Media: Views you can use - the smart women’s daytime show/ABC’s The View brings together an eclectic - and spicy - group of women and topics. Claire Atkinson reports

What do you get if you bring together a devoted mother, a divorcee, a single romantic, a mature career woman and a hip Generation X-er? An explosive range of opinions that makes The View seem like Congress.

What do you get if you bring together a devoted mother, a divorcee, a single romantic, a mature career woman and a hip Generation X-er? An explosive range of opinions that makes The View seem like Congress.

What do you get if you bring together a devoted mother, a divorcee,

a single romantic, a mature career woman and a hip Generation X-er? An

explosive range of opinions that makes The View seem like Congress.



The weekday talk show is the creation of the legendary interviewer

Barbara Walters, 67, who said she wanted a program along the lines of

Virginia Graham’s Girl Talk from the 1960s. The idea was simple: to have

a group of women talking about topics that interest them.



The late morning show (10 am to 11 am in Los Angeles, 11 am to noon in

New York), which launched in August 1997, has built a strong

following.



Some viewers even get up at 5 am to post comments on the ABC message

boards about the previous day’s subject matter. And the show’s secret

sauce?



It’s one of the few daytime programs that provides the ’me time’ that

women crave.



’We want to do pieces on how to have better sex, better hair. We look at

diets, fashion, medicine and herbal remedies,’ says co-executive

producer Bill Geddie, a former Good Morning America producer who has

worked with Walters for 12 years.



While these subjects are also covered by the early morning shows, The

View approaches them from an angle Geddie describes as a mix between

Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan.



Walters, whose company, Barwal Productions, makes The View in

partnership with ABC, appears on the show only twice a week. The rest of

the time she is co-executive producer and calls the shots from home on

her days off. Walters, who once worked for a public relations company,

hired a real potpourri of personalities to keep the daily debates hot.

The four other hosts have such distinct outlooks that they could almost

be the Spice Girls.



Star Jones, full first name Starlet, is something of a ’Scary Spice.’

Jones is a lawyer and arguably the show’s most-opinionated

character.



’I hate dogs,’ she blurted out during one conversation. In an interview

with former Clinton aide Dick Morris, Jones caused a storm when she told

him to stop touching her.



Joy Behar is a professional comedienne with a sandpaper voice. She

provides much of the witty repartee on the show. Former ABC News

correspondent Meredith Vieira is the show’s mother figure. She talks

about her children on air and is known for her guilty conscience.



The Baby Spice is reticent, 26-year-old Lisa Ling, who still appears a

little intimidated by her co-hosts. Ling replaced Debbie Matenopoulos,

the former MTV assistant who parted company with The View after she was

constantly parodied on Saturday Night Live as an airhead.



Together these strong women deliver their own thoughts on serious news

topics such as the AOL-Time Warner merger and a 54-year-old grandmother

who gave birth to triplets. Then there are theoretical discussions, such

as whether the hosts could love a guy with a history of drug

addiction.



Geddie says the show has evolved over two-and-a-half years. ’It is a

little more irreverent and a lot more fun,’ he says. ’We know what works

and what doesn’t.’



Geddie says he gets ideas for the show from a wide variety of sources

ranging from The New York Times to Cosmopolitan. Each installment of The

View is planned some two months in advance, while guest bookings are

made around four to eight weeks prior to their appearances. So if you’re

looking for a placement from the talent bookers, don’t leave it until

the last minute.



Some stars the show booked this month include NYPD Blue’s Nick Turturro

and Law and Order’s Richard Belzer. Geddie does admit there are changes

right up until the show airs to keep it current.



The View’s web site carries information about the week’s guests as well

as feature segments.



Recent features have included a work out with Las Vegas showgirls -

ABC’s Las Vegas affiliate had just added the show to its schedule - and

a feature about grilling your gynecologist.



While Geddie says his team is happy to listen to suggestions, pitching

is not easy. Patti Straus, public relations director at Real Simple, a

new Time Warner magazine, says the show constantly attempts to stir the

waters.



’They often work off the news for stories, and they are looking for

controversy,’ she says.



If it doesn’t ’make sparks,’ then it isn’t going to work, Geddie

admits.



Sex is a popular topic while history is not. Anything to do with kids,

such as toys, is a pitching no-go. ’The audience just did not respond to

it,’ Geddie says, underlining the fact that this show puts women

first.



He also advises people to pitch their ideas for specific segments. The

Hot Topics section could see the hosts yakking about your press release

if it’s ’hot and spicy,’ he says.



Star Jones fronts sections that focus on fashion trends and gives

viewers make-over opportunities. She also works on emotional trauma

issues in Star’s Heart-to-Heart. Meredith’s Guilt Trip talks to experts

about the trials of being a mother, while Joy’s specialty is comedy and

she invites comedians on the show. (Geddie suggests sending a show reel

if you have a potential guest comedian.) Lisa Ling has two beats -

popular culture and Ling’s Money Thing, a segment on keeping your

finances straight.



Geddie keeps a report card of all the guests who drew high ratings and

the ones who had viewers going back to their housework. ’TV stars work

better than the movies,’ he says. That, however, is not to say the show

isn’t interested in movie stars. Guests have included Kate Winslet and

Michelle Pfeiffer.



Additionally, handsome young men work well on this decidedly

estrogen-fueled show, though some have expressed fear that they’ll be

eaten for lunch by the hosts. But Geddie says it isn’t a hostile

environment, it’s just an opinionated show. What did you expect from a

program called The View?



CONTACT LIST

The View

320 West 66th Street

New York, NY 10023

Tel: (212) 456 0900

Fax: (212) 456 0951

E-mail: firstname.lastname@abc.com

Web: www.abc.com/theview

Hosts:

Barbara Walters

Joy Behar

Star Jones

Lisa Ling

Meredith Vieira

Executive producers: Barbara Walters, Bill Geddie

Series producers:

Jessica Stedman Guff, Mark Lipinski

Talent bookers:

Donald Berman (celebrities), Susan Solomon (books and sports)



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