"Ladies Who Punch" by Ramin Setoodeh

"Ladies Who Punch" by Ramin Setoodeh (St. Martin's Press)

"Ladies Who Punch" by Ramin Setoodeh; St. Martin's Press (316 pages, $28.99)


No actual fists are thrown in "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of 'The View,'" but this behind-the-scenes takedown of the daytime juggernaut is determined to prove that heated words pack a wallop.

Author Ramin Setoodeh, a veteran entertainment reporter and editor, gives Barbara Walters props for creating a multigenerational platform for women, but quickly glosses over that accomplishment, painting the legendary broadcaster as a terrorizing, hopelessly out-of-touch egomaniac who never got over not casting herself as the show's moderator.

Walters gets off easy.

Star Jones comes across as an attention-seeking monster who used the program to finance her shopping addiction. "Saturday Night Live" was right on target in portraying Debbie Matenopoulos as an airhead. Rosie O'Donnell is a control freak madly in love with Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Network executives are so clueless, they couldn't manage a game of Red Rover.

Setoodeh's decades of covering the program pays off with the kind of details you normally don't get from the hush-hush world of show business. But his obsession with deep-dish gossip overshadows any attempt to analyze what has made the show so popular and influential.

O'Donnell recently said agreeing to be interviewed for the tell-all book is her biggest regret. That's something her colleagues who also participated could probably agree on.

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