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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Joan Rivers

Aired May 10, 2002 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Joan Rivers! She has survived a roller coaster life and come up laughing. She has coped with a husband's suicide, going broke, canceled in both daytime and late night TV, investing in the Botox boom and -- does she think Price Charles' lady friend need a good lift?

If it is on Joan's mind, it will come out of her mouth! She is next, with phone calls, on LARRY KING LIVE.

What a great way to spend a Friday night, with an old friend. Joan Rivers returns to LARRY KING LIVE. It is always good to see her.

JOAN RIVERS: It is always good to see you.

KING: She and my wife now have something in common. They both opened for Rickles.

RIVERS: Yes, yes, yes, and she was amazing. I got phone calls because people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) saying Shawn was amazing.

KING: She sang, she was great, and Rickles -- is he a delight to work for? You worked with Don.

RIVERS: Two men I have love working with were Don Rickles and David Brenner. They make you laugh and they are gentlemen.

KING: And they are generous to their openers.

RIVERS: They give the lady the good dressing room. How many people do that?

KING: I see your list of things you got coming. There's a lot we're going to cover, but I've never seen this before. This Sunday, Mother's Day, you're working at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa, California. That is fine. It is a big center, it is a beautiful place. Showtime is 4:00 p.m. OK, explain that.

RIVERS: I don't know.

KING: 4:00 p.m.

RIVERS: I guess for dead mothers. I don't know. Wheel them in, sit her up, and get her back to the home before dark.

KING: How do you explain it?

RIVERS: I don't. I take -- my agent will call me and say, you want to go, here it is, here is the money, here it is, let's go, and I never asked what time, and they said to me today, it is 4:00 p.m. I said 4:00 p.m.? What do you wear?

KING: Must be what, a Mother's Day lunch and dinner...

RIVERS: I guess they figure they can get them at both ends, and it will be fine, because the theater will be dark.

KING: And you will have fun with it.

RIVERS: And I will have fun, just saying it is 4:00 p.m.

KING: Before anything else, how you to look so good? I mean, you look -- what did you do?

RIVERS: Oh, nothing. You know what I've done. I've done, obviously, plastic surgery. We all have.

KING: Yes, but who is your doctor? He deserves credit.

RIVERS: Stephen Hoffman (ph). My guardian angel Steven.

KING: Stephen Hoffman. This guy belongs on the moon, you look like you don't have a scratch or anything.

RIVERS: But that's also good genes and also Joan Rivers Results Skin Care. It is a whole combination.

KING: Is it painful to have somebody do your face? Isn't it painful? Old Jewish guys could not do this.

RIVER: Oh, but they should. And a lot more do than we think.

KING: Really?

RIBER: But no, it never hurt. I had one full face-lift and then little bitsy titsy bitsies all through my life. And it doesn't hurt.

KING: What do you make of this? Look at this.

RIVER: That's my bible. God bless botox. God bless t.

KING: The business of botox. What is it?

RIVER: First of all, everybody in California -- I don't mean you, but California, how many of these women -- I went to a birthday party for Pat Wexler (ph), who is the big botox doctor in New York, and everybody is there. I am not going to name names, but I am telling you, Larry, everybody.

And I am standing next to -- well, Bette Midler, who admits she has it. She and I are the only two that say we are here because we have it. Now they bring out the birthday cake, and everyone was going I am just here because I am a friend. They bring out the cake, nobody could sing happy birthday to you, and she says, blow out the candles everybody, and they are all going, hrhh, hrhh. And they're going...

KING: What does it do? It...

RIVERS: It stops the lines. If you put too much in, you look like Cher. You look like dead.

KING: Like you're frowning.

RIVERS: You can't frown, you can't move. But if she puts a little bit in, it just takes away the bad lines.

KING: How often do you do it?

RIVERS: Every six months she put little bit in. I believe in maintenance.

KING: And where do they put it?

RIVERS: She puts it here.

KING: Those lines are gone.

RIVERS: Those lines are gone. And she puts a little -- which I don't understand -- under my eyes.

KING: Does it feel weird?

RIVERS: Feels like nothing.

KING: No pain?

RIVERS: No, nothing. She talks to me, how are you doing, what's up? Bing, bing, bing, bing, you're out.

KING: Now let us run down some things. We want to cover a lot of things. We also want to tell -- you're going to the Cannes film festival. We'll talk about that in a while. But this -- you and tabloids.

RIVERS: Yes.

KING: Why you?

RIVERS: You know, when they stop -- I'm thrilled? I'm probably the only person that gets the whole business sometimes. As long as they're talking about you, that means you're viable.

KING: You don't care what they say?

RIVERS: When Edgar committed suicide and I was cold, and I was fired from FOX, I wasn't in anything, and the first time I was mentioned again was the National Enquirer saying something like Joan Rivers dances on husband's grave. I mean, something terrible, and Melissa called me up and said we're back in business, mom. KING: So you have a way of looking at -- you can look at it like that.

RIVERS: I always just wonder, was the picture good?

KING: How often are they wrong?

RIVERS: Ninety-one percent of the time. Joan Rivers near death, you drove to a cemetery.

The only thing that was right is when they said Anna Nicole Smith near death, because that was when she got married.

KING: Standing near death.

RIVERS: Standing near death.

KING: How did you handle -- all kidding aside -- dealing with grief when it is so public, when everybody knows your grief?

RIVERS: You know, it was a comfort. Do you know what it is like -- two things happened to me when Edgar killed himself and it was so public. I was in Cincinnati in an airport late at night, flying home.

And a woman came all the way down -- you know, an airport when it is empty -- and came over to me and said, I lit a candle for you.

That's wonderful. And the other thing was I was walking once in New York, and really very down after Edgar, and things were just garbage in my life, and a guy from a truck said, "Hey, Joanie, we're rooting for you."

And you think, how wonderful that other people are giving something. I think it is great.

KING: The method, though, suicide, is something you have to think about. Do you blame yourself?

RIVERS: I'm still mad at him.

KING: You're mad at him?

RIVERS: Oh, I'm still angry with my husband. I'll never forgive him. It is 12 years. And people say, oh, you'll go to heaven, you will meet Edgar. I said, I'll kill him.

KING: Because?

RIVERS: Because what he did to my daughter, because what he did to us, because what he did to our lives, because suicide is such a devastating thing.

KING: You have no understanding of why he did it?

Of course, and I understand and I have great empathy. That's all there. But there is still tremendous anger. I still walk past his picture now and again and flip him the bird. I'm so mad.

KING: Is your daughter angry at him?

RIVERS: Yes, still.

KING: How old is she?

RIVERS: She is now 31.

KING: How old was she when...

RIVERS: Sixteen. The last one to speak to him was Melissa.

KING: Were they close?

RIVERS: Very close, and he said, Melissa, I'm coming home. I'll see you tomorrow. And he hung up the phone and killed himself.

KING: How did you hear about it?

RIVERS: She told me.

KING: Your daughter?

RIVERS: I was in the hospital.

KING: Doing...

RIVERS: What do you think?

KING: A regular, here she comes. Get the needles.

RIVERS: I was getting some little something done, and I was in the hospital. And some idiot called the house and said, where is your mother? somebody from Philadelphia. And Melissa said she's not here. They said, well, please tell her your father killed himself.

How's that for a phone call? And that poor child, I can't even -- had to come to my -- had to come and tell me, tell me. Can you imagine?

KING: Did you ever know who called?

RIVERS: Somebody -- and they didn't mean any harm -- from the Philadelphia police.

KING: Oh, police.

RIVERS: And they wanted to keep the body, they wanted to make it into a big scandal.

And you know who I called? Nancy Reagan. And I said, please help me. And I am not -- she got the body out from them.

KING: No kidding?

RIVERS: Yes, you don't know how. She's great, Nancy.

KING: The best. Good person.

RIVERS: I was on the bandwagon early.

KING: Yes, that's right, you were, when a lot of people weren't. You're a good person. You don't -- you have never played it safe on stage, have you? There is no trap door between brain and mouth?

RIVERS: No, and what's the point? Then I shouldn't be on stage.

KING: Because you get in trouble.

RIVERS: Always in trouble. Always in trouble, but that means I am still cutting edge. I said things in London where I just came from -- at, there was one point I said oh, my God, what did I just say?

KING: Let's talk about some of those things. There is a lot to talk about.

The life and times of Joan Rivers and we'll be taking your phone calls too, and we are going to do a fashion show tonight (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And by the way, lineup next week, Regis Philbin, Governor Ann Richards, Rosie O'Donnell, Mike Wallace, Barry Manilow, all next week on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: You've danced with all the greats the leaders in the world now. Who is the best dancer?

NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY: Oh, my husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK).

KING: We're back with Joan rivers covering lots of bases. You say you want to be controversial.

RIVERS: I don't want to be controversial. I want to be truthful. I'm so sick of political correctness. I'm so sick of people not getting to the bottom line of their emotions.

KING: What happened with -- you clear it up for me about jokes about 9/11 and firefighters and...

RIVERS: Well, I've been doing them for three months.

KING: So, what was the...

RIVERS: Nothing, some ass read it wrong. I've been doing a joke that got a standing ovation in London. And it is not about that. I mean, it was about what we were talking about, and it was about -- there are 3,000 -- the joke is so -- I talk about what we've all been through. They had blown a synagogue up that day and I talked about that in London. I talked about the death of the Queen Mum, which was so important.

All in London. And then I said at 9/11, I was there. I was there for the whole thing. I lost two friends, a girl in my office father's a fireman, she lost three people. We've been through hell, and I talk about -- it is like an amputation to New York. I mean the whole thing, serious, serious. And then I say we had 3,000 widows, and then I said, which I still say, but maybe five are not so unhappy, you know? Let's get down to it. Not every marriage is glory. Maybe there were five sons of bitches who beat their wives up.

KING: And that is considered insensitive, do you think?

RIVERS: No, because the joke is. Maybe I would like to find those five and say, guess what, Yeda Schwarz, Harry is back. You know she's going to go, no!

KING: So you got big laughs?

RIVERS: Huge! Huge. And they said, even in the London reviews, which were amazing, she makes it palatable to talk about 9/11. Fine. Somebody who didn't see the show, my friend Jeanette Walls (ph), who didn't see the show, wants a headline for her dot-com thing and she puts down Joan Rivers talking about firemen's widows.

It was not about firemen's widows, it was about widows. But if you read the thing, it says Joan does it with taste. That starts it. Now the tabloids get a hold of it. You understand? Now there is some wacko looney in New Jersey who is sending out e-mails to everybody saying Joan Rivers should be stopped.

KING: So how do you deal with this?

RIVERS: I just said the joke stays in. It is not offensive. I stand -- if it were offensive, I would take it out. I once did a Willy Nelson joke. He didn't like it. I took it out.

KING: When can we cross the border when Leno, Letterman, yourself and others, started -- you can't do 9/11 jokes on 9/14.

RIVERS: No. Oh, and you don't want to on 9/14.

KING: But Osama bin Laden, jokes began on him about two months later.

RIVERS: Oh, Mine were much earlier. Oh, are you kidding? The whole thing -- no wonder they want the virgins, if you look under a burqa. Also terrorists deserve to die because I've never seen a good- looking one. I went right into it. But my favorite joke, you'll never find a Jewish woman that is a terrorist because no Jewish woman would ever put a bomb in a Gucci bag and expect to blow up.

And now there is a girl in New York who is doing -- named Roxie (ph) who is doing a whole night on 9/11 jokes. But it started very slowly, and then we all heal, and you just feel it with an audience. It is all about a communication with an audience. And about two months ago I started putting in about I hope to God there are five ladies that something good came out of this for.

KING: Do you think some of your humor borders on mean?

RIVERS: No. Truth.

KING: No?

RIVERS: Truth. Big difference between truth and mean, but a lot of people can't differentiate. Does that make sense? The only time I ever worried about -- was Elizabeth Taylor. But so was -- everybody forgets, everybody was doing Elizabeth Taylor.

They only remember me doing jokes because mine were the best, I like to think, and I called her and said, is this bothering you because I'll take them out? For God's sakes, I can write another joke tomorrow.

She says, doesn't get me where I live. OK.

KING: But if someone did object, you would take it out?

RIVERS: I did. Willie Nelson, I used to do jokes, because Willie Nelson had a reputation of being really -- and his band -- being dirty on the road. It was said they urinated out the windows at Harrah's, you know, wild guys smoking pot and on the road.

So I did a joke, Willie Nelson, he's the only performer I know who has a roach motel around his neck. Cute joke. I got a letter from his daughter saying they laugh at me in school because you made that joke. Came out immediately. You. You going to hurt a 12-year- old?

KING: Are you still bitter about the loss of -- the breakup with Carson?

RIVERS: Sad. Sad.

KING: He got awful mad at you, right?

RIVERS: Why? I still don't get it.

KING: Because you took another show, right? For anyone in the audience that doesn't know, Joan sat in for -- you were the sit-in. You were pre-Leno.

RIVERS: Pre-Leno. And I took another show. It was Fox, because I was my own show. As Cosby had done, as David Brenner, they all had done.

KING: Cavett.

RIVERS: Cavett, everybody. Something went wrong there. I think he really either liked me the most -- I mean, you are looking back at 12 years later -- or I was a woman and he never thought it would happen. Who knows.

KING: He wanted you to call him first, you think?

RIVERS: I did call him.

KING: To tell him you were going to...

RIVERS: And there were people, thank God, in the room, because he denied it. He hung up on me. Denied it. And then when his son died -- you reach an age where, good or bad, you like the people around you.

And when his son died, I wrote him a note and said I know we're not talking but this shouldn't happen to anybody. Never heard from him. I thought, God, how sad that is for him.

KING: What do you think it was, then?

RIVERS: I think he thought I would never leave him. I think I say thank you too much. You know, I never had arrogance. People who say, I belong here! I was always thank you, thank you, wouldn't be here except for you.

KING: And that was a huge story.

RIVERS: Huge, huge.

KING: Page one, this story.

RIVERS: Yes, page one.

KING: One of the first media stories to make -- it was like ten times bigger than is Letterman going to ABC?

RIVERS: It made people, all that stuff.

KING: Joan Rivers has become associated, it happened a few years ago, with people going to the Oscars or Emmys, getting laced by her or loved by her and we're going to do the same right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEE WEE HERMAN: It is so great. I can't believe I'm actually on your show. It is so exciting. I grew up on this show, really. You know, watching this show. So exciting, I think I was probably conceived during your show, had my first kiss during your show, first time I ever had my first, you know, sexual encounter was while watching your show.

RIVERS: I don't want to hurt your feelings, but tonight's the first night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: On the night of Wednesday, May 29, E! goes to the Cannes Film Festival and Joan Rivers hosts "The Fashion Police" Wednesday night, May 29.

RIVERS: With Melissa Rivers.

KING: How did this start with you and fashions?

RIVERS: I actually started in fashion when I was in college.

KING: No, I mean this commentary thing?

RIVERS: They said to me, do you want to come out and do E!'s -- they didn't even have a red carpet then. Do you want to come out and do some commentating on E!

KING: For what event?

RIVERS: For, I think it was the Golden Globes. And they said, you can have one of the Mondale (ph) girls. And I said, no. I always wanted to work with my daughter. If I can do it with my daughter, I'll come out. And they said, come on. So we started it and it's become the biggest on E!.

KING: I know. They give you free flow, right?

RIVERS: Free flow, have never said to me, don't say this, do say that. They're fabulous.

KING: Let's run down the 2002 Oscars and, Joanie, you'll see them and you'll comment. And let's begin with Halle Berry. You'll see her right in there, Joan. And what was this and how did you feel?

RIVERS: OK. I've not seen her but I know what she looks like.

KING: I don't see it yet either. There it is.

RIVERS: Glorious, gorgeous, perfect. I think the whole world should intermarry and look like Halle Berry.

KING: The dress?

RIVERS: The dress, perfect, elegant, yet very sexy. I think she's just amazing.

KING: And next, we have Julia Roberts. I don't know if we want...

RIVERS: That's all right. There we go.

KING: Julia.

RIVERS: Yes, this looked better in real life than on camera. It looked a little more (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on camera.

KING: Really? A lot of things can be that way.

RIVERS: Yes, but in real life, it just hit right where the breasts start. In real life, it was like sex, vavoom. But I thought on camera...

KING: Looked like another black dress?

RIVERS: Yes.

KING: Nicole Kidman is next for the commentary of Joan Rivers.

RIVERS: Now, this is one of the most beautiful women in the world and she's wearing Chanel. No, she's wearing I think Lagerfelder Chanel Couture. And now I'm starting to like it because I've seen the dress a couple of times. I hated it.

KING: Didn't like it. Why?

RIVERS: Didn't like it. I thought -- I think she should wear stronger colors because she's blonde now. But she's so gorgeous, and she has got humor. Have you ever interviewed her?

KING: Oh, I know her. She's great.

RIVERS: She's great.

KING: Cameron Diaz, the current rage.

RIVERS: I think she has to get herself a gay friend. She just -- the hair. It is like, you know, come on, Cameron. Don't smoke before you show up. It is...

KING: The dress?

RIVERS: The dress is -- I know it is a famous -- I think the dress is ridiculous. I think they threw the turquoise on...

KING: Now, when you interview her, do you say, Cameron, you look great?

RIVERS: Well, you say, Cameron, only you could wear -- very few people could wear a dress like that. And what you're thinking is, and you're not of them.

KING: Oh, Cameron, you did it again.

RIVERS: Yes, and she's a gorgeous -- all these women are so beautiful.

KING: And now we swing to Gwyneth...

RIVERS: Doesn't she need a gay dress, a gay friend?

KING: That was a funny line.

RIVERS: Yes, no question about it.

KING: Now, Gwyneth Paltrow?

RIVERS: Again, someone I love and adore and worship. And Winona Ryder wouldn't even shoplift that dress. I'm sorry. But she's -- Gwyneth is a fashionista (ph) and she's always...

KING: What does that mean?

RIVERS: She tries. She's always going the -- she's great and she always got the new thing on and you miss sometimes.

KING: Jennifer Lopez.

RIVERS: Now, which one is Jennifer? Oh, no, this isn't Jennifer Lopez. This is from...

KING: Oh, this is Jennifer Connelly.

RIVERS: Jennifer Connelly.

KING: They wrote Lopez, but it is Connelly. I know Connelly. She was on this show. It don't look at all like Lopez.

RIVERS: This is not -- she was so gorgeous at the Golden Globe. She wore black with the flower. And this is like -- I don't know what this is. Nothing matched. Nothing worked.

KING: What is it?

RIVERS: It's again -- you know, stop with the new designers. It is another new designer that Vogue has picked up for a minute and a half. And they ruined this gorgeous girl. And now, think, if she had won the Academy Award, that would have been the picture that would have followed her for the rest of her life.

KING: Now we have Jennifer Lopez, I understand it.

RIVERS: Now, nobody liked Jennifer Lopez but me. I thought she looked amazing. I thought she look like a babe Halle, like one of those great ladies out of the '60s with the big hair and the gorgeous dress.

KING: Phone the network.

RIVERS: I adored her, yes. I think she looks like a lady who lunches. And everyone else hated it. I thought she was amazing.

KING: So does regrets (ph). Reese Witherspoon.

RIVERS: She's the best. She looks like -- look at this. Look at this. Is this the best? The best. She and her husband are Ken and Barbie. I just want to dress her. I want to take her home and put sexy little shoes on her, little earrings on her and prop her up.

KING: I hope you like the next one because she's one of my favorite people. Sharon Stone is next.

RIVERS: Did she come and tell everybody? Is this saying, I'm back, fellas and I'm OK.

KING: She's the best. RIVERS: Yes, but, you know, Sharon has got it all together. She knows it is showbiz. I love her. She walks like a star. She acts like a star. I think she's got more glamour than anybody going.

KING: My little son and her son have the same birthday.

RIVERS: That's great.

KING: May 22, they'll be two.

RIVERS: Isn't that nice?

KING: And finally, one male in the picture, Mr. Russell Crowe.

RIVERS: I can't even look at him.

KING: He's a great guy. He's a great guest.

RIVERS: I'm sure he's a wonderful guest. I'm sure he's full of charm when he wants to be. And I have stories, I'm not going to go in it, that he's done terrible things to people that can't answer him back. Not my boy.

KING: Does he look good?

RIVERS: Who cares?

KING: Joan?

RIVERS: I'm sorry I can't go into stories about him. But this is a nasty, evil, arrogant son of a bitch.

KING: Other than that, you like him?

RIVERS: Other than that, he's fine. I was -- they cheered when he didn't win the Oscar backstage. Did you know that story, Mr. Darling Russell Crowe. People stood up and cheered backstage when Denzel got it.

KING: Maybe they were cheering for Denzel.

RIVERS: Partially.

KING: The E! Cannes Film Festival Fashion Police. How long are you going to be there, one night?

RIVERS: I don't know how long we're -- I think we're there a week. We cover everything and then we discuss it.

KING: Now, you have your own -- you have the QVC Junior Classics Collection. Look at this.

(CROSSTALK)

4:00 p.m. Sunday, Mother's Day, she's at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa. Then, May 29, she's in Cannes for the film festival with the Fashion Police. Then she's on QVC out of Philadelphia with her Junior Classic Collection, the weekend of May 31.

RIVERS: Yes, my classics, my jewelry.

KING: See, that has to be good because someone could rip you apart.

RIVERS: Yes.

KING: You have to be careful.

RIVERS: I am. And I've been with -- Larry, the only good thing about age, the only good thing is they've done it all to me. You know the feeling?

KING: We'll be right back with more of Joan Rivers. We'll be including your phone calls on this Friday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I said Joan Junior Classics on QVC. See it said JR. It's Joan Rivers Classics. She also is going to appear at Harrah's Showboat Casino in Atlantic City June 7 and 8. On June 3, she will work the Harvey Weintraub bar mitzvah, 10:00 a.m. at Beth David in Miami Beach. You keep going, boy. You're Penny Youngman.

RIVERS: I love my life and love what's happened to it.

KING: I've never seen you happier.

RIVERS: Yes. Things are good.

KING: Life has changed, right?

RIVERS: Life gets better for me.

KING: Is there a man in your life?

RIVERS: Semi.

KING: What does that mean?

RIVERS: That means just enough. It is very nice sometimes, also, being on your own.

KING: Your daughter is getting divorced?

RIVERS: Yes. That's the only bad thing, yes.

KING: And she's got a baby.

RIVERS: And she's got a wonderful -- Cooper.

KING: What is it like, Grandma? RIVERS: He calls me Nana Noo-face.

(LAUGHTER)

I taught him that.

KING: I want to get some calls, but I want to add this -- what did you make of the whole Letterman/Koppel moving story?

RIVERS: I thought it was very sad. We all know from the inside contract negotiations. You know, I mean, a lot of that was very -- from the inside, you think, that's a lot of contract, which it was. I thought it was very sad for Ted Koppel that it is all about numbers because everyone forgets sometimes that it is not -- it is not always about numbers, it is not what he did because I think he's wonderful and he's a fixture and he should stay and I'm glad he's staying. But I think Bill Maher should stay. I think the Bill Maher is brilliant.

KING: I hope it stays.

RIVERS: I pray it stays.

KING: Were you really down when you lost both night and day shows?

RIVERS: I was very -- I'm always down. It is like a loss because of the people. It's like...

KING: But you could always do clubs. You don't need it.

RIVERS: No, no.

KING: You're funny.

RIVERS: Yes, thank God.

KING: No, I mean, you can do stand-up anywhere, right?

RIVERS: Yes. But the night -- I miss nighttime very much because you can say more and I can't get on any nighttime shows as a guest.

KING: Wait a minute. You don't get on Letterman? Leno?

RIVERS: No. Never. Never. Never.

KING: Conan?

RIVERS: Never. Once on Conan.

KING: Any explanation?

RIVERS: No. Jon Stewart just turned me down. No.

KING: Atlanta, hello?

CALLER: Hi, good evening. How are you all tonight?

KING: Hi. Fine.

RIVERS: You'll have to make it a little louder for me.

KING: OK. I'll repeat if you don't hear. Go ahead, dear.

RIVERS: All right. Hello, Atlanta.

CALLER: Yes, ma'am. Can you hear me?

RIVERS: Vaguely, scream.

KING: Scream.

CALLER: I just wanted to tell you, you've always struck me as such a survivor. And I'm interested to know what keeps you going through the thick and thin and how can I get that?

RIVERS: She wants to know...

KING: You keep going. She sees you as a survivor, through thick and thin. How do you do it? How can she do it?

RIVERS: OK, I'll tell you how you do it. Forward, can't change yesterday. So don't -- move on and -- what I talked about before, know the bottom line, know what's really upsetting you because -- and just forward. I've been so down, you know, my joke is, I have welcome tattooed on my ass. I mean, I've been down forever. But you just pick yourself up and -- also a lot of it is anger, you know? Just move on. Show them I can do it, and as a woman, you can do it more than men.

KING: Have You always had that little chutzpah?

RIVERS: Yes. Just, I'm not -- you can't do this to me. I'll find another way in.

KING: What did you make of -- Rosie will be here next Wednesday. What did you make of her coming out?

RIVERS: Two things. First of all, it was no surprise. I find it so hilarious when people who are gay who say, I'm going tell you a big surprise, I'm gay. No kidding, Rosie. You have a pantsuit in every color. But I -- so...

KING: She's a good girl though.

RIVERS: Great girl. But I was going to say, I was surprised that she thought she has to tell us. But I think what she's doing with her life is amazing. I think the whole thing about adoption is amazing. I just thought it was silly that she had to come out and say I'm gay because everybody knew, you know, except her girlfriend who thought they liked to cuddle upside down.

KING: Did you ever do gay jokes, years ago? Did you ever bash? RIVERS: Oh, I bashed everybody. Of course, I do gay jokes. I love gay men. But they're hilarious sometimes.

KING: What about Sally Jessy getting the ax? What do you make of all daytime TV? You had a lock on daytime TV?

RIVERS: I was glad I got out when I got out. I don't care if you're a big, disgusting fat pig, that your father made out with you, get over it and get a life and get some dentures and get a job.

I can't deal -- look at who is sitting there going, you know, my boyfriend's sleeping with you. Who wants either one of you? So I'm glad I got out when I got out. I think Sally had a great run. I think she's very smart. I think she should have gotten out five years ago. I used to look at those shows and go, how can you talk to these people?

KING: Yet Regis stays on, strong with Kelly.

RIVERS: But Regis is a different kind of show. Regis is a family, terrific. Regis is a whole different show.

KING: By the way, next Tuesday, ABC will announce its fall program. Regis is our guest Monday night. We will not know if they're going to keep "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Should they?

RIVERS: I hope for his sake they keep it because he was so thrilled with it. I don't care.

KING: Really? You're not staying up nights?

RIVERS: I don't watch anything at night. I work at night or go out to dinner with friends. i come home and I watch "Law & Order." I like to get upset and then I watch you. Seriously, those are my things.

KING: You left your radio show, too.

RIVERS: I had to to go to London. Broke my heart. Broke my heart. That's the first show I ever gave up. I'm used to being fired. My radio show -- I walked into them.

KING: You're big in London?

RIVERS: Huge, yes, it is great. It is great.

RIVERS: Is their sense of humor similar?

RIVERS: It is great, yes. It is great. It was just magical.

KING: You didn't have to change anything?

RIVERS: Not a word. How about that? Think about it. They watch you in London. They watch "Friends" in London. It is all the same. Everything is international now. They know every single person I was talking about. Dick Clark, they sort of didn't know. I did a little Dick Clark joke and I had to explain who he was.

KING: Do you write all your material?

RIVERS: 94.5 percent. And I have two men, Landis (ph), can't pronounce his name, only know him four years, and a man named Tom Peru (ph), who would say to me this is funny.

KING: Do you watch the late night shows? You don't watch them?

RIVERS: If I'm not on, what do I care? I'm not on Letterman, I'm going to watch his stupid pet tricks? Pick a finger. I'm not going to do it.

KING: Joan Rivers, she'll be at the E! Cannes Film Festival. She hosts "The Fashion Police" Wednesday, May 29. The Joan Rivers Classics are on QVC the weekend of the 31st. She's at Harrah's Showboat and Casino in Atlantic City June 7 and 8, and this Sunday at the -- get there early -- at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa for Mother's Day, show time 4:00 p.m. The band plays promptly at 4:00. Doors close at 4:00. Bring your Jell-O. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joan Rivers is the guest. Before we take another call, what do you make of the Liza Minnelli thing? She was on this show from her honeymoon in London. And by the way -- I can make this announcement now -- on May 23rd she's coming back on this show to give a preview of her American concert. She's going to sing some songs.

RIVERS: OK, let me just say -- I have a lot to say about Liza.

KING: What do you think?

RIVERS: Number one, I was there the first time she went in Hollywood's house, so I love Liza, and I saw -- whatever this guy is, whether he is gay or he is straight, he has taken her, he has fixed her up, he has put her back on the map, so I think that's terrific, but I do think he's gay.

Hear me out. Hear me out. The guy was never married. Fourty- eight years old, big Judy Garland fan, I was told collects Shirley Temple dolls, I was told plucks his eyebrows. That to me screams flight attendant. I'm probably wrong.

KING: He's done a lot of good for her nevertheless.

RIVERS: I think he's the best for her.

KING: Do you like her?

RIVERS: I adore her, and I wish -- I hope she is happy, happy, happy, and I love him just for bringing her back.

KING: How did you do with the hobnobbing with the royal set in London?

RIVERS: I love them.

KING: Never see you with that set.

RIVERS: I love them. I'm mad about Charles, mad about Charles. Crazy about Camilla. How about that?

KING: Explain. Before -- you met them? Come on, because you would have slayed them.

RIVERS: I met them. I spent time with them. He had -- it is all changing, thank God. He had very bad press. He's charming...

KING: Everyone tells me that.

RIVERS: He's adorable. He's funny. You would love him. He's smart. And he is a very attractive man which -- and she is dynamite. You get it the minute you meet them. You get the whole relationship. You get everything.

KING: Silverton -- to Silverton. I think -- the phone won't go down.

RIVERS: Silverton.

KING: Three won't -- Silverton, Oregon, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Joan, could you tell us who are some of your inspirations growing up? And Oregon loves you.

KING: Oregon loves you.

RIVERS: Oh, and I love Oregon, what a gorgeous state that is.

KING: Did you have any?

RIVERS: Lenny Bruce.

KING: Know him well.

RIVERS: Lenny Bruce, I think, just changed the face of comedy forever. Lenny Bruce.

KING: Were you a funny girl?

RIVERS: I was -- I was never the class clown. I was the class wit. There is a big difference, you know.

KING: You didn't do the nutty thing?

RIVERS: I didn't do the -- but I was the one that had the funny remark about Moby Dick.

KING: Did you have a lot of boyfriends?

RIVERS: Oh, yes, sure. Oh, please. I had to go to my senior prom with my cousin and she didn't want to take me. Don't start! I had no boyfriends. I have never had...

KING: Where did you go?

RIVERS: I went to Adelphi academy in Brooklyn and then in Queens.

KING: Adelphi Academy! You didn't go to a regular...

RIVERS: No. Excuse me? Upwardly mobile.

KING: What did your dad do?

RIVERS: A doctor.

KING: Oh!

RIVERS: Exactly. You got it.

KING: You had it made.

RIVERS: I was pretty Joan Melinsky.

KING: Who was your first love?

RIVERS: My first love was David Fidleson (ph).

KING: Fidelson. What happened to David?

RIVERS: Pretty name. What happened to David? Who knows. He is probably dead. I don't know. At this age, you know, you don't, don't -- read the obituary...

KING: Where were you first paid to entertain?

RIVERS: Paid to entertain in the Catskill mountains.

KING: Went up there with the Concorde (ph)?

RIVERS: Oh, sure, please. Benny's Bungalows.

KING: Benny's Bungalows.

RIVERS: For $6, and I think they let me perform because I had a car so I could bring up the ventriloquist.

KING: Did your folks want you do this?

RIVERS: Larry, they didn't talk to me for a year. They didn't talk to me. Truly didn't talk to me. I had to leave the house, I slept in my car for three nights before I could...

KING: Because you had gone into show business. What did your dad want you to do?

RIVERS: Anything. My father was a doctor. In those days, every prostitute would come in and my father would say, what do you do? I'm in show business. Either that or they say, I'm a hooker, doc. So when I came in and said, I want to be in show business, he is thinking, we got a hooker here.

KING: Atoka (ph), Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Joan, you're a grandmother now. How do you keep that wonderful figure of yours?

RIVERS: These are nice calls.

KING: You never had a...

RIVERS: Are you kidding?

KING: You were fat?

RIVERS: Oh, please, my...

KING: When?

RIVERS: In school. I watch my diet all the time. Truly, truly, I watch my diet, but I cheat. I live on Cool Whip. I am an all inside plastic person.

KING: You live on Cool Whip?

RIVERS: Cool whip, delicious. I don't think there is anything in it. There is no...

KING: There is no fat, right?

RIVERS: No nothing. I think it is like just plastic and white paint.

KING: How do you like being a grandmother?

RIVERS: Truthfully?

KING: You're not a grandmother type.

RIVERS: I'm a little bored.

KING: Not great conversation.

RIVERS: Hello, hello, good-bye, good-bye, it is like talking to Christie Brinkley, you know? He is adorable and I'm crazy about him.

KING: What is his name?

RIVERS: I think it is -- it is either Copper or Cooper. I think it is Cooper.

KING: You're not sure?

RIVERS: I know.

KING: Cooper.

RIVERS: Cooper.

KING: My kids are Chance and Cannon (ph). Whatever happened to Irving?

RIVERS: I don't know. Moishe.

KING: Moishe. Morris.

RIVERS: What about just a Helen?

KING: Herbert. Helen, Julio.

RIVERS: Tell me your kids' names.

KING: Cannon (ph) and Chance.

RIVERS: I will introduce them to Cooper.

KING: Rickles says we have another kid, you name him Torpedo.

We'll be back with more of Joan Rivers. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: I for one am thrilled, even though I think the Olympics a little bit commercialized. Today I read where the eternal flame is going to be a Bic, and -- but -- and a lot of weirdoes are coming into town now, too. No, no, no. Because like, all the Olympic athletes have come in, they're big. Oh, the Scandinavian guys, they make Mr. T look gay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Joan Rivers. St. John's, New Brunswick, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: How are you, Larry?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: Good. Joan, I just love you.

RIVERS: Thank you.

CALLER: I think you're just wonderful. And you're a straight shooter, so I'm going to ask you a straight question. Of all the celebrities you've met, past and present, who would you say is the least effected by their fame. In other words, a pain in the you know what and who is the sort of most effective, because I got to go with you on Russell Crowe. He reminds me of like a wild boar from Australia.

RIVERS: Yes, yes, least effective, truly, just comes to my mind now, two of them, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. Very down to earth, both of them.

KING: Both of them. Regular.

RIVERS: Regular. You sit and laugh with them, which is fabulous.

KING: They're unaffected by fame. Those kind of affectations are going now, aren't say?

RIVERS: Oh, you want to say, you know -- my joke is always, they were a waitress last week and they'll be a waitress next week. So you want to get their attention on the red carpet, you go, check, please. I mean, you know, it is OK. The affected ones are never the big ones.

KING: How big a thing is QVC for you?

RIVERS: Wonderful. Wonderful for me. I started out with nothing. And a little jewelry business and now we're doing jewelry and skin and it is -- I run an organization.

KING: That's a business.

RIVERS: It is a business. I'm the CEO -- I'm Joan Crawford.

KING: Los Angeles, hello.

RIVERS: I walk in and say, you know...

KING: Los Angeles.

RIVERS: Hello.

CALLER: I'm a huge Joan Rivers fan. I'm so glad that you took my call. Joan, I've been reading that Melissa is having some problems with her marriage. I want to know, are you there for her? Are you supportive and how are you getting her through it?

RIVERS: It is a wonderful question. I am totally there for her, obviously. I am getting her through it by saying whatever she wants and whatever they want is what I want. I am not putting my two cents in. I am being just there for her. And it is very difficult. It is very difficult.

KING: Is it in the process?

RIVERS: Yes, she said to me, which broke my heart, mother, I'm profoundly sad. To have your child say that to you, that's -- somebody said to me, you can only be as happy as your least happy child. And so, it is a very difficult time for my daughter and I think she's handling it with such grace and such style that it is amazing.

KING: Does she use humor, too?

RIVERS: No, not the way -- no.

KING: Because you could...

RIVERS: I would be out there doing throat jokes already. No, she doesn't. And that makes me very sad.

KING: And women in comedy, any thoughts to retirement of Phyllis Diller?

RIVERS: Breaks my heart. Let me tell you about Phyllis Diller. She with come and see us, when I was starting and she was Phyllis Diller. She would sit in the club and be the first to laugh. God bless her. God love her. And it makes me sad that she -- and I hope she's retiring because she wants to retire.

KING: When you came along, Phyllis Diller was the forerunner of this...

RIVERS: Huge.

KING: There weren't any females that got up on stage and did comedy.

RIVERS: No, and thank God for that, and nobody that wanted to look pretty. I was single. I was hoping, you know, maybe they won't think she's funny, but they'll ask me for a date. I always like pulled myself together and took a breath mint before I walked out.

KING: Yes, I remember as a kid Joan Davis on the radio. She was funny. Fannie Bright (ph).

RIVERS: Funny. Phyllis was there. Tony Fields, who was brilliant.

KING: Brilliant.

RIVERS: Brilliant.

KING: Austin, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Joan, I just want to tell you that I really like you a lot. I love you. And I was just curious if you hadn't become a comedian, what other interests did you have?

RIVERS: Anthropology.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm not kidding. Anthropology.

KING: What did you major in in college?

RIVERS: I majored in philosophy and anthropology.

KING: So you wanted to study species and -- you wanted to be Margaret Meade?

RIVERS: Actually, I was lucky. When I first started doing nightclubs, I called Margaret Meade and she gave me a little form for ladies to fill out while they're in the nightclub.

KING: I loved her with her stick.

RIVERS: She had a hot sex life when she was younger.

KING: Oh, all over the world.

RIVERS: She wasn't in Samoa alone.

KING: I know. So you wanted to be an anthropologist?

RIVERS: Yes, I still would be, but I would need a hairdresser and a makeup girl to go with me.

KING: You would have been a good one.

RIVERS: Sure.

KING: Thank you, Joan.

RIVERS: A pleasure, Larry.

KING: Joan Rivers, and please don't forget Sunday. Please get out there, 4:00 at the Luther Burbank Center. She goes on stage at 4:00. The band goes on stage at 3:20. Showtime is over at 4:45. Jell-O in the lobby. Joan Rivers, always great to see her.

We'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There is an extraordinary movie coming to HBO. It's called "LBJ: Path to War," all about the Vietnam war. And we're going to feature a whole "LARRY KING WEEKEND" dealing with it. Alec Baldwin will be on, Donald Sutherland, John Frankenheimer, the director, Jack Valenti and others. That's tomorrow night on "LARRY KING WEEKEND," "LBJ: Path to War."

And the Mahareshi Yogi, remember him? The adviser and counsel to the Beatles. He's going to be with us on Sunday night's "LARRY KING WEEKEND." And Monday night, Regis Philbin.

Now, of course, it's New York. It's his town. It's Aaron Brown time.

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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