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CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND

Interviews With Merv Griffin, Cindy Adams

Aired March 15, 2003 - 21:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BURTON, ACTOR: I've played "Hamlet." I've played Henry V. I've played (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I've played Othello. I've played (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I've played virtually everything you can play at my age, right? And, you are more successful than I am. Do you know why? Because you're on television.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Merv Griffin the creator of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" reveals the secrets of his incredible success and tells you how to make the good life last.

Then, legendary gossip columnist Cindy Adams on the stories behind the scoops, the stories she couldn't print, and how a cute little dog filled a great big hole in her heart, all next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

We begin tonight's edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND, later Cindy Adams, we begin with an old friend and what an American institution he is, Merv Griffin.

MERV GRIFFIN: Oh, I sound old.

KING: One of America's -- are you reading a book?

GRIFFIN: This is not...

KING: You're reading a book.

GRIFFIN: I was reading my pictures.

KING: That's right. Merv is the author of "Merv, Making the Good Life Last." Is this a self help book or a biography?

GRIFFIN: It is not a self book. It is...

KING: But the title makes it you think it's a self help book.

GRIFFIN: That's the trick.

KING: Aha.

GRIFFIN: And it has nothing to do with me. No, seriously, it has -- it's a life. It's an American life about a kid, you know, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.

KING: Poor.

GRIFFIN: Family lost the house during the depression and went on and did everything.

KING: I know you and you're careful about everything you do. That title was carefully thought out to give a double impression that we're also going to learn how to live our own life from this?

GRIFFIN: Well, I think you could follow it. I mean there are a lot of ideas in there, things like, you know, why take a job where you're unhappy? I remember in New York when I lived there I'd see the people spilling out of the subway in the morning and they're all angry, and I thought oh gee, there's a whole America out there. Why don't they get out of here, you know.

KING: Ted Turner once told me never take a job just for money.

GRIFFIN: Oh, no, no, no, never.

KING: You're not going to be happy. No matter what the price is it ain't going to be worth it.

GRIFFIN: I was on the radio show making in 1947-48, you know how long ago that is, I was making over $1,100 a week. I had five radio shows in the morning to all of the Donnelly (ph) network on Mutual, five in the afternoon because they had no tape. You had to do a fresh show. Five in the afternoon to the whole Mutual network in New York and everything and a Saturday show. I got $100 a show, $1,100 a week.

Then I would take the band out on the show because the orchestra leader didn't want to conduct out in front of the public. He'd replace Meredith Wilson who was the first band leader and then Lyle Bardo (ph), and then I would take that out and play to all the debutante parties in San Francisco. I was making a fortune and this young woman walked in, Jean Barry (ph) was her name at the time.

She was Freddy Martin's secretary, the great orchestra leader, and she said Freddy Martin wants you to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I said what does it pay? And she said you start at $125 a week and I went you're kidding. I told her what I made and she said oh, well then you should stay here. You should stay and you can become San Francisco's favorite singer or you could come with us and you will play the Strand Theater on Broadway, be on RCA Victor records.

You'd play, you know, when Guy Lombardo is not at the Roosevelt in the summer time. You'd play there, play the Waldorf Astoria, the Starlight Roof. And, I went home that night and went to bed, couldn't sleep, got up the next morning and quit my job, gave up $1,100 a week for $125.

KING: Best move you ever made.

GRIFFIN: Yes, oh sure.

KING: Freddy Martin and you were a combination that clicked.

GRIFFIN: Well, it clicked.

KING: Because you were happier, right?

GRIFFIN: I was happy, yes. It was at a time that he chose to go on the road after his long stint. He was the popular band leader at the Coconut Grove.

KING: Merv, what were you in life as a kid, when you were in high school? Were you first -- were you a singer who did other things? Were you a person that did other -- were you an actor? What?

GRIFFIN: Piano player. I was a piano player and I accompanied all the singers in the school. At assemblies people almost couldn't -- a wonderful gal singer who used to sing with me, Dorothy Staten (ph) and then later on she became assistant to the mayor in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and then on through Woody Brown and all of them in San Francisco, and she was this great singer and I would play the piano for her and play for the tap dancers.

KING: When did the singing and the other things...

GRIFFIN: Singing happened by accident. My great friend all through school was a kid named Cal Jader (ph) who came on -- went on to be one of America's foremost jazz artists and Cal went with me...

KING: You sang with him?

GRIFFIN: No. No, no, no. He was -- at that time he was a drummer. Later, of course, he became famous on the vibes. And, he went to San Francisco with me and I said let's go to a radio station and apply for a job. So, we went in and I played the piano and the program director came out, 1945, he said oh no, no, no. We don't need a piano player. We got a great one here. He said we were really looking for a singer. Cal said oh Merv sings. You know college kid stuff, and I said (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And he said, go ahead Merv sing for him, so I knew Dick Haynes (ph), I was taken for a...

KING: I don't know that song.

GRIFFIN: Sleigh ride in...

KING: Don't know it, never heard that song.

GRIFFIN: I have never heard you fall down on a song.

KING: It was taken on a sleigh ride in what?

GRIFFIN: July.

KING: Don't know it.

GRIFFIN: Well, that was his big hit and so I did my rendition.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). GRIFFIN: Yes, did my imitation at the piano of Dick Haynes singing. That was on a Friday. On a Monday, I appeared -- no that was on a Thursday. On a Friday I went on this show called "San Francisco Sketch Book" with a 30 piece orchestra and I sang. I'd never sung with a band in my life. It was thrilling. The music went all through and I sang (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the station director came in, the station manager and he said who are you?

And, I told him. I said I'm from San Mateo. Okay, he said, be here Monday. I want you to sing on another show and I came in and on Mondays he started the "Merv Griffin Show." I know that's a weird story.

KING: That's a weird story.

GRIFFIN: But that's how it happened.

KING: Do you think you were driven by your -- by the family's early -- the fact that the family was so broke?

GRIFFIN: No, no. We had a very happy, wonderful life.

KING: Didn't know you were poor?

GRIFFIN: No, every Sunday 20 people for dinner. It was a musical family. Everybody could play the piano. Aunt Claudie (ph) could play. Everybody could do something.

KING: But your family lost the house in the depression.

GRIFFIN: Well, we didn't lose the piano. We moved to my grandmother's house.

KING: You had a way of looking at -- you were always glass half full, right?

GRIFFIN: Yes, oh yes.

KING: Ever since I've known you.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

KING: I've never seen you down.

GRIFFIN: No. Well, I suppose I do get down.

KING: Obviously, but I've never seen you down. The persona has never seen you down.

GRIFFIN: No, no, but it's -- when I'm working, like right now, no I'm not down at all. I love that. It's escape for me. You know it's escape from telephones, although now they can ring you on a show I suppose.

KING: Do you like, Merv, business as much as you like performing? GRIFFIN: I like aspects of business. I don't like the hard numbers and all that stuff. It just -- it stops your thinking. But I like marketing. I like ideas. All my life I have dealt in ideas, acquiring a property and then bringing ideas, how do you get the people -- you know, at the director's meeting I used to say, because I was chairman of the board of Resorts, and I used to say hey are you guys going to talk numbers now, I'm out of here.

And I would leave because I had really good people, and I would go out and work back of the house, you know, getting people -- I'd say you talk numbers and I'll get them across the front door and get them to come back, three things.

KING: Let's break things down.

GRIFFIN: Get them into the front door, entertain them, and get them to come back. Those were the three -- my three rules.

KING: Now, let's discuss some of the businesses and what you like about it. What did you like about creating shows that you weren't on?

GRIFFIN: I loved them, just loved that. I love game shows. I was on game shows. I was on Goods & Toddman (ph) game shows. I had "Play Your Hunch" for them and then I was substitute host for Bill Cullen (ph) on "The Price is Right."

KING: I don't remember "Play Your Hunch."

GRIFFIN: "Beat the Clock" I did, "To Tell the Truth" I did. I did all...

KING: All radio, right?

GRIFFIN: No.

KING: Oh, television shows.

GRIFFIN: Yes. When they'd go on vacation I'd take their job and then they found me "Play Your Hunch" and I went on with my own show.

KING: What was your first quiz show that you conceived?

GRIFFIN: First quiz show I conceived was "Jeopardy." "Jeopardy" started in the '60s.

KING: We'll be right back with Merv Griffin. The book is "Merv, Making the Good Life Last" and boy does he. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see the boys are all set there and ready. How would you like to hear a tune that we recorded just a couple years called "I've got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Merv Griffin going to sing that thing? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He sure is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to sit over here and listen to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Merv, you already? Here we go.

GRIFFIN: (Singing.)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen we're proud to present "Jeopardy's" 2,000th show and I'm proud to present the star of "Jeopardy" Art Flemming (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're covering a lot of bases in a short period of time. We spent a lot of hours with Merv. We hope to spend many more. We're here tonight because of the book, "Merv, Making the Good Life Last." "Jeopardy's" first host was?

GRIFFIN: Was a wonderful...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GRIFFIN: Yes, that I saw on a cigarette commercial and he was very good.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GRIFFIN: He didn't know the questions that came. You know we give answers on that show but he never knew the questions and he had a card, so that when he came out and bowed to the audience, he bowed (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But he was very good.

KING: Very good but he...

GRIFFIN: My mother used to call me from California and say he's so brilliant and I never told her because he really didn't know. We had to prep him. But Alex Trebek is a different cup of tea. He knows. He knows.

KING: Is it true Lucille Ball recommended him?

GRIFFIN: In a roundabout way she did, yes. She went to me and said you're going to start -- you're going to start the nighttime version of "Jeopardy" or you're going to bring it back? I said yes and she said look at that Alex Trebek. He was on, I believe, "High Rollers."

KING: Yes, "High Rollers." GRIFFIN: Yes, "High Rollers" yes. He was in from Canada and he'd done a number of game shows in Canada and he came in and he just -- he did it. In a way he's charming. He's professorial. He looks like he knows and he does.

KING: You always had faith in that show.

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

KING: Now, "Wheel of Fortune"?

GRIFFIN: "Wheel of Fortune" was a game that my...

KING: A daytime show.

GRIFFIN: It was the daytime. It was on 17 years in daytime and now what has it been on in nighttime? I don't even know anymore, 24, 25.

KING: Was it your idea to take it to prime -- to nighttime?

GRIFFIN: Yes. I found these guys. Well, actually the president of my company found them Murray Schwartz (ph). He was drinking in the St. Regis Bar and he heard a guy next to him say you know if I could get my hands on let's say "Wheel of Fortune" I could syndicate that early evening and make a giant hit out of it.

And Murray heard that and just reached in, took his card, and said give me a call, and he called, and in came the first King brother. His name was Bob King and we met with him and I liked him.

KING: King World.

GRIFFIN: Yes, but there was no such thing as King World. They had...

KING: It was their idea then?

GRIFFIN: They owned their father's stuff who since passed away of "The Little Rascals."

KING: "Little Rascals."

GRIFFIN: Yes.

KING: So it was their idea to syndicate it at night?

GRIFFIN: Yes.

KING: Did you believe that it would go at night?

GRIFFIN: I didn't know what to believe. There was almost no history of it and thus "Wheel of Fortune" went on at night and was such a giant hit. It was affecting the news. It affected everything. The guy who bought it for CBS owned and operated. They moved him from that job to head of sports. I mean people got bigger jobs because of it.

KING: Why did that show work at night? By the way and a lot of the CBS affiliates in Washington had signed me to do a talk show in the fringe before prime time and they said we got this "Wheel of Fortune" show. We're committed to it for 11 weeks.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

KING: It ain't going to last.

GRIFFIN: Never. Yes, everybody felt that way.

KING: Still on.

GRIFFIN: Yes and...

KING: Why?

GRIFFIN: Why did it work? I think it's the nature of the format, that you're sitting at home and you're seeing these blank spaces, which was really "Hangman" in the old days, these blank spaces and you get it at home and you go hey that's -- that's "Forever Amber." I don't know why I chose that title. It was a good one. And, the whole family looks at you like gee we thought he was dumb, you know, he's smart. And, it's the same with "Jeopardy."

KING: Someone once said in writing a critique of it...

GRIFFIN: Yes.

KING: ... in this show half the time is spinning a wheel. Often nothing happens, lose a turn.

GRIFFIN: Yes, that's good.

KING: That's a waste of time.

GRIFFIN: No. In a show you can't have all hills. You got to have valleys and something has to go wrong. When I brought in "Jeopardy" to NBC and they looked at it, it was called "What's the Question." They looked at me and said Merv it just plays like that.

There's no jeopardies, and I went, pardon me? They said there's no jeopardies. Nothing can go wrong and I went oh, and then they talked on. I never heard anything they said. All I heard was jeopardy, jeopardy, jeopardy, jeopardy and that's how it got its name.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

GRIFFIN: Then it's hard. The idea is there but it's hard to put into competition.

KING: Everybody used to win money on "Jeopardy" not just the winner, right?

GRIFFIN: No -- yes. Yes, you're right but then guess what the problem was? You come to final jeopardy. They've accumulated $350. Nobody would bet in jeopardy. They didn't want to lose their money.

KING: They wanted to keep their money.

GRIFFIN: They kept it, so I pulled out that and made only the person with the -- then they went crazy with the bets.

KING: How did you come up with that theme?

GRIFFIN: The theme?

KING: Yes.

GRIFFIN: It was -- the show went on at the time of the quiz show scandals and I was -- my wife and I were coming home from Iron Wood, Michigan where the snow enters America and I think it was July 4th weekend and we were flying along and I was (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I said gee, Joanne (ph) you know if quiz shows -- I'd die to produce a quiz show and I said but -- and she said well do one.

I said you can't, not after all these scandals. They won't even look at a quiz show, and she said but why don't you do a show where you admit you give them the answers. And I said and they're all in jail. You want me to go -- no way. She said no 5,280, and I said how many feet in a mile? She said, now here's one for you. The second one she said, 79 (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Tell me what it is.

KING: The home of George and Gracie.

GRIFFIN: Wrong. What was Fibber McGee (ph) and Molly's address? Got you Larry, rarely do.

KING: How did you come up with (humming)?

GRIFFIN: Well, I couldn't use that one -- the kind they were using on the ones where they all went to jail. So, I went home and I was noodling at the piano and I just went (humming). I thought it was cute and I wrote a 14 second song. So, I said now I'll change keys, and another 14 seconds. Now, I was at 28 and you needed 30 so a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and that was it.

KING: Was that the longest lasting theme that still remains on television?

GRIFFIN: Oh, I think so.

KING: A little hard to come up with another one. "Dragnet" is back now though. There was a great theme, right?

GRIFFIN: Well, yes.

KING: That's the thing that works the best, right?

GRIFFIN: But do you know the lyric?

KING: The lyric to "Dragnet?"

GRIFFIN: There was no lyric. A lot of people have asked if they could ...

KING: I'm Joe Friday.

GRIFFIN: That's right. That's right. You know I worked with him in San Francisco.

KING: Jack Webb?

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes. He was a disc jockey at KGO in San Francisco and I was KFRC and we used to do commercials together. Then he came down here and we were standing on Vine Street and he borrowed 20 bucks. He said I'm in a lot of trouble. I need dinner tonight.

KING: And you loaned it?

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes. He was a great guy.

KING: Died young too.

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes.

KING: So why didn't you -- all right, now your quiz shows.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

KING: What took you to hotels?

GRIFFIN: Well, once I had to travel with the band. We played 48 states. That's all there were. We didn't have Hawaii in there and Alaska, and we played every state in America and that's when I was staying in hotels every night and with my -- I had not gotten to 150 in weekly wage but we had to pay for our rooms, you know $6 here, $3 here, you know we didn't have much left over.

KING: You got to know what you liked and didn't like.

GRIFFIN: Yes. Yes. And, hotels are really, you know, it's like show business. People are coming in from everywhere in the world and you're seeing them all and I had never met anybody in my life. When you're on a stage doing a talk show for 23 years the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is there.

The curtain closes. You go home and that's it but I never met the audience ever and now I'm in the middle of this thing and suddenly the audience is all around me. And, if you've noticed, you've been to the Beverly Hilton, those pictures are all over from my show.

KING: Yes.

GRIFFIN: And you see all the people standing and looking at them except one day there was a German lady and I came around the corner of Griff's (ph) which is the restaurant and I saw her looking at all of them and she turned to her friend and she said why is that man in every picture? I went oh, lady, lady.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Merv Griffin, Cindy Adams still to come. The book is "Merv, Making the Good Life Last." It's as good a read as he speaks. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: (Singing)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Even comedians who refer to Richard Nixon as a loser. You have that stigma because of losing two big contests. How do you plan to combat that? You must be aware that that's been said. It's been written about in newspapers.

RICHARD NIXON: I think it's a legitimate question that should be raised by those who are trying to find the strongest possible candidate and the way you combat it is to win something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How, Merv Griffin, is your health?

GRIFFIN: Well, my health is terrific.

KING: We've discussed openly on this program you had prostate cancer.

GRIFFIN: Prostate cancer, did the radiation, did seven weeks every morning for (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GRIFFIN: Pardon?

KING: Giuliani did radiation. You had choices.

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes.

KING: You could have...

GRIFFIN: Well, the first thing they say to you is now you have the champagne of cancer. You go huh? Don Perignon, no. You have the champagne because you have so many treatments and they talked to me about the thing.

And I said oh, I don't want anything sliced out of me. I've never had an operation in my life. No, I don't want to do that. And, then they told about radiation. I said I'll do that. And then I went off on my boat out onto the Mediterranean for two months and the doctor, you know Skip Holden very well from the Milken Foundation (ph).

KING: Sure. GRIFFIN: And he called and he said Merv, you have to undergo treatment. What are you doing out there? And, I said well I will. I will. I will. By this time I had forgotten and he ruined my whole day. He called, you got cancer remember. So, I came back and said all right and then every morning five days a week for seven weeks. It took seven minutes.

KING: You don't need the money. I mean everyone knows. You're a very well off person. What drives you?

GRIFFIN: Creativity, ideas. As you know "Dance Fever" is coming back, Disney Family Channel bought it.

KING: This is your baby?

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes. Yes. I spun that off my television show. I walked in one day and said we're going to have the first national disco contest and the whole said what is it? I said we'll work that out and then flew people around and it was on the air for ten years.

KING: But why? Is that an inertia with you?

GRIFFIN: Yes, to see an idea take form, take shape, and do it.

KING: Therefore you are always open to ideas. Do you get people coming to you all the time with I got this, I got that?

GRIFFIN: Yes. Rarely do we take them from the outside. A lot of people have good ideas but I just finished my first theatrical movie that's going to be playing in all the movie houses. How does it happen? A kid on my staff walks in, Ronnie Ward (ph), been with my company 20 years, said I was given this script and I read it and I think it's good.

I said well let me read it, and I read it and it was good. I said let's get some young producers and we got a hold of a guy, Hammond (ph) Entertainment, Chris Hammond and David Schnep (ph), and I said how do you like this? They said let's do it.

The writer was a first time writer and director, brought him in and it stars Sylvester Stallone, Melanie Griffith, Gabriel Byrnes (ph), Stewart Townsend (ph), Jamie Fox (ph), Tandy Newton (ph), Hal Holbrooke, Bo Hopkins.

KING: What's the name of it?

GRIFFIN: It's called "Shade." And, last week they screened it for the industry over here at the Grove Theater. The place was mobbed. They were standing out in the streets. I don't know why because it was invitation only, and they stood up and cheered it at the end, so I love that. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: What was your biggest bomb? What idea did you have that you said can not miss, missed?

GRIFFIN: Oh there's so -- oh, I mean. KING: Does anything jump?

GRIFFIN: I bought a pilot of game shows and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Well, all kinds of crazy ideas but I still have my ranch in Carmel Valley. I realized there were a lot of artisans there, people who make waterfalls, ashtrays, and then down at Big Sur you've got all of the artisans down there. I said we're going to have a Carmel catalogue and have it all photographed and everything.

It was wonderful and then I bought lists of prospective buyers of these things and we sent out the catalogue to everybody. All the doctors and dentists, their catalogue, they all ordered the waterfall for $500. It was made out of redwood and electric and water and everything.

So, I went back to the guy and said here's 150 orders. He said I can make one a month. I had not checked the fact that they couldn't mass produce like a company could.

KING: Aha.

GRIFFIN: So, I got out of that business in a hurry.

KING: Are you looking for a new quiz show?

GRIFFIN: I have one. I have two as a matter of fact. I have a quiz reality show. See, I like reality.

KING: You do?

GRIFFIN: Yes. I know everybody is going (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but isn't that what television really is? Why are you such a success, because it's of the moment?

KING: Yes, this is real.

GRIFFIN: There's no script, no nothing. This is real and that's why it's good. If the reality is good without, you know, eating worms and all that crazy...

KING: But can it be reality if there's a microphone and a camera or they take you out into the jungle?

GRIFFIN: Oh, sure. This is reality and we've got lights, camera, action. The three makeup people you have to use to put your -- and the suspender guy. No, no, no, television is of the moment. Why are sports great? Why is news (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Why are interviews?

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reality television?

GRIFFIN: Huh?

KING: Sports is reality television.

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes, yes, yes. KING: So you're going to have a combined reality and quiz show -- putting people in...

GRIFFIN: Yes, but it's for real. I'm putting people in real situations and they will either win a fortune or they'll go home with nothing but it's real.

KING: A couple of other things, why did you sell your companies? Why did you sell?

GRIFFIN: Oh, I only sold the shows.

KING: Yes, why?

GRIFFIN: Because it was time to. You know I had no idea they would go on. Nighttime game shows have a seven year run and then they're notorious for going off after seven years. Well, nobody ever thought they'd go 30 years.

KING: Merv, it's a delight always seeing you.

GRIFFIN: Is it over?

KING: Yes, it is but you'll be back. You always come back.

GRIFFIN: Okay, we'll have a blue room, a...

KING: New room.

GRIFFIN: For...

KING: Two room...

GRIFFIN: Where we can...

KING: Work, we can...

GRIFFIN: Nailed you. Okay, see you later.

KING: Where I can smoke my pipe away. What do you mean where we can? There's no we can, it's I can.

GRIFFIN: I don't think we should end this.

KING: You're wrong. You were wrong.

GRIFFIN: I'm wrong. I started the song. If you don't know it.

KING: You were wrong.

GRIFFIN: You're out of the business.

KING: OK. OK. We thank Merv Griffin. The book is "Merv, Making the Good Life Last." And, Cindy Adams is next on LARRY KING WEEKEND. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: What's the best thing you did in your education?

CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: What was the best thing? A very difficult question. I (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I think probably my time in Australia (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when I went for six months to school there had a profound effect on me because I was, it may sound silly to you but I was chucked into a pond and I either sank or I swam at the age of whatever I was, 16 I think. I was determined I wasn't going to sink.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome to this special edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND a good friend and a jazzy lady, Cindy Adams, columnist syndicated by "The New York Post" author of the new book, "The Gift of Jazzy." It's available as a book. It's available on audio tape. It's available on CD. She is everywhere. The book is jazzy and she is jazzy. How did you name this dog?

CINDY ADAMS, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK POST": Because he was hyped up. He was jumping all over. He was licking me all over and I said you're all jazzed up.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ADAMS: Also everybody in my life was J. Joey, my husband, Jessie my mother, so it had to be a J.

KING: History of the dog. How did this Yorkie come to be?

ADAMS: Oh, Larry seven days after Joey, my husband of a lifetime, I was married since the stone age.

KING: This by the way is the very famous Joey Adams the comic whose been a legend for a hundred years it seems.

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: What happened?

ADAMS: We were married for 40 years. Moses himself performed the ceremony, you know. So, he passed away. He was the same age as my mother. The only two people in my life that meant anything to me left me within three months and I was alone in this huge apartment and a mutual friend our ours, a guy by the name of Michael Veiner (ph) and his wife Deborah Reffin (ph), they thought...

KING: Who are heads of New Millennium which published the CD and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ADAMS: By an odd coincidence. And, he said you know you need something but he didn't tell me. He sent in a dog from a breeder in Connecticut. He made this decision unilaterally without me and he came in seven days to the day that Joey had died and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) paying their respects in my living room at that moment was Ron Perlman and Ellen Barkin.

And I was busy taking care of them and everybody else and in came this thing. My housekeeper was told to go downstairs to pick up a package. She did and we picked up this package and that was it. He came into my life.

KING: Wasn't that a little presumptuous of Mr. Veiner to give you a dog?

ADAMS: Very presumptuous.

KING: What if you didn't like dogs?

ADAMS: They tell you you're not supposed to ever give anyone a pet.

KING: Correct.

ADAMS: Because they never know and I was in terror. I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't know how to handle my life. I was alone. Since the day I was 16 I was married. I didn't know. I had a tax audit was coming up. I had probate. I had people sitting in my house. My husband had just died in my arms. What am I doing with this thing? Get rid of it, lose it.

KING: Was your first thought I'm going to give it to someone?

ADAMS: No, but just get it out of my way. I can't handle it at the moment and they said give it some water and I said what kind (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Water, just give it water, so I gave it water and he gave me back the same water the minute I picked him up all over me. You know, so he gave me his opinion in five minutes.

KING: So the start was auspicious.

ADAMS: It certainly was.

KING: What developed?

ADAMS: What developed? He just wrapped his little two pound two ounce body around me. I loved this dog so much that if he could pay the maintenance on my apartment I'd leave it to him in my will. You don't understand what it's like to suddenly be all alone out there.

You're this hot shot. You call me jazzy columnist. You go to the White House. You go here. You go there. But basically all we have in life is the people who mean something to us. And, this was something of survival and coping and he was all I had. He is now the only blood relative that I have.

KING: Do you talk to him? I mean is it like a...

ADAMS: Yes, I do except maybe I don't know how to handle a dog. We've loved each other so much now that he's very self centered and he needs all the attention. Wherever we go he gets all of the attention and so he's a little bit difficult to handle. I feed him personally, hand feed him.

KING: It's been known that if you go to nursery homes dogs are invaluable.

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: They bond (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ADAMS: But you're not necessarily putting me in a nursing home yet are you?

KING: No, I'm not but I'm saying to explain the bond between loneliness and a dog.

ADAMS: It's enormous. It's enormous. I go out. I come home. I rush to leave a big black tie party to come home to feed Jazzy. Jazzy and I have become something -- we're inseparable but he has created difficulties in my life. One day Noriega calls me from prison and it took three months to set up this interview because he's in the can. You can't just dial Noriega 6 and get him on the phone. You have to wait until he calls.

It took three months. He says Cindy it is the general. You have pencil? I said yes I have pencil. He says here is what I want to tell you. At that moment, Jazzy my dog, walks on the buttons of the phone and cuts him off. That was the last time I got Noriega on the phone.

KING: Why did you decide to write a book about a dog?

ADAMS: Because it's a book of survival and coping. Many people ask me how did I make it? How does anyone make it when your protector -- I was a little girl. I never had written a check. Joey had done everything for me. Joey was a celebrity. I was nothing.

Then, of course, the wheel turns and I became a bit of a something and he became fragile and frail and I took care of him in his last years. So that was something people always wanted to know how did I do that.

KING: So this is the story not just the dog, but the dog's involvement with your being alone.

ADAMS: That's right.

KING: How old was Joey when he died?

ADAMS: He was the same age as my mother. He was in his 80s.

KING: It's expected to die in their 80s. Is it any less impacting when it's expected? You're not supposed to live that long.

ADAMS: No, Larry, but this man had become fragile for 20 years. My mother did not know who I was for the last 20 years of my life, so I had Joey who was fragile.

KING: She had Alzheimer's?

ADAMS: No, it wasn't Alzheimer's but it was a dementia.

KING: Yes.

ADAMS: And Joey was very frail. I used to come home and sometimes with all the help we had with nurses, relief nurses, weekend nurses, nighttime nurses, I would have to help pick him up off the floor. It was a painful experience. Age is a bitch. Never let anybody tell you it's an easy little golden time. I lived through it with two people. I took care of two people.

And so, all of a sudden I was bereft. I would write all this smart ass stuff and be bright and shiny and then I would come home to a totally different world that was alone.

KING: Was there kind of a relief though in death, two burdens gone?

ADAMS: You know what it was, the one thing that's terrible, I don't have the airport call. When I left for Beijing about six months after that to do some, I forgot what I was doing there, but I had no one to call when I arrived at the airport to say I'm okay. Are you okay? Do you need anything? I'm okay. I'll be home in two days. I don't have the airport call. And so, do you know what I do now?

KING: You call the dog.

ADAMS: I call Jazzy. That's what I put in the "Gift of Jazzy." I call him and I listen to him bark and I say...

KING: The phone, who answers the phone?

ADAMS: My house -- well he doesn't answer the phone.

KING: I was expecting to hear that next. The housekeeper takes the phone off the hook.

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: Puts it next to...

ADAMS: To Jazzy and Jazzy listens to mommy say, Jazzy, Jazzy it's mummy. Are you okay? I love you. And, he barks and he barks and he wags his tail happily and we had made a communication.

KING: Cindy Adams, the book is "The Gift of Jazzy." It's available on audio as well. She is, of course, the columnist of "The New York Post." We'll talk about some other things as well. The book is available everywhere. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Cindy Adams. She mentioned how she was nothing and Joey Adams was famous and then the tide turned. The tide turned when you got an interview that nobody got, right, you got the Shah of Iran?

ADAMS: Yes, how did you know that? That was 1979.

KING: How did you get him?

ADAMS: Well, Joey had been president of all the actors, AGVA, American Guild of Variety Artists, and in such a capacity he had done performances abroad, and I was this little smart-mouthed little person from New York with the fake eyelashes and the jazzy look that most shahs don't get to know and I was a journalist who didn't have cigar ashes falling down my front.

So, we all struck up a relationship and I did some shopping for the empress, and I knew the shah over the years. When he was dying in New York Hospital, everyone in the journalistic profession in New York was ringing the hospital hoping even to speak to an orderly on three floors below who might know somebody who could give them a little sound byte.

His twin sister, Princess Ashraf (ph) called me and she says his majesty would like to see you. I said there was like a thud with me at the other end of the phone. I wasn't yet on "The New York Post."

Joey was, and we had a date that night with the editor, and I called the editor and said, like an innocent imbecile I said I can't make dinner. He says why is that lovely one? They're all Brits at "The New York Post."

And I said well because the shah has sent for me. He wants me to come up and visit. So, he started to treat me, you know, very gently like I would break and he said dear one do you expect perhaps when you came back from the hospital you would be kind enough to perhaps give us a call and perhaps tell us what occurred?

KING: And that was your break? Was that?

ADAMS: Yes, it was, and they went on the front page the next day and they said The Post's own Cindy Adams exclusive. I wasn't The Post's own. They never paid me for the story.

KING: That figures. You write in the last half dozen years I gave him not only what he wanted but also what he needed. I put my own life on hold to take care of him. I did it because the wheel turns, as your mother used to say.

ADAMS: Joey, my husband.

KING: Yes. Cindy writes also gossip is as old as time. It's a noble profession. The root of gossip is gospel considering it comes from a good book. The first gossips were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You think people might take that the wrong way?

ADAMS: I don't think so. They're the ones who carried the word. So, if you actually think of the root of gossip as gospel, I'm doing holy work when I write about Larry King or J Lo.

KING: What is gossip, Cindy? What is it down to earth?

ADAMS: Honey, it's been on since the beginning of time. In the old times when they were down at the riverbed with the washing board they were talking. It's telephone, telecommunications, tell a friend.

KING: Does it have anything to do with truth?

ADAMS: No.

KING: OK it can be truthful?

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: Can it be not truthful?

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: So, if I tell you I saw this guy yesterday that's immediately gossip?

ADAMS: Yes, but I will rush for a pencil anyway.

KING: So, what does the good gossip columnist do?

ADAMS: You mean if somebody is telling me he saw this guy running down the street?

KING: Yes.

ADAMS: It depends from whence it emanates. If it comes from Larry King whom I've known 1,000 years, I know you're telling me the truth. You're savvy and you will know. If it's from somebody I've never met before I will check it out. Sometimes you listen to someone. You may not print it and you wait for him to come back a second time on a third item. By then, if you've checked out the first two and they turn out to be true you can go with it.

KING: Historically, was Winchell (ph) the best? He seems to have been forgotten by the times.

ADAMS: Well, I didn't know him but he -- you know that he and Joey were brothers-in-law. Walter Winchell's wife and Joey's first wife were sisters.

KING: Never knew that.

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: But Winchell was the king of New York.

ADAMS: Yes, he was.

KING: Page 10, "Daily Mirror."

ADAMS: Yes, he was.

KING: I mean he owned.

ADAMS: He started the genre.

KING: Right, and he used press agents a lot.

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: But he forced them. They had to give him the right item. If they gave him the wrong item they were dead. Is that the way you are?

ADAMS: Not quite. You see we're not as powerful as Walter Winchell. He was this giant dinosaur who roamed the earth. He pawed the earth and in those days you couldn't say someone was having a baby out of wedlock. You couldn't say they were having an affair. You couldn't say they had a drink.

Today, nobody bothers to get married. They first have the baby. You have two women having babies, two men having babies. There's noting you can't say, thus you do not wield the power that they did in the old days.

KING: Is it harder today then?

ADAMS: Sure it is because every place you go, you go to downtown Poughkeepsie, you got somebody talking jams and jellies and gossip. Gossip is in every magazine every place.

KING: The first rule, supposing you get a juicy you believe to be true item about someone you like.

ADAMS: Yes.

KING: And it's not good for them. What do you do? Or a friend?

ADAMS: Look I was raised with Joey since I'm 16 amongst you. I am not a kid who lived in an attic and then got into this exciting world. The goodly portion of people about whom I report are people I know personally. So, I have a little furry animal that lives inside my gizzard and when it starts to travel I know I can't do that and I don't do it.

The story of Donald Trump when he was getting his -- when he was having an affair and he was married to Ivana, I knew that two years before. I would never print it because he had three children. After the story was broken, not by me, I went after that story day after day after day.

Remember when Bess Meyerson (ph) was in the front pages years ago when she'd had this unhappy experience? My paper asked me do you know where Bess is because they knew she was a friend. Well, I told them the truth. I said I don't know where she is at this minute and that's because she had gone inside to wash her hands. She had been in my kitchen. She came to my house every night for pot luck from the courthouse but I wouldn't give her up because she's my friend. I trusted that when the time came it would be me to whom she would speak and she did. Sometimes I luck out. Sometimes I don't but you must be a human being first.

KING: When you were on the paper with two famous gossip columnists, you and Liz Smith are on the same paper, is that competitive?

ADAMS: I don't think so because this world is so big and now when in the old days it was the big thing Farrah Fawcett's shampoo. Today it's CEOs. Today it's everyone. There is no limit. There's so much gossip for everyone.

KING: So there are tons of items.

ADAMS: Yes, politics are sexy, CEOs are sexy.

KING: Cindy Adams, the book is "The Gift of Jazzy." Back with our remaining moment with this great gal, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The book and tapes are available everywhere. It's "The Gift of Jazzy." The author is Cindy Adams, the columnist of "The New York Post." A lot of things (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bridging on this. Macy's is going to have a what?

ADAMS: Macys is opening a boutique in my dog Jazzy's name.

KING: A Jazzy boutique.

ADAMS: That's right, absolutely. If you get a dog sweetie I'll get you something wholesale.

KING: "The New York Post" is holding a win a date with Jazzy contest. You're setting him up already.

ADAMS: Listen, he's three years old.

KING: He's a two pound dog.

ADAMS: He's an old Jew. In my life he's an old Jew. He's three years old which means he's 21 in dog years, time he met a nice Jewish girl dog.

KING: So, how does this work, win a day, what do you have to do?

ADAMS: Well, I don't have to do anything. "The New York Post" is saying it's a contest. You have to send in pictures of your beautiful girl dog and there will be a large group of people who will decide who will meet Jazzy.

KING: Does the winner get to meet Jazzy?

ADAMS: Yes, gets to meet Jazzy.

KING: Leave them alone in a room, give them some privacy.

ADAMS: Absolutely, a bone, everything they need.

KING: A couple of other things. What made Liza super gossip? I mean Liza Minnelli's been around, ups and downs.

ADAMS: She survived lovey. We love a survivor. Do you know Lizzie Grubman (ph) who had such a terrible time. Her business is doing fantastically.

KING: Just had breakfast with her father.

ADAMS: Everybody loves a survivor. She came back. She was fat. She was sick. She couldn't walk. She couldn't sing. Now, she's skinny. She's terrific. She's marvelous and they had a party with 18th Century Fox celebrities and she's back again.

KING: You violated club rules with Hillary Clinton. What was that story? That was a headline.

ADAMS: Yes. Hillary and I were having -- there's a place called the University Club in New York which the average age of the member is deceased. They are there since the day the club opened 168 years, and I took out a cell phone. They don't even know about rotary dials there yet, forget the cell phone. So, they threw me out and Hillary was with me and they said you must leave too madam, and I said forget me, the first lady of gossip.

KING: She was now a Senator?

ADAMS: No, she was the first lady of the United States.

KING: Oh, gee.

ADAMS: And they threw her out and the two of us were packing up. We said what are you crazy and we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all of our things. We were exchanging gifts and we were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and we were making noise with shopping bags and some potted plant who was sitting 100 feet down, got up, geyser gate, this whole place is geysers.

He says madam, we will not have this kind of noise here. We will not tolerate this, out, and they threw out the first lady and me. I rushed to the phone. I couldn't care less. I got the greatest story, front page. I was happy.

KING: What did Hillary think?

ADAMS: Hillary thought it was very funny. I made sure to take care of her. I put all the heat on me, you know, obviously, so it was funny.

KING: Do you ever think of retiring? ADAMS: I'm not at the age yet where I need to retire and why?

KING: You don't need the money so it's a kick right?

ADAMS: No. Yes, and the paper is so kind and loving to me that they don't give me any problems as long as...

KING: What do you mean kind? I mean they don't bother you?

ADAMS: No, no, no, no, no, and it's easy for me to do. What about you? You love what you do.

KING: I don't know.

ADAMS: You're the best at what you do.

KING: I don't know what I'd retire to.

ADAMS: Well exactly to your 12 homes, but you're terrific. You're the best. Who are they going to put in, two seven-year-olds, you know, with acne. You are the absolute best and until they fire me I'm still going to be there sweetie with my little boy Jazzy.

KING: Is your day spent hunting for items?

ADAMS: No.

KING: Are you on the phone all the time?

ADAMS: No. You probably could be if you just started out but now there's such a steady flow.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

ADAMS: It goes on constantly.

KING: Rings.

ADAMS: I mean it comes in over the transom, under the door. There are seven drops a day that come to me. As I walk out, you will tell me something and I will use it and if you don't I will use it anyway.

KING: My next time in New York I get to meet him.

ADAMS: You will, Jazzy.

KING: Thank you darling.

ADAMS: Thank you sweetie.

KING: The book, the tapes available everywhere, "The Gift of Jazzy," the author Cindy Adams, columnist for "The New York Post." Earlier, Merv Griffin, this has been a great edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. Thanks for joining us and good night.

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