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Culture Review: 'Ladies Who Punch' offers inside look at 'The View'

Review: ‘Ladies Who Punch’ offers inside look at ‘The View’

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“Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View'” (Thomas Dunne Books), by Ramin Setoodeh

Chances are, if you’ve never tuned into the talk show “The View,” you have heard about it. Legendary journalist and creator Barbara Walters had one goal in mind in 1997: Gather together a panel of multi-generational women around a table to discuss hot topics of the day. What she got was highly successful and groundbreaking morning television, wrapped up in an intricate web of drama.

In “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View,'” award-winning journalist Ramin Setoodeh offers readers a backstage look of what really went on behind-the-scenes of the transformative talk show. With unprecedented access with nearly every host, Setoodeh paints a vivid and informative picture of the highs and lows of the last 20 years from several different perspectives.

The show’s beginnings are chronicled through Walters’ viewpoint. From auditioning the inaugural hosts to pioneering an ideal rhythm for the show, Walters had a lot on her plate juggling her new job and other duties at ABC. Even when executives and critics said it couldn’t be done, Walters triumphed with the help of broadcast journalist Meredith Vieira, attorney Starr Jones, comedian Joy Behar, and rookie Debbie Matenopoulos. Together, the women changed daytime television.

Although the idea of the show was an accomplishment, everyday operations were never smooth. Matenopoulos was let go for being too green. Jones insisted the show revolve around her pending wedding. And eventually, Vieira left, leaving a handful of spots to fill. Enter Rosie O’Donnell.

Collectively, O’Donnell spent two seasons on “The View,” but her stint produced many of the most memorable moments on the show. During O’Donnell’s part in the book, Setoodeh tackles her rivalry with Donald Trump, her on-air cat fight with Elizabeth Hasselbeck, and the turmoil she caused among producers and directors. When she left, a new powerhouse took over in the curious form of movie actress Whoopi Goldberg.

Goldberg’s point-of-view in the book describes her steady hand that ushered in a new era. Once Walters retired, Goldberg became a new force with which to be reckoned. And she still helms the ship today.

With a random array of hosts and plenty of drama to go around, Setoodeh manages to peel back the composed facade of what viewers see on their screens in order to focus on raw feelings and teetering emotions of those closely involved with “The View.” ”Ladies Who Punch” is an exciting read that proves there’s always a little soap opera even if a show presents itself as hard news.

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