everywhere in between with unprecedented access on the british sets of "downton abbey." and from the hottest boy band in the world, one direction -- >> ♪ that's what makes you beautiful ♪ >> to golden gymnast gabby douglas, to movie star/director ben affleck, barbara walters picks the most memorable personalities of 2012, but who is the most fascinating? >> from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden, and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," december 11th, 2012. >> good evening. i'm bill weir. the line to see santa was growing and a children's choir was scheduled to see carols in a mall outside portland, oregon, tonight. but when as many as 60 shots rang out, the scene turned into terrified chaos. witnesses say a gunman wearing a mask and camouflage was behind the deadly attack and abc's david wright has the latest
details. >> reporter: a shopping mall at christmas time is supposed to be safe. so today when witnesses first heard loud pops near the food court of this portland area mall, some thought it was bursting balloons. >> we thought it was balloons. and then we saw little fire thingies. >> like lights. >> reporter: and then the screaming and everyone knew it was something far worse. >> all of a sudden we heard big bang. we covered our ears and then we got down. and then all of a sudden a matter of five seconds later, we heard rapid fire, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, and i just took off running. >> reporter: it started shortly before 3:30 p.m., the mall busy. someone saw santa drop to his knees. they weren't sure if he had been hit or was just ducking for cover. the gunman we're what appeared to be body armor and a mask and carried an assault rifle which he fired in rapid bursts. >> all of a sudden, she just
heard pow, pow, pow, pow, and um, she thought maybe something was just falling because, i mean, we've lived here forever and we've never seen anything like this. >> reporter: hundreds of mall workers and shoppers raced for the exits. others trapped inside stores tweeted photos and updates, including this picture from inside a locked store. another showed broken glass in the immediate aftermath. some even called abc's portland affiliate from inside the mall as the shooting unfolded. >> you saw two people shot? >> uh-huh. >> how serious? >> we had the bring the sheets out of our back room. >> so it didn't look like they made it? >> no. >> reporter: all the while, christmas carols eerily continued to blair "peace on earth" in the midst of this rampage. >> it's awful to think that someone would come out here and do that. >> police say three people are dead, including the gunman. at least four others injured. they're still going store to store, making sure no one is trapped inside. >> i can confirm that we believe
at this point there was one and only one shooter involved and that shooter is deceased. in addition to that, we have at least one patient who was taken away with a traumatic injury and at least two that were deceased in addition to the shooter rosm. >> reporter: authorities confirmed tonight there were no shots fired by police inside the mall. the gunman took his own life. eyewitnesss saw his body as they helped a woman flee. >> when she came down, we heard a gunshot behind that door, so we thought he had followed us down there and then we let her in and she said she saw a guy laying there dead with a gun beside him and we heard a gunshot before that. >> reporter: for law enforcement, a nightmare scenario. a shooting rampage in a mall packed with christmas shoppers. and because it was late afternoon, there were dozens of kids there hoping to see santa and there were also reports that there was a christmas concert
under way right in the vicinity of the shooting. >> the idea that you can walk into a mall or any other location, a movie theater and shoot people is very intoxicating for these people, and they'd love to be able to control life and death. >> reporter: authorities have so far not identified the shooter or discussed any possible motive, but this incident now joins a grizzly list of other senseless shootings. this year alone, 12 people killed, 58 wounded at this aurora, colorado, movieplex in july. six people called at this wisconsin sikh temple. now add to that this shopping mall. >> i believe people will be more reticent to go to a mall just because of the openness of those type of facilities. there will be a lot of questions about the security at the mall. >> reporter: this will likely lead to heightened security measures at shopping centers around the country, just in time
for christmas. i'm david wright for "nightline" in los angeles. another bit of breaking news tonight. after a number of unsuccessful attempts, the united states has confirmed that north korea has successfully launched a long-range rocket this evening. while they claim the launch of a weather satellite was their only motivation, what the u.s. and the u.n. have voiced concern that such a rocket could potentially carry a warhead as far away as los angeles. it is one more giant head ache for president obama. much more on "good morning america." coming up, behind the corsets and conniving that make "downton abbey" the biggest hit on public television. abc news "nightline" brought to you by "promised land." i had enough of feeling embarrassed about my skin.
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"nightline" continues from new york city with bill weir. >> it is highbrow, historic, it airs on pbs, which is why it's perhaps a bit of a shock that "downton abbey" is one of biggest hits on television these days. so how did a soap about fading aristocrats and their servants become so addictive to american audiences? abc's nick watt got a rare access to the set to find out. >> rolling, quiet, please.
action. >> reporter: here we are behind the scenes of "downton abbey" filmed in a real castle, not a sound stage. >> you can come up. it's a girl. >> reporter: a sneak peek at the series about to hit your screens, perhaps the most unlikely smash hit on american tv. it's just so downright british. but it's a soap opera so soaked in history that even pseudo intellects confess their love of it. a blend of crumbling bricks, corsets, men dying in their own beds and englishness. >> of course. would happen to a foreigner. it's typical. >> don't be ridiculous. >> i'm not being ridiculous. no englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house. >> reporter: hugh bonnville plays the patriarch trying to marry off his three daughters the keep the estate in the family. >> you could stay here if you married matthew. >> you know i'd never marry any
man that i was told to. >> reporter: it's unexpected formula for a ratings bonanza. >> someone said it's like crack. >> it is. it's crack with a little bit of white tie and tails. >> lady mary is his eldest daughter. >> someone recognized us in new york and she found it really alarming that we weren't in period costume. i don't think she liked it. >> reporter: it is the brain child of a real life lord and one time actor, julian fellows. >> i don't have the indifference to audience that you do sometimes find among the british. you know, where if you say something is popular, it's an insult. >> reporter: five million viewers tuned in to each episode on pbs, the public tv station. 27 emmy nominations and seven statues over the last two years. unheard of. >> this is really a david and goliath story.
>> reporter: as downton fanatics, they are just eating it up. it is now so imbedded in american popular culture, it's spawning parodies. yahoo! brought us downton arby's. >> take my daughter's hand in marriage and it will be yours. >> i just want to grab some extra sauce. >> reporter: "snl" gave it the hyperventilating trailer treatment. >> there's a milf and a dad and they've got three daughters named hot, way hot, and the other one. and they all hang out with this old lady that looks like a chicken. >> reporter: actually, there you have a pretty good plot summary. but why is this show set 100 years ago in a world few of us can relate to so ridiculously popular? elizabeth mcgovn plays lady cora, the lone american. >> i haven't got the foggiest idea. i had a pretty strong feeling that two people in america would really like this show. my mom and my dad.
the rest has been a shock. >> reporter: we escape into a simpler time when everyone knew their place. >> cybill is entitled to her opinions. >> no, she isn't until she's married, and then her husband will tell her what her opinions are. >> reporter: the slightest d ee divergence. >> you're asking me to give up my whole world. >> reporter: and the chauffeur steals her heart and runs off with her in season two. >> the fact that you're back wearing a tux, that gives us an insight. >> hope just got a better uniform. >> i'm not buying that. >> reporter: lady cora was the first character to form in his mind, an english heiress props them up with her cash. >> now a complete unknown has the right to pocket my money. >> reporter: her daughter is the snooty mary.
>> if i ever wanted to attract a man, i'd steer clear of those clothes and that hat. >> reporter: underneath it all is really just a vulnerable girl looking for love. >> i think that's why people respond to characters like that because we're not all perfect and lovely, you know. are we? >> these are the sort of women i'm drawn to, these very good-looking, rather hard in a way women. but she's not a bitch. she's not a horrible person. >> reporter: and then, of course, the matriarch played by maggie smith. >> don't be defeatist. it's very middle class. >> reporter: when the cameras stop. you've got to be scared of maggie smith. >> no one's scared of maggie smith. >> reporter: i am. we are. >> it's all a front. >> i'm afraid the war has made old women of us both. >> i wouldn't say that.
but then i always keep out of the sun. >> reporter: have no fear, they've already commissioned a fourth season. i'm nick watt for "nightline" on the set of "downton abbey." >> and "downton abbey" season three airs on masterpiece on pbs beginning sunday, january 6th. coming up, barbara walters and a few of her most fascinating people of 2012. i have what science calls the nightly stuffy nose thing. i can't breathe, so i can't sleep. and the next day i pay for it. i tried decongestants... i tossed and turned... i even vaporized.
in her perennial effort to bring you the most fascinating people of the world, abc's barbara walters sat down with the obamas for their first joint interview since the election today, but it was also a chance to grill the president on pressing issues from the middle east to the fiscal cliff. barbara? >> bill, today the president had some big news, telling me that for the first time, his
administration will recognize the syrian opposition group trying to topple president assad. and further isolating him. the president also sounded optimistic about striking a deal to avoid the january 1st fiscal cliff, but he stressed the clock is ticking. prediction, are you going to be able to raise taxes? yes or no. >> taxes are going to go up one way or the other. i think the key is to make sure taxes go up on high end individuals, like you and me, barbara. we can afford it. and make sure the middle class families don't see their taxes go up. >> my full interview with president obama and the first lady, who were charming and funny together, will air friday, on both "20/20" and later on "nightline." it's been a busy week for me, because tomorrow night, i will have my 19th edition of the most fascinating people. we have a terrific list. we keep number one a secret, but
here are a few who did make the grade in 2012. ♪ baby you light up my world like nobody else ♪ >> my first choice wasn't a tough one it was fascinating that two years ago, they didn't even know each other. now this incredible boy band going just one direction, up. they are an overnight sensation, taking the world by storm and making young girls everywhere swoon. if you had to describe this past year in one word, what would it be? >> insane. >> incredible. >> fun. >> overwhelming. but in a good way. >> harry recently made even more headlines for his relationship with taylor swift. t the band is not universally adored. critics haven't always been kind about your music. they have said that you are a manufactured boy band. you've heard that. >> it's very closed minded.
>> and i don't actually think it's true. >> in terms of what we're like as a group and in terms of the character of the group, i think we're one of the least manufactured boy bands that there is. >> we chose another young sensation, who captured our hearts earlier this year. a global powerhouse in her own right, 16-year-old u.s. olympic gymnast gabby douglas. you are the first woman of color to win a gold medal for the women's individual all around. does that matter to you? is that important? >> yeah. just a little. i'm just kidding. it means so much to me that i could go to london and inspire anyone. >> so your mother struggled for you to be what you are. how bad did it get? >> it kind of got pretty bad, but she didn't let me know everything because she wanted me to focus on my training. >> are you definitely going to compete in the next olympics? >> definitely. >> and from sexiest man alive to man of the moment, ben affleck,
an academy award-winning screen writer at age 26. >> i fly to teheran. >> he is now seriously in the running for oscar's best director and best actor for the true story of "argo." people are talking about you for an oscar. you star in it, you direct in it. >> this has definitely been a pronounced moou ed movement up. >> did you ever consider anybody else for the lead? >> it was one of those thing where is the actor was sleeping with the director. i wanted to have as much to do with it as i could. i just wanted the part. >> george clooney was chosen sexiest man in 2006. matt damon was chosen in 2007. of the three of you, which one is really the sexiest? >> well, matt has since shaved his head. and i've always liked a man with a shaved head. >> i see. >> the bullet head look, which i
think is very, very sexy. with hair, not so much. but right now, i'm going to have to go with matt. >> our thanks to barbara walters. her number one choice when the most fascinating people airs tomorrow night here on abc, 9:30 eastern. we're always online at abcnews.com. we'll see you back here tomorrow. captions paid for by abc, inc. up next on an all-new "jimmy kimmel live" -- >> i think christmas is the best time of year to get into audio knife spot over a parking spot at target. >> leslie mann. >> so your chesty, mucusy and cloggy. i think you might have the plague. >> ted. >> are there any plans to make "ted 2"? >> yes, we're basically just going to do the same movie but