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Larry King Live
Who Wants to Unmarry a Multi-Millionaire?Aired March 8, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the TV bride everybody is talking about: Darva Conger, who is trying to unmarry her multi-millionaire. She joins us in Los Angeles.
Also in L.A., Maureen O'Boyle, anchor of TV's "Extra."
In New York, Sally Jessy Raphael, host of the TV talk show that carries her name.
And in Denver, radio talk show host -- and she's spokesperson for the Family Research Council -- Janet Parshall.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Darva Conger will be with us during the first half of the program, and then our entire panel will assemble and Darva will remain.
What's the status right now of your -- quote -- "marriage" -- end quote?
DARVA CONGER, MULTI-MILLIONAIRE BRIDE: My quote/unquote "marriage" -- an annulment was filed yesterday in the Las Vegas courtrooms and should be through hopefully as soon as Friday. I believe it is uncontested. I am the complainant in the annulment and it should be done.
KING: Meaning the marriage never took place and there's -- no money changes hands or anything.
CONGER: No money changes hands.
KING: How did you -- why did you -- why did you go on the show?
CONGER: Who, what, why, when, and how?
CONGER: Well, you'd think I had time to think up a good answer. All I can stand by is I really didn't look into the -- obviously no one could know these ramifications. I really just was focused on the short term, getting away for a week.
KING: That's what you were looking to take... CONGER: I really did.
KING: You thought you'd just have a lark?
CONGER: Thought I'd go -- yes, that's my quote there. I was going for a lark, go to Vegas for a week, take a little vacation and do something I had never done before.
KING: How did you learn about it?
CONGER: One of the producers from the show was made aware of me by an emergency room physician I had worked with. And they gave me a call at home.
KING: Is that's where you work, in a hospital?
CONGER: That's where I did work, yes.
KING: Don't work there anymore?
CONGER: I do not.
KING: Because of this?
CONGER: Because of this.
KING: They fired you?
CONGER: I was voluntarily resigned. I was resigned. I did not resign.
KING: They asked you to resign?
CONGER: Yes, they did.
KING: OK. You're taking a lot of flack for this. And is some it deserved as you look back on this? Are you deserving some of the criticism you're getting for treating marriage as a lark?
CONGER: I think whatever criticism I deserve I have taken and have been through more than enough for the poor choice that I made. On the large scale, on a continuum, was it that big of a deal? I don't believe so.
I certainly take every -- I was culpable in this. I made the decision to be on that show. I think we also need to realize, though, that it was a television show. No one was hurt. No one was killed. Worse things have been done every day.
Most of what I did negatively impacted only me, and yes, I am paying for it every single day of my life.
KING: And the panel and you will be discussing why all of this attention, or worldwide attention do you believe it's getting?
CONGER: Maybe they can explain it to me because I don't understand.
KING: Let's just go -- refresh the audience a minute. It has been three weeks and a day since the broadcast. Fox did it, "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire." Here's what happened when host Jay Thomas gave you the chance to make your pitch. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO MARRY A MULTIMILLIONAIRE?")
JAY THOMAS, HOST: From your heart, why you think you would be the perfect bride tonight?
CONGER: Well, if you feel that I am the perfect woman for you and you choose me to be your bride, I will be your friend, your lover and your partner throughout whatever life has to offer us. We'll have joy, maybe a few tears, but more ups than downs, and you will never be bored.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Were you putting us on there?
CONGER: Was I putting you on? No, I was playing a role.
KING: Did you mean everything you said?
CONGER: I was playing a role. I was speaking to my romantic ideal, that Mr. Right that is maybe in every woman's heart and her mind. And I was -- I think I got a little carried away and unfortunately used my best words. I don't of I'm going to be able to use those again.
KING: But as you were looking at him did you feel it?
CONGER: No, I did not.
KING: How could you have felt it?
CONGER: I couldn't have felt it.
KING: You didn't know him, right?
I wasn't speaking to Mr. Rockwell. I didn't know Mr. Rockwell. I was speaking to that vision in my mind of the perfect man for me and calling on that to help me play a role.
KING: Did the producers ask you to do that?
CONGER: No, they didn't. They didn't at all.
KING: There was no -- no pitching of you, et cetera.
CONGER: No, no, because they had no idea who would win, as I did not.
KING: When you were selected, were you surprised?
CONGER: I think the look on my face speaks volumes, absolutely. I've never been so surprised in my life.
KING: So you didn't look around at the others and say, I'm going to get this?
CONGER: Oh no, no. It was not what I wanted, it was not what I expected. And I've never felt that trapped before. I didn't know what to do.
KING: Did you know the result was that the marriage would take place right there?
CONGER: Yes, I did.
KING: That -- you knew that was part of the...
CONGER: Yes, I did.
KING: Did you have to sign any agreements before going on?
CONGER: No, I did not. I did not.
KING: So you could have backed out right on the show? You could have said, wait minute, hold this?
CONGER: Sure, I could have if I had got that backbone, if I had -- whatever it was that it would have -- it would have taken. I said moral fortitude previously. Whatever it was, if I would have had that, I could have walked away. I just kept thinking that I had a duty, a promise to fulfill, a contract to fulfill -- that I was on this show, that it was costing millions of dollars to produce. If I walked away, I knew that would be ruined. Also that dress was so big I couldn't run.
KING: What do you -- what did you win?
CONGER: What did I win? I don't think "win" is the appropriate term here.
KING; Well, you were selected. Usually you win something. You won the marriage, anything. Were you given a car? What were you given?
CONGER: I think it's a 2000 Isuzu Trooper. I haven't received -- I'm in a process of working toward receiving that. And the ring of course...
KING: You keep that?
CONGER: I -- it's given -- yes, I own it. I won't be keeping it.
KING: And you get a car. CONGER: And some other jewelry and I think a jewelry shopping spree. I haven't done that either. And the trip is considered a part of the package.
KING: The cruise?
CONGER: The cruise, yes.
KING: And where was that cruise to?
CONGER: That was to the Caribbean, all the northern islands of the Caribbean.
KING: And you knew that was part of what you were getting?
CONGER: I didn't know. No one knew where we were going actually. I think they thought the Greek isles but the weather was bad.
KING: All right. Didn't you feel a little strange that you're going to go to bed with someone you don't know?
CONGER: I wasn't going to go to bed with anyone I didn't know.
KING: Well, then -- that's part of marriage.
CONGER: Sure, it is. But isn't it fairly clear by now that marriage was never my intention?
CONGER: My thought process, unfortunately, kind of stopped right there, didn't go through.
KING: So you intended to go through this week and then what?
CONGER: The week with him. I was going to have it annulled as soon as possible. I just wanted to do the polite thing, the right thing, not embarrass anyone, and -- and try to handle it discreetly.
KING: He, when he was -- did you see him on this show?
CONGER: I did. Yes, I did.
KING: He was very sincere, wasn't he? Didn't you feel sorry for him a little? I mean, it looked like he was really -- wanted to make this go.
CONGER: With all due respect, I cannot comment on his feelings or his thoughts.
KING: What did you think when you watched it?
CONGER: I think that he's a very good public speaker. I think he is a motivational speaker. And I think he is very adept at appearing exactly how he wants to appear. KING: So you didn't buy it.
CONGER: I don't -- I don't know. I think there's two-fold thing here. I'm...
KING: He got a great deal of sympathy for himself that night. He seemed like a victim in a sense.
CONGER: Sure, but if you buy into being a victim, you take away any power you have to rectify a situation. That's why I will not be one.
KING: Here's what 23 million people saw and 23 million people were watching when Darva said her "I dos" as a judge administered the vows. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO MARRY A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE?")
RICK ROCKWELL, MULTI-MILLIONAIRE GROOM: Darva Conger, will you marry me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was not the administering of the vows. That was the picking of the question. Anyway we thought it would be the administering of the vows.
On that note, we'll take a break, come right back with Darva Conger.
That's our whole subject for tonight: the phenomena of this show. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Darva Conger. On Tuesday Rick Rockwell was on "Entertainment Tonight," was asked about annulling his marriage with Darva. And here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCKWELL: Much has been made of my frugality, and the annulment costs 500 bucks. So I'm going to let Darva take care of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONGER: So, that backs up what you said. It only costs that, that's it and it's over.
CONGER: That's it, and Darva has taken care of it. KING: And the filing says there was no consummation of the marriage, right, which is one of the grounds for an annulment?
CONGER: Absolutely, no consummation.
KING: All right, how do you react to -- "People" magazine says you are the most vilified woman since Linda Tripp.
KING: That's what they said.
CONGER: Actually, they talked to me about that before they were going to write that. I'm like, well, if that's your perception, go ahead. I would prefer notorious perhaps, but, if I...
KING: Do you think of yourself as notorious?
CONGER: Sure. Notorious I don't think has a specific negative or positive quality. I think I am very well known. I think everyone has their opinion. Many people don't agree with what I did, but perhaps find some understanding of why I did it or at least have forgiven me for a misstep.
KING: OK, how about the gold-digger question, that you're out to get something for yourself and that, in a sense, you degraded women?
CONGER: I think I've more than answered that question as far as getting something for myself. All I have done is last things for myself. Everything I had prior to the show is being taken away from me slowly.
KING: Your job.
CONGER: My job.
CONGER: My dignity, my privacy, my credibility and my family.
KING: How so? You lost your brother the other day.
CONGER: I lost my brother, unfortunately because of the media attention, I was not able to visit him in the nursing home he was in. I only saw him once since coming back from the Caribbean, because if they found out he was my brother, I knew the media would be there. There's no security protection there. So they took away my last weeks with my brother.
KING: He was what, brain damage as a child, right?
KING: So he was in a nursing home most of his life?
CONGER: No, he was raised at home by my mother and our whole family. We all took care of him.
KING: He fell as a 2-year-old?
CONGER: Yes he did.
KING: He couldn't speak.
CONGER: He couldn't speak, but he could laugh, and he could cry, and he could sing, and he let you know how he felt, and interacted, and he was just -- he was our heart. He was the glue of our family.
KING: And he was how old?
KING: What did he die of?
CONGER: We don't know. I didn't have an autopsy. Most likely he had a blood clot from surgery he had last month.
KING: And you're blaming the media only in that you were unable to spend some time with him?
KING: You're not blaming them for his death.
CONGER: Not at all. It was a sin of omission, not a sin of "commission." I couldn't go there because of they their presence in my life.
KING: So are they following you around every minute?
CONGER: They don't follow me around every minute, per se, but everywhere I go, anything that occurs to me, I always see on the news right afterwards. I didn't announce Andy's death. They found out on their own. That's how I knew I was right not to go there.
KING: Are you shocked at all that?
CONGER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I don't understand why his death is news. It's news to us. And we grieve for him deeply, but -- and we appreciate the kind words from everyone that has, you know, that has consoled us.
KING: If -- one thing, Darva, if you're going in for the week of fun -- and people are entitled to fun -- did you at all give a thought that marriage as an institution is being demeaned here by me, by him, by Fox, by this whole show?
CONGER: As a woman whose thought deeply most of her life, I should have. I really should have. I had the most issue with being dressed up in that wedding gown at the end of the show. But for some reason, it didn't -- I didn't give it the attention it deserved during the taping. It was almost like it was just we got into this Lemming role, each following the other one off the cliff. We're all surrounded by people that think it's OK, and you tend to...
KING: Everybody involved with the show thought it was fine, the producers, the directors?
CONGER: Everybody, oh, of course, of course.
KING: The audience?
CONGER: The audience, the other girls on the show, and used -- it's almost a minor brainwashing. And I'm blaming them, because I was there. And I obviously am a woman who usually can think while on her own, and I did it.
KING: I want to clear up some things about military service.
KING: Now do we have a -- did you say you were in the Gulf War? Give us your history in the military.
CONGER: Let us say just exactly what it was. During the time of the Gulf War, I was in active duty in the United States Air Force, stationed at Hill Air Force base in Layton, Utah. At no time did I serve in the Persian Gulf. By virtue of being on active duty, I am a veteran of that war. I do have a medal for having served in that war, was not in the Persian Gulf theater, which I actually made clear on the show, and that was edited out for time, and I somehow feel that they had an ethical responsibility to release that footage when I came under fire.
KING: Yes, it's like you could be a Korean War veteran, you didn't have to have fought in Korea.
KING: What do they call it? There's a term for it.
CONGER: It's a like a era -- a Vietnam-era vet, a Korean-war era vet.
KING: You're a Gulf-era vet? And you never meant to fool people into thinking you had served in the Gulf?
CONGER: Never. Never. Never meant to diminish anyone else's time spent there.
KING: But you got a bad rap for that?
CONGER: I did, and I was -- well, you know, if that's the worst they can do is to twist my words or twist even someone else's word, because actually I never even brought up Gulf War vet. I have always said I'm an Air Force veteran.
KING: How long were you in?
CONGER: Ten years, active duty and reserves. KING: Why you enlist?
CONGER: I wanted to do something with my life. and I didn't know what was yet, and I figured that have that was a great environment to find out.
KING: Was it worthwhile?
CONGER: Absolutely. It was best thing I've ever done.
KING: And you've never been married?
CONGER: I have never been married.
KING: Ever close?
CONGER: Not really. I've had some wonderful relationships with wonderful men in my life, but kind of devoted to career and family, and you know, right time, right person hasn't arrived yet.
KING: The groom in this case was on this program last week. Here's a portion of what he had to say.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 29)
KING: You never felt part of some farce, or some kind of thing...
KING: Object of ridicule?
ROCKWELL: I think that's one of the reasons why the producers selected me, is that the first time I contacted them, I expected this to be some weird dog and pony show. And I talked to them for about 10 minutes, and we were both on the same page as far as, wow, this could be a magical romantic journey, if it works, imagine. I mean, this would be a storybook romance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I'd like to remind you Maureen O'Boyle, Sally Jessy Raphael and Janet Parshall will be joining us at the bottom of the hour, and Darva will be remaining.
Tomorrow night, we'll discuss the famed Proposition 22 on the California ballot yesterday, in which the voters in California said that they will never see anything in marriage except a male and a female. It's been widely discussed. The postmortem has been as effective and as widely discussed as the prenup so to speak, if that can apply to tonight's show, like that little transition.
What did you make of what Rick just said, that you wanted everything to just -- storybook?
CONGER: Well, as I said before, I think Mr. Rockwell is an excellent speaker. He knows what to say, when to say. I think that he did some things here that were very unethical.
CONGER: As far as not...
KING: How were you hurt by him?
CONGER: How was I hurt by him?
KING: Yes, what was unethical?
CONGER: Just, in the big picture, the whole restraining order issue. I know that he was the only one that knew about that prior to coming into the show. It wouldn't have had any impact on my decision to marry him or not, because I don't think I ever made a decision; I just sort of did it.
KING: The restraining order against him.
CONGER: Against him. I think that's something he had actually an ethical responsibility to reveal to the producers of the show, certainly. I believe that he knows what to say and when to say it.
KING: Let's say -- what he is saying is, he approached this sincerely. He chose you objectively. He wanted to it work. He wanted a big storybook. You just shut it off at the pass.
CONGER: I gave him every opportunity to -- I wanted to be his friend, if nothing else. I am not that cold-hearted. I realized that we were the two people in this together. No one else understood how we felt, and I wanted to like him. I wanted us to be friends.
KING: It would have been stupid to go away for a week and not like him?
CONGER: Exactly. I don't enjoy that sort of...
KING: So you didn't phony this in any way to him?
CONGER: No, no. As soon as I -- I thought maybe if we liked each other, we could date, something. I was open to the idea...
KING: Dating your husband.
CONGER: Exactly. I was open to those ideas.
KING: Did you -- and honestly look at yourself -- give it a chance?
KING: You did? CONGER: I gave it a chance as far as my conscience could let me.
KING: How soon did you know that it wouldn't work?
CONGER: I was fairly certain when he kissed me on stage. But I went past there...
KING: You didn't like the kiss?
CONGER: I hated that, I hated that. I was so uncomfortable.
KING: Did you know right then you weren't going to sleep with him?
CONGER: Oh, absolutely.
KING: Right then?
CONGER: Right then. And just for the record it was not a French kiss. Perhaps if it would have been, that would have given me the moral fortitude to run off the stage, because I was really close right then. But it was just so distasteful to me -- no pun intended.
KING: Did you say something to him like "Let's not count on anything happening here"?
CONGER: Absolutely. Absolutely I did.
KING: You did tell him that up front.
CONGER: And I told him as soon as I absolutely knew that this was not working for me, I did not have romantic feelings toward him. I looked forward to getting to know him and perhaps embarking on a friendship.
KING: We just learned from a family friend that he has signed the annulment papers. So this should be done by Friday morning.
KING: And you'll be single again.
KING: And you can say you were never married, right?
CONGER: Yes, I can.
KING: Because an annulment wipes out the marriage.
KING: What was the wedding night like for you?
CONGER: Incredibly odd.
KING: Because? What happened?
CONGER: Because, you know, I'm in a room. I'm in a hotel.
KING: In Vegas, right?
CONGER: In Vegas. I mean, there's two separate bedrooms, and it's separated by the full living room.
CONGER: Yes. And certainly not how I envisioned my honeymoon night, but I realized I still wasn't thinking of - it wasn't my honeymoon. It was this daze, this smoke I was wondering through.
KING: Did you talk?
CONGER: We talked briefly. We talked briefly. I was in a fog. It was 3:00 a.m. by the time I made it back to the hotel room.
KING: Did you go to his bed, you go to your bed? His -- you went to his?
KING: Never saw each other unclothed?
CONGER: No, I have never seen him unclothed.
KING: As we go to break with Darva Conger, here's what Rick had to say about that night. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 29)
KING: The obvious question is, why didn't you make love? You were in a suite at the MGM. You may have just met, but you're both obviously attractive people. Why not?
RICK ROCKWELL, "MILLIONAIRE" GROOM: In a limo driving over there I told Darva that I realized that she was into something -- I mean, there was no manual for this. Neither of us knew where we were going.
ROCKWELL: And I wanted to make sure that I was, you know, cognizant of her feelings and let her know that I really had her best interests at heart. And I told her driving over there that look, this is kind of your show at the -- show is not the right word. But you are in the driver's seat.
KING: So if she didn't want to, that was OK?
ROCKWELL: Yes, I think we need to proceed at a pace that's comfortable for you.
KING: Did she -- did you -- did you get into bed together? Was it discussed? Did she say no? What? ROCKWELL: Well, I don't think a true romantic really goes over any kind of bedroom detail.
KING: Well, you get married on television, you pick a bride on television, now you don't want to give me a -- in other words, did you come -- did you get close? Did you discuss it?
ROCKWELL: We had -- we discussed a lot of things that night.
KING: All right. But nothing -- the marriage was not consummated?
ROCKWELL: That is correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Darva Conger. How did the hospital ask you to leave? And why?
CONGER: I believe it was related to the time off from work and the media attention, a combination of the two.
KING: They didn't want that?
CONGER: It's a business that's in the business of saving lives. My personal turmoil is not their...
KING: What was your job description?
CONGER: Emergency room staff nurse.
KING: Miss that?
CONGER: Tremendously. That's who I am and that's what I do.
KING: Have you looked for work?
CONGER: How do I walk into an emergency room and say: "I'm Darva Conger; I'm a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing; I'm an expert in my field"? How do I do that, because that's not what they're going to look and see now?
KING: True that you were offered a million dollars to pose nude?
KING: At a porn site?
KING: What? For a Web porn site?
CONGER: From what I understand yes, yes.
KING: Did you ever consider it?
KING: I mean, one -- one might say: Look, you made this mistake, you did it as a lark. You were going to do this week bit. So a year from now, who will remember and you'll have a million dollars?
CONGER: But I'll forever be posted on a porn Web site. I mean, talk about judgment errors. That's a big one right there.
KING: How about money for your story, a book, a tabloid pitch?
CONGER: Not a tabloid pitch. Anything that's credible that comes out of this, that takes advantage of the talents, skills, the person that I was prior to this show and is certainly credible and does not further demean everything, I'm open to consideration of that. I would be a fool not to be. But I'm not going to do anything that's going to dig myself even further in the hole.
KING: What's your read on fame now?
CONGER: Wow, talk about a two-edged sword. I mean, I am your normal next-door neighbor person that was suddenly thrust into the spotlight. There is occasion when I glance at the television and see myself, I'm like, whoa, that's me. But the price that I have paid for that, it's -- there's no comparison.
KING: Your mother is here with you tonight. What's been the effect on her?
CONGER: As I said, everything pales compared to the loss of my brother, but this has been incredibly hard on her.
KING: Is your father living?
CONGER: My father died last March 11.
KING: A year ago?
CONGER: Yes. We don't like March.
KING: Has your mother taken this -- the brother, obvious -- but has she -- did she take this incident terribly?
CONGER: Yes, it was hard for her.
KING: Was she angry at you?
CONGER: No, no. She supported me 100 percent. I have to tell you, my mom knew about me going to the show ahead of time. And famous last words, she's like, oh -- I was a little iffy. She said, oh dear, go, you'll get some good footage. My mother the actress! I'm like, "Mom, I'm a nurse."
KING: She had no qualms that you were stepping into something here that might rebound this way. CONGER: No, we didn't see it.
KING: Was your best-case scenario that you fall in love?
CONGER: No. I...
KING: That was not your best-case wish?
CONGER: No. Unfortunately I should never have been there. I wasn't looking to fall in love. I wasn't looking to get married. I'm very happy in my life.
KING: And that's why you're getting wrapped a little, because you looked like someone just...
CONGER: I shouldn't have done it.
KING: ... taking an advantage of a situation.
CONGER: Absolutely. I was guess -- for the vacation, yes, I was doing that. But...
KING: You could have been honest and said you were looking for it and it just didn't work. I mean, you could have been dishonest.
CONGER: I could have been dishonest. I am being honest. I found that's the only thing I can do. It's the only thing that keeps me going here. If I start to lie, I'll trip over my feet.
KING: OK. We're going to go to break. Maureen O'Boyle, Sally Jessy Raphael and Janet Parshall will join us to discuss this phenomenon that keeps on keeping on. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 29)
ROCKWELL: I thought what a great magical journey this is going to be.
KING: In other words, no doubts, this is going to work?
ROCKWELL: I certainly was prepared to do everything in my power to see that it...
KING: You wanted it to work?
KING: And were you convinced she wanted it to work based on all of your observations and prelooks and meeting up to it?
ROCKWELL: Yes, I thought so. I knew she was in a bit of shock at that moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: With us is Darva Conger, who on Friday will no longer be Mrs. She -- the marriage will be annulled. And she's the "Multimillion" dollar bride of course. And we're now joined here in Los Angeles by Maureen O'Boyle, the anchor of the of the popular television show "Extra." In New York is Sally Jessy Raphael, host of the "Sally Jessy Raphael Show." And in Denver, Janet Parshall, the radio talk host of "Janet Parshall's America" and the chief spokesperson for the Family Research Council.
Sally, what do you make of all of this?
SALLY JESSY RAPHAEL, TALK SHOW HOST: I think the story, Larry. is not in the television show, but in the fact that you have her on, and the story is what happens after the television show. By the way, both of them would have made good talk show guests. He's a bit more gentlemanly than she is, in that he always said I wanted it to work, I care, and she's kind of saying, hey, listen, buddy, get lost, it's revolting. There's a big yuck factor in the kiss.
I don't think it's the end of the world, and I don't think it's so terrible. It's like spring madness, you know, like the kids going down to Orlando. It isn't Violence, which I deplore on television, and it isn't Earth shattering. It's an awful lot of really bad taste. You see, the sexiness is not in getting a guy. The sexiness is in love. And love is what the producers left out of the equation.
KING: Darva, how would you respond to what Sally just said?
CONGER: Well, I am glad she didn't call me gentlemanly. I -- perhaps since Rick chose me and I didn't choose him, it's understandable that I was not as caught up in this as he was, and as I have said before, my motives were not the same as his, and I have already said I shouldn't have been on the show.
KING: Would you agree that he's come out looking better?
CONGER: In that sense.
CONGER: Objectively how can I -- objectively, do I feel so? No. I know -- I've spoken with him. I can't be...
KING: In your opinion, you've been honest right from the get-go.
KING: Maureen, what's your read, this story, this whole thing?
MAUREEN O'BOYLE, ANCHOR, "EXTRA": I think it's unbelievable, but it was an incredible stunt. That's what it was basically.
KING: On everybody's part?
O'BOYLE: Well, I think the producers had a great idea. They said, how can we draw people into our tent, so to speak? We create a circus. This was a circus. It was outrageous. I know Darva is very articulate and seems to be very honest about how she went into this. But I think it's ironic that Rick Rockwell -- I don't think he comes out looking very good at all. He said he was looking for a magical romantic journey. I don't think that's what got at all. I think for someone who should be media savvy, he was the one with the most to hide. He had a lot to hide. You have a restraining order against you from a previous relationship and you're touting yourself as the perfect bachelor multimillionaire soon to be groom. I don't think he comes out looking very good.
But the producers were smart. They created the show that people would watch. If you looked at the ratings, they built over the hour. It was a word of mouth. But I do still find it hard to believe that someone as articulate as Darva, you know, got sucked into it, but producers can be really persuasive.
KING: The hard thing you have to comprehend is why she went into this?
O'BOYLE: Yes, I mean, we've all made mistakes, and I can accept that. I've made mistakes. We talked about that in the green room.
KING: As you look back, Darva, what do you tell yourself?
CONGER: You know, learn from it. Make something good come out of it, because it's already happened.
KING: But that moment when you said I am going to do this, what were you thinking that minute?
CONGER: Over and over again, I said wasn't thinking of the whole thing. I just -- I was thinking short term. I am thinking, I need a break, I need a vacation; mom is set for a little while, I'll just take a little break.
KING: And, Janet, we know about your radio talk show. We also know that you're chief spokesman for the Family Research Council. Your opinion may be -- I don't want to read into it -- a little harsher than that thus so far expressed?
JANET PARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I am going to surprise you, Larry, because I have a whole bunch of different feelings on this subject.
First of all, Darva, to you, I want to say, thank you for your service to our country by being in the Air Force. We very much appreciate that. And you're also a mercy giver, because you wouldn't be involved in the nursing profession in an emergency room. And you clearly love your family, taking care of your brother as long as you could and your mom. That tells me you've got some really good qualities.
And we all do make stupid mistakes. And I hear my daughters in you. They're in the their mid-20s. Their younger than you, but there's a heart cry in the midst of all that you're saying, we were designed for intimacy. We want that Mr. Right to come in our lives on a white knight as much as that's not politically correct nowadays, and we are looking for that perfect love, that transcendency that lasts until the end of time.
So I say there's a lot of culpability here. First of all let me pick up on Maureen's words, it's the bread and circus that we the people call for. This is the same network that brought us "Alien Autopsy" and "When Good Pets Turn Bad," so we shouldn't be surprised they do this. The problem is the 22 million people who thought that this was worth peering into, the voyeurism, and it was Darva that got hurt, but a whole lot of other things got damaged as well, and that is the minimization of marriage in this country. It's not trivial. It isn't about getting ratings in the February sweep. It isn't about upping rates for the avails. It's about having a relationship that lasts until death do us part, and that's what got hurt.
KING: Sally, is that a very good point?
RAPHAEL: You know, Larry, let me -- Larry, can I ask you a question?
RAPHAEL: Has her organization, or has she taken a stand on the 17,000 people that are married every year by Sun Yung Moon and all the other arranged marriages that are tribal and religious around the world, where people don't meet each other until that exact moment?
PARSHALL: You mean preplanned marriages like you have in India, for example? You know what, Sally?
RAPHAEL: No, no, I am talking about right here in America when 17,000 people get married year after year after year, and they...
KING: Yes, but they knew each other. They knew each other. When Sun Yung Moon marries those people, they know each other. They don't meet that day.
RAPHAEL: Yes, they do.
PARSHALL: I have to tell you something...
RAPHAEL: No, they get married in that church, but they don't meet that day.
PARSHALL: That's a very interesting question, Sally. But I have to tell you that we have our hands full with the marriages that people do know each other and then they end up getting divorce-minded. And now we've got a culture that has got a larger number of cohabitants than the 1960s, and that's because we have a generation of kids who've lived with divorce, and it hurt so bad that they're saying, let's try this out, and they don't...
KING: But how do we -- yes, I'm sorry. Here's the question: Are we trivializing this but putting it on television, by making a mockery of a sacred institution, Sally?
PARSHALL: I agree.
KING: Sally, are we?
RAPHAEL: Larry, look, I don't want to be the one person to be brutal here. Her brother died three days ago, and she's on the LARRY KING show. She's going to do a book deal, and a movie deal and a this deal, and she's been offered a television show. I mean, I think that's where your story is.
CONGER: I'd like to address that.
CONGER: I am here because I had prescheduled this interview, this appearance with Larry King prior to my brother's passing. And I felt that it was proper for me to continue on since I had given my word that I would be here, and because I wanted to address media exploitation and what it has done to me. All I can speak to is what has been done to me and what I've allowed to be done.
KING: Maureen, are you surprised that Janet is not -- I thought Janet would be the harsher person on our guest than Sally.
O'BOYLE: What I think surprises me -- and I have to keep going back to Darva -- and I know it's been a rough couple of weeks, not just this weekend, but everything that's happened to her, but at the same time, I have to say, if you're sitting at home, and your friend calls you up, and they say, hey Darva, turn on channel three, you won't believe what they're doing. They've got 50 women walking around. They're going to marry a guy, one of them will marry a guy. All they know is that he's a multimillionaire. Now you're an articulate person. Wouldn't you say, oh my God, let me see that. I can't believe that. Who are these women? What are they thinking? All of us, that's what I did. I was clicking through. When I got wind of what it was, I was like, is this for real?
So there had to be a thought process, you've even said in interviews that there was a 14-hour rehearsal time. I know you're committed. It's apparent by you being here that you feel committed to people when you do something. I think what happens is that people get caught up in the whole idea, vacation, appearing on television, the idea of waving to mom from national TV. People get caught up in what they're doing, but they don't think about the ramifications. That's the whole point. People want to be on television. Watch some of the daytime shows. People just want to be on TV.
KING: I imagine Sally may wish to respond to that as well. We'll talk a break, and we'll be right back on LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 29)
ROCKWELL: One of the things I really remember vividly was in a moment where we finally got together and we had some quiet time -- gosh, it must have been 3:00 in the morning -- and I remember telling Darva that, to me, this was a chance for a new beginning, because you know, in relationships I hadn't always done everything right in my previous relationships, and I thought this is going to be under such a magnifying glass that this is the opportunity of a lifetime to really be a good significant other for someone else and know that you are on notice and that you're accountable.
KING: You'd never been married?
KING: What did she say?
ROCKWELL: Well, I think she said something to the effect that, wow, that's all the emotion coming out now, because I was kind of choking back the tears while I told her that. And I had -- I hadn't really released any emotion through this. As I said, there was kind of an eerie calm around me.
KING: Now you're releasing it?
KING: Did it move her or not move her?
ROCKWELL: I don't think it got through in a big way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're going to take some calls, but before Darva says something about what Sally said.
Sally, do you want to respond to what Maureen said?
RAPHAEL: Yes, I am insulted Maureen. First of all, talk shows are all different. You can't compare a kind of shtick thing that Darva did, parading around in a bathing suit, trying to marry a guy for his money, and now she makes herself out to be the victim with a show like ours, where a woman comes on today because she can't get help for her husband because he's been turned away from every rehab center, where a young man wanted to meet a father he hasn't seen in 21 years, where the public who has the right to the airwaves, let me remind you of that, gets to be seen and heard and gets good counseling and good after-care. Now that may not be true of all talk shows.
PARSHALL: Whoa, whoa, can I weigh-in on that one?
O'BOYLE: I have a lot of respect for you.
RAPHAEL: She is not a victim.
KING: All right, let Maureen respond, then Janet -- go.
O'BOYLE: Sally, I have a lot of respect for you. I hope -- I didn't mean to target your show. I certainly wasn't. But I think there are a lot of things on television -- I even had a talk show for a year. I know what we do to get viewers into the tent. And I don't think that all television shows are bad. I love this business, but I do think that the people at Fox and the producers of this show were smart. They thought of a great way to get people into tent. I mean...
KING: Janet, you wanted to say something? I want to get a call in, but Janet and then Darva -- Janet.
PARSHALL: If I could. Sally, there are some of your shows that are very much pointed to public service, and they do help us out, but I remember yesterday, you did a show, "Is There a Killer in My School?" And you did promos for two shows -- "Are you Obsessed With a Gay Man?" and "An Older Woman Seduced My Son?" Now what would be the public service in that one. If that isn't prurient, I don't know what it is.
RAPHAEL: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the names that she said.
PARSHALL: "Are you Obsessed with a Gay Man?" and "An Older Woman Seduced My Son."
RAPHAEL: Well, if you -- have you seen the shows?
PARSHALL: Those were promos you aired yesterday for shows to come.
RAPHAEL: OK. So you haven't seen the shows.
KING: No, they haven't run aired yet.
PARSHALL: They haven't aired yet.
KING: You're going to find them right down the line in dealing with older women who prey on young men and how immoral that is. It fits right into your agenda as I know it. And the other one is how many women try to convert gays and misunderstand that gays do not want to be in a relationship with them.
PARSHALL: So let me ask you another question -- let me ask you another question then. With all of those -- and you're trying to give a sociological justification. Sally, when was the last time you showed a husband and wife who were monogamous and happily married or you talked to mothers who still sing lullabies to their children or preschool mothers who chose to stay home by a choice because they knew the importance of the preschool year?
KING: Janet, that wouldn't be a show, because that's the norm.
PARSHALL: Bingo, bingo, exactly. RAPHAEL: Larry, she's in Denver because she must not know what television is all about. But this is not an argument about -- with me. I do those shows, responsible shows all the time. Tell her to watch and then we'll have a conversation.
PARSHALL: I am too busy reading a book.
CONGER: Sally, I don't watch your show. I'm sorry, Sally, I don't watch your show, so I can't comment on the content of your show, and I don't mean to attack or disparage you. I don't know if you were watching the show earlier when I firmly stated I am not a victim. When you become a victim, you take away your own power. I take full responsibility for the choices I made. I am trying to explain why I made those choices.
KING: Kingston, Ontario, hello.
CONGER: Hi, Larry. I'd like to ask Darva, how does she feel about Rick being cheated out of the opportunity of meeting the right woman by her action?
KING: Yes, was Rick cheated?
CONGER: From what I understand, he's already on a Web site or something -- they're seeking another match for him. I believe he's had about 4,000 respondents. I think Mr. Rockwell will be just fine.
PARSHALL: He got what he needed, publicity.
KING: Have you gotten men proposing to you now?
CONGER: Yes. I've received a few interesting phone calls and letters.
KING: We'll be back with more. Curiouser and curiouser. Don't go away.
KING: We'll take another call for our sprightly panel.
Cornwall, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Darva, if you're so tired being in the public eye, why do you continually put yourself there?
CONGER: I think I've tried to make some credible choices as to which media I appear on. They've been reputable journalists, and usually every time it's been in response to trying to decrease the media presence in my home, in my life, on my phone, and at my job. I am trying to combat it the only way I know how. I am trying to use the media to keep the rest of the media away from me. KING: Have we become too real life, Maureen?
O'BOYLE: In the sense of the way we...
KING: The whole thing. I mean, marriage is now -- what's next?
O'BOYLE: I think anything.
KING: CBS has a show, they follow people around in their home, coming this fall.
O'BOYLE: I think everything is fair game.
KING: Anything goes?
O'BOYLE: People have a way to vote against these shows -- turn. When 23 million people watch a show like this, hey...
KING: Does anything go, Sally?
RAPHAEL: I think the next one is "Who's Going to Have My Baby?" Fifty girls come out in maternity clothes and then the guy gets to choose.
KING: Janet, are we in an anything-goes era?
PARSHALL: Well, CBS is already talking about a show called "Survivor," where they're going to put folks on an island in Borneo, and whoever gets off the island gets a million bucks, another called "Big Brother," where they're going to put movie cameras inside a house. "Truman" isn't a movie, the "Truman Show," it's a lifestyle and apparently we'll watch this stuff. But you know what, I've the power right here: Change the channel, or read a book.
KING: San Diego, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: I'd like to ask Miss Conger, if everything is so distasteful, Miss Conger, why don't you return the ring, the car and the jewelry shopping spree?
CONGER: Because at this point in time, I have nothing. I have no job, I have a mortgage I have to pay, and for whatever reason I have paid for those with much of everything that was me.
KING: Aster, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Larry -- hi, Darva. I would like to -- I'm awful sorry about your brother.
CONGER: Thank you very much. CALLER: Yes. Have you read what some of your former boyfriends have said about you in a tabloid this past week?
CONGER: I read what someone that I briefly knew as a relative of some friends of mine wrote, and I can tell you right now it's complete and utter lies. And it's not worth the paper it's printed on.
KING: Do you have any idea what you're talking about, caller?
CALLER: Beg your pardon?
KING: What did one of the boyfriends say?
CALLER: Oh, that -- Larry, it was pretty bad. That she was...
CONGER: It was filth. It was pure filth.
CALLER: Very, very. In other words that she would go to bed with a hundred fellows at one time -- I mean over a period of a week or something like that. He said he dated her.
KING: Did they quote him by name?
CALLER: Yes. Their pictures are in the tabloid.
KING: Have you seen this?
CONGER: I did. I was warned not to look at it, but you know, I...
KING: What do you make of this? Who are these guys?
CONGER: It's someone who unfortunately money talks. You pay someone enough and they will speak.
KING: Do you know the person?
CONGER: I know him as a friend of close friends of mine.
KING: You don't know him intimately?
CONGER: I don't know him intimately at all. It's not worth the paper it's written on.
O'BOYLE: We've done stories on Darva, and most of the things that we've done people have had nothing but great things to say about her really. I mean, there's nothing -- the only story that I've seen that you may have found unfortunate or you didn't like was a story about your Barstow beauty pageant. But people have only said great things about her. That's why I think it's ironic that the one who didn't expect to have the media attention ended up having nothing to hide, but Rick Rockwell had something to hide and he knew it was going to come.
KING: Sally, why -- the tabloids jump on this, don't they? RAPHAEL: Oh, well, you know, that's not something you pay any attention to. They can pay somebody to say anything they want them to say. So on this particular issue, I think Darva's right. It isn't worth the paper it isn't written on.
KING: We'll be back with our -- well said. We'll be back with our remaining moments, more comments from each of our guests. Don't go away.
KING: You think a lot of television might have learned a lesson from this, Maureen, and we'll see the end of these kinds of things.
O'BOYLE: I don't know about television, but I hope other Darva Congers know that if you go on a show that says you're going to marry a multimillionaire that you've never met who's just judging you on really superficial things, be aware that everyone is going to be saying, "Why in the world would you do that?" And surviving it can be painful.
KING: Sally, why do people want to go on, do you think?
RAPHAEL: I think people -- well, first of all, I think people should go on, and that may be where I disagree with some others. The television and the radio, as you know, Larry, it belongs to the people. The name of the game, the Mahatma Gandhi, the top thing now is to be famous. It's worth now more than knowledge, unfortunately. It's worth more than money, unfortunately.
So you get on television and you get that little bit of fame. Some people come on looking for help. Some people come on because they want to be heard and they want to express themselves. Some people come on just because they want to be famous. And to me, that's all right. That's OK.
KING: Janet, do you think it's going to get better?
PARSHALL: No, I don't, Larry. I think it's going to get worse, but I'll tell you what, for me personally, trying to figure out the phenomenon of all of this, I understand why Darva's doing what she's doing. A good name is to be more highly valued than rubies. She's trying to recover her good name. There is no Emily Post guideline on how to do it, so she's feeling her way along and I wish her all the best as she does this.
But for me personally it's a mandate for me to start mentoring younger women, to take them under my wing and teach them that there's not only choices out there but consequences, that there is right and wrong, to choose wisely, to understand that there are ramifications for your choices, and to come alongside as an older woman younger women like Darva and my daughters and teach them. That's what they're hungry for. That's what I think we have to do.
KING: Have you learned a lot from this, Darva? CONGER: Oh, a tremendous amount. But I can also say that when and if you do make a mistake -- and all of us throughout our lives will make many mistakes -- I'm sort of hoping this is the worst one I make. We need to make the best of it. We need to go on. We need to learn from it, and we need to teach others.
And we also need to let it go eventually.
KING: Maureen, why has she been so bum rapped?
O'BOYLE: I think everybody just has a hard time believing that you can go into something like this really not aware of the future of what the ramifications could be. But people are naive. And we do, as Darva said, we all make mistakes. Every one of us has done something that we regret later and in hindsight would never do again. But I think everybody is scratching their head: Why go on the show to begin with?
KING: Sally, you don't throw it up to naivete, right?
RAPHAEL: I can't believe she's that naive and she's a nurse and she's an educated person. You know what I keep wondering? What kind of marriage license did these 50 women take out? Did it say Richie Rich and to whom it may concern?
CALLER: There was only one license. As far as I know, there was only the one that I signed backstage that wasn't done until I was chosen in the five-minute window between the proposal...
KING: Oh, they made it out then.
RAPHAEL: God bless -- yes, God bless Nevada if you can take out a marriage license in five minutes during a commercial break.
CONGER: Can I just say real briefly -- 11,000 women auditioned, tried out to be on this show. I was actually one of the few that did not. And once again, not trying to not to take my responsibility, but it wasn't a phenomenon that was very narrowly approached.
KING: We're running out of time. Maureen, why do you think the story still continues? All over the world they're talking about it.
O'BOYLE: Well, when she appears on LARRY KING LIVE people continue to talk about it. But it keeps evolving. The story...
KING: But we booked it because we think people are still talking about it.
O'BOYLE: Well, they are. I was on vacation yesterday and people were sitting by a pool talking about this very story. So -- because it's one of those, can you believe it? It's hard to believe, but it really happened.
KING: Thank you, Darva.
CONGER: Thank you. KING: Good luck in whatever you do.
CONGER: Thank you very much.
O'BOYLE: She needs to get an agent.
KING: Yes. And Janet Parshall, as always, always great having you with us. Thank you all very much for joining us.
Tomorrow night, we'll talk about same-sex marriage, a widely controversial proposition that passed yesterday, passed in the sense that there can't be same-sex marriage ever in California, according to what the voters said yesterday. We'll talk about that tomorrow.
Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND" postscript on Super Tuesday. Good night.
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