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Diary of a Guest Co-Host of 'The View'
Last week I co-hosted The View and with Elisabeth Hasselbeck out on maternity leave, I was the lone resident conservative. I arrived a little frazzled because my hotel had failed to give me my wake-up call. As a result, I was 45 minutes late to the meeting that takes place behind-the-scenes during hair and makeup sessions, where the show's Hot Topics are debated and decided.
When I entered the makeup room, I was greeted warmly by Bill Geddie -- the executive producer, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and a staff that appears to have had virtually no turnover since I first appeared on "The View" more than 10 years ago. It was here, during hair and makeup, that I met Whoopi Goldberg for the first time.
Chatty and utterly unassuming as she noshed on a 10 a.m. bag of Doritos, it was easy to see how she so effortlessly inhabits the friendly and down-to-earth characters she portrays in so many of my favorite movies.Topics decided, I returned to my dressing room to change clothes and then stopped in to see Fran, the show's longtime stylist, for a quick chat and some last-minute advice. She approved of my outfit, which was put together the night before by my friend Alison Deyette.
Secret service was hovering around my dressing room because across the hall was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a guest in our third segment. After requesting a little more background on the controversial secretary from producers, I was led downstairs to the studio where a mic was pinned to my blouse and I was given the earpiece that allows me to hear the director's directions.
No sooner was I mic'd than I heard the stage manager announce, "Thirty seconds to show time." The music cued, I didn't even have time to get nervous before she quickly led me to the doorway to the stage, instructed me that my chair was the second from the left, next to Barbara, and cheerfully told to have a "great show" as I walked out on stage to the lights and wildly cheering audience.
Hot topics consisted of a slightly awkward conversation about why I was passed over for the show twice and then I announced that I was pregnant! Later, a comment I made about President Obama's Nobel Peace prize made national news. Over the past week, I've received several hundred letters, e-mails, Facebook messages and Tweets – some hoping producers will never ask me back again -- mostly from viewers thanking me for representing their point of view.
Several viewers wondered if the ladies of The View or the producers were angry about my controversial comments. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was encouraged to speak my mind, and when I did, I was praised for giving an honest point of view, one that clearly resonated with a certain segment of "The View's" audience. After the show, I chatted briefly with Barbara and Bill, and Joy and I talked about being a guest on her new show, "The Joy Behar Show" on HLN.
What did I learn from my day of co-hosting? That "The View" has the best hair and makeup people in the business. That no other show has better lighting. That staff and producers must love working there because they never quit. That while liberals might outweigh conservatives at the table, "The View" remains one of the few mainstream network television shows that allows conservatives to speak their mind. You just have to be willing to take the heat.
But the most interesting thing about "The View" was just how comfortable I felt – even though more than five years had passed since my last performance. The hosts and producers put me at ease, but so did the familiarity of it all. It's amazing how easily I forgot about the studio audience and the millions watching at home. When I was at the table it was just me and the ladies in a free-flowing, spirited conversation – precisely the kind I love to have.
Related: Read more from ParentDish columnist Rachel Campos-Duffy here.
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