Thursday, May 08, 2008

ABC: "Audition: Barbara Walters's Journey"; also, Ashton Kutcher on SNL

On Tuesday May 7, ABC broadcast a special 20/20: “Audition: Barbara Walters’s Journey,” a detailed biographical interview of anchor Barbara Walters conducted by Charles Gibson.

Walters was born near Boston but grew up in midtown Manhattan and her father ran a latino-oriented nightclub (a bit like Ricky Ricardo in “I Love Lucy”). She had a retarded sister Jackie, and she had concern that she would wind up having to take care of her. She resented the fact that the sister’s needs got most of the attention. Again, there was a potential sibling responsibility situation that we don’t often discuss openly. Her father would die of a sleeping pill overdose.

Nevertheless, Walters got going with her career, getting on to WNBC and then the NBC Today Show. In 1976, ABC signed her up to be news anchor with Harry Reasoner for $1 million a year. I was living in Greenwich Village myself at the time and working for NBC in midtown as a computer programmer (right in an annex to the 30 Rockefeller Plaza Building), and I remember the hullabaloo. The experiment didn’t work, and Barb had to work her way back by digging for interviews with world leaders. She built a rapport with both Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat during the time of the 1978 Camp David peace talks with Jimmy Carter, to the point that it is likely that she helped bring them together. She interviewed Fidel Castro, and the report indicates that they became “friends” and she says she liked him, but he tolerated no freedom. She also interviewd Saddam Hussein about the possibility of his getting nuclear weapons.

She has been an anchor of 2020 for 25 years (since about 1983) but she says that Hugh Downs originally opposed her coming on. He was wrong. So 20/20 (“We’re in touch so you be in touch”) has been her life for a quarter century.

Nevertheless, she has had three marriages and adopted a girl who would go through being a troubled teen; the girl is interviewed in Central Park.

Martin Clancy and Christina Claron have the Internet story “Walters’s Personal Revelations: Balter Walters on Guilt, Redemption, and a Difficult Childhood” here.

The idea of Barbara's viewing here life as an "audition" is interesting to me; the concept of developing a biographical story from a young actor's "audition" drives one of my own screenplays, "Make the A-List."

Barbara's new book "Audition: A Memoir" is from Knopf, Amazon link here.

Charles Gibson had an angioplasty in 1999, the details of which were shown on Good Morning America, link here.


Try this SNL video (offered for blogs by the NBC SNL site). It shows Ashton Kutcher's starting his SNL show May 3. There is a little bit of Andy Samberg comedy, and Ashton talks about what producing a show is like. (Some of his washboard abs show, accidentally.) Kutcher has appeared on The View and on Oprah, telling how he almost went pre-med and became a surgeon instead of becoming a star (story here). A brilliant man, he would have done well in medical school -- which, however, requires "unifocus". Also, Ashton appeared on "Ellen" today (May 8) and sung karaoke and demonstrated the alopecia areata in his fledgling beard. He talked about his new movie "What Happens in Vegas" (dir. Tom Vaughan, 20th Century Fox). At th end of the show, Ashton Kutcher made his pitch for Nikkon (which takes a picture when you smile) and Ellen did a big Nikkon giveaway. On Friday, Ellen pretended to be a future biological mom.

The "Embed SNL link" for embedded videos offered to bloggers is here.

(Important: I presume that this link, and the way it is worded by NBC, confers legal permission for bloggers to "hot link" to their content. Normally I don't do this [except to domains that I own like] without permission.)

The basic SNL link is this. Shia La Beouf hosts on May 10.

Who knows. I'm in "retirement" now but someday I might see NBC again. I'll have to get tickets to SNL myself some day.


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Anonymous said...

Barbara Walter's life was influenced greatly by her older sister and she's written a beautiful memoir about her life. I read another memoir of a life influence by a sibling that I recommend highly - I actually liked it even more. The memoir is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr Taylor became a Harvard brain scientist to find the cause and cure for schizophrenia because her older brother was a sufferer. Then, crazy as life can be, Dr. Taylor had a stroke at age 37. What was amazing was that her left brain was shut down by the stroke - where language and thinking occur - but her right brain was fully functioning. She experienced bliss and nirvana and the way she writes about it (or talks about it in her now famous TED talk) is incredible.

What I took away from Dr. Taylor's book above all, and why I recommend it so highly, is that you don't have to have a stroke or take drugs to find the deep inner peace that she talks about. Her book explains how. ""I want what she's having"", and thanks to this wonderful book, I can!

patrick said...

it seems like in real life, in general, Kutcher is savvier than the average Hollywood folk