In her Feb. 14 HBO special, Rosie O'Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up, the mom and media star lays it on the line about her life

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 22, 2015 03:00 PM
Advertisement
Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Whether by coincidence or design, the day after Rosie O’Donnell leaves The View, the actress-comedian will return to her showbiz roots in a special for HBO.

Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up premieres at 10 p.m. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, on the premium network.

Late Friday night, O’Donnell’s spokesperson and ABC confirmed that the 52-year-old media personality would be leaving the daytime chat fest effective Feb. 13, and that O’Donnell was putting her “family and health first” after a previously unannounced split from her wife, Michelle Rounds, last November.

Although the marital separation is not mentioned in Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up – indeed, her and Rounds’s courtship provides some of the special’s comedy fodder – the hour program does allow O’Donnell to inject some humorous yet hard truths about her personal life.

A large portion of the focus is concentrated on raising four of her five children now that they are teenagers.

“People say, why would you have another baby when you have four teenagers?” O’Donnell says in the special, which was filmed last December before a live audience at Levity Live, a comedy club within a shopping mall in Nyack, New York, the town up the Hudson River where she used to live. (She now calls Saddle Brook, New Jersey, home.)

O’Donnell’s response: “Because I have four teenagers, and I needed to remind myself that I actually do love children, because teenagers suck.”

Coming in for the lion’s share of her jabs – all for laughs, it seems – is son Parker, whom O’Donnell references as the light of her life, until, as a teenager he became, in his mother’s words, the “spawn of Satan.”

She says her crying jags after dealing with him became so severe, “I finally made him come to therapy with me. The hour session, I cried for 50 minutes.” Not until the joint session was wrapping up did the therapist ask Parker, now 19, if he had anything to say.

“Yes,” said the boy. “Could you adjust her medication?”

It remains to be seen how Parker will cope with his mother’s discussing his circumcision on national television (it was a star-studded event, with Mr. and Mrs. Steven Spielberg providing both the food and the moyle to perform the procedure), or how O’Donnell, who also uses the special as a platform to discuss women’s health in the wake of her 2012 heart attack, really feels about Parker’s right turn from hers in his political thinking.

“My son is now at a military high school,” she says with both pride and astonishment. Then comes the capper, news that even Parker had kept from his mother: “He has applied to and been accepted at The Citadel,” says O’Donnell – who, in the exclusive video clip above, explains how she “helped” him with his application essay.

But for now, and for the record, O’Donnell did ask her son, “Honey, why didn’t you tell me you applied there?” Parker’s own pointed response: ” ‘Cause I didn’t want your name to be the reason I got in.’ ”