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Behind-the-scenes with Whoopi Goldberg

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Whoopi Goldberg couldn’t have seemed more relaxed on her first day on The View, despite filling the highly scrutinized moderator spot vacated by headline maker Rosie O’Donnell. She joked that her hair and makeup takes ”about four minutes” and answered audience questions during her Sept. 4 debut — shrugging off, among other things, the prospect of any upcoming movie roles. ”I’m at that awkward phase when they don’t know what to do with you,” the 51-year-old explained. Minutes after she stirred up a debate by commenting on the Michael Vick controversy, Goldberg sat down with EW on the show’s new, gold-hued set to discuss her gig.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You have some pretty big shoes to fill.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Nelson Mandela — those are big shoes. I’ve taken the job of a host on a good show. I don’t think, ”What do I have to offer?” I just offer me.

So no big feuds to pick?
I don’t fight with anybody. I’m too old.

Is it tough to censor yourself on live TV?
Having done the Oscars, you can’t get any more sensitive than that. There’s a whole list of stuff you can’t say there. I always respected that the airwaves were different from cable, from HBO. I don’t want to be the reason parents are snatching their children away from the television set.

Any dream guests?
I want Elmo to come back.

Do you see The View as a particularly important forum for women at election time?
It’s always important to have hosts chit-chatting. It’s what we do with the people we care about — talk about things and yell at each other and take each other out for dinner afterwards. This might be the only place we see it with an array of bodies and colors.

But it does seem tough to get a word in with the ladies sometimes. What’s the key?
The biggest secret is just saying ”Stop talking — I can’t hear what you’re saying.” It works much better than trying to be sweet.

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