Barbara Walters’ ‘10 Most Fascinating People of 2009’: observations, and a poll


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Hey, sports fans -- normally I write as ‘the Ministry,’ but this time I’m just me. Watched the Barbara Walters special Wednesday night, as I’m sure many of you did, and here are my thoughts on her chosen public figures, many of whom show up on this blog quite often.

Well, OK, Glenn Beck doesn’t show up at the Ministry so much, but work with me, all right? If he gets naked next year, or reveals he had an affair with Tiger Woods, or posts another rambling, post-surgical YouTube video, he’ll fit right in.


And yeah, I know Barbara and crew can edit and script and all that for dramatic effect, but let’s do a willing suspension of disbelief, shall we?

Here’s my takeaway, based on Walters’ brief interviews.

Lady Gaga: Barbara sees her in a whole new light, and so do I. Maybe I just didn’t ‘get her’ before this? I still can’t quite hum one of her tunes, but she seems thoughtful and sincere. Is she bisexual? Makes for a nice tease on the tee-vee, but really, who cares? I hope Gaga doesn’t fixate on that as she moves ahead, and that others can find something more interesting to ask about.

Tyler Perry: The juxtaposition of this spotlight sit-down with the fact of his mother’s death on Tuesday is heartbreaking. His proudest moment? He says it was being able to take good care of his mother. Forget about Barbara making Tyler cry -- he made me cry.

We could end it right here, but there are eight more interviews ...

Jenny Sanford: Dang, she’s a strong woman who knows how to lay out her boundaries. Two snaps up to her for knowing she would not, had he asked, have stood in support of her wayward husband while he worked out his ‘soul mate’ issues. Love it that she doesn’t see politics as some weird, desirable trophy to vengefully pursue. [Updated at 9:20 a.m. Dec. 11: Well, lookie here. Jenny has filed for divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford. Guess that was honesty in the interview!]

Kate Gosselin: Her kids miss the camera crews? Take a deep breath and think it through from their point of view: It’s very possible, because kids miss the familiar -- and it’s sad. Ouch, when she talks about the Jon she still loves, who doesn’t exist anymore. Still working out my Kate-hate guilt, but I do wish she’d rethink that hair. Sorry, petty. Wait, not really sorry. But yes, petty.

Glenn Beck: I have a strange soft spot for the unique people who go into radio. I don’t follow Beck’s work, but with Barbara he seems less like a Worst Person on Earth and more like an entertainer who cares very strongly about what he cares about -- and has found a way to sell it. Seems like he’s holding the world at arm’s length.

Adam Lambert: I love Adam. The Ministry is clearly fond of him and doesn’t apologize for it. I’d wanted to hate him based on dishy dish from when his season of ‘American Idol’ began, but he won me over. Can we get over the ‘he’s gay’ thing? I think he’s figuring out where he fits in entertainment, and appreciate his confidence without arrogance. He’ll be just fine, methinks.

Sarah Palin: She discusses the healthy protein in moose chili and admits that at 45, after five kids, there are things she dislikes about her appearance. She’s sat down with Babs before. Can’t find much fodder here for controversy, though I imagine there will be some. Save the mooses, maybe?

Brett Favre: Watching Favre celebrate after his Minnesota Vikings beat his former Green Bay Packers earlier this year, all I could think was, ‘Wow, he’s like a big kid, exuding joy -- how lucky he is to love his job that much.’ Watching this snippet of an interview? All I could think was, ‘Wow, why should I care about this guy?’


Michael Jackson’s children: Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket (Prince Michael II) deserve all the privacy the world can afford them. Tiger? No. These kids who lost their dad this year? Absolutely. Whatever their story, they are children and they didn’t ask to be in the spotlight. I think Barbara and team used them as a way to get Michael Jackson fans to watch her special, given the show’s ‘rule’ about honoring only the living. At least she used only clips of them on tape and didn’t interview them to be gawked at. Ick.

Michelle Obama: This is going to bring slings and arrows, but you know, I simply don’t find her that fascinating. A lovely lady. The first lady. Maybe I’m burned out from so many stories riffing on her fascinating-ness? She looks terrific, and I appreciate her warmth as she talks about their girls and the dog and her ulterior motives for getting to the gym -- but Walters comes in a year late with this pick for No. 1.

My vote for the most fascinating interview of the night goes to Tyler Perry. I just want to know more, you know?

Your mileage may vary -- please vote in the poll for your favorite.

-- Christie D’Zurilla

P.S. If you want a more political take on the show -- or can’t remember who fascinated Barbara the most last year --- check out what Top of the Ticket has to say.

Photo credits, top to bottom: Peter Kramer / Associated Press; Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for VEVO; Billy Ingram / Getty Images; Scott Applewhite / Associated Press.

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