An insider says that Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie, who created the hit ABC women’s talk show and serve as its executive producers, are quietly developing a “unisex” spinoff of “The View” that will attempt to inject a male perspective into the topics of the day.
The source adds that, if the show ever makes it past the development stage, Walters and Geddie envision it being produced in L.A., instead of New York, where the original show is based. It also would be geared for the afternoon time slots that Oprah Winfrey’s talk show is expected to relinquish next year. “They don’t want to do anything that will compete with “The View,” the source says.
Like the original, which has been running on ABC since 1997, our source says Walters and Geddie want to assemble five co-hosts who can gab about a wide variety of topical subjects. We even hear the duo have worked up a wish list of four personalities
they’d like for the show. Each has appeared at least once on “The View” and fared well with viewers and the audience.
At the top of their list, we’re told, is former “Today” show host Bryant Gumbel, as the show’s moderator. “He brings the same kind of vibe as Meredith Vieira when she was one of the co-hosts,” says the source.
The other male whom Walters and Geddie have in mind would balance Gumbel’s reserve with a splash of flamboyance: Filipino-American comedian Alec Mapa, who played newscaster Suzuki St. Pierre on “Ugly Betty.” The insider says Mapa did so well on his first appearance on “The View” that he was brought back as a guest host.
The women on the exec producers’ wish list: former BET news anchor Jacque Reid, who, the source says, came very close to getting the spot on the original show that went to Sherri Shepherd, and former Fox News show host E.D. Hill. The latter would fill the politically conservative role voiced by Elisabeth Hasselbeck on the all-girls version.
Indeed, Hill filled in for Hasselbeck when she was on maternity leave. Prior to her work with “The View,” Hill made headlines when her Fox News show was canceled in 2008 after she questioned whether the fist bump between then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, was a “terrorist fist jab.”
The source says Walters and her partner are “undecided” so far about whom they’d like to fill the fifth chair.
Not that they want to talk about it. When we ran the story by an ABC spokeswoman, she first laughed, then called back to say: “We don’t ever comment on anything we may or may not be developing.