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Walters: Last Oscars TV special is her best

"I'd rather we left when people say, 'Weren't they wonderful?' than they said, 'Oh, I've seen that.' I want the memories to be fresh," says Barbara Walters on her last Oscar night  TV special.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Barbara Walters says her last Oscars television special will be her best.

Walters will sit down with actresses Sandra Bullock and Mo'Nique, both nominated for Academy Awards. Bullock is up for Best Actress for "The Blind Side," and Mo'Nique is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for "Precious."

Walters said she believes both will win.

By bidding adieu, Walters is ending a 29-year-old tradition of talking to celebrities on Hollywood's biggest night. It wasn't until 1988, though, that she began interviewing nominees.

"For the first seven years we were not allowed to interview any of the nominees because the (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) thought it would interfere with their Oscar special," Walters said.

That year she sat down with Glenn Close and Cher, who were contenders for Best Actress. Cher ended up taking the award for her role in "Moonstruck."

While Walters, 80, is known for getting stars to open up and often tear up on camera, she says the celebrity interview has become less special in recent years and many stars are overexposed.

"I don't find it harder to interview celebrities now," Walters said. "I find it harder to interview a celebrity who hasn't been all over the place. And now everybody's a celebrity if that's the word you're using."

Just because Walters is stopping her Oscars special doesn't mean she's done with TV.

"I am not retiring!" she insists. "I will still be doing the 10 most fascinating people, I will still be on 'The View,' which I love. I will still be doing pieces for ABC News."

Still, she recognizes the long-standing tradition her Oscars special has created for TV viewers, who made a point to tune in year after year.

"I'm kind of sad, too," she says, "but television has changed. Some nominees have just been in one movie. It's a different time, and I'd rather we left when people say, 'Weren't they wonderful?' than they said, 'Oh, I've seen that.' I want the memories to be fresh."

"The Barbara Walters Special" will air Sunday at 7 p.m. EDT on ABC.