Today my parents returned from a 3 week cruise that took them to all sorts of spectacular places. When my dad mentioned how amazing it was that about this time yesterday they were touring the Vatican, I could only respond that about this time yesterday I was talking with Barbara Walters. Really. Here’s how it happened:
Barbara at the press conference
Last Friday Wordsmiths‘ Russ contacts BGB’s Tim and informs him that we (BGB) have been invited to participate in a “closed door press conference” with Barbara Walters before her appearance at Agnes Scott College to read from her much publicized memoir, Audition, the following Monday. Obviously, Tim would attend this cozy little gathering, ask tons of original and insightful questions, and blog about his up close and personal conversation with BW with the wit, zest, and zeal we’ve come to expect from his posts.
Except that our fearless leader had to jet off to our Nation’s capitol to accept a very prestigious science award, leaving me the job of representing BGB and the entire blogging world as one of 5 or 6 people sitting in the front row below a raised platform on which BW answered whatever questions we felt like asking. Like, “Beach Boys or Beatles?”, “What was the last nightclub you visited?”, and the perfect opener, “Is this your first visit to Atlanta?”
Let me explain. This is not my thing. When face to face with fame and fortune, I prefer to hide over there and keep my mouth shut. I knew BW had written a memoir, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on my to read list when this came up. I do not watch much television, so I’ve missed all the action on The View (not to mention the Oprah appearance), and I pretty much grew up turning the channel or leaving the room during the 60-minute celebrity interviews that typically brought everyone to tears.
But I wasn’t going to miss this.
It turns out that yes, Barbara has been to Atlanta on a long ago tour of CNN with Ted Turner, who asked her about “that cute little girl, Jane Fonda.” She thinks Atlanta is beautiful and can’t wait to get a pork sandwich for the plane ride home. Mara from 92.9 wriggled out of her that she chooses the Beatles over the Beach Boys, that Elton John is a good friend (“oh, is he in town right now?”), and that if she had a nightclub she would name it Oui, Oui.
The AJC guy had Barbara explain that she had planned on writing this memoir more about her family, but her publishers insisted she include “politics, murder, and intrigue”. No one present asked about any of that extra marital intrigue, but we did find out she developed empathy for celebrities by watching her father handle all the action in his Vegas night club.
I can’t remember the question that was asked, but BW then shared how she felt she was a “dismal failure” as a co-anchor when she went on to do those interview specials (which were written in her contract) that she became even more famous for. The ratings indicated that no one wanted to hear about her interview with the Shah of Iran (name-dropper), but everyone wanted to see those celebs.
When asked about the book writing process, B explained she had old interviews to watch and lots of help putting things into historical perspective. She was dismissive to the idea that she paved the way for women saying, “It’s not like I was waving a flag”, and she very eloquently answered my question (yes! I spoke!) about the advice she would give to working mothers raising daughters. Without missing a beat she said it comes down to having Balance, for men and women. She admits to the sacrifices and struggles, successes and failures, and wants all to know there should be Balance.
Soon after my question the publicist ended the interview, a few photos were allowed, and Barbara went on her way. I immediately gushed to Wordsmiths’ Alice that I actually spoke up, called to debrief Tim, and completed my end of the balancing act by picking up my hive-ridden child from the nice friends who were watching her and rushing off to the nearest urgent care center.