Sunday, April 14, 2024

No Retirement at 85: Barbara Walters Has NINE Specials Coming from Discovery Channel


Barbara Walters won’t retire, even though ABC tried like crazy to put her to rest. The 85 year old news legend has executive produced NINE specials for the Discovery Channel. NINE. You might say that this a big f-u to ABC, but they funded it through Discovery. Still, Barbara says hah! to The View. She’s too much. And she really worked on them, too, and told everyone what to do and how to do it. You cannot stop this woman (many have tried). I guess we can only salute her tenacity and perseverance. Rock on, Barbara.


JonBenét Ramsey: Inside the Mystery

Premieres Monday, November 2 at 10/9c

When 6-year old JonBenét Ramsey was murdered in her upscale Boulder Colorado home in December 1996, her parents were instantly under a cloud of suspicion for their daughter’s violent death. This year, JonBenét would have been 25-years-old. Barbara Walters sits down with JonBenét’s father, John, and revisits that night when he and his wife, Patsy, found the lifeless body of their daughter. For the first time ever, John attempts to put to rest the rumors that his son, Burke, was somehow tied to the crime scene. He also discusses how he thinks law enforcement botched the investigation, how he survived bankruptcy, and the untimely 2006 death of his wife Patsy from ovarian cancer. For the first time, we will meet John Ramsey’s new wife, Jan, and hear how she dealt with the controversy when some people told her that she was marrying a killer.


O.J. Simpson: Kato Speaks

Premieres Monday, November 9 at 10/9c

In one of the most famous murders of all time, Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were stabbed to death in front of Nicole’s Brentwood, California condo. The evidence pointed to her ex-husband O.J. Simpson as the murderer, but the jury in the criminal trial found O.J. not guilty.  Now, 20 years later, Barbara Walters talks again to houseguest Kato Kaelin who discusses what he recalls the night of the murder. Kato Kaelin, now 57-years-old, says that he thinks O.J. Simpson is the murderer. O.J. is currently serving time in a Nevada prison until at least 2017 on an unrelated robbery conviction.

Jean Harris: The Headmistress Murderer

Premieres Monday, November 16 at 10/9c

After Jean Harris visits her lover, celebrity diet doctor Herman Tarnower, he is discovered shot dead within hours. What really happened that night?  Broadcast legend Barbara Walters takes viewers behind the scenes of one of the most lurid murder stories she has ever covered. Walters unveils never-before-seen footage from her infamous interviews with Harris, and reveals surprising new details about the crime, including Harris’ drug use, life behind bars, and struggles to turn her life around. For the first time, Jean Harris’ son, Jim Harris, sits down with Barbara Walters and shares what life was like with “mother.” And later, Barbara shares personal commentary on why Harris was the convicted murderer she grew closest to, and how she risked her own reputation to save her.

Menendez Brothers: The Bad Sons

Premieres Monday, November 23 at 10/9c

Barbara Walters has a very unusual pen pal:  a young man who killed his parents. Erik Menendez, and his brother Lyle, brutally shot their mother and father to death in their Beverly Hills mansion one evening. But was the family hiding a horrible secret? Barbara reveals chilling details about the crime, the trials, and her exclusive interview with the brothers. Walters interviews Erik Menendez’s wife, Tammi and shares never-before-seen letters from Erik, describing his life in prison, his hopes, and regrets. Finally, Walters uncovers a stunning message from Erik’s childhood, a bombshell that could possibly grant the brothers a new trial.        


Kimberly Mays: Switched at Birth

Premieres Monday, November 30 at 10/9c

Two baby girls born at the same Florida hospital are sent home with the wrong families.  While one dies tragically, the other is embroiled in a dramatic tug-of-war as both families fight for custody of the girl each believes to be their daughter.  Barbara Walters uncovers the truth behind the most famous “switched at birth” story.  Who sent the babies home with the wrong families?  Was it an accident or foul play?  And what happened to Kimberly Mays, the young girl who survived?  Barbara talks to both families, and has an emotional reunion with Mays to find the truth behind a mystery that has taken more than twenty years to unravel.    


Mark David Chapman: The Man Who Shot John Lennon

Premieres Monday, December 7 at 10/9c

On December 8, 1980, music legend John Lennon crosses paths with a lonely, suicidal fan in front of his New York City apartment.  Hours later, Lennon is murdered in cold blood, shot in the back four times.  Who would kill a pop culture icon beloved by millions?  Barbara Walters shares her disturbing interview with Lennon’s murderer, Mark David Chapman, and traces his steps leading up to the crime.  She uncovers chilling new details from the person who knew Chapman best, his wife Gloria, in her first ever on camera interview. Still married to Mark David Chapman, Gloria Chapman shares revealing details about her husband’s plot to kill Lennon, and the couples’ life together after the murder.


Jim Bakker: Fall From Grace

Premieres Monday, December 14 at 10/9c

Jim Bakker had it all: fame, fortune, and respect as the world’s most successful televangelist.  But a sexual tryst and financial troubles cause him to lose his ministry, his marriage, and ultimately lands him in prison.  Barbara Walters takes a closer look at one of the ‘80s most colorful scandals, involving big money, big hair and the “prosperity” gospel.  Her interviews with Bakker and his family reveal what life was really like for the family behind the “PTL Club.”  What has Bakker been doing since he left prison?  Has he moved on from Tammy Faye’s tragic death?  Is he still preaching?  Barbara uncovers the unbelievable truth about what happened to Jim Bakker, and speaks exclusively to Bakker’s son, Jay Bakker, who reveals intimate, new details about his parents’ marriage and a surprising “revelation” about what his father is doing today.


Mary Kay Letourneau:  Forbidden Love

Premieres Monday, December 21 at 10/9c

Barbara Walters revisits the country’s most notorious teacher-student sex scandal. Mary Kay Letourneau, a popular and married sixth grade teacher, has an affair with her elementary school student, Vili Fualaau. Pregnant with Vili’s baby in jail, Mary Kay is sentenced to prison for child molestation. Upon her release, Mary shockingly becomes pregnant by Vili again, and is forced to return to jail. Why would a woman risk her family and freedom for an affair with an underage boy? What has happened since Mary’s release?  How are the couples’ two now teenaged daughters? Mary and Vili share exclusive details only with Barbara in a no holds barred interview.    


Robert Blake: A Hollywood Hit

Premieres Monday, December 28 at 10/9c

Robert Blake shocked and captivated viewers with his aggressive prison interview with Barbara Walters as he sat in jail waiting for a court date for the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley. Blake cries for his daughter Rosie and trashes Bakley. This explosive prison interview is one of Walters’ most compelling, as Blake rants about the injustices he said he faced. Two weeks after the interview aired, Blake was freed on bail, and he credits Barbara Walters with saving his life. But did he get away with murder? Walters sits down with Bakley’s daughter, Holly Gawron, who tells us why she thinks Robert Blake killed her mother and how she thinks he got away with it.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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