Q&A: Joy Behar, cable news' newest host

You might think spending five hours a week taping the daily hen party that is The View would be enough to scratch anyone's itch to gab. Joy Behar wants more. Starting Tuesday at 9 p.m., the actress/comedian will be hosting her own one-hour nightly talk show on HLN, the CNN sister channel formerly known as Headline News. (HLN is owned by Time Warner (TWX), which is also the corporate parent of DailyFinance.)

Behar, who often finds herself articulating the liberal position during political discussions on The View, will bring those sympathies to prime time with her, along with a pop-cultural sensibility she hopes viewers will find refreshing. You also might pick up some useful tips: During our interview, Behar shared with me her secret for avoiding telemarketers: "I used to list my number under 'R. Bozo,' but they caught me so now I don't have it listed," she said. "If you put it under 'R. Bozo,' when a telemarketer calls and says 'Is Mrs. Bozo at home?' you know you can hang up."

DailyFinance: Why is The Joy Behar Show premiering on a Tuesday instead of at the beginning of the week?

Joy Behar: I thought I would respect the Jewish holiday even though I'm not Jewish because a lot of people who work here are Jewish and I didn't want to come to work and be the only one here.

Let's say I already watch 10 hours of cable talk shows a week. Why should I make it 15?
I think my show will be more fun than what's already on. For instance, if I were already on the air, today I would've tried to get Bibi Netanyahu and Michelle Phillips as my guests. It's kind of a potpourri of whoever I feel like talking to, and I feel like talking to a lot of people.

I'm embarrassed to say that I understand why Michelle Phillips, but why Netanyahu?
He was screaming at the UN today that Holocaust deniers should be ashamed of themselves. I think that's great because it's time to really put a stop to all that. So I like that. And also I think he's cute.

Your first guest is Bette Midler. Do people ever confuse the two of you?
Constantly. And we're both sort of tired of it, so we're going to put that to rest on Tuesday. She's a great girl and I just wanted a friend of mine on the show that day and someone who will talk about what's going on in the world in a Bette Midler-esque manner. I'll also have Jeanine Garofalo and Bay Buchanan.

It's interesting that your first guests are all women. TV news used to be dominated by men, but just in the last couple years that has changed. In a few months, two of the three network anchors will be women. Meanwhile, in cable news punditry, we've seen the arrival of Rachel Maddow, Campbell Brown, your HLN colleague Jane Velez-Mitchell and now you. Why are women suddenly getting their due after so long being shut out?
Welcome to the 18th century. It's long overdue. I think the networks are getting hip to the idea that women watch television. Late night is completely still male; you know that. I don't think there's any estrogen over there at all, although I think Wanda [Sykes] might be getting a show. It's just demographics. People are getting smart, advertisers are getting smart. It always comes down to the bottom line, doesn't it?

Do you watch a lot of cable news?
It's all I watch, frankly. I watch CNN, I watch HLN, I watch Larry King, of course -- you know I sat in for him for a long time. I watch cable news.

Then you know how much getting in a feud with a fellow cable-news pundit can do for your profile. Keith Olbermann's pissing match with Bill O'Reilly is half the reason he's famous. Do you have any plans to start a feud of your own?
Not yet. It will be organic.

May I suggest Sean Hannity, since he's also on at 9 and I don't think you two agree on much?
[Aside, to her PR person] He's suggesting I have a feud with Hannity! [To DailyFinance] Sure. I'm not going to start a feud with Larry or Rachel, we know that.

On The View, you frequently took the lead in challenging conservatives like O'Reilly and John McCain when they came on the show. Do you plan to keep that up on your own show?
I expect to have conservatives on as guests, and I expect to have panels mixed with conservatives and liberals. So I'm not the only one who's going to be taking on conservatives.

I'm not somebody who's knee-jerk. People might think of me as a liberal but I have feelings about crime and self defense that aren't just liberal. If [conservatives] come on and say something to me that doesn't sound right, I'm going to question them about it.

You've said your fantasy guest would be Sarah Palin. What would you like to ask her?
She's not going to come on. Forget it.

Let's just say she does.
Well, I don't think anybody has actually asked her as a person-to-person type of thing, for instance, why couldn't you come up with an answer to Katie Couric when she asked what you read? She couldn't come up with one thing. You can't just say the Nome Gazette? The Moose Gazette? Something?

The other thing is, as a woman how could she say with a good conscience that even in the cases of rape and incest she wouldn't give an OK to an abortion? I just think that's outrageous.

How has adding a second daily show affected your schedule?
I'm busy, but I like to be busy. You eat less when you're busy.

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