US Weekly reports that ABC's Diane Sawyer is in final negotiations to land an exclusive interview with Bruce Jenner, which the tabloid confirms will center around the 65-year-old "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" star and ex-athlete coming out as transgender. As Kate Aurthur reports over on BuzzFeed, “Yes, Jenner is planning to sit down for an interview to come out as transgender and discuss transitioning. BuzzFeed News has confirmed that Diane Sawyer of ABC News was in the final stages of negotiating the interview as of last week.”
According to Page Six, the special will air sometime in May, and BuzzFeed also confirms that the interview will coincide with the announcement of an E! docuseries about Jenner and the Kardashian clan. "The world will see his full transformation," a Jenner source told US Weekly. "It's a docuseries featuring the Jenner family talking about Bruce coming out.”
Jenner’s transition has long been a source of speculation in the gossip press, with rumors heating up when In Touch Magazine ran a controversial (read: detestable) cover of Jenner’s face photoshopped with makeup last month. Since then, the story has primarily been playing out in the tabloids, although members of Jenner's family have fueled the speculation, with his stepdaughter Kim Kardashian recently telling ET: “I think everyone goes through things in life and I think that story and what Bruce is going through, I think he’ll share whenever the time is right. I feel like that’s his journey to talk about.”
The announcement of the ABC interview and docuseries seems to confirm that Jenner is decisively taking the narrative into his own hands -- an extremely promising development. While it's impossible for a figure like Jenner to maintain privacy under the glare of the paparazzi lights, at least he'll be able to tell his story on his own terms. The choice of TV heavyweight Diane Sawyer as an interviewer is no coincidence, nor is the decision to film a reality show. The Kardashian/Jenners have always been masterful crafters of their own image, and using the storied reality brand to address issues that are still surrounded by so much ignorance and hostility could be a monumental cultural tipping point -- not only for mainstream celebrity culture, but for the Kardashian media empire, too. A reality series focused on a transition journey is a few steps up the cultural ladder from a book of selfies, to say the least.
As our own Mary Beth Williams wrote speculatively last week:
“Let’s say that a person who is not a fictional character, not a lesser-known public figure, but a goddamn American sports hero, were to say to the world, 'This is who I am. I am that person with his hands in the air, crossing that finish line in 1976, and I am this person and this identity today too. Those things are all real and authentic.' Let’s say that person took the viewing audience on a journey through that experience. Think of what that could do to open people’s minds, to broaden their understanding of what it means to be a man, to be a woman, to be a human being. Consider that 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' was somehow all part of laying the groundwork for a tipping point in our cultural journey toward a deeper acceptance of each other, at all points across the gender spectrum. Oh my God, that would be phenomenal.”
Amen to that.