The Show Goes On: 'Fashion Police' Eyes Future Without Joan

It certainly seems appropriate, at least on the face of it, that “Fashion Police” would continue without Joan Rivers.

As a show business veteran, it’s possible to imagine that she would agree, based at the very least on the old show business saw about the show going on.

The announcement Friday from E! Entertainment Television even played the “Show must go on” card. “We have thought long and hard about what Joan would have wanted as it pertains to the future of ‘Fashion Police’,” said the official statement. “We decided, with Melissa Rivers’ blessing, that Joan would have wanted the franchise to continue.”

The statement made no mention of a possible replacement for Rivers, or any other changes that might be attempted in order to prop up or, to apply an overused phrase, “reboot” a show whose appeal rested almost entirely on Rivers. 



The show will have about four months to get its house in order. The announcement from E! said the show will take the next few months off, recommencing in January with the Golden Globes and the onset of the Hollywood awards season.

The coming hiatus was kicked off with a “Fashion Police” special last Friday in which Rivers’ co-stars -- and in a brief appearance, daughter Melissa (who is executive producer of the show) saluted Rivers with 90 minutes of clips showing her at her most outrageous.

It was all there in concentrated form: All the bleeped-out words, the cutting remarks about celebrities (almost always female celebrities) and their private parts, the jokes about her own body and plastic surgery, the funny faces and kooky, spontaneous dances.

It was said many times in the days immediately following her unexpected death on Sept. 4: For an 81-year-old, Joan Rivers certainly seemed to have boundless energy, and Friday’s clip show bore that out. Among other things, we learned that Joan often showed up at the “Fashion Police” studio as early as 3 o’clock in the morning to prepare for the show’s taping at 7:30 or 8 a.m. (if memory serves).

Another thing that is not exactly unique or heretofore unsaid about her after she died: There was no one else in show business like her, at least not at the present time. Which means that “Fashion Police” will likely have to be completely remade.

In its current form -- or at least the form it was in just before Rivers went in for her fateful throat procedure in New York -- the show was really “The Joan Rivers Show.” She was the center of the action, and her three co-stars -- Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos (a personality so unmemorable I just had to go and look him up on Google, and I’ve watched this show for years) -- were really just straight men for Joan.  She’d say something outrageous and the others would make faces of feigned shock (if not awe).

One thing the clip retrospective also brought home: Despite all the near-unanimous accolades Rivers received in all the commentary following her death, it’s hard to believe that she was as universally beloved as this outpouring would have you believe. 

If you’re Donatella Versace, for example, I’m sure you didn’t enjoy Rivers’ cutting comments about your face. Sure, many commentators used the word “unfiltered” in praising the “daring” and “courage” of Rivers’ comedy in the days after her death.  And it’s true: We often like our comedians for this very reason -- because, it seems, they get to say anything that comes to their minds at any time about anyone, while the rest of us would be fired from jobs or ostracized by friends and family if we freely stated how we thought in the “unfiltered” manner of comedians. 

The bottom line is this: If “Fashion Police” developed a loyal following because of the caustic comments of Joan Rivers, there might be just as many people who didn’t care for her who might now come to the show to watch it without her.

The advice from here: Reconfigure the show with the straight man (or woman) at the center -- Giuliana Rancic as host, for example  -- with two or three others playing the comedic roles on the show. It will take at least that many funny people to replace the singular Joan Rivers.






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