Rosie O'Donnell Show

February 28, 2002
Many Thanks to my regular transcribers. Please do not repost or reproduce.

Rosie: I always enjoy it when our next guest stops by.  She was my favorite, Mary Ryan on my favorite soap, 'Ryan's Hope', and the first female captain of the starship Voyager.  She is now doing a wonderful one-woman show on Katharine Hepburn's life.  Here to talk about that, please welcome back to the show – Kate Mulgrew.

Kate enters to much applause.  She and Rosie embrace, and Kate turns and waves at audience.

Rosie:  Hi!  How are you? It's so good to see you.

Kate:  Couldn't be better, but more to the point, my darling, how are you?!

Rosie:  I'm good. I'm all right. Yeah… every thing's…

Kate:  I know you are.  May 23rd, May 23rd… (Kate & Rosie 'hi five'!)

Rosie:  Is my last day and then I'm a free woman.

Kate:   Wonderful.

Rosie:  Yah.

Kate:  Rosie, you deserve it.

Rosie:  Now I know that you told me when you were leaving Star Trek that you were going to come to New York…

Kate:  That's right.

Rosie:  And you're here.

Kate:  Took an apartment last year. I'm here.  The play, of course, is in Hartford.

Rosie:  Right.

Kate:  "Tea at Five". A delightful…

Rosie:  "Tea at Five".  Of Katharine Hepburn.

Kate:  Well after seven and a half years in the Delta Quadrant, right…

Rosie:  It was time for something else…

Kate:  And then I got married, right? To this guy who had spent sixteen years as a public official with Cleveland.  I said 'what's it going to be, a picnic'?

Rosie:  Yeah.

Kate: A walk in the park?  He said 'No, I think I'll run for governor' and I said 'Well then I'll do the life of Katharine Hepburn'.

Rosie:  Right.

Kate:  Take a break!

Rosie:  So then your husband is running for governor.

Kate:  He is running for governor of Ohio on the Democratic ticket, of course.

Rosie:  Good for him. How about that!

Kate: (Turns to the audience and responds to applause) Oh.  Do we have some Ohio people here?

Rosie:  Well we have Democrats mostly, I think.

Kate:  Do we have Democrats from Ohio in this audience? (Kate throws them a big kiss).

Rosie:  All right – vote and spread the word!

Kate: Thank you!

Rosie:  Now, he has a very good chance of winning, I understand.

Kate:  Tim Hagan.  Yes he does.  He is, of course, of our political persuasion.  Meaning that he is very passionate about children.  Education. The economic well being of Ohio.  But most importantly this guy is so utterly grounded – well you've met him.

Rosie:  Yes. I love him.  He's very real.

Kate:  He's absolutely who he is.  He is a man of the people, and he will reawaken the state to its former well being, I have absolutely no doubt.

Rosie:  Now how will you like being the first lady of the state of Cleveland?

Kate:  I don't know.  We didn't study that in the Delta Quadrant!

Rosie:  Yah.  I was going to say… do you have to act differently?  Do you have to watch yourself? Do you have to not drink in public?

Kate:  I don't know.  Do you think I can wear my space suit...

Rosie:  I’m not sure!

Kate: ...on the campaign trail?

Rosie:  I think it could be a problem!

Kate:  I could do Katharine Hepburn!

Rosie:  But what's going to be happening when he's campaigning while you're doing the show here?

Kate: Right now. But you see the Primary is in May, which is clear.

Rosie: Right.

Kate:  There's no contention.

Rosie:  Got ya.

Kate:  So we're working towards the general in November.

Rosie: In November.

Kate:  So from April through November I'm going to be at his side.

Rosie:  You will.

Kate:  I have to do it.  Of course I do.

Rosie:  Yeah.  Now the show's going to come into New York I heard.

Kate:  Yes. I think so. In the fall.

Rosie: Yes.

Kate:  And I'd like to go back to Hartford Stage and warm it up and do some work on it.  It's been beautifully crafted by Matthew Lombardo, wonderfully directed by John Tillenger and all under the remarkable aegis of Michael Wilson, so…

Rosie:  How does it feel to play Katharine Hepburn?  I mean like that is like …

Kate:  You want to know something so fascinating Rosie?  Serendipity plays a role in everything in my life.

Rosie: Yes.

Kate:  We've talked about this before. This guy sends me a script and I read it and I think this is just utterly remarkable.  Six months later I'm sitting at Hartford Stage talking to Michael Wilson, then I'm doing the read through, and here I am and it's the juxtaposition of her life. In act one I'm thirty-one and in act two I'm seventy-six. And it is this extraordinary journey – which I'm taking vocally as well.

Rosie:  Yeah, well that's…

Kate:  It's not an easy piece.

Rosie: Yeah… eight shows a week – that's a hard thing to do - on your vocal chords.

Kate: Yeah.  We've reduced that a little bit.

Rosie: A little bit.

Kate:  For salvation's sake.

Rosie:  Well that's good.

Kate: But she has visited me, in a way.

Rosie:  Yeah.

Kate:  I don't know how to explain it to you.

Rosie: Well magic happens, sometimes when you're doing a character like that.  Especially someone you love, and I'm sure…

Kate:  Right…

Rosie: She is one of the people who…

Kate:  Well I have been likened to her all my life, which one tends to dismiss, right?  If you get that a lot you think well – who cares. And then suddenly this thing is happening inside on a very deep level.

Rosie:  Now we don't usually show clips from a play because it's a hard thing to capture.

Kate:  Oh it's very hard to capture.

Rosie:  But, I want to show them how much you’re like her because it's sort of astounding. The performances that you give.  So we have…

Kate:  And this is only the first act one I think, they didn't allow any clips from act two. Okay.

Rosie:  So we'll just take a little look at this, which is "Tea at Five" now playing in Hartford.  But is soon to becoming in New York City. Take a look.

A clip from act one of "Tea at Five" is shown.

Rosie:  Wow!  I can't wait to see that.

Kate:  Are you going to… well you won't make it this time.

Rosie:  Well we were supposed to go last weekend and then it was…

Kate:  What happened?

Rosie: It was the two hour… they told me that you weren't… Nancy called… our good friend Nancy calls and says "Katie's doing the one woman Katharine Hepburn" and I'm like "We're in" and then I call and she goes "It's in Hartford"! I go "Two hours"! Yeah.  I hadda get a baby sitter…

Kate:  She didn't tell you it was in Hartford?

Rosie: I thought it was… noooo….

Kate:  Oh… Nannie, Nannie… well that's …

Rosie:  But there it is, but when it comes to New York I am there…

Kate:  Which I think it will in the late fall and we'll warm it up in Hartford before.

Rosie:  Have you ever met her, Katharine Hepburn?

Kate:  No I have not.

Rosie: You have not.

Kate:  No.  But as you know she is still living.

Rosie:  Yes.

Kate:  And I think what's most important about this piece, Rosie, and this is terribly important for me to say out loud – this is not a vanity piece, so we did take a risk. But by the same token, I think if Katharine Hepburn were to watch it, she would be honored by it. I have tried to dignify her life on every conceivable level as an actress, and I do hope that I have given that to her because she is a great Spartan spirit.

Rosie:  Oh without a doubt and I'm sure you know that the reviews have been amazing. Do you read them?

Kate:  I don't read them.

Rosie: You don't.  Well you should have read these because…

Kate:  Are they okay?

Rosie:  They were fabulous.

Kate:  Good.

Rosie:  And they're saying that it's a brilliant performance by you.

Kate:  Why don't you read them to me, Rosie!

Rosie: Yeah! All right. Actually I have them here Kate (Rosie mimes taking the newspapers from behind her desk).  So has anything gone wrong on the stage?  Have you had any… did you go up on your lines?

Kate:  As fate would have it…

Rosie: Yes.

Kate:  Opening night, which you know is bleeping terror, right?  From minute one.

Rosie: Yes, without a doubt.

Kate: And I'm all alone.

Rosie:  It's just you.

Kate:  It's so solitary, Rosie.

Rosie:  Right.

Kate: You know usually you're backstage, you could lean on somebody, you have a joke, you have a laugh, you throw up with somebody…

Rosie:  Right.

Kate:  But you're all alone, right?

Rosie: Yeah.

Kate:  And this gargantuan mountain is ahead of you.  And I'm thinking "Oh God, just let me get through this".  Get through act one, made it, right? Which is the real test.  Act two – transition to seventy-six. (In Hepburn's voice) "I'm very old now, right?  The whole thing's going on".  And I turn after about ten minutes, and I go to the mantel piece just as I transition into a very terrible sequence about my brother's death.  As I approach the mantel piece (Kate rises from her chair), ladies and gentlemen, it crashes to the floor.  (Kate covers her face with her hands in remembered horror).

Rosie:  Now what do you…

Kate:  I turn (she sits down again) – I said to myself "Self (Kate laughs) - did you take your medication!"

Rosie:  You didn't!

Kate:  I said to myself you have two choices.  You can screw this up…

Rosie:  Yeah.

Kate: Or you can figure it out…

Rosie:  Right.

Kate:  Just like she would. So just before I went up there I had a line saying to the audience, because I'm talking to the audience in the play (In Hepburn voice) "Time levels".  So I get to the mantel, it crashes and I turn and I went "Time levels other things as well"!

Rosie laughs and she and Kate 'hi five'!

Kate:  And that was it! Oh yah!

Rosie: That's how you know a real actress.  You know what I would have done?

Kate:  What?

Rosie:  I would have started laughing, turned my back to the audience, all they would have seen were my shoulders going like this (Rosie turns her back and shakes her shoulders as if she's laughing).  Every time that I do a show, and something messes up, people think that because I'm a comic I'm going to think of something.  I never think of something.

Kate:  Oh no.

Rosie:  We were doing a scene in "Grease"

Kate:  What…

Rosie:  And the girl has a … we're in the lunch room and she goes "Do you have my glasses?" Because they forgot the glasses and they weren't there, so instead of helping her, I go "No".  And the poor girl's like twenty, you know.  I'm star of the show, she's like almost crying, and I'm doing my yo-yo "Ha ha"! It's not my line… I’m the worst.

Kate:  (laughing) Pure professionalism!

Rosie: I'm the worst, I really am.  I can't wait to see it.

Kate:  Good.

Rosie: I really can't. And I will come and campaign for your husband.

Kate:  Will you promise me that you will.

Rosie:  I will. You know why?  I believe in what…

Kate:  Foster care, Rosie.

Rosie:  Yes. I believe in what he stands for and we've spoken many times about a lot of issues.

Kate:  And particularly regarding children, which he feels so strongly about.

Rosie:  Yes. Without a doubt.

Kate:  Governor Taft, although by all accounts a very nice man, has been rather indifferent on this level. But Tim is fierce about it.

Rosie: And in my opinion the most important thing are the kids.  There are a half a million kids in foster care in America and most people don't realize that.

Kate:  That's right.  And particularly in the state of Ohio. So please do come campaign with us…

Rosie:  I will be there.

Kate:  You're a doll.

Rosie:  After May 23rd I'm available.  Kate Mulgrew, ladies and gentlemen…

Kate:  Thank you.