Joy Behar, the Emmy-winning co-host of ABC’s “The View,” is known for mixing her outspoken, often brash humor with her serious views on society and politics. She doesn’t try to hide her political leanings (very liberal) or her disgust when she is interviewing someone she intensely dislikes. Behar says her Current TV talk show “Say Anything!” will be a platform for her and her guests to openly express their views with no apologies. She also hinted in a recent interviews that she’s become restless with “The View,” and that’s why she continues to seek opportunities to have her own talk show. (‘The Joy Behar Show” on HLN was cancelled in December 2011, after two years on the air.) Behar also has years of experience as a stand-up comedian, and that background shows in her interviews which she will often lighten with sarcastic jokes.
“Say Anything!” premieres on the Current network on September 4, 2012, at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Although Current does not have a large audience, Behar told reporters in a telephone conference-call interview that the network makes up for its relatively small audience with more editorial freedom than she would have at a larger network. The first guest on “Say Anything!” is former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who is Current’s co-founder and chairman. Other guests in the show’s first few weeks will include Melissa Etheridge, Carrie Fisher, Cyndi Lauper, Tony Danza, Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider, as well as two of Behar’s fellow Current TV anchors: former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (host of “The War Room”) and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, host of “The Gavin Newsom Show.” Here is what Behar had to say about her work at Current and other things that have been making recent news.
What do you think of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon?
I thought it was kind of a boring book to tell you the truth, and I was too tied up mostly to read it.
Has it helped you and your husband at all?
No, because I really couldn’t get through it. It’s so boring.
Could you do that and talk a little bit about your first guest on “Say Anything!”
My first guest is going to be Vice President Al Gore. He owns the station, and it had nothing to do with booking him. I really do want to talk to him.
And what do you most want to talk to him about? What’s the focus?
I want to talk to him about voter suppression that’s going on in a couple of states in the country and how the extreme right-wing in this country is trying to steal the vote, which they did to him in the year 2000 in Florida. And I’m still angry about that, so I want to talk about that.
How closely have you been following this Prince Harry stuff and do you think that there’s like basically expected double standard in the media coverage? Would the media treat than a woman the same way? How much do you like this story and what do you think about that?
You mean the fact that he was naked? I wasn’t really watching that whole thing. I was busy watching MSNBC. But what happened to him? He was naked? What happened? I don’t know the story. Tell me the story.
TMZ had posted [naked] photos of him. Apparently, he got caught in a hotel room with some females that he met in Las Vegas, and the photos were released to the public. So it became a big controversy for the Royal Family there. But the media coverage in general, for example, Rupert Murdoch tweeted over the weekend “Hey, let’s cut him a break. It’s no big deal.” What do you think?
Oh, Rupert Murdoch said, “Cut him a deal.” Yes, well, Rupert Murdoch, of course, given this position that he’s in right now, any kind of distraction, I guess, would be good. And he’s what? Any time you can find a male member of the Royal Family that looks good, you should run with it. That looks good naked.
Are you going to make Al Gore funny on your show?
In addition to being a comedian, I’m also a magician. No truthfully, Nicholas, I heard that he’s very funny. I don’t know the guy. I haven’t met him. He only runs the station, and I haven’t met Al Gore yet. But I’ve had people tell me that he can be very funny and likes to play. So I’m looking forward to it.
You’re in business now with Current, so maybe you can correct a misperception about Current. People have the impression that Current has a miniscule audience and is financial trouble. Why are you in business with this network?
I like this network a lot. I like the fact that they told me I could say anything, and that I can talk about politics. And it’s my show. You know, I’m an only child. I’ve been playing with siblings on “The View” for 15 years, and now I’d just like to be alone. And I don’t know that a lot of channels out there have millions and gazillions of viewers. There are so many outlets. So why would you pick on Current?
I don’t think they have much money, but we’re not in this for the money. We’re all going to be getting paid, but we’re in it to really get the word out there. I would like to really weigh in and have people weigh in on the [political] conventions and the next election, because I think it’s crucial to the future of the United States. And I’m really interested in doing that.
How will “Say Anything” differ then from the subject matter, if at all, from your previous talk show on HLN? Is there a different sort of focus now?
Well, yes, I can promise you with the words “Casey Anthony” will not come up. And that’s how it will be different. And also we won’t be asking how much propofol was in Michael Jackson. Those are the questions we will not be asking.
So more political perhaps this time?
Yes, political and social also. I have a lot of interests. I’m not just interested in one subject. So we’re going to have a lot of topics. You know, we have a segment called the “Holy Rollers,” where we’re going to have a priest, a rabbi and an imam on where they can discuss ethical issues of the day. It’s an interesting kind of conversation you don’t see very much.
Who are your top three dream guests for the show right now?
Dead or alive?
Either one, whatever you want.
Dead: Nora Ephron. Alive: President Obama.
And what are you going to do on the show to get whoever is sitting in your chair to sort of open up or be candid in a way that they wouldn’t on another show?
Well, we’re going to pretend that we’re not on the air. I’ll tell them that this is just an inside conversation. See if they go for that.
And if that doesn’t work?
Well, I’ll do the best. We’ll just have to disarm them and get people comfortable, I guess, so that they will talk. Mostly people do talk to me. They do say things … We’re not going to censor anybody.
There was a news item recently where you said every time that every time someone from “The Real Housewives” releases music, a little piece of you died inside.
Oh, yes. I was talking about Gore Vidal’s comment that whenever a friend succeeds, a little of something in me dies. And I just did an analogy to every time a TV housewife writes a book or gets another show, a little something in me dies.
Is there something specifically about “The Real Housewives” franchise that goes through your mind? Why is it so unpleasant for you?
Well, it’s not. It was basically a joke. I truly don’t even watch those shows, and I’ve had those women on my HLN show. And they’re quite amusing, but it was kind of a joke. I don’t really care about it that much.
Donald Trump recently tweeted about Arianna Huffington saying, “She’s unattractive both inside and out, and I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man. He made a good decision.” “The View” has a great history with Donald Trump. What do you have to say to that?
Donald Trump and I have had a rather rocky relationship, but I think that right now we’re OK with each other. And so I will leave well enough alone. You know, he always goes for the personal. I told him that that he should stop doing the personal. But it doesn’t stop him.