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In the swirl of 'The View,' a stabilizing force

Boston Globe - United States - On the day Barack Obama came in to gab with the ladies of "The View," Joy Behar was sick. Some-nasty-virus, in-need-of-chicken-soup sick, so sick that she skipped the 11 a.m. live show to stay in bed. But for the Obama episode, taped that afternoon to air the following day, she dragged herself into the ABC studios, arriving backstage with a wan smile.

"Barack cannot go on without me," she declared, before heading to hair and makeup.

Eh, Obama might have made it. (With the women, he can charm. And the audience was adoring.) But that's not to say that Behar wasn't needed - just that her biggest contribution came before Obama arrived on the set.

During "Hot Topics," the show's discussion of current events, token conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck read a quote from Obama's former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The ancient Romans, Wright had said, "looked down their garlic noses" at Jesus Christ. Hasselbeck was outraged. Cohost Whoopi Goldberg rushed to Obama's defense. Hasselbeck started to quiver. And just as things were getting uncomfortable, Behar stepped in, filling several roles at once: The resident Italian, the committed liberal, the comedian.

"The Italian nose has been celebrated in art and culture," she declared. "And if I didn't have a lot of garlic in my diet, I wouldn't have this wonderful complexion." The crowd howled with laughter, the tension passed, and Behar wore a triumphant smile on her face. Her work was done.

It was a signature example of Behar's role on the 11-year-old talk show, says Bill Geddie, the executive producer. "She's that person in the room that doesn't let things get too sensitive," he said backstage that day. "She's the one who says, 'Oh, come on.' "

From the standpoint of the public, that's an unsung sort of job. Behar, 65, who will perform her stand-up routine Saturday night at the Berklee Performance Center, is by far the unflashiest member of the panel: the least likely to tantalize with her wardrobe, generate a tabloid headline, or launch into one of the show's now-famous catfights. That may well explain why Behar - along with Barbara Walters, executive producer and general doyenne - has been the show's longest-running panelist. She lasted through the saga of Star Jones, whose popularity shrank as dramatically as her waistline. She survived the yearlong tabloid feast that was Rosie O'Donnell's stint.

"Things swirl around me and I just keep going," Behar says, sounding content to be the official defuser.

That's why her stand-up act is a bit of a revelation. This is a more acidic version of Behar, a Bloody Mary with an extra shot of vinegar. Off-Broadway, at the Zipper Factory Theater, where she tests material at a charity show called "Bitchin' With Behar," she's a little more political than her "View" self, and a lot more profane. Her cohosts might be safe on the air, but not here. Of the increasingly-divaish Jones, she says, "One time she coughed up a hairball and there was a label on it." She'll even curse at audience members if they interrupt too much: "I love you, but shut the [expletive] up."
Source : Originally Published Boston Globe - United States, Apr 20, 2008
Celebrities : Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg
Categories : Reality shows, Actor News, Celebrity News
Posted 4/20/2008 12:04:13 AM | Permalink
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