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Landmark celebrity TV interviews

Once, long ago, some of these newsmakers were considered almost as newsworthy as presidents by the networks -- maybe even more! (In hindsight, maybe not so much!)

Others were genuine legends -- although often fallen, or in the process of falling. Their household-name stature otherwise remains to this day.

But back in (mostly) the last century, each shared one term in common: They were "gets," or newsmakers so huge, so desirable, so notorious, or so flat-out newsy that TV networks just had to have them on their air. Forces were marshaled. Deals were made. Even bigger stars (Barbara You-Know-Who) went after them. A circus ensued.

And so did ratings.

The "get" phenomenon -- with all its nutty Barnumesque hype or occasional flimflammery -- was essentially a fixture of the old media world from the '80s and '90s, when giants (Walters) roamed, and battled other giants (Sawyer) to get the biggest . . . get.

But with Walters retired, Oprah off running her own network, and celebrity worship and hype spread across dozens -- indeed hundreds -- of channels, websites and social media portals, the era of the "get" has waned.

But there was a day when the "get" seemed to rule the network airwaves, and so -- in advance of the Jenner interview -- here's a partial list of some notable gets, in chronological order, from years past:


Sawyer got this
Photo Credit: AP

Sawyer got this "get" in 1990 with model-actress Marla Maples, who at the time was Donald Trump's paramour (they married three years later), and discovered that maybe it's not such a good idea to ask a question based on a New York Post headline ("Best Sex Ever"). Both a classically notorious "get," this encounter possibly represented the nadir and the pinnacle of the "get" craze. (After all, why was Maples important anyway?


On Feb. 10, 1993, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Michael
Photo Credit: AP

On Feb. 10, 1993, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Michael Jackson live from his Neverland home, breaking a near-15-year media silence. Jackson talked about his difficult childhood, revealed that he had a skin disorder that destroyed the pigmentation of his skin, and asserted that he had undergone less plastic surgery than people assumed. The upshot: 90 million viewers. (Pictured is a shot from the "Living with Michael Jackson" interview he gave Martin Bashir 10 years later, in which the singer went on a $5.76 million shopping spree.)


Arguably the
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Arguably the "gettiest" of gets after Jackson, this one with Princess Diana was delivered by the BBC's (later of ABC News and MSNBC) Martin Bashir, in November 1995. It was all so huge that outtakes rumbled forth on U.S. TV for months, as "Di" spoke of bulimia, marital "tensions," and postpartum depression.



The "get" that never was, NBC News quickly secured the first interview with O.J. Simpson after his 1995 acquittal in the criminal trial, then just as quickly lost it, when Simpson backed out. Katie Couric finally interviewed him for "Dateline" nine years later, in 2004.


Monica Lewinsky was hardly Walters' first get, but
Photo Credit: AP / Virginia Sherwood

Monica Lewinsky was hardly Walters' first get, but a get nonetheless heard around the world. Aired in March 1999. Anticipation helped stoke this one: Walters had to wait months for the interview, pending approval of Kenneth Starr and his Office of Independent Counsel, which kept the former White House intern away from the media. "What will you tell your children when you have them?" Barbara asked. Said Monica: "Mommy made a big mistake." Seventy million watched/cringed.


Everyone wanted Sarah Palin -- John McCain's running
Photo Credit: AP / Evan Agostini, Stephan Savoia

Everyone wanted Sarah Palin -- John McCain's running mate on the 2008 GOP ticket -- but Katie Couric got her, much to Palin's (and McCain's) regret. (Could she name the newspapers she reads or news outlets she watches? Short answer: No.)


Rare instance of a major
Photo Credit: AFP, Getty Images / George Burns

Rare instance of a major "get" (Lance Armstrong) falling himself in more recent years -- this one on OWN in 2013, and which was to become a key turning point for the once-troubled network. Oprah handled Armstrong (who said he would "spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust") herself.


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