“After all the speculation and rumors and so forth last month, I promised if I had anything to announce about my future plans, you would hear it first here,” said Walters, referring to when word got out that she would make a retirement announcement soon. “So here it goes.”
We waited for Walters to continue speaking — that was an incorrect assumption. Instead, a dramatic video tribute immediately launched, narrated by Walters herself, going all the way back to when Walters was hired on the “Today Show,” and she wound up becoming a co-host, a milestone for a female journalist. “It was considered groundbreaking,” Walters intoned modestly in the video voiceover.
The film highlighted all of her many accomplishments, included her assignments around to the world, and her 1999 ratings-shattering interview with Monica Lewinsky. Finally, when it wrapped up, Walters confirmed: “A year from now, I plan to retire from being on television at all,” she said.
This came with some caveats: She is perfectly healthy (perhaps trying to stop speculation after her chicken pox scare earlier this year). This is her decision. She will still serve as co-executive producer of “The View.” Oh, and she will still continue to show up for special occasions.
“I’m not walking into the sunset,” she said sternly.
Afterwards, in between her co-hosts giving long speeches about the wonders of Walters, mayor Michael Bloomberg showed up to banter. Unlike when Walters returned to her first day back from her health issues, this time, he didn’t bring flowers.
Walters also introduced a slew of executives sitting in the front row, such as ABC News president Ben Sherwood; ABC executive vice president Vicki Dummer; ABC entertainment president Paul Lee; Disney-ABC Television Group Anne Sweeney and Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, a similar group who showed up to bid farewell to Regis Philbin when he left “Live!”
She took a few minutes to chat with Iger, who has announced he will be stepping down as CEO in 2015. “What are we going to do?” Barbara asked.
“I say we go on ‘Dancing With the Stars!’” Iger responded.
If that was too much spectacle for you, you may want to steer clear of ABC for the next year — until Walters officially bids farewell in summer 2014, the year will be filled with Walters send-offs and specials, she confirmed.