Poor little Miss Ro-Ro. In her pert, diminutive obliviousness, she sometimes evokes memories of the great and beloved Gracie Allen. Except that Gracie knew she was funny: Rona Barrett doesn't seem to have the remotest notion how hilarious she is. It gives her a certain, if not particularly tolerable, pathos.
"Rona Barret Lloks at Today's Super Rich," a pitifully slipshod NBC special at 10 tonight on Channel 4, at least lives up to its title. Miss Rona does look at them rich 'uns; she looks and looks and looks. Oh, those Nurse Nancy eyes of hers . . . those kewpie doll cheeks . . . that chicken-soup smile! Ronal Barrett is an inspiration to however many millions of people there are who fear that a lack of wit will keep them out of television.
Obviously, they haven't been watching it closely.
The idea for this one-hour murmur is for Rona to penetrate the innermost sanctums and psyches of millionaires and billionaires who normally shun the limelight. What Rona won't admit is that the major conclusion to be drawn about these shadowy figures, on the basis of her investigation, is that people who devote their lives to the acquisition of money can be frantically and toweringly dull.
Only idiosyncratic moneybags Clement Stone, in his Adolph Menjou mustache, registers as an even marginally colorful character. Diane von Furstenberg, in her billowy mufti and bare feet, is occasionally amusing, primarily for her crumpled if not broken English. In response to a question about getting rich requiring a certain ruthlessness, she replies, "You don't have to go over corpses to go around." Right.
But the answers are nothing compared to Miss Rona's daft and lengthy questions. Of publisher John ("Ebony") Johnson she inquires, "What happened in the early days? Were you successful from the very beginning, from the first endeavor, whatever it might have been, or what might that have been?" Later she asks Johnson, "What motivated you to become the giant that you are today?" and inquires about his wife, "Do you give her the things that she really needs?"
She introduces 34-year-old real-estate billionaire Donald Trump with the declaration, "Some say the Age of Trump has just begun." And she closes the program by saying of the six rich guests at whom she has made goo-goo eyes all evening, "I found each of these people to be straightforward, rather than introspective." Miss Rona, how you does use that language!
To be perfectly straightforward rather than introspective about it, calling Miss Rona the poor man's, or woman's, Barbara Walters is to unduly insult Barbara Walters, whose work is Sophoclean, Aristotelian and Euripidous by comparision. Rona is to the art of interviewing what "Let's Make a Deal" was to the art of anything.