TV Diva Drama: Tales From the Morning-Show Trenches

TV Diva Drama: Tales From the Morning-Show Trenches

Drama on morning talk shows? You don’t say! Apparently there are some hurt feelings over at ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where CBS anchor (and former NBC “Today Show” host) Katie Couric has been tapped to fill in as co-anchor during Robin Roberts’s vacation. The gossip is that Roberts is concerned about such a superstar subbing for her, and Elizabeth Vargas is irked because she expected to get the temporary spot. Is the morning gabfest infighting for real or just the usual “divas can’t get along” storyline? These books by famous female TV personalities provide inside dirt on the broadcasting life, straight from the source.

Katie Couric: The center of the storm
Cheerful, perky Katie Couric has managed to win over just about everyone—except, perhaps, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and the aforementioned women of “Good Morning America.” Couric hasn’t written her own sure-to-be-a-bestseller book yet, but she contributed some very personal stories to “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives”: memories of her early career as a desk assistant at ABC, her later adventures as a reporter, and her husband’s untimely death from cancer.

Robin Roberts: The absentee anchor
Robin Roberts is on a well-deserved vacation from the show that she’s helped earn several Emmy Awards. The drama taking place in her absence is nothing compared to what she’s endured in her personal life, including a well-publicized bout with breast cancer. “From the Heart: Eight Rules to Live By” includes her perspectives on broadcasting, sports (she was an ESPN anchor for 15 years), family, illness, and more.

Barbara Walters: The pioneering icon
Is there any female broadcaster on the planet more famous than Barbara Walters? (Okay, Oprah. But besides her?) Barbara Walters has been a reporter, an evening news anchor, and the on-air talent around which ABC built its long-running morning gabfest, “The View.” In “Audition,” Walters reveals the life behind the legend, using uncharacteristic candor to tell stories about her developmentally disabled sister Jackie, hostility from male co-workers, travels in Cuba with Fidel Castro, and, yes, the backstage goings-on at “The View.”

Maria Shriver: The good wife
Kennedy clan member and onetime First Lady of California Maria Shriver has worked in broadcasting for decades. In “Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went Out Into The Real World,” written back when things were reportedly still sunny in Schwarzenegger-land, Shriver acknowledges that “marriage is a hell of a lot of hard work” and relates anecdotes from her work life (including postponing an interview with Castro in order to accompany her daughter to her first day of school).

Deborah Norville: The comeback kid
Deborah Norville endured plenty of harsh criticism when she replaced Jane Pauley on the “Today” show in 1990, and she didn’t hold onto the job for long. She covered this difficult period in her life in her 1997 book, “Back on Track: How to Straighten Out Your Life When It Throws You a Curve.” Norville got her own back on track as a national radio host and, since 1995, as the host of “Inside Edition”). A devout Christian, she also authored “The Power of Respect” and the popular “Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work For You,” in which she ties scientific studies on happiness to the practice of thankfulness.

Whoopi Goldberg: The comediva
Whoopi Goldberg has played many roles: city kid, single mother on welfare, actress, comedian, Broadway star, young grandmother, and anchor of “The View.” In “Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There?” Goldberg gives her own spin on what she sees as the decline of polite manners in contemporary society.

Kathie Lee Gifford: The lovable kook
Oh, Kathie Lee Gifford. Is there any morning treat more delightful than her wine-drunk shenanigans with cohost Hoda Kotb on the fourth hour of the “Today” show? This former beauty pageant queen isn’t a seasoned reporter like some of the other women on our list, but she’s been a fixture on American television sets for decades. Her characteristic irreverence and naughty humor are on display in “Just When I Thought I’d Dropped My Last Egg: Life and Other Calamities.”

Sherri Shepherd: The sweetheart
If there’s one talk TV star whose big heart always outshines the sniping around her, it’s Sherri Shepherd of “The View.” The mother of a son with developmental disabilities, Shepherd is an activist for the rights of children and the disabled. She’s also a devout conservative Christian who weaves her faith into her work as an entertainer (she has admitted that she does not believe in evolution). In “Permissions Slips: Every Woman’s Guide to Giving Herself a Break” Shepherd teams up with veteran comedy writer Laurie Kilmartin to provide giggle-inducing advice for other super-busy gals as well as a window into a life marked by great hardships and great triumphs.

Joy Behar: The cut-up
Stand-up comic Joy Behar provides plenty of laughs in “When You Need a Lift: But Don’t Want to Eat Chocolate, Pay a Shrink, or Drink a Bottle of Gin,” but she also gives readers a hearty dose of inspiration. Behar and friends share their surefire methods for feeling better. For Joy, it’s her own ability to joke about the darkness—oh, and her love for handbags.


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