TCA Tour, Day 1: “The Joy Behar Show”

I’ve never seen a complete episode of “The View,” but that doesn’t mean I’m not familiar with Joy Behar. After all, she was doing stand-up comedy for more than a decade before she teamed up with Barbara Walters, Meredith Viera, Star Jones, and Debbie Matenopoulos in 1997. (Plus, she’s also in my favorite underrated Woody Allen movie, “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”) In recent years, she’s been stepping out on “The View” to sit on for Larry King on occasion, so it’s not too surprising that the folks within the CNN family would consider her worthy of hosting her own show. What’s more impressive is that she’s opting to do “The Joy Behar Show” for HLN – formerly known as Headline News Network – while still keeping her seat on “The View.”

Still, you’d think that we could’ve managed to wait at least a question or two without asking if we’d be seeing any of her colleagues from her day job on this new gig.

Behar took the question in stride, replying, “I’m sure we’ll have them on as guests here and there. They have great stories, great opinions. I love having my arguments with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. We might be able to even do it over there for a segment or so. And Whoopi, we know, has tremendous opinions about everything, and a philosophical way of looking at life that’s kind of unique. And, of course, Barbara is a living legend…as she likes to remind us. Well, we remind her, actually. And Sherri Shepherd is coming along and doing great over there. So all of them, I think, would be great.”

I couldn’t help but notice, unfortunately, that there’s the same kind of uncertainty around what we can expect from this show as there was around Star Jones’ ill-fated Court TV series. When Behar was asked about the format, she spoke almost exclusively in generalities.

“Well, I think it’s a show that will have interesting people on,” she said. “We’d like to do a little bit of alternative kind of bookings. We’ll have probably panels, you know, all different kinds. We’ll have maybe some bits. We’re sort of in the process of formatting it right now, so I can’t be more specific. We’re thinking, for instance, instead of interviewing Bernie Madoff, let’s have his secretary on. Something like that. Think of the news story of the day and we’ll think of maybe somebody who is a little bit on the outside of the main story to give some kind of a different point of view on the story that you don’t necessarily see on other shows.

“I really would like the show to be a conglomeration of different opinions. I don’t want people on who agree with me. There is nothing more boring than that. I like people to disagree with me, to disagree with each other, to have lively discussions, to have spirited debates about all sorts of things. And it’s not limited just to politics. I’m interested in everything except sports. And I’m interested in sports if there is some kind of an issue involved rather than, you know, batting averages. So it will be a very lively and sort of a lot of different things kind of show.”

Okay, I’m not the only one who has absolutely no idea what to expect, am I? I mean, I’m not trying to be flip here, nor am I suggesting that Behar’s show won’t be worth watching. I know the show’s not premiering ’til the fall and that it’s still in the throwing-things-against-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks phase of putting together the show, but right now, it kind of lives and dies by how you feel about Behar herself from her earlier efforts…which is presumably why everyone off and on the stage soon began referencing “The View” every other moment.

* When it was suggested by one critic that the phrase “lively discussion” can often be loosely translated as “people yelling at each other,” Behar said that she’d be trying to avoid that, explaining that, “even on ‘The View’ when it gets like that, it gives me a headache. I don’t think it’s true that the biggest fights get the biggest audiences all the time. I think that even on ‘The View,’ if we fought with each other in that way every single day, people would get very tired very fast. So some days it’s a very amiable conversation and people seem to like it, and then we butt heads and they like that too. I want to keep it real. I’d like to just keep it real. Not screaming at each other for no reason.”

* Another critic observed that Behar was approaching this more from a performer’s standpoint than from the news standpoint of folks like Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann, then asked if she saw an element of performance to what they do and how it informs what she does on “The View” and what she’ll do on her new show.

“I think that they are performing, to a large extent,” she said. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t say half the things they say. But I’m not really approaching it as a performer, to tell you the truth. I’m a stand-up comic. That’s when I perform. When I’m sitting and interviewing a person, I’m actually interested in hearing what they have to say, so it’s not a performance for me. But I think that O’Reilly and Beck and those people, they are performing.”

Producer Ken Jautz chimed in and said, “Over the years, I think Joy has more than proven that she’s a very smart and tough interviewer. I mean, ‘The View’ has people from all walks of life. And I seem to remember John McCain saying that the interview he had on ‘The View,’ where Joy was principally the one questioning him, was one of the toughest he had on the campaign. So I don’t view it that she’s approaching it purely from a performer point of view either.”

“No,” confirmed Behar. “I’m approaching it from a point of view of, I’m an American citizen who wants an answer. And I like to do it as nicely as I can. I’m not confrontational, particularly. Am I?”

“Not at all,” replied Jautz. “So far.”

* And here’s one more for you: someone asked Behar if, in her years on “The View,” there had been times when the mix of personalities and political views left her wondering why in the hell certain guests had agreed to come on the show in the first place.

“You mean like John McCain, for instance?” she asked, with a smirk. “I think that John McCain might have thought that it was a very safe environment for him. You know, it’s a bunch of women talking, so maybe he walked into it with his eyes closed and didn’t realize that, you know, we are a smart group of women who havea lot of education and who are interested in politics, and we’re very interested in the election. And, you know, that was what happened, so I don’t know if that’s answering your question. Why would Blagojevich, for instance, come on? He came on, and I had a lot of fun with him, rattled his hair, et cetera. We had a lot of fun. Again, he didn’t know what he was walking into, either.”

Funny, that’s how I’m feeling about “The Joy Behar Show.” She’s a funny woman with a quick wit, so I’m sure that, at the very least, there’ll be quite a few laughs, but I’m gonna have to actually see the show before I have a definitive opinion about the show itself.


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