The premiere of The View marks the legendary talk show’s 25th season. Launching in 1997 with Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, and show creator Barbara Walters at the iconic table, The View became Must-See TV for daytime programming.
The all-female talk show was quite a departure for Vieira, a seasoned journalist and former 60 Minutes correspondent. The program format allowed Vieira some on-air freedom, which began with a conversation about undergarments.
Meredith Vieira felt like ‘a caged animal’ before ‘The View’
From the beginning, Walters encouraged spontaneous conversation on The View to engage audiences, which sometimes spiraled into some salacious territory amongst the five women. Vieira had worked in hard news for years before landing her seat at the table and found the new format liberating. She remembered one of her initial bawdy statements on the air.
“It was almost like I was a caged animal, and they had just unlocked the cage,” the former Dateline correspondent told USA Today. “One of the first crazy things I said was, ‘I don’t wear underwear.’ I don’t even know what provoked it. Where did that come from?”
Vieira soon discovered a newfound freedom that allowed her to let loose. “I think it was just, ‘Oh, I can talk! I can talk!'” she revealed. “‘What can I say?’ and then this vomit came out.”
Meredith Vieira’s husband encouraged her to take ‘The View’
When Walters was auditioning co-hosts for The View, Vieira considered herself “a reporter who didn’t want to report.” Married to producer Richard Cohen, Vieira had three young kids at the time when the opportunity for the daytime talk show came knocking. Her husband convinced her to take the job despite her reservations.
“‘You should just do this, even if it’s not really what you’re looking for, because it may just jog something in you,'” she recalled Cohen telling her. “‘At least it’s giving you a look at another facet of the industry.'”
Vieira signed on and became the show’s moderator until her departure for the Today Show in 2006. She commended The View’s longevity, now entering its 25th season.
“There was no guarantee,” the game show host said of The View’s start. “We’re taking this thing out for a ride, and could have crashed on the side of the highway. And 25 years later, it’s still chugging along.”
When Meredith Viera knew ‘The View’ was a hit
Tina Fey was a writer on Saturday Night Live when The View hit the airwaves and decided to do a parody sketch of the show. Vieira knew the recognition would catapult the daytime talk show to high ratings.
“I said, ‘That’s it! We are now part of the cultural vernacular,’ ” she explained. “When people make fun of you, you have arrived, and I loved it.”
SNL alum Molly Shannon played Vieira and knew just how to take on the role.
“She just seemed like somebody who loved being a woman,” Shannon told Ramin Setoodah in his book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View’. “I said to her once, ‘You seem like you like coffee and sex. You’re sultry. You’re Meredith!’”
The 25th season of The View premieres on Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. ET on ABC.