Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ’The View’
(Thomas Dunne, $29)
“Think your workplace is screwed up?” said Vinay Menon in the Toronto Star. Be glad you don’t depend on a paycheck from The View, ABC’s Emmy-winning morning gabfest. When it launched in 1997, creator Barbara Walters quipped that the talk show would feature “different women, different points of view—maybe too different.” The line proved prescient. In the new oral history of the show by top Variety editor Ramin Setoodeh, just about every woman who’s sat at the table “comes across as difficult, if not deranged.” Walters’ attempts to keep her co-hosts under her control appear “borderline diabolical.” Rosie O’Donnell describes Whoopi Goldberg as the meanest person she’s ever shared a camera with. And O’Donnell is shown torching so many colleagues during her two brief stints that she earns this assessment by the show’s director: “She was like Pol Pot.”
Because most of the big stars share their sides of the story, “it’s an exciting read,” said Lincee Ray in the Associated Press. Walters leads off, describing how she recruited her original co-hosts, established the show’s rhythms, and despite a weak launch proved that millions would tune in to watch five women chewing over the day’s news. The infighting begins soon after the upbeat start, said Kevin Fallon in TheDailyBeast.com. “Come for the stories of cattiness,” though, and you may stay for “the sharp distillation of why this talk show completely changed television.” Today “the conflagration of news and opinion” that defines The View defines all media.
That’s not entirely a bad thing, said Ruth Graham in Slate.com. Consider a moment from 2006, when after a heated on-air debate about emergency contraception pills, conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck tore up her notes, walked off set, and threatened to quit. When such stories leak out, “The View makes women look like backstabbing, ill-informed dingbats.” But in an era when rival networks were peddling only junk, “The View was the show that believed that the audience for daytime television—low-income mothers, mostly—could cultivate an interest in politics and policy.” And the plan is working. ■