Still Lots to Talk About on Daytime Hit ‘View’

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Barbara Walters had an idea for a daytime show produced by her Barwall Productions: Assemble a group of five women of different ages and backgrounds. Put them in an audienceless studio. Let them talk about the news for a half-hour.
“The concept was so simple,” Ms. Walters said. The concept got a little more complicated when the network said it needed her idea fleshed out to an hour with an audience.
So what Ms. Walters and co-executive producer Bill Geddie unveiled in fall 1997, “The View,” had plenty of daytime-staple segments, but its signature segment is what has become known as Hot Topics, in which Ms. Walters and her handpicked debate club raucously hash out the news or peeves of the day. Live.
With the show now in its seventh season, billed as “The Year of the Viewer,” Ms. Walters has become more one of the girls than boss-even regaling the audience with her Marilyn Monroe impression on the recent Halloween show. Co-hosts Meredith Vieira, Star Jones and Joy Behar have become household names, not to mention occasional objects of parody on “Saturday Night Live.” And “The View” is two weeks away from (finally) filling the role of the group’s youngest member for the third time.
Co-host Lisa Ling left last January to globetrot for “National Geographic Ultimate Explorer.” Original ingenue Debbie Matenopoulos (“Our mistake,” Ms. Walters said) was cut loose midway through season two. Expect the new “View”-er to be younger than the others but experienced enough to be able to hold her own with her cohorts.
“The View” is a modern and reactive kaffeeklatsch. “We talk like women talk to each other,” said Mr. Geddie, known to all as The Viewmaster. And the audience talks back, making clear recently that after an unsettling couple of years it is ready to have a little more fun.
This season, there’s even dramatic growth in female teens (up 283 percent year to year), but the 18-plus female audience remains key (with 75 percent of the ad sales said to be aimed at 18 to 49).
“It is the best-educated and affluent audience in network daytime,” said ABC Daytime President Brian Frons. “It’s the class act of the lineup.”
In addition to being a femme magnet, “The View” is an established Emmy magnet (16 gold statues, including one for best talk show). And it is a sponsor magnet as well (from Campbell’s Soup in 2000 and Sears to Quilted Northern Bath Tissue, which is sponsoring a trip Nov. 10 to Charleston, S.C., for the winner of “The View From Your Hometown” contest).
But Ms. Walters said the show’s greatest success story is that “We’re still here.”
Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie
Job titles: She’s executive producer and co-host of ABC’s “The View” (in addition to being an ABC News correspondent, a “20/20” co-anchor and president of Barwall Productions, which produces “The View” and “The Barbara Walters Specials.” He’s executive producer of “The View” and “The Barbara Walters Specials.”
Date of birth: “I don’t know that I want to answer that,” said Ms. Walters, who was born Sept. 25, 1931, according to published reports. “I’m concerned about my age being out there,” said Mr. Geddie.
Place of birth: Hers is Boston. His is San Antonio.
Length of time in current gig: 7 years
Why them? Retirement-phobic Ms. Walters and Mr. Geddie used their live-wire concept to breathe life into a daytime slot that had been rendered all but dead by a show hosted by The Mommies (Caryl Kristensen and Marilyn Kentz) and “Mike & Maty.” The women 18 to 49 audience peaked at 1.02 million in the 2000-01 season (goosed by a must-see appearance by Kathie Lee Gifford as she was leaving the corporate family), according to Nielsen Media Research data provided by the ABC Network. During the week of Oct. 20 to 24, the show attracted an average of 940,000 women 18 to 49 (up 7 percent year to year).