Barbara Walters is easily amused


If last night’s “10 Most Fascinating People of 2008” is an accurate indicator, it doesn’t take much to charm Barbara Walters.

Only three women made the list: sweetheart Tina Fey; her doppelgänger, Sarah Palin; and the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient Miley Cyrus.

Most fascinating about Miley Cyrus is the fact that she just signed a seven-figure book deal. No, I’m not joking. The star of the crazy-successful Hannah Montana earned Disney $1 billion this year in ratings, merchandising and concerts. One billion dollars.

Walters mentioned Cyrus’ scandalous Vanity Fair photo shoot, calling it R-rated. I didn’t get the hoopla when the photo came out, and I don’t get it now. Apparently Barbara and I are watching entirely different R-rated movies. I give this photo a G-minus at worst.

Here’s where it gets weird: Tina Fey and Sarah Palin might look alike, but Fey actually has more in common with Miley Cyrus. She, too, just signed a book deal, though it was only for a reported six figures. And she also took a turn sitting for Annie Leibovitz in Vanity Fair.

No one is saying that photo is R-rated, but that’s because you can’t read my thoughts.

Walters asked Fey if she felt like she was too hard on Sarah Palin, and Fey said no, that much of their material was just direct quotes from Palin. The side-by-side video comparison of Palin speaking and Fey imitating her was uncanny.

Walters narrated a mini-E! True Hollywood Story about Palin, but the Alaskan governor wasn’t available for an interview. Walters did make a good point, though: that, like it or not, politicians have become celebrities, and that Palin is the personification of the trend.

I felt like Ellen DeGeneres or Rachel Maddow would have been much more inspired choices for Walters’ list than, say, Tom Cruise. Her interviews with Cruise, Will Smith, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Phelps went just like this:

Walters: Seriously, Tom, how crazy are you?

Cruise: Very.

Walters: Seriously, Will, how famous are you?

Smith: Very.

Walters: Seriously, Rush, how narcissistic are you?

Limbaugh: Very.

Walters: Seriously, Michael, how fast are you?

Phelps: Very.

The number one spot went to Barack Obama, obviously. I can’t argue with that.

I also can’t argue with Miley Cyrus. The little girl I mentor wanted to see a Hannah Montana concert more than anything in the world, so I stood out in the cold for hours waiting to buy tickets a few weeks ago. When the doors opened, the concert sold out in 90 seconds. Best of both worlds indeed.

Who would you consider the most fascinating people of 2008?

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