April 11, 2019 at 11:21 am PDT | by Billy Masters
‘The View,’ Ru and Renée Taylor

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar and Barbara Walters on “The View.’ (file photo courtesy NBC)

“Let’s see how long I last.” — Patti LuPone says of her latest venture as a member of Twitter.  Her first Tweet?  “Contain me with only 280 characters? Fuck that.” All that with 240 characters to spare.

If you’re anything like me (and I believe many of you are), you have been waiting with bated breath for the tell-all book about “The View.” “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View'” could only have been written by a gay man.  

That gay man, Ramin Setoodeh, had unprecedented access to virtually every member of the talk show, both behind and in front of the camera. He had previously written various pieces for Variety, Vanity Fair and other publications.  Once the book was announced, virtually everyone was willing to go on the record; the only holdouts of note were Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Even to someone like me who has had more access than most to the inner workings of ABC’s venerable daytime drama, much of this was news. Quotes by Barbara Walters herself, executive producer Bill Geddie and others will shock and titillate you. 

One of the biggest scandals recounted in the book stems from the time after Meredith had left, Star had been fired and Rosie had yet to début as moderator (although she was backstage). On the panel with Barbara that day were Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and guest host Lisa Loeb. The prime “Hot Topic” was that the morning-after pill had been approved by the FDA.  

Hasselbeck made it clear in the pre-show meeting that she was passionately against the pill. Alas, her passion was a bit out of control. Lizzie got more vitriolic than Walters was comfortable with and the grande dame attempted several times to calm things down. Finally, Walter scolded, “Could you stop now? We have to go on and we have to learn how to discuss these things in some sort of rational way.”

The show went to commercial, Elisabeth quickly left the set and first erupted to Behar, forgetting, of course, that they all still had their mikes on. “Fuck that! I’m not going to sit there and get reprimanded on the air!” Joy attempted to calm her down, but Elisabeth kept complaining about “that woman,” and stormed off to her dressing room saying she quit.  

Meanwhile, a producer told Barbara (who was also still miked) that Elisabeth wouldn’t come back on the air. “She has to! Bill, she has to. This is why we shouldn’t have done this discussion.” Then Behar came back and confirmed the news. Barbara’s response? “Well, that’s ridiculous.” Geddie darted downstairs to Hasselbeck’s dressing room to avert a disaster. Bear in mind, it’s only a three-minute commercial break. He does some fast talking, lying, cajoling and gets her to return, with Barbara alternately apologizing and defending herself. In case anyone doubts the veracity of this combustible scene, turns out that “someone” made a copy of the audio from everyone’s mikes in the sound booth. To hear it all transpire in real time, check out billymasters.com.

It was announced last week that RuPaul will be getting a daytime talk show. FOX announced that the daytime “RuPaul” show will get a three-week trial run starting June 10. This is an idea the network has tried several times in the past with attempts to launch shows with people like Kris Jenner and Fran Drescher. Good luck.

Speaking of our favorite “Nanny,” I caught up with Fran last week at the opening of Renée Taylor’s one-woman show “My Life on a Diet” at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills. Fran (accompanied by her dashing ex-hubby Peter Marc Jacobson) enthusiastically talked about her upcoming return to sitcom television. A pilot of “Uninsured” was ordered by NBC and the cast just had its first table read. 

“And everyone is so nice,” gushed Fran. “If it’s not going to be fun, why bother?” And she sure knows about fun — Drescher has been on the road lately performing her own show, “Schmoozing with Fran Drescher.” She spends half of the show onstage alone telling stories. And then Peter comes out to interview her and also take questions from the audience.  I have heard the show has been a smash hit on the road, so much so that she’s gonna be at Town Hall in Provincetown this summer, courtesy of Rick Murray and The Crown & Anchor. You can grab tickets for the August 10 show at onlyatthecrown.com.

Back to Renée Taylor. Quite simply, she’s a national treasure. What a lady! The 86 year old effortlessly weaves her way through a lifetime of struggles with her weight, which mirrored many of the other struggles in her life and career.  Ironically, once she accepted herself, fame, fortune and love arrived at roughly the same time. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. The love Taylor has for the audience was reciprocated by the capacity audience, led by Drescher and other members of “The Nanny” cast. Also in the crowd were veteran actors Hal Linden and Barbara Eden, who recently appeared together in “Love Letters.”  “My Life on a Diet” is in the midst of a national tour. It plays here in Beverly Hills through the weekend. For more dates and info, check out mylifeonadietplay.com. 

Do you have a spare $100 million? If so, you could buy Grindr. Yes, the popular “gay dating” app is for sale and not necessarily by choice. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has ruled that the ownership of the California-based app by a Chinese gaming company is a security risk. Apparently, the government is concerned that the personal data of users could be compromised.

When I’m the only one who hasn’t been compromised on Grindr, it’s time to end yet another column. If you have a question, send it along to billy@billymasters.com and I promise to get back to you before China offers me millions for my website! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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