Debbie Matenopoulos Talks The View, 9 Miscarriages, E! Network Exit, Skincare Line

On embarrassing Barbara Walters and ABC during her time co-hosting The View:

“I was young. I wasn’t staying home and knitting. I was going out to clubs and at that time it was really intriguing to the paparazzi. They didn’t have anybody young in New York that was on a daytime [television] show.  I was the youngest person in history to be on a daytime show, so for them they were thinking, ‘Oh, she’s a loose cannon. At any moment we are going to get something good for the press.’  And they weren’t wrong. I didn’t know, I was a kid. Thank God there was no social media. Oh My God! Ooooh boy! I would have lasted two weeks! The paparazzi would follow me around and Page Six… it made Barbara embarrassed, as opposed to her saying, ‘Oh, we should talk about this on the show. We should say, ‘Well Debbie, it appears you are in the paper today for dancing on the bar at Hogs and Heifers.’”

“They liked me, but then when you get in front of the world and the network is selling advertising dollars, they’re saying, ‘Who is this wild child saying these things?’ that perhaps don’t align with corporate sponsors. The sponsors were still [Barbara Walters’] boss, and the network was still her boss. Now it’s different. Now people say the craziest stuff, and the crazier the better, and people like that because it garners publicity and people love that. It goes viral. Back then, they wanted to sweep everything under the rug.  They were like ‘Yes, we like you, but just be you… with a little less you.’ (Laughs). ‘There is so much you, and we’re not sure if daytime TV is ready for all of that.’ Then the Kardashians came, and all this craziness, and I was thinking, ‘I wasn’t nearly as wild as they were.’”

“I love Lisa [Ling] and I love Elisabeth [Hasselbeck]. I’m not as close to Elizabeth as I am to Lisa, but I love both of them.  It wasn’t their fault they got my job. They got the job because there was a spot. They wanted to hire someone different than me, so they hired Lisa and it didn’t work out for her either after two years. Then they hired Elisabeth and it didn’t work out for her.  I would say I was just the first to be voted off the island.  I was the original Survivor.  Something about that was really healing for me. It was sort of a validation and vindication that, ‘Wait, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t me at all.’  For a minute you think it’s you and your like, ‘Gosh, what have I done? I messed this whole thing up.’”

“Nothing like The View ever existed before, but now you see so many imitations have come after. It was an experiment and  something she had wanted to do for years, and she finally was at a place in her life and had enough respect at ABC that they would allow her to do this. She wanted to just have a bunch of women sitting around, from different generations, different backgrounds, and different views, that would talk about topics of the day. The show has become super political now, but it wasn’t supposed to be political. It was just meant to be, “Here’s your mom, your grandmother, your aunt, your cousin, your younger sister, all sitting there chatting about the same topic. And they are all going to have different ideas, because they are coming from different generations and different backgrounds. It was about having a fun conversation and seeing where it comes out, and for all of us to learn from one another.”

On secretly suffering 9 miscarriages during her time at Hallmark’s Home & Family show:

“I was fortunate enough to be able to have [my daughter] Alexandra, but unfortunately, and I have not talked about this before, but after Alexandra I had such a hard time staying pregnant. I had 9 miscarriages. I was pregnant for, like, five years straight and no one knew except my stylist that I was pregnant. I would lose them, always. The first three were really hard, and then after that I got to a point where I was like, ‘Is this a joke? Really?!’”

“My heart was broken so many times that I got to a point where I said, ‘Okay this is what the universe and what God wants, and this is just how it is supposed to be.’ So I just stopped trying. I stopped trying because I just felt so defeated, and God, I love babies. When I look at little babies my ovaries hurt.’”

On the worst of all her miscarriages:

“I’d love to be able to give my daughter a sister, maybe even [through] adoption. That is not out of the question, but going through that again… I have a soft spot for anyone else who’s ever had a miscarriage. Probably the worst one for me was when I was about 4 months pregnant at that point, and I had to host the The Golden Globes red carpet for The Insider. I had the D&C (Dilation and curettage) on Saturday and then I had to host The Golden Globes on Sunday.”

On loving life as mom to her daughter, Alexandra:

“Looking back now, I think geez had I known I was going to like being a mother so much I would have started much earlier.  I would have been a teen pregnancy (laughs). If I knew I would love being a mom like this, I would have had 20 kids if I could.”

On her time hosting the E! Network’s Daily 10:

“When I got to E! a lot of the stuff we had to report on, I was thinking, ‘C’mon, this is so not right and not nice.’ I said to the producers, ‘So, I’m supposed to now deliver this to people at home about somebody?  Who’s going out with who? Who’s having sex with who? God y’all, this is hard.’ When I would do the interviews, I knew a lot of the [celebrities] from my time on The View. When I would go do the interviews with them, before I would get mic’d up, I would say to them, ‘Look, I have to ask you this. You don’t have to answer me, but I can’t go back to my boss without asking you this, but I really don’t want to. This is an awful question.’”

“You know what’s interesting about that? Because I took the heat off of them and the heat off myself, and I let them know that I wasn’t there to make them feel bad about what was happening in their personal life, 90% of the time they would answer the question. You’re not being mean. You’re not a threat.  You’re not trying to make them look bad. Then I would go back to [editing] and I would say, ‘Guys, take care of them. Don’t make them look bad. Don’t make it ugly when you cut this piece together.’”

On leaving her job at E! when her late father got sick with ALS:

“My dad passed away from ALS and that brought me to my knees. It’s such a hateful disease. With ALS, the person knows what is happening to them, and they are a prisoner in their own body. They do understand what’s going on, and there is nothing they can do about it. He couldn’t move at the end. I fed him, I bathed him, I would have to pick him up. I left Hollywood and I went home. I quit [my career] for three years. I quit E! and they said to me, ‘Are you crazy?  You are ruining your career.  No one is going to hire you when you come back.’  I said, ‘I don’t really care. If you don’t hire me when I come back because I went to take care of my dad, I don’t want to work for you. That is just disgusting. What kind of human are you?’ I don’t want to work for a company like that. I have one dad. There will be a gazillion shows, and you know what, I don’t want to grieve, thinking I worked at E!, but I didn’t go home to take care of my dad.”

On the moment with her immigrant mom that changed her life at 6 years old:

“Growing up in America I looked like your typical white girl, but I’m 100% Greek through and through. My parents didn’t speak English when they came to this country. I’m as immigrant as they come. My sister and brother were born in Greece. My parents had two suitcases, two kids, and $50 in their pocket when they came here. They managed to put themselves through night school to learn English to then have successful careers and help their kids go to school and help pay for college. One moment that I always think about is when I was six years old and at the grocery store with my mom. My mother obviously has a very thick accent and could hardly speak English, but she was trying. She was asking something of the saleswoman at the store, and the saleswoman kept saying, ‘What?!,’ and being really dismissive and rude. She yelled at my mom, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand you!’ And she kept talking louder and louder, as if speaking louder and with an aggressive tone was going to make my mother understand her. I remember seeing my mom look so deflated and ashamed. And I remember looking up and saying to the saleswoman, ‘My mother is not stupid. She just speaks a different language.  Please stop talking to my mom like that.’ That moment, for me, I think helped me empathize with immigrants so much in this country.”

About Journalist and Podcast Host Allison Kugel
Allison Kugel is a veteran entertainment journalist with more than three hundred long form celebrity and newsmaker interviews published and syndicated, worldwide. She is author of the memoir, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record, and host of the new podcast, Allison Interviews, where listeners can tune in to hear the full conversations behind Allison’s print interviews. Watch and embed the entire interview video with Debbie Matenopoulos @YouTube. Listen to and share the audio podcast on Apple Podcasts. Follow Allison Kugel on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at AllisonInterviews.com.


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