Island of Misfit Toys: Day 2: Ode to Joy Behar – and Joan Rivers!

Posted on July 29th, 2009 – 3:25 PM
By Neal Justin

Wednesday’s sessions got off to an eye-opening start as DJ AM, star of the new MTV reality rehab series, “Gone Too Far,” talked about his struggles with addiction and how he went straight after a botched suicide attempt. “I put the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger,” he said. “It jammed.” Um, is it too early for Bloody Marys? 

Joy Behar is the only member of “The View” I can tolerate; in fact, I kind of dig her. But even her biggest fan would have to skeptical about her upcoming talk show for CNN HLN (formerly known as Headline News). She and her producer seemed to have only sketchy ideas about what the new show would look – and more importantly – sound like. After nearly 20 minutes of vague answers, I threw Joy what should have been a couple of softballs. As far as I’m concerned, she bobbled them. Here’s the interaction. Decide for yourself:

ME: Joy, are there some pet issues that you
want to tackle on this show that you’re not seeing on
other talk shows?

JOY BEHAR: Pet issues?

ME: Sure, issues that you don’t think are being
talked about enough.

JOY BEHAR: Well, I find that I have more to say and
to talk about on a lot of different issues. “The
View” is limited in its scope in that we have five
women all trying to talk at the same time, and so a
subject will come up and you have, like, three minutes
to discuss it. I really have an interest in a lot of
these subjects, and I want to talk some more about
them and I want to meet more people to talk to about
them, and that’s why I wanted to do this job.

ME: Well, are there specific subjects that you
think are being under-covered that you want to sort of
explore and get out there more?

JOY BEHAR: I don’t know. You’d have to take it on a
case-by-case basis. Every day, I wake up, I read the
newspaper, and there’s something I’m interested in
talking about and I’m interested in getting to the
bottom of if I can, so there’s a lot of stuff like

ME: Let me ask it this way: What would be your
show today?
JOY BEHAR: My show today?

QUESTION: Yeah. If the show was up and running, what
would you want to tackle today?

JOY BEHAR: What’s going on today? I mean, tell me
what went on today, and I’ll tell you.

ME: I’m a TV critic. I have no idea.

JOY BEHAR: Um, well, they’re talking about Michael
Jackson and the doctor today with Diprivan.

ME: You’d STILL be interested in talking about

JOY BEHAR: Well, the story has legs. It doesn’t have
to go on for hours and hours and hours, but that story
does have some legs.

End of exchange. Joy, dear, you need to be better prepared when the show launches in fall or your lead-in, Nancy Grace, will run right over you.

Speaking of dodges, CNN president John Klein tried to paint over questions about his guy, Lou Dobbs, providing a platform for discussion over whether or not President Obama was born in Hawaii. Klein made it sound like Dobbs gave less than four seconds to the subject. Here was his response:

JON KLEIN: You know, there are two strands to this story.
There are the facts and then there are the flaps, the
flap, right? And what Lou and everybody else at CNN has
done is very clearly report and run down the facts. There
is no doubt, according to the State of Hawaii, that Barack
Obama was born in Hawaii. And Lou Dobbs himself has
repeated that over, and over, and over again.

Now, separate from than that, there is a phenomenon of
people who don’t believe it anyway. And they are offering
up news pegs, or have been over the last couple of weeks.
You’ve had a military guy who refused to go to
Afghanistan. You’ve had the woman waving the piece of
paper at the congressperson in Delaware. And what Lou’s
done is hosted panel discussion that offer a range of
points of view about those episodes. So he’s exploring
the flap. But the facts are a settled matter and a dead
issue, as I said in the memo that went around last week.

End of quote. For a guy in the tell-it-like-it-is news business, Klein can dodge a question with the best of them. From the clips I’ve seen, Dobbs has said he believes Obama is a citizen, but hasn’t said he believes he lives in Hawaii. And he’s devoted quite a bit of time to the subject. Klein had the opportunity to either defend Dobbs and his approach or criticize it. He did neither. You expect that from most TV executives, but you expect a “news guy” to do better.

Much quicker on the draw was Joan Rivers, promoting her new TV Land reality series, “How’d You Get So Rich?” Longtime readers already know I’m a huge fan -and her appearance solidified her appeal. The show is fairly low-rent, but Joan knows how to pitch – and how to send one blazing over the plate (Two baseball references; guess I’m still giddy over the Twins mini-streak). Someone asked her what she thought about Jay Leno moving to prime-time. Her response: “I think it’s brilliant. Now people can get bored earlier and go to bed earlier. I mean, when was the last time someone said, ‘Did you hear what Jay Leno said last night? Hilarious!’ Never. It’s nice for the Midwest because now the crops will be greener.”


Here’s an early, early viewing tip: TNT”s “Men of Little Importance.” We only saw snippets, but it looks terrific with a cast that features Scott Bakula, Andre Braugher and Ray Romano, who co-wrote the pilot with a former “Everybody Loves Ray” writer. It’s a drama, scheduled to come out near the end of the year. Can’t. Wait.

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