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06 The "Talk Soup" Years (Greg Kinnear)


This article is from the Greg Kinnear FAQ, by Chris Clark crclark@dreamscape.com with numerous contributions by others.

06 The "Talk Soup" Years (Greg Kinnear)

"December 21, 1991. . . It started not like any other day. Then came the
birth of an entertainment juggernaut, a show business legend that shook
America (and parts of the Virgin Islands) from coast to coast. The course
of television history was forever changed. It all began like this . . ."
(December 8, 1994--"Talk Soup's" 800th show.)

Hired at the end of 1991 to host E!'s "Talk Soup," Greg and the producers
pretty much saw this as an opportunity to put on a cheap show to fill some
time. "Talk Soup" was to be a half hour show that aired Monday through
Friday with an hour long weekend edition for Saturday and Sunday. (In
late 1993, the Friday show was eliminated and the weekend show was shown
in its place.) Basically, he was supposed to present the freebie clips
that E! got and plug upcoming shows. The clips, from various talk shows
looking for a little promotion, ranged from the sedate to the truly bizarre
and for about a year, with soup spoons flying around behind him, Greg
introduced them all with a mainly straight face.

But it wasn't until early 1993, when Greg could no longer deny the
absurdity of it all, that he started "yukking it up" and the audience
really began to take notice. In a January 1994 interview with the "Wall
Street Journal," he commented, "In the last six months, that side of the
show definitely has evolved more than anything. I just like doing it. It
just makes what I think could otherwise be a somewhat boring show a little
more spontaneous. I think it's a hell of a lot more interesting to come up
with a few more bells and whistles than to just sit up there and do it

Over the next few years, Greg introduced the "Talk Soup Players" (see
below), "The TS Expression Menu" (devised so Greg wouldn't have to keep
repeating the same horrified/disgusted/surprised expressions that showing
these clips would generally precipitate), "The TS Tally Board" (to note the
repetition of numerous "standard" talk show exclamations, like "ho",
"slut", and "slute") and various phrases that ring in the ears of the loyal
like; "One more time in slow motion, please!" and opening the show with
"This _is_ the award-winning 'Talk Soup'." Other bits that deserve a
mention are the "Clip/Quote of the Week," introduced to circus music on the
weekend show (and later on, some of the winners even arrived to pick up
their "Golden Spoon" award), playing the theme from "2001: A Space
Odyssey" upon his return from a vacation ("I'm back...."), "Body Doubles"
(a spoof of an early E! segment where people on the street were asked which
celebrity they resembled, Greg would point out when talk show "panelists"
resembled the famous), and the general hilarity that would ensue when
someone--anyone--would mention "Talk Soup" (referred to as a "Talk Soup

Of course, the clips themselves were the butt of most jokes. Almost every
aspect was fair game: the topics, the "panelists," members of the studio
audience, and even the hosts. Unlike Geraldo Rivera (who, according to
Greg, stopped granting his clips to TS "...about the time he had the fatty
tissue from his buttocks put into his forehead to relieve wrinkles."), most
of the hosts didn't seem to mind the ribbing. Some--including Jerry
Springer, Gordon Elliot, Rolanda Watts, and Vicki Lawrence--even subbed for
Greg while he was on vacation.

The end came too soon, and too abruptly, in December of 1994. Rumors had
been flying for months that he would not renew his contract with E!.
Starting in mid-December, guest hosts started appearing with an alarming
regularity. In fact, Tuesday, December 20 was the last time Greg hosted
the weekday version of TS. He returned for the weekend Christmas show, but
the rest of the year was filled with guest hosts and a pre-taped,
Greg-hosted special: "The Best of TS" (the New Year's Eve wrap up). Greg
ended "The Best of TS" with these words, "See ya' in a few weeks....".
And, in a few weeks, January 17, 1995 to be exact, E! made the
announcement that John Henson would be the new host of "Talk Soup."


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