Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Regis Philbin; Interview with Wanda Sykes; Interview With Bette Midler

Aired December 30, 2009 - 21:00:00   ET


JOY BEHAR, HOST: A while back I had fun talking to a TV legend. He also happens to be the world record holder for most hours on television and that was before Regis Philbin did this show.

We start with a rare clip from Regis`s first show. Take a look.


REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY": They package things, they wrap things today, like, it infuriates me to open anything.


BEHAR: What do you think when you see that, Reg? How many years ago was that?

PHILBIN: I think that was one of my best shows.

You know, I started a talk show in 1961.


PHILBIN: And it ran three years, and then they brought me up to Hollywood to follow Steve Allen on the "Westinghouse Evening Show".


PHILBIN: And of course, I just wasn`t ready for that. You know because on my show in San Diego I produced it myself. I flew the people in from Los Angeles.

BEHAR: Yes, power.

PHILBIN: I put them up at the hotel. Yes, I did everything I wanted to do.

I got to Hollywood, I find out I got a producer, I got associate producers, I got writers. And I wasn`t prepared for that, and I blew that wonderful opportunity.

BEHAR: But look at you now, how many opportunities you`ve had since then.

PHILBIN: Well, it took me a long time to accomplish what -- where I`m at now.

BEHAR: And so many co-hosts.

PHILBIN: Yes, over the years. So many is right.

BEHAR: You`ve had -- what was the first one?

PHILBIN: Well, the first one, years and years ago was Mary Hart.

BEHAR: Oh, Mary Hart with the legs.

PHILBIN: She had legs then too, yes.

BEHAR: Yes, was she sexually harassed at her job?

PHILBIN: Not by me.

BEHAR: Because of her gorgeous legs.

PHILBIN: No, no, but you know, I saw her, I was doing a local show in -- I was going to start a local talk show on television. I was doing the news...


PHILBIN: ... on KABC and said -- in Los Angeles. And I knew that the show was coming and they wanted me to have a co- host. And so I asked Mary Hart and she was one of the first.

Before that it was Sarah Purcell then Cindy Garvey...

BEHAR: Oh yes.

PHILBIN: ... then Mary Hart, then Cindy Garvey again here in New York, then Anne Abernathy and then Kathy Lee, who stayed 15 years.

BEHAR: Oh yes.

PHILBIN: And now Kelly has been there eight.

BEHAR: It`s been eight years since Kelly?


BEHAR: Because I used to sit in with you a few times.

PHILBIN: I know. I enjoyed that.

BEHAR: They never offered me the gig.

PHILBIN: Who denied you that?

BEHAR: I had a job already.

PHILBIN: Of course you did.



BEHAR: But you`re such -- you`re a character in a certain way in the business too and "Saturday Night Live" has captured it. Let`s look at that.


BEHAR: Yes, I love all these.







UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never felt better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh come here and...


PHILBIN: Very funny.

BEHAR: You find that flattering when you see that?

PHILBIN: I kind of enjoyed it. I don`t know. I thought he was very good.

The guy who started this whole thing was Dana Carvey, though, when he appeared on "Saturday Night Live".

"I`m out of control." He would say, you know? Honest to God, I never said that.

BEHAR: Yes but you do laugh like that.

PHILBIN: I know, I can`t believe...

BEHAR: You really scared me.

PHILBIN: But what you go through every morning on that panel of women?

BEHAR: I know, I know.

PHILBIN: I scared you?

BEHAR: You scared me. Well, there`s, you know, I`m on this new show now and I`m all by myself here.

PHILBIN: Let me ask you something, how does it feel? It`s strange to be without four co-hosts.

BEHAR: It does feel a little bit different. I don`t have people interrupting me.

PHILBIN: Well, how do you think they feel about you getting the primetime slot?

BEHAR: Well, I think they`re happy for me.

PHILBIN: You think so?

BEHAR: Well, you don`t think so?

PHILBIN: When are four women ever happy for another woman getting something they`d love to have? Tell me that.

BEHAR: No, you`re assuming that they would love to have another show. I mean, I have to work hard.

PHILBIN: They want to sit right here. Don`t kid yourself...

BEHAR: Well, Sherry Shepard has a new sitcom.

PHILBIN: I`m on her show tomorrow night.

BEHAR: Oh, you`re really making the old rounds.

PHILBIN: I`m not making the rounds. People invite me.

BEHAR: But how many hours a week do you work?

PHILBIN: Four. No, I`m on four days a week except when we go to sweeps, and then...

BEHAR: And what about the millionaire show? You`re on that also. Then you`re doing guest stints.

PHILBIN: I`m not on the millionaire show. It went off six years ago. Can somebody help me here?

BEHAR: What do you mean? Aren`t you back hosting again? I saw you recently.

PHILBIN: It was for ten nights.

BEHAR: Oh, all right.

PHILBIN: Thank you for staying in touch.

BEHAR: Do you think that you actually saved the network like they say?

PHILBIN: I absolutely did. In the years that that millionaire show came on, ABC was desperate...


PHILBIN: ... more desperate than they are today. And that`s saying a lot.

And so, anyway, yes, I went on there, and, bang, the show was an enormous hit.

BEHAR: Yes. You did. Kathy always said -- or was it Kelly? I never get, I don`t remember which one it was...

PHILBIN: No, it was Kathy Lee. And then Kathy -- I mean then Kelly.

BEHAR: So now you like Kelly the best?

PHILBIN: Do I like Kelly the best?

BEHAR: Yes, do you like Kelly the best?

PHILBIN: I love them all. They`re all my girls, you know.

BEHAR: How do you feel about the fact that Barbara Walters is considered a living legend and you`re not?

PHILBIN: Maybe because she`s lived longer than me? Oh.

Hey, hey. Don`t ever tell Barbara that.

BEHAR: No, no. She`s not watching.

PHILBIN: Wait a minute. Barbara Walters...


PHILBIN: ... is a true icon...


PHILBIN: ... if you want to call anybody an icon. No, honest to God, she blazed a lot of trails in this business...

BEHAR: Right, yes.

PHILBIN: ... for women, for people...

BEHAR: She`s a pioneer. We wanted to get her a stagecoach recently.

PHILBIN: Thank you. No, but she`s great. I don`t even consider myself in her league to tell you the truth.

BEHAR: No, why not? You`re an icon on television also.

PHILBIN: No, I`m not. No, I`m not.

BEHAR: Well, she interviewed Fidel Castro, when you interview who?

PHILBIN: I interviewed...

BEHAR: Newt Gingrich.

PHILBIN: I never interviewed him. We don`t go into politics.

BEHAR: You don`t interviewed politicians. You don`t that?

PHILBIN: No, no.

BEHAR: You don`t like politics?

PHILBIN: I really -- as a matter of fact I don`t like politics.

BEHAR: Really.

PHILBIN: I really don`t. I think it`s so jaded now and everybody has to follow the party line.

BEHAR: But what about when FDR was in office?

PHILBIN: Then I interviewed him.

BEHAR: Let me ask you something. What do you think about Leno`s show? Let`s talk showbiz for a second.

PHILBIN: Well...

BEHAR: Do you think he made a good move or what?

PHILBIN: Well, the first week he did.


PHILBIN: The ratings went through the roof and all that.

BEHAR: Curiosity.

PHILBIN: But it`s a tough thing, isn`t it? I mean to do a variety show with all of the best that the networks have got to put up right now.


PHILBIN: He may survive. He will survive this few weeks until people either make up their minds about what they`re watching on the other networks and come back to him, or maybe they don`t.

BEHAR: Why did he give up his desk? The desk, all comedians need notes in front of them. Need a desk.


BEHAR: That was a big mistake. I`m going to call him.

PHILBIN: You`re exactly right.


PHILBIN: I was almost going to call him and say, "Jay, don`t give up the desk.

BEHAR: Get the desk back.

PHILBIN: The desk is everything.

BEHAR: Exactly.

PHILBIN: But he wanted a different look. He wanted to have more of a variety show...


PHILBIN: ... than what he had. But why not just do what they were doing before which was a big success?

BEHAR: I know.

PHILBIN: It`s a tough slide (ph), it really is.

BEHAR: Now, Anderson Cooper has been sitting in for you. Do you think he has your mojo?

PHILBIN: He wants my job so bad.

BEHAR: Does he have your mojo?

PHILBIN: Anderson Cooper every night dreams about getting my job permanently really.

BEHAR: Really.

PHILBIN: He doesn`t want to grow up like the Wolf. He wants his own job.

BEHAR: I think he has grown up like the Wolf already.

Now, what about this Halloween show you have coming up? I`ve heard you`re doing -- what costumes are you doing?

PHILBIN: Well, I don`t know this year. It`s yet to be decided by my producer Gelman.

BEHAR: Oh Gelman.

PHILBIN: Yes, he makes all the decisions.


PHILBIN: But it seems to me...

BEHAR: Doesn`t he listen to you?

PHILBIN: Oh yes, we all, we all...

BEHAR: Isn`t he really your bitch instead of you being his bitch?

PHILBIN: You know, I heard Kathy Griffin say that. How dare her say that about Gelman. But it was funny.

But anyway, I think we started that whole thing about the host is getting dressed up for Halloween.


PHILBIN: Did you -- do you girls do (INAUDIBLE)?

BEHAR: Yes. We`re going to get dressed up. I hate it.

PHILBIN: Do you do it every year?

BEHAR: Every year. And it just ruins my makeup and hair. I despise it.

PHILBIN: And some of the changes it drives you crazy.


PHILBIN: But we always came up with a pretty good show. And you know, I think it`s a lot of fun. But I just hate going through it.

BEHAR: Well, I mean, one year you came out as a woman and Kelly came out as a guy, right?

PHILBIN: Exactly. I did that, I think, with Kathy Lee and then with Kelly as well. She does a funny Regis, Kelly.

BEHAR: She does.

PHILBIN: Oh, yes.

BEHAR: Ok, before we go I have to...

PHILBIN: Where are we going?

BEHAR: We have to go...

PHILBIN: Are we done?


PHILBIN: I want to hang around a little bit longer.

BEHAR: Now you want to stay? Before you were (INAUDIBLE) -- but you know what?

I know you don`t do politics, but how about pop culture. Are you shocked and upset that Jon and Kate Gosselin are getting a divorce?

PHILBIN: You know, she was on the show.


PHILBIN: I may have made a big mistake. But I want to tell you something. I have a thing against reality shows.


PHILBIN: I think they are so fake.

BEHAR: Right.

PHILBIN: I think they are produced before they begin. I think people know where they`re going, what they`re going to say, what the situation is.

These things just don`t happen and you know that. You`ve eight cameras and set up. So these guys, the producers, tell them, hey, this is -- I thought it was -- I thought it was a setup, the divorce. Now I think it headlines like a divorce, especially with a woman who has eight kids.

BEHAR: Exactly. I don`t care for him at all.

PHILBIN: Well, I didn`t say I loved them either. I`m talking about what reality shows can do.

BEHAR: I know. Well maybe -- look, if these shows...

PHILBIN: You know, you`re a very attractive woman. Honest to God, and with this lighting you can go all the way.

Never a dull moment with Regis.

Back in a minute with Wanda Sykes.


BEHAR: My next guest is one of the funniest and edgiest women working in comedy today. Here program "The Wanda Sykes Show" can be seen Saturday nights on the Fox Network.

Recently I sat down with Wanda and tried to get caught up with her busy career.


BEHAR: Wanda, hi.


BEHAR: How are you?

SYKES: Good to be here.

BEHAR: Listen. You`ve got so many things going on, girlfriend. You`ve got the HBO special, you`re on the Christina -- what is it again?

SYKES: "The New Invincible Christine".


SYKES: Glad you`re a loyal fan.

BEHAR: It`s a rather laborious title but a funny show. And now you have a talk show at night competing with all the boys late at night.

SYKES: Well, I`m on Saturday night.

BEHAR: Oh, you`re on Saturday.

SYKES: The boys take the night off.

BEHAR: Chelsea has one too?

SYKES: Right. Yes. Yes. Very funny.

BEHAR: "Chelsea Lately" -- that show. She`s on every night, right?

SYKES: I think she`s on every night.

BEHAR: So you`re only on, on Saturday night.

SYKES: Just Saturday night.

BEHAR: So that`s how you can do all this work.

SYKES: Yes. With a black president now I don`t have to work as hard.

BEHAR: That`s true. Ok.

SYKES: I just do -- they wanted me to work seven nights. I was like, no, race card, black president.

BEHAR: Pass the race card.

SYKES: You know we get two race cards a year now with a black president. Sweet.

BEHAR: Really?


BEHAR: That`s great. So the last person to -- a woman to have a talk show, late night, was Joan Rivers. You know that was 25 years ago.


BEHAR: You know, I mean, that was -- Dick Cheney was still on his first pacemaker. Nothing for that -- ok, fine.

SYKES: I`m with you. I`m with you.

BEHAR: It`s fine. No, they`re brain dead. It`s fine. It`s ok.

Rumor has it that you wanted a black head writer for your show.

SYKES: A blackhead writer?

BEHAR: A black head writer.


BEHAR: Not a blackhead writer. How many jokes can you do on one blackhead?

SYKES: You can`t. There`s not a lot there.

BEHAR: Why was it important for you to have a black head writer?

SYKES: I didn`t specify that I wanted a black, you know, head writer. I said I wanted a funny writer; a guy who was good. It wasn`t -- I didn`t put that out. That wasn`t in the...

BEHAR: It was just a rumor, not true.

SYKES: Not true. Not true. I said I wanted a head writer with a large penis.

BEHAR: Oh. Ok.

SYKES: You can -- you know. However you want to go with that one.

BEHAR: I guess they interpreted it that way.

SYKES: And thick lips. That`s all I said. Large penis and thick lips, that`s what I said. That`s all I wanted.

BEHAR: And a good dancer.

SYKES: And great dancer, yes.

BEHAR: So they can come to any conclusion they want.

SYKES: Yes. I didn`t say nothing about black.

BEHAR: I see.

Everyone`s talking about the Letterman Show and the staff quoted, all the staff quotes are on all these shows. I found out last night here that there are 50 writers on all three shows and they`re all male.

SYKES: Really?

BEHAR: All male -- 50 male writers. Is that shocking to you?

SYKES: Very shocking. I have female writers, male writers, you know, black, white, it`s a mix. Yes.

BEHAR: And you were a female -- a writer...

SYKES: I still am.

BEHAR: You`re still a female show-woman.

SYKES: Yes. Still there.

BEHAR: And you were working with Chris Rock.

SYKES: Worked with Chris Rock, right. I was the only female on that staff.

BEHAR: Did anyone sexually harass you over there?

SYKES: I wasn`t that hot back then.

BEHAR: That was before you were a lesbian.

SYKES: Before I became a hot lesbian.

BEHAR: Now that you`re a lesbian, they`ll be all over you.

SYKES: Now I`m a hot lesbian. They would be all over me.

Back then, yes -- no, no one hit on me. I mean, come on. You know, I mean, we`re filthy. Comics are filthy. We talk, stuff that we say is -- it`s not appropriate outside of the comedy room. It`s not.

But, yes, but the guys over there, they were cool.

BEHAR: They were cool with it.


BEHAR: There`s some kind of scuttlebutt about how the guys in the comedy room, they don`t feel comfortable in front of the girls with their, you know, with their flatulence material. The girls probably go, that`s not funny, and they don`t like that.

SYKES: Well, yes. I guess. Or, you know, they -- guys are -- I`m not going to even say intimidated, but it`s, to me it`s like they don`t hear women in the writers` room. When you`re there, you pitch something and ...

BEHAR: You`re invisible.

SYKES: You`re invisible. It`s like they don`t ever hear. Another guy will pitch exactly what I just said and they think it`s the funniest thing in the world.

BEHAR: Why is that?

SYKES: And I`m like, didn`t I just say that? You know, I just said -- I think guys, like, when they`re at work they tune off their ears to listen to a female`s voice. You know? It`s like, ok, I`m at work. No need to hear that.

Then when they go back home they turn it up a little bit and, ok, all right, ok, I can barely hear her. I hear her voice and that`s it.

BEHAR: I`m going to change the subject if you don`t mind.

SYKES: We want to roll with that, Joy. It`s your show.

BEHAR: We`re moving along here because I want to talk about the fact you came out as a -- you came out of the closet. I don`t know if you were in the closet.

SYKES: I really wasn`t in the closet.

BEHAR: I knew you when you were married when you were Wanda Sykes-Hall and the next thing I know you were gay and you were just Wanda Sykes. I never saw that coming.

SYKES: You didn`t saw that coming? You don`t remember after we were making out, you didn`t see that coming?

BEHAR: Does that make you gay, one make out session? For goodness sakes. You came out at a same-sex marriage rally in Las Vegas in 2008.

SYKES: Right. There was a lot...


SYKES: I`m very proud. I`m proud to be a woman. I`m proud to be a black woman. I`m proud to be gay. And I love you all. Now, let`s go get our equal rights. Come on.


SYKES: I`m not proud of that hair color.

BEHAR: This is cute. This color`s cute. When did you realize that you were gay? How did it happen? Tell me.

SYKES: How did it happen?

BEHAR: Was it a slow...

SYKES: I think - you know, it was the way I was born and I think earlier on, like when I was in maybe second or third grade I knew.

BEHAR: Oh, really?

SYKES: Yes. Yes.

BEHAR: You were attracted to the girls?

SYKES: I remember telling one of my brother`s girlfriends or something, I was like, I wish I were a boy or whatever, so then you could be my girlfriend. Yes. She was like, oh, no, no. You can`t say that. You know? You can`t think like that.

So, you know, so you just go ok, that was a bad move. You just suppress everything and just get in line. Ok, this is the way things are supposed to be.

BEHAR: You got in line for a long time.


BEHAR: You got in line and then you just -- there must have been a trigger though. Where were you when it came to you? Were you at a bowling alley? Where were you?

SYKES: Bowling alley, softball game, come on.

BEHAR: Where were you? Come on, tell me.

SYKES: I don`t even remember. I think it just happens. You know? It`s -- you know, you have the attraction there I guess.

BEHAR: You`re not the first person. It happened to a couple of other...

SYKES: I`m not the only gay person? Get out of here.

BEHAR: No, women comedians; women comedians who thought that they were straight and then they turn out to not be.


BEHAR: And they`re so much happier now that they were all out of the closet.

SYKES: So much happier. Yes.

BEHAR: I want to talk more about this and some other stuff when we come back with Wanda Sykes, not Wanda Sykes Hall.

Where`s your husband now?


SYKES: First black president. But I have to tell you, it`s a little bittersweet. It is. First black president and the country is broke. What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?



SYKES: Thanks to Curtis (ph) I`m earning $15,000 a month in child support, and I don`t even have a child.


BEHAR: Ok. That was my guest, Wanda Sykes, on "The Chris Rock Show". That was a big break for you? Wasn`t it?

SYKES: Yes, that was a big break. That was my first real TV gig as a writer. It got me in the writers` guild. That`s the best ground where I learned everything; how to edit, produce.

BEHAR: Really?

SYKES: Yes, because it`s such a writer-driven show. Chris would let us stay with the piece. Write it, then you go out and shoot it, edit, produce. And everything I learned from that show is why I can do my own show now.

I give Chris all the credit. No check, just credit.

BEHAR: Ok. Let me talk about your marriage a little bit. You got married?


BEHAR: You`re not -- it`s a marriage is not a civil union.

SYKES: It`s a marriage. We got married before Prop 8.

BEHAR: What`s your wife`s -- you call her your wife, right?

SYKES: Alex.

BEHAR: That was before Prop 8?


BEHAR: So are you still married in California?

SYKES: We`re still married in California.

BEHAR: There`s a grandfather clause for people who got married before?

SYKES: The marriages that happened before Prop 8 passed are still valid. Yes. So we`re still married.

BEHAR: That must have been a disappointing night, election night for you because Prop 8 passed but, of course, Obama won so it was a mixed bag.

SYKES: Yes. Yes. It was very -- like a roller coaster ride. At first, like, Obama won, yes. Then it`s like, we saw the numbers coming in and saw that Prop 8 was going to pass. So I couldn`t even really fully enjoy my black president win.


SYKES: You know? Because now it`s like, gee, ok, black president but now I`m a second-class citizen.

BEHAR: Are you disappointed with the fact that he`s really sort dragging his heels on gay marriage a little bit?

SYKES: You know, would I like for him to step it up? Yes. I`m being very patient, you know, because when he took over, this country was in the dumper.

BEHAR: I know it.

SYKES: I mean, people -- there are like Bush deniers out there, like, it never happened. It happened. We were in, I mean, dire straits: the economy, everything.

So I want him to take care of these problems first. These are things that he should be focused on. The war; I mean, you know Afghanistan, Iraq. These are the things that...

BEHAR: Health care, the economy.

SYKES: These are the things that he needs to put on the, you know, on the forefront. I believe eventually he`ll get to gay rights.

You know, do we want to be standing in the back of the line waiting for it? No, but as long as we`re in the line, as long as we`re -- you know? He`s getting to it.

BEHAR: The patience that the left is exhibiting is phenomenal for him because the right is really on his case and pushing him and he`s not doing it and he`s a do-nothing president and they just carry-on like that.

The left, like us, people like us, are giving him time. More time because we know.

SYKES: Yes because we know how awful, you know, the place that we were in when he took office. And to criticize him, that`s like somebody giving you life-saving CPR then you go, your breath stinks. You know?

BEHAR: Exactly. I mean, Dick Cheney had the nerve to say he was dithering on Afghanistan.

SYKES: Dithering.

BEHAR: When they rushed into Iraq and there were no WMD there and they just started a war that will not end.

SYKES: Right.

BEHAR: He says he`s dithering; the nerve, the hypocrisy. It boggles the mind.

Stay there. We`ll be back in a bit. We`re not done with you yet. Don`t go away.



WANDA SYKES, COMEDIENNE: Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this is administration fails. He said I hope America fails. I don`t care about people losing homes or jobs or soldiers in Iraq. He just wants the country to fail. To me that`s treason. He is not saying anything different than what Osama Bin Laden is saying. You might want to look into this sirs. I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker and he was so strung out on oxycontin, he missed his flight.


JOY BEHAR, HLN HOST: I`m back with a very funny woman her new late night talk show premiers on November 7th. That was from your Washington correspondence dinner. You caused a lot of controversy on that dinner. Everyone who does it causes controversy and gets criticized for it. It`s a thankless job. Why did you say yes?

SYKES: Right. I mean come on it`s the first black president.

BEHAR: You got to do it.

SYKES: You got do it. You know, I had to do it. It`s just an honor to be invited. Then I said I made a decision. You know what, you asked for it so you`re going to get it. I`m not going to

BEHAR: Hold back.

SYKES: Hold back. You know, I will show up and be me. So it was -

BEHAR: Was Limbaugh passed?

SYKES: It was funny. I have no idea.

BEHAR: You don`t know.

SYKES: I don`t know. Who cares? It was so funny because I was so wrapped up in focusing and sitting at the table and you know the first lady is there. I`m going through my notes and going through my cards and saying I got it, I got it. She leaned over to say something to me and she leaned over and I literally looked at her and went -- I went back to my cards. That`s how focused I was. I brushed off the first lady like I`m working, woman!

BEHAR: I know but she was interrupting you.

SYKES: Yes, she was interrupted me.

BEHAR: Hey, I`m working over here.

SYKES: People were asking me what was the experience like and I don`t even remember.

BEHAR: Let me go back a minute to your family. Because I`m interested. You have twins now.


BEHAR: What`s your girlfriend`s name?

SYKES: Alex.

BEHAR: I keep thinking Kelli. I`m thinking of another.

SYKES: Oh lord!!

BEHAR: So Alex gave birth to the babies. Sorry. Has your family seen the babies and how are they dealing with this. It`s an interracial gay marriage. It`s a lot to digest.

SYKES: So we should have stayed out of Louisiana.

BEHAR: Stay out of Mississippi, Mississippi. I should say Alabama -

SYKES: Oh boy, you should take a ride through the south. And just filmed it, just see how many we can get through.


SYKES: Well here`s the Mississippi border.

BEHAR: I mean has anyone in the family come to see the kids or is your family accepting and do you care?

SYKES: My brothers and his wife and nephews have seen the kids. It`s just like an issue as far as with distance, I guess. My parents do plan on seeing the kids.

BEHAR: Oh they do. Everything is copacetic at home?

SYKES: I`m not going to say that, but it`s getting there, you know, it`s getting there.

BEHAR: So when does your show start?

SYKES: November 7th.

BEHAR: Do you feel nervous about it?

SYKES: A little, but usually everything comes together. You know, I work hard at it.


SYKES: Yes, Keith Robinson. He`s very funny comic. Yes, we`ve been friends for 20 years though. So it`s great. I get to hang out with Keith and just - just every week just rips him apart.

BEHAR: Well I just want you to be successful.

SYKES: Why thank you.

BEHAR: Because it`s been so many years and there is never a woman in late night, particularly on the big three network. We have Chelsea late night and now you. You know those real money makers.

SYKES: Well Mo`Nique is on BET.

BEHAR: Did you see "Precious?"

SYKES: Not yet. I wasn`t to see it.

BEHAR: I hope she comes on the show because I want to tell her what a brilliant performance. Oh my god! The levels, she is a comedian. Who knew? It was like Meryl Streep level. Very interesting stuff. What do you think about how the country is going now? Do you feel positive about it?

SYKES: I feel positive. I just hope we don`t lose focus. Because when you see how we jumped behind balloon boy, that`s scary.

BEHAR: I know.

SYKES: That`s scary -- that balloon boy.

BEHAR: Did you think he was in there - in that thing? You didn`t think? I`d say that he can`t be in there -

SYKES: Hell no. No, I knew he wasn`t in there. Look at the father. He looks like a big dummy. He just like -- what makes you think this idiot can build a spaceship - that could carry a child? It looks like a big bag of jiffy pop. What the hell.

BEHAR: That`s right. That`s exactly what it looked like.

SYKES: And but everybody wanted to - you know, they loved the drama. Loved the drama. They were disappointed when the boy was okay.

BEHAR: Well no, they weren`t disappointed.

SYKES: They wanted him to be found in the woods somewhere, right. Being protected by a bear or something. They wanted a bear to come out of the woods.

BEHAR: Have you seen the new Michael Jackson movie?

SYKES: No, I have not. I plan on it. That`s another thing on my list. Because you know I have a lot of free time now Joy with the show and twins and everything. Why are you asking me like I have free time or like a life or something?

BEHAR: I`m sorry. I thought maybe you saw it. Because you know now that he is dead he`s making a lot of money.

SYKES: He is making a lot of money.

BEHAR: A lot. He`s it the 3rd or the 4th? The 3rd or 4th wealthiest dead celebrity.

SYKES: Elvis and who?

BEHAR: Elvis is 4th. Yves St. Laurent, the designer, and the composers Rogers and are one and two. Then Michael Jackson, then Elvis. Isn`t that something? It`s very fascinating.

SYKES: I was going to say something inappropriate.

BEHAR: Go ahead -- say it.

SYKES: oh, no.

BEHAR: We can cut it out. We have a seven-second delay. Come on, say it. Say it. Do you want to say the f word? Say it. Come on, Wanda. What`s the most tasteless joke you ever told?

SYKES: What I was about to say.

BEHAR: Go ahead say it - I`m telling you. We have ways here. Cut things out. Go ahead.

SYKES: And then you get it and then you air it. (EXPLICATIVE DELETED)

BEHAR: We won`t. I promise you.

SYKES: I`ll tell you later. Want me to write it down.

BEHAR: No, now what`s the thing you love the most? Is it stand up or the TV show is it acting? You do everything.

SYKES: All of it. I love all of it. I would probably get bored if I was just doing one. Stand up is the key. That`s the thing. That`s where it started.

BEHAR: What`s the most stressful? People why it`s the most stressful. Because I`m tired of saying it. I know it is. I know it is.

SYKES: It`s just you. It`s you and the audience and it`s never the same. You don`t know what kind of audience you are going to get, you don`t know what the venue is like. It`s just -- you are alone. There is no edit. I will cut that out.

BEHAR: Right. Everybody is wearing clothes and you are naked. That`s how it feels. Everybody is looking at you and you have no clothes and they are in tuxedos. Make me laugh, bitch.

SYKES: Exactly.

BEHAR: Do you think it`s harder for women?

SYKES: I think -- I don`t know about harder for women. You do have to get past this first. Okay, stop looking at my bobs and can you hear me? Let`s have some fun.

BEHAR: Do you think it`s easier for lesbians?

SYKES: Easier for lesbians?

SYKES: Hot lesbians?

BEHAR: Not hot lesbians. Just lesbians. Plain old lesbians. If men know you are a lesbian --

SYKES: No, al they`re doing is fantasizing that I bet I can turn her.

BEHAR: Exactly.

SYKES: Or picturing me with you knows. Fantasize about joining in so -- actually it`s harder for me, Joy.

BEHAR: Is it harder for you? I don`t think so.

SYKES: It`s harder. It`s harder.

BEHAR: Thanks, Wanda. When we come back, my first guest. The incomparable Bette Midler.


BEHAR: This lady made TV history and won an Emmy as Johnny Carson`s last guest.



BEHAR: One of the great moments in television and now she is my first guest. Here`s hoping the magic continues. Bette Midler, thank you honey for coming on the show. It sort of tears us up when we see that doesn`t it?

BETTE MIDLER, ACTRESS/SINGER: Well maybe you. For me I`m all smiles. Once in a while I get misty-eyed. He was a wonderful guy, wonderful guy. He did so much for me and so much for so many people I know.

BEHAR: Not me. I never got on his show.

MIDLER: That`s too bad. Well maybe you didn`t deserve to get on it.

BEHAR: So who cares? Well you know I`m sorry he`s dead and everything.

MIDLER: But here you have a show of your own. Hey congratulations. He was a great guy and you will have a great run.

BEHAR: I hope so. I`m glad that you are my first guest and you were his last. Do you think - just one more question about him, do you think he really wanted to leave? Does anyone want to leave?

MIDLER: I think some people really want to and some don`t. Everyone is different. I think there is some people work in television today that I will have to be carried out feet first.

BEHAR: No names.

MIDLER: Other people who had enough and its hard work. It`s really hard work. When you look around and you are a certain type of person, you say gee, its lots of fame. I have been doing this for a long time. And every day is pretty much the same. It`s that kind of people say I had enough.

BEHAR: What are would you do if you weren`t in Vegas.

MIDLER: We`re not talking about me.

BEHAR: Well no, but I mean.

MIDLER: I`m not retiring and you can`t make me.

BEHAR: So you never retire ever?

MIDLER: You know what? I would never say never but I would not - if I were going to retire I wouldn`t announce it. I would just; you know, back up into the wings, and walk away. I wouldn`t say -- why would you announce it? Because then if you change your mind -- you know.

BEHAR: Oh well like Cher, she has a comeback.

MIDLER: Well God bless her you know. She`s made it big.

BEAR: Let`s talk politics for a minute ok?


BEHAR: I know you that you stumped Obama.

MIDLER: I did.

BEHAR: Why -- was that the first time you ever stumped for a president?

MIDLER: No, I stump for a lot of people - I stump for all the Democrats for years I think since the late 70s.

BEHAR: They have been calling him a lot of bad names from me fascist to a socialist which is weird because they are the opposite, really. So what do you think about that?

MIDLER: I think it`s a new low in political discourse. And it`s very distressing. I think people of good will are distressed by it because it`s ugly and so wacky.

BEHAR: It`s wacky but what should people of good will do? Besides talk about it like we are?

MIDLER: I think -- I think people of good will should talk rationally. And politely. In a civil tone. And people should be willing to listen to the other side. And the people you are speaking to should be willing to listen to your side. That seems to be gone.

BEHAR: Well we are trying to do that. But you know someone like Glenn Beck had made gazillions of dollars because he is being sort of hateful in many ways. He calls himself a clown and comedian. Do you think he`s funny?

MIDLER: I don`t think he is funny even a little bit. I never had a laugh from Glenn Beck. In fact, I find him terrifying.

BEHAR: You do?

MIDLER: I do, I find him terrifying. He is like an old school demagogue and that`s frightening. Because you know, if you really - if you look around at the rest of the world and what this kind of behavior - this kind of behavior has done like in Rwanda.


MIDLER: Where the demagogues got on the radio and cemented all that hate between Tootsies and the

BEHAR: Whootos.

MIDLER: Whootos. And the devastation that happened, it`s terrifying. And that could happen -- you could turn on a dime. That could happen here.

BEHAR: Well we have free speech here and everything he said -- we can say something else.

MIDLER: I don`t think his speech is so free. I don`t think hate speech should be


MIDLER: - I`m not for censorship. But I also feel like be a human being.

BEHAR: I know, but you can`t stop people from hate speech because they have the right to say it. That`s the first amendment.

MIDLER: I think that -- I think that people who are educated can be civil are civil. That`s all there is to it. And people who are not educated in any way. Who are just a little on the barbaric side, what can you do. But that`s the thought of the education system, I think, in a way they are brought up.

BEHAR: You think it`s a lot of trouble, the education system? Speaking of that, what do you think of Sarah Palin?

MIDLER: I think she is a really interesting character on the American theme.

BEHAR: Do you identify with her American --

MIDLER: I do not identify with Sarah Palin.

BEHAR: She hunts and fishes. Do you hunt and fish?

MIDLER: I don`t think she hunts and fishes according to Levi Johnston.

BEHAR: Oh really?

MIDLER: No according to Levi Johnston in the Vanity Fair, she doesn`t hunt or fish, in fact, has never picked up a fishing rod or cooked. Which I found --

BEHAR: Do you believe him?

MIDLER: You know what that article is so fascinating because it had a sound of it -- the voice in the article seemed so legitimate that I kind of sort of could go either way.

BEHAR: So you believe him, the little jerk, over her?

MIDLER: Well - you, it was interesting. It was very interesting.

BEHAR: Those people are laughing are alcoholics anonymous. I hear - go ahead.

MIDLER: I don`t actually know the way - I don`t actually know many journalists. I know one or two and I don`t really know how they do what they do. I don`t really know how they do what they do and I don`t know how they manage to elicit all that information from someone like Levi Johnston.

BEHAR: Well I guess you don`t know if he is telling the truth in Vanity Fair. There`s no way of knowing really.

MIDLER: Do we know if anyone is telling the truth at all, ever? I mean it`s gotten to that point and you just don`t know.

BEHAR: I know.

MIDLER: I mean you used to have these bottom feeder guys, you know these father figures. Walter Cronkite is telling it like it is. Where is Walter? You know?

BEHAR: He died a few years ago.

MIDLER: I know that. That`s what I mean.

BEHAR: This one conversation so far.

MIDLER: We can go on.

BEHAR: We can go on.

MIDLER: This is a bad year.

BEHAR: You know I want to change the subject.

MIDLER: I know. I`m dying right now.

BEHAR: You know, you and I are constantly being -- they think I`m and you are me.

MIDLER: Separated at birth.

BEHAR: Let`s look at the camera together for a second. Can that -- there is a picture. Look. Do we look alike?

MIDLER: I have a look on my face like why are you pointing that camera at me and you are like here I am.

BEHAR: They are pointing something behind me.

MIDLER: No, actually in this right here -- We have had photographs where we look very, very much alike especially when I had red hair, but I haven`t had red hair for 30 years, so there you go.

BEHAR: I was on a cruise before I had "The View" right and I`m on this cruise, and I performed. And I walked around the boat and I talked to people for the cruise and then I overheard someone saying how they can afford Bette Midler. I mean -- that was at the end of the cruise.

MIDLER: That`s hilarious.

BEHAR: That`s a true story.

MIDLER: I was in Paris, I went to Paris on a little holiday not so long ago.

BEHAR: Did you see Roman Polanski?

MIDLER: I did not see him. But I`ll tell you, I was in the Lou, we were looking for a Lou in the Louvre and I got there and I`m standing in line like everybody does and the lady said you look just like Bette Midler. And I said imagine. She said I bet you wish you had her money.

BEHAR: That`s a good story. But you know, your act has been like -- I love your work. I love your work.

MIDLER: Thank you very much.

BEHAR: I saw you in Vegas and I saw you in theaters in New York and the old days when you were first starting with Barry Manilow and all those great years and all your albums. I`m gushing now over you, but you are not really blue.

MIDLER: I work blue.

BEHAR: I don`t think that`s blue. I would say that you were bawdy.

MIDLER: Well, I am bawdy. First you have to tell the audience at home what blue means.

BEHAR: Well blue means that you are swearing. You might drop the f-bomb for example and other words that George Collins said not to use on television. You can do it in a concert.

MIDLER; Yes, you can. And I do. I sometimes feel like I`m working a little blue for my crowd because my crowd loves it.

BEHAR: They love it.

MIDLER: My husband says they pay to hear you swear. At first, I was offended. But then I thought, yeah, I think he`s right.

BEHAR: He might be right. Yes, people love that stuff. OK, we`re going to take a break. Bette Midler`s not going anywhere we`ll be right back right after this.




BEHAR: That was the divine Bette Midler performing at Caesar`s Palace in Las Vegas. She`s back here for dates in October and November.

MIDLER: Yes. Very exciting.

BEHAR: What are you going to do?

MIDLER: I`m going to do two weeks in October and then I`m going to take a week off and do my Halloween party that I always do -

BEHAR: The Huluween -

MIDLER: Huluween - it`s a Hawaiian Halloween, that`s why it`s called Huluween.

BEHAR: Right.

MIDLER: And then I`m going to go back to two more weeks in November and I`m going to kick some ass.

BEHAR: Tell the audience what the Huluween party is for.

MIDLER: The Huluween party is for my organization. I founded it about 14 years ago. It`s called New York Restoration Project. We clean parks in underserved neighborhoods. We are the owners and designers and caretakers of 55 community gardens. We teach children environmental education.

BEHAR: Very good.

MIDLER: We teach rowing programs. We teach, teach, and teach.

BEHAR: You`re very good. Do you have OCD or something?

MIDLER: You know what? I think I do.

BEHAR: What do you have that causes you to want to clean up New York?

MIDLER: I think it`s a compulsion -

BEHAR: Which is really good?

MIDLER: I think it`s a compulsion but I can`t help it. I was brought up in the most beautiful spot in the whole world, Hawaii, and when I came to the continental United States, or the continent of North America, I said why the clouds are brown?

BEHAR: That was California.

MIDLER: That was California. And why is there garbage on the street, I couldn`t understand that. And it really disturbed me. So that was my mission, I got on that path and I never left. I never thought I would be still picking up garbage so many years after I stopped dating it.

BEHAR: That`s a good line.

MIDLER: Thank you.

BEHAR: OK, so Vegas, how do you like Vegas? You love it?

MIDLER: I like it a lot. I`ve gotten to know the town a little bit. I have friends there. I have relationships.

BEHAR: You have friends there who are normal people?

MIDLER: Yeah, normal people. There are a lot of normal people there. I learned poker. I can`t play blackjack, but I did learn poker. I have my little thing with me that I carry with me all the time.

BEHAR: How does your husband like it there?

MIDLER: He doesn`t mind it there at all. It`s so glittery and glamorous.

BEHAR: He is a performer too.

MIDLER: He is.

BEHAR: I saw him at your birthday party and he did a little performance art thing. He was very charming.

MIDLER: He`s extremely charming. He`s brilliant. He`s just brilliant.

BEHAR: So you`re going to keep him?

MIDLER: Well, 25 years. He loves all this. He`s seen the show 40, 50 times and he cries and laughs every single time. He`s crazy.

BEHAR: He`s a keeper. He`s really nuts. You should keep him.

MIDLER: I got him.

BEHAR: Ok, I`m so happy that you came to see me.

MIDLER: Is that it? Is it over?

BEHAR: We`re done. I mean, we had such a good time. This is my first show. I had a wonderful night with all my friends here tonight. Go ahead. You have the last word.

MIDLER: I want to say the party is October 30th this year. And it`s at the Waldorf Astoria. Be there or be square and I`ll probably serve chicken pot pie.

BEHAR: And are you going to sing?

MIDLER: I always sing and we`re honoring the mayor.

BEHAR: Mayor Bloomberg.


BEHAR: My special guest Bette Midler and to all my panelists for joining me tonight. And thank you for watching. I`ll be back right here tomorrow, good night, everybody