Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Barbara Walters Interview

I overheard my News Director talking about how Barbara Walters was going to be in town and maybe Jen Christensen should try and get an interview. Of course, my ears perked up and I interrupted the conversation, "Me? Okay! Sounds like a plan!" That's how it all started.I called ABC News and 20/20, but no one seemed to have a phone number for "The View." Finally, I found someone who knew someone who knew Barbara Walter's assistant. Oh thank heavens. I didn't want to not get this interview because I couldn't figure out who to ask. What kind of a journalist would I be? Barbara's assistant told me to request an interview in writing via email. I did so. I waited and waited and waited. I heard nothing.

I called the chair of the event Barbara was attending. Rita Kress said she would do what she could to get me the interview. She called me back the next morning and said Barbara said NO. I was so disappointed. Then Rita said Barbara's people called back and she changed her mind. The interview is on. Hallelujah! That was a relief.

I arrived at the Embassy Suites around 4:00p.m. and was told "Ms. Walters is on her way. Are you ready for the interview?" Um, sure, but I thought it was at 4:30p.m.? I am not sure if there is a room available where we can do the interview until then."

At this point, I know Barbara can't just wait around for an interview with a no name reporter from some city in Illinois. So I talked to someone in charge at the hotel. We ran around the place with my photographer Joe. We got word that we could set up in the Presidential Suite(which is absolutely gorgeous by the way). We carried all the equipment up there as fast as we could. We had everything set up. Then, the manager gets a phone call. There was miscommunication. We were not allowed in that room! Ugh! We frantically got everything back out of the room. My interview got bumped to 5:00p.m.

At 5:15p.m., Barbara's assistant came down and said Ms. Walters will be down at 5:30 to take pictures with the Creve Coeur Club then she will do your interview around 5:45p.m. Yeah! At this point my stomach was growling because I forgot to eat all day, but I was pretty excited. I saw her get off the elevator and she is so super cute! She is tiny and she looks younger in person. I guess I just assumed an 81 year old would look older in person. Nope! She looks great. She was very gracious and didn't seem to mind doing the interview at all.

I often have people tell me they feel like they know me because they see me on T.V. Now I know exactly what they mean! I know Barbara's voice so well that it seemed like I had talked to her before. It didn't seem like I was meeting her for the first time. She sat and chatted with me about my family before the interview and after wards. She was delighted to be the keynote speaker for the event. She said she only does two events like this a year. I really think she will mention her visit tomorrow morning (Wednesday) on the view.

Her speech was interesting and funny. She even mentioned me by name during it! I could hardly believe it! It was such a thrill! I know I sound like a giddy school girl, but I just don't care today. My husband said, "You interviewing Barbara is like me playing golf with Tiger Woods. That is what she does for a living. Aren't you nervous?" I really wasn't nervous. I just excited about the opportunity. How many reporters have gotten to interview Barbara Walters? Not that many! I can't believe I am on that list!

The chair of the event-Rita Kress-gave Barbara a necklace that said "The View" on it and a beautiful framed picture of Barbara's dog. You could see Barbara's face light up. She really enjoyed the gifts and had a good time at the event. I did too! We are airing parts of the interview
Tuesday and Wednesday and will air a longer piece on Thursday. I asked her advice on several topics and she had some great things to say. I will never forget it.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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