Barbara Walters’s annual “10 Most Fascinating People” special kicked off with Walters proudly explaining that the 2014 list was very female-centric, presumably because of all the amazing accomplishments by women this year. Great! And in the closing moments, Walters announced her choice for Most Fascinating Person was Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin) — purely because of the man she married.
“This is Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s beautiful bride. You could say hers was the wedding of the year,” Walters said, before uttering the sentence that could really make heads explode: “But let’s put it into perspective: It was really one of the greatest achievements in human history.”
It was said in perfect deadpan, proving that Walters either has an advanced and sophisticated sense of comic timing, or that she is just trolling us all. She seemed pretty serious, pondering of Amal, “What does it take to fascinate one of the most fascinating men in the world?”
No offense to Amal Clooney, because she’s obviously quite impressive — probably too good for Clooney — and a top human rights lawyer. But take into account some of the other “Most Fascinating” winners over the years on Walters’ list since 1993: Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Michelle Obama, David Petraeus, Steve Jobs. And more to the point, here was Walters’s ultimate reason for choosing Amal as the top of the list.
“Amazingly, Amal has been the subject of very little snark or envy. Maybe because we, like George Clooney, find it impossible to resist perfection,” Walters said, as the photos of the pair’s elaborate Italian wedding this past fall flashed across the screen. “Or maybe because it is heartening to think that no matter how long it may take, the perfect someone is out there for everyone. And that, for us, makes her the most fascinating person of 2014.”
The special also showed clips of Walters’s famous 1995 interview with a 34-year-old Clooney maintaining he would never wed again. “I know I’m never going to get married again because I wasn’t very good at it,” Clooney said of his brief marriage to Talia Balsam in his 20s.
Yes, in Walters’s world, marrying Hollywood’s most notorious bachelor puts you on par with Mother Teresa. We don’t even want to think about the implications of that and will chalk it up to ABC needing to make a splash with some ratings: After all, they pulled Walters out of “retirement” for this, even taking the unusual step of expanding it to a two-hour broadcast on Sunday night.
Besides Amal, others whom Walters deems fascinating (and who have projects to promote and/or ABC connections): actress Scarlett Johansson, actor Neil Patrick Harris, billionaire David Koch; Oprah Winfrey; comedian Chelsea Handler; talk show host Michael Strahan; Tesla chief executive Elon Musk; “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin and pop star Taylor Swift.
And then, Amal.
“Amal Alamuddin — known now as Amal Clooney — is suddenly in that stratosphere that we reserve for the Jackie O’s or the Princess Di’s or Kate Middleton,” Walters gushed about her top pick. “That is, everything she does, says or wears is officially fascinating.”