Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"THE VIEW" From Here: Getting the "Star" Treatment

(Initially written Sept. 25, 2006)

As she planned her elaborate wedding, tacky and inappropriate were just two of the words often used to describe the pre-departure behavior of THE VIEW co-host, Star Jones. It was later revealed that at that point her likability factor had begun to dwindle in relation to the other hosts. It seems that plugging a vendor on THE VIEW for providing wedding accoutrements at no charge was, allegedly, turning off viewers, discomfiting Jones' co-hosts and ticking off the brass at ABC-TV. So, for doing what many celebrities take advantage of, it was determined that Star Jones' services were no longer needed.

Turn on almost any talk, news, variety or entertainment program and the closing credits are riddled with "tacky" and "inappropriate" messages such as "John Smith's Clothing provided by," or Jane Doe's Jewelry provided by." Countless television personalities are bedecked and bejeweled by a plethora of clothing, jeweler and hair styling vendors, at no cost, just for the opportunity to be mentioned to the vast viewing audience. Top flight clothing designers loan and gift multi-thousand dollar outfits to celebrities just to have their name and company mentioned on the red carpet at the numerous award shows they attend. Now we have product placement where vendors are paying to have their products and services strategically placed in the movies we pay to see. Vendors were probably beside themselves to get a piece of Tiny Tim's wedding on THE TONIGHT SHOW with Johnny Carson.

The irrepressible Don Imus laughingly tells a story of having his car, provided by Dick Gidron Cadillac, picked up the very day he was fired by NBC. And, insult to injury, Jones' very own VIEW co-hosts had no problem making mention of the expensive, and free, gifts they all received upon attending the annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

So why was Jones negatively singled out for doing business in a manner that has been used by celebrities for decades? A mere threatening word from Barbara Walters and/or ABC brass should have been sufficient. Star Jones' dismissal from THE VIEW was much deeper than her wedding plans. And with Walters' very high profile, publicly offered carrot to Rosie O'Donnell to join the show, it seems clear that the Jones/O'Donnell dust-up on a previous program was the catalyst. It was rumored that O'Donnell threw down the gauntlet and refused to appear on any future shows if Star Jones was present.

It was Rosie O'Donnell's misguided ignorance that led to the infamous confrontation. O'Donnell believed that women in America should have collectively vented their outrage in an effort to keep Martha Stewart out of jail - the way black people did for OJ Simpson and former NBA All Star Jayson Williams. Such a statement was absurd at its core and Star, rightfully, called her on it. Jones correctly pointed out that it was independent juries who rendered the verdicts in all of those cases and that black people had no vote over whether Simpson got convicted and went to jail. Then, in an effort to appear supportive and sensitive to Jones, O'Donnell unknowingly became patronizing, condescending and insulting to black people in general , and dishonest with the public in particular. In contending that black people have so few role models she repeated the imbecilic notion that black people said that you can't take OJ Simpson and you can't take Jayson Williams. And, insult to injury again, she claimed to agree with them. However, after the discovery of the mutilated bodies of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, O'Donnell was one of the more vocal celebrities to insist that Simpson was guilty, once while hosting SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, even before a jury was impaneled, before a witness was called, or a single piece of evidence introduced.

Her hypocrisy knows no limits. She reportedly mocked Jones for being less than candid with her audience about her dramatic weight loss. This from a woman who waited until she wrote her book and quit her talk show before coming out of her lesbian closet.

After the controversial departure of Star Jones from THE VIEW, resident jokester Joy Behar took a dig at her former co-host by making a snide comment to a guest host to "Tell us you're a lawyer" - obviously referring to Jones who properly brought her past legal profession to the many discussions concerning the myriad trials and/or lawsuits in the news during the show's Hot Topics segments. Her legal experience is what helped make the discussed topics work. And it was no different than Behar often mentioning being a "stand up comedian" or the venues she played and people she met "doing stand up" - or Meredith Viera adding her news experience at CBS or ABC to the conversations, or, Ms. Walters pontificating about when she interviewed a particular politician, celebrity or head-of-state. It was the differing life experiences that made the segments interesting and informative. Behar's misplaced sarcasm only serves to display her lack of understanding as to what made the show work.

As for Rosie O'Donnell, who believes that fundamentalist Christians in America are just as dangerous as the murdering fundamentalist Muslims, she's now Barbara Walters' cross to bear.

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