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Barbara Walters' '10 Most Fascinating People of 2009': observations, and a poll [Updated]

Tyler Hey, sports fans -- normally I write as "the Ministry," but this time I'm just me. Watched the Barbara Walters special Wednesday night, as I'm sure many of you did, and here are my thoughts on her chosen public figures, many of whom show up on this blog quite often.

Well, OK, Glenn Beck doesn't show up at the Ministry so much, but work with me, all right? If he gets naked next year, or reveals he had an affair with Tiger Woods, or posts another rambling, post-surgical YouTube video, he'll fit right in.

And yeah, I know Barbara and crew can edit and script and all that for dramatic effect, but let's do a willing suspension of disbelief, shall we?

Here's my takeaway, based on Walters' brief interviews.

Gaga Lady Gaga: Barbara sees her in a whole new light, and so do I. Maybe I just didn't "get her" before this? I still can't quite hum one of her tunes, but she seems thoughtful and sincere. Is she bisexual? Makes for a nice tease on the tee-vee, but really, who cares? I hope Gaga doesn't fixate on that as she moves ahead, and that others can find something more interesting to ask about.

Tyler Perry: The juxtaposition of this spotlight sit-down with the fact of his mother's death on Tuesday is heartbreaking. His proudest moment? He says it was being able to take good care of his mother. Forget about Barbara making Tyler cry -- he made me cry.

We could end it right here, but there are eight more interviews ...

Kateg Jenny Sanford: Dang, she's a strong woman who knows how to lay out her boundaries. Two snaps up to her for knowing she would not, had he asked, have stood in support of her wayward husband while he worked out his "soul mate" issues. Love it that she doesn't see politics as some weird, desirable trophy to vengefully pursue. [Updated at 9:20 a.m. Dec. 11: Well, lookie here. Jenny has filed for divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford. Guess that was honesty in the interview!]

Kate Gosselin: Her kids miss the camera crews? Take a deep breath and think it through from their point of view: It's very possible, because kids miss the familiar -- and it's sad. Ouch, when she talks about the Jon she still loves, who doesn't exist anymore. Still working out my Kate-hate guilt, but I do wish she'd rethink that hair. Sorry, petty. Wait, not really sorry. But yes, petty.

Glenn Beck: I have a strange soft spot for the unique people who go into radio. I don't follow Beck's work, but with Barbara he seems less like a Worst Person on Earth and more like an entertainer who cares very strongly about what he cares about -- and has found a way to sell it. Seems like he's holding the world at arm's length.

Adam Lambert: I love Adam. The Ministry is clearly fond of him and doesn't apologize for it. I'd wanted to hate him based on dishy dish from when his season of "American Idol" began, but he won me over. Can we get over the "he's gay" thing? I think he's figuring out where he fits in entertainment, and appreciate his confidence without arrogance. He'll be just fine, methinks.

Sarah Palin: She discusses the healthy protein in moose chili and admits that at 45, after five kids, there are things she dislikes about her appearance. She's sat down with Babs before. Can't find much fodder here for controversy, though I imagine there will be some. Save the mooses, maybe?

Brett Favre: Watching Favre celebrate after his Minnesota Vikings beat his former Green Bay Packers earlier this year, all I could think was, "Wow, he's like a big kid, exuding joy -- how lucky he is to love his job that much." Watching this snippet of an interview?  All I could think was, "Wow, why should I care about this guy?"

Mobama Michael Jackson's children: Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket (Prince Michael II) deserve all the privacy the world can afford them. Tiger? No. These kids who lost their dad this year? Absolutely. Whatever their story, they are children and they didn't ask to be in the spotlight. I think Barbara and team used them as a way to get Michael Jackson fans to watch her special, given the show's "rule" about honoring only the living. At least she used only clips of them on tape and didn't interview them to be gawked at. Ick.

Michelle Obama: This is going to bring slings and arrows, but you know, I simply don't find her that fascinating. A lovely lady. The first lady. Maybe I'm burned out from so many stories riffing on her fascinating-ness? She looks terrific, and I appreciate her warmth as she talks about their girls and the dog and her ulterior motives for getting to the gym -- but Walters comes in a year late with this pick for No. 1. 

My vote for the most fascinating interview of the night goes to Tyler Perry. I just want to know more, you know? 

Your mileage may vary -- please vote in the poll for your favorite.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

P.S. If you want a more political take on the show -- or can't remember who fascinated Barbara the most last year --- check out what Top of the Ticket has to say.

Photo credits, top to bottom: Peter Kramer / Associated Press; Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for VEVO; Billy Ingram / Getty Images; Scott Applewhite / Associated Press.

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Comments () | Archives (57)

Funniest thing is those that hate Beck and Palin and don't see them as interesting. Beck goes on tour and gathers an audience of 25,000 people. Hundreds of people wait in line to get an autograph copy of Palin's book AND she draws thousands wherever she speaks.

This isn't about politics. Obviously people that draw that type of attention are interesting


“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country …"

Those are her exact words.

Only until it became apparent her husband was to be the Democratic nominee for President, was this woman proud of her country. The very same country that has literally bled and bleeds still, for her opportunity to live, what has turned out for her, a VERY, VERY good life. I wish I could just imagine the shame she had to endure as she graduated from Princeton University. It must have been unbearable. I cannot comprehend how humiliating it must have been to have degraded herself by graduating from Harvard Law School and being hired by one of the most prestigious law firms in the world. It is a true miricle she managed to survive the shame of it all.

If her husband had made such a statement, I think the feces would have hit the proverbial osculating, air circulation device. Being the enlightened and progressive person I am, I think it quite appropriate to address her comments as I would had they come from her husband or any other man:

Your words, ma'am, are very offensive to me. I find you an ingracious, degenerate of the lowest order. How dare you insult everything that has been sacrificed, so you could enjoy the very freedoms and opportunities so obviously and abundantly made available to you. Instead of having the moral fortitude to come forward and offer an apology for such a vituperous statement, you opted to have your P.R. team fabricate excuses for it. Until such apology is given by you, my level of respect for you, as a person, is nonexistent.

Where was the octo-mom?

Well, that's it for Babs for me. That she exploited MJ's children for a ratings gain is the bottom of the barrel. Byeeeee, Babs. I'll never watch anything with you in it again.

Adam Lambert= Known only for being a pervert in public.
Kate Gosselin = Known only for placing her desire for fame higher on her priority list than her children.
Michael Jackson's children= Barely known at all without a single event of of interest attributable to them EVER.
Jenny Sanford= Known only for being married to Republican who cheated on her.
Lady Gaga= The definition of "pop flavor of the day", zero reason to believe she will ever distinguish herself from the hundreds of similar gimmicks that preceded her.
Michelle Obama= Utterly unaccomplished and an exact cookie cutter replication of every extremest left winger in the nation. Would be entirely unknown if not married to a sitting President.

6 out of 10 people that are in no way "fascinating" by any objective criteria.
Why not call the list "10 most notorious" or "10 biggest media whores" if these are the type of candidates that are considered?

The only thing that would be fascinating to find out about Tyler Perry is how he makes a living creating the worse films of all time. Mind boggling that this guys even on the radar, -moronic/ degrading /unfunny /garbage. Is he subsidized by the government or something?

We should all be thankful that the Salahis or Balloon Boy's parents were listed on this inane and useless list from Baba Wawa.

I just realized what I meant to say was we should be thankful that the Salahis and the parents of balloon boy were NOT listed on this inane list from ol' Baba Wawa.

You should put a box for none of the above on your poll. I found none of them particularly fascinating. I found most of them imfamous, rather than fascinating. The other ones, I'm bored with their story by now because I've heard it so many times over the course of the year. I would rather she find ten people who are doing fascinating things that help the world be a better place.

Barbara's ten fascinating people story seemed like People magazines various lists-more of an excuse to boost ratings with a bunch of people who are in the news lately rather than anything else.

I am a gay man and have to say that I really don't find Adam Lambert all that fascinating. He has resulted into merely "SHOCK VALUE" since he realized his talent was not enough to win the AMERICAN IDOL slot. I think he has talent especially when he isn't constantly screaming while he sings. I thought we were all done with that when Sam Harris won on Star Search. Adam stated after the AMA show that he wasn't a baby sitter. All I can say is, "Thank God!" Adam may not want to be a baby sitter but he should be a professional and be respectful to his audience. I would not like my young children watching someone simulating oral sex on television. Adam, television is not just about what you.

I am a gay man and have to say that I really don't find Adam Lambert all that fascinating. He has resulted into merely "SHOCK VALUE" since he realized his talent was not enough to win the AMERICAN IDOL slot. I think he has talent especially when he isn't constantly screaming while he sings. I thought we were all done with that when Sam Harris won on Star Search. Adam stated after the AMA show that he wasn't a baby sitter. All I can say is, "Thank God!" Adam may not want to be a baby sitter but he should be a professional and be respectful to his audience. I would not like my young children watching someone simulating oral sex on television. Adam, television is not just about what you.

Michelle Obama is the most fascinating because she has the grace, intellegence, and charisma of all the others...she's a true role model and as a teacher, I admire and resepct her....

Of all the people in the USA you had to choose Obama ... what has she done to be considered? Nothing... First black first lady... so she didn't do anything to accomplish that. Basically she has not accomplished anything that should be fascinating. Just like her husband who got the nobel peace prize... he didn't do anything either. What a waste to be PC.

Lady Gaga talks with Baba Wawa, more at 11.

Well, all of you are crazy. Lady Gaga is the only remotely interesting person on the list. I mean, Glenn Beck is intelligent but not that interesting. Michelle Obama is well dressed but Lady Gaga already has that spot taken up. Adam Lamebert is not a good singer in my opinion. And the rest are boring and just whatever. And, How in the world are MJ's kids at all interesting?

Fascinating....... of great interest or attraction; enchanting; charming; captivating: a fascinating story; fascinating jewelry. Origin: 1640–50; fascinate + -ing 2 ...
If this list was composed of both the dead and the living of course Michael Jackson would be number one hands down.. For those who think they are holier than thou need to stop the name calling and judgeing others. I'm sure everyone on the list was of interest to somebody. I would definitely have had Susan Boyle on the list...she was totally shocking. Actually the show was pretty boring.

Three questions I didn't hear:

1. To Tyler, Jenny, Kate, Glen, Sarah, Brett, or Michelle: "So, is it true you are a heterosexual?"
2. To Tyler, Glen, and Brett: "Have you had sexual relations with a woman?"
3. To Jenny, Kate, Sarah,and Michelle: "Have you had sexual relations with a man?"

Good for Lady Gaga and Adam for emphasizing what's important...their art!

At least the list did not include dumb politicians.

I for one watched BECAUSE of Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga. Mrs. , Kate Gosselin...uhhh nope. Glen Beck..conservative nut case!!!!!!!!!!!
Michaels children...leave then alone. The other one's I do not have any interest in.

I'm a gay man and I love adam lambert, but not just because i'm gay. The guy can sing and entertain. Love Lady GaGa she also knows how to entertain just check her AMA performance it was pure gold. Michelle Obama= Fashion Wiz. Tyler Perry=Movie and Play Wiz. Could have added Beyonce it would have made this list 1 trillion times better. The other people on this list are not worth time or breath to talk about. Period.

Hand down ADAM LAMBERT!!! name one current male artist like him??? you cant!!! He is so incredibly talented, charming, generous, and very easy on the eyes!! He is a breath of fresh air!! wish people could see that instead of being masked in their homophobic ways! their loss.

Love me some Lambert. Still havin' a glamgasm over here thanks to Babs.

Adam Lambert is just beginning his career as a public figure and (in spite of himself) is already transcending the entertainment field to have a much more meaningful impact socially. His articulate interviews promise a very fascinating and influential future. This is why he is more fascinating than the other people on this list, whose influence is confined to their categories. I also agree with Chuck's comment below that Captain Sully should have been one of the ten. If you've seen any interviews with him, his brilliant landing was the result of a fascinating blend of talent, intelligence and courage. Much like Adam Lambert.

My thoughts on the Top 10 are on my blog.

Michelle Obama, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? For what??? What has SHE done other than marry the worst president we have ever had in this country!!

Adam deserves to get this award, he is by far the most fascinated artist of the decade, just take a look at his journey and you will agree with me and the rest of the ones who voted for this wonderman.

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