media, who included Hillary Clinton, Meredith Vieira, Martha Stewart, author Joan Didion and blogger Arianna Huffington.
Acting as emcee of Monday’s New York Women in Communications Matrix Awards luncheon ceremony at Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria, the View star, 45, managed to turn the event into something more like a celebrity roast – peppered with strong language, despite the attendance of 17 high school and college students. (Escorted by their parents, the young people had all won scholarships from the organization).
As the New York Post’s Page Six reports, some of the guests were shocked by O’Donnell’s comments.
Among the more colorful moments from O’Donnell that were met with a mixture of guffaws and gasps by the 1,500 guests, including View star and executive producer Barbara Walters, who sometimes was seen burying her face in her hands:
• O’Donnell’s early remarks about an old nemesis of hers. “I’ve been dieting for two weeks ever since Donald Trump said he found me fat,” she told the crowd. “It’s been my goal for many years to [excite] a bald billionaire.”
• O’Donnell’s pitch perfect imitation of domestic diva Stewart. Having recounted how she once asked the former prisoner what she missed most during her days in the Alderson, W. Va., facility, O’Donnell deadpanned Stewart’s reply of, “The taste of lemon.” Rosie then added: “That’s no bulls—. You couldn’t write that in an SNL skit. That’s real.”
O’Donnell’s introduction of conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch (who was there to introduce his New York Post columnist, Cindy Adams.) “While he seems to have a lot of power,” O’Donnell said of the communications baron, whose holdings include the FOX network, “he couldn’t keep Sanjaya on American Idol.”
Not that every moment was a knee-slapper, or belonged to O’Donnell. Matrix winner Vieira, 53, who had just spent the weekend visiting California’s Stanford University (where her son Ben will go next fall), spoke of her recent coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy.
“Those kids really wanted to connect with us,” she said of those on the VT campus. “Some of them just asked for a hug. That’s when you realize they’re in college, but they’re still just kids.”
On Tuesday, O’Donnell did not mention the luncheon on The View, but she did wish Barbra Streisand happy birthday.
Reporting by DIANE CLEHANE