February 20, 2009 in Features

Walters’ special includes Oscar host Jackman

Frazier Moore Associated Press

NEW YORK – Hugh Jackman is a charmer and the height of cool.

But his role as host of Sunday’s Oscar broadcast has given this versatile entertainer a trace of pre-show jitters, according to Barbara Walters.

“He’s nervous about it. He’s never done it before!” says Walters, who recently interviewed Jackman for her 28th annual Oscar-night special.

“I said, ‘What would REALLY make you nervous?’ And he said, ‘Looking in the front row and seeing Jack Nicholson.’ ”

Jackman is taking those Oscarcast duties seriously, Walters says.

“He talks about the most important time in his life – and the Academy Awards (broadcast) is second.”

But what ranks first?

“It has to do with his father,” says Walters, while keeping further details under wraps until airtime (following the telecast on ABC).

She also sits down with Oscar nominees Anne Hathaway (“Rachel Getting Married”) and Mickey Rourke (“The Wrestler”).

Rounding out the hour are rock idols the Jonas Brothers, who presented Walters with a special interviewing challenge.

“We went down to Dallas, where they live, and did it from their home. And the first thing I had to learn was which one is which,” says Walters.

“They are such a phenomenon, and they’re very nice young men,” she says of Kevin, age 21, Joe, 19, and Nick, 16, who turned out to have much more to discuss than she had expected.

Walters, whose first Oscar special aired in 1981, says she doesn’t plan to maintain this annual tradition forever. Or will she?

“Every year, I think I’ve interviewed everybody, I’ve done it all. And then what happens is, you have new stars.”

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