Barbara Walters, <EM>10 Most Fascinating People</EM> Barbara Walters, 10 Most Fascinating People

When her first 10 Most Fascinating People special aired, Barbara Walters wondered whether anyone would be interested. Well, 15 years later, what's now an annual ritual is still going strong, and Thursday night (10:02 pm/ET, ABC) it serves up Bill Clinton, David and Victoria Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Hudson, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and MySpace founders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. (There's also a "surprise" interview, as well as the always-secret "Most Fascinating Person.")

TV Guide: So, how does one get on your prestigious list?
Barbara Walters: We knew that we wanted to do the Beckhams, and because each of them is famous, they're two of my people. I had never interviewed them and I [feared] they're such huge celebrities they're going to want special this, special that... but they were just adorable. You don't have to be famous, but we don't want anyone who is infamous. We would not do a convicted felon. We do try to balance it. We have celebrities, politicians, world leaders, businesspeople. We want people who accomplished something in the last year.

TV Guide: Some might call Hugo Chavez infamous....
Walters: Yes, but I said "felon."

TV Guide: Why Bill Clinton this year?
Walters: We didn't want to do a presidential candidate, so we thought he was the perfect [political figure] to do. His whole role in the future is one of such conjecture.

TV Guide: Why do you think people remain fascinated with this show?
Walters: Other programs have tried to assemble their own lists and have not succeeded. Ours has because the choices really are fascinating people.

TV Guide: Are you happy with The View post-Rosie?
How can I not be? Ratings are almost 10 percent higher than last year and everybody loves the program. Whoopi is wise and Sherri is funny. It's a very happy place.

TV Guide: Even if you no longer make the tabloids every day?
Oh, we've made enough news this year. Sometimes I pick up the paper and I'm relieved when we're not in it.

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