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Interview With Joan Lunden

Aired February 12, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive, Joan Lunden as you've never seen her before. You love waking up to her. Well tonight Joan Lunden has a wake up call for us. She's here for a in depth and very personal hour you won't want to miss. Joan Lunden, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's always a great pleasure to welcome Joan Lunden to LARRY KING LIVE. The host and executive producer of "Behind Closed Doors," the weekly series on A&E. Former co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America," did that for 17 years, from 1980 to 1997. Best-selling author, parenting advocate. She's quite a dame.

She's here tonight for a little different reason because there's some personal news that she has that she wants to share with the audience here and around the world and we're going to get into it and that news is that she and her husband Jeff Konigsberg are going to have twins by a surrogate mother. The babies are due in mid-June. How did this come about?

JOAN LUNDEN, TV HOST: Well, you know, I made a conscious choice when I was looking to remarry that I wanted to have family life, you know...

KING: You already had three kids.

LUNDEN: I did already have three girls, but I guess I just wasn't done. And that's the lifestyle I wanted and so I looked for that kind of a person in a mate and...

KING: You looked for a mate?


KING: You mate-looked.

LUNDEN: I looked. And when I met Jeff, I mean, you know, it's such a cliche, we really did know immediately, I mean, literally just immediately that we were just -- I don't know, was there just this incredible connection. And it was you know, a month or two later we were saying we wanted to spend our life together and we wanted to have a family together.

I'll tell you something, it was almost six years ago today I think that I went for my first fertility test and I was really making sure that I could do this and I very much wanted to get pregnant myself.

KING: How old are you, Joan? Can you tell us?

LUNDEN: Yes, I just turned 52. And I -- But I...

KING: You wanted to get pregnant.

LUNDEN: ... at 45.


LUNDEN: I really wanted to do it myself. I loved being pregnant and you know, I'm not daunted by very many things. and I'm very -- my life is very physical, fit life. I'm out jumping out of airplanes and repelling down buildings.

KING: In other words, you're nuts.

LUNDEN: I am a little nuts, but that's OK. I have a very physical life. And we did try for a number of years through the in vitro process.

KING: Were you infertile? Is that the term?

LUNDEN: I don't know if you'd call me that because I never had a fertility problem. Your uterus, I guess, at a certain point maybe doesn't decide go along to go with the program.

KING: Jeff checked out fine?

LUNDEN: Yes. We finally decided it's really the end result that counts. It's the babies in the end. In our case it turned out to be babies, double. And so we decided that maybe we should try the surrogate route. It didn't seem -- it seemed kind of strange in the beginning when you've never been involved in it.

KING: Joan, when you're going to do something like this, what's the first thing you do?

LUNDEN: You fend out who the experts are. And particularly in this. So people understand, there used to be traditional surrogates and that's where the intended parent, that's what we're called, the husband's sperm would impregnate a woman, but she would be biologically connected. There are problems inherent in that relationship as we've seen over the years with so many heartbreaking cases.

Today with in vitro coming as far as it has, you can have gestational surrogates and that's what ours is.

KING: Explain.

LUNDEN: She is not biologically related to the child. So she simply carries your child for you. And...

KING: So there's no sperm injected in her. LUNDEN: No. We have to provide the embryo. It's the embryo that's put into her.

KING: And the embryo comes from?

LUNDEN: It depends on each couple. It can be your egg and sperm, it can be a donor. And I think that that's something that's personal between each couple and it's your private business.

KING: But that's your business whether it's Jeff's sperm and your egg. That's personal.

LUNDEN: That's our business. However, it's very important. I think it's kind of important today that you're very careful entering into this kind of an arrangement...

KING: How so?

LUNDEN: Because there are all kinds of questions and when you get an expert -- we went to a wonderful agency here in Los Angeles, the Center for Surrogate Parenting that really thoroughly screens all of the surrogates and the intended families.

KING: Is there a lot of this going on?

LUNDEN: Since the first one, I think it was 1974 or something, there have been 16,000 babies born...

KING: Wow!

LUNDEN: ... in this country alone...


LUNDEN: And they've been responsible for a lot of the real landmark cases. And so we came here because, you know, laws are different in every state and you really have to understand that. We came out here and you know, the in vitro was done out here so we would be under California law and...

KING: California law more liberal than...

LUNDEN: Well, yes, it's one of the states that is more liberal and there is court precedent which really gives the responsibilities for that child for that child that's being carried to by the surrogate to the intended parents. Our names will be on the birth certificate, not the surrogate. So the things...

KING: The surrogate is a carrier. The surrogate is FedEx.

LUNDEN: Well, but it's so much more important and involved than that because having experts is not only important for us, it's important for her.

What would happen if something happened to Jeff and myself while she was carrying the child? You have to think of these things ahead of time. There has to be a guardian. How much contact are you going to have with that surrogate during the pregnancy, at the birth in the delivery room and after?

All of these -- how many embryos are you going to put in? What happens if you put in three and they all three take? Does she want to carry triplets? Are you going to do selective reduction?

Those are all things you have to really face up close and personal, decide upon them and they are in a very lengthy contract.

KING: Where do you find the surrogate?

LUNDEN: Well, if you go on the Internet you will see that there are a myriad of agencies and...

KING: Can you give us the kind of person involved that wants to do this? There is a financial reward, right?

LUNDEN: Yes, but I think that's probably what surprised us the most. It's a very expensive journey. I'll say, that but most of the fees are for legal, for all of the screening, for the medical, for the in vitro.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the birth -- the carrier she's not the mother.

LUNDEN: I would say that the surrogate mother probably gets somewhere between 15 and $25,000. I think at CSP they get $18,000 unless it's multiples and they get $3,000 for each extra child. But if you look at this as at least a 15-month process between matching up, getting her body ready to receive the embryo, recovering from the pregnancy. I don't think it's minimum wage. So they aren't doing it for the money.

KING: Why are they doing it?

LUNDEN: They're very, very intensely family-oriented people. These women...

KING: Have families usually?

LUNDEN: Oh they have to be married. That's another thing with this center, the women have to be married and they have to have had their own biological children. Our surrogate has three children. They're a wonderful family and it's not just her...

KING: You get to know her very well?

LUNDEN: We've been going in for all of the appointments and we've gotten to know her children and my husband e-mails back and forth with the husband every few days.

KING: Wonderful.

LUNDEN: I mean, look, think about somebody who comes in and nanny's for you. I have people who have live in our home and taken care of my girls. My daughters were their flower girls in her wedding. We talked to her. We send her pictures of them.

It's the same kind of thing. This is their first babysitter. It's like the ultimate babysitter.

KING: And you will have her in touch with them as they grow?

LUNDEN: Oh, I think that that's -- it's kind of like somebody said she's like the producer of the movie. Doesn't the producer of the movie want to see the movie once it's done?

KING: Did you go to the in vitro procedure?

LUNDEN: Oh, yes. I was there holding her hand and I'll be there holding her hand when she delivers.

KING: Does she have all the things that pregnant women go through? Nausea, al those kind of things?


KING: Is there anything different about a pregnancy when you're a surrogate?

LUNDEN: No. Nothing different. At all.

And I'll tell you something. Her husband said to Jeff one day because she, by the way, had a set of twins a year ago right now for another couple. And so this is the second time she's doing it. And he said I'll never forget the look on her face when they handed those babies to that couple. The look of accomplishment, the look of compassion. The look on her face that she was so important to this couple and had done something, had given the gift of life. That made it all worthwhile and it made me understand why I support her desire.

KING: These are wonderful people (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


KING: We'll be right back with Joan Lunden. Lots more to cover. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Joan and her teenage daughters welcomed Jeff into their lives. And last April he surprised them all with a magnificent emerald cut engagement ring.

LUNDEN: I think the first thing I said to you was it's way too big. What were you thinking?

To which my daughters said diamonds are never too big, Mom. What's the matter? Are you crazy?



LUNDEN: I've got over here the Vanna White doll. Here we go. See?


LUNDEN: I'm sorry. Sorry.


KING: We're back with Joan Lunden who is revealing tonight that she will have twins come in June delivered by a surrogate mother.

Why are you going public?

LUNDEN: Because I'm in the public eye. Because I've lived my entire life in the public eye. To think I could come under the radar and not have it noticed is a little unrealistic. So I think you're better off to come out and talk about it, and the other thing is when we're in the public eye we become role models. And there are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people out there dealing with all kinds of infertility, and this is something that's going to be done more and more now.

KING: Why not adopt?

LUNDEN: Because we wanted our child. I mean, that's another -- and that's not taking away from adoption. Yes, but there's nothing -- I don't want to take away from people who adopt and that's another -- there are all these choices, and this is what medicine has got us to today, that people do have a myriad of choices today.

KING: How old are your daughters?

LUNDEN: My daughters are 22, 19 and 15.

KING: How do they feel about their coming -- this twins will be a boy and a girl?

LUNDEN: Who told you that?

KING: Because it's a good guess. It's either one or the other or both.

LUNDEN: Yes, that's true.

KING: It is a boy and a girl?

LUNDEN: I guess you all know now. Yes.

KING: I didn't know. Honest I was just off the top.

How would I know?

LUNDEN: How about a perfect set. The girls are so excited. The girls are so excited.

KING: Are you excited about twins. Now, wait a minute. You're 52. Twins are a load.

LUNDEN: Do you remember how I did my first three children? Doing "Good Morning America," getting up a 3:00. Getting up all night, feeding them, getting up at 3:00 in the morning. Going to work, taking them with me.

Could it be any harder? I don't think so.

It's interesting when you start to have children at this time. Well, look. You know, you've had children at this point in your life. You are so much more relaxed, you don't have the unbelievable demands on you that I had at that time where you're just being pulled in a million different directions. So in a way it's kind of interesting how you can -- I mean, I'm looking forward to going through it this time in a very different way.

KING: Did you know right away?

Did they tell you right away it was twins?

I mean, how early on in the pregnancy?

LUNDEN: You find out about eight weeks in. The first time you go in for an ultrasound. I remember, the doctor showed us the one little embryonic sack, and said there's the heartbeat. And then he said want to see the other one. And he moves it over and you see the other one. I don't know Jeff knew who to kiss first the surrogate or me. He leaned over kissed her and then he kissed me. And he said, we're having twins.

KING: Jeff has never been married.

LUNDEN: Jeff has never been married and he hasn't had children. But he's owned, he's a businessman. He owns summer camps for children. And he's taking care of thousands of other people's children. So he's -- and I look forward to you know that kind of parenting experience, too.

KING: What protects you -- this is not baby M right?

LUNDEN: Well, no and that's why I say that anybody who embarks on this. I mean, I just feel like I would be irresponsible if I was on here talking about it is saying I think you should get the best experts. You both need to have your attorneys, everything needs to be down in writing ahead of time even though she's not biologically connected.

KING: There's no legal way or anyway she can get a twist of say, I want this.

LUNDEN: No. See, you don't need to worry about that. The way it's been done, we don't have that worry.

Now, you might say to me, well, how do you know she's taking good care of herself?

How do you know she isn't drinking?

How do you know she isn't smoking?

And these are concerns?

KING: How do you know?

LUNDEN: You pick someone out from a family that you know she doesn't smoke and that she doesn't drink. I mean, this family happens to be a very kind of religious, wonderful, basic American with -- I mean, they are so family oriented. And we've gotten to know them and you know what they're like. I don't worry about her for a second.

KING: Tell me about the husband of the surrogate mother who has to live with someone who now twice, twice has gotten pregnant with other people's children.

LUNDEN: Well, I'll say that he knew what he was getting himself into because my surrogate told me that she read an article about this when she was 25 years old, and said, this is something I can do and this is something that I -- I mean, it was her calling. She just felt like she needed to do this.

And when she was engaged she told her fiance at the time, I want to do this. So just than after we have our biological children, that I'll do this. Now, he laughs now and he says when she finally came back after their children were 14, 12 and 10 and said I want to do this. He said wait a second, you mean you were serious? But he really is -- the whole family is into it. They all went with us.

KING: The children?

LUNDEN: They all went with us.

KING: How old is the woman?

LUNDEN: She's actually a little bit older than most surrogates. She's 41-years-old.

KING: Most are what, early 30's?

LUNDEN: Are 20s and 30s.

KING: Do you think you could have done it?

LUNDEN: I know if we would have kept trying that I would have gotten pregnant. I know.

KING: Do you think you could have been a surrogate?

LUNDEN: I think I definitely could. Without a doubt I could have been a surrogate for someone. And I would have been -- I would have really felt fantastic about it.

KING: Now take me through the process. It's going to be June and this is February.

How often do you speak to her?

How often do you see her?

LUNDEN: Well, we talk all of the time.

KING: Is she a Californian.

LUNDEN: No. And I'm not saying where she is from.

KING: And your in New York?

When you see her, do you see her where she is or do you see her where she is?

LUNDEN: Right, we got where she lives. And It's a journey, but you know what, it's the best. You know, we go there for doctors appointments and she and I tend to talk all of the time, and Jeff tends to e-mail with her and talk with the husband. And it's really been a family affair.

It's interesting that people who do this, say that when they start out, they say, how are we going to tell people, and how are we going to tell friends?

And when they finish they want to tell the world, because it's just this wonderful, positive emotional experience that someone else does something so amazing for you. And the other thing is it's hard to imagine becoming so close to another family, that you didn't know going into this.

KING: More with Joan Lunden. What a gal. We'll be right back.


CHARLIE GIBSON, HOST "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": All of the stuff that we've done, I know, what in the long run were your favorite moments, that you had three pregnancies that you shared with the public. That not only were those children born in front of the public. But you then had a chance to grow up, to actually participate in this program.

A celebration like this wouldn't be complete without Janie (ph), Lindsey (ph) and Sarah (ph). Come on in.

Sarah, you come over to me.

Did you do that?

That's nice.

Come on over here.

LUNDEN: Look how they've grown up.

GIBSON: They have grown up. They have grown up.



KING: We're back with Joan Lunden, breaking the news tonight that she is going to be a parent again with twins, a boy and a girl, I discovered the boy and the girl part through my methodical -- I had no idea what I was talking about. They're due in June with a surrogate mother.

Tell me more about the surrogacy contract. It's very involved?

LUNDEN: It's very involved and it's very necessary for both parties. I mean, a surrogate needs to be protected as well. What if you decided you didn't want to do it and here she is carrying a child? So it's just as important that the surrogate be protected as it is for the intended parents to be protected.

Another thing. I think it's great that when they're with really solid agencies like we went through, they have a network. They have a system with their psychological counseling. They are -- support system is wonderful. They're on an Internet talking with each other. They need to be exalted. They need cheerleaders. They need to have -- you know, get that constant...

KING: There are millions of people around the world watching you tonight. Who should do this? What couple in what situation should do this?

LUNDEN: Either a person who is having trouble carrying themselves and you know, they've exhausted trying to do it themselves and many times the woman's health might be put into question if she carried herself.

KING: Versus adoption. What's the difference?

LUNDEN: And some women, perhaps have had cancer and undergone, had their uterus removed. There's a myriad of reasons why couples go through this.

I just read a story about a couple, 47 and 42, two children, 14 and 17 years old, killed in a car accident. They were devastated. They -- being parents was their whole existence. They wanted to have another child. She got her younger sister, who was 37, to carry a child for them.

I mean, there are so many different reasons why people would go down the path.

KING: And there are women now getting pregnant through a kind of in vitro process.

LUNDEN: It's an in vitro process, which...

KING: Single women who want to have babies. That happens, too. LUNDEN: That's a whole other -- yes, I mean that's...

KING: What's that called? That's another name for it. Artificial insemination.

LUNDEN: I don't know, I guess they got artificial insemination. Yes.

KING: Yes. That's a process, too, right?

LINDEN: Oh, there's just so many things -- ways...

KING: The longing for motherhood is evident.


I mean, being a parent. I mean, people who really want to be parents. Jeff and I really want that parenting experience together and I really look forward to it. Now I must say I have never had twins.

KING: What's been -- any difference in the record of the health of in vitro children?

LUNDEN: No. Once they're pregnant, everything is -- it's the same as if I was carrying them.

KING: No kind of special trick or...

LUNDEN: No. It's exactly the same except I'm not getting the morning sickness and I feel a little guilty on that part.

KING: You want to bet?

LUNDEN: It was also -- I wanted to do it myself. I'm a very challenge oriented and didn't like the idea of giving up on that one. But I think that, you know, everything's meant for a reason and this has just been an incredible journey and I've been included in, thanks to my surrogate, on the -- I called her the other day. Any movement? Any hiccupping? Like what are you feeling?

KING: Does she know you're coming on with us tonight?

LUNDEN: Yes. You think I would do something like this without telling her?

KING: Well, you're not revealing her name, and you're not...


KING: How does she feel about it?

LUNDEN: She's fine with it. I mean, she's really excited that she's...

KING: Now, her neighbors, they think she's pregnant and going to give birth -- what do they think?

LUNDEN: No. They know that she is a surrogate and you know, she says that different people have different reactions, but everybody knows that it's -- in fact her husband said sometimes he says, My wife's pregnant again with twins and he'll say, Really? And then he'll tell them, But they're not ours.

KING: When you were on "Good Morning America," the Baby M story had broken?

LUNDEN: That's right.

KING: Did you cover it?

LUNDEN: I interviewed those people, both sides again and again and again. And unfortunately...

KING: That thought -- they thought that would ruin surrogacy.

LUNDEN: And it's unfortunate that those are the stories that make it to our show. You know? To you, to "Good Morning America." It's those horror stories. So in a way, I guess that's another nice part of talking about this is that for people to see the good side of it, because it is going to be an answer to a lot of couples out there who really want to have children.

So I think it's good to have the nice stories as well as the terrible horror stories.

KING: What are the better states and why are they better?

LUNDEN: Oh, I don't want to profess to be an expert at that.

KING: But you know that California is a good state.

LUNDEN: I know California is a good state.

KING: It means the laws are tight, very protective of you and your husband.

LUNDEN: Yes. All you have to do is go on the Internet and put in surrogacy and a map will come up it will show you. And you can see every single state in the United States that...

KING: Really?

LUNDEN: ...that are surrogate-friendly and not surrogate- friendly. And even though you go through the in vitro here, then it also, of course, depends on where the woman is going to deliver. And you -- these are the things that you need to find out ahead of time so that you know you're not going to go down a road and have heartache.

KING: What's it feel like for you? Is it kind of kooky?

LUNDEN: No. I thought it was going to...

KING: No, I mean, you know your children are somewhere. You know where they are.

LUNDEN: OK, and I'll tell you a story.

KING: You know right where they are.

LUNDEN: Jeff told his little nephews the other day and the, I think, 8, 9-year-old said. Wait a second, you and Aunt Joan are having a baby and the baby are in someone else's stomach? That's gross.

But, I mean, in essence, you know, that's the situation and I only -- but she's really good at telling me everything that's going on. And let's face it, I've had three children, so I do know what the experience is like as well.

KING: How has the pregnancy gone?

LUNDEN: Without a hitch. And so did her last one and you'll find that who these agency are looking for are married, stable women who are not looking for this -- these finances to live on. Most of them use it -- let's say there is a nice point for some of these women to be able to make a financial contribution to their family, maybe to start a college fund for their kids, a down payment for a house, new carpeting, whatever it is, it's a nice thing for the women to be able to do.

KING: Do you expect the tabloids to have a field day? They always do with you.

LUNDEN: Why is that? .

KING: They're going to go out and try to find the mother. You know that, right? That's the way it is.

LUNDEN: Hopefully, they won't.

KING: For what reason, I don't know.

LUNDEN: You never want to have a negative impact on anyone else's life. I chose this business so I have to deal with it. You never want that to have an impact on someone else's life unless it's a positive impact. But this center was very careful to set -- to put us with a more mature surrogate. That's why we are with someone who is a little bit older, who has done it before, who has a very good head on her shoulders, so I'm not worried about that and I don't think that she is, either.

And she did have to have that understanding going into it.

KING: You know the OBGYN very well?


KING: Yes.

LUNDEN: Who will be delivering? KING: Yes.

LUNDEN: Well, I'm just meeting him now. I mean, those are the things. I mean, we've been through the whole process. You meet them when you go for doctor's appointments. We just met the ultrasound person the other day.

KING: Our guest is Joan Lunden. There are some other things to talk about. This is the big story tonight, but we want to touch some other bases.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Joan, let's go up the hill.

LUNDEN (voice-over): At an elevation above 9,500 feet, my breathing deepened and my lungs labored in the thin air. They teach that you should always ski with your head up, keeping an eye out for the enemy. I was amazed that we were skiiing uphill.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, you're going to have two wheels on dry pavement, two wheels on wet pavement. Now, when I say brake, I want you to do a panic break stop. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hit it just as quick and just as hard as you can.

Straighten out. Break hard.

Hang on. You got it.

All right, that's good.

LUNDEN: Thank you.


KING: We're back with Joan Lunden. I just learned something. I thought the children will have to be born in California.

LUNDEN: No. And they don't even have to be conceived in California. They're doing this all over, but you should be very careful. For instance, New York is not a surrogate-friendly state so people go to New Jersey or Connecticut.

KING: Hip New York?

LUNDEN: I know. I don't know really how to explain. I don't know the whole background or the court systems as to why it's not. But there is a network of surrogates all across this country. So we wanted to do this the in vitro part in California so we made sure we came under California courts.

However, they can deliver anywhere. It's better though that they deliver in a surrogate-friendly state, otherwise...

KING: For legal reasons.

LUNDEN: You want your name on the birth certificates. And -- yes, for all kinds of legal reasons.

KING: That's going to be some kind of day for you.

LUNDEN: Oh boy is it ever.

KING: You will attend the birth.

LUNDEN: Are you kidding? Absolutely. This is not something you miss.

KING: You take the baby right there.

LUNDEN: They hand the babies to you. They hand the babies to you and you even get a room for the hospital so while for the next 48 hours they come to your room in the hospital.

KING: One down side. You can't breast-feed.

LUNDEN: No. I'll tell you, before we found out it was twins, there is actually a way you can, they can make that happen, as soon as I found out it was twins I said never mind. I thought that's going too far.

KING: They'll do with the formula.


KING: Does the mother get to spend any time with the babies?

LUNDEN: This is all contractual, but they recommend that you definitely have -- give the mother an hour or two with her family. They've been going through this. This is not one person who does this. This is her children who say, gee, Mom, when you get too big again, we'll be the ones, you'll lay down on the bed, we'll tie your shoes for you because you won't be able to bend over and touch your toes.

KING: What do they recommend about after, about keeping in touch? Are there standard recommendations? Should this mother know about these babies as they grow up when they're 18, 19, 20?

LUNDEN: I don't think anything is standard because everyone's different and some surrogates only want to do this and do it for the couple and they don't want the involvement. So that's why you have these people who do this and do it so well, matching people up. They said some intended parents might want to call the woman every single day and say have you taken your vitamin yet and they would overwhelm the surrogate. So they have to match up personalities, but I can't imagine not sending pictures throughout the years. We're already making plan for her family to visit us...

KING: They should.

LUNDEN: ... after the -- yes, absolutely. We want their daughters to get to know my daughters. My daughters can't wait.

KING: You mentioned about this instant thing. You and Jeff met where?

LUNDEN: He walked into a deli...

KING: In New York?

LUNDEN: With my youngest daughter and I just looked up and saw him.

KING: What were you eating? Do you remember what you were eating?

LUNDEN: Oh, God.

KING: Matzo ball soup.

LUNDEN: No, I wish. I really wish I was just eating that matzo ball soup.

KING: Was this your swing weight deals?

LUNDEN: We'd been out school shopping for school clothes. I think Sarah was probably, I don't know, she like 7 or something at the time. And she was tired of the whole fit process so we stopped to have some comfort food and all of a sudden I see this guy and thank goodness he came over to my table because I would never have gone to his table.

And he's standing over the table talking to us and I see out of the corner of my eye the waitress coming with my open-face hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy and I was thinking to myself as he's talking, am I going to say no, I'm sorry I ordered the cottage cheese and melon or am I going to put that plate of food in front of me? Which she did and he's never let me live it down.

KING: Why did he come over to talk to you?

LUNDEN: Because, you know, he came into the restaurant and I was looking at him and he was saying hello to some people and he kept looking up and I'd look over. You know how you keep catching somebody looking at you?

KING: Chemistry it's called. LUNDEN: It's chemistry. And he finally, thank goodness, he...

KING: Some enchanted evening.

LUNDEN: ... he just said I'm going to go over there and say hello. His friend said do you know who that is? He said yes I know who it is, I'm still going to go say hello.

And fortunately a girlfriend was with me because when he asked for my phone number, I was like how do you know who this person is? And she said here's the phone number and she gave him my phone number.

KING: Where did you go on your first date?

LUNDEN: He came to my house and he took me to the country club that his parents had always belonged to which was good finding that out because then I called all my friends and we did like a background check on this guy.

KING: You did?

LUNDEN: By the time you go out with someone you want to know about them.

KING: You are older than him, right?

LUNDEN: I am older than him.

KING: Is that difficult? How much older.

LUNDEN: If you don't know how old you were, how old would you think you are?

KING: How much older are you than him?

LUNDEN: I'm 10 years older than him.

KING: Is that the same generation? I guess it is.

LUNDEN: Let me say something, when I was 39 years old I married on -- no, when I was 29 years old I married a 39-year-old guy. Twenty years later I once again, married a 39-year-old guy. So it just depends on which one is the right match.

KING: Yes. You said you knew early on.

LUNDEN: Oh, gosh.

KING: You know that first date?

LUNDEN: I mean, I was just -- yes. You don't really know, but you say...


LUNDEN: I was probably a lot happier. KING: Bouncier.

LUNDEN: I was bouncing off the walls, yes.

KING: Because you went through a nasty breakup. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or you would be on my show, we talk about, during breaks, you had rough mornings.

LUNDEN: Oh, I had very, very rough mornings and thank God I had a partner, Charlie Gibson who's just the greatest guy in the world. And he went through the whole thing with me and he used to say -- there would be mornings when he would finish my sentences because we knew each other so well. We were like -- we are like brother and sister, you know?

KING: Why did you leave "Good Morning America"?

LUNDEN: Well, I think we had talked so you know I was looking to get off that morning shift, but the time came where, you know, there were people that came in and new regime. Everybody wanted to put their own thumb prints on something.

KING: This is an executive decision.

LUNDEN: It was really an executive decision.

KING: But you wanted to get out, right?

LUNDEN: I mean I did, but it's always still a surprise when someone says okay, we're letting you out.

KING: Who replaced you?

LUNDEN: Lisa McRee.

KING: And that didn't last very long.

LUNDEN: No, she was there -- I don't know...

KING: Was age an issue in...

LUNDEN: Yes. I think they were looking for a 20 or 30-something version of me.

KING: Yet they wind up with Diane Sawyer who is probably your age, right?

LUNDEN: Yes, if not a year or two older.

I guess they saw that the audience didn't want that to happen. I think an audience sometimes looks and says, gee, dare I for the grace of God, go I. I could be replaced too.

KING: Back with more of Joan Lunden. Gutsy lady. Don't go away.


LUNDEN: This has been a very rare and privileged seat from which to view this world and be where history is being made and it's more than anyone could ever hope for in a lifetime to have had this 20 years.



LUNDEN: Thank you all.




LUNDEN (voice-over): Gunny Garnder (ph) caught what seemed like a small mistake I made: dipping the M-16's muzzle into the snow. But that little misstep could take me out of action permanently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you hit just a little bit it will come out and shoot, but if you do do that several times, packing that muzzle down, and it starts to get packed down into this bore, this whole thing will split open when you fire.

LUNDEN (on camera): Wow. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chamber will splay this and the blast will come right back through here, into your face.


KING: We're back with Joan Lunden, who is the host and executive producer of "Behind Closed Doors," a weekly series on A&E, and who likes to do -- by the way, what do you make at the current state of this media? The reality TV and all that's going on?

LUNDEN: I don't know. I mean, it's just taken a whole other direction now. In a way I do reality TV, but I do -- what I do is I try to let the audience vicariously experience a slice of life, but an amazing slice of life that they otherwise will never get to experience unless they happen to join the Marines or unless they happen to become a Golden Knight and sometimes it's not something amazing. It's not jumping out of an airplane. I also do "Behind Closed Doors" of fenship (ph) yachts or Gulfstream jets or I just did Estee Lauder. But you're in an industry where you can take them inside the lab.

I just did the CDC and I'm the only journalist ever to be allowed in the Biolevel 3, contagious -- excuse me, infectious diseases. The difference between level 4 and level 3 is that level 4, which is smallpox and Ebola. That's contagious infectious.

But they let me come in to their lab.

KING: In Atlanta?

LUNDEN: And -- actually we went through the entire -- I was in the entire outfit so you're protected and we opened up an envelope with white powder and took it out and put it in the petri dish and did the whole thing and came out with an anthrax strain.

Now, lest you think, what are you doing some, you know, crazy thing for, they used for our show a vaccine strain of anthrax so that it wasn't something that we could get. But whenever I do these things, remember, I put myself in the hands of experts. These are the best in the world.

KING: This was a spin-off from specials you used to do on ABC, right?

LUNDEN: It's the same show. I took it from ABC and I put it on A&E, except that they gave me a weekly slot.

KING: Why do you --- better ask. Why do you like to do weird and dangerous things?

LUNDEN: Well, I don't know if I put them in a weird and dangerous. But I like to keep...

KING: Come on, you jump out of planes. That's weird. I'm a Jewish guy. That's weird and dangerous, OK?

LUNDEN: I love that. It was so cool. But I jumped out of a plane with the Golden Knights. They're the best experts in the world.

KING: Why do you do what you do?

LUNDEN: Because it keeps my life exciting and challenging. It keeps me fit. It dares me to continue to do other things and go, frankly, far beyond sometimes where I think I can go.

KING: What does Jeff think?

LUNDEN: I think that he admires me for it. I think that he respects me for it.

You know, I think that that's part of why Jeff and I ...

KING: He doesn't ever say, you're doing what?

LUNDEN: Not really.


LUNDEN: I mean -- as long -- he knows that I'm smart enough that I'll never put myself in horrible danger.

But I think part of why we work so well is it's kind of a mutual admiration society. I highly admire and respect him for what he does and he highly respects me for what I do.

KING: Has the project been proposed that you didn't want to do?

LUNDEN: I mean, there was probably -- we laughed for a long time about the idea of me jumping out of an airplane and then when the Golden Knights actually said, We want you to do that and I understood I would be with the absolute most renowned experts in the world, I said OK.

KING: Did you ever get hurt in anything?

LUNDEN: Yes. I've gotten a lot of bumps and bruises. Lots of bumps and bruises.

When I did "Behind Closed Doors," the professional wrestling a few years ago -- oh well, wait a second. Years ago when I took 9 Gs in an F-16 with the Thunderbirds I herniated a disk in my neck and that kind of -- it just bothered me for years and through...

KING: What did you do with the wrestling?

LUNDEN: Jeff calls it my stupid human tricks. Each time I would do another thing I would exacerbate it.

And when I did professional wrestling, and he went with me on that one down to Atlanta to the power plant, I did this whole routine with Medusa, a female wrestler and I got body slammed a few times and I really -- I ended up having spinal surgery.

KING: So they do get hurt.

LUNDEN: Yes. That was summer before last.

KING: Would that be something you would not do again?

LUNDEN: That would definitely be something I would not do again. I'd probably put that in the category of bungee jumping. Been there, done that, not doing it again.

KING: We'll be right back with Joan Lunden. Lots more to cover.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give it up for Joan Lunden!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a minute! Wait one minute, Joanie Lunden. Journalists like you give pro wrestling a bad name.

LUNDEN: That's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love what I do. You what? This is serious business. This is "WCW Thunder Live." You can get hurt. You need to get out. Out!

LUNDEN: You know what? I can take care of you myself!




LUNDEN: Megan (ph) played the part of rabbit, with Karen (ph) and me on the hunt. I learned firsthand how these Olympic competitors use the steep banks to reach top speed.

Here we go.

Shooting down from the top of the track, racers can hit 45 miles an hour.


KING: What would you say to the person thinking of being a surrogate?

LUNDEN: If you really have the calling and have the desire to do this, I mean, the gift of life -- there's no greater gift than the gift of life. But I think it's important for surrogates to protect themselves not just the intended parent. I become very protective of my surrogate at this point, you know. I want those women to also be protected. And I just think that it's a wonderful thing to do. I mean, if I didn't have the path that I've had in my life I could see myself doing that.

KING: Would you feel better when you do this.

LUNDEN: My god, yes.

KING: What would you say that the prospective mother who is thinking of turning it over to let someone else carry?

LUNDEN: You know, it's obviously easier for me because I had children already. But for someone who hasn't gone through the pregnancy process, it's -- there's an emotional component to that which I won't even try to speak to that they're not going to be able to have. But it is the joy of parenting that you're going after.

And to me, for them to be able to have a child through surrogate -- be involved in the details of the pregnancy, be there at the birth and take the children home. It is one of the amazing -- you know, things of the time in which we live that this is an option for people. I mean, I thank god it was an option for Jeff and me.

KING: Yes. How did this not leak out? I mean...

LUNDEN: We've been very careful.

KING: You had to go to a surrogacy place.

LUNDEN: Yes. They're very protective. That's part of it, too. They really protect everybody's privacy and we've only told a handful of people. Like eight people knew up until now. And they were told that they really just couldn't tell anybody because of the fact that I'm in the public eye.

KING: These were all friends?

LUNDEN: Yes, it was really hard for Jeff's mom not to say anything to anybody.

KING: Any negative to this?


KING: No downside at all?

LUNDEN: Well, I mean, if you do it in the right way -- as far as for us, no negative. No negative.

KING: For her, the only negative is you got to go through some tough days.

LUNDEN: But You know something, she enjoys being pregnant.

KING: She doesn't enjoy the nausea.

LUNDEN: You know something, she really hasn't complained for a minute.

KING: You have to wonder. You got a good girl.

LUNDEN: She's wonderful. I don't know where I would ever find the words to thank her. I mean, Jeff and I have talked about it.

What would you ever say to thank somebody?

KING: By the way is that going to take away from "Behind Closed Doors?"

LUNDEN: I'm molding my career. I'm definitely molding my career. I'm not going to leave television. It's something I do well and I make a good living at it. And I feel like I have a purpose in life, but I may very well carve out -- I'm very, very interested and passionate about women's health and about parenting. And I will probably mold my career little by little so I don't have to be out on the road and jumping out of airplanes so much.

KING: How can you do "Behind Closed Doors" and raise twins?

LUNDEN: How did I do "Behind Closed Doors" and "Good Morning America" and raise three children? Because you just do whatever life demands of you.

KING: Do you feel like an expectant mother.

LUNDEN: Yes, 100 percent.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Joany Lunden. Don't go away.


LUNDEN: Flames flared up around the legs of the team by my side. My heart raced rate jumped.

Widening the spray pattern on my hose pushed the flames back. We checked that no one was hurt.

And fight, went on.



KING: We're back with Joan Lunden.

What do you make of a couple of other areas I want to cover.

Why doesn't CBS, and they've done better with a new format, why have they not ever connected in the morning?

LUNDEN: I don't know. I don't have to do morning television anymore.

KING: Do you watch morning television.

LUNDEN: Yes. Sure.

KING: Do you float?

LUNDEN: I can float now. I used to never be able to do that.

LUNDEN: Charlie, I didn't mean that, I only watch you.

KING: What was the toughest part of doing it.

LUNDEN: You never get used to getting up at 3:00 in the morning.

KING: Opening your eyes when it's dark out is not right.

LUNDEN: Yes. You have to get out of that bed right then and get in the shower and get going.

KING: Didn't that curtail your social life.

LUNDEN: Did you Jeff goes on a date at 5:00.

LUNDEN: No, it really does. It's a job that you're married to. And everything and your family, everything revolves around that job. But I'll tell you something, it's not just the getting up in the morning. It's the sharing of your -- of every intimate detail of your life. I mean, that's just being on television. Somehow is up for public consumption. It's going in and putting a smile on your face.

KING: Perky.

LUNDEN: And being perky. And being what you need to be for all of those people waking up. They don't care that you had a bad night last night. They don't care that you're upset about something. They're walking up in their homes, and it was about being able to put your personal problems in your bad pocket and walking into the studio and be alive and be happy and have a positive attitude. Because whatever I felt inside, that comes across the camera, and that's how I was going to wake people up.

KING: Yes. And those were the years GMA was number one, right?

You were number one for a long stretch.


KING: You're 100 percent lady.

LUNDEN: Thank you.

KING: Thank you for coming here to tell us.

LUNDEN: I'm glad to share it with you.

KING: Joan Lunden, TV host and executive producer of "Behind Closed Doors," formerly of "Good Morning America" and about to be the mother of twins, thanks for joining us.

Stay tuned for NEWSNIGHT with Aaron Brown.

For Joan Lunden and Larry King, good night.


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