Let's see. Shelly Long is married and pregnant. Sally field isn't pregnant but is about to marry. Farrah Fawcett isn't married but is pregnant.
"We have one of every flavor," said Barbara Walters, sorting out the lives of the three stars she will interview on her show Tuesday on ABC. "This should be our Mothers Day special."
Instead it will be "The Barbara Walters Special," another in her series of interview programs that have brought to television the rich, the powerful, the famous and sometimes the reluctant for 20 minutes of usually candid conversation. Walters, who made TV history by becoming its first female network evening news anchor, has interviewed every president since Lyndon Johnson and such private-lived stars as Katharine Hepburn.
"I would like to do more politicans, but we have to have superstars," said Walters, facing the reality of commercial television.
"The reason for these three -- we try for a theme, sometimes it works sometimes not. We try for one established star, one TV person and one who's on the rise."
Long is enjoying success as costar of the "Cheers" series, Fawcett is basking in the afterflow of a hugely successful TV movie, "The Burning Bed," and field is serious about a man for the first time since Burt Reynolds.
"I talked to Farrah five years ago," said Walters. "All she talked about was wanting to have a baby." She's about eight months pregnant.
"Sally Field took a lot of homework," said Walters. "She's been working 20 years and has changed a lot between "Gidget" and "Places in the Heart.""
The challenge for Walters is landing the interview no one else will. "You always want to do the one that's hard," said Walters, acknowledging that she has queries in to just about every hard-to-reach star there is.
Preparing for an interview, Walters searches for all the right questions, even asking coworkers what they'd like to know about upcoming subjects.
"I write down every question I can think of and then eliminate them," she said. "I try to choreograph the interview so the tougher questions come at the end. They know we're not trying to kill them. And we don't pay them."
Two kinds of questions can trouble an interviewed -- the one that was asked and shouldn't have been and the one that should have been but wasn't.
"My idea of hell is after the interview having someone say, "Did you ask . . ." and realizing that I didn't and that it was just the question to ask." No examples came to mind.
But Walters-watchers will long recall at least two questions that went astray. Interviewing Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter as they were about to take up residence in the White House, Walters asked whether they were going to bring any furniture up from Plains. A slight misunderstanding in the exchange had Carter wondering whether Walters wasn't inquiring into the First Couple's sleeping arrangements. "He said, "Do you want to know whether we sleep in twin beds?"" Walters recalled.
And then there was the time Hepburn, responding to a question about her longevity, mumbled something abour surviving like an old tree. Hepburn's comment was barely heard, but Walters' rejoinder -- "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you like to be?" -- has been long remembered. "Sometimes," said Walters, "questions come out wrong."
Q&A/"If You Were a Tree . . ."
Here's a quick question-and-answer session with Barbara Walters, the one who usually asks all the basic -- and sometimes the unusual -- questions of others.
Q. Why do you think you've been so successful?
A. When you work in the News Department, you're kept very humble. I work the same way not that I did 10 years ago. I don't know . . . maybe I'm me.
Q. What's the next big challenge for you?
A. I'm doing what I want to do. I don't have any new hill to climb. For the first time in years I can say I'm happy. I have another year and a half to go on my contract. I don't kow what I want to do after that.
Q. Who in the world would you most like to interview next?
A. If it was for "20/20," [Soviet president Konstantin] Chernenko. For one of my specials, Michael Jackson.
Q. What's your favorite color?
A. I think of myself as a brunette [and the two go well together]. My hair was lightened for TV. Red's gay, bright, free and happy. Also yellow.
Q. If you were a tree . . .
A. Oh, shush!