Producing a TV Talk Show

Bill Geddie, co-executive producer of The View.
Photograph by Steve Fenn/ABC

NAME: Bill Geddie | AGE: 52 | HOMETOWN: San Antonio | QUALIFICATIONS: Co-executive producer of The View , on ABC / Executive producer of The Barbara Walters Special and the 10 Most Fascinating People annual special

• My first job out of film school at the University of Texas [in 1977] was buffing the floors at KOCO-TV, in Oklahoma City. When you buffed the floors—this is how informal television was back then—they let you run camera for the local news. What got me off the floor was that I went to the news director and said I had shot film before, so he gave me a job shooting film.

• Imagine that putting a show on the air is an endless string of questions that have to be answered. A producer’s job is to answer every single one. Where are we going to shoot? What are we going to talk about? How will we edit this? How much does the production assistant get paid?

• Celebrities are all different, and their publicists are all different. What you try to do is develop a sense of trust over the years, so that when Tom Cruise comes to The View , he is like, “Hi, Bill. How are the kids?” You want to develop some sense that you are not out to get them.

• We’re hoping to get something interesting from these stars, so we’re doing a little bit of a dance. The publicist would like nothing interesting to come out during the interview and would like them to simply plug their movie. But we’ve got a show to do here.

• The bigger the talent, the less you have to worry. It’s the people who are insecure, who think they are just lucky, who are always a problem.

• What makes Barbara Walters a great interviewer is that she listens. A lot of times we write 75 questions for an interview, but in the cut only one or two of those questions end up being used. The really good questions were follow-ups—she heard something and she went there. She actually cares what they are saying too. A lot of interviewers sit down and think, “Ugh, another celebrity. Here I go again.” Barbara is not one of those people.

• For the most part, people are pretty forthcoming. They have a certain wall, and when you hit that wall, you know to back off.

• I think comics are the best interviews. They have had to lay it on the line to get where they are, and that honesty tends to come out.

• I like The View getting written up in the newspapers. I like a little publicity. But I don’t think it is necessary [for our hosts] to constantly show up in the tabloids as people who hate each other. Yes, it may bring us some ratings, but in the end some of that is destructive. We don’t have to be burning the place down every day.

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