In April, Variety spoke to Diane Sawyer about Barbara Walters’ retirement from television. Sawyer sounded wistful, already knowing that her own career was about to undergo a big change.
In light of her announcement today that she’d be leaving her five-year post as anchor of ABC’s “World News” to work on primetime specials, let’s revisit our conversation.
On the changing roles of anchors:
“Things are still great for anchors!” Sawyer said. “Hey, let us be happy here. Wait a minute. We’re all living in this giant organically growing universe, and it’s bracing, but it’s also filled with surprises every day. It’s impossible to look back and remember you used to do a show called ‘Primetime Live’ and think, ‘Dang, why did we only get a 29 share?’ It was a world in which there was so much more certainty about what you launched and how it would arrive.”
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On competing with Walters for scoops at ABC:
“[Former ABC News president] Roone Arledge brought us all in, famously, to the house that Roone built. Here we all were. There were no rules. There was no family meeting, and we decided who was going to go for what. He kind of enjoyed just seeing what would happen, and I think he thought that the competition, even in the family, would be good. But after the first year, I really felt that it was impossible for me to be put in a situation where I would be calling [sources] and Barbara would be calling too. That’s now what families do. I talked to him, and said, ‘Can we have some family rules?'”
On retiring from TV:
“I think you never know what you’re going to miss or not. I think sometimes what you end up missing is a small ordinary part of the day you don’t know you love so much. A second cup of coffee with the people you hang out with.”
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Her weird intro:
This is how Sawyer started our interview. “I’m going to go get some ice. I know this doesn’t sound urgent. I’m going to be in the Betty Ford clinic for ice some day.”