NEW YORK—The View, a daytime talk show featuring a panel of women who discuss current events and topical issues, has found its newest cohost—a 53-foot-long giant squid.
The sea creature squares off against Whoopi in a heated round of Hot Topics.
"We feel that the squid brings a fresh new point of view to the program," said View executive producer and host Barbara Walters. "We looked at hundreds of potential candidates, but in the end, this rare and exotic creature from the darkest depths of the sea truly stood out."
"And as far as we can tell, it is a female," Walters added.
The 900-pound cephalopod from the family Architeuthidae joins cohosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Sherri Shepherd. Like many past hosts, who have come from such diverse backgrounds as law, stand-up comedy, and local news, the squid was a virtual unknown before joining the cast. Plucking it from relative obscurity, producers discovered the squid 26,000 feet below sea level in the Mariana Trench and said to themselves, "This is the perspective the show has been lacking."
In recent weeks, the squid has graced the covers of Elle, People, and TV Guide.
"After the squid's years spent dwelling on the ocean floor, I think viewers will be interested to hear its take on the hustle and bustle lifestyle of New York City," said ABC programming director Cyndi DeHart. "And personally, I can't wait to see how the squid interacts with Whoopi. Watch out!"
"This sassy cephalopod takes no prisoners," she added.
In its debut on the show, the marine life form was very animated, thrashing wildly and whipping its clawed tentacles across the studio during a heated debate about the Iraq War. Since then, however, the squid has been quiet and largely motionless. Many critics say the squid's reserved nature provides the perfect contrast to the louder, more opinionated cohosts such as Goldberg, Behar, and Hasselbeck.
According to fans of the show, the squid's most memorable moment thus far occurred last week, when it got a little testy during a discussion on whether teenage girls are getting "too sexy too soon" and squirted 12 gallons of ink onto Sherri Shepherd. The antic was met with laughter and applause from the studio audience.
"That was the moment this squid became a star," said View co-executive producer Bill Geddie, who has already booked the multi-tentacled mollusk on The Tonight Show and Live With Regis And Kelly, and has laid the groundwork on a deal for it to take over hosting duties of the syndicated version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in 2010.
In addition, the squid has already netted its own weekly segment on The View, "The Giant Squid's Gourmet Corner," which features quick and easy culinary tips for viewers at home.
Fan reaction to the giant aquatic invertebrate has been mostly positive. A recent ABC poll claims that the squid is connecting well with housewives and single mothers over 35.
"I like the squid," said Chicago resident Anna Herskowitz, 46. "I really relate to it. More than I relate to Elisabeth Hasselbeck, anyway."
Some viewers, however, have complained that the squid is too conservative. During an interview last week with Republican presidential candidate John McCain, the squid sat silently sprawled across the center of the studio and didn't ask the senator a single hard-hitting question.
"That squid is there for one reason, and that's to push its right-wing conservative agenda," Denver, CO viewer Mary Foley said. "Come on, give us viewers a little credit here."
Critics have also noticed some tension between the squid and the rest of the cast. The squid has been known to start arguments with Behar by wrapping one of its 27-foot tentacles around Behar's torso, lifting her into the air, and drawing her toward its powerful beak. The producers, however, say that such spur-of-the-moment conflict is what makes The View what it is, and that the attack was not personal.
In an interview last Friday, Behar voiced her support of the creature.
"We might argue on set—I might jokingly call the squid 'disgusting' or 'decomposing' or 'stupid,' and poke fun at its awful stench, and it might sometimes try to shred my body with its razor-sharp radula—but once the show is over, we're all friends," Behar said. "The squid even came to my daughter's piano recital."According to a network insider, the squid is planning an emotional segment that will air next Wednesday in which it reveals that it has breast cancer.