After spending 17 years at the Hot Topics table, Joy Behar never dreamed of returning to “The View” following her 2013 departure. But like an ex who won’t stop calling, ABC executives convinced her to give the morning talk show another chance. For “The View’s” 19th season, which premiered on Tuesday morning, Behar is a co-host for four days a week. Then she’ll fill in as the show’s moderator on Fridays, because regular moderator Whoopi Goldberg isn’t available to do live shows that day. “I’d done the contributor part, I wasn’t interested in that,” Behar explained to Variety backstage after the season premiere. “When they said, ‘You can host the show on Friday,’ I thought—‘Well, that’s an interesting idea for me. I’ll try that.’”
Experimentation is going to be a key theme for the new season of “The View,” which returned on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with a new Hot Topics table (made of glass instead of wood), more furniture (plush sofas that looked like they had been snatched from Oprah’s living room) and a tweaked logo (with less orange and more blue). But the most dramatic change came in the form of a parade of new co-hosts that will be joining Goldberg, including Behar, “GMA Weekend” anchor Paula Faris, comedian Michelle Collins, ex-Disney star Raven Symone and resident conservative Candace Cameron Bure. “I’m a registered Republican,” Camerone Bure said, explaining her political affiliation after the live show. “It’s called ‘The View.’ We all have viewpoints.”
This didn’t seem to bother the liberal Behar. “It’s nice when people disagree on the show,” Behar said. “Even when I got into heated arguments with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, it was never personal. It never really was a fight.”
Most of the biggest battles on “The View” recently have taken place backstage, as Rosie O’Donnell fled mid-season 18, citing health concerns, and Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace were let go following a rating slide. The show’s executive producer, Bill Wolff, resigned in August despite signing a multi-year contract, with sources telling Variety he was the wrong fit for a daytime talk show. Barbara Walters created “The View” in 1997, but following her retirement in May 2014, the show has struggled to remain relevant. In October, Disney/ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood moved management of the show from daytime to ABC News, but the shift only added to the confusion.
The new “View,” while still produced under the ABC News division, is being steered by former CBS executive Hilary Estey McLoughlin, who was brought on over the summer as a consultant. The show’s aim for season 19 is to target younger viewers and generate moments on social media that will help it regain buzz. “A big focus is let’s get the conversation back,” said the show’s interim executive producer Candi Carter (“The Oprah Winfrey Show”). “I want to be in the beauty shop, yelling at the TV. When you look at the landscape of talk, this has always been a smart show.” The first guest of the new season was Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Donald Trump is scheduled to call in on Wednesday (though it’s hard to go viral with a phone interview). “Anybody who is running for office, I think should be here,” said the show’s co-executive producer Brian Teta.
This doesn’t sound so different than the original “View,” but daytime TV has changed. It’s much harder to launch a talk show now, and “The View” is fighting back a series of clones such as “The Talk” and “The Real.” The show on Tuesday still felt like a work in progress. As Goldberg sat down, she noticed that she look blue (“like a Smurf”) in her monitor. Her teleprompter stalled right before a commercial break, leaving her confused about the next segment she was meant to tease. During another commercial, the co-hosts complained that the new furniture was too low on the ground, as if they were sitting on the floor. And the show ran too long–an interview with Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie was cut short before they were able to properly plug their indie “Sleeping With Other People.”
Despite the mishaps, Collins was still a ball of energy of the show ended, talking about how she moved to New York from Los Angeles last Wednesday. “I am getting recognized, it’s very strange,” she said. “Certain people go undercover. But I’m 6-foot-1. It’s full giant all the time. I just can’t hide.” She took a beat. “I’ve been recognized maybe once.” This is the first time in the “View’s” history that six co-hosts will occupy the Hot Topics table. But not all six will be sitting in on Hot Topics at the same time. Faris will keep her day job at “GMA Weekend.” “It’s going to be a challenge to balance it all, but we’ll figure it out,” she said, adding that as a journalist she’ll have to keep some of her opinions to herself. “If I feel one side isn’t represented, I’ll play devil’s advocate.”
Cameron Bure will be jetting back and forth from Los Angeles through November, as she films the Netflix series “Fuller House.” But she revealed that she definitely won’t be moving to New York this year, explaining that her 17-year-old daughter is now a senior in high school. Then she told Behar that she had two more kids–ages 13 and 15. The conversation unravelled into the kind of quippy exchange the “View” used to be known for, with Behar telling Cameron Bure that she couldn’t move for another five years, and Cameron Bure explaining that her boys like playing hockey. “Maybe you should move to Montreal,” Behar said. Cameron Bure had already done that. “I don’t want to move back,” she said. “No, that sounded terrible! I like the Canadians.”