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CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND

Encore Performance: Barbara Walters Discusses Her 'Love Story'

Aired July 8, 2001 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, we are going to turn the tables on the queen of television interviewers, Barbara Walters -- from the heart, for the hour, next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

When I sat down with Barbara Walters in April, she was fascinating, as always, and we talked about something very close to her heart, adoption. Barbara, whose own daughter is adopted, was about to host an ABC special on that subject. I began by asking her why she got involved with that program -- "Born in My Heart: A Love Story."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Well, first I, want to say one word about your children, OK? When your little boy, when Chance was on that show, that little ham got out...

KING: ... little ham?

WALTERS: First of all he's so beautiful, and secondly he got out and he danced. Anytime he wants to come on -- we don't need you -- just send him.

KING: And he didn't want to get off.

WALTERS: And he didn't want to get off. OK.

KING: Why not, Barbara?

WALTERS: Well, first of all the whole program idea was something that I had just never imagined. It started when I was talking to Connie Chung one day, who has an adopted child. And we realized that there were so many people just in ABC news who had adopted children. It was as if almost everyone on the show either was adopted, had an adopted child, new someone who was adopted, and it's been such a subject this year.

And we said instead of movie stars, we are going to take our own ABC family. So we have Connie Chung and Maury Povich talking about how they wanted to adopt a Chinese Jewish baby because she is and he -- and we have all different people -- I can go through the list later -- from ABC news and Rosie O'Donnell whom we figure is sort of part of the ABC family, talking about her children, and what it has meant to us, and how it changed our lives. Some of them are funny, some of them are silly. One of our producers, went to Rumania 10 years ago to do a story on the Rumanian orphans, held one in her arms while the picture was being taken, you know, just to take a picture, got home, single, kept looking at this picture, went back and adopted this child. And then went back adopted another one.

OK. And then this is the first time that my daughter has ever talked publicly. For years she didn't tell anyone that I was her mother, because she felt that people would treat her differently.

KING: Really?

WALTERS: And they did -- Yes. She thought that they would either say, "Well, why so you need a raise? You know, look who your mother is." Or they would expect her to be a kind of snobby kid and she wanted to lead her own life.

KING: Has a different last name?

WALTERS: She has a different last name. She is now in her very early 30s. I guess she has a different feeling about herself, and she...

KING: Did you ask her to come on?

WALTERS: What happened was that when we had all these other stories, I said, would you come on and talk about it. Jackie is the kind of kid that doesn't have an unspoken thought. You know, and she is very honest in this and very funny in it, and I said, you know, there is still stigma to some people about being adopted -- oh it's second best, it's your "adopted" child. Which drives most of us who have adopted children crazy. And she side OK, I'll do it -- I will do it. So we talk about things, like.

KING: On together?

WALTERS: I could not do the interview with her. It was too personal to me. So, Cynthia McFadden, who is an ABC correspondent, who is herself adopted...

KING: Know her well.

WALTERS: ... came on and did the interview. And it turns out that Cynthia would like to have my life. She would like to have been born in New York and had all of the New York life. Jackie would like to have had Cynthia's life. I said we should swap them -- not really, but you know what I'm saying in terms of lifestyle.

KING: And what about you though? Here you are on the cover of "Ladies Home Journal" with Jackie. But you never talked about it much. In fact, when I would ask you about it you would always say, I have a daughter, but please, let's keep it private. Her life is private you never identified where she lived.

WALTERS: Nope. KING: I don't know you ever said her name.

WALTERS: Almost never talked about her.

KING: So, what made you come out?

WALTERS: Well, I think, by the way, by not talking about her a lot of people thought that she and I had terrible problems and we didn't see each other.

KING: I knew that wasn't true because you're always telling me you went to see her, and always...

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS: I mean, "Born In My Heart" comes from Jackie saying, and she says on the show, "My mother said there were two -- when I was very little -- that there were two ways that babies could be born. They could be born in your tummy, which is not anatomically correct, they could be born in your tummy, or they could be born in your heart, and my mummy said that I was born in her heart." That is how title came.

KING: What took so long for you to talk about it?

WALTERS: Because she didn't want it. Because she -- it was very...

KING: So you could have said, I have an adopted daughter. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) dare discuss...

WALTERS: No, I wouldn't have said I had an adopted daughter. I would have said I have a daughter. I never denied it if someone did a piece -- you know, if you said to me, you have a daughter, I would say yes, I have daughter. But I wouldn't say this where she lives, this is what she does, this is -- and she never wanted it. She doesn't want to be on television. She doesn't -- she is not one of these children...

KING: That now changes for her after tomorrow night, doesn't it ? After this? No?

WALTERS: Not where she lives. It is very different, and I will -- she lives in Maine and I got to tell you they are different in Maine.

KING: She lived in Seattle for a while.

WALTERS: Yes, you really remember, and then, I think she felt, at that point, it was a big city, and it was like in --

KING: Are you grandmother, Barbara?

WALTERS: No, and I want to be.

KING: She's married now, isn't she? WALTERS: She just got married.

KING: Do you like your son-in-law?

WALTERS: Yes, I do. My son in law is a registered Maine guide. He takes people salmon fishing, and bass fishing. Her life could not be more different from mine. She's got three dogs, two cats, she lives in a wonderful house that is surrounded by trees.

KING: She's also gorgeous.

WALTERS: And she is gorgeous. See, that I can say because she is my adopted daughter. But, you know, in Maine they don't care. You know, whatever you are, you are. Your mother's Barbara Walters, OK, what else is new. So she feels...

KING: So when she got OK with it, it was fine for you to talk about it.

WALTERS: When she got OK with it, it was fine with me. When she got OK I could show the pictures. When she did okay, I could do the ...

KING: Now, the show is people talking about being adopted and adopting?

WALTERS: The show is people talking about how they adopted their children, what they felt about their children, and some of the children, including the wife of the president of ABC news, Sherry Rollins, who adopted a Chinese child -- that is right. Whereas Connie and Maury did not. They adopted a Caucasian child. Dr. Tim, Timothy Johnson, who is the medical editor in our program has an Indonesian son. When you ask the son what nationality he is, he says "Scandinavian."

KING: Were you surprised to learn how many people are adopted?

WALTERS: I think it is so much a subject of conversation but we usually think of it just with movie stars, because we hear so much about it. What amazed and the reason we did the program was how many of us in one small group, 20/20, and, in particular, in ABC news, a few of the people, it was such a subject. There were so many of us, single mothers adopting children in the Ukraine. As I said, Janice adopting a child in Rumania.

And then the problems and the virtues of adopted children. We don't get statistics. It isn't a documentary. We hope that it is loving and entertaining.

KING: The world has changed in its treatment of adopted children. There is less and less of your somewhat outcast, the Jaime Lee Curtis great thing, you were chosen. I chose you. You are not an accident. WALTERS: Well, it wasn't what the parents said, because most parents said you are my chosen child, or you were born in my heart. It was in the schools. Cynthia McFadden talks about being, when she was -- I don't know -- eight, nine years old, and her teacher in school had just had a baby, his wife had, and he said, "You can't possibly love a child unless it is your own child." And Cynthia said, "No, I'm adopted." And he said, "Well your parents can't possibly" -- I mean how -- "can't possibly love you the same way."

KING: We've got to break and come right back. This special airs tomorrow night. Barbara Walters is the guest. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BORN IN MY HEART: A LOVE STORY")

WALTERS: I'm here at the world's most fantastic toy store, but there was a time when it was almost painful for me to visit a place like this. It was when I found out that I couldn't bear a child of my own. That all changed, the day I adopted a baby girl.

Back then, more than 30 years ago, an adopted child was often thought of by outsiders as second best. Some people still feel that way, even though these days there is hardly anyone who doesn't know someone who is adopted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BORN IN MY HEART: A LOVE STORY")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Particularly in adoption, I think in some ways it's more miraculous than if you had given birth. But how did you find one another from halfway around the world? And it seems like it was just meant to be, that it was always in the cards, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We are back with Barbara Walters -- you want to ask me something?

WALTERS: Yeah, if you had not been able to have these two adorable children...

KING: I would have adopted.

WALTERS: You would have adopted.

KING: And I have five children, three grown, and the first one is adopted.

WALTERS: I mean, really, everybody, it seems to me, is somehow touched by it.

KING: Bob, the late Bob Considine, had the best line: "I have four children, two are adopted, I forget which two."

WALTERS: Yeah.

KING: Yeah. How old was Jackie when you adopted her?

WALTERS: Four days. And I was on the "Today" show, and I told no one. And I didn't -- I took one day off to, you know, my husband and I to get Jackie, took her right home from the hospital, and I didn't really want people to know because there was a whole question of the biological mother. This was a closed adoption.

And finally, when it was about -- I don't know, six to eight months later, when I started to -- and you know, in those days, you didn't bring your baby in the way you do today, you didn't talk about the baby all the time on the air, and you were never allowed to be pregnant on the air, but I began to get letters from people -- I guess read or heard that I had a child saying: "We knew, we saw you getting fatter on the air, we knew."

KING: That is so true! But then you started bringing her around?

WALTERS: Never!

KING: You never did?

WALTERS: You know, today, when women are on the air, they -- for example, Rosie O'Donnell has a whole nursery at NBC -- but you can bring your child in, you breast-feed them in the other room. If I had brought my child into the "Today" show studios 30 years ago, it would be like bringing in a French poodle that was going to pee on the rug, you know?

KING: So much has changed, though. The man who operates Wendy's, that wonderful gentleman, is the leading -- foremost leader for adoption in United States. We have an adoption stamp now, a stamp that salutes adopted people. Did you have your daughter meet her biological parents?

WALTERS: My daughter -- it's one of the things that she and Cynthia discussed -- my daughter never wanted to meet her biological mother. At one point, she laughs and she said, why would I -- I have had so much trouble with you, mom, why would I want another one?

This is the first time that I think she may have some curiosity about it, because she would like to know, for example, she said, what if I needed some kind of a transfusion or a bone marrow, or -- because of all the understanding about genes.

KING: You have all the records, right?

WALTERS: No.

KING: Did you keep in touch with the woman?

WALTERS: No. And you see, in closed adoption...

KING: Now you do, you get all records -- or closed, you don't. WALTERS: Closed adoption.

KING: So, you did this blind?

WALTERS: I did this blind. Yes. KING: That is rolling dice, Barbara. Now, you get everything about the...

WALTERS: I know, but you see, I think that is something that is important to be said. I think you should be able to find out as much as you want. But as Rosie O'Donnell said, if you want the perfect child, you are going to have a long, long wait, and what's the perfect child even if it is your own? You have to be prepared not to have a child who is going to look like you -- although people say Jackie and I look alike. We don't. She is 6'1", I'm 5'4" to begin with -- 5'5".

KING: Well, 5'5" and a half.

WALTERS: OK. But you have to be prepared to love this child no matter what. No matter what its nationality, because we have so many people now adopting children abroad, and you have to really feel -- if you are looking for a child to be the replica of you, that perfect child, you shouldn't adopt.

KING: So, if she wanted to find out, she would have to go searching?

WALTERS: Yes, she would. And also, I think that she felt maybe it is -- but she felt that I would be unhappy or uncomfortable.

KING: Would you?

WALTERS: And she loves me. I probably would have been. We talk about this on the program. I probably would have been, but I wouldn't be today. It's a different time.

KING: When did she know she was adopted?

WALTERS: From day one. Because what we used to do when came home from the "Today" show, we would very often take baths together. The water got sort of dirty, but you know, that was kind of a time for us to play, and that was when she would see mommy undressed and she would say, what's that, what's that?

And that is when I would say, well, you can have a baby from your tummy or from your heart. Now, she knew from the beginning. In those days, you didn't tell the child, and you heard all of these awful stories about children finding out when they were 21 years old.

KING: And some thought you never tell.

WALTERS: You never tell. But Jackie has always known. Rosie talks about how she told her -- she has got three. But also, of course, when you have a child that is not the same color as you, or the same nationality as you. Carol Simpson, who is our weekend anchor, and who is African- American, is on with her son, and for the first time on the program, I said: "Do you know who the biological mother, your biological mother is?" And he said: "I never would ask my mother." And I said: "Do it now." And on the program for the first time, he says: "Tell me about my mother." And he is 20! And they never had discussed it. KING: Did you -- this is hard to explain. When you -- when you brought Jackie home -- by the way, why was she named Jackie?

WALTERS: After my sister, my sister who has passed away. A lot of people think that I named her Jacqueline after Jacqueline Kennedy. I didn't.

My sister was borderline retarded, but knew everything, and -- but she wasn't married, she probably at that time wasn't going to be married, and I wanted her to feel a part, that this baby was also somehow hers as well. And so I named her after my sifter.

KING: How old was your sister when she passed?

WALTERS: In her 50s.

KING: When you bring a baby home.

WALTERS: Yes.

KING: How long before you really love it?

WALTERS: The second it is in your -- the second she is in your arms! And almost everybody on the program talks about that. Maury Povich talks about that maybe...

KING: That seems hard to believe.

WALTERS: Oh, I'm telling you! Maury said: "I was afraid you wouldn't bond," and Connie said: "I was afraid you wouldn't bond." The moment you look at this baby -- I remember putting her in the bassinet, and my husband getting up the next day and going in the room, and saying: "She is still here." You know, that miracle! And then, after that, I kept her in our room. The second they're in the arms!

KING: This airs tomorrow night. It's the new Barbara Walters special "Born In My Heart: a Love Story." It's on ABC, at 10:00 Eastern.

Tomorrow night on this program, at 9:00 Eastern, Tim and Sarah Brady, and it's an exclusive interview, and they're going to reveal something that the public does not know. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BORN IN MY HEART: A LOVE STORY")

MAURY POVICH, TALK SHOW HOST: The moment that...

CONNIE CHUNG, NEWS ANCHOR: You are the one who wasn't sure if you could really bond.

POVICH: No, no.

WALTERS: I love watching the two of you! But you are both bonded.

CHUNG: Oh, yeah.

POVICH: It took her 30 seconds. Exactly 30 seconds. From the moment that child came out of the arms of the social worker into her arms.

CHUNG: He was less than 24 hours old, and he was so beautiful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A lot of people, Barbara, after they adopt, love it so much, adopt again. My senior executive producer, vice president Wendy Walker Whitworth had a little girl, loved it, had a little boy adopted. Came out a boy, could have been a girl. Why didn't you do another?

WALTERS: Well, it is funny, because I asked this of Connie Chung and Maury, and...

KING: They haven't done that.

WALTERS: They haven't done it and she said they were going to. They had adopted a Caucasian child and then were going to try get a Chinese child. And she said, after the sleep hours and everything else, they decided to just have one. That was not my situation. But it is interesting that most of the women of my generation on television, not all but most of us, either have no children or one child.

KING: Because?

WALTERS: Because we were traveling all the time, we were working very hard. And it just is very tough to have -- you can say that is two as easy as one but two isn't as easy as one, and when Jackie was born, I was already in my 30s -- I wasn't a kid. And the idea of then having another one, when I was on the "Today Show," those terrible hours and I was traveling.

You know, thank heaven I had this one. Today, I would have adopt -- if I weren't, you know, this age, I would absolutely adopt them I walked in the park with my daughter and she says be careful, they're going to accuse you of kidnapping because I'm looking at these babies.

KING: Barbara wants to be a grandmother.

WALTERS: Barbara wants to be a grandmother. I have stopped doing that to her because I'm driving her crazy. Hello, how are you? How do you feel? Can I be a grandmother? Enough! KING: Did you worry about things like, kinds of illness? Mental problems? You had the sister with a mental problem. Did you worry that maybe there was something in that family?

WALTERS: You know, now look, here is in my situation, and if I had my own child, there would have been...

KING: Possible.

WALTERS: Possible. Although we thought that her retardation was a birth injury. That is neither here nor there at this point. I'll tell you when I used to feel it, I would take her to a doctor, to a pediatrician. And he would say there is such and such. Does it run in the family? There would be a pause, and I would say, she is adopted. And I hated to do this in front of her.

I would tell the pediatrician usually in advance, but you don't always do that. Yes, I thought of those things, not as much as I would think of it today, with so much about that -- we know about genes, but, no. I mean, I don't know how to say it except to say, Larry, she is your child. And, you can have children with all kinds of things when you know everything there is to know about you and your wife. You don't know what your grandfather was, or your cousin who is, you know, in the loony bin. You don't know.

KING: All (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

WALTERS: Right.

KING: Do you think now, with all the discussion, the openness, that the stigma is gone, gone?

WALTERS: Yes, but it is still there in tiny ways. It is still he -- Rosie O'Donnell talks about when George Burns died, he was 103. And they talked about, you know, the family that was left, and they said he has a 73-year-old adopted son. I -- 101! He was 73! And people will still, if I read about them, if I don't -- now it is something I talk about, say Barbara Walters and her adopted daughter. I...

KING: Do you dislike the word now?

WALTERS: In those, yes. If we want to talk about it, fine. She...

KING: Subject. It's a word.

WALTERS: That is right. Otherwise, she is my daughter!

KING: So, you don't go around saying this is -- I don't say, my adopted son.

WALTERS: No. She is my daughter! So there is still, I think, a little bit of a stigma and then I think also in this country today, where people again are so concerned about AIDS, drugs, all of the different problems, that there is this inclination to adopt abroad. All right.

And one of the things that Rosie talks about is that everyone of her children were born from a mother in crisis, which is the way she puts it. And if you want to have a child very badly, and her kids are all evidently wonderful, you say hey, you know, I'm going to do that, I am hoping this child going to be fine so is there still a little stigma? Yes. KING: We'll be right back with Barbara Walters. We'll talk about a lot of other things and we will remind you of the special, but, we'll also ask our -- since this is so personal, what it is like for her to do a show like this? Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTERS: So these children have really totally changed your life?

ROSIE O'DONNELL: They have made my whole life worth something. I dreamed, well, I'm going to have a life and be in movies, then everything is going to be fine, and I got there and, you know what? Everything wasn't fine. Everything became fine the day my children arrived for me. It defined my whole -- my whole life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back with Barbara Walters.

All right, now you have got this show, you have asked questions all your life, and at times, gotten personal with people. What do you feel about this? That is what we do for a living. What was it like for you to be you?

WALTERS: It was very strange to see her being interviewed by Cynthia McFadden, because I sort of learned things that I didn't know. I got -- very teary myself when I heard her, because, you know, suddenly, to hear my daughter talking about these very personal things. I didn't want it to sound like an ego trip. Here is my daughter and she is saying nice things about me! And some not such wonderful things. And isn't she good-looking, I didn't -- I worried about that coming off that way.

But it is a quote "Barbara Walters Special," because I don't want to keep doing celebrity specials .

But it is -- yeah, it is very personal. And I'm not going to do it again. I mean, then when I'm on, next week on "20/20," then I'm back to the -- don't talk about my daughter. I rarely talk about my daughter on "The View." Once in a while, I've never shown her except for these pictures on "The View," so I go back to...

KING: Are you surprised at "The View's" success?

WALTERS: These women... KING: A male imitator coming. Dick Clark.

WALTERS: I wish them luck and I like Dick Clark, but I don't think men talk the same way women do, Larry. They don't dish in the same way.

KING: Don't dish, but they do -- well they do -- there is a lot -- a language. A male language. WALTERS: A lot of it is, what program did you see last night? Did you like Mets or the -- you know. I wish them luck. We have tried it a couple times. We tried it on the program, it didn't work.

KING: Tried men.

WALTERS: Tried men, you know, only men. Not male guests, we would...

KING: Just male panel.

WALTERS: We would have you on every day, but just a male panel. But you know flattery is best form of compliments.

KING: But are you surprised that it did as well as it did?

WALTERS: That "The View" did? Yeah. If I had known what was involved, in doing a five day a week show, as you do, even though I had done the "Today" Show and everything. I'm not sure I would have done it. Daytime is a world of its own.

KING: You are not on every morning.

WALTERS: No, I do it two to three days a week, but these -- the thing I think so interesting is that we have now been on four years. Five women, including myself. If we have a problem with each other, we air it as soon as the program is over.

I have never seen a program in which women are this supportive -- I have seen men and women as partners and they're not this supportive, where that we can tease each other, make fun of each other, but the good humor is there. That is very rare, and I'm not sure I think you have to have a very special combination of women, and we lucked out.

KING: And it is a different thing for you, isn't it? Dishing, rather than asking.

WALTERS: Yeah. And I you know take a back seat. I'm -- I sit at the end. I'm one of five, sometimes when it gets very personal, I sit there like this, and when they start to talk about certain things that I...

KING: Anatomy.

WALTERS: Last week, anatomy. Last week, we did a dog wedding. Joy Behar's dog got married to, as she put it, because it's the correct term, an older bitch -- talking about the dog. Not talking about anybody else on the panel. I am there standing with a bouquet at a dog's wedding, Larry! From "20/20", some of the things -- to a, I thought, I shouldn't be on this program!

KING: But you liked it.

WALTERS: But I thought, how can I be? -- oh, no. I will just come on with you know, so... KING: When we come back, more to talk about with Barbara Walters, including what's it like, when the host is better known than the guest? Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE VIEW")

WALTERS (singing): Comme si, comme AMANPOUR: . That's how the French men sing, that's how they have their fling, that's how the French men swing the Latin Quarter. They're 50 million strong, and they can't all be wrong, so let's all la-la-la.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We are back with Barbara Walters who went to Beach high where I broke in. So you remember...

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS: I said -- we were talking in the break, and I said: "I remember when you used to sit there and anybody came up and sat with you."

KING: And your father, Lou Walters, was king.

WALTERS: Well, he had a wonderful nightclub then, called the Latin Quarter, that was the most elegant kind of...

KING: He was some man, you know? More needs to be done about him.

WALTERS: I know. Not very much has been. I haven't talked that much about him either. We did one program on him...

KING: Have there been books on him?

WALTERS: No.

KING: There should be.

OK. Walter Cronkite said, one thing that really disturbed me once -- he went to a Republican convention, and he walked into the caucus, who was Rockefeller and Nixon '60, and the whole caucus stopped talking and got his autograph. He thought that was wrong, that the host shouldn't be famous. That the guest counts. What's it like?

WALTERS: Larry, what's it like?

KING: Well, it is hard sometimes. It is hard when you are interviewing people who are, like, everyday people caught in circumstances. The firemen on the street who went into the fire, who are impressed with meeting you. What's hardest about it for you?

WALTERS: Well, it is also hard sometimes when they are nervous, they're all -- oh, you know, you are coming to do an interview? And it takes you a long time to break through it and talk the way you and I are talking.

Living in New York, people don't pay -- and maybe working in the news department, because we don't walk around with bodyguards and press agents and so forth, and they very much in Washington. Movie stars are a big deal in Washington, they're not that big of a deal in New York.

KING: Living bicoastal, I don't use bodyguards anyway, by the way.

WALTERS: Well, you wouldn't and I wouldn't...

KING: You wouldn't?

WALTERS: We lead a different life. But my point is that people leave you pretty much alone, so you don't get that feeling that I'm a very big deal. You know, you and I work very hard...

KING: Well, how about if you go make a speech in Des Moines?

WALTERS: Well, I don't make many speeches anymore, because my schedule is too crazy.

KING: You used to do a lot.

WALTERS: I did a little. I -- I just...

KING: How about to be...

WALTERS: But I know what you are saying. Look, you know, if you go on the air, and you are selling chickens, you become a celebrity, right?

KING: Nature of the beast.

WALTERS: It's the nature -- so, yes, you and I have been doing it longer, so we are much better known, and you have to forget that when you are interviewing someone, and just, you know, do it straight.

KING: How do you explain why we still get revved up?

WALTERS: Isn't it amazing? I mean, by now we should be both be saying, you know...

KING: Seen one, seen them all.

WALTERS: Seen one -- but if it's -- you do...

KING: Never thought that.

WALTERS: I don't either! There is always something new, there's always...

KING: Never thought you've asked every question. WALTERS: There's always the person that you want to go off and interview. We did an interview on Saturday, and I know that you are going to be interviewing her one of these days...

KING: Denise Rich.

WALTERS: Denise Rich.

KING: We follow you .

WALTERS: Well, that is the way I love it!

KING: Sometimes you followed us.

WALTERS: And sometimes we follow you.

KING: But you get revved up for that?

WALTERS: But you do! I mean, what is she like? What's this story? What -- didn't she know when she was living with this man in Switzerland what his story was? What did she do -- it's something that is new.

We are doing a program in two weeks, we are doing a whole hour on executions. Pretty grisly subject, but we are -- Timothy McVeigh is going to be executed, it is more and more in the news. I'm going this week to a prison to...

KING: We were there yesterday, at a prison.

WALTERS: And we are going to go -- as you might have done as well -- going through all the rooms, and the death chamber, and so forth. I mean, this is ghoulish and terrible, but for me fascinating. I've been in prisons before, so have you. But I want to learn something, and I want to tell people what I have learned.

And I don't just -- you mentioned my father. A long time ago, my father was very sick, and George Burns, wonderful comedian, sent him a wire that said: "Louie, get out of bed!" You know what I'm saying? You want to get up and have the juices going. I don't want to stay home -- I love to have lunches with the girls, and my girl -- I could not live without my friends, but I don't want to spend my life doing that. You don't want to spend your life doing it!

KING: Wouldn't know what to do.

WALTERS: Not as long as we still have this opportunity.

KING: And it is a blessing. The money is a sideline.

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS: I used to say I would do it for nothing!

KING: Well, that is possibly true.

WALTERS: But I don't want them to hear that.

KING: No. But we have chosen a business where the rewards are many, right?

WALTERS: And -- and on the other hand, it is a public life where there are sometimes things are printed that, you know, you get -- there is a downside that you get very hurt about. But at our stages, that happens very rarely, thank -- what's this made of?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... what are they going to do to you?

WALTERS: Exactly. So what? Exactly.

KING: At this point. Are there ever times you say: "I wish I had another 50 years? I want to know everything?"

WALTERS: Yeah. I also wish I kept a diary. And I didn't.

KING: Me, too.

WALTERS: Usually, I was too tired at night. But I mean...

KING: A journal.

WALTERS: A journal! I mean, just...

KING: My wife keeps a journal.

WALTERS: Good for her.

KING: She can look back on her life.

WALTERS: Yeah, and I can't -- you know, I remember these interviews because I have the tapes, but I can't remember the little things that happened...

KING: How about when you forget things? We do forget things, don't we?

WALTERS: But we have...

KING: Drives you crazy?

WALTERS: Yes, but on the other hand, I think we have more things to remember than most people.

KING: I know, but when you forget a word or something, it drives you nuts.

WALTERS: Well, that is not new with me. I have forgotten words for 25 years! You know, sometimes your cup runneth over.

KING: Do you like be being kidded, like on "Saturday Night Live"? WALTERS: Oh, I don't mind it. I used to. I used to hate BATTISTA: -WATERS: - WATERS: -WATERS: .

KING: You did?

WALTERS: Yeah, my daughter once, a longtime ago, the wonderful Gilda Radner was doing it...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

GILDA RADNER, ACTRESS: I'm Barbara Wawa.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALTERS: And I walked into Jackie's bedroom, and she was a kid, and I said I said: "Why are you watching that?" She was up late, it was Saturday night, and she was doing Barbara Wawa, and Jackie said: "Oh, mommy, lighten up!" But now when they do me, you know, I laugh. I think it's wonderful. You and I have both been doing it, as you said, we are so lucky.

KING: Laura Bush told us last night she doesn't like it.

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS: It's new. It's new. It's very new for her, it's very new for him. And she is protective of him, you know. I don't like to be hurt. I mean, I have feelings, but I don't mind being kidded. Do you?

KING: No.

WALTERS: I mean, people do takes of you all the time.

KING: All the time.

WALTERS: With the suspenders.

KING: And the voice.

WALTERS: And the voice.

KING: We'll be back with Barbara Walters. The adoption special tomorrow. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Is it tough, Barbara Walters, to interview people, you know well?

WALTERS: I try very hard not to interview friends.

KING: But it happens. WALTERS: Very rarely. Very rarely. Because if you know too much about them, especially if you know the questions they don't want to be asked...

KING: No curiosity.

WALTERS: You can't do it. You are afraid of doing it. I also, when I do interviews, do not pre-interview. And most of the programs do. You know, you ask this, then they say that, then if you ask this...

KING: I hate that.

WALTERS: It happens to me when I'm on other programs, not on this program, there is no preinterview. But I can't remember -- I have done Henry Kissinger he is a friend. Not, I haven't done it for a while.

KING: When they are...

WALTERS: So much to ask.

KING: As a newsperson, right? He's not your friend at that minute when he is on. He is a guest.

WALTERS: That is right, and you just have to be very straight. But if it is a very close friend who is involved with something, and I know a great deal about it, I try not to do it. I try not do it.

KING: Do you want to like the guest?

WALTERS: A long time ago -- I will answer this with a -- I was interviewing Katherine Hepburn, who is very direct. She said, I see things in black and white, and I said, well, you know, I have been doing great many interviews in the Middle East and I was interviewing, at that time, Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, who was I don't mean to drop heads of states's names, but who was prime minister.

And I said, you know, I have been in Middle East and I see things in shades of gray, and she said, well I pity you! OK? I have gotten to the point where I can understand most of the people, and empathize with them. Some people say I'm too soft.

Now, there are people I do not like. And if -- and I can, you know, talk about some world leaders I do not like, or some murderers I do not like, but I try -- I don't -- I don't expect to like them. But most people I do like.

KING: It is not your role to like or dislike, is it?

WALTERS: No, it is my role to have the audience learn. KING: They make up their mind.

WALTERS: Let the them make up their mind.

KING: When did this, make people cry thing begin? And is that a bad wrap?

WALTERS: I don't do it now. If anyone starts to cry, I will not let them..

KING: Did you try to make people cry?

WALTERS: What happened was, when I did the specials and I was doing four celebrities specials a year, I started very often asking people about their childhood, because it is a good way to begin. And more and more, and you sort of did it with me when you asked me about my sister, because that is a sort of thing that gets me on the verge, you know...

KING: I left it.

WALTERS: I can control myself, you know. But is you have done enough, I would have gotten tears. So that if I was talking about the childhood, very often, they would bring up the father who had died or the mother who had died, or the worst thing that happened, and because this was these were mostly personal interviews, they would cry.

A few years ago, I stopped totally and I watch everybody else's interviews, where anybody else makes people cry. If you are doing a very good and a very emotional interview, the person you are talking to gets tears in their eyes. So at this point, is it a bum wrap? Yeah, but so what? You know...

KING: How about world leaders? Do you still feel that get up and go feeling? Do you want to go to do -- we did Putin in New York. Would you go to Moscow to do him?

WALTERS: Yes.

KING: OK.

WALTERS: But there aren't a lot of others I would do. Putin people are still very interested in...

KING: Blair?

WALTERS: Our audience on "20/20" at 10:00 on Friday night, there are very few world leaders there. Interested in, and including American.

KING: Why?

WALTERS: Because.

KING: Friday night, why? WALTERS: Because we are not -- we, in general -- it isn't just "20/20" -- we in general in this country are interested in things that are of concern to us, economic matters, health, crime, violence, children.

We don't really care about the head of state in a foreign country. We have become much more closed in, because we do not have an emergency. We are not in a state of -- of -- we are now with China, but we are not in that kind of tension as we were for years with the Soviet Union.

KING: But our news anchors said on this program -- Jennings, Rather, Brokaw -- they don't like that that the public seems not interested in things outside of your...

WALTERS: Look, I would much rather do the prime minister of England than do yet another -- I don't know...

KING: Heartthrob.

WALTERS: Heartthrob or scandal, or -- alleged murderer. I would much rather. But the programs are very competitive, and Americans are not interested in that. I know Peter Jennings talks about it and Tom and Dan.

We simply are not, so that I -- you know, the last head of state that I did was George W. Bush. But even in America I have to tell, you know, we don't care about most politicians. We would like to do Al Gore, wouldn't you?

KING: Now.

WALTERS: Yes, now.

KING: But once he did his first two -- OK, we lost.

We will be right back with Barbara Walters, on this edition of Larry King Live. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back with Barbara Walters, who has had her -- do you have a -- big, I guess, going to guess -- Lewinsky was the big moment? Was that the biggest...

WALTERS: Monica Lewinsky

KING: Yeah. The biggest get of "gets"?

WALTERS: Come on.

KING: News story.

WALTERS: As a major story, it was very big get.

KING: Biggest audience. WALTERS: Biggest audience, I think, of any news special.

KING: OK, so it has to be your biggest.

WALTERS: Well but, you see, if you ask -- if I have to go back in history, probably, I think the biggest "get" was first and at that time, the only -- they did one interview that -- Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin gave. These two fierce enemies. president of Egypt, prime minister of Israel, meeting and a talking for the first time.

KING: Historic..

WALTERS: Yes. Fidel Castro, the first interview that I did with Fidel Castro, I mean, it -- we talked for three hours with his blowing smoke from the cigar in my face. That is long time ago, so Monica was a sensational interview, but it is not the one that I hope, you know, will go down in my, I don't know.

KING: Who did you go after you didn't get?

WALTERS: So many, and you got them first.

KING: Princess Di?

WALTERS: Princess Diana had told me that the next interview she was going to do, she was going to do it with me. I was in London, having lunch with her, went back to my hotel, when my office in New York, when the bureau called and said, do you know that she's just done an interview with the BBC?

I said -- this was when she, you know, she kept it so secret. I couldn't believe it. And then she said, I will do the next interview with you, the next interview never happened. There are certain people whom we all want to interview, and...

KING: The Pope.

WALTERS: The Pope doesn't do interviews.

KING: I Know.

WALTERS: Queen Elizabeth doesn't do interviews. I'm trying to think of who else does not -- Prince Charles.

KING: The list is getting less and less.

WALTERS: Yes, Prince Charles, Camilla Parker-Bowles.

KING: Do you ever miss anchoring?

WALTERS: Well, I do anchor "20/20."

KING: Yes, but I mean doing news? Remember, you did news.

WALTERS: Well, that was such a terribly difficult and unhappy time for me, that I don't miss it. And I think that people who do what you and I do, who work on news magazine programs, or on your unique -- because you are unique, yes, you are -- we have a much more interesting time. I mean, I think that...

KING: I think so.

WALTERS: I think that Peter Jennings and Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw are superb reporters, and when they're out on the scene it is great. But most of the time they're reading from a teleprompter, because that is the nature what they do. We have a much more interesting time. KING: Judy Woodruff gets to do a lot of both. You know, because she gets long-form programming.

WALTERS: But you are on -- as wonderful as CNN is -- when it is, you are on a cable network. You don't have -- you don't worry about ratings the way we do. Yes you do, to some degree, but not the way a network does. We have a different...

KING: Homes are paying to see, they're paying a fee every month.

WALTERS: That's right, and we're just on a different agenda.

KING: So, you're in a war?

WALTERS: We're not in a war, but we certainly are in a competition.

KING: All right, what do you make, then, of reality television? Now we've got this woman who throws people off quiz shows, and they did very well. Their first shot, in fact NBC's best number in five years.

WALTERS: Well, you know, the more sensational it is, and I guess maybe the nastier it is, I don't know where it all ends. I saw "Survivor" in the summer, because I took lot of time off last summer -- it was wonderful -- I've had no desire to see any others. I saw it. I got the gist. You have to really see it from the beginning.

KING: Did you see "The Weakest Link?"

WALTERS: No, haven't seen it.

KING: What do you make with the fascination of these shows? Why do -- why does the public like them? Some.

WALTERS: We are voyeurs. It has become more interesting to see real people doing insane things, and embarrassing things, than it almost is to watch the soap operas.

KING: Our guest is Barbara Walters. Back with our remaining moments with the reigning queen of American television.

WALTERS: Ooh.

KING: Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We have come almost to the end of this all too quick hour, Barbara Walters our guest, and tomorrow night her special "Born In My Heart: A Love Story" airs on ABC.

What should people know who are thinking about adopting?

WALTERS: First of all, they should want a child very, very much. They should know that this child is not going to be absolutely perfect, nor would their own. And then they should make sure that if they are adopting a child that is Asian, that is of a different nationality, et cetera, that are not doing it as some kind of grand social gesture, but because they really want that child.

KING: So therefore if you are a white couple and the child is black, you're not doing it because you are making a statement to America.

WALTERS: You are doing it...

KING: You are doing it you love the kid.

WALTERS: You love this child going and you're going to give this child the best life you possibly can.

KING: It is not a walk in the park. It's not let's go in get a child today.

WALTERS: No, and with any child, when they get out of those adorable feet pajamas,and get into adolescence, you better love them a lot, because it is tough.

KING: Do you ever feel sorry you adopted?

WALTERS: I just wish I had adopted more.

KING: Even on bad -- the worst days.

WALTERS: I sometimes, you know, it likes everything else. I didn't know whether to kill her or kill myself. I have never not loved her, she has never not loved me, and she has never said to me, you are not my real mother, I am her real mother.

KING: You sure are. How well has her father treated her?

WALTERS: Her father was wonderful with her. Her father died when she was about 18 or 19. And I wish she had had that relationship.

KING: They had a good one up to then, though?

WALTERS: Yes.

KING: And did he feel exactly the same, even though your marriage didn't last, did he feel the same as you about it? WALTERS: Exactly, and by the way, he had had biological children. He'd had his own children from an earlier marriage, and he adored Jackie.

KING: The special -- that is tomorrow, what's the next? You go back to screen actors, right? You're going back -- what's next for a special?

WALTERS: I only do two special a year now. I do Academy award night, and I do just one other. And that's like this one. I don't want to do more celebrity, celebrity, celebrity, specials.

KING: Thank you, darling.

WALTERS: Thank you, it's always a pleasure. My love to Shawna.

KING: You are the best.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: The always interesting Barbara Walters. That's it for tonight. Thanks for joining us. Good night.

("SINGING IN THE RAIN," BARBARA WALTERS, GENE KELLY)

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