Tonight (Thursday) at 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST, ABC will air “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2007,” with Bill Clinton and Hugo Chavez amongst the honorees. As usual, ABC is withholding the name of the “most fascinating” pick, but a year ago Walters awarded that tribute to then-incoming liberal Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “We picked our most fascinating person on election day this past November. Next month, Congress will get a Speaker of the House unlike any before. Our most fascinating person of 2006: Mother of five and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. In January, Nancy Pelosi will become the most powerful woman in America...”
In 1994, however, Walters did not make the then-incoming House Speaker after a party change, Newt Gingrich, her “most fascinating person of 1994.” Gingrich didn't even get into one of the other nine slots.
UPDATE, 10:58 PM EST: The "most fascinating" of 2007 went to author J.K. Rowling and the character she created, Harry Potter.
The ABC.com plug for the Thursday night, December 6 special, with the names of eight of the ten people/couples to be profiled:
Can you guess who tops Barbara Walter's list as the most fascinating person of 2007?
Find out Thursday. Watch "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2007," on ABC, Thursday, at 10 p.m. ET.
Hosted by Barbara Walters, the special includes sexy Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, her soccer superstar husband, David Beckham, pop singer Justin Timberlake, Emmy Award winner Katherine Heigl, Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, former President William Jefferson Clinton, and MySpace media moguls Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. There will be two big surprise guests, including The Number One Most Fascinating Person of 2007, who will be announced on the program.
My December 13, 2006 NewsBusters item recounted:
Barbara Walters ended her Tuesday night ABC News countdown special, "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006," by touting, near the end of the 10pm EST/9pm CST hour, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the "most fascinating person of 2006."
Walters celebrated Pelosi's victory: "We picked our most fascinating person on election day this past November. Next month, Congress will get a Speaker of the House unlike any before. Our most fascinating person of 2006: Mother of five and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. In January, Nancy Pelosi will become the most powerful woman in America. She will assume office as the first-ever female Speaker of the House, two heartbeats from the presidency." Walters soon pleaded to Pelosi: "You've talked about sometimes using your mother-of-five voice. Now I sit here, and you're very gentle. Talk to me in the mother-of-five voice." She also asked Pelosi to confirm that she thinks President Bush is "incompetent and irresponsible and not a leader?"
In her 1994 special, however, Walters did not make the then-incoming House Speaker after a party change, Newt Gingrich, her "most fascinating person of 1994." That honor went to Nelson Mandela on the December 13, 1994 show and Gingrich was not one of the other nine, a list which included Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Rupert Murdoch (for getting NFL games on Fox), Barbra Streisand and Jimmy Carter ("In his post-White House years, he seems to have left the mark that alluded his presidency and brought the role of ex-President to a new state of grace").
This  year's "most fascinating," in order of presentation: Andre Agassi, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (count as one), Joel Osteen, "Jay-Z," Steve and Terri Irwin (one), Anna Wintour, Sacha Baron Cohen, John Ramsey, Patrick Dempsey and Nancy Pelosi.
The “most fascinating person of 2006" segment at the end of the December 12 ABC News special:
Barbara Walters: “We picked our most fascinating person on election day this past November. Next month, Congress will get a Speaker of the House unlike any before. Our most fascinating person of 2006: Mother of five and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi.”
Nancy Pelosi on election night: “Today we have made history.”
Walters: “In January, Nancy Pelosi will become the most powerful woman in America. She will assume office as the first-ever female Speaker of the House, two heartbeats from the presidency.”
Walters to Pelosi: “What do you think it means, not just for women, but for women in politics?”
Pelosi: “I have to say with some level of immodesty that it really is big. The response that we have gotten from all over the country, from fathers with daughters, from just everyone, has been tremendous.”
Walters, narrating: “At 66 and elegantly clad in designer clothes, this grandmother of six doesn't look tough, but she's opposed President Bush on everything from Medicare to Iraq.”
Pelosi at a press conference: “What he says is not in touch with reality.”
Walter: “We met at the Capitol, and she took me on a tour of Statuary Hall, a place you don't
find a lot of women.”
Walters to Pelosi: “Here you are, this petite, feminine woman. To be Speaker of the House, do you have to be tough as nails?”
Pelosi: “Well, I, as I said, during, before winning, I said to my colleagues, 'you have to eat nails for breakfast, don a full suit of armor, and go into battle every day.'”
Walters: “Pelosi learned about political reality early on. Her father was Baltimore Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro. She married after college and was a stay-at-home mother, having five children in six years with real estate developer Paul Pelosi. She didn't run for Congress from San Francisco until 1987, when her youngest child was a senior in high school. In 2002, she became the leader of the Democrats in Congress. And this November, fiercely insisting on party loyalty, she led them to victory.”
Walters to Pelosi: “Your father was the Mayor of Baltimore and a Congressman. One of your brothers was the Mayor. Did they encourage you to be in politics or did they think, 'no, Nancy's gonna be married, have the kids, that's fine'?”
Pelosi: “I was raised in a very protective Italian-American home where we weren't encouraged -- girls weren't encouraged take risks. But when I did, succeed, they were very happy. If they would have been very happy, though, if I had just, been a mom. Not just, though, that's the most important thing.”
Walters: “You've talked about sometimes using your mother-of-five voice. Now I sit here, and you're very gentle. Talk to me in the mother-of-five voice.”
Pelosi: “Well, the mother-of-five voice is a little louder and it has a tone of 'I'm only going to
say this once.'”
Walters: “And if they don't listen, then what does the mother-of-five voice do?”
Pelosi: “I won't repeat it.”
Walters: “Before the election, you called President Bush incompetent, irresponsible. You said he was not a leader. I mean, you say these things about him, then now it's all fine.”
Pelosi: “Well, I don't know that it's all fine now.”
Walters: “Well, do you feel that he's incompetent and irresponsible and not a leader?”
Pelosi: “Well, I made those remarks in, in reference to the war in Iraq and, oh yes, I just stick by them. This war is a tremendous blunder.”
Walters: “The big question is, of course, when do we withdraw the troops? Do you think it's within six months?”
Pelosi: “Well, I think we should have begun the withdrawal of the troops sooner than now. I think we're long overdue.”
Walters: “Outside of leaving the war, which is a big outside-”
Walters: “When you become Speaker, what is your number one objective?”
Pelosi: “What we have to do is drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. Until we drain the swamp and bring integrity to the political process, we won't be able to go forward.”
Walters: “It's a big, dirty swamp?”
Pelosi: “It's a big, dirty swamp. That's why, on the very first day of Congress, we will break the link between lobbyist and legislation.”
Walters: “Year after year, we always hear whoever's in power is going to be the, the new force of integrity. And it rarely is. So the Democrats are gonna be able to clean up that swamp?”
Pelosi: “Maybe it'll take a woman to clean up the House. That is what I think, but we have to do it.”
Walters: “If somebody didn't know you, how would you describe yourself?”
Pelosi: “Well, first of all, I would describe myself as a wife and mother and grandmother.”
Walters: “And politician?”
Pelosi: “I'm proud of the, the term 'politician.' But now I like Speaker of the House.”