It was a star-studded farewell for Barbara Walters at New York City’s Four Seasons restaurant tonight. From comedian Joan Rivers to commissioner Bill Bratton; from New York’s chronicler of scandal, Cindy Adams, to the man who plays the president on “Scandal,” Tony Goldwyn; from actor Woody Allen to attorney David Boies, But mostly, the pool room was packed with Walters’ fellow TV news colleagues and those ladies — past and present — from “The View.” Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd; Meredith Vieira and Joy Behar.
Following a best of Barbara video, Disney Chairman Bob Iger welcomed the crowd, before Walters delivered a few words of thanks and admitting it hasn’t always been easy. “True, I was the first female co-host of a network news program. But also true, I was a flop. My male co-host didn’t want a partner and neither did the audience. I was drowning, gasping for air. Then someone threw me that life preserver called Specials with the biggest stars in news and show business and I learned how to swim again.”
Current and former evening news anchors were there, including Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams who arrived with Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric and fiancé John Molner; and Connie Chung (who was part of an ill-fated co-anchor pairing with Dan Rather) and husband Maury Povich. We caught up with early risers Savannah Guthrie and George Stephanopoulos along with their spouses, Mike Feldman, and Ali Wentworth, respectively, as they were heading out. Guthrie’s “Today” colleague Al Roker and his wife, ABC correspondent Deborah Roberts made the rounds as well.
Walters continued: “I’m grateful to the legendary Roone Arledge for bringing me to ABC News; thankful to David Westin for his steady leadership; to Ben Sherwood — you made us all believe we could win and with your leadership and passion, we did; and James Goldston – I’m told that all our shows are number one at the moment – you should quit right now.” Sherwood, Goldston and Westin were all on hand, as were other ABC News executives including Barbara Fedida, David Sloan, Jeanmarie Condon and John Green.
We spotted Jenny McCarthy hand-in-hand with fiance Donnie Wahlberg; the “Nightline” team of Juju Chang, Dan Abrams, and Dan Harris as well as a host of correspondents and anchors from ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and Fox, including Elizabeth Vargas, Amy Robach, David Muir, Norah O’Donnell, Jon Karl, Gio Benitez, Dr. Richard Besser, Tory Johnson, Rick Klein, Brian Ross, Mara Schiavocampo, Thomas Roberts, Alicia Menendez, Hoda Kotb, Greta Van Susteren and Lisa Ling, a former “View” co-host, now woking on a new show for CNN.
CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves arrived following CBS’s upfront presentation and wife Julie Chen who co-hosts that other daytime chat show; CNN execs Amy Entelis and Jonathan Wald were there, as was former ABC and CBS reporter John Miller, now working for Commissioner Bratton and the NYPD.
As we left the Four Seasons the NYPD was in full force along Park Avenue as President Obama’s motorcade arrived at the nearby Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Earlier today, Press Secretary Jay Carney praised Walters’ work and seemed to to think she might be putting in an interview request before too long. As for Walters, her final farewell, wasn’t one at all: “But wait,” she said, “Who knows what the future brings. Maybe instead of good-bye I should say A Bientot – which in French means, see you later. So, A Bientot.”