Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Roseanne's real life really isn't funny

Television: Summer press tour

John Kiesewetter

LOS ANGELES - If anyone cares, Roseanne Barr says she's sorry.

She's sorry about much of her very public, very loud, very tempestuous, tattooed life at the peak of the popularity of her Roseanne sitcom in the 1990s.

"I have lots of regrets for how I acted ... knee-jerk things that hurt a lot of people," she says after meeting with the Television Critics Association.

This kinder, gentler, thinner Roseanne didn't mention many specifics, but one could guess: Firing producers and writers. Dumping three husbands. Sending nasty faxes to her critics. Feuding with ABC executives.

"I shot my mouth off all over the place, and it always came back to bite me in the butt, by canceled shows and other bad relationships," she says.

She wishes she had kept her mouth shut before that Reds-Padres game in 1990, when she screeched her way through "The Star-Spangled Banner" and grabbed her crotch.

"I regret that it came out like it did, yeah," she says. "I was trying to be funny. Sometimes you can't tell if it's funny or not, I guess.

"There are thousands of things that embarrass me every day. I just can't seem to control it too well."

If anyone cares, Roseanne's sorry life will become an ABC reality series, The Real Roseanne Show, on Aug. 6 (9 p.m., Channels 9, 2).

The reality series documents her putting together her new Domestic Goddess comedy cooking series premiering in September on the sister ABC Family channel.

Mostly, The Real Roseanne Show reveals her constant craving for attention.

"I'm just an exhibitionist. I have a huge ego. I just missed (TV). I have a compulsion to perform," she says in the opening episode screened for TV critics here.

It's not like she needs the cash.

"I have more money than God," she admits, "but not as much as Oprah."

This lady has real problems. She's entrusted her TV future to a son and son-in-law who never have produced a TV program. She relies on a rabbi who "reads faces" to pick an executive producer instead of, say, checking references.

"I had no luck the other way, with resumes and (stuff), so I thought: Why the (bleep) not?"

Her handyman is her ex-husband, Bill Pentland, whom she divorced to marry Tom Arnold after making millions on Roseanne. Her first husband's second wife is her personal assistant.

The Real Roseanne, it turns out, isn't as funny as the original Roseanne, or even The Osbournes. Sometimes it's just real boring, as bad as the Anna Nicole Show.

If anyone cares, Roseanne doesn't worry about what people may think of her soon-to-be-public private life.

"People never really knew me. They just knew that (TV) character, and some stuff in the tabloids," she says.

"I am screwed-up, but at least I know it, which puts me ahead of everyone else ... I'm not cool with it. I'm trying to change it."

After all, she has changed nearly everything else in her life. She's had cosmetic surgery on her face, and an operation to staple her stomach to lose weight.

Has she been exercising?

"No, I tried that once," she says. "And it really didn't work out."

She's turned to prayer and guidance from her rabbis to bring peace and order to her tumultuous life.

"I don't know exactly what it is that they do. I just like the stuff they say," she says.

"It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I can stay positive ... I've tried to really let go of anger and fear, and see it transform my life."

What do the rabbis tell her?

"They all say the exact same thing, which is: 'Be nice, and nicer things will happen to you.' And by God, if it ain't true."

So at age 50, she's sorry. Another word would be pathetic.


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