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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Cast of "60 Minutes", It's Creator

Aired May 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)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: You know, an average person is not...

(CRASH)

CLINTON: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh! Oh!

BARBRA STREISAND: Do I have to put shoes on?

MIKE WALLACE, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: No, just leave the shoes off, Paul, and start the interview, please!

I'm Mike Wallace.

MORLEY SAFER, CO-EDITOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I'm Morley Safer.

STEVE KROFT, CO-EDITOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I'm Steve Kroft.

BOB SIMON, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bob Simon.

DON HEWITT, CREATOR, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: And I'm Don Hewitt.

WALLACE: The 35th anniversary of "60 Minutes" and Andy Rooney on the next 60 minutes on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: This Sunday night, a great piece of television is going to take place. Sunday, May 18, on CBS from 7:00 to 9:00 PM Eastern time, "60 Minutes" celebrates 35 years on the air. Now, to be honest, September is the actual 35th anniversary, but May is sweeps month, and this is going to be a big draw, so they're celebrating it in advance of September -- thirty-five years. Most of the cast is with us.

We're going to start with Don Hewitt. And Don, how did this idea all begin?

HEWITT: You know something? It was 35 years ago, and it's difficult to remember...

(LAUGHTER) HEWITT: ... except that it worked, and it was just one of those naturals that, you know, fell into place. And here we are 35 years later, and it still works.

KING: I mean, did you go to someone and say, I got an idea for a magazine show? Did you use the word "magazine"?

HEWITT: Yes, well, if you really want to know what happened, I went to Fred Friendly, and he thought it was a lousy idea. Then he got fired, and Dick Salant took over as president of CBS News. And Bill Leonard went to him and said, I think Hewitt's got a pretty good idea. And Salant said, I think it's a lousy idea. And Friendly -- and Leonard said, That's funny. That's exactly what Friendly said. And Salant said, Well, if Friendly thinks it's a lousy idea, it must be a good one. That's how we got on the air.

KING: Now, Mike Wallace, how did you sign -- how did they come to you? What did you think of it? Your initial -- your beginnings.

WALLACE: One Sunday afternoon, Hewitt came over to the house and said, Look, we have an idea. And Harry Reasoner's going to be the top banana, but he's too nice a guy. We need somebody -- you know, he's the heart of America. We need a bad guy, and there's been some talk about you. And I said, Well, look, I'm going to be covering Nixon because he's going to get elected. Therefore, I'm probably no good. He said, Come along with me. Do it. Do it. And that's how it happened.

KING: Did you like it right away, Mike?

WALLACE: The pilot that he put together? I wouldn't have bought it in a million years. Seriously.

KING: No kidding?

WALLACE: Yes. No. It was a bore.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: And there are those who say that it was kind of a bore for the first five years. And the wonderful thing was that we had a chance to work it out.

KING: Yes. They started you on Tuesday nights, right, and then moved you to Sunday.

WALLACE: Right. And nobody paid attention. We finished about 85th.

HEWITT: We were opposite "Marcus Welby, M.D." You couldn't make it.

WALLACE: And the Tuesday night movie on NBC.

KING: How, Morley Safer, did they get you?

SAFER: They got me because ABC, Roone Arledge hired Harry Reasoner to save Barbara Walters's ass on ABC.

(LAUGHTER)

SAFER: And Hewitt hired me to save Mike Wallace's ass at CBS.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Morley, were you a fan of the show?

SAFER: I was based in London, so I -- all I'd ever really seen of the show was the -- was Don Hewitt, when he was peddling that pilot. I mean, he was -- talk about the life of a salesman. He was -- he came over to London to show everybody that show. And Mike was wrong. The pilot was really, very, very good, and the reason it was good is he had no budget to do it, so he went back to all the best documentaries that CBS had done for the previous, say, 10 years. And we used to do a lot of them. And he cut each one of those documentaries into a "60 Minutes" story. And it really was quite impressive. He, of course, almost single-handedly killed the documentary business in the process, but that's another matter.

KING: And Mr. Rooney, how did they entice you aboard?

ANDY ROONEY, COMMENTATOR: I was the writer and producer for Harry Reasoner during the -- I had a piece on the first "60 Minutes" show that I did for Harry Reasoner, wrote it and produced it. And I was a writer and producer until Harry left for ABC, and I came back to CBS after leaving briefly myself. And I was without a star, so I was pressured into reading my own stuff. It was pretty good.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Did you like it? Did you like going...

ROONEY: I liked the writing, yes.

KING: Did you like going on camera, Andy?

ROONEY: You know, the money's better, but a lot of -- it's a really a pain in the tail.

HEWITT: Oh, come on!

ROONEY: Well, it is.

WALLACE: Oh, poor, fella. Geez!

HEWITT: Oh, poor Andy!

WALLACE: All I can tell you, Larry, is that he shows up...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: ... ahead of time all the time to be in front of the camera.

KING: Yes. All right, Steve Kroft, how were you -- how did they get you?

KROFT: I had come back from London, and I was working on a magazine show called "West 57th." And they were looking for some younger people, some new blood at "60 Minutes" because they thought Harry was not in very good health, and Diane Sawyer was leaving to go to ABC. And they thought Mike was getting old. He must have been about 67 or 68 then. And so that's how I got on.

SAFER: You replaced Diane Sawyer.

KROFT: I replaced Diane Sawyer.

ROONEY: That was some exchange.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And Bob Simon -- now, everyone's called a co-editor. You are a correspondent. What's the difference, Bob?

SIMON: The difference is I'm a lot younger than everybody else.

(LAUGHTER)

KROFT: He's lying.

KING: How did they get you aboard, Bob?

SIMON: Well, I was in Beirut six, seven years ago, minding my own business, doing some stories. And I got a call from Don Hewitt, and he said -- Don's questions are rarely long. He said, Bob, what's Hezbollah? And I said, You know, it's this radical organization that doesn't like Israel very much. And he said, I want a story on it. I said OK. I'd never done a -- I guess he meant a "60 Minutes" story. I didn't press him on it. But so I went ahead and did a "60 Minutes" story. At least, I thought I did. And I brought it to New York and screened it. And it was my first screening and not my worst. And Don -- when the lights came on, Don said, The open should be the close. I hate the main character. Lose the main character. And your narration sounds like you were singing in the shower.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: And I left the room looking for a window to jump out of when Josh Howard, senior producer, came up to me and said, You know, that was a pretty good screening. What you really have to worry about is when the lights go on and he doesn't say anything. Then you know you're dead.

KING: We're going to go to break, and when we come back, we're going to get each of their thoughts on why this show has been this show, why it's lasted this long. What makes -- what's the uncanny story of the success of "60 Minutes." And again, Sunday night from 7:00 to 9:00, a two-hour special saluting 35 years. We'll be right back with the gang. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HARRY REASONER, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, this is "60 Minutes." It's a kind of a magazine for television, which means it has the flexibility and diversity of a magazine, adapted to broadcast journalism. And our first cover story is about cops, by the top cop.

WALLACE: Chances are that you were watching television when they were balloting at the Republican convention. So was the man who won that nomination. And a "60 Minutes" cameraman was there, the only television cameraman in the room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAFER: It all began in the brain of an illiterate ex-holy roller preacher named Kirby Hensley (ph) or Bishop Kirby Hensley, who refers to himself as the Modesto Messiah. His mission is to make every American a minister, a tax-exempt minister.

KIRBY HENSLEY: I'm a con man. Every other fellow I come in contact with is a con man. When I give a fellow an honorary doctor of divinity, it's just a little piece of paper. And it ain't -- anything, you know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) might agree to it, you know what I mean, the first...

(CROSSTALK)

HENSLEY: I've got them hanging on my wall. You can pack them up, a truckload -- a truckload of them. And I don't use any of them. You see what I mean? And because they're just useless. It's not what you have or what you've got, it's what you are that counts and what you do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Don't forget, Sunday night for two hours, starts at 7:00 o'clock Eastern. Wallace, Rooney, Safer, Kroft, Simon and Hewitt are with us.

All right, what's your thoughts, Don, on the longevity and the success of this show?

HEWITT: Well, I think we tried something new. Up to that point, everybody was doing the news of the day, and we all decided the news of the times in which we live was a lot more interesting than the news of the day. And nobody had ever done that before, or if they had done it, it was in documentaries that took six months to a year to do, and we were turning them out in a couple of weeks. And it worked. And it worked because we realized that the whole idea was to tell a story and to go find people who could tell their own story better than you could. And our job was to help them tell that story.

KING: Mike Wallace, why -- how has it lasted? WALLACE: It's lasted -- Don has said it all. He really has said it all -- telling a story, put together a bunch of interesting characters, and all of a sudden, it became appointment television. Truly, it took us about five years to find our audience. I still believe when we found our audience, it was the middle of, first of all, the Civil Rights revolution, then Vietnam and Watergate, and we simply got behind the scenes to a lot of those stories, whereas the rest of television did not.

KING: Morley, how about the added things, the segments, the each -- three segments, the Andy Rooney close? How about the "tick, tick, tick"?

SAFER: Well, I think all of those things give us a certain distinction. And I think the reason for the longevity is the distinction, and the distinction being that we only rarely go after the cheesy stories. We only rarely go after the outrage of the week, whether it's the kidnapped child or the murdered mother or whatever. And I think as more and more other networks try to clone "60 Minutes," in a certain way it really helped us because it made us even more distinct than we were when we were alone on the air.

And I think that what will continue -- will maintain that longevity is if we continue to do stories that we decide intrigue us, that we don't use surveys, we don't go out and try to find out what people are interested -- and we don't try to pander or cater to a particular demographic or a particular segment of the society.

KING: Andy, what would you add?

ROONEY: I wouldn't add anything to what Morley said. I think that's exactly right. Don does not decide what people want to see. He decides what a good story is, and he runs it. I look at the line- up -- I don't usually see the show before it goes on the air. I look at the line-up, and I think to myself, Do I really want to see that? I sit down and watch it, and it's invariably something I want to see.

KING: What is it like to work at it, Steve?

KROFT: I have to say that it's unlike any job in journalism. First of all, you have an incredible amount of say in what you do. It's very rare that Don will come by and suggest a story idea. And it's really up to you, and as Morley said, what interests you and what interests your staff of producers. And there's always a tremendous amount of competition between the correspondents and now between "60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes II" to come up with the best stories. And so it's always -- you know, it's pressure-packed. There's always been a lot of pressure to come up with a good story that meets "60 Minutes" standards week in and week out.

KING: You're a correspondent for both, Bob. Is there much of a difference working "60 Minutes II" to "60 Minutes"?

SIMON: Just because "60 Minutes" is established now and has built its reputation, and "60 II" is off to a very good start, I think, and is on its way. And I can speak -- as a relative outsider here, I can say that in addition to what my colleagues have said -- and I still have to knock on wood to believe that I'm here -- that this is the best bunch of correspondents and producers on television. It's that simple. I don't think they can be -- I don't think there's anyone else who can -- who compares.

KING: Mike, what will happen when Hewitt leaves, as will take place at the end of 2003-2004 season?

WALLACE: You're leaving?

HEWITT: The first I heard of it.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: Who told you that, Larry? Where'd you get that? Where did you get...

KING: Things always break on the show, but I'm told that you're turning over the "60 Minutes" reins to...

HEWITT: Oh, Larry!

KING: ... Jeff Fager (ph) at the end of the -- you mean that you're not?

HEWITT: Don't be -- I'm going to leave? Yes, I'm going to leave, at some point.

SAFER: They're going to send in the 82nd Airborne to get him out.

(LAUGHTER)

HEWITT: That's right! I'm going to go get embedded somewhere else.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: How much -- how much of this show is Hewitt's stamp?

ROONEY: It will never be the same, Larry, without Don. I...

WALLACE: Wait a minute. He put the question to me.

ROONEY: Oh, did he? Well...

(CROSSTALK)

ROONEY: I didn't think you'd know how to say it.

(CROSSTALK)

ROONEY: I was just saying something nice, sucking up to Hewitt, and you interrupt me. Go ahead.

SAFER: You don't need to anymore. He's leaving. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Larry...

KING: Yes?

HEWITT: This broadcast has never been before a focus group. We have never seen a minute-by-minute Nielsen that everybody else in television lives by. They have left us alone. And I think this show works because they let us do what we think we can do better than anyone else, and they don't mess with us and...

WALLACE: And Hewitt never calls a meeting. The meetings take place mainly in the men's room, and occasionally we let Lesley in.

(LAUGHTER)

ROONEY: Don says that the shows have meetings. The show looks like a meeting.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But how much is his stamp, Morley? How much is -- he's going to be leaving, eventually.

SAFER: Well, look at my backside, and you'll see his stamp.

(LAUGHTER)

SAFER: No, I think the broadcast has Don's stamp. I think "60 Minutes II" has Don's stamp. There's no question. Essentially, when you see that clock, you what you're going to get. You know you're going to find something in the next 50-odd minutes that you didn't know before. You may hate two of the stories, one will turn you on.

KING: We'll be...

SAFER: And I think that -- that is Hewitt's stamp.

KING: We'll be right back with lots more to go of "60 Minutes." Their 35th anniversary is officially in September. They're celebrating this Sunday night with a two-hour special. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNNY CARSON: Now, who said I got $3 million or $4 million annually?

WALLACE: You know that you do.

CARSON: Nobody's ever quoted my salary correct, and that's always intrigued me. Nobody's ever had the figure right.

WALLACE: You know what? You have the opportunity at this moment, before 40 or 50 million people, to straighten us all out.

CARSON: What do you make a week? WALLACE: I'd be a shamed to tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Was there anything that the Secret Service or that Clint Hill (ph) could have done to keep that from happening?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clint Hill? Yes.

WALLACE: Clint Hill, yes? What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he had reacted about five tenths of a second faster or maybe a second faster, I wouldn't be here today.

WALLACE: You mean you would have gotten there and you would have taken the shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The third shot. Yes, sir.

WALLACE: And that would have been all right with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would have been fine with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The changing tide of news, gentlemen. A Texas mother kills her two children. Is that something "60 Minutes" is interested in, Steve, or do they need an angle?

KROFT: It's not something we're interested in the first week. It's something we might be interested in somewhere down the line, if we find out that there's more to the story than that, that's worth examining. But we have a tendency to stay away from those stories until something happens that makes it unique, until we have a take on it or see an angle there that other people haven't reported.

KING: Would an obvious angle be, Bob, if the mother agrees to give you an interview?

SIMON: Not at all. No. If that story, which is precisely, I think, the kind of story we've tended to avoid -- because by the time "60 Minutes" comes on the air, it will have been reported all over the place. And unless you can come up with something incredibly new and interesting, why do it on "60 Minutes"? People precisely, I believe, tune into "60 Minutes" to see something they haven't seen, told in a different way than they've seen during the week.

WALLACE: That's basically why we stayed off the O.J. Simpson story, Don.

HEWITT: There was nothing to report. By Sunday, everybody had done everything, and I didn't want to do the limo driver again. WALLACE: Yes.

KING: So can you explain, Don -- maybe it's the hardest thing to do. What is a story?

HEWITT: A story is anything that anyone is interested in finding about for the first time or finding more about. And we probably do more of the ``finding more abouts'' than we do finding about for the first time. But very occasionally -- and more often than not, someone will come to me and say of a story that's been running a lot, Hey, you know, there's a whole new angle to this thing that nobody has reported on yet, and let's go do it. And then what's happened is that the fact that it's been on the evening news every night becomes sort of your promo, and you have a new angle, and you can add something to the story. If you can't add anything to the story, don't do it.

KING: But you always break big news. Mike, was not Steve's interview with Bill and Hillary Clinton in the primary in '92 probably "60 Minutes" biggest moment.

WALLACE: It was a very big moment. There's no doubt about that, especially when Don almost killed Hillary.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: When what?

WALLACE: You don't know about this?

KING: What?

WALLACE: Hewitt -- tell the story, Don.

HEWITT: A light fell down in the middle of the interview. In fact...

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: Wait a minute! I didn't knock that light down!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: She was terrified. You know, an average person is not -- Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Oh!

BILL CLINTON: Are you OK?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Yes, I think.

HEWITT: You all right?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Yes. Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEWITT: In fact, when I was dickering with Bill Clinton recently to be on "60 Minutes"...

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: I wasn't the only one who dickered with him!

(LAUGHTER)

HEWITT: Anyway, during the negotiations, Les Moonves said to Clinton, Do you know Don Hewitt? He said, Do I know Don Hewitt? He tried to kill me in Boston.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Hillary's got a book coming out. Andy Rooney, would you -- would you say -- if Hillary says, I'll do it next week, first interview for the book, I want to go on live and I want the hour, would you give it to her?

ROONEY: I would like to -- if I could do the interview, yes, I would.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Would you give it to her, Don?

HEWITT: Give her the whole hour?

KING: Yes.

HEWITT: Yes, because it's in June, after the season's over.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: So you would. Steve, would you?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I'm trying to see when would "60 Minutes" break format, is what I'm going after.

KROFT: We break format when we think it's necessary, when we've got something that is -- deserves more than one part or something that's worth an hour. But that's one of the things about the competitiveness now between the news magazines, that several shows have given Hollywood people an hour. So now everybody wants an hour, and there are very few people that can sustain an hour interview, very hard. And there are very few stories that -- I mean, occasionally, you'll find one that you can do an hour on. But I think it depends on how -- our position has always been, we don't guarantee anybody...

HEWITT: Absolutely.

KROFT: ... a certain length of time. We guarantee them what we think it's worth.

WALLACE: And the word I hear... KROFT: Witness Mike's story with the president or premiere of China. Remember?

WALLACE: That's correct. Yes, I do.

KROFT: How long that was story?

WALLACE: Six minutes.

KROFT: Six minutes.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: It started out as an hour.

SAFER: How about two minutes?

(LAUGHTER)

ROONEY: I'm always amused to hear the evening shows announce, Now we're having a story, in depth, and they give it 12 seconds.

(LAUGHTER)

SAFER: But I don't think there's a single -- with great respect to the nobility of public service, I don't think there's a single member of the U.S. Senate who is worth an hour on "60 Minutes." I don't think -- I think there are what, three question, perhaps, that people really want to have Hillary answer. And what do you do with the rest of it?

WALLACE: It also has to do with ground rules, and a lot of people will establish ground rules...

KING: You won't?

WALLACE: No, we will not.

KING: OK. Let me get a break and come right back. We'll reintroduce the whole gang, "60 Minutes" celebrating its 35th anniversary, big special, two hours Sunday night. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KROFT: I think most Americans would agree that it's very admirable that you would stay together, that you've worked your problems out, that you seem to have reached some sort of an understanding and an arrangement.

BILL CLINTON: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

KROFT: But...

BILL CLINTON: Wait a minute. You're looking at two people who love each other. This is not an arrangement or an understanding. This is a marriage. That's a very different thing. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: You know, I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man, like Tammy Wynette. I'm sitting here because I love him and I respect him, and I honor what he's been through and what we've been through together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROONEY: If you've watched "60 Minutes" over the years, you certainly understand that some of the stories are hard for the correspondents to do. It's likely you don't understand what all of the problems are.

A simple thing like getting ready to tape can be a problem. All sorts of thing goes wrong. IT can be something as simple as a fly.

And half the time when they're ready, some exhibitionist is behind them trying to get into the act.

When everything else is right and the correspondent's ready to go, he or she gets half way through and forgets what it is he has to say.

WALLACE: Oh, come on, keep going! keep it rolling. Get out of the way, will you please, kid?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with most of the cast of "60 Minutes." The special airs Sunday night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

With us are Mike Wallace, who's been co-editor of "60 Minutes" since its premiere, September 24, 1968.

And Andy Rooney. "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney" became a regular feature on "60 Minutes" in September of 1978.

All of the guests are in New York, by the way.

Morley Safer has been the co-editor of "60 Minutes" since December of 1970.

Steve Kroft was named co-editor of "60 Minutes" in May 1989.

Bob Simon has been a correspondent for "60 Minutes" since 1996 and was named a correspondent for "60 Minutes II" in November of 1998.

And Don Hewitt, the creator and executive produce of "60 Minutes" has been with CBS News for more than 50 years.

Let's get the best and worst. What, Don, was your worst moment with this show.

HEWITT: I don't think we've had very many worse moments.

SIMON: What if I just did a screening?

HEWITT: Well, we looked at a piece of Bob's -- mostly it's been a sleigh ride. I mean, you -- you know, you got a bunch of guys like these guys, there aren't many bad moments and it's tough to remember any of them.

KING: Mike, did you have a bad -- was the tobacco incident a bad moment?

WALLACE: With the tobacco incident?

KING: Yes.

WALLACE: You're damn right we had a bad moment with the tobacco incident because -- because we were let down by our bosses at CBS, CBS News and CBS Inc. They wouldn't let us put a piece on the air.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE (voice-over): Which is true? What the tobacco men at Brown and Williamson said about their former research director, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand?.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His life has been a pattern of lying.

WALLACE: Or what the attorney general of Mississippi says about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The information that Jeffrey, I think, has is the most important information that has come out against the tobacco industry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: And the only time in the years and the decades that I've been at CBS News that anything like that happened.

KING: Andy Rooney, do you have any bad times at all or has it all been gravy train?

ROONEY: You know, every year, newspaper magazine writers call me and say, you know, "What were your 10 favorite Christmas presents?" or -- I never can answer a question like that, Larry. I don't remember the worst times I ever had.

KING: I mean, have you ever had a piece you wanted to do that Don nixed?

ROONEY: Oh, listen! I could make up -- I could make up this whole 35th anniversary show with pieces of mine he's killed.

KING: Morley, you have a bad moment ever?

SAFER: Oh, sure. There were lots over the years. What's interesting is all of the bad moments are about the story. I mean, there's -- I mean, whatever disagreements we have with each other I would say 100 percent of the time it's because the story -- we feel the story could be better or he feels the story could be better or he feels the story shouldn't go on the air at all and you feel very strongly that it should. And those are -- can be -- there's a lot of blood on the floor after those confrontations, believe me. It's not all this jolly collegiality.

KING: A lot goes into this show. I want to get the good moments...

SAFER: The good news is it's about the story in the final analysis.

KING: I want to get the good moments in a moment but I want to get the -- good moments in a moment. But I got to get -- catch up with Steve and Bob.

Steve, did you ever have a bad time?

KROFT: Well, I go along with these guys. I've certainly had bad days an. I mean, I've certainly had bad weeks, and they're very painful, but they -- you get over them and things almost invariably get better and it's not -- it doesn't really have anything to do with -- it's just like bad days and bad weeks like everybody else has.

KING: Bob Simon, you're the newest member of the crew. Had any rough times yet?

SIMON: Oh yea. My roughest time was a long time before I joined "60 Minutes" in any capacity,. But I learned about it. Twelve years ago, I was a -- the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and got taken prisoner in Iraq and spent 40 days in an Iraqi jail, and then we survived and four of us were flown to London to check into a hospital and get checked out. We were all fairly traumatized.

And as we were led into the hospital before we were taken to the rooms and we were taken to a big room where there were two cameras set up and lights and Ed Bradley and a bunch of producers and when we were still fairly combination of comatose and hysterical from what we'd been through, there was Bradley asking us all of the questions and it was a miserable, miserable time. But I learned how "60 Minutes" does what it does. Catch you off guard whenever possible.

KING: Now these are almost impossible to answer, but -- I realize there are many. But, Mike, do you have a favorite?

WALLACE: Probably shortly after the hostages were taken in Iran and suddenly we had the opportunity -- because we had covered it before, we had the opportunity to interview the Ayatollah Khomenei. It was in a toxic waste dump in Stockton, California and they said, "Go to Tehran." And he was waiting for us and we did the thing and it was on a Sunday morning that we did it. It was seven and a half hours ahead of time. The man was very quiet in his answers with the Ayatollah. But Hewitt didn't know that, so Hewitt was having an actor play Khomenei, his voice. And he had Khomenei, ranting and raving and so forth and so forth.

KING: Now, wait a minute...

WALLACE: Now -- absolutely.

All of a sudden -- all of a sudden somebody pointed out that he barely opened his mouth and he was very quiet. So you recast the thing. At least that's the story I got back in Tehran.

HEWITT: That wasn't Khomeini that you were sitting with?

WALLACE: No, that was -- that was...

HEWITT: It was Mel Brooks, right?

WALLACE: That's right.

HEWITT: It was Mel Brooks.

WALLACE: That was far and away, because it followed a Dallas- Washington game, as a result of which we had...

KING: Yes.

WALLACE: ...a big audience.

KING: We'll be back with more favorite moments from this great cast. You'll see the special Sunday night. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Imam, President Sadat of Egypt, a devoutly religious man, a Muslim, says that what you are doing now is -- quote -- a disgrace to Islam and he calls you, Imam -- forgive me, his words, not mine -- "a lunatic."

(voice-over): The translator worried about even translating the question, but he did.

(on camera): Yes. That's what I heard President Sadat say on American television, that the Imam is a disgrace to Islam and he used the word a "lunatic."

(voice-over): And the Ayatollah promptly called for the assassination of Anwar Sadat, which, of course, is just what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAFER: Tell me something, the great one, where did that come from? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I Orson Welles called me the great one first. And then Lucy started to call me that. And I'm really not offended by it.

SAFER: Did you ever really believe it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just saw me play pool, didn't you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Morley, you've done so much historic stuff on "60 Minutes" we all remember Katie Hepburn a mutual good friend, Jackie Gleason, do you have a favorite?

SAFER: A couple. And as Andy said, I'm hopeless at lists, but the two of the favorites, one was Leno, the story where we worked on the story for almost eight months and within days of the broadcast (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was let out of jail serving a middle of a life sentence for a crime he didn't commit. So that's very satisfying. I did a story about it on a place called Casa Verde in Milan which is the home for old and retired opera singers. And it's one of those upbeat stories that has a wonderful edge to it. And -- and revealed a side of this great artist, Giuseppe Verde, who decided that in the last third of his life that he owed everything to the performers who performed in his opera. So he left his house and all of the royalties of his operas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAFER: The house would be available to primadonnas who had fallen on hard time and to members of the chorus who never made it. Verde died just before the house opened.

(SINGING)

SAFER: Verde refused to allow the thousand open until his death because he did not want the embarrassment of the artists' gratitude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

It was very touching, I think wonderful human story.

KING: Andy Rooney, you can't have a favorite essay, do you?

ROONEY: I can have -- I did one a few weeks ago, six weeks ago, I guess that I liked. I happened to have good footage. It was at the time that the French vetoed our effort in Iraq and the United Nations and I put together a piece. I had been to Paris and I was in Paris the day it was liberated in August in 1944. And I had shots of me in a car going around the Plaza la Concord. And I said when I had shots of me in the car -- and I said, when any French driver blows at me to get out of the way, I just look at them and I say to myself, you son of a about bitch, I know something about this place you'll never know here the did I it was liberated.

KING: Steve, do you have one other than the Clinton appearance together.

KROFT: The Clinton story, I mean, the problem is we all meet so many interesting people, and we have such a charmed life where we can go pretty much everywhere we want. You know, you meet people like Clint Eastwood and movie stars, politicians, but my favorite story was one about federal courthouse at Foley Square (ph) in New York that was being built. It was under construction when we built the story and you can go out and look at construction trailers all up and down the street and they were all mob construction companies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KROFT: In fact, when we issue began reporting this story last spring, the most prominent gravity I said, free Gotti.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KROFT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was being tried in the federal courthouse, in the old federal courthouse, it was a classic example of government incompetence and how nobody was able to sort this out.

KING: That's great.

Bob Simon, do you have one?

SIMON: Yes, I think so. We meet a lot of people and it's indeed it's charmed. But when it comes to public figures and politicians, in particular, it's so rare that you meet one who you really end up liking and respecting. And at least it's been rare for me. And a few years ago when it was still very, very sensitive whether or not America should open up diplomatic relations with Vietnam, of course, I think all of here have an enormous interest in Vietnam, because were where there during the war. And Clinton did something really smart. He picked a pilot, Pete Peterson (ph) who had been shot down over Hanoi during the war and had been in the Hanoi Hilton and suffered all of the egregious stuff.

HEWITT: The Hanoi Hilton, that it was a jail, it was not a hotel. You knew, but the whole generation out there that doesn't be it.

SIMON: The Hanoi Hilton was one of the worst jails in the last generation, and Clinton picked him to be the ambassador to Hanoi, knowing that the resistance to the idea from the right wing in America would be a little bit disarmed since it was a former pilot who was going. And Peterson was just such a wonderful guy, and was so deeply involved in repairing relations between America and Vietnam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: It was Captain Peterson's 67th bombing mission when his F-4 Phantom was hit by awe surface-to-air missile. It was a dark and moonless night. By the time he and his co-pilot hit the ground, Peterson was in so much pain from so many broken bones that he wasn't sure he'd make it through the night, in fact, he wasn't sure he wanted to. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took the .38 out and I had to make the decision of whether or not I wanted off the planet then or I was going to weigh it out.

SIMON: So you actually take out your .38 and think about doing yourself in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Don, how did you select the pieces that will run on Sunday?

HEWITT: I don't know. They were all so good and it was tough to pick one over another. There's a plethora of riches and when you have that it's kind of easy to put two hours together.

WALLACE: Don, tell me something I haven't seen the two hours that are coming up this Sunday. Did Larry, -- did my profile of King make the cut?

HEWITT: I'm not going to answer that.

KING: I'll tell you, Mike Wallace, was so nice to me he came up to me a week after and he said I'm going to kill the next three people do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: You get information your way. I get information my way, but the rap on King is that he's a pansy, he will never ask a hard question.

KING: I'm Larry, I'm Larry of the corner. Honest to god, that's the way I feel. That's in me. I've never got Brooklyn out of me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Don't you have something of Simon about 20 seconds in the horns of a bull or something like that?

HEWITT: The horns of a dilemma. No, this time we went bull fighting once and we've used a bit of that.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: We'll take a break and we'll find out from each of these gentlemen what's next for them if there is a next. The special airs Sunday night at 7:00.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE with the cast of "60 Minutes" don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED BRADLEY, "60 MINUTES" CORRESPONDENT: Everyone in America saw the pictures on television, heard the news on the radio. What was your reaction when you saw those pictures?

TIMOTHY MCVEIGH, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBER: I think like everyone else I thought it was a tragic event. And that's all I really want to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, as an editorial note, Ed Bradley who joined "60 Minutes" as a co-editor in 1981, '82 couldn't be with us because he's recovering with coronary bypass surgery, doing well. And Leslie Stall, who's been a co-editor of "60 Minutes" since march of '91 couldn't be with us because she's working in addition to her duties at "60 Minutes" in her first season as the anchor "48 Hours Investigates."

Mike Wallace, the stories keep appearing that you're cutting back. How much so and how much longer with the program?

WALLACE: I don't think it's any of your business, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: As a matter of fact, we have a couple of questions we'd like to ask you.

HEWITT: Larry, what is the most fascinating interview you ever did?

ROONEY: What are the 20 worst interviews...

KING: Come on, stop!

SAFER: When are you going to start playing hardball, Larry?

(LAUGHTER)

HEWITT: Come on. Why all these softball questions?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: OK! OK!

HEWITT: Seven days a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you given up the radio show yet?

KING: Mike -- yes. Mike, how much longer?

WALLACE: Well, I got a contract through next year, but I don't know.

KING: Andy?

ROONEY: I don't know. As soon as I lose it I suppose I'll be the last to know if I do lose it. I don't walk as well as I used to, but I seem to think I don't notice any diminution in my creative processes.

KING: Morley?

SAFER: Beginning in December I am cutting my workload at "60 Minutes" in half. Does that mean I'll be doing half as much work? No. I will fill in the rest of the time with -- I think while the knees are still sound and while the brain is still reasonably sound, there are a couple of things that I really want to do that I have nothing to do with broadcasting. And so I want to indulge myself...

KING: Like what?

SAFER: A little more art reporting, for example. I am continuing to do art speeches for "CBS Sunday Morning." And a little painting and possibly a book.

KING: Steve Kroft?

ROONEY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there, you painting that?

KROFT: I'm not going to be when I'm 80, I know that.

KING: Your career is interesting. You are still a very young man...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not very young.

KING: Are you staying with "60 Minutes" for as long as it -- I mean would you be there to -- suppose it goes another 20 years.

HEWITT: He'll be here.

KROFT: No way I'm going to be there 20 years.

HEWITT: He'll be here in 20 years.

SAFER: Twenty-five, maybe not.

KING: What would you imagine doing, Steve?

SAFER: He'll become a golf pro.

KROFT: I would like to do some other things at some point. It's going to be interesting to see. I mean, we just kind of glossed over it. But at the end of next year, Mike's contract's up. Don's contract is... HEWITT: I got tan more years.

KROFT: He's got ten more years, but he can't do any of them at "60 Minutes." And so I think the show will change.

SAFER: But then there's "60 Minutes Six Feet Under."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Bob Simon, what do you envision doing? For how long?

SIMON: I'm just warming up. I'm just beginning to learn how it's done. I'll stay here as long as I can. And when I start losing it I'm sure Don will call me and say, hey, get off the air. You've lost it.

KING: Don, what will your role be when you're no longer the day in, day out hands-on producer?

HEWITT: I'm going to try to think up another broadcast as good as this one. Whether that's possible or not, I don't know.

But, can I ask you a question?

KING: Yes.

HEWITT: How much longer are you going to do this?

KING: Uk I'm signed on for another two and half years. I'll be 70-years-old in November.

HEWITT: Seventy? That's a baby.

KING: Hey, if I can go on like Wallace, I'll keep doing it, I love doing it.

By the way, how do all of you explain Wallace? How do all of you explain Wallace?

HEWITT: There is no explanation, it just is.

SAFER: I think meanness does the man.

ROONEY: He's a bastard and he's not embarrassed by it.

SAFER: Also, I'll tell you something. You're looking at the herald of what is to come in the American workplace.

KING: Explain.

SAFER: In another ten or 15 years you're going to find people in their late 70s and late 80s and even 90s continuing to function just as well as they did in their 40s or 50s. And it's going to create an interesting social problem in the country.

WALLACE: You know, something, Larry. Actually, Safer can paint. This guy is a carpenter, the other two are too young to worry about it.

ROONEY: Cabinetmaker.

WALLACE: Oh, cabinetmaker. Forgive me. I can't do anything else, honest to gosh.

HEWITT: Neither can I. I don't know what the hell I'm going do.

ROONEY: Don says if they hadn't invented television he'd be pumping gas.

HEWITT: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: And Mary Wallace says you're not going to stay home, that's for sure.

(CROSSTALK)

KROFT: I just want to say there's been a saying literally since I came to "60 Minutes." When people talk to Don about Don and Mike and Andy, and Andy said, you know, I suppose when I lose it I won't realize it and somebody will have to tell me.

And the biggest problem is really, to determine when they've lost it because they've always Don, Mike, Andy, everybody is a little crazy on the show. One way or the other.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Proving it tonight. Don, you must, though, be very proud.

HEWITT: I would -- I'd have to agree with that. I am so proud of these guys. There is no way you can miss with a team like this.

KING: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Thank you all very much. Mike Wallace, Andy Rooney, Morley Safer, Steve Kroft, Bob Simon and Don Hewitt. We're sorry that Ed Bradley and Leslie Stahl couldn't be with us.

And again, this Sunday night, May 18 on CBS from 7:00 to 9:00 Eastern time the unforgettable moments and the subjects that has made "60 Minutes" one of the great, if not the greatest story in television history.

Stay tuned for the news headlines and then Aaron Brown and NEWSNIGHT. Thanks for joining us and good night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: And there you have our first "60 Minutes" broadcast. Looking back, it had quite a range as the problems and interests of our lives have quite a range.

Our perception of reality roams in a given day from the light to the heavy, from warmth to menace. And if this broadcast does what we hope it will do, it will report reality."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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




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