The Latest News on Diane Sawyer
Diane Sawyer is talking about her husband, legendary director-producer Mike Nichols, and the song that describes their 25-year marriage. "Do you know 'Goodbye for Now' by Stephen Sondheim?" she asks. "Mike and I love that song. We're both passionate about our work: He'll say, 'I have to go and do this.' And I'll say, 'I have to go and do this.' And then we'll come back home and it's 'Hello again.' It's a beautiful thing, seeing someone you love so enraptured by what they do."
As anchor of ABC's World News, Sawyer sure has a lot to be excited about. The broadcast's ratings soared after she took over the anchor chair nearly five years ago, and she's landed an impressive string of exclusive interviews, from Gabrielle Giffords, the Congresswoman who survived a traumatic shooting, to brave Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai. "We're doing stories I can't wait to tell," says Sawyer, 68. "Some are fascinating, some make our lives better, and some just wake people up."
We met with Sawyer in her ABC office -- which is decorated with dozens of prestigious awards and charming family photos (she has three stepkids and four stepgrandchildren) -- to talk about her wild career ride, not to mention her happy private life.You've had such a successful career. What has driven you all these years?
Curiosity. I've always been curious. I keep a list of people I'd love to have lunch with, like the Pope or Leonard Cohen. I'll read an article about someone I've never met and think, "I should ask him to lunch!" It could be someone in the arts or sciences or finance. When you have lunch with someone like that, you can stumble upon something you didn't know before that will fascinate you forever.What strikes you when you look back on your career? You started as a weather girl in Kentucky, worked for the Nixon administration, and then became a journalist.
It's been an incredible wave to surf. Sometimes I forget some of the things I've done. I recently recalled that after Watergate I went away by myself to Tahiti for a month, moving from island to island. I kept trying to get further and further away. Talk about a metaphor. I ended up on an island with no hotels, sleeping in the living room of a small house. That was a point in my life where I didn't know what was next. I've always found a cure for the blues is wandering into something unknown, and resting there, before coming back to whatever weight you were carrying.There've been rumors recently that you are preparing to retire from the ABC newscast. Any truth to this?
I'm still here and I'm loving it. I would be delusional not to think that at some point I will want to step down. And I'm sure there will come a time when people will say, "Her? Again? Still?" But right now my job is giving me the opportunity to wake up in the morning and say, "What if we...?" "Why don't we...?" "Look at this!" or "Somebody's got to do something!" Sometimes at the end of the day I'm so excited, I'm sure that I'm bionic. Of course, other days, I'm just spent. I'll be incapable of saying anything to anyone I see on the elevator [laughs]. We can't all be like Bill Clinton, where every conversation you have gives you helium and you can keep going until 3 in the morning. Not all of us get to be that way.Your father died in a car accident when you were in your early 20s. What would your dad say about Diane Sawyer now?
He was there when I became a weather girl. He saw me do all that amateur floundering on TV, because I knew nothing about the weather [laughs]. So I think he would be terribly amused that I'm still at it -- though probably concerned because he was so Republican. I can only imagine the calls I would've gotten.Do you let your own politics be known when you're behind closed doors?
My husband has said even he doesn't know my politics. In the nonromantic-compliment category, that's a good one.Does Mike Nichols have a romantic side?
He's much more romantic than I am. He puts little notes in my sock drawer or in my suitcase before I leave for a work trip. I think one of the most romantic things is simply the way he reaches for my hand all the time. We rarely fight and I remember once when we were arguing he stopped in the middle of it and said, "Well, this is sort of fun, too." And it was! It was good to know that we could get out our strong feelings but that we were indestructible at the same time.You've reported stories from places like Afghanistan and Syria. Does your husband worry about you going into war-torn countries?
As far as I know there's only been one time years and years ago that he called the head of the news division and said, "Is she really going to be safe? Is she really going to be safe?" But for the most part he accepts that I need to travel for my work. And conversely, sometimes I'll say to him about a new project he wants to do, "Don't take on this giant undertaking. Can't you just do a poetry reading at the restaurant around the block instead?" Of course, then he'll look at me as if I just asked him not to be too right-handed.You've talked about not being a very good cook. Are you getting better?
Meatloaf. I keep trying to perfect my mother's meatloaf recipe. I will never get it perfect, but I'm getting closer. My sister told me the secret is using chili sauce instead of ketchup, which was a revelation. I've always wanted to throw a dinner party where everyone comes with their mother's meatloaf. Everybody could evoke their mother's memory through her meatloaf.Can you talk a little bit about your mother? I know that she's had some health issues lately.
She's 94 and she is indomitable. All of us spend a lot of time worrying about our parents. She wants to continue living at home in Louisville, and I'm so lucky because we have people who are there for her. We did a piece called "The Conversation," about having discussions before the end of life about your wishes. My mother, sister, and I have those conversations along the way. It's a great gift she's given us.If your mother could sum up her daughter Diane, how would she describe you?
"Inadequately groomed" [laughs]. She is a woman who was ready and dressed for the day at breakfast. She taught school and was always immaculately put together. Even on Saturdays and Sundays she was impeccably dressed. She was inexhaustible, with more energy on a down day than you and I could possibly have.Well, you certainly look energetic and put together to the rest of us.
I have this fabulous team of people who pull me together for the show. I honestly can't care about how I look. I try. I really do. I'll get up in the morning and say, "This is the day that I'm going to be like the women in those magazines. This is the day I'm going to be like the women in those movies." But I simply can't make myself do it. And I'm finally okay with that. I think there's a point at which you know how you dress isn't going to affect how much you can do in life.And it's okay with Mike that you're not always glam?
He asked me once, "Would you just please wear the newer sweatpants?" I thought that was the most tragic comment he has ever made to me. But I went ahead and put them on anyway.