Behind the Scenes

Ex-cop Bernie Young runs the show as Rosie O'Donnell's right-hand man

called me and said, “Would you come out here and help me?” I had about 13 other clients at the time. I’d been making between $200,000 and $300,000 for a few years. I love California and I hate the cold, but I said, “Fine, I’m there.” Just like that. There was no talk of what the job would be. There’s a lot of trust between us. I knew we’d work it out. I didn’t know much about TV, but I’d been stepping into things that I didn’t know much about for so long, so I thought, “why not?”

For the first three seasons, I was the coordinating producer, responsible for making sure the various departments’ work came together. Actually, it was a title we both came up with. I was Rosie’s eyes and ears. I troubleshot, mended fences, and solved problems, which is what my jobs have always been about in the end. We went through a number of executive producers that didn’t work out, which put me in a bit of an awkward position. I know there were a few of them who felt threatened by me, but I didn’t have an agenda. All I wanted was for the business to run smoothly and the show to be a success, which meant that I spent a lot of time trying to help the executive producers understand Rosie and what she needed from them. That was my role and it did create some problems, but it didn’t bother me. What can I say? I’ve been shot at, and it’s not as bad as that, trust me.

Finally, going into the fourth season Rosie said, “Bernie, just take the job.” So I did. Since then, everything that goes into putting on this show stops right here. Rosie is an executive producer as well. And, make no mistake about it, if we disagree, she wins. But it hasn’t stopped me from telling her what I thought, and her telling me where to take it. Usually we do fine, but she’s fired me twice. Each time she came back within about 20 minutes and said, “You’re rehired.” I said, “Gee, I was worried.”

A lot of people will do the expedient thing because they want to protect their paycheck or their proximity to the big names or whatever. That’s not me. You’re looking to me to be there in the tough times, and there are tough times for all of us. If I can’t be honest with you when things are going great, how are you going to look to me when there’s a life-or-death matter in front of us? I’m 55 years old; I’m not going to change now.

Now that the show’s almost over, where are we headed? I don’t have the exact answer yet, but I do have a big imagination. Rosie and I are no longer client and manager. I always used to tell my clients, “We’re a team.” Now, with Rosie, we are in the truest sense a team. We have

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