Barbara Walters was a good friend of Astor. Prosecutors say Astor's son Marshall conned his philanthropist mom into changing her will and directing her fortune away from the charities she wanted to benefit. He faces 25 years behind bars if convicted.
Two years ago, psychic James Van Praagh privately warned Barbara Walters about her health, only to be called out later on the TV icon's daytime talk show, "The View" – and now, with Barbara headed for heart surgery, he has come forward to Access Hollywood to explain what happened.
"I felt very, very bad for her as anyone would," James told Access' Tony Potts of Monday's announcement that Barbara would undergo heart surgery for a faulty valve. "A horrible thing to happen to anybody."
However, he explained that he felt the news was "a validation of what I got for her at that time."
James, a co-executive producer of CBS's "Ghost Whisperer" and a medium with a long history of success in TV and publishing, told Tony that he'd sensed something wrong with Barbara during his appearance on "The View" on July 8, 2008, and suggested during a commercial break that she have a reading done. However, he explained that after the show, she wanted to hear what he'd sensed.
"I tuned into her and I said, 'Something is bad with your blood,'" James said of their backstage discussion. "It's not moving correctly… you have to watch it. It might not be right now, it could be in the future."
He also told her he sensed issues with her white blood cells and her back.
Less than two weeks later, in the July 17 episode, Barbara went on "The View" and proclaimed that her doctors had given her a clean bill of health, criticizing James – a move that disappointed the psychic.
"I've known her for many years, I thought she was… such a class act, and to go on her show and really berate me, when I'm not there to defend myself, on something that was [done] very privately, that that wasn't right for her to do that," James said. "She said that I was dangerous. That's not right to do that, with the millions of people that I've helped with my work.
"She owes me an apology," he continued.
James added that Barbara may have misunderstood how his abilities function.
"Many people don't understand about how a clairvoyant works. People think it is very linear," he said. "If I say to you this is going to happen, it might not happen tomorrow, it might happen 3 years from now. It is an inexact science… and I think that Barbara took it very literally."
When asked whether his predictions for Barbara – such as back problems, an issue common amongst the elderly – were suspect due to their likelihood, James said his work speaks for itself.
"I did it privately with her, didn't do it for public knowledge," he said. "I know I have a background. The success rate that I have is very high."
Neither "The View" nor personal reps for Barbara would comment on her surgery today when reached by Access Hollywood.
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