Julie Chen on 'The Talk' ratings, and why she didn't grill GinaMarie -- EXCLUSIVE

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Image Credit: Heather Wines/CBS

After The Talk posted its best premiere week ever, and Andy Herren won Big Brother, EW asked Julie Chen to reflect on the success of the daytime talk show, and why she thought it was best to not grill GinaMarie, Spencer and Aaryn during Wednesday’s finale.

When was the decision made to do the secrets during premiere week on The Talk? Late August the idea started bouncing around. The only caveat was our EP getting each host to agree with it, and he told each one of us that the other ladies already agreed. Peer pressure works with this group.

How many secrets did you consider but ended up NOT going with? Were the even bigger ones that were left on the cutting room floor? For me personally, judging by the surprising response, I don’t think I have any bigger secrets. I guess my ‘before’ photo was more hideous than I remember. In my opinion my eyebrows were the biggest offender!
 
Did you vacillate over wanting to talk about it on the show? Once I made up my mind, I embraced it and I also thought it might be freeing. I worked in a newsroom full of people who knew what I did and any of them could have leaked it. It might as well be me!

What do you make of the negative reaction? I definitely expected some negative response, but what surprised me was that people would start dissecting my face, and say that I had more done to my face than what I fessed up to. The good news is the negative press bonded me and my parents, my husband and loved ones even tighter, because they supported me and defended me. They were more upset than I was, which shows me how much they love me.

The Talk has really hit its stride. What do you attribute it to? It’s a combination of the chemistry of the five women at the table and the creativity and hard work of the executive producers and entire staff. This team knows how to make us look good. They know our strengths and weaknesses and know how to highlight our strengths. They make our job easy.

What’s different today about The Talk today versus its first year? We decided the panel didn’t have to be all moms because it limited the topics that we wanted to discuss. We couldn’t discuss every story through the perspective of being a mom. We learned that after only being on the air about three months, and once we made that decision, it opened up the playing field. The chemistry between me, Sharon, Sara, Sheryl and Aisha is like none I’ve ever experienced before in my career. It’s just magic.

Any other changes we may look forward to this year? I like to say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but we are always looking for new ways to make our show edgy and fun and predictable. Like Big Brother I would say ‘expect the unexpected’ at The Talk!

Now that Big Brother is over, do you think the most deserving person won?
Yeah, I do. Andy played an incredible social game. He’s also a thinker. He left personal items in each room on purpose, just so he could enter at any time and work himself into a private conversation. He absolutely deserved to win and none of the Houseguests disliked him.

Why didn’t you talk more in the post-finale about the contestants who behaved badly and who lost their jobs? Fans really seemed to want that payoff. We wanted the finale to be a celebration of who won, and not have the spotlight moved away from that person. We didn’t want the whole show to be me scolding the Houseguests.

You spent time with Aaryn, Spencer and GinaMarie after they left the house. Who seemed the most embarrassed about their in-house behavior? I actually did not spend any time with any of the Houseguests after they left the house. But I did hear that Aaryn was very concerned with how she was received by America and was very quiet and shell-shocked.  As for Spencer and GinaMarie, I don’t think either realizes they did anything offensive. They’re probably finding out right now as they are combing the internet.
 
Does it seem time to change casting procedures? Do you think its important that the producers vet people better? Absolutely not. This summer may have been controversial and offensive, but it was real. You have to keep in mind people put their best face forward during the casting interviews. We didn’t see any of this behavior during casting.  And once the game starts you can’t predict how people will behave — that speaks to the unpredictability of the show.

Do you think MVP worked? Will they do it again? I do think MVP worked. Just to see the paranoia run rampant and take over that house, it was worth it. I doubt that we’ll do it again, because that trick has been done. I’m sure we’ll think of something more devious for next summer.

Why do you think America gave Elissa the $25,000? I think because there are a lot of Rachel Reilly fans, and Rachel rallied her fans to get behind the Elissa vote.


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