NEW YORK – Barbara Walters plans to retire next year, ending a television career that began more than a half century ago and made her a trailblazer in news and daytime TV.
Someone who works closely with Walters said the plan is for her to retire in May 2014 after a series of special programs saluting her career. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday.
Walters, 83, was hospitalized earlier this year after falling and cutting her head while leaving a party in Washington and remained out of work after developing the chickenpox. Largely retired from ABC News already, her main work is at “The View,” the daytime hit she created in 1997.
Her television career began in 1961 when she was hired as a writer for the “Today” show. She graduated quickly to on-air work and became the show’s co-host before leaving in 1976 to become co-anchor of ABC’s evening news with Harry Reasoner – the first woman in such a role for a television network.
The pairing ended quickly and Walters settled into a role as ABC News’ cajoler-in-chief, competing ferociously to land newsmaking interviews with heads of state and stars of the day. She regularly did interview specials, including an annual show with the most fascinating people of the year, and was co-host of “20/20″ for two decades, much of the time with Hugh Downs.
She described “The View” as the “dessert” of her career, a regular gathering of women chatting about the hot topics of the day and interviewing visiting presidents and actors eager to reach a daytime audience. Walters appeared semi-regularly as one of the hosts.
“The View” faces a transition continuing without Walters and also the last remaining original host, Joy Behar, who recently announced she was stepping down.
Daniels recovers after pacemaker surgery
NEW YORK – A representative for Charlie Daniels says the 76-year-old country singer is recovering after having a pacemaker implanted Thursday.
Daniels was diagnosed Monday with “a mild case of pneumonia.” Tests at a Nashville, Tenn.-area hospital revealed that he needed a pacemaker to regulate his heart rate. He’s scheduled to be released Friday.
Daniels said in a statement that he’s feeling better and looking forward to spending Easter with his family.
His Saturday and Sunday performances at Middle Tennessee State University have been canceled. Concerts with his band on April 5 in Englewood, N.J., and April 6 in Newark, Ohio, have been canceled and will be rescheduled. His tour will resume April 11 in Lynchburg, Va.
Daniels has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for five years. His hits include “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Judge relaxes bail conditions for Pistorius
PRETORIA, South Africa – Oscar Pistorius could compete at this year’s world championships after a South African judge eased his bail restrictions and ruled Thursday that the athlete, who faces a murder trial for the shooting death of his girlfriend, can travel overseas to run.
The international athletics body said that if Pistorius qualifies, it had no objections to him running – an event that could eclipse the stir last year when he became the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics. Pistorius’ agent told The Associated Press soon after the ruling that the world championships in Moscow in August could be a possibility if the runner wanted to return to the track on his carbon fiber blades.
Judge Bert Bam upheld the Olympic athlete’s appeal against some of his bail restrictions, but said the 26-year-old Pistorius must travel under certain conditions. The athlete could face a life sentence if found guilty of murder for the Valentine’s Day shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp.
His passport will be held by a court while he is in South Africa, and he can only leave the country if he provides an itinerary of his travel plans at least a week before he is due to leave. Pistorius must also hand his travel documents back to the court within 24 hours of returning home, Bam ruled.
“Based on this (the judge’s decision), and if he is up for it and qualifies, the world championships will definitely be on the radar,” Pistorius’ agent, Peet van Zyl, told the AP by telephone.