Perhaps it is time to go beyond Barbara Walters interviews and move on to some higher plane.
No. Forget it.
There is no higher plane.
Oh there should be, but there isn't.
"I just feel I'm entitled to do what I feel," Farrah Fawcett tells Barbara Walters. "I can just be whatever I am," Sally Field tells Barbara Walters. "There's some magic, literal magic, to breathing that allows us to kind of clear ourselves," Shelley Long tells Barbara Walters. Look, if you don't tell it to Barbara Walters, it ain't hardly worth telling.
"The Barbara Walters Special" airing on ABC (Channel 7) tonight at 9 is a little lower of profile than these specials tend to be, and downright moody when it gets to the Farrah Fawcett piece that ends it, but there are enough eyebrow-raisers or half-gaspers to make the hour whiz by on wings of blab.
Barbara Walters: "Farrah, would you just as soon you hadn't been born beautiful?"
Farrah Fawcett: "No."
Still beautiful, yes, but tired. Fawcett, in the eighth month of her pregnancy with Ryan O'Neal's baby -- "AND UNMARRIED," as Walters says twice -- looks worn and groggy. This wasn't the best day for Barbara to come a-calling with her shopping bag full of interlocutory desiderata. What we want Barbara to ask Farrah is, "How could you fall for anyone so low and yechy as Ryan O'Neal? You've got rocks in your head maybe?" Or words to that effect.
But that would be rude.
Barbara does try to get to the bottom of this unmarried mother-to-be situation. Fawcett looks confused by the line of questioning. She looks confused by everything. She does say she is at least considering getting married, perhaps before the baby arrives.
Farrah: "It's a very, you know, big step."
Barbara: "Marriage? Yes. It's also a big step to have a baby."
Farrah: "Well -- yes. Definitely."
At another point Fawcett places having a baby and starring in the TV movie "The Burning Bed" as carrying equal importance in her life.
Hooray for you-know-where.
Shelley Long, the star of "Cheers," is also pregnant. " 'Mom,' " she says ingenuously, contemplating being called that by her child. "Wow. That's going to be neat." In the introductory clips, there's a funny glimpse of Long much earlier in her career as host of a local Chicago TV show called "Sorting It Out." She looks just awful. When Walters notes that Long went on to Second City, spawning ground of many in the original "Saturday Night Live" show, she asks Long, "You never did Baba Wawa, though, did you?"
I think this may be a historic moment, the first time Walters has referred to the Baba Wawa characterization on her program.
Of course, I could be wrong. We'll have to check the records.
If indeed it was the first time, then -- oh, never mind. On to Sally Field, the first of the interviews on the show. She's not pregnant, but she's about to marry one of Hollywood's less adorable movie producers (and they're all pretty grim, let me tell you), and she does look wonderful. There are clips going back to "Gidget" and "Flying Nun," and my how our little girl has grown up, all the way to "Norma Rae" and "Places in the Heart."
"I'm still here, and I'm not as tired as I thought I might be, 20 years ago," Field says. "I'm still here, and I'm okay." Good. That's what we wanted to hear. That's what most of these Barbara Walters interviewees end up saying, one way or another: Look, I'm not nuts, I'm not dead, I'm not even broke. I'm in touch with my feelings. I know what I want. I know who I am.
Does this play in Peoria? It seems to play everywhere. Will they be impressed with Field's down-to-earth hominess when they hear Walters boldly declare that "she has no full-time help"? Sure they will. Barbara knows the territory. She knows the territory -- the territory of the human heart! She knows her way around a Nielsen meter, too.
She is running out of people to interview, though (like the Kennedy Center is running out of people to honor). She interviewed Fawcett five years ago, and she tells Field that she interviewed Burt Reynolds twice. Once he was carrying the torch for Field, says Walters, seeming to swallow publicity poop. "He was in great pain," she tells Field in all apparent seriousness, perhaps trying to get her to cry. Field does not get very misty. But Long gets misty when talking about having a baby. And I get misty when I dream of the day that Walters rings my doorbell, wipes her feet on my welcome mat, parks her carcass on my sofa, asks me why I haven't phoned my mother lately . . .
It's something that every American has a right to dream about . . .
Barbara! How nice to see you! My sweater? You like it? Oh, this old thing. I just found it lying in the closet. You know, Barbara, I'm glad you stopped by. Because I'm really in touch with my feelings today. . .