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Larry King Live

Kathie Lee Discusses Life After Regis

Aired October 23, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, she said bye-bye to Rege about three months ago. What's she been up to since? Kathie Lee Gifford for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

She pinch-hits for us upon occasion. She'll be doing it again in December. It's great to have her back on our show. Good to see her again always, Kathie Lee. Are you just Kathie Lee now?

KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, ENTERTAINER: I'm whatever you want me to be.

KING: No, but what happened to Gifford?

GIFFORD: It's still Gifford. It's just that, you know what, an album gets so cluttered if it's got Kathie Lee Gifford, "Heart of a Woman." It's like, you know, they know who I am.

KING: So there's no story here?


KING: You're not Hilda Gardener (ph)?

GIFFORD: Hilda -- that would be a story. No, I've been on -- I did it on the last album as well, "Born for You," because it's just cleaner.

KING: Let's look at the cover of this new album for a second.


KING: And there it is, and it's -- now that looks like a new Kathie Lee look. There it is. Look at that.

GIFFORD: It's -- you know what? So much...

KING: What are you saying here?

GIFFORD: What do you think I'm saying there?

KING: It looks like you're saying, come upstairs, big boy.

GIFFORD: No, I'm saying, isn't it nice and warm here by the radiators?

KING: What is the message here?

GIFFORD: The message is -- well, the album's called "Heart of a Woman" and the message is that, you know, every one of us is a multifaceted human being, and I certainly have two children, and I got them the old-fashioned way, you know. They weren't -- I didn't get them from central casting, no matter what you've read. Right?

And I've always been very comfortable with my sensuality. And this is the first time I've done pop music, and it just was the right look for this kind of music.

KING: And you wrote some of the songs, right?

GIFFORD: Larry, that's the most exciting thing. You know, you think you know who you are. At a certain age, you say, hey, you know, I'm -- I've been postnatal, I'm now premenopausal, I know who I am. And two years ago, I wrote my first song never dreaming that I had that ability.

KING: And you sang it in an act, too.

GIFFORD: I sang it in the act, called -- it was called "You Sell," and it was about tabloid hell. The only good thing that's ever come out of the tabloids in my life is that I discovered I have an ability to write lyrics, and on this album I also co-wrote three of the songs, the melodies as well.

KING: Are they releasing a single from it?

GIFFORD: The single is released and it's called "Love Never Fails," and you'll see a little of the video, I think, later on.

KING: Is that one you wrote? You didn't do that...

GIFFORD: No. These Danish guys, Jam (ph) and Delgado (ph), doggone it.

KING: What are you now? Are you a full-time singer now?

GIFFORD: You know what? This came about, Larry -- I mean, am I -- I'm not stupid, and I don't think at this point in my life would I have ever called a person at a record company and said: "You know what? Now that I've left a successful morning talk show after 15 years, I think I'll try to be a pop star." I mean, that would have never entered my mind.


GIFFORD: So the day after I announced that I was leaving "Regis," I got four offers for different things. One was for a sitcom. One was for, I think, a drama. Another was for a book. And the other was from a gentleman named Doug Morris at Universal Records, and that's the one that intrigued me.

And I called him back and he says: "You're the best-kept secret in the music industry. I want you to do a pop record for me." I said...

KING: Yes. As I've always said, you can flat-out sing.

GIFFORD: Well, you have been very gracious and I appreciate that.

KING: You can sing.

GIFFORD: But what I -- I said to him: "Are you out of your mind? Do you know what kind of baggage I bring to you?" There's no question I can do the music. I've been a singer all my life. The easy part is going to be doing the record. The hard part is going to be your job, which is convincing America that I can sing pop music, you know, because there is a stigma, and half the radio stations that receive the record love the song but they won't play a Kathie Lee song.

KING: Who started the stigma?

GIFFORD: Well, I'm sure I'm responsible for it in some ways. I mean, Regis and I are the only ones at that time who really talked about our lives for a living. We did it for so long that I got this image of being a mother, which I am, and I'm happy about that.

KING: Doting mother

GIFFORD: You know what? If you're not going to be a doting mother, don't have them, you know, if you're not going to be that kind of a mother. And I love my kids, love my husband, love God, so that makes me public enemy No. 1, you know.

KING: So the automatic assumption, if that's true, you can't sing.

GIFFORD: Larry, you'd have to explain that to me. First of all, people don't do their homework sometimes, and I've been, as you know, singing professionally since I was a young teenager.

KING: That's what you were first.

GIFFORD: I was an actress and a singer in very happy obscurity for 20 years before anybody -- before I sat down on a stool next to a guy named Rege.

KING: You're also funny. Why did you turn down the sitcom?

GIFFORD: I have -- I haven't turned down the sitcom. We're in ongoing discussions about the sitcom.

KING: You might do it?

GIFFORD: I'm hoping to do it.

KING: Can you give us an idea of the premise of it?

GIFFORD: Well, that's the trouble. The one I want to do is not the one they want me to do, and so it's a battle. I mean, I had an idea.

KING: What was your idea?

GIFFORD: I have two, and I would be willing to go either way with both of them. And I keep saying to these guys, when -- if you bring me an idea that's funnier and more interesting to me than the one I brought to you, or the other one that I brought to you -- I've got two now -- then I'll be happy to do it. But nobody's -- nobody's done that yet.

You know what? Television is a bizarre thing. Everybody says I want something different, bring me something brand-new.

KING: So what did you bring them?

GIFFORD: So when you do, they don't want it. The first one was one -- it was about a jingle singer, and it's called "Jingles and Bells" (ph) and I wanted Red Buttons to play my father. He was going to be like the Sammy Cahn of his day. He was Johnny Bells and he was a great songwriter, and he was married to almost like a Dina Merrill- type (ph): very elegant Park Avenue, Manhattan socialite. And they had a tempestuous marriage, and, I was the one child out of that union.

And I adore my father. My mother is one of those people that gives benefits to the homeless but hates walking over the homeless people to get into the benefit.

KING: And you sing jingles?

GIFFORD: And I have a business called Jingles and Bells with my ex-husband, who wrote a fabulous song called the "Winds of Change" during the Peace Corps -- our Peace Corps years, where we met. And we have a daughter named Taylor (ph).

KING: I like this.

GIFFORD: Isn't this great? And I loved this idea. And what happens is that they get divorced because he sings this great, you know, song, which is an anti-war anthem for their generation only to then later sell it to Maalox and totally sell out and become the Madison Avenue king of the jingles.

KING: What don't they like about this?

GIFFORD: You know what? Everybody wants it, and then when it's time to do it, they go, but let's change, because there's a part of it that -- Red Buttons dies, my father dies at the very beginning, but there's a little vignette at the very, very end each time where he's with me. And we either do schtick or there's a little Vaudeville moment or something.

KING: They don't like it?

GIFFORD: They go, what is he, dead? I say, well, yes, he's dead. But what is he, a ghost? I say, no, he's -- he's still with her.

KING: You're talking to the suits, right?

GIFFORD: Well, you know what? They're very, very smart people, but unless you come in with two guys and a pizza and a girl with whoomp, you know, I don't know what they want.

KING: Let's take a break. We'll be back with Kathie Lee. Here is some video from her new CD, "Heart of a Woman."


CHORUS (singing): There will be no time for me, yes...

GIFFORD (singing): We can (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CHORUS (singing): (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of me, yes, yes. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you'll never fail.



KING: So much to talk about and she's our guest for the full hour. We'll be back covering politics tomorrow night with journalist going at it. We'll be two weeks away from -- what do you think of this? Two weeks!

GIFFORD: You don't want to know.

KING: Tomorrow -- finally, they're here.

GIFFORD: I hate politics. It just -- you know what? It makes nice people mean. You know, basically really nice people...

KING: And now we're at the point of really disliking each other, the people in our office -- the Mets-Yankees.


GIFFORD: Oh, that! That's a whole other thing.

Yes, Cody and Frank were there, too.

KING: It was fun last night.


KING: Cold but fun.

GIFFORD: Were you sitting out in the bleachers like a real person?

KING: No, I was sitting with Mayor Giuliani. Had a great time.

GIFFORD: Ah, you're not a real person, of course. KING: A Yankee freak, a Yankee. OK. Now, let's get to Rege.

GIFFORD: Oh, yes.

KING: Miss it?

GIFFORD: I don't miss doing the show at all.

KING: At all?

GIFFORD: No, no.

KING: Come on?

GIFFORD: No, Larry, not at all.

KING: A broadcaster must miss broadcasting.

GIFFORD: But I haven't left the business, I have just left that show. The only thing, I miss a few of the people that I love there that were like a family to me. But they'll always be in my heart, and they're friends. I miss Rege personally. I miss that 20 minutes that we used to sit there and goad each other.

KING: What do you make of all the stories that there was discord, that Rege is now happy?

GIFFORD: Oh, you know what? They're to sell newspapers.

KING: Where do they come from?

GIFFORD: I don't know. I don't know. They don't come from Rege. He's called me a couple times and said, Kathy, I don't know how that got out. I'm so sorry, I know -- you know, you need this like a hole in the head. And I said...

KING: Oh, you read quotes of his, right, or supposed quotes of his?

GIFFORD: Well, yes, but I have never -- I've rarely been accurately quoted. I don't know how you feel about that, so you know -- I know the man and I know what we had for 15 years, and I'm really proud of the show that we did, I'm proud of the relationship.

KING: Do you feel hurt, or any feelings regarding that the ratings are doing better?

GIFFORD: Well, you know, what they did, they said that Regis soars 26 percent since Kathie Lee leaves in the first three weeks. Well, what nobody, you know, told anybody is that they were comparing it to the same rating period the year before, which was a normal year for us and we were on vacation for two of those weeks in August. So, yes, he is doing live shows, there is a lot of excitement about the fact that I am gone, what's Rege going to do -- it was -- you know, it was a natural thing.

KING: Now it's back to same course?

GIFFORD: I don't know. I don't know. I don't -- it's not what it was, no, no, no, but it's -- but I don't see it a whole lot. I mean, I...

KING: You think it was more curiosity that led to...

GIFFORD: I -- you know what? I -- all I know is it was the best thing in the world for me, Larry, and I'm hoping it was the best thing in world for him, too, because, my daddy used to say to me when I was a little girl -- and I just worshiped my daddy's feet on this Earth, you know, I just adore my daddy -- and he said, honey, find something you love to do and then figure out a way to get paid for it.

KING: Were there times at the end where you didn't love what you were doing?

GIFFORD: Yes, I didn't love it for the last five years, and every year...

KING: Five years of doing something you didn't love?

GIFFORD: For the last five years, yes.

KING: Why did you do it?

GIFFORD: Because my kids were little, and it was incredibly lucrative, I was a quarter owner of the syndication profits of that show.

KING: What stopped from you loving it? What changed?

GIFFORD: The predictability of it. What I used to love when I did that...

KING: Here we go again -- were there mornings you said here we go again?

GIFFORD: Yes, it was -- I'd look at the guest list sometimes and I'd go, we just -- can't we bring some fresh blood on, can't we do skits again, can't we sing more, can't we have more fun?

KING: Did you have conflict with Gelman (ph) then?

GIFFORD: You know, we -- the only conflict we had was over things like that, where I would say -- you know, I brought the Lennon sisters on, or something, I said, you know what? First of all, they're personal friends and I adore them. Second of all, I know our audience and they'd love to see the Lennon sisters again, you know, and he'd want to have on maybe the top, you know, hip-hop group number 28 and "Billboard"...

KING: Your audience was a little older at that time, right?

GIFFORD: Yes, but you know what? Regis and I were older, and I think that you shouldn't skew a show to a particular -- I have a new thing in life which is, skew you, you know, it's like, be who you are and...

KING: Good line.

GIFFORD: ... do what you do best. And I didn't mind having the latest hip-hop people on and that kind of thing, but let's also give homage...

KING: So the disagreements with Gelman were purely professional?


KING: There was no personal fight, you didn't dislike him, or...

GIFFORD: No, absolutely not. No, he works real hard.

KING: Wasn't it hard for you then, to get through it, even with kids at home and you had to do it, five years is -- one year maybe, but five years?

GIFFORD: Yes. Well, I -- you know, I signed year-to-year every single year, because I never wanted to be...

KING: You kept resigning. You'd come here and tell us you may not, you may, and...

GIFFORD: I know. Because it wasn't what I love to do. I'm getting back to what my dad used to say to me, you know. I fell into this thing with Regis. I was an actress and a singer, and so happy doing that for 20 years when nobody knew my name. All of a sudden, you get this fame and fortune based on something that is the easiest thing in the world to do. Because singing is hard. Songwriting is hard. Acting is hard. Sitting next to Rege on a stool was easy. You know, that was -- and talking -- but it got harder to talk about my life. I just -- I didn't want to talk about my life for a living anymore, I want to just live it.

KING: They -- are they going to find a host, co-host?

GIFFORD: I was actually out in Los Angeles over the weekend with the -- one of the executives at Disney, and we're still great, great friends, and she said, they don't have anybody in sight right now and she thinks that there is going to be some pressure by January, because of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) convention and the -- you know, the station owners are going to want to know what's going on, but I -- you know, they are never going to capture what we had together, and they know that.

KING: His wife doesn't want to do it?

GIFFORD: You know what?

KING: She has her own deal coming, right?

GIFFORD: She has her own situation, and I think she is smart not to, because you know what? It could be the kiss of death for their marriage, which has lasted 31 years or something like that, you know. She does it occasionally and I think she enjoys doing it, but I don't think it would be -- you've got to have...

KING: So they will pick someone?

GIFFORD: I don't know.

KING: If you were the picker, what type would you look -- would you look for someone well-known or brand new?

GIFFORD: Well...

KING: If you were at Disney, a suit?

GIFFORD: I would look for somebody brand new to a national audience, but with -- somebody with a lot of moxie and a lot of savvy.

KING: Experience. So like maybe someone who has been on the air in Chicago or Miami?

GIFFORD: You know what? I met a young girl on QVC a few years -- a few months ago, right when I first announced I was leaving, she was a former Miss Tennessee, she was savvy, she was quick with a quip.

KING: Did you tell them about her?

GIFFORD: That was probably the kiss of death for her, they don't want me to pick my replacements, they want to do that, you know, and I was...

KING: Don't get a recommendation from her.

GIFFORD: Don't -- you don't want to -- you want my job, you don't want me to recommend you, no.

KING: Here as we go to break is one of the scenes from the last show that Kathie Lee did with Rege, watch.


REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST (singing): ... for the memories. They said we wouldn't last, we have never been outclassed, it sure has been a blast. We never won the Emmy, to the voters, kiss our...

Thanks for the memories of all the fun and tears through all the years and years, our host chat every day, now you are on your way, forget it all, but please recall I love you so much.



KING: Kathie Lee, we're sorry we made you cry, but you hadn't seen that, hadn't seen it since...

GIFFORD: No, I have it and I have the video of it, but I just -- I haven't been able to -- because for that very reason, because it's still, you know... KING: That was July 28.

GIFFORD: Yes. I know it's gone quickly, hasn't it? But I have been so busy I haven't had a chance to even think about anything.

KING: All right, obviously you want people to listen to and hear this album.


KING: "Heart of a Woman." It would seem logical that you go on Regis to sing a song from it. The "San Diego Union-Tribune" quotes well-placed sources saying there is no way they'd let you sing on that show and they refused it flat-out.

GIFFORD: I never asked, never asked.

KING: Why didn't you?

GIFFORD: Because it's too soon. They haven't found another co- host yet, it would upset their search, it would just cause all -- it would just be the wrong thing to do.

KING: Did you expect them to ask you?

GIFFORD: No. I would have been delighted had they done it, but I would have probably -- you know, the other thing...

KING: Said no?

GIFFORD: I don't know. I don't know. All I know is that one of the battles that I did have with Gelman for the whole 15 years we were there was that he -- I used to say to him, if Barbra Streisand came on our show and wanted to sing "People," you would make her cut it down to two minutes, you know. And I just -- as a musician all my life, I have such respect for a song and such respect for the artist, and when you have to -- it's like saying, yes, you won't miss the Mona Lisa's left ear, or...

KING: Why couldn't you do -- sing a three and a half...

GIFFORD: Because that's their policy, they make everybody cut their songs down. So instead, I'm going to do the "Today Show," where I get to do three songs in their entirety, and then I'm going to do "The View," which is -- they'll let me sing it in its entirety, and I'm doing Letterman, I get to sing it in its entirety, and to me that's just sort of a principle thing.

KING: Was your appearance on Letterman the last -- did that tell you really want to leave?


KING: Is that true?

GIFFORD: That is exactly true. KING: Why? What happened in that appearance?

GIFFORD: That night, my heart caught up with my head. I had told the same executive at Disney on July of 1999, I said, you know what? My head is telling me this is my last year. I was in Broadway rehearsals, I was doing an album called "Born for You" that I was so involved in creatively...

KING: Good album.

GIFFORD: Yes, you like that one, thank you. That was really for my mom and dad, who had been celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary that year, so were Ruth and Billy Graham, and Gerry and Betty Ford, and some dear friends, and I was so moved by the fact at what some people do to get -- I mean, to stay together and work things out, and keep their family first, and nobody has it easy, but I have such respect for people who hang in there, you know? And, by the way, I think you got it right this time with Shawn. This one's going to last 50 years.

KING: As long as I hold...

GIFFORD: She's precious. And give her my love.

KING: As long as I live, it will last.

GIFFORD: Exactly, she's your last wife -- and only one, right?

KING: The little boys ain't bad either.

GIFFORD: Gosh, they are -- I thought I had perfect children. Yours ain't bad.

KING: So what happened on "Letterman."

GIFFORD: What happened on Letterman is, I got that same first song out of mothballs to perform because I didn't know what I'd do. And the monologues just went so unbelievably well, I sang the bit of material, somebody threw a bra on stage, I put it on, the audience went crazy. And I remember when we cut to go to commercial and Tom Arnold was about to come out. My mind said, you know what? Take a mental picture. This is the moment your life changed. I just felt so freed creatively, the same way I felt on a Broadway stage, the same way I...

KING: You knew you weren't coming back.

GIFFORD: No, I told Frank that night. And he wasn't fighting me anymore about it because he knew.

KING: He wanted you to stay?

GIFFORD: He's always wanted me to stay because it means I stay home, and it means there's a lot of -- well, we make a lot of money doing that show. And he just -- you know, the older we get the less change we like. We just -- let's keep things the way they are, it's working. What kind of a crazy person leaves one of the most successful shows on television? And you've got to understand, you and Rege are making television history. And I said, you know, but in my mind we've already made it. We've made it so...

KING: Weren't you angry at David for a while when he was used to pick on you?

GIFFORD: I wasn't angry at him, I was hurt. And there's a big difference. I understand why these guys do what they did.

KING: Nothing personal, they don't mean it.

GIFFORD: Well, you know, they say that. And Dave at least had the class to call me and say, Kath -- when the sweatshop thing happened -- he goes, Kathy, nobody believes these accusations. You of all people, sweatshops? Come on, nobody believes this stuff. That's why it's funny. I said, David do you want to read my mail? Do you want to see some of my mail, how hateful and how vicious it is?

It's not funny. Sweatshops aren't funny. Whether I knew about them or not, it's not funny. And he said, I promise I won't make anymore sweatshop jokes. And he didn't. So, he -- it was his 52nd birthday, I guess, and I called the producer. I said Rob Burnett, and I said, Rob, would you like me to come on totally -- because apparently David was always saying, is that Kathie Lee back there? You know, mystery guest.

KING: Yes.

GIFFORD: Is it Kathie Lee? And I heard about that. And I said, Rob, I'd be happy to do that. And I'll come out and I'll a la Marilyn Monroe, you know, happy birthday to you. And I called him -- happy birthday you panty waist geeky boy, you know, because he and Regis have had a little feud, you panty waist geeky boy. And I just stunned him, and I just walked away. And that just broke the -- you know, and I was really glad to do that because he has a good heart. And he had a better heart since he's had the surgery because...

KING: I know. We had the same doctor.

GIFFORD: Yes, exactly.

KING: I know how good a heart.

Our guest is Kathie Lee Gifford. We'll be right back.

The new album is "Heart of a Woman."

Don't go away.


GIFFORD (singing): Yeah, baby.

I've learned to stop the critics and to laugh at all the guests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put on a bra, come on.

GIFFORD: Put on a bra? Put on a jock strap, guy.

He wants me to put it on, I'll put it on.



KING: We're back with Kathie Lee.

Going to do Broadway again, by the way?

GIFFORD: Not in the nearest, nearest future, because eight shows a week, I would never see my family.

KING: Do you ever regret being so personal on the air?

GIFFORD: I -- people when they come up to me, they go, I know everything about you, you know?

KING: Is that good.

GIFFORD: I just sort of smile inside. I say, you know what? You only know what I've shared. I...

KING: But you've shared a lot.

GIFFORD: I shared what I was comfortable with, and I don't regret that, no. I have no control over what other people with different agendas do with what I share. And it got to the point where I couldn't share a sweet, innocent story about my children without it showing up luridly in the tabloids a week or two later. That's when I said, you know, this ain't worth it. You know, I'm not going to hand over my most precious commodities on a silver tray to these vultures. I'm not going to do that.

KING: Did you ever fear a kidnapping?

GIFFORD: I think anybody in the public eye fears that. I mean, you must fear that. I mean, we love our kids more than we love life itself. And you take all the precautions, you do everything you can do, and then you've just got to trust God. What else...

KING: You've never doubted your faith, have you? Or have you?

GIFFORD: I have never doubted God's existence ever. I have at times been so down and so hurt that I doubted maybe that he loved me. I think that's as honest as I can be about that. It didn't last very long, thank goodness, because he would always remind me in sweet ways, you know, that he was there and that he did love me, and that even when you're surrounded in a sea of lies and you feel like you're drowning, that if you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. And I knew the truth. I always had the truth as my best friend. KING: One of the things extraordinary is bouncing back from public embarrassment. That had to be difficult when someone is embarrassed. Hillary Clinton was embarrassed, bounced back by getting more forceful, running for office. You were publicly embarrassed.

GIFFORD: No, no, you're wrong.

KING: You were not?

GIFFORD: I really think that you and everybody else needs to examine this situation. This is a real sexist statement. Frank's the one who did what he did. Clinton was...

KING: He did the act. You were embarrassed.

GIFFORD: No, I was heartbroken.

KING: Hurt -- OK, the perpetrator is embarrassed.

GIFFORD: OK? I mean, this humiliation thing, it's only the person who humiliates themselves.

KING: OK, the perpetrator is embarrassed, correct?

GIFFORD: Yes, yes, I was just...

KING: What about public pain? That's a better question.

GIFFORD: That's a different thing. That is something where I wasn't going to let the bastards win, the people who set him up for such evil and wanted to destroy a good man, wanted to destroy a loving home, wanted to ruin children's lives. I wasn't going to stand for that...

KING: So you mean you...

GIFFORD: ... So I will get up and I will put on a happy face, and they will never, ever see it.

KING: Well, you did.

GIFFORD: ... They will never see it.

KING: But you also had to give him a great deal of understanding.

GIFFORD: And because I love him, I did.

KING: And was -- is the repair done?

GIFFORD: I don't think repair is ever done. I think repair is a daily thing. And he would agree with that. We have to work at you our marriage every day as much as everybody else does. We hurt the people we love the most the most. I mean, I've hurt Frank, not in quite in the same way but, you know, we tend to take one another for granted after a certain point. There's a song that I wrote, it's my favorite song in the record, called "We Don't Make Love Anymore." And it's not about me and Frank, it's about everybody that's been in a relationship long enough that once you start sharing a mortgage, once you start sharing baby poo in the middle of the, you know, 2:00 feedings, once you start sharing, you know, IRS audits and the stuff of life, you know, beyond, oh, I love you, I need you, I can't live without you, we start to make time for everything but love.

We make -- I wrote a line, we make coffee, make polite conversation, make plans for the day and our summer vacation, make reservations for dinner with friends. We make allowances, we make amends. And when all the things we make, we make time for the things that don't matter. We make due, make idle chatter. We make -- make sure that the future is secure, but we don't make love anymore. And the last line of it says, we make a living, but we're living a lie, and I can't make myself stop wondering why.

KING: That was not autobiographical.

GIFFORD: It is, at a certain time. But the thing is, it's a reminder that you've let love get away from you. You've let the stuff of life come in and crowd out the very reason you made love in the first place because you love each other. And everything else becomes so much. And anybody that's been in a relationship more than two years can relate to that song.

When my engineer heard the demo I'd done, he turned around, 28- year-old Puerto Rican guy, adorable -- his name's Lou Ortiz and I just love him -- he goes, man, you got to cut that record. You got to sing it just like that chick did. I said, well, I wrote that record, along with my friend...

KING: The chick did the demo, right?

GIFFORD: ... Phil Galston (ph), I said, and that chick's me.

And he said, man, that's a great song. And I said, how can you relate to that song? You're 28 years old. He goes, yes, but I got divorced last year. That's my song. And I said, you know what? It's nothing to do with how old you are or how long you've been married. It's have you lost touch with one another.

KING: Kathie Lee Gifford, it's good to have her back. The album is "Heart of a Woman." We'll be back with more right after this.


FRANK GIFFORD: Oh, after a few months into the nightmare you're referring to, I said -- first, I asked her to forgive me. I knew that God had forgiven me, because if there was anything that came out of this, Larry, it was -- I found the God that I thought I knew and thought I believed in.

And it's interesting that we just came from your book party about "Powerful Prayers," because I had a lot of powerful prayers, and I got much of that from Kathie, that I remember telling her, "Kathie, I will spend the rest of my life trying to be the man that you a thought I was."



KING: We're back with Kathie Lee Gifford. The new album is "Heart of a Woman." We're probably going to see her in a sitcom. I like the Jingle idea.

GIFFORD: I wish everybody did.

KING: She's coming back. Are you going to do -- would you ever do a show again like you did?

GIFFORD: No, I don't think so. I'd never say never.

KING: You wouldn't host a talk show.

GIFFORD: I just -- I'm so excited about...

KING: But you had fun sitting in here.

GIFFORD: Oh, I loved doing it.

KING: You're going to do it again in December. You like that?

GIFFORD: And I'm looking forward to it.

KING: But you don't want to do it every day?

GIFFORD: I don't want to do anything anymore every single day. I want to -- I have only got so many years left. This is not a rehearsal for life. It's the only one I've got.

KING: What was the effect of the pain, embarrassment on the kids?

GIFFORD: None. They have no idea to this day.

KING: None?


KING: Will they know some day?

GIFFORD: Absolutely and when they're ready.

KING: Will it come from you?


KING: Will you talk to them?

GIFFORD: Yes, yes. KING: Is that going to be a difficult day? How old are they now?

GIFFORD: They are -- Cody's 10 1/2 and Cassidy's 7. They're the two finest little human beings I've ever known in my life, and when that day happens, I know -- I know it'll be fine.

KING: Concerning the tabloids, which have been vicious to you, you also cooperated with one, right?

GIFFORD: No, never.

KING: Well, didn't you cooperate with one on a cruise you took, the love boat cruise with Frank?

GIFFORD: No, no. No, they were there. I didn't cooperate with them. They...

KING: Oh, you didn't -- that wasn't your story?

GIFFORD: No, no, no. We were...

KING: That's like me. I'm walking down the street, they shoot your picture...

GIFFORD: Exactly, no. We had nothing to do with that. That was a cruise to nowhere on one of the brand-new Carnival ships that Carnival made available to us to raise money for Cassidy's Place, this six-story facility we have on the East Side that takes care of AIDS and crack babies along with adoptions and lots of different things. It's a wonderful place. And we raised about $300,000 that weekend.

But it was open to the public. Buy a suite, cruise for two days with the Giffords, and the money will all go to kids. So they probably bought a ticket, you know. At least they did something good with their money, you know.

You know what, Larry, it's everything in me to live my life the way I'm supposed to, for me to make the right decisions, for me to live my life in an ethical, moral way. I can't control what other people do.

KING: Do you think the public believes them, or is that too general?

GIFFORD: I think less and less they believe the media in general. I think they -- it's not just the tabloids. I mean, we have tabloid newspapers right here in New York that actually have deals with the tabloids to be the first to break...

KING: You mean "The New York Post" might have a deal...

GIFFORD: And "The Daily News," they both do, and that's just the way business is done these days.

KING: You mean the tabloids are going to come out on Friday and they agree to "The Post" to break it on Wednesday to plug the tabloid?

GIFFORD: Yes, right. Exactly, exactly.

KING: What do you make of that?

GIFFORD: I just think it's a shame. I think it's an abuse of the First Amendment. I think it's a very -- I think Thomas Jefferson would roll over in his grave if he thought that the First Amendment was being used to viciously lie about little children. That's wrong.

KING: Have you sued them?

GIFFORD: We're suing them right now about that, about a story they wrote about Cody. So I can't talk too much about it except that it was all lies as usual.

KING: What did they say about him?

GIFFORD: That he's a monster, just the most horrible, out-of- control little kid, and everything they said he did he never did.

KING: And it was -- the friends are always quoted, right? Friends say...

GIFFORD: No, this was -- no, no, no. This was -- they -- somebody walked down Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, Connecticut, and said this happened here. And they made up a story of what happened everywhere. Made up stories about what happened on the set of the movie that we did together, all complete, total fabricated lies.

So when people go, well, you -- you're the one that caused that, you talked about your kid on the air. I said, you know what? Anybody's got the right to talk about my children, you can talk about my children all you want -- just don't lie maliciously and viciously about them. There's a huge distinction here. I never lied about my kids.

KING: Do you think that it's all -- is it all about commerce? It's not you. They want to sell...

GIFFORD: It's all about -- in that first song I wrote called "You sell," I wrote a line that says: "I really shouldn't take it so personally, to them I'm not a person, but a personality who sells." It's all about money. And that's really pathetic.

But I -- the way I've been able to deal with it is that -- and any malicious anything in my life, whether it's been a joke or an article or a review or anything, I could always trace it back to a malignant heart. And if someone has a malignant heart, that means they're sick. And I can't hate a sick person, I can only feel sorry for them. And that -- that -- I can deal with it that way. It's pathetic that these people live their lives this away, choose to live their lives in such a malicious manner. It's sad, it's really sad. But I'm not going to let miserable people make me miserable.

KING: It happened to Regis, too. GIFFORD: Happens to everybody. It's just that they make more money off me than most people. I don't know why.

KING: Why?

GIFFORD: You tell me...

KING: Why?

GIFFORD: Why anybody's interested in my life is hysterical.

KING: Why you?

GIFFORD: I'm the least controversial person I know. And I know a lot of people. I mean, I live the dullest life, but you know...

KING: Sometimes -- let's discuss what part does the person play in the story. I'll pick it up in a minute...


KING: You don't understand where I'm going, but I think I know where I'm going.

GIFFORD: OK, good.

KING: We'll be right back with the wonderful Kathie Lee Gifford. The new album is "Heart of a Woman." Don't go away.


REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST: We have a little visit from two people who are going to be very happy to see you home every morning -- you know?


PHILBIN: So that you can do all the mommy things for them. Here's Cody and Cassidy. Come on up, kids.


GIFFORD: There's my little Cassi-diva in training.

PHILBIN: What did you bring? What did you bring, Cody?

CODY GIFFORD: Well, I got a cookbook for mom, so she'll learn how to make cereal for us.

PHILBIN: So she'll learn how to make cereal.

C. GIFFORD: Yes, and so she can stay home every morning and make us breakfast.

PHILBIN: That's -- that's right. Something new for these children, a mother making them breakfast. (END VIDEO CLIP)


KING: Here's what I was getting at with Kathie Lee. Howard Stern, he's unmerciful to you. Now, he gets divorced or whatever happened to him.

GIFFORD: Separated.

KING: And you commiserate and write to him. You do that. You know that Howard Stern is going to wrack (ph) back at it.

GIFFORD: I didn't know, and that wasn't -- I didn't care what he did.

KING: But it's a game, isn't it? It was a game.

GIFFORD: It wasn't a game. It was the right...

KING: It was a game to him.

GIFFORD: It was a kind thing to do. And I...

KING: For you.

GIFFORD: For me. And what he did with it...

KING: You knew that...

GIFFORD: ... was his business. I didn't -- I didn't regret that at all.

KING: You'd do it again?

GIFFORD: I'd do it again. Yes, it was a kind thing to do.

Funny you should say that, because I was in Spago the other night doing the Home Shopping Network. And I was, you know, debuting the record. And this guy comes up to me and he goes -- this is the only time I've ever discussed this person publicly, but it sort of says something -- he goes, Ms. Gifford? And I said, hi how are you? And he says, can I talk to you for a second? I said, sure. He goes, I listen to Howard Stern. I said, uh-huh. He goes, I got to tell you, when you sent him that note, he said, I couldn't believe that. That was -- that was amazing. He said, I just got to tell you, too, your album is fabulous. It's so nice to meet you. And I just thought, you know, I never expected that.

You don't expect -- for every 99 people who think you're an idiot, maybe one guy was touched by that. I don't know. I didn't even think about the consequences of it. I don't. When I read something in the paper -- you've gotten notes from me. You know...

KING: Yes, I know you do.

GIFFORD: ... I do it for pretty much every -- if I read the paper and somebody...

KING: But usually not to someone who's racking you up.

GIFFORD: Yes, why not? They're people, too. And sometimes kindness can be your greatest tool in life. And whatever unkind things he has said -- and I really don't know, nor do I care -- that's his business. And he's got to answer to the same God as I've got to. I did a kind thing, and I never regret that.

KING: Does your faith teach you not to hate?


KING: Is that the hardest thing of all?

GIFFORD: No, no.

KING: Are you a spunky, angry, who gets angry?

GIFFORD: I get angry, but I don't hate because hate causes malignancy in me, not the person I'm hating. Hate is -- you know, that's why when people go, what do you do about all these people who hate you? I go, first of all, hate's a pretty strong word. I don't know why anybody would hate me. I've never done anything to any of these people. They don't even know me. But let's say they do hate me. Let's, you know, just for the purpose of argument, then they're the one with the problem, right? They're the ones hating. It's a no- brainer to me. I don't hate anybody. You know I don't.

KING: Frank's going to have his number retired, number 16 of the New York Giants, one of the legendary football heroes. What a player -- finally.

GIFFORD: They just announced it last week. We went to a little dinner at 21 Club, where he's had, you know, such a...

KING: Was he surprised?

GIFFORD: He was stunned -- stunned.

KING: Baseball does that a lot, football does not.

GIFFORD: Football stopped doing it because they say they're running out of numbers. But those guys never were too great at math, you know what I mean? You know what? It meant the world to him. Wellington Mara was there and Paul Tagliabue, who's been such a friend, and so many of the people. Don Meredith came to speak. And it was fabulous. And they all got up and talked about what Frank had meant not only to them personally but to the game.

He has just been -- he's one of the major reasons behind the scenes that this game is as huge as it is today. He was one of the few people -- he started, along with two other guys, the NFL Players Association. They had to meet in secret, and all they wanted was clean -- laundry money and something else, fresh underwear, I don't know. Something -- I mean, they had to meet in secret because they weren't allowed to be a union. That's why it's the irony of us being called sweatshop operators. He started a union, you know? And I've been a member of a union since I was 17 years old with SAG and AFTRA. So I don't know. It's just bizarre. And once again, it comes back down to what you were saying before. It's all about money.

And I explained this to Cody this way. I said, Cody, say you and were walking in Disney World hand in hand, mother and son having a lovely day at Disney World, and somebody took our picture. They could sell that picture for maybe $100. But say they catch us at moment where you have just done something unkind, and I am disciplining you...

KING: Reprimand.

GIFFORD: ... as a mother should. And say I lean down and I've got my finger, and I'm going, don't you ever -- you say you're sorry right now. I said, Cody, that picture is worth probably $10,000 to them, because then they can write anything they want under the story. And that picture somehow legitimizes what they say. And I said, that's why they provoke us so much. That's why they provoke everybody to do something, so completely out of character that you would never normally do so that they can make tons more money off the picture they're taking.

So in a way you feel like the Indians who felt like their soul was taken when somebody takes their image. I was stoned in Israel once. My sister and I took some pictures of some shepherds not realizing it was against their religion. They do not want -- these certain guys did not want they their pictures taken...

KING: They got mad.

GIFFORD: ... They threw rocks at us. So now I've been stoned in Jerusalem. Get in line to stone Kathie Lee.

KING: (OFF-MIKE)the other kind of stoned (OFF-MIKE)

GIFFORD: That I've never done. Oh, golly. When am I going to learn?

KING: Do that, we'll get $20,000.

GIFFORD: Exactly.

KING: We'll be right back with Kathie Lee Gifford. The new CD is "Heart of a Woman."

Don't go away.



PHILBIN: This is the day we were to introduce our co-host, our new co-host for the morning show, Kathie Lee Johnson. But Kathie Lee Johnson is down the street doing the big network show. And she has to run up here every morning now -- it takes about 30 seconds, she puts on her sneakers, she runs up here, runs right in that door, and here comes Kathie Lee Johnson. Is this the way it's going to be every morning?

GIFFORD: Yes, this is it. Don't I get a welcome hug or something?

PHILBIN: Hi, welcome to our show.

GIFFORD: It's all backwards, upside down.

PHILBIN: This is the way it's going to be every morning here? We're going to stumble in, put microphones on wrong?


GIFFORD: And that's the way it was basically for 15 years.

KING: You remember that, that day?

GIFFORD: I remember that. This is what scares me, Larry. I remember that as if it was yesterday, 15 years. I thought it was...

KING: This show is 15 1/2. I remember first day.

GIFFORD: You see, and I...

KING: You don't forget. What date was it? Eighty...

GIFFORD: I think it was June 24th or 25th or something of 1985.

KING: Six.

GIFFORD: 1985, because this was our 15th year, yes.

KING: 1985, we were June 1st, '85...

GIFFORD: You know...

KING: ... two live shows.

GIFFORD: You go, guy. You go, yes.

KING: How did you get that show?

GIFFORD: I called my agent, and I was substituting for Joan Lunden at the network show. And I used to love Regis. When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to watch him.

KING: That's where he started.

GIFFORD: And -- actually, he started in San Diego...

KING: San Diego. GIFFORD: ... and then in L.A. And the when I came to do "Good Morning America," although I learned an enormous amount there, it really wasn't my thing. And I wasn't creatively happy there, either. Back then, it was a lot -- everything was teleprompters. It's not now. They've loosened up enormously. They're actually human beings, you know? Back then, it was just so controlled and so teleprompted that I used to watch Regis, and I used -- every time I turned on the TV he was doing something stupid or brave or silly or -- but it was real.

And I said, you know what? I would have so much fun with him. I don't give a rip if this is a national show...

KING: So you went after that.

GIFFORD: ... I called my agent. I said, I want that job with Regis. Everybody told me I was crazy, including Frank Gifford, who was my friend at the time. He said, you're leaving a national show to go local? And it was Barbara Walters who said, honey, New York ain't local. If you make it in New York, you won't be -- you'll be a national show soon. And within three years we were nationally syndicated.

KING: Days when you were down, for whatever circumstance...


KING: ... and you're doing a happy morning show...


KING: ... see, I could be down here and fake it a little bit because it's kind of serious...

GIFFORD: It might work for you in some instances.

KING: Yes, it might work.


KING: You had to be up.

GIFFORD: That was my job.

KING: That the hardest part.

GIFFORD: Well, you can...

KING: You can just be really tired from whatever is happening and you can walk into that audience and 200 people are there who've been waiting over a year to see you. And that's all it takes is to see their faces and to hear their excitement and to feel, literally, their love. And you're happy to be there. So there were many, many mornings when I would have rather been doing something different, but those people got me through. And those people have gotten me through everything. They have been enormously supportive and faithful to me. I'll never forget...

KING: Even in the worst days?

GIFFORD: Oh, mostly in the worst days. That's the fascinating thing. They talk about how people are fickle out there. I don't think they're fickle at all. They're fickle if you give them nothing to care about. But if they love you, that they will stand by you.

I'll never forget when the first accusations about the labor abuses happened. This woman showed up in my audience wearing a Kathie from Wal-Mart. And she goes, look familiar? You know, they all love to model for me, they're so sweet. And I said, "You look beautiful." She goes, when that man said those mean things about you, I went to my nearest Wal-Mart and I bought five of your dresses. That's the way they reacted. You know, it's like, "How dare they say about her?"

And our sales, I think I told you that time, and they say our sales went through the roof at Wal-Mart when that happened.

KING: That story must have floored you, the sweatshop story, right?

GIFFORD: More than anything else that I've ever experienced in my life, because it was such an affront to my own integrity. It was one month before we were opening Cassidy's Place, which had taken $5 million of our own money. We didn't have it. We had to make it and give it away to open of Cassidy's Place. So to be accused of being a child molester when you've been a child advocate your life is basically the worst thing you can be.

KING: I remember Frank coming on our show to discuss it.

GIFFORD: Right, right. It was horrible, it was horrible.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Kathie Lee Gifford, always on the scene. The new CD is "Heart of a Woman." Don't go away.


PHILBIN: Thanks for everything. It's been a great 15 years.

GIFFORD: I love you.


PHILBIN: Oh yeah. Here's all your fans.



KING: I want to take care of one other thing in our remaining moments, because I saw the headline. So you wanted to have plastic surgery and Frank stopped you. GIFFORD: Oh, please. No, more plastic surgery. That's what's wrong about that one.

KING: You've not had plastic surgery.

GIFFORD: No, I mean, you know...

KING: That's you.

GIFFORD: This is me. And I keep putting it off as long as I can.

KING: Because you're chicken.

GIFFORD: Oh, totally. Oh, yes.

KING: They're going to cut open your face and move your skin. A lot of laughs.

GIFFORD: You know, I'm going to go kicking and screaming before I get to the surgeons.

KING: So where did that come from? You have no idea?

GIFFORD: I talked about it. I would talk about it. Say, you believe -- look at this face. And it'd be one of those mornings, and I'd say, it's time, it's time for a little lift.

KING: And Frank wouldn't let you? It was...

GIFFORD: You know what? Frank can't keep me from anything. Obviously, I'm a grown woman, I can do what I want to do. But he -- he doesn't want me to. We've seen so many bad...

KING: The story was that you wanted to and he didn't want you to.

GIFFORD: But I wanted more. Last year, it was that I was leaving the show or something like that because I was going to have a million dollars worth of plastic surgery. Now, that hurt, you know. Do I need a million dollars worth?

KING: So you've never had and you don't intend to have it.

GIFFORD: I don't intend to do it.

KING: But you would have if you felt you needed to?

GIFFORD: You know what, yes, I probably would. You know what, just to feel -- I probably would. But I haven't done, you know, anything that I'm ashamed of, and I'm certainly not going to be ashamed of it if I have it down.

KING: Was there a worst day, best day ever on that show?

GIFFORD: The worst day truly was the day that I had to explain to our audience why I was accused of labor abuses. That was the worst day.

KING: And you had to?

GIFFORD: I owed them an explanation, and the only time I ever used our show like that...

KING: You didn't about Frank because that was personal.

GIFFORD: I didn't owe them -- that was personal. I thanked everybody for their prayers and their love and their cards and all their support.

KING: But the other thing...

GIFFORD: But the other thing, I owed them an explanation about that, because they -- because they believed me and my credibility was at stake with the people that mattered the most. Other people, I'm never going to change their minds. You know, they can believe what they want.

KING: Was there a best day?

GIFFORD: The best day was each time I brought on my new -- newborn child and shared them with our viewers.

KING: The last week...


KING: ... did they overdo it?

GIFFORD: You know what? I don't know. I wouldn't have done it that way. I just would have had a last show and just had fun and showed a lot of the clips, and I don't know. I was grateful that they made something so nice out of it. It was a real tribute week. And it was probably way too much for some people and not enough for others. It's never enough for your mother. You know, why didn't they take the whole month? Why didn't they -- you know.

But you know, that was lovely. It was lovely. It was a nice way to leave with just good feelings and leave on top, you know, leave -- I'll never forget. Kevin Costner was so great during the labor situation, too. I got a call from him right out of the blue when people were saying, I should be fired, I should resign. Of course, it didn't matter that it wasn't true, right? Just I just give up my entire life because somebody has falsely accused me of something.

And he called me out of the blue and he said, Kathie, you leave that show on your terms when you're ready. You know you've done nothing wrong, and there are people in a dark world that want to put out light, and you have a light. And it bothers some people. And you just stay true to yourself.

And he said something that was so great. He said, "Because remember, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." And that's a great scripture. And I went, "You know that scripture?" And he said, "I was raised in the church."

And it's -- those kinds of things never, never leave you, those kids of -- those kinds of messages, those kinds of -- that's in your databank for all your life.

And I was very, very cognizant of what Kevin had said to me the -- when I made my decision in the last five months before I left the show. It was such a kind thing for him to do, and I'll never be able to thank him enough for that.

KING: Do you watch the show?

GIFFORD: Not much. I don't...


GIFFORD: You know, touring the country with this record is the hardest work I've done since I first got into this business, because I'm established in television, but I'm not established as a recording artist, and I've got to -- I've got to earn it. So I've been in...

KING: Do you go with disc jockies and...

GIFFORD: So I've been in 12 different cities in the last two weeks, and that's -- my daughter said to me the other day, "Mommy, I want you to get your old job back because you were always home."

KING: Some days you don't know what city you're in.

GIFFORD: I actually went to the airport at O'Hare the other day and thought I was in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and said to the two guys that were out there doing baggage, I said, "So how's your team doing this year?" And they said, "Not good." And I said, "See, see what happens when Lombardi's not around." Of course, I was in Chicago and they probably thought I was crazy. Frank would have gone, oh, Kathie. But I was -- I truly did not know where I was.

KING: We're going to see you -- we've only got 30 seconds -- in a movie coming out?

GIFFORD: I'm starting a movie in November with Howie Mandel, whom I adore.

KING: I love him, funny.

GIFFORD: I get to play a nympho-maniacal-drug-addicted bitch, and I've...

KING: Typecasting again!

GIFFORD: ... been training my entire life for it. Yes, looking forward to it.

KING: And we'll see you hosting the show in December. GIFFORD: Thank you and give my love to Shawn and the boys.

KING: Couldn't have a better -- same home.

GIFFORD: Thank you.

KING: Kathie Lee Gifford. The album, "Heart of a Woman." Tomorrow night, politics 2000, two weeks to go. Stay tuned for "NEWSSTAND." I'm Larry King. Good night.



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