ABC likes its `View’ – Morning show to showcase five women

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By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 7, 1997

ABC is betting that the five female co-hosts of “The View” will have plenty of views of their own to bring to daytime TV. Airing each weekday at 10 a.m. on Channel 7, the talk show makes its debut Monday, replacing “Caryl and Marilyn: Real Friends.”

“I think we’re five smart women who bring something different to TV,” said host Meredith Vieira, who spent more than two decades covering hard news for such programs as “60 Minutes,” “West 57th” and “Turning Point.” “We’re opinionated and not afraid of airing our views. Plus we’re live and unscripted, so anything could happen.”

While the 43-year-old journalist said she initially had reservations about what ABC calls a “multigenerational talk and informational program,” Vieira said “The View” turned out to be the perfect project for her.

“I had been with `Turning Point’ (on ABC) for the past three years, and they wanted more from me. And rightly so,” she said, phoning from her New York office. “But I just didn’t want to go back to life on the road again.

“At the same time as these discussions were going on, Barbara (Walters) asked if I would be interested in working on her latest project. When you’re asked to work with Barbara Walters, you’d be crazy not to do it. My husband said, `You might like it.’ And I do.”

Walters is producing the show and will join the panel twice weekly. The “View” on-air team also includes Star Jones (an attorney in her mid-30s), Debbie Matenopoulos (a recent college graduate who’s 22) and comedian Joy Behar, who will fill in for Walters the three days she isn’t on the program.

Walters handpicked Behar, 54, to be part of the “View” team after catching the comedian’s wisecracking act in New York. For her, playing to a small studio audience is a piece of cake compared with “performing for two drunks from New Jersey at 2 in the morning.”

“I’m glad we’re doing it live instead of on tape,” she said. “The worst thing is when you goof up on tape and the audience has to hear it again and again. . . . Unless they have time to forget about it. This way, for better or worse, they hear what you say once and it’s done.”

Although the cast has taped a few “emergency” shows, the women said they’re looking forward to the spontaneity of a non-scripted program. Guests will show up – starting with Tom Selleck on Monday – and each episode will start a discussion of the day’s news.

“We’re not prepped on what to say – except not to swear,” Vieira said. Laughing slyly, she added, “I’ve got to watch that. I’m just looking to have a good time. We’re very opinionated and aren’t shy about speaking our minds.”

For instance, Behar thinks it’s a hoot that no one recognizes Vieira, a four-time Emmy Award winner, when she picks up her kids at the bus stop.

“Joy said, `You’ve been on TV and done all these incredible shows and nobody knows who the hell you are,’ ” Vieira said, laughing. “And she’s right. I’m the phantom. One guy told me he thought I was dead.”

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