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Is Barbara Walters retiring?

Barbara Walters attends the Woman's Day 8th Red

Barbara Walters attends the Woman's Day 8th Red Dress Awards on Feb. 8, 2011 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images

Finally caught up this morning with Howard Kurtz's Sunday interview with Barbara Walters on his new show for Fox News — "Media Buzz" — where she indicated that she may not retire after all. Yes, she's leaving "The View" in May — comparing herself here to Frank Sinatra, who kept singing (and singing) in public forums long after saying he would not. "I don't want that to be me," she tells Kurtz.

 But the truly interesting comment follows: "Will I ever do another show? Sure."

Contrast this with her colorful line to Bill Carter, the Timesman through whom she officially announced her retirement last May:

“I keep thinking of the line from ‘Cabaret,’ ” Ms. Walters said. “ ‘When I go, I’m going like’ Elsie. When I go there is not going to be any, ‘Please can I have another appearance?’ I don’t want to do any more interviews. I don’t want to do any other programs. I’m not joining CNN. This is it.”

Italics added.

(Elsie? Of course you know Elsie — "life is a cabaret, old chum." The lines from Liza Minnelli's signature song, and they are amusingly apropos:

"I used to have a girlfriend known as Elsie / With whom I shared Four sordid rooms in Chelsea / She wasn't what you'd call a blushing flower .?.?. / As a matter of fact she rented by the hour / The day she died the neighbors came to snicker / "Well, that's what comes from to much pills and liquor."/ But when I saw her laid out like a Queen / She was the happiest .?.?. corpse .?.?. I'd ever seen."

So Babs wants to be a happy corpse? Not on your life. Howie's interview is revealing because it shows Walters at her ambivalent best: Of course she doesn't want to leave the stage. She's one of the great TV news figures in American broadcasting history. You just don't hang that up and say, "it's been swell .?.?."

I remember a long-ago conversation I had with Mike Wallace before he did, finally, retire (and not of his own volition — a long story no need to get into here.)  Asked whether he ever would leave "60 Minutes," he responded: "What else would I do?" It was said with a mixture of true remorse and longing .?.?. Wallace knew he had no answer, and also knew that he was doing what he loved best, working at "60 Minutes."

And is Barbara any different? Watch this interview — she's full of vitality, looks fabulous, has all her enthusiasm intact, and an unmistakable sense that the future is still before her. She'll continue as executive producer of "The View" after next May — that she has long said — but I think I can safely guarantee you she'll be on the show too from time to time, as well as on her new program — ya know, one maybe for CNN? ("Elsie and Me?") 

This whole "farewell tour" is beginning to look like a three dollar  bill.

Here's the interview — thanks to Mediaite for posting. The  I'm-not-really-retiring comment appears at the very end:


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