Jenny McCarthy is a woman of many trades as an actress, Playboy centerfold, author of eight books, autism activist and mother — and now she can add late night talk show host to her resume with premiere of The Jenny McCarthy Show on VH1 (Feb. 8, 10:30/9:30c). The outspoken television personality is a familiar face to TV audiences with her short-lived NBC sitcom Jenny, recurring roles on hits such as Two and a Half Man and hosting gigs on MTV's Singled Out and most recently, Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve. We caught up with McCarthy, who gave us the scoop on her weekly Friday night show.
TV Guide Magazine: You've wanted your own late-night show for a while. How did you ultimately land The Jenny McCarthy Show?
Jenny McCarthy: I had been in a holding deal for the past 18 years, but I finally broke free and went to networks to do late night. I got lucky with a little bit of a bidding war, and I chose VH1. Their goal of re-branding the network and the idea that they are still a music network made me say, 'Yay!'
TV Guide Magazine: Have you taken any tips from other late night talk shows?
McCarthy: I have this really fun, party atmosphere and play pop culture games so I would say it's got the speed of [Bravo's] Watch What Happens Live, and the tone could be compared to Playboy After Dark. Whereas Hugh Hefner had Sammy Davis Jr. on, I have big DJs so I'm a more current version of Playboy After Dark.
TV Guide Magazine: Women in late night talk seem to be a growing trend. Do you draw inspiration from any female comedians or hosts?
McCarthy: No, because if you're going to be a talk show host, you have to have your own identity. I can't really draw from anybody because I have to be me — otherwise, I'm f---ed. In today's world, if you're not your authentic self, the audience sees it and won't continue to tune in.
TV Guide Magazine: Will your talking points incorporate your personal life stories?
McCarthy: I always prefer to self deprecate rather than make fun of people. Even though we'll have pop culture news to talk about, I will always put myself out first to be shot at.
TV Guide Magazine: You really are creating your own authentic show with unique features. What can you tell us about the "Drunk or Dumb" segment?
McCarthy: I was thinking, 'What fits the show best?' And I thought, 'Going out at 3:00a.m., waiting for drunk guys to come out of a bar and test them.' We went out with my little microphone and piece of paper, like a popup game show on a corner, and I asked questions. 'What color is a red boat?' And they'd be like, 'Blue.' Or 'What is the capital of New York City?' It was hilarious, and reminded me of my Singled Out days where I would make fun of the guys and root for the girls. It turned out to be everything I could have imagined. They are all the above — drunk, dumb and both.
TV Guide Magazine: I also heard about another quirky segment called "Laid Out" where you interview celebrity guests while you're both lying on the floor. What's that all about?
McCarthy: I call it the "Groundbreaking Interview," and I applaud you for asking because it's my favorite branded segment. Basically, being interviewed a billion times [myself], I've noticed that the format of interviews in a chair doesn't allow the celebrity to be who they really are. I wanted to figure out a way to get past that. How can I get celebrities to open up and not be this fake, pretend self that they're being?
TV Guide Magazine: So how does it work?
McCarthy: There's a cameraman holding a camera and we lay in between legs so it's a really cool point of view for me! And also the audience.
TV Guide Magazine: And how does it work out? Are the interviews really more candid?
McCarthy: I decided to test it on Bradley Cooper. I laid out on a shaggy rug on the ground with him, literally like we were looking at the stars, and just had a conversation. It was really conversational and even he said that it's a brilliant way to get people to open up.
TV Guide Magazine: Other than Bradley Cooper, what other celebrity guests can we expect to see?
McCarthy: Snooki and Big Ang were my first audience test, but it was just a test show so it won't air. Same with Bradley Cooper. Everybody in the beginning stages of their talk show thinks that the bigger the celebrity they get represents their show, but I want the opposite. I don't care if you're a big name. You just have to be willing to be a fun, party person and have a good sense of humor. This is a non-scripted, non-pre-interview, fly by the seat of your pants, have a shot and let's play a drinking game kind of show.
TV Guide Magazine: Will you be playing drinking games along with the guests and home audience?
McCarthy: Oh yeah!
TV Guide Magazine: Will the live audience be joining you in any of these games?
McCarthy: I purposefully set a small live audience of 30 people so at the end, they come out to dance. Do you remember Club MTV or The Grind? I miss all the shows that had people dance. I'm like, 'Sorry, but if we're getting worldwide DJs like Afrojack [on set], we're going to turn it into dance party at the end!'
TV Guide Magazine: You mentioned Afrojack — who are some of the other big DJs on every show?
McCarthy: We're in talks with [Afrojack], were talking to Major Lazer right now and the list goes on and on. That was a dream I had from early on because DJs are really the cornerstone of the club market right now, but no one is showcasing them.