It was the interview we were all waiting for: Barbara Walters was going to have a sit-down chat with Lindsay Lohan for what was being called a “no holds barred, no questions off-limits” conversation to promote her Elizabeth Taylor made-for-TV movie, “Liz & Dick.” But on Friday, it was reported that Lohan’s new publicity team cancelled the November 16 “20/20” appearance fearing Walters would ask questions that could affect the cases against her, especially her June car crash for which she has been charged with lying to police. Walters was somewhat understanding of the decision … until the actress agreed to do an interview with Jay Leno instead.
“If they'd said to me, 'You know, Barbara, she isn't up to the kinds of questions that you might ask' … I wouldn't feel quite as disappointed as I do today,” the journalist said on “The View” on Monday. “I like Lindsay Lohan very much. I've known her for years since she was a very little girl," Walters explained. "She said whenever she did an interview, she would sit down and do it with me … I spent a lot of time, doing a lot of homework, watching the actual movie ... and then her longtime press agent resigned. That should have been a clue." Walters added that she felt she deserved “a more honest explanation” from Lohan’s camp. "I think I would have helped her. I think to go on Jay Leno and be adorable and amusing, there's still all the problems with her."
As Walters noted, Lohan’s decision to go on Leno’s show is arguably the easy way out of having to do press for “Liz & Dick” (the actress is reportedly under contract to do one TV interview as promotion before its November 25 air date). Over the years, many stars have sat on the late-night king’s couch hoping to sweep any negative press they have under the rug – and he typically obliges with softball questions. Here are a few:
Following the British actor’s arrest for lewd conduct after he was caught with prostitute Divine Brown (even though he was in a long-term relationship with Liz Hurley) in June 1995, he appeared on “The Tonight Show” one month later. After Grant sat down, Leno broke the ice with, “What the hell were you thinking?” to which the audience – and the actor – broke out laughing. "I think you know in life what's a good thing to do and what's a bad thing, and I did a bad thing,” Grant said. “And there you have it." Leno then allowed Grant to stammer on about how his fans have supported him – all while never really spelling out what exactly the actor had done wrong.
In April, months after his second anti-Semitic tirade, this time against screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, the hot-tempered actor-director was invited to sit down with Leno – even though he had nothing to promote. Although Gibson was recorded by Eszterhas screaming about his failure to write a script about Jewish biblical hero Judah Maccabee – during which he also rants about his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, calling her a “a filthy little c—ksucker who takes advantage of me” – Leno allowed him to turn the whole thing into a joke. “Was it you just swearing at the guy?” asked Leno. “Yeah, pretty much,” replied Gibson, totally ignoring the fact that Eszterhas had also gone on record to say the actor called Jews “oven-dodgers” and referred to the Holocaust as “horses--t.” As the audience roared with laughter, Gibson added, “Maybe you don't know this about me, but I've got a little bit of a temper."
President Barack Obama
Last fall, when the president was taking hits for the slumping economy and pulling the military out of Iraq, he simply headed over to “The Tonight Show” to gloss over the bad press. The October 2011 interview was widely panned, with one political writer calling it “an infomercial masquerading as a guest-shot.” During the appearance, Leno fawned all over Obama. “The bad news is that your approval ratings are at 41 percent,” he told the POTUS. “The good news is you’re still three times better than Congress. They’re at 13 percent. You’re killing! You’re killing!”
Long story short: don’t expect Leno to ask Lohan anything that will really make her squirm. Instead, he’ll probably give her free reign to blab about how great she’s doing and that all her legal troubles stem from people who are just out to get her!