Fox News talk program The Five marks 10 years on the air on July 11. Dana Perino, Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters co-host, and Juan Williams departed the program in late May. Perino mentioned how the show launched as a five-week temporary program, so no one could’ve imagined it still being on in 2021.
“We’ve done a lot, been through a lot of stories,” said Perino, who was White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. “We’ve all grown professionally and personally.”
The hosts get more comfortable in their roles on the 5 p.m. show every day, according to Gutfeld, who launched a late-night show called Gutfeld! in April. “We’ve gotten looser and more surprising as we get more comfortable with ourselves,” he said. “There’s no difference between the way we are on that table and the way we are off the table.”
“I’m just as cranky and annoying,” Gutfeld added.
Perino credited Gutfeld for helping her find her voice. As a professional spokesperson, she said she rarely spoke what was on her own mind. “I never really expressed my personal opinion about policy, and policies in my life,” she said. “Greg helped me come out of my shell.”
She mentioned a discussion on the program years ago about legalizing marijuana. Gutfeld asked Perino what she thought, and she defaulted to talking points from her time in the Bush camp. Gutfeld pushed back. “He said, no, what do you think?” said Perino. “I felt like I was on a high wire without a net.”
Jesse Watters came on the show four years ago, so most of his time on The Five was during the Trump presidency. “The Trump term for The Five, I would call it eventful,” he said. “Every day was a blockbuster. There was never a dearth of content. Sometimes the rundown would change midday, depending on what Trump would say about people, what people would say about Trump.”
It’s different now. “We’re covering a president who doesn’t make news,” Watters said of President Biden, adding that Biden “doesn’t say much, doesn’t do much — it’s his political strategy.”
The show has pivoted with the White House change, he added. “It’s more cultural, more policy from different angles,” said Watters.
The hosts went remote due to the pandemic in the spring of 2020, with Williams in a van in front of his home in Washington, Perino at home in New Jersey, and Watters at a Jersey beach house. Gutfeld, for the most part, still came into the Manhattan headquarters. A guest host fills out the five on The Five.
They returned to the set June 1, a vital arrangement for a show built on host chemistry. “It means everything,” said Gutfeld. “The show wasn’t The Five when we were remote.”
It was a fun show, he added, but a different show.
Hosts talk about eye contact and body language when on the set together, aspects that were almost impossible to factor in when remote. “There’s an ease and flow of conversation you can’t get when you’re in separate rooms,” said Perino.
Perino said of the show’s chemistry, “you can’t manufacture it. You have it or you don’t.”
Watters said he was initially happy to be at his beach house, but is pleased to be back on the set with his co-hosts. “Conversations are more conversational,” he said. “It’s less delivering monologues and staring at the screen.”
The co-host chemistry is built on the set. They don’t hang out outside of work, according to Gutfeld. “Jesse has his kids, Dana has her dogs, and I have my collection of fine cheeses,” he quipped.
The program garners a substantial audience. The Five averaged 2.6 million total viewers in the second quarter, and 385,000 in the 25-54 demo.
Williams was the liberal voice on The Five. A rotating group of co-hosts are filling in until a replacement is named. Jessica Tarlov, Harold Ford Jr. and Geraldo Rivera have appeared.
The new host will push the current ones to consider new concepts. “Someone who has great energy and a fun attitude,” said Perino. “Someone who has smart things to say that challenges people’s thinking, including my own.”
Watters said Williams “played a critical role.”
“It was fun to have someone to bounce things off and argue with and try to persuade,” he added. “Though I’m not sure I persuaded him on anything.”
In terms of highlights across the tenure of The Five, Watters mentions road trips, such as doing the show from Miami during Super Bowl weekend and Nashville. Perino brings up the closing “One More Thing” segments, and road trips as well. Gutfeld mentioned any time Perino swears, faces Watters makes when he feels like he said “something awful”, and the time Gutfeld did the show with a knot on the head after being hit by a door just before the day’s program began.
Can The Five go another 10? The hosts hope so. “We didn’t even think it would go ten weeks,” said Gutfeld. “The fact that we’re having this conversation is almost surreal. It could go another ten years, who knows?”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.