Despite the different locales for the panelists, Brian Teta, executive producer of “The View,” says it’s working.
“There was a great moment last week where you can actually see Joy kick it [the camera] over. It’s 10:57, we’re talking and we’re getting ready and it was a slow morning and then suddenly I just see her knock the camera over and I, and we’ll just crack up because you could hear it happening,” Teta recalls. “And then she did amazingly, she got it back up right up at 11:00 and we played it on the show.”
Teta says if you asked him before the coronavirus pandemic if he and his team could have produced the show from home, still going live four days a week, he would have called the idea crazy.
“I mean, each of the steps that have happened I have been thinking if you’d asked me three months ago, I would’ve thought were impossible without a [live studio] audience. It turns out we can,” he says. “Joy might’ve been the first talk show host to step away from the studio itself, that was big. It took us a little while to figure out how to get her set up at home and then next was not having an audience, which ‘The View’ has had for 23 years.”
Viewers are sticking with the new approach. A rep for “The View” tells CNN ratings for the show have consistently been on the rise for the past six weeks.
After Behar made the decision to stay home, Goldberg, McCain and Hostin followed soon after. Teta is still producing from the studio in Manhattan, but he is often the lone figure in the room. He stands behind a podium fitted with a control center where he can communicate with everyone on his team simultaneously.
Teta can go days without physically seeing another coworker nearby, he says. But the remote set up is getting better by the day. Producers recently managed to get the same background in all the hosts’ homes, making it appear more like the studio and that made him happy.
“For a while we had different backgrounds and Wednesday was the first day we had all four of our hosts with kind of a feeling very similar to the studio at home,” Teta says, adding that the women also now have individual teleprompters in their homes and have mastered getting their research remotely.
And while viewers were able to see all the hosts at once, until this week they could not see each other.
“They could only hear (each other) until now,” Teta says. “They really haven’t missed a beat. And the ladies really just have blown everybody away, because they’re able to roll with this and do a version of the show that is very familiar in this very unfamiliar circumstance.”
For a show that is built around conversation and the exchange of ideas, Teta says his first focus was to just make sure everyone could hear each other.
“That’s really been the most important thing for us is that we can hear them, that their voices are out there. And then we figured out the look,” Teta says. “I feel like audiences have been very forgiving.”
The writers are sending topics and research from their respective homes. The hosts are all doing their own hair and makeup. As for the occasionally heated debates that come up on the show, they’ve figured that out too, Teta says.
“We’ve tried lots of different things. At one point we were doing hand signals, commercial breaks where you know, Joy would tug on her ear like Carol Burnett and I would tell Whoopi Joy’s trying to get in if you can go to her,” he explains. “Now that they can all see each other, we’re not going to have that problem anymore, hopefully. So I’m so excited about that. It’s a big change.”
Live television means there are still “heart stopping moments,” though.
“Very early on we had Bernie Sanders on, it was just the very start of the show. And suddenly he came on and we could not hear a word he said. It was entirely garbled and the picture was freezing,” Teta explains, “It’s a live show and it’s a big booking. We had to immediately throw to commercial and try to get him back and I was beating myself up over it the whole afternoon. Then I turned on Twitter and I saw it was trending, not because the picture wasn’t good, but because of the exchange that he and Whoopi had. And it was really important people were reacting to it. And then I realized that’s what they care about. They want to hear the content. They don’t really mind if it looks weird for a minute or if there’s an echo.”
It’s unclear when “The View” will return to the show’s New York studio, but Teta says, for now, “the whole staff is able to do this in a way that I never would have imagined.”