TV Column: Lohan ditches Barbara Walters for Leno
By Lisa De Moraes,
Barbara Walters is having a terrific week already, having been dissed by Lindsay Lohan.
On “The View” Monday morning, Babs gave Lohan top billing on the ABC show’s Hot Topics chatter. Babs did that so she could unveil footage of the first part of an interview with Lohan on the eve of the actress’s comeback role in the Lifetime bio-flick “Liz & Dick.” Lohan backed out of the second part of the interview, which was to air on ABC’s prime-time newsmag “20/20.”
Babs set the scene: “I like Lindsay a lot . . . known her for years . . . since she was a child star . . . very vulnerable . . . said whenever she did an interview she would sit down and do it with me . . . at some time and expense I flew to Los Angeles . . . I had done many interviews with Elizabeth Taylor . . . wanted to talk about the comparisons.”
Sense of aggrievement clearly established, Babs got down to business: “We took a little footage — take a look!” Roll footage of Lohan dolled up as Liz, chatting with Babs about tabloid reports of her antics while shooting the biopic:
It’s “my first time back and I want to keep working . . . I’m a survivor,” Lohan said, well-rehearsedly. Babs politely reminded Lohan of the “little trouble” she had waking up one day in a hotel room during shooting, which caused some panicked person to call paramedics.
“Was that just exhaustion?” Babs asked innocently.
“I think I was just honestly tired. I needed a nap for 15 minutes and then there were seven paramedics in the room. So imagine how I felt,” Lohan said. With a straight face.
End of clip.
Babs said on the daytime talker that her Lohan interview should have been the crowning achievement the upcoming edition of “20/20,” and how she’d done soooo much homework for the interview, including sitting through the Lifetime movie.
“And then, her longtime press agent resigned,” Babs said dramatically. Next thing Babs knew, Lohan’s new publicist phoned last Friday to say that Lohan “doesn’t feel up to it.”
On Monday morning, Babs said, she read press reports that Lohan had been booked to do an interview — with Jay Leno.
Leno is, of course, king of the non-tough questions.
“You are a very different kind of interviewer,” “The View” air-traffic controller Whoopi Goldberg said, stroking Babs’s ego.
Demonstrating how Babs has survived in an industry that doesn’t usually tolerate female octogenarians, Babs said sweetly: “ I hope she feels well, and as far as Jay goes — I love Jay” — immediately after which she took dead aim at both:
“To go on Jay Leno and be adorable and amusing — there’s still all the problems with her.”
Elmo puppeteer accused
No sooner does PBS’s “Sesame Street” climb out of Mitt Romney’s tumbril — after the reelection of President Obama — than comes word that the voiceover artist/puppeteer who has played Elmo on the show for nearly three decades has been put on leave, amid allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a minor.
Kevin Clash, a Baltimore native, has denied the allegations.
“In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a then-23-year -old man who alleged that he had a relationship beginning when he was 16 years old with Kevin Clash, a Sesame Workshop puppeteer who performs as Elmo,” Sesame Workshop said Monday in a statement.
Sesame Workshop said that it took the allegations “very seriously,” acted immediately to meet with the accuser twice and has had “repeated communications” with the accuser.
Sesame Workshop said that after a “thorough investigation,” it “found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.”
But in a letter, the law firm that’s representing the other man accused Sesame Workshop of trying to “discredit the victim” to protect Elmo’s image, placing “greater value on a puppet than the well-being of a young man,” according to TMZ, which first reported the story. TMZ also reported that Clash acknowledged a relationship with the man.
Sesame Workshop insisted: “Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of ‘Sesame Street’ to engage, educate and inspire children around the world, as it has for 40 years.”
The company acknowledged that “Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage and he was disciplined.” The production house says that Clash also was “granted” a leave of absence so he could act “to protect his reputation.”
Clash, the first African American puppeteer hired to work with the late Jim Henson, was the star of last November’s feature-film documentary, “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.”
Marciano to ‘ET’
“Entertainment Tonight” has nabbed CNN’s weather hunk Rob Marciano to become its new co-host, joining Nancy O’Dell next January.
Marciano, who became CNN’s hot weatherman in 2003, more recently was a field correspondent and fill-in anchor at the struggling cable-news network.
Marciano replaces Mark Steines, who exited the show in July after nearly two decades; O’Dell, who’d been named Steines’s co-host in ’11, had been flying solo since.
“Rob brings with him a passion for news, a wealth of knowledge about the entertainment industry and an enormous amount of charisma that viewers have been responding to for years,” “ET” exec producer Linda Bell Blue said in Monday’s announcement.