Barbara "Sometimes I'm a Journalist, Sometimes I'm an Entertainer" Walters demanded that Julianne Moore demonstrate girl-on-girl kissing with her while interviewing the actress for Walters's pre-Oscar celebrity suck-up show.
And we get to see it on Tuesday.
If you follow The TV Column, you know that prime-time girl-on-girl kissing inevitably boosts a show's ratings. It is one of the Great Truths of Television.
Recently, an episode of Fox's "Fastlane" featuring Tiffani Thiessen kissing another woman really improved that series's ratings, if only momentarily. Then there was that kiss on the coming-out episode of "Ellen." And "Ally McBeal" did it about a million times.
So when Walters was looking for a way to buck up the slumping ratings on her annual Academy Awards special, which has lost about 10 million viewers over the past decade, is it any wonder she decided to take advantage of her interview with Moore to join the kissing crowd?
The actress had, after all, kissed Toni Collette in the movie "The Hours," for which she received one of her two Oscar nominations this year.
Of course Walters would be taking a certain risk: TV girl-on-girl kissing works best when it's a hot young woman kissing another hot young woman, or in the case of that "Ellen" episode, it coincides with one of the actresses coming out of the closet in real life.
Walters is famous for what the L.A. Times once described as "participatory journalism." She has danced the tango with Patrick Swayze during a TV interview; she's also danced with Clint Eastwood and ridden a motorcycle while clutching interviewee Sylvester Stallone firmly around the waist. She has sung with Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton, and sailed across the Bay of Pigs with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
During her interview with Moore (which was supposed to air on Oscar night until ABC woke up and realized it would look strange to have Walters cozying up to Hollywood stars while her ABC News colleagues were covering the war), Walters noted that the actress had been quoted, re the Collette kiss, as saying that kissing a woman is more pleasant than kissing a man.
Moore then explained to Walters that what she had said was that Collette was very pretty and her skin was so soft and she smelled nice, and that there wasn't any "issue" to kissing her because both are actresses. Moore added that she felt "very comfortable" doing the scene, which she described as "nonthreatening."
"Am I threatening?" Walters asked, seeing her opening.
"No," Moore replied.
"Good, let's try it," Walters said.
"I kiss you?" Moore asked.
This was a very reasonable question. After all, Walters is no Toni Collette -- she's a 71-year-old woman who is sometimes an ABC News journalist and sometimes an ABC entertainer. Moore was probably thrown by the fact that no one had given her a script calling for her to kiss the anchor of ABC News's "20/20" or even the host of ABC's daytime talk show "The View."
Plus it may have been fuzzy to Moore exactly what Walters hoped to learn about Moore journalistically by executing this kiss. After all, Walters had not asked Castro to kiss her while sailing with him across the Bay of Pigs. Nor had she sought a kiss from Egyptian President Anwar Sadat or Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin during her joint interview with those two men. At least not that we saw on air.
More recently, Walters had not sought a kiss from presidential mistress Monica Lewinsky in 1999. Heck, she didn't even try to kiss actress Anne "Used to be a Lesbian but Now I'm Straight" Heche in 2001.
Walters, who does not let those kinds of details get in the way of a good interview -- this is still an interview, right? -- replied to Moore, "That's right."
At which point Moore, according to her publicist, who says he was there, said, "Here we go," leaned forward and gave the "20/20" anchor a quick kiss on the lips, and said, "See, isn't that nice? How do I smell?"
"Divine," responded Walters.
According to Moore's rep, the actress was a little embarrassed and "got blushy." Walters did not, he reports.
"It was a little out of character," the Moore rep acknowledged of the incident, adding, "but it was actually sweet."
"Walters made a comment about how she had never been kissed by a woman before," the rep said. "Then she remembered that k.d. lang had kissed her once on 'The View.' "
We tried to track down Walters to hear her side of the story re this hot interview. ABC News referred our call to her personal publicist, who said yesterday afternoon that Walters was not available for the rest of the day because "she's doing interviews right now."