What was ABC News correspondent John Miller's reaction when he learned he had been tapped as Barbara Walters's new co-anchor on 20/20 ? Laughs the 43-year-old newsman: "To take a page from Anne Heche, I thought I was from another planet when they told me."
Of course, Miller's just being modest. During his four years at ABC, the Emmy-winning broadcaster who has contributed stories to all of the network's news programs earned a rep as one of the industry's most distinguished crime and justice reporters. In fact, in 1998, he landed the ultimate coup: a chat with Osama bin Laden. "He's a pain-in-the-ass interview," recalls Miller of his tête-à-tête with the terror mastermind. "He's very difficult to work with."
They'll be no such friction between Miller and his esteemed 20/20 partner, who admits she's been searching for a new cohort ever since Hugh Downs stepped down in 1999. "I wanted someone to share the responsibilites and some of the burdens," says Walters, whose ABC duties also include producing and co-hosting The View. "Last year, I could never take a day off.
"And also," she adds, "it gives me somebody at the end of the piece to say, 'What do you think?' or 'Isn't that terrible?' or 'Isn't that interesting?' I think it's just better for the whole program."
And given the industry's love affair with 18- to 49-year-old viewers, employing a relatively young up-and-comer like Miller certainly couldn't hurt. Incidentally, Miller says he's actually taking steps to appear older
on-camera. "I had gray highlights put in so I would look more distinguished," he laughs. "[Besides] I think I look a little older. I've had a hard life."