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Interview with Raoul Felder

Aired July 2, 2003 - 19:37   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Two stories tonight with the endlessly fascinating Kennedy name attached. In a few minutes a friend of John Kennedy junior fights back against charge this is a new book his marriage was disintegrating before the fatal plane crash. But first the trouble of a marriage involving Kennedy but also another famous political name.
Some of the biggest blockbusters aren't just on movie marques. Tabloid headlines like these you're looking at right now in New York are making sure those who binge on the steamy side of star studded marriages will not go away hungry. Today's red meat, the rapidly escalating divorce battle between Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy and Andrew Cuomo, son Mario the former governor of New York.

Now what has made this turn so ugly so fast are accusations from the Cuomo camp that he marriage broke up because his wife was having an affair. What used to be so private is so very public. It seems there are very few rules if any about boundaries. What's kept out of the public domain. When celebrities divorce they know every detail, every public spat will wind up tittilation for tabloids.


COOPER (voice-over): Who can forget the breakup of Donald and Ivana Trump in 1991. For a time they were part of the New York glamour glitterati. Until Donald couldn't resist a Georgia peach Marla Maples, which lead to an angry confrontation on an Aspen, which proved hell have no fury like Ivana scorned.

But the Trump brouhaha seemed almost tame by comparison to Prince Charles and Diana. The media followed every twist and tragic turn. It seemed a royal soap opera easy to forget real lives were involved. Hollywood break ups are the most closely filed of course. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman played out the end of their marriage in headlines. So did American sweetheart Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid.

Political breakups are less glamorous perhaps but provide plenty of media moments. There was that fateful news conference when then New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced his marriage was over.

RUDY GIULIANI, FMR. NEW YORK MAYOR: It's probably been apparent that Donna and I, we'd in many ways lived independent and separate lives. It's been a very painful road. COOPER: This was news, big news to his wife Donna Hanover who fired back with her own parting shot.

DONNA HANOVER, EX-WIFE OF RUDY GIULIANI: For several years, it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member.

COOPER: And now, the end of Cuomo life. That's what the papers calling the Kennedy Cuomo divorce. In a summer of slow news it's guaranteed to be a staple of tabloids headlines for some time to come.


COOPER: With me now is Raoul Felder the famous celebrity divorce lawyer who has been through these media feeding frenzies and tabloids wars with his clients.

Thanks for being with us, Raoul.

First I want to talk about this latest case, the Cuomo/Kennedy case. There was a statement released from Andrew Cuomo's people which said and I quote, that Mr. Cuomo, "was betrayed and saddened by his wife's conduct during his marriage."

Were you surprised by at this statement?

RAOUL FELDER, DIVORCE ATTORNEY: Yes. And then it escalated. And the next one she's an adulteress.

COOPER: That was from an unnamed friend.

FELDER: Yes. Unnamed friend.

There are certain things you don't do. You don't dump on a wife. You don't call her adulteress. Don't call a mother of three adulteress. Don't say it about a Kennedy. So, he violated all the rules. Never going to be able to put that genie back in the bottle. And that's going to haunt. And there is no reason. We're at the beginning of a case here. Nothing was to be gained by that. That's nastiness.

COOPER: It seems that there's almost -- I mean divorces, celebrity divorces are obviously very public, but there's almost a strategy now about sort of people trying to play them out in the media in order in their opinion gain some sort of advantage.

Do you think that's what's at work here?

FELDER: I think there's misjudgment. He has a great public relations guy. This is Cuomo himself, that nastiness, that hurt him during his campaign. I don't think responsible people do that. They should take a lesson from Donald Trump. Donald Trump, no matter what happened he said she's a wonderful woman, she's the mother of my children, god bless her, and she's to lead a good life. That's what's should be said in these case.

Here this guy was boiling and ready to explode and he did it.

COOPER: Why do you think the public is so fascinated with all this. I mean, is it, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), this sort of taking joint...


FELDER: More (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gossips. We like to look into key holes. And since we had a president like Clinton the bar has been lower. Everything is fair game. And...

COOPER: Has it always been like this with these celebrity divorces?

I mean, nasty and public like this.

FELDER: Yes. Nasty and public. The second part was it was nasty same people, same psyche, intelligence, same fame. But they're quiet. It's not quiet any more. Seems that, you know, they want to get out and be recognized street, and they want to curse the wife. It's simply ridiculous and counterproductive.

COOPER: You represented, obviously, then Mayor Rudy Giuliani. I'm not going to ask you details on that.

But was that particularly nasty?

Was that one of the nastier cases?


FELDER: What happens in a courtroom you can't help, because that's the lawyers business to be an advocate. But I don't want to talk about the Giuliani case. But he never said anything publicly otherwise said my wife was a decent woman and, you know, should make a life and she's the mother of my children. And never said anything other than that. And you won't find it on tape other than that. Maybe with her public statements it's a little different. But...

COOPER: But the Nastiest case was what, the Tyson case?

FELDER: That was nasty.

COOPER: Robin Givens.

FELDER: That's major league nasty. Until it was revealed to -- it was word that he was supposed to have been drugged on the Barbara Walters show. I was stopped, with people cursing me on streets, in the elevator -- I get out of the elevator. That was nasty. The story was she and her mother were two evil people who doped this gentle monster her and nothing was farther from the true. Obviously, it was revealed he was rapist.

COOPER: There certainly seems no end in sight to these kind of coverage of these things. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Raoul Felder, appreciate you joining us.

FELDER: Thank you.

Still to come this


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