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Classic Hasselbeck Meltown

If you’re anything like me (and I believe many of you are), you have been waiting with bated breath for the tell-all book about The View.  Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View could only have been written by a gay man.  That gay man, Ramin Setoodeh, had unprecedented access to virtually every member of the talk show – both behind and in front of the camera.  He had previously written various pieces for VarietyVanity Fair and other publications.  Once the book was announced, virtually everyone was willing to go on the record – the only holdouts of note were Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  Even to someone like me who has had more access than most to the inner workings of ABC’s venerable daytime drama, much of this was news.  Quotes by Barbara Walters herself, executive producer Bill Geddie, and others will shock and titillate you. 

One of the biggest scandals recounted in the book stems from the time after Meredith had left, Star had been fired, and Rosie had yet to début as moderator (although she was backstage).  On the panel with Barbara that day were Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and guest host Lisa Loeb.  The prime Hot Topic was that the morning-after pill had been approved by the FDA.  Hasselbeck made it clear in the pre-show meeting that she was passionately against the pill.  Alas, her passion was a bit out of control.  Lizzie got more vitriolic than Walters was comfortable with, and the grande dame attempted several times to calm things down.  Finally, Walters scolded, “Could you stop now?  We have to go on and we have to learn how to discuss these things in some sort of rational way.”

The show went to commercial, Elisabeth quickly left the set and first erupted to Behar – forgetting, of course, that they all still had their mikes on.  “Fuck that!  I’m not going to sit there and get reprimanded on the air!”  Joy attempted to calm her down, but Elisabeth kept complaining about “that woman”, and stormed off to her dressing room saying she quit.  Meanwhile, a producer told Barbara (who was also still miked) that Elisabeth wouldn’t come back on the air.  “She has to!  Bill, she has to.  This is why we shouldn’t have done this discussion.”  Then Behar came back and confirmed the news.  Barbara’s response?  “Well, that’s ridiculous.”  Geddie darted downstairs to Hasselbeck’s dressing room to avert a disaster – bear in mind, it’s only a three-minute commercial break.  He does some fast talking, lying, cajoling, and gets her to return – with Barbara alternately apologizing and defending herself.  In case anyone doubts the veracity of this combustible scene, turns out that “someone” made a copy of the audio from everyone’s mikes in the sound booth.  To hear it all transpire in real time, check out BillyMasters.com.

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