Rosie O'Donnell Leaves, and So Do 'View'-ers

Rosie ODonnell | Michael Moore | Odds 'n' Ends

Rosie Leaves, and So Do 'view'-ers

There's a lot of Rosie O'Donnell news this morning.

First, I can tell you that she met with the producers of CBS's "The Price Is Right" on Thursday, but wound up passing on their offer to host the show.

I'm told the they made her a substantial offer, but that the location of the show — Los Angeles — was the deal-breaker. Just as I predicted, Rosie will not move from New York. She's set here, and in Miami. So that's it. No amount of money can change it.

But "The Price Is Right," like other TV people interested in Rosie, should know this: Since O'Donnell left "The View" on May 25, the ABC talk-fest has lost over 400,000 viewers.

Yes, I know: the New York Times said last week that the numbers were up from a year ago, and that without Rosie the show was still popular.

Not exactly. According to figures obtained from Nielsen/Soundscan by our research department, "The View" sank like a stone during the first two weeks of June, right after Rosie left.

Indeed, "The View" suffered a 13 percent decline in household ratings, and a 9 percent decline in overall ratings during the combined weeks of June 4 and 11 compared with Rosie's last two weeks.

Here are some stats: The week of May 21, Rosie's last week (even though no one knew it), the show had an average of 3.8 million viewers a day. But the week of June 11, the ratings were down to 3.35 million viewers a day.

It's that simple: People are either watching or they are not. And a lot fewer of them are tuning in since O'Donnell split for greener pastures.

Now the question is: Who will make the price and the situation right for Rosie to return to TV? It's obvious she has an enormous following and remains incredibly popular among morning TV viewers.

The word is that some kind of package that would put her on daytime, where she's friendly, and nighttime, where she can be "herself," is the apparent answer to getting O'Donnell to sign on the dotted line.

And, it all must take place in New York.

Meanwhile, when numbers come in this week for last week's final ratings of the season for "The View" is when ABC execs will be crawling out on a ledge.

Losing O'Donnell was an unmitigated disaster for them. ABC Daytime would appear to be in disarray. They can't even manage to execute the return of Genie Francis to "General Hospital" after she won an Emmy last week.

It's not looking good over there. Maybe it's time for a management change.

'Sicko' Socko at the Box Office

Michael Moore's latest film, "Sicko," was a smash hit over the weekend. The documentary about the health care industry was sold out at all its "sneak" screenings in 43 locations around the country including Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta and Detroit.

In New York, at the AMC Lincoln Square, where "Sicko" began an exclusive run on Friday, Moore's funny and quite sad look at how Americans might benefit from universal health care sold out its entire run. The total box office at the theater was over $70,000 — possibly a record for an exclusive showing.

This was the only really good news for the box office weekend, as both the incredibly expensive comedy "Evan Almighty" and the highly touted "A Mighty Heart" were disappointments. The latter, however, should have a decent run and return during awards season.

But as far as igniting the passion of audiences, "Sicko" had the field to itself. On Friday night, Moore and one of his producers attended the 7:45 p.m. Lincoln Square screening, unobtrusively and out of sight of the audience.

When the show ended, a standing ovation ensued, with cheering that culminated in Moore ultimately revealing he was there. The situation got so out of hand that the fire marshal came in to clear the theater.

Moore told me on Saturday night what happened next:

"We tried to leave the theater and people just followed us outside onto the street. All the way down and out of the theater they were applauding. Out on the street we had our own Q&A session," he said.

He was wide-eyed as he told me this over dinner at Prime 103 in East Hampton where swells like Candice Bergen and Roy Scheider, designer Tommy Hilfiger as well as famed "In America" director Jim Sheridan were among the A-list guests who had come to applaud him.

Many of the guests headed over from another swell get-together, at the home of attorney Gerald Lefcourt, who entertained NBC's Jeff Zucker, Conan O'Brian producer Jeff Ross and perennial favorite Kelsey Grammer with wife Camille.

The Friday night situation at Lincoln Square, by the way, turned into such a mess that the 11 p.m. show was delayed. When Moore went into that theater — now he was obviously there — there was more cheering as he walked down the center aisle at the end and fans chanted "Speech!"

Around the country, audiences were said to be similarly moved by the "Sicko" screenings.

Meanwhile, back in the Hamptons, where Moore literally came and went in one night, the director ran into celebrated young actress LeeLee Sobieski. She told Moore something he didn't know:

"You discovered me," she said. "It was a promo commercial for your movie 'Canadian Bacon.' You cast me in it. I must have been around 11."

When Sobieski described the 13-year-old episode, Moore did recall it. "Canadian Bacon" was his failed attempt at a fiction film, although he says he may try one again after one more documentary.

What will that be? "If you look at the other films in order, you can see a theme and pattern," he said, "but much more I can't tell you yet."

In fact, after he launches "Sicko" this week in Denver, Moore has another project that he'll announce on Friday. It has to do with wellness, health and his own weight loss, which he's working on.

"You have to do three things to lose weight," he offered. "Take a walk every day" and "be happy" are two of them, he said.

Designer Donna Karan, who eats only raw, organic and healthy foods — and looks terrific — agreed. She's busy getting hospitals to change their menus. Moore told her that one scene which was cut from "Sicko" showed hospitals serving McDonald's.

"We have this great long tracking shot," he said, "of the patients, all sick, ending in the McDonald's that was right there. It will be on the DVD."

Meantime, this week Moore takes "Sicko" to Denver, where he still maintains friendships with families from the Littleton, Colo., school shooting and his film, "Bowling for Columbine."

But it's the initial response to "Sicko" that's on Moore's mind now. He'll appear on Jay Leno's talk show this week, and hopes to be on FOX News with either or both Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity before the next week is up. The next decision he has to make, with Harvey Weinstein, is how many theaters to put "Sicko" in on Friday.

"We don't want a wide release. We want it to be gradual," he said.

But from the looks of this weekend's results, "Sicko" should begin exclusive runs this coming weekend in at least the 43 cities in which it debuted.

Odds 'n' Ends

I told you last week that Matchbox Twenty was in the studio with U2 producer Steve Lillywhite cutting new tracks.

This set off a lot of questions. So here's one answer: Rob Thomas, the group's leader and the only real new rock star of the last five years, will record a second solo album next, with his old producer Matt Serletic.

When I say "only new real rock star," I mean it. Only Rob Thomas writes and produces memorable rock songs from this generation that anyone will be able to even whistle five years from now.

Attention governors of the Emmy Awards: Isn't it time to give Suzanne Pleshette a much overdue honorary award? She has been nominated four times — twice for "The Bob Newhart Show" — and never won. Pleshette's smoky voice and ability to be sultry and funny at the same time made her a fan favorite for decades.

The Emmys have been notorious for snubbing pretty, funny stars — Elizabeth Montgomery: 9 nominations, no wins — who deserved statues.

Of all the benefits this weekend in the Hamptons, the hottest ticket turned out to be the Retreat Centers Artists Against Abuse fundraiser for battered women. Host Lorraine Bracco raised a fast ten grand for a wine tasting of her own vintage at her Bridgehampton home.

Emcee Bill McCuddy — whose 20-minute stand-up routine was good enough to be heard at Caroline's — quipped: "For another thousand bucks she'll explain 'The Sopranos' finale to you."