I have an informal rule: I do not turn on the television on weekdays before 5:00 PM. Daytime TV reminds me of my first bout of unemployment, after my syndicated radio show was cancelled and I had little to do but immerse myself in my favorite soaps. It was one of the most depressing periods of my life, and even though I went through many, many more periods of being laid off (because, after all, I was working in "The Industry," and it's seasonal), I coped by taking temp jobs, writing, hanging out with friends -- and staying away from that TV dial.
But this week, I've made a couple of exceptions. This afternoon, I'm catching Katie Couric's new show, because her guests include some of my favorite bloggers (and a few friends). Their segment was taped last month, right after the BlogHer conference in New York. I've been looking forward to seeing it.
But that's not the only daytime show I've seen this week. On Monday, I joined eight Southern California bloggers in the audience for the season premiere of the CBS-TV daytime show, "The Talk."
Knowing how I feel about daytime TV, you might ask why I took time out of my day to go. It's a good question. I definitely have a lot on my plate right now, especially with everything we are doing over at MOMocrats. And that's the point. All work and no play makes Donna a cranky woman. After being immersed in election coverage (including the two recent conventions), I was craving some light, funny infotainment.
And that's exactly what I got.
This WAS a blogger event, and we were given some special privileges not usually accorded to studio audiences: we were allowed to bring in cameras and take photos before and after the show, and during commercial breaks. And we were invited to tweet.
And the hosts of the show visited with us during commercial breaks and a short Q&A session after the program was over.
The producers of The Talk were trying something new on Monday: The five hosts (Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, Sheryl Underwood and Aisha Tyler) were going to do the show without makeup. So were their guests. And -- we were informed in an email -- they requested the same of the audience.
Those of you who know me will laugh at that request. I stopped wearing makeup daily some time after my daughter was born. I don't know how much of that was due to being a time-pinched new mom, or whether it was just the fact that I was now in my 40's and suddenly didn't care about it as much. Both events really put things in perspective; you only want to take time for things that make a difference.
And believe me, there's no amount of spackle I can smear on my face that will erase the fact that I look like a woman in my mid-50's (which is what I am).
I learned a few things: That cast changes and time passed has enabled the five hosts to develop a chemistry and comfortable feeling I did not sense when I sampled the show shortly after its debut. That actress Jamie Lee Curtis (one of Monday's guests) just wrote another children's book. That even without makeup, the beautiful people of Hollywood are STILL beautiful...
...And that being in the audience of The Talk is an absolute HOOT.
During warm-up, the audience is led to excited applause with the help of remixed 1970's disco tunes like Boogie Oogie Oogie and Ring My Bell. It's obvious that the guy they have doing warm-up has no need to go to a gym for workouts, because he is such a physical presence with that audience.
The makeup free hosts appeared on the show in terry robes, so these were also distributed to the members of the audience. (And they are NICE: 60/40 Egyptian cotton/bamboo.) Sheryl Underwood whispered to us "Y'all should come back when we give out prizes. We give away really good stuff." (I'm paraphrasing here.)
But I confess that one reason I enjoyed sitting in the audience at The Talk was personal:
The show emanates from the CBS lot on Radford, which was familiar to me during those bouts of unemployment. It was still MTM Studios then, and the temp agencies I worked with sent me there a couple of times (including two weeks in the Hill Street Blues production offices, where I kept trying to hit David Milch up for a permanent job. No such luck, but he was very encouraging about my writing). My last TV production gig was also there, on a forgotten CBS sitcom called "You Take the Kids," which starred Nell Carter and had the distinction of being created and produced by a pre-Oscar Paul Haggis. I'll tell you all about that some day. But you may have to get me drunk to do it.
In the meantime, there was talk of returning to the show to do some live tweeting. I may even take them up on that -- but probably after this election is over. By that time, I'll be in dire need of some activities that are fun.
I may even watch it on TV.
DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation for this post. I did keep the robe. I agreed to visit the set of The Talk because I thought it would be fun. And it was.