As Oprah Winfrey prepares to close one door and embark on a new path in her illustrious career, she sits down with Walters to speak candidly about this momentous time in her life. The hour-long special will explore the past 25 years of both Oprah's personal and professional life, and will also examine her new network, OWN -- just weeks before its January debut -- with an exclusive preview of some of its programs. "A Barbara Walters Special: Oprah, the Next Chapter" airs Thursday, Dec. 9 (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.
Walters, who has interviewed Oprah at key points in her life and career, spends time with Oprah in Chicago at both her home and at Harpo Studios. Oprah opens up about her relationships with Stedman Graham and Gayle King, candidly explaining their roles in her life. The hour will also include a look at the most memorable moments from "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The two women have known each other since the earliest days of Oprah's career.
Then at 10 p.m., catch "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010," an hour-long ABC News special highlighting some of the year's most prominent names in entertainment, sports and politics.
Now in its 18th season, "The 10 Most Fascinating People" special has become a true staple in television programming. Over the years, Walters has sat down with presidents, dignitaries, actors and musicians, including everyone from President Nelson Mandela, President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama to Tina Fey, Lady Gaga, Hillary Clinton, Tom Cruise and Will Smith. The list of fascinating people has run the gamut of personalities, politicians and performers, and this year's list continues in that varied tradition.
The special includes comeback queen and seven-time Emmy Award winner Betty White, future British Princess Kate Middleton, Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock, the provocative Sarah Palin, actor/singer and now "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez, teen dream Justin Bieber, NBA star LeBron James, and the pop culture phenomenon that is the wild cast of "The Jersey Shore." The No. 1 "Most Fascinating Person of 2010" will be announced on the program.
"We have quite an eclectic list this year, but every subject has truly fascinated and entertained us this year," says Walters.
2010 might very well be known as the year of Betty White. It's no secret that White is having the year of her life, becoming a household name to a whole new generation of fans. From a hilarious role in "The Proposal" and a memorable Super Bowl ad to hosting "Saturday Night Live" to rave reviews and an Emmy win, the 88-year-old actress has gained newfound cult icon status.
White sits down with Ms. Walters and talks about everything, from her successful year to her love for animals to sex.
Walters also sits down with controversial political figure and former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. In the 18-year history of "The 10 Most Fascinating People," Palin is the only guest to be featured in the special three years in a row. She addresses rumors of marital problems and family life, telling Walters, "There's also rumors that Trig isn't my son. There's also rumors that Track went to Iraq to avoid jail. There is a lot of BS out there. I don't want to just believe that it comes with the territory, when you put yourself forward, in the name of public service, that you have to take that kind of garbage that's out there, but yeah, there's constant rumors out there about us. I saw on the cover of a tabloid that we were getting a $20 million divorce. I was in the grocery checkout line when I saw it and I called Todd and said, I can't believe the cover of this magazine! This is what it says. And Todd says, ‘20 million bucks? Write me a check.'"
Jennifer Lopez is a singer, dancer, actress and designer who oversees a multi-million dollar empire, and now she's a judge on "American Idol." She opens up to Walters about how she handles everything, how she keeps up her marriage to Marc Anthony, and how she balances being a mother of twins. When asked about her marriage, Lopez says, "I think love has to be learned. When two people come together, it's a very tricky thing. I think what's great about Marc and I is that we work toward making it as perfect as you can. Nobody's perfect, nothing ever is going to be. But you work toward that."
The cast of "The Jersey Shore" was thrust into the spotlight when their MTV reality show became a hit, reaching the highest ratings of any MTV show. The media frenzy has yet to slow, but the cast took some time out to sit down with Walters. "Walking in the building, I'm really nervous. It's freakin' Barbara Walters," said DJ Pauly D. But soon enough the nervous cast opens up, even giving Walters a lesson in "GTL," "Grenades" and "Smooshing." The cast also discusses some more serious issues as well. When asked what they were going to do with their newly earned money, Jenni revealed that she and Snooki are buying a house together after Snooki pays off her mother's mortgage. Walters asked, "In New Jersey?" And to everyone's surprise, Jenni and Snooki say, "No, Long Island."
Walters also talks with teen sensation Justin Bieber. In just a year and a half, the famous teen has gone from living in low income housing to flying around in private jets. He talks about his parents' divorce, his mother's bout with alcohol and drugs, and how he keeps it all together on the road. "My mom is just here to be my mom. You know, I don't really want her all in the business side of things, because it seems to pull a lot of relationships away. I've seen it so many times, where you then think of your mom as your manager and not your mom. So I was like, ‘Mom, I just want you to be there to be my mom.' ... She's really strict. ... She's still going to lay down the law."
"Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010" is executive-produced by Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie. Geddie also directs the program, which is broadcast in HD with 5.1 channel surround sound.
David Sloan is executive producer of "A Barbara Walters Special: Oprah, the Next Chapter," which is broadcast in HD with stereo sound.