Barbara Walters and the Oscars go together like Simon Cowell and tight T-shirts. Renee Zellweger and a cup of Starbucks. John Mayer and his Twitter account. But after 29 years, the journalism icon (and The View titan) has decided to call it quits on her famed Oscars special. Not that she's going out quietly. For her final go-round (ABC, March 7, 7 PM), Walters, 80, will sit down with frontrunners Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and Mo'Nique (Precious). She chats with UsMagazine.com.
Us: Any twinges of regrets about pulling the plug?
Barbara Walters: No, it feels like the right time. I mean, when I look at the list of the people whom I've interviewed for this special, I think 'Oh my goodness, these are the most important stars of our time!' I feel very grateful that I was able to do it. This is not 'Hello, I'll plug my movie and get off.' These are very personal interviews. But things have changed. There are so many entertainment programs and network and cable interviews. Everything is now a special.
Us: So what are the big highlights of your last hurrah?
BW: Both Sandra and Mo'Nique talk about what their marriages have given them. Sandra really opens up about the strength that its given her. She's not afraid anymore because she always expected doom and gloom. She's very funny. A lot of people will be meeting Mo'Nique for the first time. Her husband is her manager and she talks about their open marriage. And we will do a retrospective of my past interviews too.
Us: Why do so many people cry when you interview them?
BW: I've tried in recent years not to make anybody cry! I think when you talk to people about their childhood, it evokes memories that are very tender.
Us: Let's talk about The View. You were conspicuously absent for the recent Jersey Shore cast visit!
BW: It was nothing deliberate. It was such a big group and the hosts could barely get the questions in. With five of us there, it just would have been too much.
Us: And Kate Gosselin will co-host again on March 11. What do these celebs bring to the table?
BW: Kate is very animated and people are interested in her and and interested in her children. We just had Victoria Beckham and she was wonderful. These people love co-hosting because they're not just talking about their movie -- they're discussing whatever is in the news. It's a new way for them to be recognized. We've had Heidi Montag do it too.
Us: Do you actually watch their TV shows?
BW: Not too much. Whoopi [Goldberg] does. And Elisabeth [Hasselbeck] does, because she's home with her three children.
Us: Is that really you on your Twitter account?
BW: I only do Twitter once in a blue moon. But that's me.
Us: Are you gunning for the Tiger Woods sit-down?
BW: Would I want to do the interview? Yes. Have I sought it? No. But if I were Tiger Woods, I wouldn't do an interview. He's made his statement. I think the most important thing for him is to get his life back. To discuss this woman and that woman would not be helpful to his life or his personal health.
Us: What are you going to do with your newfound free time?
BW: I'll still do 10 Most Fascinating People because that's more varied for me. I will still be doing pieces for ABC News. I do The View three days a week. I do a radio show one day a week. For somebody supposedly cutting down, that's enough.
-- By Mara Reinstein for UsMagazine.com