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Larry King Live

What Accounts for 'Entertainment Tonight's' Longevity?

Aired February 13, 2001 - 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, from the top-rated syndicated magazine show, the co-host of TV's No. 1 source of celebrity news: Mary Hart -- the lady's got legs and she's been doing her show for 19 years -- and Bob Goen. He's been with "ET" since '93. We'll talk Oscars and lots more next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Wow, it's been around forever. "ET," "Entertainment Tonight," the guests are their co-hosts, Mary Hart and Bob Goen. Mary Hart has been co-hosting since 1982; Bob since mid-1996. Right?

BOB GOEN, CO-HOST, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": Yes.

KING: Were you the first?

MARY HART, CO-HOST, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": Not the first, I started about nine months into the run of the show.

KING: Who was the first.

HART: Marjorie Wallace, former Miss Universe. She was there for eight weeks, Larry, and then it was Dixie Watley (ph) and she was there...

KING: I remember Dixie. Then she did weekends, right?

HART: She continued weekends after I took over daily the show. She was there for several years.

KING: So, that's been it you for all these years, 19 years.

HART: Yes, my 19th anniversary is in June.

KING: And how did you get the job?

GOEN: Just unemployed, and they had an opening. You know, it was one of those deals. I auditioned and got it in '93.

KING: You replaced?

GOEN: Well, I just came on to back up John Tech. He was hosting at the time, and I did that for about three years and then he went on to his music career and that's when I took over the anchor chair.

KING: What had you been doing? GOEN: A series of game shows that nobody ever watched, except "Wheel of Fortune." I did "Wheel of Fortune" for about 2 1/2 years. I did the daytime version and I knocked that off the air. So, that shows you what kind of a guy -- if I can knock "Wheel of Fortune" off the air, my God.

KING: Did you have a say in his selection?

HART: Yes, I did.

KING: Should be because the chemistry is required.

HART: The nice thing is, Larry, we had worked together as, you know, John would go off on vacation and Bob would fill in, and I must say it was so comfortable right from the start. So, when they were ready, when John made the announcement he was ready to leave, our friends at Paramount came to me and said -- I never told Bob this.

GOEN: I've never heard this. I'm glad you asked the question.

HART: Said, what do you think? So Bob, you'd better be grateful, I guess. No.

GOEN: There's a fruit basket waiting.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You said yes right away?

HART: I said I didn't have any hesitation because, again, I knew it would work. He is so nice, so comfortable to work with, and it just -- it was an immediate fit.

GOEN: Yes.

KING: For you, too?

GOEN: We really feel great. We have a lot in common.

KING: How do you explain this show? You're the No. 1 news magazine in syndication. You have done over 5,000 shows. Pioneer in field -- well, you joined it later. So you were, I imagine, a viewer.

GOEN: When I -- when this show first went on the air, it was the same year that I started my television career in Palm Springs, at an ABC affiliate down there. We would finish the news at 6:30, then go sit in lobby and turn on "Entertainment Tonight" and watch and dream.

KING: Why did it work?

GOEN: Over the long haul, hard work. Just hard, hard work. And I'll tell you something else, it also worked because Mary was out there stumping across the country, selling this show to stations

KING: That's how I met her. She promoted on my radio show.

HART: Absolutely, early on.

KING: Yes.

GOEN: The show was not doing well in the first few years. Mary would do it Monday through Friday -- she won't tell you this story, but I will. She did the show Monday through Friday, then on the weekends she'd hop on plane and go to Cincinnati, go to Duluth, talk to the salespeople, talk to the GM's, get the excitement going, and it worked.

KING: The concept, Mary, was was show business news, right?

HART: Yes.

KING: To treat it as news. You treat it as a newscast.

HART: Brand new idea, nobody had done it. "People" magazine had been around for a short period of time. They had done a series of specials in a magazine format for prime time television, but nobody had ever thought about putting entertainment news on a nightly basis on television.

And at Paramount, they thought this might just be the thing to do. But it was a very risky venture because at first, nobody really was comfortable with it. The publicists in town were very wary of putting their high profile stars on the show.

So, it really took a lot convincing to say, please come on the show. And, you know, after the first year, after the second year, they started realizing we were going to be around, and they would see the "ET" microphone, at every function. I mean, it took a lot of persistence.

KING: And then you still do that satellite feed in the afternoon because it had to be same day; right?

(CROSSTALK)

HART: We do, yes. 1:00 every day.

KING: You need satellites, then. You couldn't do it as send a tape to the station.

HART: Exactly.

KING: It had to be live almost.

HART: And you know, the pressure to be timely with news has increased every year as -- as the -- you know, the predominance of these kinds of shows.

KING: And also, frankly, hasn't it gotten, as has, I guess, every show, more tabloidish, Bob?

GOEN: No, I don't think...

KING: They say it's changed

GOEN: I think it has sort of evolved over the years, but to call us tabloid is offensive to me. I don't think we're tabloid at all. I think we delve into private lives, yes, but I think we always maintain a level of news and journalism that keeps us from crossing that line.

KING: Let's use as an example, 19 years ago, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, would that have been the lead story?

HART: Oh, I think so. I think so just as Johnny Carson, when he and Joanna split after many years of marriage. You know, everybody had it on news. I mean, for Pete's sakes, that would make the "Today" show, "Good Morning America," "CBS Early News." I mean, that's big news when big stars have a problem.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Maybe tabloid is the wrong word because it's all across town.

GOEN: Yes.

KING: The news shows do tabloid.

GOEN: The line does get fuzzy a little bit in all areas of journalism. So, you know, if it's fuzzy in our direction, I can understand the misconception. But we're every bit a journalism operation.

KING: Why do you think people are interested in how much a movie grosses?

HART: You know, I think because when you sit back and look at what we spend as individuals, and I'm talking about we as citizens, not part of Hollywood, what any of us spend on entertainment, whether it's on CDs, music for the house or it's DVDs or videocassettes for home watching or when we go to the movies, I think there is so much money invested in that people feel like they want to know a little bit more about the stars they're paying good money to see or hear, and they just want a little -- they want to know.

Also, it's the royalty item. You know, they're fascinated by very rich people, by very glamorous people. In a way, I think all of us would like to admire and dream about being there.

KING: So, "Hannibal" was a big story Monday.

GOEN: Huge, yes; $58 million...

KING: That's a story.

GOEN: Yes.

KING: And the guy in the street in Des Moines knows "Hannibal" took in $58 million.

GOEN: Yes, I think for the most part...

KING: And is interested.

GOEN: Well, I think it's the next logical progression from the glut of news from entertainment information through the Internet, through television, through our show. There are several outlets where they can get this information. Eventually, you have to take the next step and keep giving them a different kind of information and I think weekend box office grosses was the natural progression.

KING: They keep on doing it. We're going to take a break. We'll be back with Mary Hart and Bob Goen. Lots of things to talk about and we'll begin with the most current. We'll discuss the Oscar nominations right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOEN: Mary, how about this for an incredible landmark for "ET." Take a look at this, your first day behind the desk.

HART: Oh, no.

GOEN: June 24, 1982, show No. 204.

HART: And I just happened to have yours and it was April 6, 1993, show No. 3017.

GOEN: Man.

HART: And you know what, we want to thank all of you -- oh, here come the balloons -- all of you at home and our "ET" staff for 5,000 shows and 5,000 more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ERIN BROCKOVICH")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You just tell what you want to look and I'd be glad to dig them up for you.

JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: I wish I knew. It's for my boss. He's in this water dispute, and he wants me to find all kinds of papers just from all kinds of places. You know, it would probably be easiest if I just squeezed back there and poked around myself. Would that be all right with you?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, heck yes. Come on back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The nominations were announced today for best picture: "Traffic," "Chocolat," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Erin Brockovich," from which we just saw a scene and "Gladiator." Anything surprise you, Mary. HART: Not on this list, no. I think...

KING: Nothing in the best picture list.

HART: No, those were exactly the five films I felt should be nominated. I think missing Lasse Hallstrom, who was the director of "Chocolat" -- he was not nominated as best director and I think that was omission. I was expecting that, actually.

GOEN: Well, I think, Steven Soderbergh with the two nominations for best director, and then, Ridley Scott, will probably win best director, I would think.

KING: "Gladiator."

GOEN: For "Gladiator," it was a movie with such scope.

KING: "Hannibal" it ain't going to hurt, right.

GOEN: Exactly, he's very hot right now, and...

KING: But nothing of the best picture nominees surprised you?

GOEN: No. No. You know, a lot of people liked "Wonder Boys." I didn't see it, so I don't know that it should be in that category or not, but the five that are there, I've seen four of the five, and each one is worthy.

KING: And best actor wasn't Michael Douglas expected to be nominated?

HART: I think a lot of people felt he was wonderful in "Wonder Boys." He really was. As Leonard said on our show tonight, he -- this probably is the best role...

KING: Leonard Maltin...

(CROSSTALK)

HART: Leonard Maltin, exactly, said that this is perhaps his best performance ever, and I agree. I thought Michael was wonderful. But that is such a tough category. If it could have been expanded to six, Michael would be there.

KING: So, all the five, Javier Bardem, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Ed Harris and Geoffrey Rush you agree with?

GOEN: I haven't seen Ed Harris in "Pollock" yet because it only comes out on Friday and I haven't seen "Before Night Falls," but Russell Crowe was sensational. Tom Hanks is perennial.

KING: By perennial means he has less of a chance?

GOEN: I think, yes, I think that's true.

HART: Perhaps. GOEN: I think they may go in Russell Crowe's direction.

HART: And Javier Bardem was wonderful in "Before Night Falls," a tough role. I think, you know, at the Golden Globes I said Javier, he -- and he's a straight man playing a gay character in gay Cuba in the '50s, and, you know, it -- he was so convincing, and it was a tragic story and he just was brilliant, I thought.

KING: So, does movie have to do well for it to win, do you think?

GOEN: No, not necessarily. And I'm trying to think of an example right now but nothing's coming to mind.

KING: Well, "Pollock" will be a very low-key movie. It's not going to break box office records.

GOEN: Probably not, yes, probably not...

KING: But he could still...

GOEN: But it's the kind of role that the academy loves to vote for.

KING: How about best actress? Everyone is saying it's Julia Roberts, even though Joan Allen gets a lot -- will she be like the sleeper, Joan Allen?

HART: Could Joan Allen? She was so good in "The Contender," but again, Julia Roberts is, I think, a favorite. Everybody loves her in the Hollywood community. The public adores her.

KING: It'll be a big surprise if she doesn't win?

HART: I think so. I hate to say that -- you know, you don't want to give it and I know she would hate -- she'd be the first person to say please don't say that. You're jinxing it. But, I'd say she's a favorite.

KING: You've already said Ridley Scott will win director. You think Soderbergh or...

HART: You know, I think this is an unfortunate thing. Soderbergh has been great -- what a brilliant piece of work he did with "Traffic." I think that's one of the most powerful films to come out in recent years. It blew me away, and yet I loved "Gladiator." But to split the vote with two fine films like "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic," Soderbergh probably is splitting his own vote. So, I'd have to say Ridley Scott.

GOEN: Just the magnitude of the production of "Gladiator," is worth a nomination, worth an Academy Award.

HART: But you know, you've got the style of "Traffic."

(CROSSTALK) KING: Best supporting actor, does Jeff Bridges have a shot?

GOEN: Yes, I think so.

HART: Yes, he was very good. His fourth nomination, he's never won. But...

KING: And actress.

HART: But Benecio Del Toro. You cannot overlook his powerful, powerful performance in "Traffic."

KING: Was "Chocolat" a surprise, by the way, to be included in best picture?

GOEN: It wasn't to me, even though I didn't like it that much. Yes, I wasn't crazy about it, but it looked to me like the kind of film that was going to get a nomination. So, no, I'm not surprised.

HART: And I loved it. I loved it, so I was very happy to see it.

KING: And best supporting actress, who do you like?

GOEN: Let's see. Judi Dench.

HART: Judi Dench.

GOEN: Kate Hudson was great.

KING: You know, Judi Dench is such a powerful onscreen presence, whether you see on the stage, which I just did on Broadway six months ago or last year, or you see her on film, she is an incredible actress, though Kate Hudson did a beautiful job in "Almost Famous".

GOEN: Frances McDormand, I though she was terrific but it was a much smaller role.

HART: Yes.

KING: "Gladiator" got 12 nominations, is it going to win eight or nine?

GOEN: Well...

HART: I think so.

GOEN: You know how the academy loves to sweep in one direction, and...

KING: Would that therefore make Russell Crowe the favorite for best actor on that alone?

HART: I think so.

GOEN: Yes. HART: I think so. But you know, it's an interesting year because we're not even talking about Ang Lee and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" which has had tremendous.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Which more people of all people told me is the best picture they saw this year.

HART: Again, I talked to him at the Golden Globes, and said what you did, this was way beyond martial arts which just normally would not draw me to the box office. But watching the beauty, the balletic performances -- he said, you know, we had the choreographer from the Peking Ballet do the choreographer for these martial arts scenes and they are simply spectacular. And there's a love story woven in and he cannot be overlooked.

KING: Is this a good year in movies?

GOEN: No, not necessarily.

KING: Average.

GOEN: Yes, maybe even below average, as a whole. You know, the ones we're looking at for best film, "Traffic" "Erin Brockovich" "Gladiator" all superb films, really good. To me, having "Chocolat" in the top five indicates that it was a rather weak year.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with lots more to talk about on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Mary Hart and Bob Goen. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: Hello, everybody, and welcome to our "ET" stage, set high above the most famous red carpet in the world as the 72nd Academy Awards gets under way. I'm Mary Hart.

GOEN: And I'm Bob Goen, and you want to see some star power, just take a look behind me here. This is unbelievable. We are talking about Hollywood's biggest names tonight: Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow just got here as a matter of fact.

HART: And tonight, the stars of "American Beauty" in particular are seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. And covering them all, of course, out "ET" cameras ready to catch every minute of the Oscar night news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM CARREY, ACTOR: This for Bob Goen, ladies and gentlemen. This one is for Bob. GOEN (voice-over): It's a typically wacky day for our exclusive visit to the set of Jim Carrey's new movie "Liar, Liar."

CARREY: You make me want to buy a vowel.

GOEN: I got a nonstop comic barrage while riding around the set in a golf cart with Jim.

(on camera): I've been on the sets of your films before, and...

CARREY: Quit bragging.

GOEN: Well, no, just this all just foundational.

CARREY: Envy him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, we have an exclusive guest tomorrow night, Patricia Shannon will be with us, Charles Kuralt's secret companion, the late CBS newsman. He and Miss Shannon were together many, many years unbeknownst to his best friend, his wife and family. She won a historic lawsuit. She'll be with us tomorrow night.

Mary Hart and Bob Goen, Bill Clinton was he a big "Entertainment Tonight" story, his involvement with Hollywood? Was he covered a lot?

HART: Of course, of course, because everybody in the world was covering that scandal, and, of course, when there is a big news story, if there is a Gulf War, whatever it is, a big story that touches the entertainment business or the news business, we have to cover it.

KING: And he was popular person here, was he not?

GOEN: Absolutely, yes.

KING: Major figure here. Still is, do you think?

GOEN: Clinton.

KING: Yes.

GOEN: Sure.

KING: Let's say Clinton comes out to spend a week at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, cover him?

GOEN: Yes, I think so.

(CROSSTALK)

GOEN: If we're not covering him, at least cover

(AUDIO GAP)

HART: ... the president, it would be when he's involved in some kind of a fund-raiser or an event that has other celebrities around him because then you have the name value of everybody involved. And it's unfortunate that the image has been so tarnished in the last month as he has left office. But, you know, the controversy continues, and the interest continues because of it.

KING: Would it be safe to say, Bob, that Hollywood is left leaning?

GOEN: Yes, I think that's pretty accurate.

KING: Will therefore President George Bush be less popular here?

GOEN: Oh, boy. Yes, it's possible. I mean, it's going to be more of a show me situation.

KING: He's not as much a movie buff as Clinton was; right?

GOEN: Right, right, he's not -- he doesn't have the affinity for Hollywood that Bill did.

KING: Covering Hollywood. Here is a quote today from "The L.A. Times," a piece called "Inhale, Lie; Exhale, Lie": "Many of the movie people whom reporters have to deal with lie constantly and compulsively about almost everything, refuse to speak on the record about even the most routine matters, delight in anonymously circulating unflattering, damaging and often untrue rumors." It also says Hollywood people like to see other Hollywood people do badly. I imagine you both saw that story.

GOEN: Yes.

KING: Was, in essence, was it true?

HART: Well, you know, I think there are people who are very highly paid to cover the truth and who will protect their clients, when you're talking about the publicists, and they have to do that. For example, if Pat Kingsley had known in advance that...

KING: This is a famous publicist.

HART: Who is very -- she happens to represent Tom Cruise, and spoke for both of them last week when they announced their separation and then two days later when Tom filed for divorce. Had she known about that a month in advance, I'm sure the would have denied that because she would absolutely want to wait until Tom, her client, was ready to let that news out.

KING: So therefore, Bob, do you rely on her or not if denying it was a lie?

GOEN: Well, you know, that's the double-edged sword. We rely on her. We rely on them. We rely on many sources, you know, to cover any story.

KING: Is it similar to politics in that vein? They're trying not to tell you... (CROSSTALK)

HART: Larry, I think that's a good analogy. It really is, and you know what, as journalists, we keep pushing and pushing.

And I think -- I want to go back to this example because in a lot of cases as in Tom and Nicole's case, the tabloids were about to break the story whether they were ready to confirm it or not. So Pat went ahead, they said just let the news out. And they called, you know, organizations such as ours.

But there have been many cases in which stars have come to us first to break the news because they knew the pressure was on. They knew it was a true story, but they wanted to have it on the air so that they could give their honest evaluation of the situation.

KING: Is your competition, Bob, "Extra"? Is it also Liz Smith and Cindy Adams or all of the above?

GOEN: All of the above, yes.

KING: You want it first.

GOEN: We want it first, and one of the best things that happened to us is that competition started to spring up. When we were the only game in town, we didn't have to push quite as hard. Now we have to...

KING: Competition makes you better.

GOEN: ... yes, we have to work a lot harder.

KING: Now, we'll talk about what kind of stories they break and don't break. We'll also be including your calls. Our guests are Mary Hart and Bob Goen, the co-hosts of the most popular syndicated show covering the entertainment world, "ET," "Entertainment Tonight." This LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HART: Robert Downey Jr. and Calista Flockhart together on our "ET" platform. With Robert's next date in court for his Thanksgiving drug arrest just one week away, the "Ally McBeal" costars hit the red carpet arm in arm, and Calista was still beaming about her brand new adopted baby boy, revealing to "ET" that she was named him Liam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: How was it the first time with the two of you on stage, Frank looking at Frank Jr. as your music director? Were there kind of -- was there that father-son feeling and the pride or was it a professional relation strictly? FRANK SINATRA, SINGER: Well, it's a combination of both, actually. I mean, I know that he's an accomplished musician, a pianists, and a conductor. You've got somebody knows what he knows about what we are doing, then I'm straight.

HART: How come you were chuckling?

FRANK SINATRA JR., MUSICIAN: Once again, my dad is being very kind, Mary, and you have to understand, I've made my share of mistakes. Fortunately, he's a patient man, always been very patient with me.

FRANK SINATRA: I'm a patient man?

FRANK SINATRA JR.: And I'm learning.

SINATRA: That'll be the day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: When are children stories? Mary, you both have kids. Only when they them to be or is a child a story in and of itself?

HART: Well, if you take a Macauley Culkin, I mean, he was on the show a lot. Or you look Haley Joe Osment, who...

KING: How about the son of -- is -- Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, they sold the photos of their new son, right? Is that true?

HART: You know, I'm not...

GOEN: No, they sold the photos of their wedding.

KING: The wedding, OK.

HART: And not to us. We don't pay for those things.

KING: Is their child your business?

HART: Oh, I think so. I think because they're willing...

KING: It is

HART: ... talk about it. You know, when you go on...

KING: If they weren't, would you try to get a photograph of that child?

GOEN: No.

HART: I don't.

KING: So there is a line drawn?

GOEN: Yes. HART: Like with the Bushes in office now. They have asked that everybody respect the privacy of their twin girls. And, we did -- we shot them at the inaugural like everybody else did. But you know what, now we're laying back because they have asked for that.

KING: There is something the show doesn't do, and that's out. We'll find out how they make that determination. We'll also include your phone calls. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: It's been four years since Michael Jackson has set foot on an American stage. But the months of preparation and the weeks of rehearsal in Florida, immediately proved one thing -- Michael Jackson is back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Mary Hart and Bob Goen of Entertainment Tonight. You change your hair more than Hillary.

(LAUGHTER)

What about paparazzi and tabloids and coverage like that. Litigation, stars are suing more. This changed?

HART: Well, I think you have to be very careful that when you go with a story on the air, that you have your sources backed up and up know your facts. There have been many a time -- has been many a time, when we have not run stories because we cannot get it verified.

KING: So, that would be same rule that CNN would have.

HART: Absolutely.

KING: Would you break, let's say on Friday you learn the Academy Award winner, best actor. You have a great source, a guy at Price Waterhouse.

GOEN: We're the only ones you know?

KING: Yeah.

GOEN: I would think not. I think, if the word leaked out, then we'd cover it.

KING: We've never had it break out.

GOEN: No, no. You know, the people at Price Waterhouse are very good about keeping a secret.

KING: You wouldn't break if it you learned it right from a guy there?

GOEN: I don't think so.

HART: I don't think so either, Larry, no. If somehow some other source let it out, and everybody suddenly knew, but no, we would not break that trust.

KING: D'you ever out a celebrity who doesn't come out himself?

HART: No, no we do not. Absolutely not.

KING: You must learn things.

GOEN: Sure.

HART: We have, you know, one of the great things about the staff of people that we have, Larry, when we talk about it being a news operation like any other, we have 160 people on staff, most here in L.A., but we also have a bureau in New York. And they are working round-the-clock.

Many of them have been with the show for years, and they have sources in the business, so we do know things, but, until somebody is willing to come out, or it is verified, we don't run with the story.

KING: Let's include some calls as we go with questions. Cleveland hello.

CALLER: Good morning, good evening, rather, Mr. King.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Good evening to Mary and Bob. I am a fan of the show, I love it. I just love you guys, period. My question is: When do you draw the line? When is personal, too personal? Because sometimes it seems like some news stories, or sources, or however it gets done, you know, sometimes it's like too much PMI (ph).

KING: Can we explain where the line is drawn? We just discussed the gay thing, but generally.

HART: Well, I want to give an example of something that happened to me years ago, and it was a great learning experience. I sat down to do -- remember when Falcon Crest was so popular? Jane Wyman starred in it. Of course, Jane Wyman had been married many,many, many, decades ago, to Ronald Reagan.

And I went in as a pretty novice interviewer, at that point. It was the first year I was with the show. And I sat down and I was having a wonderful interview with her, and then I asked the question about Ronald Reagan. And nobody had told me, I think it was so understood that -- widely -- that she never discussed Ronald Reagan. And, I mean, it was as if an ice block descended in the room.

And then I thought, in doing my follow-up, as good journalist should do, I asked a second question about the kids and Ronald Reagan, and it was a terrible experience, I mean it, you know, she went from... KING: But it was a fair question, wasn't it? Was married to a president.

HART: But it was a fair question. And she didn't want to talk about it. I think you are obligated to ask the question, and so many of the stars handle it very graciously. They let you know. They know how to play the game.

KING: Bob, are there days when there're tough calls?

GOEN: There are very tough calls.

KING: You've got a story that's borderline.

GOEN: Well, yeah, and there are lines of questioning, that can become borderline, just as in Mary's case. I remember, talking to Elton John one time, and, he was trying to promote a tennis tournament for his AIDS foundation. So, and we were supposed to strictly talk about the aids -- or the tennis tournament and the foundation.

Well, if you are talking about an AIDS foundation, I figured you've got to talk about AIDS, and his relationship to it, and his concerns about it.

So we talked about being tested every six months, and that led to a conversation about homosexuality and the lifestyle, and then it became a conversation about bulemia and alcoholism,and drug abuse that he went through. And finally, I asked him what his lowest point was, and he said he had locked himself in his mansion in Atlanta for three days and, drapes drawn and windows closed, by himself, in what he called a vomit-stained dressing gown, dobbing at carpet with wet finger tip, trying to find cocaine residue.

And to me, you know, I had publicists and people surrounding us, saying stop, stop, stop. But he was willing to discuss it. And that was a line I was willing to cross, too.

KING: Is that like a rule on junket? You attend junkets, right?

GOEN: Um-hmm.

HART: Yes, yes, yes.

KING: Do you send reporters to junkets when they're promoting a film?

HART: Or we do themselves ourselves.

KING: Do you have to follow rules of publicists?

GOEN: Sometimes they give you boundaries.

HART: If somebody has recently been divorced -- Bruce Willis Demi Moore -- big split up, and neither one of them wanted to talk about it for a long time. Right. And so they'll make that very clear in advance, and you know, you understand that, and respect that. KING: If you learn of a divorce, whether it's Basinger Baldwin, Quaid Ryan, Ryan Crowe, a breakup, Jim Carrey and Zellweiger, and Willis and Moore, do you break it?

HART: Yes, if, if...

KING: You get a good source.

HART: If people come to us...

KING: No, you don't -- you've got a good source.

(CROSSTALK)

HART: We will attribute, for example, Liz Smith, you know, sit down, we will often talk to Liz Smith, about couples and relationships because she always has an inside track, too.

KING: She'll exchange.

HART: Yes.

KING: Atlanta, hello. Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, I just want to ask you guys, for all the years you've been doing this, what is the most amazing story you ever covered?

KING: Mary.

HART: I would have to say, walking out on that stage in Kansas city, in the 1980s with Michael Jackson. And watching him transform, from a very shy person, clutching my hand, Larry, and shaking, as if he had never performed in front of a live audience before.

To walk out on that stage, and the second he hit the stage in front of 40,000 people, turn into the incredible brilliant performer that he is.

KING: Bob.

GOEN: I think one of my standouts would be, besides the Elton John story that I just told you, was talking to Eddie Murphy, when he was pulled over with the transvestite in his car, and he came to us, and we got the only interview with him, and that was, that was an interesting hour that I spent with him

KING: Not easy.

GOEN: Not easy, but you know, it was interesting.

KING: Mary Hart and Bob Goen of ET. Don't forget, tomorrow tonight Patricia Shannon will be here. It's an exclusive interview with the late Charles Kuralt's secret companion for many, many years. An incredible story. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOEN: ... difficult to come out of the closet, or give up drugs and drink?

ELTON JOHN, MUSICIAN: It was easy to come out. I didn't have any problem about that, about coming out of closet. Giving up drug and drinks, and, was much more difficult. Because, I thought I had control over it, I thought. It's such an insidious disease, that I thought that I could beat it myself. And I didn't really have a handle on how serious it was.

I mean, I'll tell you this, I am lucky to be alive. I mean, you don't stay up for three or four days at a time doing drugs, sleep for two days, then eat for three days, and then complete whole process for a six-month period and not be lucky to be alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: ... major evolution for the divine Miss M., as we remember her, you know, and being pretty raunchy.

BETTE MIDLER, ENTERTAINER: Well, I always had a -- boy that's a big ring you're wearing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HART: Jimmeny Christmas. How many people had to dig that up, doll?

KING: That was hair display No. 11.

HART: Yes, it was.

KING: By the way, the Divine Miss M will be here next Monday night.

You co-hosted the Regis Philbin show.

HART: I did. I can thank Regis for my job on Entertainment Tonight.

KING: Before you joined E.T., right?

HART: In 1982, I started, I did four months of a talk show on NBC with Regis, and ran...

KING: Was that fun.

HART: Oh, it was great fun, but my background had been in live talk-show television, in the Midwest, also, so I love live TV. And it was great fun, and Regis is so much fun to work with, but Bob, you are great to work with. GOEN: I know, I'm a pale second place compared to Reeg.

HART: We can't laugh quite as much on camera, but we sure do on the set. But that was how I got the job, we got canceled.

KING: Entertainment Tonight and the O.J. Simpson story. Did you go as wild with it as everyone else? Was it the lead almost every night?

GOEN: Yeah, yeah we had to. It was the lead story, it was the lead topic on everyone's lips throughout the country.

KING: Because it was a Hollywood story, because he acted, because he was football? Because what?

GOEN: Yes, yes, and no. And also, because it was such a media circus that it became Entertainment story based (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that. We covered the coverage, as much as we covered the trial.

HART: And Larry, an important landmark for us early on in ET days, was the coverage of the Twilight Zone helicopter crash story, in which Vic Morrow and two children, who were actors in the film, died. And the fact that we were in the courtroom, that we followed that every step of the way, gave us credibility, within other news organizations, and within Hollywood community, because we were there. And often times we were the only ones there covering it, and they used our footage.

KING: Do you cover the Robert Downey, Jr. story sympathetically or reportorially?

GOEN: I think, both, and I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. We cover it reportorially in the editorial rooms, and then once it comes out of our mouths, I think the sympathy comes. I can't watch this poor man go what he's going -- go through what he's going through, without feeling sympathy for him, and, if that taints my approach the way I deliver it...

KING: You can't be totally objective right, Mary? You would blah if you were totally objective.

HART: It's, you know, it's a little tough, because here's a man of such incredible talent, on the other hand, there are so many convicted drug users in this country, who might not get the same treatment, and people should be treated fairly. It's very --

KING: Some might get better, he might get worse.

HART: Or they they might get better treatment. That's right. But what we're all sad to see, is the problem, he obviously has a problem with drugs, and he obviously has a genius talent, I believe. So, we don't want to see him screw it up.

KING: How have you dealt with Whitney Houston troubles?

GOEN: We've covered it. You know, I don't know that we've -- we haven't -- there hasn't been a lot of nuggets of information coming out on that. I mean, she didn't go to the trial, and she, you know, got in some trouble, but she's laid so low on it.

KING: Are some people always -- is Farrah Faucet like, always news?

HART: Yes, she's on the show tonight, as a matter of fact. She was at ESPY awards last night in Las Vegas with her son, who's very camera shy, but she was there, and she was great to talk to.

KING: You covered the appearance on Letterman, right?

HART: And we covered her appearance on Letterman, which stunned everybody. She's bounced back from that.

KING: How are you dealing with "Puff Daddy" Combs and the Lopez thing and that trial in New York?

HART: You know, it's -- he has been so steady in his love missives to her, whether it was on the billboards around L.A., before the Golden Globe awards, or whatever he is doing for Valentine's Day. We talked to her, we talked to him, and cover him going into court.

KING: Is this a weight-obsessed city, Bob.

GOEN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, thin is definitely in, and you know, we've covered that a lot. I mean, when the Calista Flockhart story started coming out, when she arrived at the Emmy awards and looked really thin from behind, and the Anorexia rumors started to come up, it became a very, very hot topic, and you know, I think we've taken that bushel basket off of it and sort of exposed what's going on.

HART: And if I might add too, Larry, these are serious discussions that we sit around and talk about in the office. When we're doing these stories, we're not -- we did a story on the abuse of Vicadin, kind of a new drug of choice, that people are easily becoming addicted to, just a couple of weeks ago.

KING: Painkiller.

HART: Yes, exactly, and when we sit down to evaluate that we all take a very careful look at how it's coming across. We certainly don't want to come across sounding sympathetic to anybody using drugs, you know, or promoting it in any sort of way. And, I think the discussion that goes on is a very intelligent discussion each day, on how to present the serious material.

KING: You have to be fair, because the drug helps a lot of people.

GOEN: And the interesting thing is, the next night we got a call from model Nicole Taylor, who said, "I'm addicted to Vicadin." And she came forth with it, and wanted to support people who are in the same position.

KING: Back with More Mary Hart and Bob Goen and more of your phone calls.

This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: Jennifer Lopez brought her "Wedding Planner" co-star, Matthew McConaughey, but ET has learned that boyfriend Sean "Puffy" Combs sent her a long distance love message, plastering Beverly Hills with posters reading, "Malito Loves Bella," the couple's pet nicknames for each other.

JENNIFER LOPEZ, ENTERTAINER: It's not nominated for anything, but saying that I'm winner -- you know, it's very romantic and sweet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HART: It was a night where the star power came in pairs. With Ben And Julia, Tom and Rita, Heather and Richie, and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who gave "ET" some baby news.

Now, were you were in a little bit of shock when Michael said on the air the other night, that he was ready to, you know, get the next one in production.

CATHERINE ZETA-JONES, ACTRESS: No. I'm ready to go, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What people wear, very important?

HART: Always, especially at these award shows. Isn't it fun? I love to see what people are going to wear.

KING: You care, Bob?

GOEN: I couldn't care less.

HART: Oh, Bob, come on.

GOEN: I am such -- I, fashion means nothing to me.

HART: Tell me what Charlize Theron wore to the Golden Globes.

GOEN: Oh, I can tell you what Charlize wore the last six weeks. Are you kidding me.

KING: Want to propose to her?

GOEN: Oh, yeah.

KING: Valiant, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I wonder, have you publicized a major story, that later proved to contain inaccurate information?

KING: Good question. Did you ever break a story that wasn't?

HART: Do you know what, I don't know that a major story. I can't think of a major story that we have broken, that was incorrect. But we have had to correct some things that were false, that were not major points, but yes we have had to retract things.

KING: What do you make of sexualization of teen queens? The Britney Spears thing.

GOEN: Oh boy, that's such a tough line.

KING: Have you had to play to it too?

GOEN: You know, being a parent, it's very tough for me to watch that kind of stuff happen. And, so you know, we talked earlier about how a story can be filtered through our own sensibilities, and that, I definitely filter that pretty thoroughly.

KING: What do you think reality television?

HART: Boy, has it added a new dimension. In a lot of ways it's refreshing for us, because "Survivor" has been such a hit, and out of that have come so many interesting stories, from people that we don't see on the big screen and we have helped make them incredible celebrities like Richard Hatch, who is reporting on "Survivor Two." I think it is kind of an interesting mix...

KING: Is it reality, though, if a camera is there?

HART: Not totally, Larry, no. It is for show.

GOEN: It's pretty close, though, because they are there 24-7 -- they are recording everything that is going on, and, there may be some show going on, but eventually, the nuggets of truth have to appear.

KING: Garden City, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Mary and Bob, do you think that the old, classy, kind of legendary Hollywood, that Regis and Kathie Lee always enjoyed talking about, do you think that will ever come back?

(CROSSTALK)

GOEN: It is -- not sure it is gone.

KING: She is talking Clark Gable, Joan Crawford...

HART: Joan Crawford, Cary Grant.

KING: That is not going to be around.

HART: Not going to be around, I think, because, people do want to know the personal things, you say how far is too far go with personal lives? But there are so many venues in which stars are exposed today, that we just know much more and the studios don't have the control over stars like they used to, in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Long gone are those days where the studio dictated what they could wear, where they could go, and with whom they could be seen. So, the fact...

KING: Everything was programmed.

HART: It was programmed.

GOEN: Yes, a show like ours would have had a lot of trouble in those days. Because you wouldn't...

KING: Louella Parsons (ph) has reported for you, though?

HART: Rhona Barrett did.

KING: Where is Rhona?

HART: She's up in Santa Barbara; she has a new cosmetics line coming out, a skin rejuvenation product. I heard from her over Christmas.

KING: Good, because -- she used to sit in for me -- she's like, whatever happened to...

HART: Rhona is terrific.

KING: We will be back with our remaining moments with Mary Hart and Bob Goen. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, do you have to show your legs every night?

HART: No, it is in nobody's contract, but we have this gorgeous new set, so we can actually walk on the set and stand there.

KING: Would they prefer that you not wear slacks.

HART: You know, no; I am actually wearing slacks on the show more than I ever have in the last year -- it is now acceptable, and I like mixing it up.

KING: Your son is...

HART: My son is nine.

KING: Eminem a story?

GOEN: Yes, as the Grammys come up, and you are going to see what he does, and how he handles the responsibility. KING: With Elton.

GOEN: With Elton; they are going to appear together.

KING: Elton is supporting his getting a Grammy.

GOEN: That is it.

KING: Let's one more call. San Luis Obispo, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hi, Larry, Mary, and Bob. Mary, may I genuinely say that you are beautiful inside and out.

HART: Thank you.

CALLER: You are welcome.

HART: How nice.

CALLER: Mary, do you plan to stay at ET or branch out to your interests that have evolved from the show?

HART: I don't know. Are we still getting along.

GOEN: Oh, I think for a few more weeks, anyway.

HART: Do you know, I honestly, sincerely love what I do, and...

KING: Never get tired of it?

HART: There are days like any normal human being where I wake up and I don't feel like going to work but I get over it very quickly because, I still drive through those wrought iron gates at Paramount and I remember where I started in South Dakota and my dreams of being in Hollywood. It rejuvenates me, and I love doing television. I love the people I work with. So, I don't know how long it will be or how long I will be blessed to be wanted there, but I enjoy what I'm doing now.

KING: How about you, Bob?

GOEN: I just signed a new 5-year deal, so I'm as happy as I could be there; it is my dream job.

HART: I guess I'm out of here then.

KING: Who holds the weekends now?

GOEN: Julie Moran and...

HART: Jan Carl on weekends.

KING: It's a 7 night a week show?

HART: Six.

KING: Why don't they do it Sunday to make your money?

GOEN: Well, the weekend show is a one-hour show, and it is not a day and day kind of show like the Monday through Friday.

KING: So the stations can play Sunday or Saturday.

HART: Exactly.

KING: ...fed to them.

Do you want to tell people how old you are?

HART: I -- do I want -- well, you can tell them.

KING: No, because I'm amazed.

HART: Are you really?

Well, you know, I think it has been, announced a few places but I think a lot of people...

KING: Mary Hart is 50 years old.

GOEN: Isn't that great?

KING: You're a half a century old.

GOEN: When she had her 50th birthday, she included her age on her birthday invitation. How solid is she?

KING: You're eligible for AARP..

HART: Don't tell me that. I never want this heard again.

KING: You are. You...

HART: Are you serious...

KING: You can ride the metro for two thirds.

GOEN: Movie discounts.

HART: ...hope has the good sense to throw it right out the window.

KING: Thank you both very much.

HART: Great to see you, Larry.

KING: You keep on keeping on. Mary Hart and Bob Goen, co-hosts of "Entertainment Tonight."

Leon Harris will be next, and he will host "CNN TONIGHT"

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