On Wednesday, July 11, Fox News Channel’s afternoon roundtable show “The Five” turns one year old, marking the occasion with a cake and some impressive numbers.
Intended as a temporary summer replacement in the former timeslot of “The Glenn Beck Show,” the 5 p.m. ET hour — featuring rotating regular panelists Eric Bolling, Bob Beckel, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Andrea Tantaros, Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld, and occasional guests Juan Williams and Brian Kilmeade — has increased total viewership by 15 percent, and upped the key 25-54 demo by 5 percent, and has, according to FNC, gone into the black financially.
She came to prominence as the first Republican woman to serve as a presidential press secretary, after she stepped in for Tony Snow when illness forced him to bow out of the job in the second Bush administration. Perino served in the position from Sept. 2007 until the end of President George W. Bush’s second term in January 2009.
Last June, she had just returned from a trip to Africa on behalf of Voice of America.
“On the long flight back,” she tells Zap2it, “I wrote this whole life plan, some goals, a better time-management plan for myself. Like everyone, I’m always trying to achieve the work-life balance. I was at baggage claim at the end of that flight, at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., and I felt pretty good about all the things I had planned.
“And I got a call from John Finley, who was the first producer of ‘The Five,’ saying, ‘Would you mind coming up, just for a temporary period during the summer, for us, to do this show? We’re going to call it “The Five,” and it will only be until Labor Day.’
“And I said, ‘I don’t live in New York.’ I thought, but I have this whole life plan, and it’s all upended.”
But when she called her husband, British-born businessman Peter McMahon, who was in Korea at the time, he didn’t react in in the way she expected to the cancellation of their summer plans.
“He said, ‘Congratulations,'” she recalls. “And I realized, ‘Well, that’s another way of looking it.”
Come the fall, when the temporary show became a permanent fixture, Perino and McMahon realized they had to relocate from Washington, D.C., to the Big Apple.
“I really love it,” Perino says. “I stare in wide-eyed amazement at just about everything. For example, today, as I was walking here, there was a gigantic yoga class going on. So, I have a picture, and I just put out a tweet, saying, ‘If we can’t find Bob Beckel, Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld, we might find them here.”
Her shot of the yoga class (at left) is one of the few not featuring the newest addition to her family, a Vizsla puppy named Jasper, the successor to her previous Vizsla, Henry, who died in February.
“I’ll tell you,” she says, “New Yorkers love a puppy. It’s been a little bit of a challenge potty-training, because when we take him downstairs — we live on 42nd Street, which you probably know is very busy — and it’s, how many people are going to say, ‘Oh, he’s so cute.’
“Then he plays with them, and you have to wait around for him to have a wee.”
“I got to meet Katharine McPhee and had her over for a drink,” she says. “She loves my dog, and she was headed to Africa as as well, so we had a nice chat about it.”
She and Gutfeld did engage in a well-publicized war for Twitter followers — during which Gutfeld hurled the most outrageous accusations at Perino, including calling her “godzilla mixed with mothra” — which Perino handily won at the conclusion on July 6.
But for the petite Perino and the not-much-taller Gutfeld, it was all in good fun.
“I guess you could print this,” says Perino, “but hopefully he won’t let it go to his head, but one of my great joys about moving to New York has been meeting and getting to know Greg Gutfeld. People don’t realize this — we had never met before we did the pilot for ‘The Five,’ and we instantly hit it off.
“He cracks me up. … I find Greg hilarious, and I just giggle the whole time. Sometimes I walk out and think, ‘I can’t believe I have the privilege of being able to laugh for an hour.’ Not always — sometimes I lose my temper with Bob [Beckel, who, with Williams, are the show’s resident liberals]. I try not to.”
Asked what people want to know when they encounter her on the street, Perino says, “I always get the same questions. For example, ‘Does Bob believe the things he says?’ I get that question all the time.
“I’ll have people ask me, ‘Can Kimberly and Andrea actually walk in those shoes?’ The answer is yes. It is very impressive. I can’t. Then I’ll always get asked about Greg. Greg is a mystery for people. ‘He’s so bizarre, what’s in his head? What is he thinking?'”
Here’s a clip of the cast appearing for an anniversary celebration on “Fox & Friends”: