- How The View—and all its feuds—changed television.
- One of Grey’s Anatomy’s most powerful moments ever.
- There is something called “trap country” and we should all be scared.
- One last toast to Kathie Lee Gifford.
- The Cats movie musical may kill me.
- Patti LuPone is the GOAT.
All ‘The View’ Gossip You Never Knew You Needed
It was Tuesday that my copy of the Holy Bible arrived in the mail and less than 24 hours before I finished it and had ascended, converted, and accepted Barbara Walters as my personal Lord and Savior. Ramin Setoodeh’s Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Story of The View is a veritable Spill-the-Tea Party.
With interviews from nearly everyone involved in the 22-year-old series, including a gloriously candid Rosie O’Donnell, it is dishy in the way entertainment reporting frankly never is anymore. Come for the stories of cattiness, All About Eve machinations, and behind-the-scenes blow-ups, but stay for the sharp distillation of why this talk show completely changed television as we know it. The View is responsible for the very conflagration of news and opinion that today defines media and gives us all us three to five rage strokes per week.
Some of it may be hard to read for some fans—Whoopi Goldberg and O’Donnell hated each other so much when their time together ended that Goldberg threw a fit when she saw that the book’s cover has the two of them on it together—and some of it may seem too good to be true: Walters was on vacation in the Caribbean with Judge Judy and Cindy Adams when she had to put out one of the show’s biggest fires. Mostly, you’ll leave shocked at just how long we’ve all been captivated by this show. (Posts about The View are still among The Daily Beast’s most-read stories each month.)
Why am I so obsessed with all this? Perhaps the only thing you need to know to understand me is that the only person I have ever written a fan letter to in my entire life is Rosie O’Donnell. In fact, my afternoons watching The Rosie O’Donnell Show may be directly responsible for my interest in this industry, my career path, and this very newsletter you are reading.
Her time at The View was formative for me. One, her return to daytime was for me what the rest of you feel about Game of Thrones coming back. Two, I happened to have my very first professional job in entertainment news at the time, as an intern for Entertainment Tonight and its sister show, The Insider. My most important duty, at least until I was assigned to man the phones to field angry calls about our incessant Anna Nicole Smith death coverage, was to take detailed notes about every single second of The View episodes, as this was the time of the infamous Rosie-Elisabeth split screen. But I had been watching studiously long before.
Some people have fond memories of watching cartoons or old movies with their grandmother. When I think of Nana, I think of mornings spent watching The View, wondering which jokes of Joy Behar’s she’d deem “so crass” but chuckle at anyway. I once saw Debbie Matenopoulous on the street, had about three heart attacks, and smiled up to Nana in heaven. I was starstruck, and stared. Debbie grinned at me. Touched by an angel.
The Grey’s Anatomy Rape Kit Episode
This happened last week, but it’s still on my mind. Inspired by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, the series scripted an episode that showed in realistic detail what happens during a rape kit. When ABC pushed back with notes, Shonda Rhimes refused them. The scene would be shown as intended.
But the most powerful moment came when the survivor was wheeled through the hospital hallway and saw that it was lined with women supporting her. Real ABC executives and Grey’s writers joined the actors and extras for the scene. I think it’s important that everyone see what this kind of support means, and I also think it’s important to start every Friday morning with a heavy sob. (Watch it here.)
The “Trap Country” Song Threatening Us All
Here’s a little peek behind the curtain. I was going to write about Sara Bareilles’ gorgeous new album, Amidst the Chaos, and how much her music means to me, the way that I’m immediately transported to my rawest, realest emotions at just the sound of her voice, and how she lyrically understands a certain elder-millennial psyche better than anyone else. Then my coworker wanted to know why I wasn’t going to be writing about the trap country song by Lil Nas X instead.
This coworker, you see, is a youth, so I’m used to being baffled by her references. She sent me the link to “Old Town Road (I Got the Horses in the Back),” a mix of trap music and country music—banjos and bass and the death cries from Hell, all rolled into one—that had gone so viral it landed on the country music Billboard chart, until Billboard removed it for not being “country” enough.
I’ve never heard more upsetting music in my life.
I asked her if it went viral ironically. She responded that, yes, it went viral on TikTok through the Yee Yee Juice meme. It has been 48 hours, and I am still no closer to understanding any of those words.
But the truth is, the second I clicked on the YouTube link to “Old Town Road,” I had sealed my fate: I was never going to stop thinking about this. And that is the story of how my loving tribute to Sara Bareilles was replaced by an entry about trap country music. Sorry, y’all.
Kathie Lee Gifford’s Last Tipsy ‘Today’ Show
In 2015, I got drunk on a Carnival cruise ship with Kathie Lee Gifford. She was debuting her new rosé from her wine collection, GIFFT, and agreed to have a glass (or three) and chat with me about her unlikely reign on the Today’s show wacky fourth hour.
When the suits at NBC recruited her for the gig, she didn’t know who her future co-host Hoda Kotb was. They’ve since become best friends, family, really, helping each other through painful deaths, joyful births, and countless highs and lows in between, all amidst chatty celebrity interviews and countless bottles of wine. She told me she agreed to co-host for a day. When she signs off Friday morning, she’ll have been there 11 years.
There’s something irresistible to Gifford’s self-aware brand of corny-camp, a professional goofiness that should be impossible to pull off. Her emotional candor is a reminder that, in the arms race for the next big interview with a politician, world leader, or, lately, accuser of heinous acts against powerful men, the morning-show secret weapon is still heart. Watching her last week of shows, I cried almost every morning.
So raise a glass to morning TV’s greatest dame.
What Is Going on With the ‘Cats’ Movie?
By the time this movie adaptation of the musical Cats hits the big screen, the most esteemed film writers and critics will have all suffered brain aneurysms.
First there was the casting by Mad Libs: Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Ian McKellen, James Corden, and Jennifer Hudson. Then this week came the news that the cats, which in the Broadway show are sort of sexy humanlike felines that slink through the world’s most nonsensical musical, will actually be motion capture.
So Bombalurina will look like a cat in every way except having Taylor Swift’s face, so congratulations on that nightmare! How could this not be disastrous? #ShowUsTheCats! The people have a right to see!
Patti LuPone Joined Twitter
After days of silence, she made her Twitter debut with iconic defiance, composing the greatest tweet there has ever been and also, as it turns out, unveiling the mantra that has been hanging in the writers room for Game of Thrones all this time.
What to watch this week:
Killing Eve: Sophomore slump? Sandra Oh’s never even heard the phrase.
Shazam!: A superhero movie that is about actual joy and not aggro-masculine angst. It’s a delight!
Fosse/Verdon: Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. God bless the gay who wished upon a star for this.
High Life: That crazy thing where Robert Pattinson became one of his generation’s best actors.
What to skip this week:
Best of Enemies: Sam Rockwell responds to his Bat Signal, once again playing a confused bigot in a cringey historical drama.
Unicorn Store: Upsetting reminder that Brie Larson, making her directorial debut, is not perfect.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A lot of people love this. It is very much not for me.