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CNN CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT

Another Case of Kids Left Home Alone; Interview With Queen Latifah

Aired January 10, 2003 - 20:00   ET

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

CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
Tonight: She left her two young children home alone for three weeks to visit a man she had never met.

ANNOUNCER: Another case of kids left home alone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA NARDOLILLO, NEIGHBOR: They literally were prisoners in their own home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: What was a mother doing 3,000 miles away from home while her two children had to fend for themselves?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARDOLILLO: I hope she gets what she deserves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Dr. Death from down under: the Australian who's now in the U.S. to promote his new suicide machine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PHILIP NITSCHKE, ASSISTED SUICIDE ADVOCATE: The machine is a very simple device. A patient dies quite peacefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The latest outrage story, with a twist.

He claims he can bend spoons with his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

URI GELLER, PARANORMALIST: I say to it, bend, melt, mainly bend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Uri Geller, the self-styled paranormalist, is now shedding light into the mind of his close friend Michael Jackson. Family for sale: An eBay auction asking $5 million for this family of four hits a snag.

And our "Person of the Day": a real team effort.

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.

CHUNG: Good evening.

Tonight: another case of children left abandoned. Just as we're learning more about the horrible case of three children left to starve in a Newark, New Jersey, basement, a story emerges with chilling similarities. In the New Jersey case, one boy died, two others have been hospitalized after suffering abuse and malnutrition.

Now in California, two children left alone. The reason is unthinkable.

CNN's Anne McDermott has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This woman, Janet Chen, of Orange County, California, is accused of leaving her 7- year-old daughter and 4-year-old son home alone. Alone over Christmas, alone for almost three weeks, alone with no phone, no TV and only packaged snacks and frozen food to eat.

DET. CORINNE LOOMIS, PLACENTIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: TV dinners, Bagel Bites, corn dogs and the fact of the matter is is that she -- they had run out of food by the that time the officers got there.

MCDERMOTT: Police say the kids were told to stay inside but this neighbor spotted the 4-year-old peeking out with tears on his face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually I think this right here is exactly -- this little spot right there.

MCDERMOTT: No one saw their single mother. And eventually someone dialed 911.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife said she heard them in there crying today.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MCDERMOTT: Where was mother? Well police say she traveled from California to North Carolina to meet a man she had been chatting with on the Internet. She remains in jail for now and attempts to reach her attorney, a public defender, were unsuccessful.

Her neighbors though were talking.

NARDOLILLO: And they literally were prisoners in their own home. No outside connection whatsoever. It's sick.

MCDERMOTT: The children are now in protective custody in a children's home and said to be doing well.

Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: Joining us now are the detective who interviewed Chen, Detective Corinne Loomis. And neighbors who realized something was terribly wrong, Charles and Mindy Jedrey.

Thanks so much for being with us.

Detective Loomis, you interviewed Janet Chen for two hours. What did she tell you?

LOOMIS: Ms. Chen told me that she did meet a man on the Internet and left her children, told them up front that she was leaving for 20 days, that she was actually going to China, because they were familiar with where China was because of their heritage.

She said she left enough food in the freezer for them, or enough food that she thought she left. But they in fact had run out on the day that the officers got there. And police actually fed them when we got the children into our custody.

CHUNG: Were the children actually feeding themselves all those days?

LOOMIS: Yes. The 7-year-old daughter was feeding the 4-year-old son and herself by microwaving food such as pizza, corn dogs, Bagel Bites. They had cereal that she left milk for, only enough until the 1st of January, when she instructed them to then eat the cereal dry.

CHUNG: You would think that the house would be a mess, but I understand the police found it to be in immaculate condition.

LOOMIS: Amazingly so. The officers that I spoke with said that it was in very clean condition. The children were instructed, as the refuse was used from the food, that they were to put all of their discards into the refrigerator to prevent any ants or cockroaches from getting to it.

And the rest of the apartment, although sparsely furnished, was relatively clean.

CHUNG: During those two hours, did she ask, did Janet Chen ask about her children?

LOOMIS: She only asked about her children at the end of the interview when I asked her: If you had something that you could say to your children, what would you say?

And she said: Well, I would tell them that I was sorry and that I wouldn't do it again and that I love them. And then she asked me when I thought that she would be able to see them. And I told her that that would be up to social services and the courts.

CHUNG: That's astounding. Did you say to yourself, I can't believe this woman didn't ask where her children were and if she could see them right away?

LOOMIS: I couldn't believe a lot about the case. I couldn't believe that she did this, that she had a relatively cavalier attitude about it. She said she phoned home, but because the phone was unplugged, they wouldn't be able to answer the phone.

And I said: Well, then, what's the point of phoning? And she said: Well, I just assumed that, if I called and the phone just rang, then that meant that everything was OK, because they hadn't had to call the police.

CHUNG: All right, let's go over to Mindy.

Mindy, why did you suspect that something was wrong?

MINDY JEDREY, NEIGHBOR OF JANET CHEN: I had heard the little boy crying on Monday morning. But, prior to that, there was a UPS note on the door that had been there for approximately 10 days. After seeing him through the window, we started getting suspicious, my sister Melissa (ph) and I. One thing after another, it just finally was to the point where we decided we need to do something about this.

CHUNG: And thank goodness you did.

Charles, could you see anything through the window?

CHARLES JEDREY, NEIGHBOR OF JANET CHEN: Not a whole lot. Saturday morning, I was able to see Aaron (ph). He peeked out through the blinds. And he was playing with his toy helicopter.

CHUNG: He's the 4-year-old?

C. JEDREY: Yes, he's 4.

And looked relatively happy in there. But, at that point, we knew for sure that there was somebody inside the door, despite the door having not been opened for about a week or more.

CHUNG: Did you see anyone coming in and going out at any time during those 20 days?

C. JEDREY: Not at all. We were unsure, actually, at that point, how long it had been since we had seen anybody. There were no comings or goings. There was that notice on the door that Mindy referred to. And there was also a business card that had been placed there by a cleaning service even prior to that notice being there.

CHUNG: Mindy, had you run into Janet Chen and her children before? I mean, was there anything strange about them or did you notice anything peculiar?

M. JEDREY: You know what? You would have thought they were just your everyday -- in comings and goings, it was just, "Hi, how are you?" And that's about it. The kids are adorable.

So, on the way, when the police took them to the squad car, you would have never even known there was any -- it's amazing.

CHUNG: Were either of you able to see the children once the police got there? Could you tell what condition they were in?

C. JEDREY: Yes, absolutely. They looked pretty clean. Despite being scared, as they understandably should have been, they seemed to be doing quite all right. They answered the police officers pretty quickly. They knew exactly what was going on. And they seemed to be doing good. The police handled the situation very well.

CHUNG: Mindy, did they ask for their mommy?

M. JEDREY: I did not hear that. The little boy was afraid he was going to jail. He thought that they were there to take him to jail, which is heartbreaking. But I did not actually hear him say -- ask for his mother at all.

CHUNG: And, very quickly, Detective Loomis, where are the children now? Are they OK? Have you been able to get an update on them?

LOOMIS: As far as I know, the children are doing very well. They are in protective custody in Orangewood Children's Home in the county of Orange.

And this is really a prime example of community involvement and some good police work that came together to rescue these children and to hold this woman accountable for her actions, because we were about one day out of her getting back and us never having known that this had happened.

CHUNG: Oh, thank goodness for Charles and Mindy Jedrey.

LOOMIS: Yes.

CHUNG: Thank you, Charles and Mindy and Detective Loomis for being with us tonight.

LOOMIS: Thank you.

M. JEDREY: Thank you.

CHUNG: Before we go to the break: an update on a story we've been following. Police searching the waters of the Berkeley marina say they may have found a body.

They're searching for a missing woman, Laci Peterson, who's 8 1/2 months pregnant. Bad weather has prevented divers from checking a mysterious object picked up on sonar. Divers will try to reach it tomorrow to determine whether it might be a body and whether it is Laci Peterson, who has been missing since Christmas Eve.

And when we come back: first Jack Kevorkian, now a new Dr. Death coming to America from Australia? And what is the grisly device he was stopped from bringing into the country?

You'll hear his answers only on this program and only if you stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: the first lady of hip-hop and her show- stopping performance in "Chicago."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CHICAGO")

QUEEN LATIFAH, ACTRESS: Welcome, ladies.

(singing): Got a little motto always sees me through. When you're good to Mama, Mama's good to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Golden Globe nominee Queen Latifah when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Tonight, on this program, America was going to see for the first time a device that could totally upend the ongoing debate over assisted suicide. The device, however, was seized by Australian customs officials. The man who created it and is creating a huge new uproar over suicide is here. And you're about to meet him.

But first, CNN's Frank Buckley has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's best-known advocate for assisted suicide, the man who became known as Dr. Death, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, is in prison, convicted of second-degree murder for assisting this man, who was suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, to take his own life.

GEOFFREY FIEGER, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR KEVORKIAN: I think he brought to people's attention the suffering that is unremediable, a certain extent, in medicine.

BUCKLEY: But now comes a man some are calling the Australian Dr. Death. Dr. Philip Nitschke is in California for a convention of the Hemlock Society.

NITSCHKE: I hope that I can move the issue forward in my own way.

BUCKLEY: Nitschke used a computer hooked up to lethal chemicals to assist four people in Australia to take their lives, when assisted suicide, for a short period, was legal there. He now provides information on what are called exit bags for ending life.

And, at the convention, Nitschke was scheduled to unveil his latest death device, the COGEN, that causes death through breathing carbon monoxide. But he says it was confiscated by Australian authorities. Critics of Nitschke include Diane Coleman, who believes assisted-suicide advocates are creating a culture that says some people, such as the disabled, are better off dead.

DIANE COLEMAN, PRESIDENT, NOT DEAD YET: If Nitschke, the Hemlock Society, and others have their way, then old, ill and disabled people will wind up very definitely dead. And we think there's a serious danger in that.

BUCKLEY: Paul Spiers of the Hemlock Society says the issue is about choice.

PAUL SPIERS, THE HEMLOCK SOCIETY: They fear that the HMOs or the health insurers or physicians will somehow have the power to decide that, well, this is a useless life, we should end it. Our goal is in fact to give the patient the power, the control, under the law.

BUCKLEY (on camera): At the moment, only one state permits physician-assisted suicide. That's Oregon. But last year, Hawaii's legislature nearly passed a law making it legal. And advocates say they will continue to press to make physician-assisted suicide a legal option for those who want to end their lives.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: Dr. Nitschke did make it through customs and arrived in the United States today. He joins us exclusively tonight from San Diego.

Thank you, Doctor, for being with us.

NITSCHKE: Thank you.

CHUNG: Doctor, why in heaven's name would you want to assist someone or provide a machine that would help someone commit suicide?

NITSCHKE: Look, it would be far preferable to have a piece of legislation, such as we briefly did in the northern territory and as they have in Oregon. That would be the best option. But we haven't got that. Our government overturned that law.

And now, of course, people find themselves trapped. So, the reason we develop devices such as this, such as the COGEN, is to make it easier for people, when they've decided that they're suffering to such a degree that death is preferable, to make it easier for them to do it themselves and to do it peacefully and reliably, rather than finding themselves falling back on the most grisly and difficult techniques.

The commonest way of people in Australia and America over the age of 75, the commonest method used to end life is by hanging themselves. And, of course, we can do far better than that.

CHUNG: Well, exactly how does your machine work? Can you tell me briefly? NITSCHKE: Yes, it's very brief.

It's a generator of carbon monoxide, which is a very toxic gas that comes out of car exhaust. But, in its pure form, people can't smell it. And it provides a very quick and peaceful death. This generator provides a stream of pure carbon monoxide when it's switched on. It's a small device. But now, of course, it resides with the authorities in Sydney.

CHUNG: Doctor, you provided guidance to four people in Australia who were not suffering from a terminal illness. I think a lot of people would have a great objection to that.

NITSCHKE: No.

Look, if you're talking about the four people who actually used the legislation when it was in place, they were all terminally ill.

CHUNG: Everyone that you have provided guidance to have been terminally ill?

NITSCHKE: Oh, no. Since that time, I run workshops in Australia. Our organization, Exit Australia...

CHUNG: Oh, so there are people out there who have committed suicide, thanks to you, who did not suffer from any kind of terminal illness?

NITSCHKE: Well, I don't think it's thanks to me.

I think it's -- the fact is that I talk to these people when they're not terminally ill and suggest as many alternatives as I can. But, at some point, you have to take adults as being rational individuals. And, at some point, these elderly people who have made a rational decision to end their life, even though they're not terminally ill, I think should be listened to.

They don't have to be encouraged, mind you. But, at the same time, I don't slam a door in their face.

CHUNG: Doctor, has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you might be suffering from some type of illness? Because I think a lot of people might find it so terribly objectionable if someone is elderly and is depressed and you happen to catch them at that moment.

NITSCHKE: Well, of course, if they're depressed, we would offer them treatment for their depression. So, we're talking about elderly people who aren't depressed and we're saying that...

CHUNG: Do you determine whether or not they're depressed?

NITSCHKE: I do my best.

CHUNG: You do? You diagnose that?

NITSCHKE: As well as I can. CHUNG: And how do you do that, sir?

NITSCHKE: Well, it's part of the medical training that one has, that one is aware of the symptoms and what to look for to see that a person that you're talking to is not a depressed person. So, we do what we can.

CHUNG: So, give me an example.

For instance, these individuals that you help, these elderly people who you say did not suffer from a terminal illness, what did they say to you that convinced you that they were of sound mind and body and indeed knew exactly what they wanted to do and what they did?

NITSCHKE: Yes.

The most recent case in Australia was a woman who was an academic named Lisette Nigot from Perth in Western Australia. She was 80 years old. And she said: Things are going to get worse now. And I'm going to end my life before I suddenly wake up and find myself trapped with a stroke or some form of debilitating condition.

She was a person who was very intelligent, very articulate. And she wrote extensively on why she believed that it was appropriate that she should have that right to be able to take that option, rather than wait for something to happen. Now, I spent...

CHUNG: And how old was she, may I ask?

NITSCHKE: She was 80. And I spent nearly two years visiting her every time I went to that state and trying to work out alternative strategies. But, at some point, I

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: Such as what alternative strategies?

NITSCHKE: Oh, well, to work out whether there were other things that could make her feel that her life had not reached a point where death was preferable. And I suggested all manner of things.

CHUNG: Such as, sir?

(CROSSTALK)

NITSCHKE: Sorry?

CHUNG: Such as?

NITSCHKE: Oh, asking her whether or not we could get other people that she'd been close to in the past. She had been -- she had worked at the Waldorf in New York. She'd known people like Charles de Gaulle, Marilyn Monroe. She had known people like Salvador Dali. So, she was a person who was extremely -- had a very full life.

CHUNG: My goodness, I couldn't imagine someone who knew all those people.

NITSCHKE: Well, in her job at the Waldorf, she got to meet these people.

CHUNG: Oh, I see. I see.

NITSCHKE: And she had had a very -- a life she was thrilled with, but she said that, now it is time to go.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: Did you happen to talk to members of her family?

NITSCHKE: No, she had no members of her family.

CHUNG: Oh, there was no one?

NITSCHKE: Oh, she had some very close friends. She was not socially isolated.

CHUNG: And did you talk to them?

NITSCHKE: Yes, I did.

CHUNG: Oh, you did.

NITSCHKE: And, look, I did my best to try and convince her. But, at some point, this was a case of rational suicide. This person would have been patronized by me to simply sit there and say, I'm not going to take any notice of what you're saying.

CHUNG: Well, you are playing God, though, aren't you? You're taking it upon yourself.

Well, Dr. Nitschke, if you'd give me a moment, because there are two people I want to bring into this conversation, if you don't mind. Dr. Carolyn Gerster, she is a National Right to Life board member. She's a physician as well. Journalist Betty Rollin assisted her own mother's suicide and wrote the book "Last Wish."

Betty, it's good to see you again after all these years.

And thank you, Doctor, for being with us.

Betty, I know you assisted your mother. But what is your view of this machine and this doctor, who has really found a way to assist in suicides?

BETTY ROLLIN, AUTHOR, "FIRST, YOU CRY": Well, it shows the need for it.

And the need is that there are people like my mother, who had a wonderful life, but came to the end. She was terminally ill, begging to die, in horrible -- suffering horribly, and wanting to get out of life before she totally disintegrated, wanting a decent death. I helped her, because this was some years ago and there was no other person to do it.

That's not a good idea. What we need -- and a lot of thoughtful people have come to this conclusion and a lot of them are at the Hemlock meetings here in San Diego -- is that we need what in fact is happening as we speak in Oregon. Oregon has a law that allows physicians to help people who are terminally ill hasten their death.

And the important thing -- and the reason that this machine -- I have a problem with this machine. And the reason I had a problem with Dr. Kevorkian -- and many people in the movement do -- is that there must be safeguards. There must be careful -- this must be done very carefully, as it is happening in Oregon. And you know what? In Oregon, it is working wonderfully. In Oregon...

CHUNG: Betty, let me go over to Dr. Gerster, then.

ROLLIN: Yes.

CHUNG: Dr. Gerster, can you think of any legitimate reason that would allow someone to take his or her own life with the assistance of someone such as Dr. Nitschke?

DR. CAROLYN GERSTER, BOARD MEMBER, NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE: I don't believe that a physician should kill his or her patient.

And, as I left the office after a full day today, I stopped at a plaque on the wall and read the words, "I will give to no man a deadly drug, nor will I suggest such a counsel." The idea is, the Hippocratic oath has guided Western medicine for some 500 years.

I would like to end one myth right now. All pain of terminal illness is controllable. Dr. Peter Admiraal, who is the head of the Euthanasia Society in Holland, has stated that pain should never be used as an excuse for euthanasia.

And, actually, the good doctor from Australia realizes this, because, in addition to his machine, he is offering a peaceful pill. And he advocates that this be available to people of all ages, to the elderly, to the disabled, and to the teenager who is troubled. And this is a direct quote. And it should be available in supermarkets.

CHUNG: All right, Dr. Gerster, allow me, then, to go to Dr. Nitschke for one last question.

What about the Hippocratic oath? And can you take just our last few seconds to answer that?

NITSCHKE: The Hippocratic oath also says that women shouldn't practice medicine and doctors shouldn't cut the skin. So the Hippocratic oath is a changing document.

As far as the statement about teenagers go, that's half a quote that you were just given. If you read the article in "The National Review," you will see that that's not what I said. It's a misquote.

GERSTER: I have his quote right here. CHUNG: I would so like to invite all of you back, because this is a subject that I don't think you can finish in just this short time.

Thank you, Dr. Nitschke.

Thank you, Betty Rollin.

Thank you, Dr. Gerster.

GERSTER: Thank you.

NITSCHKE: Thank you.

CHUNG: We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Next: Who could have predicted all the strange events taking place in Michael Jackson's life? Apparently, not even his close friend the paranormalist.

We'll talk to Uri Geller -- when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: After a year in which Michael Jackson's reputation took a turn for the worse, dangling his son out a hotel window, feuding with his record company, and, during a breach-of-contract trial, his appearances were more talked about than his testimony, now, those close to the superstar are coming to his defense.

His brother Jermaine Jackson came on our program and then, last night, Larry King's. Now Jackson's close friend, Uri Geller, famous for his claim that he can bend spoons using only his mind, is joining us to tell us what is the matter with Michael.

Thank you, Mr. Geller, for being with us.

GELLER: You're welcome, Connie. Hi.

CHUNG: We gave you some spoons, I think, in your hand. Could you demonstrate for us how you bend a spoon with your mind? All of our viewers want to see this.

GELLER: OK. Because they're too thick.

But, look, let me show you what made Uri Geller famous, if you really want to see that. Do you know it was 30 years to this month, on the BBC in England, that I was handed a spoon and I looked into the camera. And this is what I did. I started stroking the spoon very gently. And, indeed, this is a CNN spoon.

And while I was doing it, Connie, I asked people at home to quickly go and get their broken watches and a spoon to the TV set. I didn't realize that I sent 38 million people to the kitchens. But you will see very soon, I hope, the spoon will start giving way. What happens is, I almost melt it with my mind. And if it doesn't work, then it doesn't.

I just hope that it will happen, because -- oh, yes, yes. It's beginning. It's beginning. You see the -- yes. There. You see, the spoon becomes soft, almost like plastic. There. And there's absolutely no force.

CHUNG: Hold on. Show me that again. Will you try and bend...

GELLER: Look. You see, it becomes really, really soft.

CHUNG: Oh, my gosh.

GELLER: And it's going to crack and break. Look. There.

And what's interesting is, there is absolutely no heat produced when I do this.

(LAUGHTER)

GELLER: Now, I'll tell you, when this -- listen, when this happened 30 years ago, the telephone system blew up because so many people were calling in, in a panic: Oh, my spoon is bending. My watch came alive. It was a mass hysteria. And the next day, I was a household name worldwide.

CHUNG: Are you sure that that was a CNN spoon that we gave you?

GELLER: This is a -- I promise you, this is a CNN spoon. And I was handed spoons by your segment producer minutes ago.

CHUNG: Can you see him?

GELLER: Yes. He's standing right there.

CHUNG: Will you ask him to come over?

GELLER: Will you please come over? Come on. Come over. Vouch that these are your spoons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They came from CNN's kitchen. Most of them are plastic, however.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Was this one not plastic? What was this one made of, do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Metal.

CHUNG: Metal.

Did you see him break it, as I did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I saw it, yes.

CHUNG: Do you believe what you saw? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it broke.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: OK.

GELLER: It's an interesting answer.

I actually discovered my ability when I was 4 years old. I was eating soup in my mother's kitchen and the spoon bent and broke. And my mother, she's related to Sigmund Freud. And she was sure that I inherited certain...

CHUNG: Oh, she is not.

GELLER: Yes, she is. My name is actually Uri Geller Freud in my British passport. So, she thought that I inherited certain powers from him. But, throughout my life, I've been very controversial, because there are lots of people who don't believe in this. They think that I have chemicals or I prepare the spoons and so on. But, still, controversy was great for me.

And, apparently, in my opinion, this is what Michael Jackson saw. In the early '70s, he must have seen me on "Mike Douglas" or "Merv Griffin." And it amazed him. And that's what got him interested in the supernatural.

CHUNG: I see. Well, how did you meet him? Because I understand you say he is a friend of yours, right?

GELLER: Oh, absolutely.

Michael was my best man when I renewed my wedding vows last year. And I also made him an honorary director of my football club. I'm a chairman of a British soccer team.

CHUNG: Yes.

GELLER: Called Exeter City Football Club. So, Michael is our director, believe it or not.

CHUNG: How did you meet?

GELLER: We met through Mr. Mohamed Al-Fayed, who, of course, you know who lost his son Dodi, with Princess Diana.

And when I was with Mohamed, Michael called of the blue. And Mohamed said to him: Michael, Uri Geller is sitting next to me. And I heard Michael say: Uri Geller? And he handed me the phone. This was about four years ago. And he said to me: Uri, I've been dying to meet you all these years. And two weeks later, I flew to New York and we met. And the chemistry was there. It was an amazing meeting.

CHUNG: When you first met Michael face to face, can you describe him? GELLER: Yes. You see, I was waiting to see something that I read about all the time, about the nose and about his face and about how awful he looked.

And I'll never forget the first time I saw him. I entered his suite. It was in a New York hotel. And Michael came out of his bedroom. He had no makeup.

CHUNG: No makeup?

GELLER: He was just -- no makeup.

There he was. And I was astounded, because he actually looks fantastic. He has a very powerful face. And I was waiting for all these terrible things. And they were simply not there.

CHUNG: Did you speak to him about the incident in which he dangled his child outside a balcony in Germany? If you did, what did he tell you and why did he do it?

GELLER: Well, what he told me was that he was devastated by it. It was an error of judgment.

I know exactly what happened. There were hundreds of fans outside downstairs, shouting, Michael, Michael, show us your son. And Michael was jet-lagged. He was tired. But he was also excited. He was proud, as a father would be. And he lifted his son, walked towards the window. And, unfortunately, there was this bar there. And that was a split-second of error of judgment. He lifted his son over that bar.

CHUNG: He's done a lot of things that have been quite strange, and particularly recently. He was in court and he was making these strange faces. Do you think -- you have to believe that he's a little kooky, don't you?

GELLER: He's not at all kooky, not at all. What about Einstein? you see these posters of Einstein...

CHUNG: I doubt if Einstein ever dangled his child out a window.

GELLER: Yes, but you've got Einstein sticking out his tongue. Big deal. So, what if Michael did a funny face in court?

And, again, the baby incident was an error of judgment. And he knows it. I could not believe that Michael did that. My first instinct, the first thought that came into my mind was, it's not a real baby. It's a doll or something. But I think Michael is -- first of all, he's an intuitive man. He's humble. He is shy. But he's also funny sometimes. And I don't see anything wrong in making a funny face in court. No big deal.

CHUNG: All right.

Well, before we go, I was really, truly shocked that you were able to bend that spoon and break it with only your mind. What else can you do?

GELLER: Well, I can look right now in the camera and I can ask all your viewers to quickly get a broken watch and focus on that broken watch or even place a spoon on your television sets at home.

And I say one, two, three, and those watches will start ticking, even if they have a broken spring inside. And some of those spoons may leap off the television set. And you know what, Connie? It's not my powers. It's not my energy. I am only a trigger. I'm only a catalyst. I'm an enabler to certain energies that we all have that are dormant in us.

So, I ask your listeners right now to hold that broken watch, hold that broken clock, place a spoon on your TV set. And, if that spoon leaps off when you say one, two, three, or if your broken watch started, e-mail CNN. Let Connie know what happened in your home.

I can tell you this, Connie. You are going to be inundated by e- mails from people whose watches will start ticking tonight.

CHUNG: OK. I'm ready for the e-mails.

Uri, it was delightful to meet you. Thank you so much.

GELLER: OK. Thank you.

And I must say it was delightful to be interviewed by you. Bye.

CHUNG: OK. Bye-bye.

Coming up next, we've got a family that put itself up for auction on eBay. Why? And what happened? Uri Geller already knows, of course. But you have to stick around to find out.

You know what? I don't think my watch is working anymore.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: sex, murder, fame, and all that jazz. "Chicago," the hit Broadway musical, hits the big screen. We'll meet one of the Golden Globe-nominated stars, Queen Latifah -- when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: If you think money can't buy you love, you're about to meet a guy who says you are wrong. Steve Young put himself and his whole family up for auction on eBay. The eBay listing included a $5 million minimum bid and promised the lucky winner a family's love and services. Not surprisingly, it also promote Young's Web site; eBay yanked the auction today, before some lucky multimillionaire got to take them home with him or her.

So, what were these guys thinking? Well, we got the family for free with us right now.

Steve, Diana, Kelly (ph), and Casey (ph) Young, thanks so much for being with us. STEVE YOUNG, MEMBER OF FAMILY BID ON EBAY: You're welcome.

DIANA YOUNG, MEMBER OF FAMILY BID ON EBAY: You're welcome.

KELLY YOUNG, MEMBER OF FAMILY BID ON EBAY: You're welcome.

CASEY YOUNG, MEMBER OF FAMILY BID ON EBAY: You're welcome.

CHUNG: All right.

Kids, I want to ask you a question. It's Casey and Kelly, right?

Casey and Kelly, did dad tell you that he was going to sell the family? And when he did, or how you found out, what did you think?

C. YOUNG: I thought that was crazy, really crazy.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: OK.

K. YOUNG: Me, too.

CHUNG: You did?

K. YOUNG: Yes.

CHUNG: Did you tell him that you thought it was really crazy?

C. YOUNG: Not until the interview.

(LAUGHTER)

K. YOUNG: I don't know.

CHUNG: How about you, yes, Kelly?

K. YOUNG: I'm not really sure.

CHUNG: Well, you know what? If I were you, I would have started to cry.

K. YOUNG: No, I wouldn't cry, because I knew he didn't mean, like, sell us like we're theirs to keep.

CHUNG: I see. Do you think -- is dad always this loopy?

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: OK, Diana, this is what your husband wrote about you in the eBay description. "Mother is a gorgeous multilingual homemaker with a penchant for crafting and cookery." Do you have a problem with that?

D. YOUNG: At first, it was a little embarrassing, but I do work with crafts, and I like to cook, and I make great soup. S. YOUNG: And you're gorgeous.

D. YOUNG: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: All right, Steve.

C. YOUNG: Well, she looks like a role model.

CHUNG: What did she say?

C. YOUNG: And she looks like a role model.

CHUNG: She looks like a role model. Well, isn't that nice?

I think you're learning all kinds of things about your family you never knew probably, right, Steve?

S. YOUNG: They never surprise me.

CHUNG: All right, Steve, did you get any bids?

S. YOUNG: We only received one bid. Fortunately, that bid was for $5 million.

CHUNG: It was?

S. YOUNG: Yes.

CHUNG: Yes. So what happened?

S. YOUNG: Well, about 15 minutes after we received the $5 million bid and realized that, uh-oh, we're going to have to actually carry through with this, eBay pulled the ad off of their list.

CHUNG: Oh, what a pity.

And you know why. They said -- we asked them. They said they didn't see any bids. So, they conflict with you. And they also said that it appeared as if you were selling human beings.

S. YOUNG: Well, I made it very clear in the ad that we weren't selling human beings. In fact, it was listed under services.

And the fact is, I also made it very clear and distinct what those services were. And it was really, I'm an author. I'm a television writer. I write for many different Internet sites and newspapers. And what I did say is, you have the opportunity to invest in me as a writer. And all I'm asking for is $5 million and you can have my credits and all of the things that I write from this point on.

As far as my family is concerned, you would have their love and adoration. And, with my wife, platonically, you would have able to get along with the family and we'll send you cards. And we'll get you videos and we'll cook dinner every so often for family events. CHUNG: Steve, whoa, whoa, whoa. You've got 15 seconds to tell me the real reason why you did this.

S. YOUNG: I'm looking for a job.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: OK, Steve. I love your honesty in the end. Steve and Diana and Casey and Kelly, thank you so much for being with us.

D. YOUNG: You're welcome. Thank you.

S. YOUNG: You're welcome. Thanks.

C. YOUNG: Thank you.

K. YOUNG: Thank you.

CHUNG: OK.

Coming up next: Queen Latifah. She's knocking them dead in the new movie "Chicago." And she's on deck. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CHICAGO")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: On your feet.

LATIFAH: Welcome, ladies.

(singing): Got a little motto always sees me through. When you're good to Mama, Mama's good to you.

You might think I'm here to make your life a living hell. It's just not true.

(singing): There's a lot of favors I'm prepared to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: That performance by Queen Latifah in the new movie "Chicago" is one reason critics and the folks who give out award nominations are being very good to Mama these days. Queen Latifah's turn as the prison matron Mama Morton in the new movie "Chicago" has already gotten her nominated for a Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a musical or comedy.

And here's a look at why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CHICAGO")

CATHERINE ZETA-JONES, ACTRESS: Look at this, Mama, an editorial denouncing me in "Redbook" magazine. "Not in memory do we recall so fiendish and horrible a double homicide."

QUEEN LATIFAH: Baby, you couldn't buy that kind of publicity.

ZETA-JONES: I couldn't buy it? I guess I can keep this, then.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Nice try.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: Queen Latifah has also been a hip-hop pioneer and a talk show host. And she joins us now.

Welcome.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEEN LATIFAH: Wonder Woman.

CHUNG: I watched the movie last night. And I first see Catherine Zeta-Jones. And she sings and she dances. And I'm going, oh, my. She's really good. And then I see Renee Zellweger. And she's singing and dancing. And I say, very nice. And then you come on.

Man, you steal it. You are so good, so professional. I mean, you've got the voice. It's effortless.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Oh, man. They worked with us. We had good coaching.

CHUNG: No, no, really.

QUEEN LATIFAH: We had a good time.

CHUNG: You've got a beautiful voice.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Thank you. Thank you.

CHUNG: You really do.

QUEEN LATIFAH: I don't get to sing like that very often. So, when you do, you just have a good time.

CHUNG: And, I mean, this wasn't easy for you. You faced some tough competition, right?

QUEEN LATIFAH: Indeed. Indeed.

CHUNG: Bette Midler, right?

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes.

CHUNG: Who else? Kathy Bates.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Kathy Bates.

Well, I'm so happy she got a nod for "About Schmidt," which is cool. I don't feel bad, because I love all of these actors. I think they're amazingly talented.

CHUNG: Rosie O'Donnell.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Rosie O. And that's my girl. She got me started in the talk show game. So, it was like -- really, it was something I had to earn. It wasn't something they gave to me. I had to go earn it.

CHUNG: No. How many times did you audition?

QUEEN LATIFAH: Three times I had to go in and audition.

CHUNG: But you got the part and they didn't.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes. And I don't think it was so much that they couldn't have played Mama. I think all of the people you just mentioned could play Mama. I think it was more so a choice of which Mama did you want?

And I think maybe my Mama was a different flavor than what everybody else would have brought, and maybe the chemistry of who was already cast, because Renee was already there. Richard was there. And Catherine was there already. And Catherine kind of liked me for the role.

CHUNG: Really?

QUEEN LATIFAH: So, it helped to hear that she wanted to see me.

CHUNG: Oh, that's so nice.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes.

CHUNG: Meanwhile, they poured you into that dress.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes.

CHUNG: Oh, my gosh.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes, they did, every part of me. They tried to pour me in it. I think I tried to escape the dress a little bit.

CHUNG: You certainly did.

QUEEN LATIFAH: The dress is quite a dress. And it was really a fabulous dress. It must have weighed 30, 40 pounds. It was just like these beads and these sequins. And it was actually really comfortable, considering. It was the undergarment, the corset that they...

CHUNG: Really? Did you wear one of those old-fashioned Scarlett O'Hara corsets?

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes, indeed. Yes. And they pulled it in. And I'm like, can't I breathe a little more? They're like, no.

CHUNG: Queen Latifah, I read something about this ring right here. And I love what you said. You bought that for yourself.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes. It was a little Independence Day ring. I'm setting the bar with this, you know that. I have set the bar with this ring. You cannot -- you know what? A guy would really have a problem putting a smaller ring on this finger, you know?

CHUNG: So why don't you tell me that?

QUEEN LATIFAH: For me, it was just like, you know what? I just wanted a treat. You've got to treat yourself well. So, somebody who wants to keep me has to be able to treat me that well.

CHUNG: You know what? I've always wanted to ask you, where did you get the name Queen Latifah?

QUEEN LATIFAH: My cousin, who's Muslim, brought over -- I'm Christian, but my cousin's Muslim. She brought over this Muslim book of names when I was eight. And we were just reading all of these names and what the meanings were.

And I was big for an 8-year-old. I was always big for my age. But I was really very sensitive and nice. And when I saw Latifah, it meant delicate, sensitive, kind, nice. And I'm like, well, that's me. And I like the way that sounds. So I just started calling myself Latifah.

CHUNG: You mean, back when you were only 8?

QUEEN LATIFAH: When I was 8 years old. I've had that name since I was 8.

CHUNG: Oh, my gosh. I had no idea. I thought it was something when you came out in showbiz.

QUEEN LATIFAH: No, I always had that name. But the queen part came when the showbiz part came.

CHUNG: OK.

Now, you dedicated one album to your brother, who died in a motorcycle accident.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes. Yes.

CHUNG: And that album -- well, one of the cuts on the album made you a Grammy winner as well. Let's listen to something.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Sure.

CHUNG: Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUEEN LATIFAH: Rock with me now.

(singing): U.N.I.T.Y., U.N.I.T.Y. that's a unity, U.N.I.T.Y., love a black man from infinity to infinity. Who you calling a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: Is that you?

QUEEN LATIFAH: Where did you get that?

(LAUGHTER)

QUEEN LATIFAH: You got me. You got me. Yes, that's me. We get pretty loud. It gets even more loud.

CHUNG: So, it's probably a little bittersweet for you when you won that Grammy.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Yes. I mean, it was kind of weird. I lost my brother and then everything went right professionally. You know what I mean? "

"Living Single," which was a sitcom that I was doing at the time, it became the No. 1 show among blacks and Latinos. My album came out. It went gold. It almost went platinum. And it was the first gold album by a female solo artist. And then I got a Grammy. You know what I mean? It was just like everything was working. Everything was happening right professionally. But I was a wreck on the inside, because I was just missing my brother.

CHUNG: Well, let me tell you, when I'm watching those awards, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, OK?

QUEEN LATIFAH: Please do, because I'm real excited and I'd love to take a little statue home.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: OK. Thank you so much for being with us. And good luck.

QUEEN LATIFAH: Thank you, Connie.

CHUNG: All right.

QUEEN LATIFAH: All right.

CHUNG: Queen Latifah.

We're not done with the movies yet, though. Take a look at tonight's "Snapshot."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(voice-over): Steven Spielberg has three Oscars. And now the director's epic imprint is further sealed with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first of 2003.

The folks who brought us "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" think you want a commercial-free TV. Diplomatic Productions is working on a hip-hop variety show with no commercial interruptions.

Five people took a plunge through thin ice into a Massachusetts river, two of them police officers who went in to rescue three others who had tried to rescue two dogs. All were pulled to safety.

A family pet, Ginger, a yellow lab, was found after running from the scene of a car crash that killed one of her owners.

A three-month-old dog saved its elderly owner from a burning house in California by licking her face until she woke up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Who will be our "Person of the Day"?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will continue in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Tonight: A college basketball team's teamwork off the court saved more than just a game. It may have saved a life. And that makes them our persons of the day.

Members of the Washington Huskies were hanging out with starting guard Kayla Burt at her off-campus home when Kayla suddenly lost consciousness. Her teammates came to her aid.

And Kayla joins me now, along with her teammates, Loree Payne, Giuliana and Gioconda Mendiola.

Thank you so much for being with us. Hey, you're wearing your sweats. That's great.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Kayla, I know that here's what happened. It was on New Year's Eve. Some of the girls had come over to watch movies. And you suddenly felt ill. You passed out. And I know you don't know what happened.

So, let me go over to Loree and ask her what you all did when you realized that Kayla had passed out.

Loree?

LOREE PAYNE, WASHINGTON HUSKY: Well, basically, we were watching the 11:00 news up in her room, just me and her. And she had came in and said, Loree, I'm feeling kind of lightheaded. She was sitting next to me at the time and just passed out and fell off of her bed.

And I was like, Kay, get up. And I looked and she was unconscious and kind of in a seizure state. But I knew it wasn't a seizure. And so that's when I went down and called these two and two other teammates that were downstairs up to try to figure out what to do.

CHUNG: And you called 911, right?

So let's listen to the 911 tape.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PAYNE: She's turning purple. Oh.

911 OPERATOR: OK.

PAYNE: Here. Here. She's not breathing. Oh, my gosh, she's not breathing.

911 OPERATOR: Listen to me.

PAYNE: Is the ambulance coming?

911 OPERATOR: Yes. We've got help on the way. OK. Listen, is her chest -- ma'am, you have to listen now. Is her chest going up and down? Can she breathe?

911 OPERATOR: Here.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CHUNG: Giuliana, how did you learn how to do CPR? I know that's what you started doing.

GIULIANA MENDIOLA, WASHINGTON HUSKY: I didn't actually know how to do CPR. My sister and I just knew she needed oxygen. And we just kind of remembered on TV, like "Rescue 911" or whatever. And we just kind of did what we thought was best.

CHUNG: And Gioconda, you were doing mouth to mouth?

GIOCONDA MENDIOLA, WASHINGTON HUSKY: Yes, I was doing mouth to mouth after we flipped her over and we noticed that she was purple and she needed oxygen. So, I started doing mouth to mouth, and my sister started doing the pumping of her chest for CPR.

CHUNG: That's amazing. Were you scared?

GIOCONDA MENDIOLA: Yes. I think we were all scared.

CHUNG: Everybody? Yes.

GIOCONDA MENDIOLA: Yes.

CHUNG: Kayla, you've now discovered that you have a rare heart disorder, is that right?

KAYLA BURT, WASHINGTON HUSKY: Yes, I do.

CHUNG: Are you OK?

BURT: I am. I feel great. They put a defibrillator in my heart. And I feel really good. I guess I had something they call long QT syndrome. And it's a heart rhythm that's not normal.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: I see.

BURT: So, I have a...

CHUNG: Yes, go ahead.

BURT: I have a defibrillator in my heart.

CHUNG: In your what?

BURT: Or it's actually not in my heart. It's a defibrillator. It's in the right side of my body. And so, if something were to ever happen again, it would shock me and shock my heart into beating again.

CHUNG: Oh, isn't that fascinating? Now, will you be able to play basketball?

BURT: No. My basketball career is over. It's over. But I'm still going to be with the team. And I'm going to be there every step of the way, whether it be coaching or on the sidelines or -- I'll be traveling with them. So, nothing's changed, other just than the playing part.

CHUNG: That's so great. Isn't that a great way to start the new year, huh?

BURT: Oh, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: All right. Giuliana, Gioconda, Loree, and Kayla, thank you so much for being with us.

Take care of yourself, Kayla.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: OK. Bye-bye. Have a good weekend.

BURT: OK. You too.

CHUNG: Join us Monday when we begin our series, "Beating the Odds," unforgettable stories of overcoming adversity when it looked like all was lost. We start with supermodel Niki Taylor. So join us.

And have a great weekend. That's our program for tonight. We'll see you on Monday.

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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