Monday, August 12, 2013

A Fond Farewell To Joy Behar

Was it really 16 years ago that I first ventured on to the Manhattan set of the new ABC morning series The View?
I think I was among the first TV critics to visit and it was all arranged by CHCH-TV which had picked up the Canadian TV rights.
The entertainment editor of the day at The Star was vehemently opposed and said the show had no chance of catching on.
"Who wants to see a bunch of women yelling at each other?" he said and refused to pay for my expenses.
So I went on my annual New York trip.  It was very early in 1975 I remember. I wrote the story for The Star which got a high readership.
And that entertainment editor shortly faded from sight.
The gals were all friendly including the normally aloof Barbara Walters who executive produced it and was part owner.
Besides Walters and Behar the original Group of Four included Meredith Vieira and Debbie Matenopoulos.
I was lucky to see Behar the day I was on because at the beginning she normally was only on when Walters was busy elsewhere.
But gradually she became a regular because of her quick wit saving many impossibly dull segments.
I sat in the audience for the live broadcast and noticed at each and every commercial break Walters would summon the producer and read the riot act about the way the past segment had been going.
Afterwards I had a long talk with Behar in her dressing room. She asked me for a list of Toronto comedy clubs because she had yet to headline in Toronto.
Vieira was equally sweet but and Debbie was merely frazzled. She was there to give the youth point of view and wound up being the most conservative of the four girls.
And gradually The View took off. Big names like President Obama made it a must stop during campaigning.
Yjat morning Behar told me Regis Philbin had introduced her to Walters who was looking for a co-host with the ability to quip without a script. Walters saw some of Behar's monologues and promptly hired her.
Big news is simply this: did Behar retire gracefully or was she yanked?
At 70 she just doesn't fit the profile of a show that has seen ratings erosions in recent seasons.
Already Walters, 83, has announced she'll retire next year.
And right winger elizabeth Hasselback high tailed it over to FOX news after ABC sources said they found her attitudes too extreme.
Behar's separate show on HLN got cancelled after two seasons even though it was the weblet's highest rated series.
For ABC imitation isn't the highest form of flattery --CBS's offshoot The Talk is now inching up in the ratings.
For me I always enjoyed Behar's spirited exchanges and I think I'll send her an updated list of Toronto comedy clubs now that she's got time on her hands.

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