Rosie, Selleck Clash

03/02/1999 12:00AM

Rosie O'Donnell said she wanted a peaceful discussion about gun control when actor Tom Selleck came on her show Wednesday. It didn't work out that way. The actor, who has filmed a commercial for the National Rifle Association, got into a heated 10-minute debate with Rosie, a frequent critic of the NRA since the Columbine High School massacre. Selleck, 54, said he believed gun control legislation wouldn't have done anything to prevent the tragedy and that it would be wrong to legislate against guns during a period of national mourning. When O'Donnell, 37, complained about NRA opposition to efforts to ban assault weapons, Selleck said he couldn't speak for the organization. That was when the argument flared up:

  • "You can't say, 'I will not take responsibility for anything the NRA represents' if you're doing an ad for the NRA," said Rosie (who referred to Selleck as "Mr. NRA"). "You can't say that. Do you think you can?" Selleck said it was "an act of moral vanity" for O'Donnell to assume that someone who disagrees with her cares any less about gun control. "I didn't come on your show to have a debate," he said. "I came on your show to plug a movie ('The Love Letter'). That's what I'm doing here. If you think it's proper to have a debate about the NRA, I'm trying to be fair with you. This is absurd."

  • An exasperated Selleck looked out on the silent audience. "It's certainly entertaining," he said. "Look at the audience, laughing and having a great old time." "It's a serious subject," Rosie shot back. "I don't think it's something to laugh about."

  • Conceding the debate hadn't gone well, O'Donnell apologized to Selleck, saying she wasn't making a personal attack. Selleck, looking down at the floor, didn't accept it. "It's your show," he said, "and you can talk about it after I leave." Selleck left the set before the next segment.

  • Later that same day, Selleck taped "The Late Show" with David Letterman. Topic of discussion: farming avocados.
MORE ON: Rosie O'Donnell

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