Barbara Walters is retiring.
In a year.
ABC had no comment on the news, but a source with knowledge of the conversation says that Babs will make the announcement herself — though no time soon. Rather, sometime in the coming weeks (translation: May “sweep”).
In the year between the boffo announcement and Babs’s actual retirement, expect to see her “everywhere,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to discuss the matter on the record. Loosely translated, this means a bunch of specials and other programming events.
It’s unclear how “retirement” is defined when discussing Walters, what with her wearing so many hats at ABC.
On the network’s daytime talker “The View,” for instance, Babs plays both den mother and executive producer. Expect to see her step back from appearing on-air on the show with any regularity, although she might pop up from time to time — she being, after all, the one who can snag a joint appearance by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
Walters is also expected to step back from her on-air duties at ABC News. These days, she’s listed as an ABC News anchor/correspondent and has, for instance, anchored a number of “20/20” broadcasts in the past six months. Babs also was part of ABC News’s lively election night coverage and had been booked to participate in its coverage of Obama’s inauguration coverage, until she was waylaid by a knock to the head and chickenpox — our Babs does nothing in half measures!
As a trailblazer, Walters was the first woman to co-host a news program (“Today”) and the first woman to co-anchor an evening news broadcast (“ABC Evening News”) back when women were not allowed to fly solo at news divisions and even co-anchoring was considered a Really Big Deal.
Speculation about the retirement of Walters has kept The Reporters Who Cover Television busy for years. In 2004, she entered a state of “semi-retirement.” In 2010, she announced that she was retiring from her annual Oscars special interview show; in November of that year, she interviewed Larry King on “The View” on the subject of his retirement from CNN (and, true to form, she made it about herself when she said, “I know when my time’s coming”).
And yet in December 2011, when TMZ reported that Babs had said into an open microphone (during an interview break with Obama) that she was retiring the next year, it turns out she was mistaken!
Because, of course, she did not retire in ’12.
Lovato’s ‘X’ return
One of the judges on Fox’s flailing singing competition “The X Factor” is actually coming back.
These days, that’s news!
Fox announced that Demi Lovato was — for suresies — coming back as the “fan favorite” judge on the show when it launches its third season in the fall.
The news comes only 10 weeks after Britney Spears announced that she was just too focused on her singing career to return for a second season of “X” judging. And a mere 15 weeks after L.A. Reid announced that he, too, had to get back to his day job,
“I couldn’t be happier that Demi wants to come back this year,” show creator/co-judge Simon Cowell said in Thursday’s announcement. “Even though she can be really, really annoying — I truly enjoyed working with her and so did the artists.”
Spears and Lovato were hired as mentor-judges for the show’s second season to bolster the ratings after the first season achieved just half the crowd Cowell promised.
CNN’s new a.m. team
CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker finally unveiled his morning infotainment show team: Chris Cuomo and — what’s this? — congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan. NotErin Burnett, as had been widely speculated by the press (which cited well-informed sources).
Michaela Pereira, anchor of KTLA’s morning show in Los Angeles, will read the news for the New York-based show, which does not have a start date or a name.
“We were floored with excitement when we saw Chris and Kate together on screen, and by adding Michaela to the mix, we feel we have something very special,” Zucker said in Thursday’s unveiling. He added: “I’ve been looking forward to this announcement since I first joined CNN.”
Zucker, who made his name as the exec producer of NBC’s morning infotainment “Today Show” in the heady Katie Couric years, said when he joined the ratings-hungry cable news network that one of his top priorities would be remaking its morning infotainment program. He nabbed “20/20” co-host Cuomo in late January, just days after Zucker officially took his top spot at CNN.
“We believe there is an opening to do news in the morning with a fresh, new voice,” said Zucker, which sounded an awful lot like a nose-thumb at the NBC morning show, which has been circling the drain since it flushed Ann Curry in June.
Speaking of “Today,” former golden boy Matt Lauer’s so toxic these days that Deadline reported that NBC contacted CNN’s own Anderson Cooper about possibly replacing Matt — and that Matt got wind of the call and phoned Cooper to scare him off.
Which, while drastic, seems like overkill, given how unlikely it seems that Zucker would let NBC pirate his on-air talent pool to staff its program overhaul, as he’s done to ABC with the hires of Cuomo and Jake Tapper, who hosts “The Lead” on CNN.