- Associated Press - Sunday, September 4, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - With Oprah Winfrey gone, daytime television is ready for a new monarch.

Barbara Walters and the show she invented 15 years ago, “The View,” pronounce themselves ready to step up. She may be past 80 now, but would YOU bet against her?

The show begins its new season Tuesday, with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as guest. In a muddled daytime picture, “The View” plans to compete aggressively for displaced Winfrey viewers with a more topical feel, aggressive booking of guests and a few pages ripped from Oprah’s playbook.

“Oprah was the only other show that did some of the things that we did,” said Bill Geddie, executive producer. “Quite honestly, some of the people that we might have gotten second, we’ll be getting first now.”

“The View” has just as much chance as any to become the daytime talk leader. Late afternoon, where Winfrey’s show ran across most of the country, is considered a more desired time slot than the 11 a.m. home of “The View.” But a big mixture of personalities like Dr. Phil, Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Oz will now be competing in the afternoon, some of them new to their time slots or new to the business, and none goes in with a huge advantage in the ratings, said Bill Carroll, an expert in the daytime market for Katz Media.

Meanwhile, “The View” is a fixture at its time of day.

“Consistency always works in your favor,” Carroll said.

Geddie noted that no 11 a.m. show has ever been the top daytime talk program, and he seems eager for the challenge of changing that.

The time slot was no real prize back in 1996. ABC had a string of failures there before asking Walters to come up with an idea for a show. She thought of presenting a handful of women with diverse backgrounds and opinions, primarily an entertainment show. Still busy at ABC News, Walters appeared only two days a week and asked Meredith Vieira to be moderator, a role now held by Whoopi Goldberg.

Only 60 percent of ABC viewers could see the show at first, and Walters remembers spending much of her first year cajoling station managers across the country to carry it. Now “The View” is seen virtually everywhere on ABC.

“The View” evolved to become more topical and opinionated as the years went on, a progression that is continuing. The Sept. 9 show will feature former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and focus on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman are each scheduled to appear in the first month.

Such guests co-exist with the popular “hot topics” opening segment, where Goldberg, Walters, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd kick around the day’s water-cooler subjects.

Still, Walters cautioned, “We are not `Meet the Press.’” Not when Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian are booked for Wednesday. Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Alicia Keys are among other first-month guests.

Behar and Shepherd will talk about what it was like for each of them to get married this summer, and the show plans to candidly follow Shepherd’s effort to have another child.

“We still do loving interviews,” Walters said. “We’re not Bill O’Reilly.”

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