With former rival Howard Stern, Rosie O’Donnell talks career, love life and 9/11

Shock-jock Howard Stern, in part known for participating in celebrity feuds with personalities ranging from Elaine Boosler to Kathie Lee Gifford, continued his recent fence-mending trend this morning.

howard.jpgFollowing a volatile two-decade feud with Bedford resident Chevy Chase, the two buried the hatchet on-air last year. And this morning, Stern fans — possibly for the first time on the radio — heard the deejay who launched his pro career in Briarcliff Manor chatting it up with South Nyack resident Rosie O’Donnell.

Back in its hey-day, the throwdown got downright nasty, at times making O’Donnell’s feud with Westchester real estate maven Donald Trump look like rock-paper-scissors by comparison. On Stern’s show in 1998, the staff once estimated the size of O’Donnell’s noggin, filled what was deemed a comparable container with jellybeans and challenged visiting celebrities and listeners to guess the number. And O’Donnell always had some choice words about Stern whenever his more militant fans prank-called her self-titled talk show.

rosie.jpgIn recent years, however, Stern’s rants about Rosie subsided, particularly after he admitted on the air a year or two ago that they had a nice chat when bumping into each other at a restaurant.

Today, O’Donnell called from her home — presumably in South Nyack — to chat it up with Howard and the gang. The gripping interview, which lasted almost an hour, covered her career, her love life and her controversial theory about 9/11.

On quitting her own talk show: “I left because I could no longer enjoy it the way one should enjoy their work, and I was sort of paying someone else to raise my kids and (hated) not having time to live my life.”

On ‘The View’: O’Donnell said she respects her successor, Whoopi Goldberg, because of her ability to be real; remains friendly with Sarah Lawrence College grad Barbara Walters; but was never completely embraced by Joy Behar (for whom O’Donnell opened early in her career as a stand-up comedian). The liberal O’Donnell said she has only exchanged a few baby-related e-mails with conservative “View” cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck since O’Donnell left the show. Then O’Donnell admitted that Hasselbeck was the most attractive woman on the show.

On her celebrity crushes: O’Donnell, a lesbian, said she really did have a crush on Tom Cruise and revealed that Matthew McConaughey also turned her on while slow-talking his way through a description on how to make beer-can chicken. She said her current celebrity crushes include Angelina Jolie, Angela Bassett, Penélope Cruz, Salma Hayek and Diane Lane. Not on that list, however, is Stern’s fiancée, Beth Ostrosky, whom O’Donnell complimented and described as a “too perfect … Barbie doll.”

On her love life: She said she was sexually abused as a child, lost her virginity when she was 21 to a man, and could count her number of sexual conquests on “two hands.” She added that rumors of a wild life as a single woman had been greatly exaggerated, adding, “I’m not even nude in the shower.”

After the break, find out O’Donnell’s take on Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, her current tour and her curiosity about the Twin Towers’ collapse.

On therapy: O’Donnell said she’s attended therapy sessions since she was 16 and now sees a therapist on a weekly basis.

On Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan: O’Donnell said she’s far more likely to mother them than to be attracted to them.

On celebrity friends: She cited friendships with Madonna, Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand, whom O’Donnell said closely matched the heroine she grew up admiring.

On 9/11: O’Donnell said she’s not convinced the World Trade Center buildings fell solely due to the impact of the airplanes, saying the way they tumbled straight down more closely resembles abandoned Las Vegas casino buildings that implode due to strategically placed internal explosives.

On her current tour: She said she’s written a whole new set of stand-up material that even gets a little “sad” for the True Colors 2008 tour that includes Cyndi Lauper, the B-52’s (who once lived in Mahopac) and the Indigo Girls.

On stand-up supremecy: O’Donnell said Chris Rock could be the best stand-up comedian of this generation, citing his political commentary and social satire.

On doing a radio show on Sirius: O’Donnell said she started listening to the radio on a regular basis when Stern’s staff sent her a Sirius unit. At the end of the interview, she added that she was interested in hosting a one-hour Sirius show on a trial basis.

(Stern photo by Richard Drew/AP; O’Donnell photo by Lisa Poole/AP.)

Chris Serico

A Westchester native and Boston College grad, Chris Serico will host your game show for scale. A features reporter for the The Journal News, he's also written for the newspaper's Listening Room, Suburbarazzi and Remote Access entertainment blogs. For those about to rock, he salutes you.