Beverly Hills - It is often said that the best revenge is success. And talk Show host Star Jones seems determined to prove that she’s still got “it” - the chops to hold her own on TV - despite her very public firing from “The View” co-host chair more than one year ago.
“I believe everybody deserves second chances,” Jones said emphatically. “I’m a living, breathing Exhibit A. This is a dream come true. I get to do a live show every day.”
On Monday, August 20, Jones - who’s going back to using her maiden name on the air - returns to daytime television with a new look, new show and a new attitude - just don’t dig too deep on the latter. The show airing on Court TV is called what else, “The Star Jones Show.” She describes it as “exciting one hour of live television every day” and a combination of the two things she loves “pop culture and the law.”
Looking as if she was part of an episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover,” Jones has abandoned the fake eyelashes, heavy makeup and long weave and instead opted for the Beckham bob, the assymetrical cut with rectangle-shaped designer glasses. You get the impression she’s going for the “smart girl” award and she should. “I want to be respected,” she told a small circle of reporters outside a Beverly Hills ballroom.
But what’s most noticeable. Jones, 45, has lost half a person and she seems very comfortable and confident with her new body. Once 307 pounds, now she’s 160 lighter and a very slim and sophicated version of her old self.
As a lawyer, former Brooklyn District Attorney Star Jones used to love to remind everyone that she was a tough prosecutor relentlessly grilling defendants into submission. When she appeared before the TV Critics Association recently, the former talk show host got a taste of her own medicine - a not so subtle reminder of what it feels like on the other side.
While Jones wanted to talk about her new show, reporters wanted to direct the line of questioning towards the truth about her drastic weight loss. After all, it was her evasiveness about her weight loss that many believe was the final straw with her audience on The View.
“I feel people are curious,” Jones said. “I changed completely from the way I looked when I first started in television. In the coming months, I think I will have answered every question that you want answers to,” she added.
When Jones attempted to dodge the questions, reporters refused to let her off the hook asking if she realized she was jeopardizing the credibility of your show by not being honest with everyone? No, she responded. The reporter pressed, “Well, how are you going to feel if someone comes on your show and they refuse to answer a question like explaining how they lost half a person?” The very quick and media savvy Jones wasted no time saying, “I hope to handle it with the same short of gentleness that you’ve handled me.”
Later, she let the cat out of the bag telling reporters the real story will appear in the current issue of Glamour Magazine. In the essay, Jones confirmed - what many expected - her dramatic weight-loss was due to gastric-bypass surgery, and not excercise. She wrote, “I was scared of what people might think of me. I was afraid to be vulnerable and shamed at not being able to get myself under control without this procedure.”
Jones admitted keeping the decision private made her a hypocrite and that her husband, former banker Al Reynolds, had encouraged her to begin psychological therapy. “I learned many things, among them that I couldn’t control what others thought.” Now, she says she willing to talk openly about her old weight and new body.
“That’s a whole lot for a human being to handle, not just physically, but emotionally,” she said. “And it has taken me a long time to feel comfortable to talk about it.”
With that said, Jones can now move on. She hopes “getting over myself” didn’t alienate the very people who sat on the front row of her cheering section. The big question now: Is it too late?
When Jones appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live” to defend her position after the firing from ABC, the ratings went through the roof. Court TV, owned by Turner Broadcasting - the same people who own CNN, immediately considered offering Jones a show, but the execs very astutely waited for all the drama to die down.
What has Jones been doing during the interim? “I took some much needed R & R,” not rest and relaxation, but “redemption and reinvention.” She says she received many offers during her self-imposed exile from TV. “And I said to myself, I’m going to step away for a minute. I’m not going to take a new show right now. I wasn’t interested in that. I want to take a minute to see what actually means something to me.”
So, what can viewers expect from her show? “I want to have fun in TV again,” said the North Carolina native. “I want to make television fun.” Jones’ goal: to empower viewers by asking the questions everyone wants to ask and get the answers everyone wants to know.
“I am very excited to join the Court TV and Turner Broadcasting family,” said Jones. “My goal is to inform, empower, educate and entertain viewers. And Court TV is the perfect place to accomplish that mission.”
She envisions her audience and guests in meaningful dialogue that explores various “conflict resolutions and ethical dilemmas.” She fashions her guest lineup to include former View host and enemy Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Trump and possibly Don Imus. (Rosie has already declined.)
Which brings up another issue: Jones, with her outrageous manner during her “View” days, rubbed a lot of celebrities and people the wrong way. One celebrity, who asked to remain nameless, told us “she won’t go on the show and she knows many others who feel the same way.” Another Hollywood publicist confirmed she’s steering her celebrity clientele away from the show. Fortunately, Jones still has some famous friends and she may need to call on them during the show’s early days.