Interview & Ratings...
[From Washington Post]
HEADLINE: Whitney's Weird Chat Gives ABC Fat Ratings
BYLINE: Lisa de Moraes
A whopping 21 million people watched Whitney Houston stumble her way through an interview
with Diane Sawyer on Wednesday night on ABC.
That's more than watched any of the celeb chats that ABC News divas conducted during the
recently wrapped November sweeps. (Barbara Walters's talk with Sharon Osbourne bagged
about 15 million, as did Sawyer's sit-down with J. Lo; Elizabeth Vargas's interview with
that flappy-lipped Princess Di butler scored 9.4 million.)
In fact, Houston's "PrimeTime Live" interview landed the biggest haul for any
newsmagazine broadcast on any network since Connie Chung's with Gary "I Love My
Wife" Condit snagged nearly 24 million for ABC in August 2001. Even more special,
among young adults Whitney's bizarre interview was the biggest thing in newsmags since
Babs Walters's equally strange interview with Monica Lewinsky 3 1/2 years ago.
During the one-hour broadcast, a very thin and somewhat jumpy Houston acknowledged that
she has abused alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and pills, but she got pretty ticked when
Sawyer mentioned crack cocaine: "First of all, let's get one thing straight -- crack
is cheap, I make too much money to ever smoke crack! Let's get that straight, okay. We
don't do crack -- we don't do that. Crack is whack."
She also denied that she had any eating disorder or drug problem when she appeared on
CBS's Michael Jackson concert special last year. Houston was so thin during that taping
that her rib cage could be seen prominently from the front, causing CBS to digitally alter
the image to add about 20 pounds to her frame and headlines to appear in tabloids
declaring that Whitney Houston had died. Houston insisted to Sawyer that it was just a bad
At one point in the interview, Houston dismissed suggestions that her husband, R&B
singer Bobby Brown, was controlling. But when Sawyer asked whether Brown had a
"Svengali relationship" with her and if he was jealous of her fame, Brown
slipped into the room and sat down on the sofa. When Houston replied
"sometimes," Brown jumped in, saying, "Never." Houston quickly added,
"But sometimes I am of him."
Wondering why ABC didn't air this riveting train wreck of an interview during the November
sweeps? An ABC News rep says it was taped during the sweeps period but Sawyer was too busy
with "Good Morning America" and other commitments to get the Houston package
finished any sooner. Houston's first original album in four years is scheduled to hit
stores next week; she is also slated to sing on "Good Morning America" on
With the Whitney Houston interview, ABC News now claims the six highest-rated newsmagazine
telecasts in the past 2 1/2 years among 18-to-49-year-olds, the key adult demographic.
Here are the newsmakers those adults have been most interested in over those 2 1/2 years:
Michael J. Fox, more Michael J. Fox, Gary Condit, Sharon Osbourne, Gary Condit and Whitney
The Houston interview numbers were driven almost entirely by young women. The 9 to 10 p.m.
broadcast attracted about one-third of all women between the ages of 18 and 34 who were
NEWSFILE: 6 DECEMBER 2002