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Larry King Live

Suzanne Somers Reveals She Has Breast Cancer

Aired March 28, 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, an exclusive Suzanne Somers goes public, with a very private matter, breaking her silence about tabloid headlines and setting the record straight.

And then revelations of a very different kind from Joan Rivers; she is the subject of a new E! True Hollywood story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was passionate all right; passionate for men; passionate for women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: She stole my jokes and she stole my car keys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: It is a sad story, really.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is she laughing or heading to court? She will join us, in Los Angeles, all next, on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: We begin with Suzanne Somers. This was arranged late this afternoon, and, the result of this headline in the new issue of "Enquirer," called Surgery Secret Behind Fitness Queen's Body; Suzanne Somers Plastic Surgery Scandal. Thigh Master Beauty Caught Leaving Lipoclinic. You have never seen this, right?

SUZANNE SOMERS, ACTRESS: Well, I saw the black and white fax of it, but I haven't seen it all in full color.

KING: And, you have stayed silent for a couple days.

SOMERS: Well, when stuff like that comes out, you hope it will go away. So I didn't give it any energy. And it doesn't deem to be going away. KING: What could be more embarrassing, for a person pitching fitness: do this, work my machine, follow my diet. And we find you leaving a liposuction clinic.

SOMERS: Right.

KING: Meaning that it looks fraudulent. What happened?

SOMERS: Well, I chose your show to come on tonight to talk about something that is very hard for me to talk about, that I have never told anyone. In the last year I have been battling and surviving breast cancer, and I was in that clinic, and it all has to do with my breast cancer.

But it just, you know -- I have had such an honest relationship with the American public. I mean, I have written books on alcoholism, and blending families, and they have been with me on my ups and downs and sides. And this was just one of those things -- I think the most shocking words I ever thought, I never thought, I would ever in my life hear someone say to me that you have breast cancer. And it was -- it has been so...

KING: How did you first hear of this?

SOMERS: Oh, my press agent sent it through the fax and said...

KING: And your press agent didn't known about the breast cancer or did they?

SOMERS: Yeah they did. They kid.

KING: Your husband.

SOMERS: My husband, my family, just, people. I was trying to keep it quiet...

KING: What was the clinic you were leaving?

SOMERS: It is the Lasky Clinic here.

KING: Plastic surgery?

SOMERS: Yes. That is where people go to...

KING: They have liposuction.

SOMERS: Nipped and tucked and lifted.

KING Would you tell us what you had done there?

SOMERS: What I had done had to do with my breast cancer. And when I was in radiation, for six weeks, it blew out all my hormones, and, burned the top of my stomach, and...

KING: : They had to do grafts of some kind or...

SOMERS: No, you know, it is so...

KING: : It's hard to talk about, but at least it gets it straight.

SOMERS: It is hard to talk about. It is -- have you ever seen me at loss for words? I have never been at a loss for words.

KING: I wasn't a mastectomy.

SOMERS: No, no, no, no. I was able to save my breast, and...

KING: You were treated.

SOMERS: They did a nice job.

KING: You were treated; radiation?

SOMERS: Radiation, and I -- see I had a mammography; my annual mammography and this was something...

KING: : This was a year ago?

SOMERS: No. In April -- last April. And this is something women should know. I had my mammography, like I go every year. Because my sister has breast cancer, and, so I have been very diligent about it and I went to have this annual mammogram, and he said, you are fine, I see nothing. I thought I didn't think so.

I was getting dressed and the doctor knocked on the door and he said you know, you have very cystic breasts; there are lumps and bumps all over the place; I got this new, state-of-art ultrasound machine, I paid half a million dollars for it, why don't we put you on that?

I said OK. And I got on, and, with that machine, they found a tumor, 2.4 centimeters, which is fairly large, that was hidden deep in my breast and did not -- was not detected by the mammogram.

KING: Amazing machine.

SOMERS: Amazing. The machine saved my life; the doctor said that at this size, by next year, if I had waited until my annual next year, he said it probably would have been too late, so I mean my life was saved because of this machine.

KING: : What was the treatment?

SOMERS: It -- just -- they -- do I have to say?

KING: Was their surgery involved? Radiation involved?

SOMERS: Yes.

KING: You did not lose a breast.

SOMERS: I did not lose a breast. They had to remove part of one, and then take the fat from the bottom of that breast and fill it up right.

KING: OK -- that's not -- that is not -- what's important to me is why you were at the clinic; that is where they took the picture.

SOMERS: Right.

KING: They didn't bother to check with anyone; they just presumed that you are coming out of that clinic it's liposuction?

SOMERS: Who knows? Who knows how they get their information, and...

KING: You would think would you have a heck of a lawsuit here. I mean, you are in the business.

SOMERS: Right.

KING: Of diet and weight loss.

SOMERS: Right. Right. The thing is, my program works -- you have seen me -- I have been on your show since I have had breast cancer; I never mentioned to it you. My body is always the same. But I did have to have something done to the other part of my body. And -- to even things out.

KING: The Lasky Clinic was correcting or fixing something that was done in another place; right?

SOMERS: Right.

KING: The Lasky Clinic does do surgery; they don't do breast cancer.

SOMERS: Right.

KING: What was your first reaction on hearing you had this?

SOMERS: I was in such shock. I'm very strong, and I was in such shock, because I have always taken care of myself, and, I just thought, it would never happen to me, but I think that is what everybody thinks; it won't happen to them. And, what's interesting, is what you learn about yourself when you are diagnosed with cancer. And cancer is not for sissies.

KING: : What did you learn first?

SOMERS: How strong I am. And, it took a couple of days of being shocked and then, as though I went to war, and, I gathered the doctors and I started hearing the common course of treatment. And as I'm hearing the common course of treatment, I -- I don't want to lose my hair, but that was the least of my worries was losing my hair. But I -- I don't like what that drug does to people. What I have seen...

KING: Chemotherapy.

SOMERS: Chemotherapy. I have seen people under treatment, there is, you know, I know it helps people. I know it helps.

KING: But it works for breast cancer, right? I mean...

SOMERS: It does, but I decided to find alternative things to do. And...

KING: Knowing you, you would.

SOMERS: I would. And because I have done so much work in my books about hormones, and that hormonal balance is why people gain or lose weight, and, it was my belief that a balanced environment of hormones prevents disease. And the first thing they said to me, we are taking of off all hormones. I said no, I'm going to continue taking my hormones, which is the first thing against the common course...

KING: : You went against convention.

SOMERS: Then I didn't want chemotherapy.

KING: Let me break it right there. We will come right back with Suzanne Somers. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: This article in the "Enquirer" says that you were looking to promote a new book that you just had come out, "Eat Great, Lose Weight," that was your earlier book.

SOMERS: That was my...

KING: You've got a new one coming, "Eat, Cheat and Melt the Fat Away" you wanted to look your best. So, you went into this clinic for lipo. You went with your husband. You went in at 7:50 in the morning. Clinic opened at 8:00. The fat was removed, and you were suctioned from your abdomen, upper back and hips.

Two-and-a-half-hour operation, spent a couple of hours. Left with bandages and girdle-like garments to help reduce swelling. Departed through the clinic's back door. Husband parked as close as he could to the back door. Nurse helped you out. Your publicist said it was a mole. Someone said that shouldn't have said that, right?

SOMERS: Well, you know, when "The Enquirer" first called, I said just tell them it's a cancerous mole that I had removed, and then they said, no, we know that she did that two years ago. So somebody in there was feeding them information. It's just...

KING: Also said you were dressed, and the cover looks like you were dressed, in dark clothes...

SOMERS: I was.

KING: .. and they said it was 60 degrees.

SOMERS: But, you know, it was raining and February here, and it was cold and I was 6:30 in morning and I live at the beach, and it's cold and I put a coat on. Probably, I shouldn't have put the sock hat on, but going into that clinic, you don't -- you know, it's a marked clinic. There have been other celebrities that come and go from there that have been photographed, so I stuck this sock hat on, which makes me look like burglar, I know.

KING: In retrospect, why didn't you announce it? A lot of people did? Say, you know, I've got this. I'm going for treatment.

SOMERS: Because I'm not far enough away from it yet. Because I'm not even a year away from it, and...

KING: Did ask you them not to print this? What did they say?

SOMERS: Well, that's their business, you know, that's what they're doing. You know, I thought about it. I haven't -- I have been so upset about this, because...

KING: Well, sure.

SOMERS: ... because what it does is erode the trust that I have with all these people. There are over two million people on my program, and I -- I just wanted to get far enough away from it. And then I was -- been lying in bed the last few nights, and now the magazines are picking it up and calling it Thighgate.

And then John Ritter did some really low-class joke on the morning show, and Howard Stern just picked up on it, and each day it's like a stab in my heart. And then I thought maybe -- maybe you know, we all have a higher power that we understand, and my higher power as I understand it, maybe is pushing me before I'm ready to come out and say that I had breast cancer, and I think because of the -- the treatment that I have chosen for myself, against the will of my doctors, and that I really feel, I really feel that I'm licking this and I have found another medicine from Europe that when I started taking it, it was illegal here, but it's now just been legalized, but it's a homeopathic, but it's...

KING: Can you tell us the treatment you're taking?

SOMERS: The treatment is called Iscador. Now, I just want to say that this is what I'm doing for me. I'm not telling anybody else to do this, but I found in the Burton Goldberg cancer handbook, Iscador chemo...

KING: Sounds like the man's name.

SOMERS: ... it does. Jewish. That chemotherapy -- with chemotherapy, you have a 98 percent chance that it won't reoccur. It said with Iscador, you have a 98 percent chance that this won't reoccur, but there are no side effects with Iscador and it was found by the famed homeopath Rudolph Steiner. They've been using is in Europe since the 1920s...

KING: Is it a pill?

SOMERS: I inject myself.

KING: In the breast?

SOMERS: No, I inject myself in my stomach every day.

KING: How long?

SOMERS: For five years.

KING: Every day for five years. And did something go wrong that sent to you to the Lasky Clinic?

SOMERS: I just physically, I -- I needed to correct something.

KING: They made an adjustment with regard to this.

SOMERS: Yes.

KING: But you didn't have liposuction taken out of your thighs as reported here or did you?

SOMERS: They -- you know, they never get it right. I mean, they had -- I was in there for a few hours, but they give you anesthetic and when I came out, you know, I -- if you see that picture, I'm smiling. I was stoned. I was going, good-bye, you're all so wonderful. I looked like that village idiot in there. The thing -- I just want to finish about the Iscador because there are a lot of people with cancer who -- I don't want to lead anybody astray. I don't know if this has worked for me or not.

KING: You don't know yet?

SOMERS: We won't know. That's why I was waiting for this because what really wanted to do was wait my five years, and then come on here and say, I got to tell you something, that there is another course. I don't know. I don't know if what I'm doing.

It feels to me like the right thing to do, I have continued with my hormones, which they say not to do. I haven't taken the after-care drugs that they prescribe in this country because the main drug that most women are on in this country, I -- again I looked it up. You know, I'm research oriented, and there is a 10 percent better chance that it won't reoccur with the after-drug, but there is a 40 percent chance that you will get coronary heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.

Plus, you'll be depressed for five years, and I thought these are really five important years of my life. So, I just gathered my doctors, and I worked so closely with Diana Schwarzbein, who is -- you know, I've been working with on the books, and after I told her what I decided to do, the course that I decided to do, she said, I couldn't say this, it's up to you to make your own decision. This is your life, and this is your body, but I've thought about this, nothing else, for the last two weeks, and what I came to was that if I were in your shoes, I would do exactly the same thing.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Suzanne Somers on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It goes without saying that you should follow your doctors. I don't know why we -- follow what your doctor says if you have breast cancer and don't go on tangents.

SOMERS: And I agree, too. What I'm saying, I really want to stress this, this is what I have chosen to do for myself. Nobody told me to do it. Nobody...

KING: Just because for fear of baldness?

SOMERS: No, I...

KING: Put a wig on.

SOMERS: Because -- because if what I'm taking is effective, how much better it is than all the side effects that come...

KING: What if it isn't, though? Then you're putting off something that could hurt you. You're rolling a little dice.

SOMERS: But we are -- we are just monitoring. Every three months I'm getting a mammogram in that breast now, and we are just really...

KING: So, if anything were to go you'd in for...

SOMERS: ... on top of it. We'll know right away, and there are marker tests and things that you can take.

KING: Can you, without -- I don't want to invade your privacy, but they're saying it was liposuction, and if you had full liposuction that would affect your career and your credibility, basically, what happened at the clinic?

SOMERS: They did do some liposuction, and it was just to even things out.

KING: So, it was not done for -- to make you look to promote a book?

SOMERS: You've seen -- I mean...

KING: Was it done on your thighs? On your hips?

SOMERS: I have a nice body.

KING: Was it done for figure or was it done because you have...

SOMERS: I wanted to -- I felt -- I felt...

KING: Awkward?

SOMERS: I felt disfigured. KING: So, it was for the disfigurement?

SOMERS: I wanted -- yes.

KING: And it was done in one area; right? It wasn't like thighs and rear and hips to make you slim?

SOMERS: You know...

KING: All right. if you don't want to -- I just...

SOMERS: It's -- I'm so uncomfortable. I -- it just feels like -- I just feels like I don't have to tell -- you know.

KING: Is this headline wrong?

SOMERS: Yes.

KING: You did not have what we consider the standard liposuction?

SOMERS: I had some liposuction, and it's for what I told you.

KING: For the cancer.

SOMERS: Right.

KING: OK. It was not...

SOMERS: The whole reason I was in there -- my book was not even on my mind. The whole reason that I went in there is because of -- of -- I was affected by the radiation and what happened to me on the medication, and having cancer. Cancer -- cancer throws everything off when you're in treatment...

KING: Did you have -- do you have any idea who leaked this?

SOMERS: Somebody must have paid somebody. I mean, they knew when I was coming and they knew when I left. And they were there. And I didn't even think to look around.

KING: Once you got the call from the Inquirer, should you have then, before they came out, gone public with the breast cancer.

SOMERS: Probably, but I just really thought -- I had no idea it'd be a cover, and I thought it would just go away. I thought it would be one of those little nuisance stories and it would go away. And so that was probably a wrong call on my part but, again, I have been waiting, I probably eventually would have gone public with this when I felt safer about it, when I was farther away from it. I -- it's, you know, my skin is still not back to normal and things, you know.

KING: That's part of this method? That goes with this...

SOMERS: Radiation burns your skin, and, it burns the top of your digestive tract.

KING: Has this doubly affected the story for you now?

SOMERS: This is...

KING: I mean, it's bad enough.

SOMERS: I died inside when this came through my fax machine. I just died inside, and it is so humiliating, and...

KING: Not humiliating to have breast cancer.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Humiliating that the public would think that you are fraudulent.

SOMERS: I looked like a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in there.

Yes, and, I really believe I have helped a lot of people. I am on the lecture circuit, and I have told them the truth. And that is what really bothered me, was people thinking, "Well, you know, she tells us to eat like this, but then she goes and has it all sucked out." And, I eat like that.

I coined the phrase "Somersizing." I have this incredible book coming out, "Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away." This how I live my life.

KING: If you wouldn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people would have seen it. I think you have been so public, yes.

SOMERS: Right. And I was on your show. I was at the Fire and Ice Ball, they photographed me, when was that, that was...

KING: How long ago?

SOMERS: That was before they, you know, February 20th was when I did go into the clinic. Fire and Ice Ball was before that. I was in a skinny tight gown, I've been out in public. I'm not fat.

KING: So, if you needed lipo someone would have seen it. Someone would have said, "She's gained weight."

SOMERS: Chunky, so I have worked hard to have a nice body at this age. And it's just -- aaagh.

KING: We're going to take a break, come back, one more segment with Suzanne Somers and then Joan Rivers and we will ask what now, what's ahead for her. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You got a book coming in two weeks. You got 350,000 first print. You're going on a book tour.

SOMERS: Yes.

KING: You think this is going to hurt it?

SOMERS: Well, I hope -- you know, now people know why I did what I did. And, you know, there is shame with breast cancer. I don't know why.

KING: Why? It's not your fault?

SOMERS: Somehow, that was my first reaction that it was my -- what did I do? And yet, you know, I keep thinking was it, you know, is there some link with childhood abuse? Why do my sister and I have it? Or was it because in the '60s, so many of us were taking that high dose of estrogen in birth control pills, and you go through all this in your mind, and then I just always have to turn it over, you know.

I really, really feel that I have licked this. I really do.

KING: You do?

SOMERS: I really feel like I'm on the other side. I feel like my life was saved by that machine. I feel that maybe, because I'm always out delivering the message, maybe that, you know, it's out of my control, that this was something I was supposed to have.

KING: How did your husband handle it?

SOMERS: He, we have been together for 33 years. I think, I think it rocked his world. I think that the two of us really -- it was very intense. But he stood behind me, and any choice that I made, he backed me up. When the doctors would, you know, disagree, he would say, "It is her life and her body, and I stand behind her."

I believe in five years, when I am free of this, that I can come back here and tell people what I did, and that I can offer another option. That is what I feel.

KING: What did you do with the fear?

SOMERS: I got mad. I visualized, I visualized inside my tumor that there was this little guy in there. And every time he would try to step out of the tumor I would say you get back in there. And I had this anger about the tumor, not about having cancer, because I think there is a reason for everything.

I just never thought it would happen to me. And, I thought, how ironic, all these years, that this thing, this sex symbol thing has circled around my head, that I have always felt so uncomfortable with and I thought...

KING: T&A girl.

SOMERS: Yes, T&A. Queen of the jiggle, you know, Chrissie Snow and all that, and I thought, how ironic that I would get this. But, it's really not. One out of every 8 women in this country is going to get breast cancer, and the one thing I can say is early detection.

KING: The people who make fun of this, do you have any thoughts about them?

SOMERS: I think what -- people who make fun of it don't see you as a person. I think they see you as an icon. And so that you're not really real. And so they don't realize that behind it are feelings and a real human being. It is incredibly hurtful.

I don't think I have ever said anything about anybody that is mean or cruel on the air. I can't say that I have never done that in real life because I'm imperfect as a human being, but, I have tried not to, but I would never, on the air, say anything cruel or -- especially, when you don't know what talking about, you know.

KING: So, as of this point, the treatment goes well?

SOMERS: I continue injecting...

KING: Every day.

SOMERS: ... for next five years, and I go for mammograms every three months, and we just stay on top of it, and I'll be back before this, but in five years I want to come on your show...

KING: Yes you have to give us updates.

SOMERS: Yes, I will give you updates.

KING: Are you nervous when you take every mammogram?

SOMERS: Yes, yes, but, you know, I didn't -- it didn't go -- they removed some lymph nodes, it wasn't in my lymph nodes. They, we caught it in time. And that's the great thing, and...

KING: Thank god for that machine.

SOMERS: There was another woman that was going through this with me at the same time and she had the exact same diagnosis as me, but she had felt the lump and didn't do anything about it for seven years, and she is dying now. And I realize the difference between her cancer and my cancer was that I found it earlier, and I found it because of this machine and these great doctors. Dr. Mel Silverstein is an incredible doctor.

KING: Thank you, Suzanne. Thanks for coming forward.

SOMERS: Thank you. Thanks.

Suzanne Somers, when we come back, Joan Rivers.

SOMERS: What a switch.

KING: This is...

SOMERS: Really. KING: You handle this one.

SOMERS: Hold on to your hat.

KING: Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on "LARRY KING LIVE." Admittedly a tough transition, so before we get to anything of the light-hearted nature, what did you make of that?

RIVERS: I think she's wonderful. We know each other for years and years, and I saw, Allen and Suzanne in the green room, said "Oh! You look great!" And we're both women that just keep reinventing ourselves. And good for her.

KING: What do you make of a story like that, though?

RIVERS: I think it's horrible, but I think she has to realize after all these years in the business...

KING: You expect it?

RIVERS: Oh, God, yes. You know, as Melissa says, as long as they're writing about you, that means you are still viable.

KING: Yeah, but if you're in the business of weight reduction and you get a story like that...

RIVERS: I know, but then you just sit around and say, "That's not so." Everybody lies about everything. You know, I have had people say, "I have had done nothing," and they're talking to the part in their hair. You know, so, it is just par for the course.

KING: Sad, though.

RIVERS: Oh, I love her. She's just amazing.

KING: Great girl.

RIVERS: Great girl.

RIVERS: OK, let's discuss a couple things before we get to this crazy thing they're doing on April Fools' night, which I'm also a part of.

RIVERS: Yes, you're wonderful in it.

KING: You're going to have a fashion review?

RIVERS: Saturday, we're doing our Oscar fashion review on E!, and...

KING: Wait a minute, you look back at all the fashions and you comment? RIVERS: And we really do our commenting there, because when you're on the red carpet, you're talking. But it's when you get into studio and you really look them over, and you really realize that Bjork is an idiot.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: So it's a very truthful look.

RIVERS: Yeah, yeah. That's what's made it so popular. We tell the truth.

KING: You wouldn't say it right to Bjork. Or did you?

RIVERS: Well, you could say anything to her. The woman put down newspapers and gave birth to an egg, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

RIVERS: I never -- if you came into your living room, turned on the light, and a woman was standing there with a duck around her neck, you'd call 911.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Why do you like doing that, by the way?

RIVERS: Oh, Larry.

KING: Come on, why do you like that?

RIVERS: It's so much fun. It's so exciting. You're a fan -- I'm such a fan. And...

KING: Of the way they dress?

RIVERS: Of everything. And they come down that red carpet, and you get to see everyone, you get to see your friends. And it's like a giant party. I love the award shows, on E! And working with Melissa, my daughter, is an amazing experience.

KING: And what about this Faberge thing? What are you doing with that?

RIVERS: I am having a major Faberge sale, a lot of my stuff that was shown at the Metropolitan Museum, and in the Hermitage, and owned by kings and queens and czars. And I'm weeding out the collection, you know, it was a very scattered...

KING: Selling it where?

RIVERS: Selling it at Sotheby's on April -- I think -- it's on the card, I always forget where...

KING: Sotheby's.

RIVERS: Sotheby's, 19th of April. Yeah.

KING: Your Faberge collection goes?

RIVERS: Half of it.

KING: You need the money, Joan?

RIVERS: No -- well, we all need the money, but someone said when you really collect, you should zone in on what you want. And I really am interested in Faberge jewelry now, rather than other things. So I'm pooling my collection more into jewelry, and getting rid of the other things.

KINGS: That's April at Sotheby's.

RIVERS: At Sotheby's, yeah.

KING: You still doing the things on the home -- on the shopping channel?

RIVERS: Oh, QVC?

KING: Yeah.

RIVERS: Absolutely. We have a miniseries coming up next week, and -- oh, yeah, life is so good. And that's why, you know, enjoy every minute of it.

KING: Now let's go to an example of what's going to come. I think this is an example, I guess. So what's going to come on Sunday?

RIVERS: This is tragic, now.

KING: This is tragic, it's a -- it's a side -- well, watch.

RIVERS: I'm going to sue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: The people who have made me what I am today...

SUSAN LUCCI: It was her plastic surgeon who made her who she is.

SELA WARD, ACTRESS: No one likes Joan. My great-grandmother, on her deathbed, said to me, Sela, I love you, I love the children, I love (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I hate Joan Rivers.

SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTRESS: Everybody hates her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is a pushy bitch. She's not nice. She has to push her way into everything. She's a pushy little bitch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This is the E! True Hollywood Story, it premiers this Sunday, RIVERS: And I'm very upset. I'm thinking of suing.

KING: Now, they do this. This is a regular feature on E!, the "True Hollywood Story."

RIVERS: Yes, that's why.

KING: And they have taken you on.

RIVERS: No, I am producing this. But...

KING: Wait a minute. You are producing your own attack?

RIVERS: I wrote and produced that. Larry, I am so tired of watching biography, and all the -- you know, all the -- everybody's wonderful, Hitler had a -- he died with his lover in his arms. I mean, you know, biography, you know exactly what I'm telling you.

Rex Harrison, who I never met, but was universally despised, I never met anybody that said one nice thing -- I watch one night, Rex Harrison, I said, "This was like Jesus Christ!"

So I said, we've got to do a spoof, and it's April 1st. It's April Fools' Day, so we did a biography the "E! True Hollywood Story," and we just took me apart. And everybody got into the swing of it. You did, and Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin is so hilarious in it.

KING: And you comment as they do this, or...

RIVERS: I sit and tell my side. And then they answer.

KING: You respond to their attack.

RIVERS: No, I first tell my good sweet side, what a wonderful mother I was to Melissa, and then I think --

KING: They bring on a thing that counteracts it.

RIVERS: Oh, Brooke Shields starts to sob, what a rotten mother I was.

KING: And you, personally, had all the people to do this, because I know, you personally called and said, "Would you do this?"

RIVERS: And you know how many people don't have humor? And said to me, "What? I don't get it."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I'm going to attack you and you wrote it?

RIVERS: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: This airs Sunday. RIVERS: Sunday, 9:00, E!.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Joan Rivers, and we'll see more clips from this tragically "True Hollywood Story."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joan's past was not pretty. She did everything -- coke, grass, all kinds of drugs, weird sex things. I mean, you name it, she did it -- and sold it.

DONNY OSMOND, ENTERTAINER: I saw Joan, just this rage came out of her. And she started beating up on Marie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was the first reporter to actually report on Joan's kleptomania problem.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: She stole my jokes, and she stole my car keys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: Well, you know, few people realize that Milton Berle is actually Joan's father. Her mother, who shall remain nameless, she was so broken up about not being able to be with Milton, Uncle Miltie, that she kind of went underground and started working as his dresser. And he didn't realize it was her, because she had quite a heavy mustache. And she used to cover it up for dates, but for work she didn't. She didn't cover it up, kind of a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) moment happening there: a sad and a little bit of a -- well, anyway.

So, she worked as his dresser for years, and years, and actually died penniless but surrounded by clothes. And underneath that pile of clothes was Joan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

RIVERS: I love her so much.

KING: Julia Roberts. Boy...

RIVERS: She gets it. She's so darling. I love her.

KING: And she did a great -- Academy Award performer

RIVERS: Was she great? Was she great? KING: You were saying today reports (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reports that you intend to sue yourself over this.

RIVERS: Yes, I do.

KING: You wrote this and you intend to sue yourself.

RIVERS: I had no idea I would be this vicious.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: It's starting to get bad, Joan.

RIVERS: Starting to get bad.

KING: You're starting to lose it.

RIVERS: But you know, what worried me, today I was in my dentist's office and I was telling the nurse, and she said to me, well, is it true?

KING: You know, one of the dangers you face in this society, someone's going to click it on and say, I never knew that. Milton Berle is -- he could be her father

RIVERS: How about I have a twin sister, and they show me, and an older lady without surgery.

(LAUGHTER)

It is so much fun. And I think it's going to be -- it's time to do spoofs on this. Everyone takes themselves so seriously in this business, you know, it's stupid.

KING: You've always kidded the business, though.

RIVERS: Yes.

KING: It is a departure for you, but not extreme.

RIVERS: Well, I always kid everything. You know, Suzanne was saying about certain things aren't funny; I think everything is funny. And that's the way I live my life.

KING: You do? You think it was funny when the tabloids revealed that you had plastic surgery and that it was a disaster and someone said you looked scary? By the way, you sure don't look scary tonight.

RIVERS: But you know...

KING: You laughed at that. Come on, Joan.

RIVERS: No, no, no. Truly, after Edgar committed suicide and I was fired from Fox, I wasn't in the tabloids for three years -- three years. They only write about you when you're doing well. And I remember the first thing that came up, was in "National Enquirer" was Joan Rivers dating 11-year-old or something like that. And Melissa called me up and said, we're back in business.

So as long as you look at it like that, they only write about people that people want to read about, then you are OK. Of course, it hurts for a second.

KING: Were you ticked when some critics took off on you this year on the Oscar show?

RIVERS: The only one who has criticized me and upset me, some asses in "The L.A. Times" wrote an article, they hated me. It turns out they were fired from E! because they weren't funny. And "The L.A. Times" -- that was like a vendetta against E!.

KING: Really?

RIVERS: Yes. You understand? So, that's not right. That's not right. You don't put two people in to write an article who were just fired from E!, because that's naughty. Those are naughty boys, angry boys.

KING: How did that Oscar thing start?

RIVERS: It started because I was desperate for a job.

KING: Really?

RIVERS: I can't get on late night, I can't do this, I can't do that. I said, I'm not dead, I'm going to find my way back. And E! came and said, do you want to stand outside and talk to people? And I think I was probably the first person to say to somebody, "What are you wearing?" because I love fashion so much. And as E! now says, we turned walking into a building into an event. And it became -- it just grew and grew and grew and grew, and now it's fabulous.

KING: Has anyone at the Oscars tried -- has ABC tried to stop this?

RIVERS: Constantly and we keep beating them. They can't. It's just so silly.

KING: You can't own the ramp, right?

RIVERS: You can't own the ramp, and there's room for everybody. You know, and ABC always comes up, well, this year we're going to knock you off with this one, this -- you know, I don't listen. Run your own race.

KING: We'll be taking calls, some calls for Joan Rivers, but here is some more examples. You'll see a lot more of it on Sunday night.

RIVERS: I'm suing. I really am suing them.

KING: Yeah, her name is Rivers if you wish to sue. It's Rivers.

RIVERS: Thank you. Bitch. KING: Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: In the next hour, we will follow the miraculous rise and terrifying fall of this pioneer in standup comedy. And reveal a hidden secret from the entertainer's dark past.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're identical twins. Need I say more?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

RIVERS: I got to do all the directing which was fun, and working with people.

KING: You are directing your own spoof of you.

RIVERS: It's such fun. I can't wait to do another one. Now we're going to do another take-off on "Oh, that Joan" to find out what happened to people in that sitcom.

KING: We'll be right back with your phone calls for Joan Rivers. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN, ACTOR: I mean, Joan is the best lover I ever had in my entire existence on this filthy Earth. Ms. Rivers can do some things that -- she said, I will take care of you. I said, you want me to be a boy toy for you? You want me to jump around on a trampoline for you, have unadulterated sex with you? Is that what you see me as?

I said no, I want to be an actor. I'm going to be an Academy nominated actor. It stops right here; she slapped me. That night, we had some of the best sex that I can ever recall. It was the energy. When she slapped my face, that turned me the hell on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REGIS PHILBIN, TALK SHOW HOST: You know, when Kathie Lee left, I kept getting costume, jewelry, and flowers from Joan. It was certainly embarrassing. She was begging, she was actually begging for Kathy's job. But you know, we had to take her name off the list when she started taking singing lessons. And then, she wanted to change Melissa's name to Cody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

RIVERS: Isn't that cute? KING: That is cute. Let's take a call for Joan Rivers. To Eugene, Oregon. Hello.

CALLER: Larry and Joan, you are fabulous. Joan, who was fabulous at the Oscars? I didn't get to see you here on E! I love you on E!. But what -- did you...

KING: Who did you think...

RIVERS: Who was great. First of all, Julia Roberts, but that is happiness and joy and beauty. Joan Allen looked flawless. Catherine Zeta-Jones.

KING: The best.

RIVERS: The best. Classy. That she went for her and not a bimbo like Hugh Hefner; I have such respect for Michael because he picked a woman -- an elegant woman. Renee Zellweger. She looked like a "Glamour" girl.

KING: Who didn't?

RIVERS: Well Bjork looked like an ass. She really looked stupid. Julie Andrews, who I adore, looked matronly. And this is a hot babe, still. I remember her 3 years ago at "Victor Victoria" when she was like, the jazz.

KING: What did you wear at that thing?

RIVERS: I sure do. You have to compete a little bit. You know.

KING: You have to be careful. You don't want to wear anything where they knock you for what you are wearing.

RIVERS: They should, because...

KING: What did you wear?

RIVERS: I wore a Vera Wang.

KING: I like Vera.

RIVERS: I do, too.

KING: Houston, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Joan, I love your new do; I think it looks terrific.

RIVERS: Thank you.

CALLER: I do have a question, though. How in the world do you see with your hair thinking down in your eyes? Doesn't it drive you nuts?

RIVERS: No, because I can't see anyhow. You know?

KING: You are blind.

RIVERS: I'm blind as a bat. So in a way, this is good, because when I say to somebody, I didn't know who you were, they now think it is the hair. Actually, though, you part so that iris shows. I think of myself as an old, Jewish Meg Ryan.

KING: Who has her episode at Nate & Al's. Anyway, let's watch one more clip from this big one coming up Sunday night on E!. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: We'll expose a love life plagued by one sordid affair after another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I say, you want me to be boy toy for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God knows Joan loved her woman. I was one of many. I'm not going to lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was passionate, all right. Passionate for men, passionate for women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: Isn't that cute? They all came, all my friends including you, God bless you.

KING: Who turned you down? You don't want to name or do you?

RIVERS: Howard Stern. I was very surprised because he is very good friend. Howard turned me down. Who else? A couple more people. Sharon Stone, who is a friend, turned me down.

KING: Give you reasons?

RIVERS: I didn't reach them personally, you know, and maybe I think if I had said to Sharon, because she's got a great sense of humor, hey, do it, because she's got so much -- she's a dame, you know. She would have done it.

KING: And Howard, that was...

RIVERS: And Howard just said, I don't do any of this.

KING: That right. He's above that.

RIVERS: He just -- you know, that's his decision, but it broke my heart.

KING: OK, we'll be back with our remaining moments with Joan Rivers right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT": I always loved having Joan Rivers as a guest on "Politically Incorrect." She's great, and I'm not just saying that because she pays me. Nine dollars.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I have always detested Joan Rivers. I know that there has been many Joans that have trickled and many kind of, you know, kind of alterations and remakings, shall we say, of Joan over the years. We get the new and improved Joan rolled out from the laboratory every few years, and I've hated them all, basically. There wasn't a single copy, there wasn't a single year, there wasn't a single edition of Joan that I have liked. I've hated them all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Emmy winner, talk show hostess, and ground-breaker for women in comedy, Joan quickly became a member of Hollywood's elites. But in show business, all that glitters is not gold.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Blackmail, drugs, prostitution, I mean Keith Richards once told me he considers her his role model.

NARRATOR: This is the story of Joan Rivers, the E! "True Hollywood Story."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Columbia, South Carolina.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Joan, I just want to say I love your show.

RIVERS: Thank you so much.

CALLER: My biggest question for you, though, is how do you keep a straight face when a celebrity is walking down the red carpet and they look hideous?

RIVERS: But you know what's sad, they've all gotten themselves stylists, and most of them look good -- I mean, the good old days...

KING: You mean they've taken your play away?

RIVERS: .. used to be wonderful. Remember Della Reese, she would just show up and she looked so -- I mean, just a mess, and there were certain people. I wait for Courtney Love now, because, you know she just doesn't give -- hello. You know, the boobs are out and talking to you. I mean, it's like, thank God.

KING: We're doing a show Saturday night with stylists. They're very good.

RIVERS: Yes. KING: They're important.

RIVERS: They're -- everybody now calls a stylist. But you know it's hard because nobody ever leaves their house thinking that they don't look good.

KING: Of course.

RIVERS: And that -- but my job is a critic, and my job and the reason it was so successful and why thing like the fashion review on Saturday is because we tell the truth.

KING: Richmond, Virginia. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Joan. I think you are one of the best-looking stars out there.

RIVERS: Oh, please.

CALLER: You look better than Catherine Zeta-Jones...

RIVERS: Yes, right.

CALLER: ... or Julia Roberts. I wish -- I hope that I'm like that when I'm grandmother.

RIVERS: Let me tell you something, that's the sweetest thing and you can. Just save your money and go to Steven Hoffman (ph).

KING: He's your plastic surgeon. Do you have a question?

CALLER: Do you plan retiring and enjoying your grandchildren anytime soon or are you going to keep it up forever?

RIVERS: Retire to what? Showbiz is much fun. I love what I'm doing.

KING: So, what would you do if you don't do what you were doing?

RIVERS: I would die.

KING: Last call, Horsham, Pennsylvania. Hello.

CALLER: How are you doing, Larry?

KING: Hi.

CALLER: What's up, Joan?

KING: What's up? That's the question?

RIVERS: A good question.

CALLER: What's up, Joan? You're awesome. How do like being a grandmom? I have twins. RIVERS: The best -- the best. The best was, though, that she had an epidural because when I was having Melissa, you know, I was screaming, and I kept saying to my husband, I will never sleep with you again. He kept saying, who's asking. But it was wonderful to be in the room and see the baby come out.

KING: Still doing a radio every night?

RIVERS: I do my radio show every night. QVC starting next Sunday.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: They don't let you on "The Tonight Show"? You don't go on?

RIVERS: Never.

KING: Johnny's gone.

RIVERS: Never. "The Tonight Show," "Letterman," and "Conan," blacklisted. Never. Isn't that strange? But I've got "Politically Incorrect," I have you. You move on. Got E!, God bless them.

KING: In other words, they've never asked you to go on?

RIVERS: Never once in 12 years have I been asked by any one of those shows.

KING: And that doesn't surprise you?

RIVERS: Yes, it surprised me maybe for seven years. But at one point you say, hey, screw them. Pick a finger. Who cares? It's great to see you.

KING: Always good to see you. Joanie Rivers, entrepreneur, television-radio personality, big things coming, sales, jewelry, fashion previews...

RIVERS: Faberge.

KING: previews and reviews and Faberge and April Fools night. And Thursday, after a decade of silence, Rock Hudson's partner, Marc Christian. We'll talk about being at the center of one of Hollywood's most beloved icon's secret life. That's tomorrow night.

For more information on upcoming guests, log on to my Web site, cnn.com/larryking. I love to say that. Slash, Larry King. Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." Thanks for joining us and good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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