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Gayle King Talks OWN, Twitter, Chris Brown, Charlie Sheen & Lindsay Lohan

by Pat Gallagher, posted Mar 30th 2011 3:30PM
Gayle KingThere's a new talk show in town, but it's not really a talk show in the traditional sense. 'The Gayle King Show' (10AM ET on OWN) invites Gayle King's radio show listeners to become her TV show viewers in a live behind-the-scenes look at her successful Sirius/XM gig.

And, despite what her boss might think, we love the theme song as much as King does: "I like it, I think it's happy ... and it's a catchy little ditty," King giggles, acknowledging that BFF Oprah isn't crazy about it. "We're trying to figure out how to make it a ringtone."

At the top of the show, King discusses the topics of the day including music, politics, pop culture and current events. She prides herself on talking to her audience, not at them, evidenced by her question of the day segment, which she opens up to callers. And then there are her fun, in-depth celebrity interviews, with everyone from Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Diane Sawyer to James Earl Jones, John Legend and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

King also shares fun personal facts: she gave up Charlie Sheen for Lent ... talking about him, that is; her ex-husband "Tyrone," had a huge 'Spider-Man' comic book collection (she did not get the collection in her divorce settlement); she's a very nervous flyer; she has a "joy" gene; she loves to eat; and she lost a purple dress she didn't even know she had in a NYC cab, then found it thanks to Twitter.

We turned the tables on King, putting her in the hot seat to answer some questions -- keep reading to get her take on the OWN network, cougars and marriage, plus advice for Sheen, Chris Brown and Lindsay Lohan.

Talk Show 101: What's the secret to being a great interviewer?
Gayle King: I think listening sounds so cliché but it really is true. I find so many people who have a game plan in mind about what they're going to say or what they're going to ask that you miss some of the best parts. When really you can intend to zig and then they'll say something, and you'll go, "What did you just say?" And you end up zagging somewhere that you really hadn't planned to go. I try to never ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no.

You started your talk show in January. How do you like it so far?
I love it. I love doing it. I'm a TV baby. It was my first job, it was my main job, and then I took a turn and was in magazines and then close to five years ago the chance to do radio presented itself. I wasn't quite so sure about it, but what I realized is that radio is a very intimate medium. You can do things on radio that you really can't do on television in terms of the connection that you have with the audience because you're just a voice coming through the radio or a voice on the telephone and people feel, I think, at liberty to say things they normally wouldn't say if you could see them. So there is an intimacy about radio that I think is great. That said, doing the talk show just reminded me again just how much I love television. To be able to do the two of them together is really fantastic for me.
'The Gayle King Show' behind the scenes
There are hundreds of channels now, and so many choices of what to watch on a daily basis. Do you worry that there are too many choices or do you think that people will find your show and watch you?
There's no question that there's a lot of choices with cable. I know if I go someplace different and there's no channel guide in the room, I start searching, searching, searching and by the time I get in the 300s, I go forget it, my wrist is getting tired. Here's what I feel about OWN, if you build it, they will come. OWN really is a different kind of television. We live in an age that people are encouraged to be their worst possible self. I am astounded by that. Not only are you encouraged, you're cheered on, you're complimented, you're promoted. I just think that we're going down a really bad path, and we've got to figure out a way to bring it back. There's nothing wrong with civility, there's nothing wrong with manners. There's nothing wrong with delaying sex until you're really in love or till the age of 18 ... OK, maybe 17. These kids who are having sex at 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, don't even know what the hell they're doing. I hate to sound like Pollyanna here. What are we, circa 1949? But there really is a happy medium.

'The Gayle King Show'What's the hardest personal question you ever had to ask a celebrity guest on your show?
I just come from the school that you can really ask anything. I think anything can be asked with dignity and respect. I'm never trying to make anybody uncomfortable or embarrass them, and I think people sense that when they're talking to me. But even if I ask something that may be awkward or embarrassing, I think they know that I'm not really trying to put them on the spot, but that I really am curious.

And I look at this Chris Brown situation, watching that on the news. Robin Roberts asked a perfectly legit question. And the fact that he felt that the only way to respond was to just go into jerk mode is ridiculous. There was nothing that she asked that was out of line. When you're talking to somebody, they have the right to say, "You know what, I don't really want to talk about that. I don't want to answer that question," instead of just acting really ugly. When he just said, "You know I think that's all behind me now, here buy my album," I think Robin was really within her right to say, "Um, really?" If I were him, I would take every opportunity to let people know, look, I take this very seriously, and I am so sorry. It's interesting -- you don't have to apologize for the rest of your life, but the reason why this has taken so long is people do not believe the apology. And if people genuinely believe the apology, this would not even be an issue. It's like every time he opens his mouth, he starts sucking on his toes.

You now have a Twitter account @kinggayle ...
The Twitter people came to me because I was very Twitter-challenged. So they were showing me how I should really engage. So now I Twitter with people a lot.

Who do you follow on Twitter?
I follow lots of people. I follow Josh Groban -- I'm nuts about him.

Gayle King & Justin BieberAre you his cougar? (We asked in jest.)
Oh, please! I hate that word cougar because it's so predatory, and it just sounds like you're some old woman on the prowl for some young boy. I hate that. I know people say that [in jest] but I just never think it's funny because it's always no negative about women ... especially when you think about my feelings for Josh. A cougar implies you have a romantic interest in somebody, a romantic or sexual, none of which I have for Justin Bieber -- I follow him too -- or Josh Groban.

You said on your show recently that you believe in marriage.
I definitely do. A poll says that four out of 10 people thinks it's obsolete. I'm not in that category. I still very much believe.

We love your special mommy hugs that you dish out every now and then. If you were the mother of the following children, how would you handle their inner turmoil?

Chris Brown.
Oh my God. Well, it's just sort of sad to watch that to me because he's very talented -- there's no question about that -- but I worry that he still hasn't gotten the lesson yet. The fact that he destroyed 'GMA''s green room, after Robin Roberts asked a perfectly legit question, says to me that he still has a little ways to go. And so it's sad to watch.

If you were his mother, what advice would you give him?
I think I would tell him there's just a better way to conduct yourself. If I were his mother, I would have sat him down a long, long, long time ago. I would like to think it wouldn't have gotten this far out of control, that he is now trashing things on national television.

Lindsay Lohan.
Lindsay is another person who clearly has a lot of talent. I don't know Dina Lohan, but I've always thought with my favorite daughter Kirby -- and I always speak for myself -- that I was never trying to be her friend. I've seen interviews with Dina Lohan, and I sometimes wonder if she's really fully aware. I heard her say, "Listen, she just had a DUI, they're making more of it than it really is." Oh, no. I think it's a pretty big deal. And it's not just Dina Lohan. I believe everything with a child starts in the home. So I would not feel successful if my kids were not doing OK. And, I'm not saying they're angels, but I am saying children will make mistakes. I only ask any mistake you make could please not involve police activity. Could we just not involve police activity? Because they're going to make mistakes.

Charlie Sheen.
Well, he's 45. There's nothing I can say about Charlie Sheen. He's an adult. I don't know if he's bipolar but I think there are still some issues there. I've heard people say he's mentally ill. I don't know. I just know he's frightening to watch.

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How arrogant for anyone to believe that Chris Brown owes an apology to anyone other then the person he harmed. Further, how arrogant for anyone to suggest that someone continue to apologize for something that happened over two years ago! A large majority of people can't even discuss their personal failings with people in their lives, let alone being expected to do so on national T.V. in front of millions of people! Leave CB alone and let him get on with his life!

March 30 2011 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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