At the Daytime Emmys, talk shows have been split into two categories — entertainment and informative — since 2008. Yet many shows can’t help but be both — especially given how the world of politics and social issues have embroiled the lives of celebrities. In today’s climate, talk shows must strike a balance between being entertaining and providing audiences with socially relevant insights in order to capture attention.
Over on ABC, “The View” has provided an hour of lightly scripted” discussion, ranging in topics from the lighthearted to the at-times combative, for almost two decades.
“We have a table of passionate activists,” executive producer Candi Carter says of “The View” hosts. “That’s the genius and beauty of the show. The panelists talk about what’s interesting in the moment.”
The show’s theme song intro lasts for about 45 seconds, and then the hosts talk about “hot topics” for eight minutes.
“We can talk about the Kardashians and the Mueller investigation in the same segment,” says executive producer Brian Teta. “It works when these ladies go at it. It’s the genius of Barbara Walters’ original vision.”
While talk often turns political on “The View,” the panel offers a balance of views, with conservative Meghan McCain at the table.
“She’s been a great addition,” says Teta. “You can’t look at the show and say we’re only coming [at issues] from one view.”
A strong weapon in any talk show’s makeup is an informed comedian. Veteran “View” co-host Joy Behar is so comical she had to explain to both the in-studio audience and guest Antonio Sabato Jr. that she wasn’t being snarky when she asked how his background as a soap opera actor and underwear model makes him qualified to run for a congressional seat in California’s 26th district.
Behar’s delivery is “critically important to the show and the success of it,” says senior executive producer Hilary Estey McLoughlin. “Whoopi [Goldberg] does the same thing, in many ways.”
CBS’ “The Talk” may appear to focus on lighthearted celebrity fare and promoting the Eye’s programming, but it also addresses newsworthy issues, particularly when there’s a celebrity angle.
Earlier this month, former “Charles in Charge” star Nicole Eggert appeared on “The Talk” to share that she had filed a report against series star Scott Baio, alleging sexual abuse. Co-host Sara Gilbert teared up when she read a statement supporting Eggert from Eggert’s “Charles” co-star and Gilbert’s friend Alexander Polinsky.
“Sara brings her sharp wit, intelligence, and compassion as the heart of the show,” says Angelica McDaniel, executive vice president, daytime programs at CBS Entertainment.
As “The View” has with Behar and Goldberg, “The Talk’s” Sheryl Underwood finds humor in most stories. But Underwood isn’t afraid to be vulnerable either, sharing personal intimacies from her life.
“Sheryl is both emotionally raw and laugh out loud funny,” says McDaniel.
“The Real” is another roundtable talk show that spends a few segments talking about current events before moving onto lifestyle or entertainment segments. However, shows including “Ellen” and “Live With Kelly and Ryan” leave politically charged talk to their rivals, preferring instead to just have fun with their guests — and their audience by extension.
“‘Live’s’ mission is to be a fun, lighthearted start to the morning — a respite from the more serious news of the day,” says executive producer Michael Gelman. “We don’t shy away from discussing events, but we focus more on positive, upbeat stories, and we avoid delving into politics. It’s counter-programming to the shows that cover the political scene 24/7.”
The fourth hour of “Today” with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb employs a similar approach, due in great part to the “intimate time” it airs, says executive producer Tammy Filler.
“Our viewers are looking to start their day with a laugh, a smile, or a positive connection. We want our viewers to feel good, but we also want to be authentic about the issues we are all facing. Our goal is to tackle every topic with an honest perspective — and a glass of wine,” Filler says.
Freshman series “Megyn Kelly Today” focuses on hard-hitting interviews, tackling topics that range from the #MeToo movement and gun violence to “addiction, resiliency, parenting or even how to cook a healthy fast dinner,” says executive producer Jackie Levin.
In order to inspire a full range of emotions from its audience, producers have worked in entertaining synergy segments, too, such as one in which host Kelly shared a glass of champagne with “Today’s” Gifford as they sang “Do-Re-Mi” from “The Sound of Music.”
“We want our viewers to walk away from our show feeling that they’ve learned something, or have been moved to laugh or cry,” Levin says.
While all the shows compete with each other for attention in an increasingly crowded television landscape, how one show goes for Emmy gold is another story. “Kelly” will compete in the informative category at this year’s Daytime Emmys, but the others will battle it out in entertainment.