The Talk sounds familiar: a klatch of well-known women of varying ages, races and backgrounds sitting around a sofa opining for an hour on live daytime network TV.
But on this chatfest, which mouths off today on CBS (2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, times may vary), don't expect any oh-no-she-didn't dust-ups over, say, the proposed Ground Zero mosque —à la last week's brouhaha on ABC's The View. The stars of The Talk—Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete and Marissa Jaret Winokur— say the show is avowedly apolitical.
"Every day they will be talking about the biggest news out there, but for this group of women, it might be being stuck in the carpool lane at school," says executive producer Brad Bessey. "We are not scouring the headlines, 'Oh, how do we produce a show to deal with these issues?' ... We're looking at the world around us, but through the eyes of the hosts," whose common denominator is motherhood.
That means discussions on subjects such as bullying, spanking and lying to your kids will dominate — "everything you would talk about if you sat with your group of friends over coffee," says executive producer (and mom of two) Gilbert, 35, who conceived The Talk as a kind of national mothers' group. (And yes, pop culture also will play a role: Premiere-week guests include Christie Brinkley and Jennifer Lopez.) "I totally respect The View and I think it's flattering to be compared to it, but I definitely think this is a different show."
The difference is the parental prism. "We have a lot of smart, funny things to say about that (motherhood) journey, and we haven't really seen that on television," says Chen, 40, a mom who has given up her Early Show anchor gig to moderate Talk. "We're from very different walks of life, so at least one of us is going to be relating to that woman at home who turns on the show and says, 'Oh, I've had that happen.' "
What's remarkable is that The View has been able to reign for so long — 13 years — without even a quasi-rival. "Because one (roundtable show) exists already doesn't mean that there can't be more than one," says analyst Bill Carroll of ad buyer Katz Television Group. "If (The Talk) is done well and it provides something that's a little bit different or unique, then there's a place for it."
As evidenced by recent test shows, the sparks are flying. "We're not fighting, but we're getting heated, which is good," says Remini, 40 and a mom of one. "I like emotions. I like a little life."