When Whoopi Goldberg Hosts, Politics Is Off the Table

Whoopi Goldberg attends Tyler Perry Studios Grand Opening Gala - Getty- H 2019
Prince Williams/Wireimage

"We don't have to agree but we can have a conversation and a good meal," says the star as she opens her holiday shop.

Things got overheated at “moderator Whoopi” Goldberg’s table on The View last week when Donald Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle came by to visit, but “hostess Whoopi” says opposing viewpoints are no problem at her dinner table.

“I think you have to have human interaction in a society that doesn't promote it and becomes fractured. 'Hey, listen, talk to me.' We don't have to agree, but we can have a conversation and a good meal,” says the star and now-author of the new entertaining book The Unqualified Hostess (Rizzoli, $35). “Or even a bad meal, if the person can’t cook. Celebrate that." 

A jovial Goldberg spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday afternoon at the opening of her Whoopi = American Dream pop-up shop at the mega-mall and amusement center launching in stages in East Rutherford, New Jersey, going until January. “I have lots of friends who, politically, that’s not what binds us. Family binds us and love of lots of different things binds us, so I'm okay with that,” she continues. “Because that's how I grew up, right? I didn't want to live with people who are just like me.” 

Though the retail component won’t formally debut at the American Dream complex until March, Goldberg’s holiday shop was buzzing with people waiting to meet her and look over the mix of ready-to-wear pieces from her size-inclusive Dubgee collection (small to 3X) and her line of Whoopi's Ugly Holiday Sweaters, as well as to get copies of her book signed. "I’m very excited," she says. "It’s the first store I’ve ever had in my life."

And to make it feel more like home, Goldberg had some of her Art Deco furniture and kitschy lamps brought in as décor. Servers circulated with mini lemon meringue tarts and drink trays with an eclectic mix of vintage-style goblets and drinking glasses.

In her new role as an entertaining savant, Goldberg admits that she understands why it might seem unlikely to some. “I think it has to do with qualifications because everybody wants to know, ‘How come you can tell us what to do?’ Well, I'm not,” she says.” I'm just telling you what I do. And maybe you can do it, too. And that's the whole point of it.” Goldberg adds that her best hint for entertaining is “to do what you want on the table — don't look at anybody else's way of doing it. Do it, and then say that you did it and let people go, ‘Oh, I never would have done that.' And then they go home and do it, just like you did.”

In the end, she says, “it's just about taking the time to make a decision about what you like and and stand up for it.” Goldberg says in the book that her idea of entertaining all starts with Thanksgiving, which begs the question, what is she thankful for these days? “Just to be alive,” she beams. “You know, it’s kind of a spectacular thing to discover that you really don't realize how ungrateful you might actually be until something happens and you go, ‘Oh, OK.’”

Of course, Goldberg has a lot happening, juggling The View, her expanding excursion into the consumer world of style and now with a just-announced return to one of her most beloved film roles, Sister Mary Clarence, aka Deloris Van Cartier, in Sister Act. This time she’s playing the part on the London stage in a revival of the musical version, with Jennifer Saunders co-starring as Mother Superior, starting in July for six weeks. Goldberg is hoping it doesn’t stop there. “We’ve been trying to get people to pay attention to putting together a Sister Act III,” she says, eyeing a possible film sequel. “And now they're finally paying attention.”

The Whoopi = American Dream pop-up shop is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through January 2020 at the American Dream shopping complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.