Oprah’s much-hyped interview with Barbara Walters about her new memoir, Audition , aired today. O broke out the dramatic music for the intro and declared rather ominously that this was “a side of Barbara we have never seen before.”
Eh, actually there wasn’t a whole lot that we didn’t already know thanks to the gossip machine. Barbara said that The View had been a happy place but that a “dark cloud” fell on the set when Star Jones got gastric bypass and lied about it because viewers became “uncomfortable” because we all knew it wasn’t portion control and Pilates. The situation only got worse when she was planning her big, splashy wedding to Al Reynolds. Star began to change; she got greedy.
As for Rosie O’Donnell, Barbara says that “from day one, she took over the show.” Barbara broke out a metaphor about how Rosie wanted to drive the bus rather than be a passenger, which made us think of Rosie’s TV movie Riding on the Bus With My Sister, which made us laugh out loud. Also, Barbara hasn’t seen Donald since the feud and doesn’t want to talk about it. But she does want to talk about her affair with Senator Ed Brooke. Barbara says that he started the affair by asking her out to lunch. Then she basically dismissed his wife at the time by saying that she was a “war bride” and that the couple “was not particularly close.” Then Oprah said that she also tapped a married man, and the two had a soul-sister moment and later high-fived.
Things got emotional when Barbara began discussing her various family tragedies. Her father tried to commit suicide. She had three miscarriages. Then her adopted daughter did drugs, ran away, and eventually had to be sent away to an “alternative” school. When the subject turned to Barbara’s mentally impaired sister, she got teary. Yes, you read right. The woman famous for making her interview subjects cry actually made herself cry.
When Oprah asked her signature, “What do you know for sure?” question, Barbara had her response all ready. “You must be kind,” she said, “and that’s how I know I’m not going to be a very good interviewer anymore. Because I’m getting soft.”
Oh, Bar, don’t go soft now. Your passive-aggressive farewell–to–Star Jones speech on The View (“We’d hoped she’d leave with dignity. But Star made another choice.”) was one of the highlights of 2006. —Noelle Hancock