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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Kathie Lee Gifford
Aired February 5, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a rare one on one. She's back. Kathie Lee Gifford: her thoughts on life after Regis, working with Kelly Ripa, the Janet Jackson Super Bowl scandal, a whole lot more. We'll cover it all. With Kathie Lee Gifford for the hour. We'll include your calls too. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Been too long since she's been here, it's been years.
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, TV PERSONALITY: I know.
KING: Kathie Lee Gifford, she's been cohosting "Jimmy Kimmel Live" all this week. She'll guest star tomorrow night on ABC's "Hope and Faith." That's the show with Kelly Ripa. She's got a new CD coming in May and an accompanying meditation book called "Gentle Grace." We'll show you a cover of both the book and the CD. And that's coming in May.
What's this Jimmy Kimmel thing.
GIFFORD: You know, I did the show -- first of all, it's very nice to see you. And the west coast agrees with you. A little too thin for my tastes, but you know, that's what happens when you come to Hollywood, I guess.
KING: That's the look.
GIFFORD: I'm going to stay here a little longer, see if it rubs off on me. He called me last November to do the show. I did it and I had a nice time. And then he called Frank in December and said, would you come out and do the show? And we thought, what's going on here? Why do they want us? Because it's a very young demographic at the show.
But he's a New Yorker and his uncle works on the show, he's an old New York cop and they have a great affection for all things New York, and so I had a really nice time.
KING: You enjoy it?
GIFFORD: I had a good time. And he asked me to come back for a week to co-host with him. And that was back in November. And I knew how cold it would be in February and I said, I'm there. I'm there.
KING: Good thinking. You missed the worst of it, right?
GIFFORD: No. It's been awful. It's been a terrible winter
KING: When did you do the thing with Kelly Ripa?
GIFFORD: I think that was the first blizzard we had of the season. I did it on -- we shot it on a Friday and that Friday night, it took me four hours to get home. It was a -- yeah. So, that was early December.
KING: How did that come about?
GIFFORD: I just got a call. My agent -- you know the Sam Haskal (ph), the William Morris Agency. He called me says, they want you to do "Hope and Faith." But I don't know, it's a really nasty role. I said oh! Those are the kind I like.
KING: What do you play?
GIFFORD: I play -- this is -- you're seeing her right now. Her name is Marge. And she is a gum snapping, wise cracking, attitude waitress with a -- she wants her table cleared so she can get on to the next tip and Hope and Faith won't leave because they're waiting for a director to come.
KING: Is she going to be a regular?
GIFFORD: Well, you know, they always...
KING: It sounds that way.
GIFFORD: No. Marge -- you'll see at the end of the episode. I don't know how Marge can continue to come back. You got to wait until the end.
KING; Do you get along Kelly?
GIFFORD: Always have.
KING: Did you know her before?
GIFFORD: I did.
KING: How did you come to know her?
GIFFORD: Well, you know, the show I did with Regis, they always have all the soap stars on all the time. I can't count all the times we had Susan Lucci and everybody from "All My Children." And any time a guest would drop out for any minute -- at the last minute, we knew "All My Children" was across the street, so we'd just run over, grab a soap star and bring them over.
And Kelly was on many times, and then she married Mark. And he was on with her. And I remember when I left the show, I had no idea who would take my place. I knew somebody would. But I went off to Canada to do a film and I got on my treadmill one day in a hotel in Toronto and turned on the TV and there she was and it was her audition day.
I thought she was absolutely adorable. And I got off the treadmill and went up to my room and called her right away, left a message on her machine saying, I have a feeling, if this is what you want, you're it.
KING: Are you glad she got it?
GIFFORD: Really glad she got it. I think she's terrific.
KING: Do you watch it?
GIFFORD: I don't have time, Larry, honestly. I've never seen the show once since I left it.
KING: You're kidding?
GIFFORD: I've seen bits and pieces, never seen a whole show. Not because -- I really have been busier than I've ever been in my life.
KING: Do you miss it?
KING: Not at all?
GIFFORD: Not at all. The only time, you've known me long enough to know when I'm not telling you -- the only time I was sorry I didn't have a show, not that show, but a show, was on 9/11, because I felt helpless, O felt like there was nothing I could give.
KING: You were out of place.
GIFFORD: I could have been a part of the healing I felt -- I remember going through it with Oklahoma City.
KING: Where were you that morning, by the way?
GIFFORD: I was home. My friend Chris Jenner called me. I had just gotten out of our gym -- Bruce's wife, Chris. I had just come up from our gym down the hill from our house and she says, Kathie do you know what happened? And I said, no. She goes, turn on CNN.
So, I turned it on and we literally, from our back yard in Connecticut, can see the skyline of New York City.
KING: Was Frank home?
GIFFORD: He was on his way into the city. He saw it from the bridge. And I went up to our deck, it was the most picture perfect clear, beautiful September day. I've talked to you about this, because I sang that song. My assistant was eight months pregnant, and with her first child, and her husband was killed in the first tower. He was with Cantor Fitzgerald.
And I saw it go stand. You see CNN on TV, I went up to our roof and there it is, and right crystal clear 24 miles away, and you just can't believe it's real and part of me still can't believe it's real. KING: By the way, Regis says that you should be a permanent cohost with Jimmy Kimmel. Would you like to move out here and do that? Come on, seriously, if that were offered?
GIFFORD: Well, I would love to move out to Los Angeles. I've been begging Frank for years, because I just...
KING: He grew up there.
GIFFORD: I know, he was born here. He was born in Santa Monica. He's a New York boy now. We have the most beautiful home in Connecticut except for three months out of the year, which is right now. He wouldn't go anywhere. He loves it. So I wouldn't mind coming back and forth a little bit more.
KING: So, if they offered it to you?
GIFFORD: The Jimmy Kimmel thing? No, I don't want to work every night like that.
KING: You don't want to do regular television.
GIFFORD: No. I'm having a great time, but -- no, I want to be more creative with my life at this point, not that being with Jimmy isn't, but when I left the show with Reg my daddy was very, very sick. I think I told you that privately, Larry, and I had been through so much publicly that was personal and very private -- and painful.
KING: You went through a lot.
GIFFORD: I did and I just thought, I don't want to go through my daddy's death. We knew he was going to die. It was a fatal illness that he had. And I said, you know what, I want him to die with the same dignity he lived his life and I want to be there for him; all of our family felt that way.
KING: When did he pass?
GIFFORD: He passed a year ago. He had something called Louie Body's Dementia plus Parkinson's.
KING: Any less tough when it's expected?
GIFFORD: You grieve ahead of time, is what happens. You have time to grieve. And so then when the Lord takes your loved one home, it's a great blessing that the point. We have a deep faith in our family.
KING: You believe it goes on right?
GIFFORD: Oh, completely. I don't know people get through a day without believing in that.
KING: How much did your faith help during the crisis with Frank?
GIFFORD: Everything. My faith has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old, the deepest part of myself. So often in life we just ignore our souls and we're trinities. I believe we're made in the image of God and he's a trinity. And if we're made in his image we're physical, we're mental and we're spiritual people.
And we take great pains to take work out and get our body great, we take great pains sure we're sharp when we take all of our vitamins and everything. But the one thing we don't do is feed our soul and our spirit and people wonder why they're unhappy or why they don't feel like there are any answers in their life or they're lonely or something's missing.
I don't tell people how to believe. I encourage them to believe something, because it's just essential for your whole well-being. Every part of your being needs attention. And...
KING: Are you okay now? Are you totally...
GIFFORD: Oh, I've been okay all along. It was hard. Everything with Frank and everything with when I was accused of the labor issues. All of that -- if I hadn't known the truth, Larry, about my marriage, which I knew only me and Frank and -- how do you say it only Frank and I knew the truth about our marriage. And I only the truth about my relationship with, you know, with the labor situation.
The irony of that is the man who first accused me, three months later stood up and publicly apologized for accusing me of such a thing. And acknowledged that he had used me, because he knew he would get the attention, but not one of the news outlets ever carried the apology. Now, that's kind of upsetting, isn't it? Not just to me, but you think about, who else are they doing that to.
KING: It's called page 27 versus page 1.
GIFFORD: Put it on page 27, then. I don't mind that.
KING: It wasn't anywhere?
GIFFORD: No where. And you know what, that's something that all of us as Americans need to look at. I know you need to sell your newspapers, you've got to sell your magazines, but when the almighty dollar means more than the truth, then we have to look at our culture and say we're in deep pooky. I said pooky, OK. It's not a sin.
KING: Pooky. Never knew the word. Now I'm really concerned.
Anyway, we'll be right back with more of Kathie Lee Gifford. We'll be including your phone calls in a while, too. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REGIS PHILBIN, TV HOST: This is the day we introduce our new cohost for the morning show, Kathie Lee Johnson, but Kathie Lee Johnson is down the street doing the big network show. And she's to run up here every morning now. It takes about 30 seconds. She runs through the door and here comes Kathie Lee Johnson. Is this the way it's going to be every morning? GIFFORD: This is it. Don't I get a welcome hug or something?
PHILBIN: Welcome to our show. This is the way it's going to be every morning here, we're going to stubble in, put microphones on wrong?
JIMMY KIMMELL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMELL LIVE": On a scale of one to 10, how much to you miss Regis?
GIFFORD: Well, I have a dog named Regis as well. So I talk to Regis once in a while and once in a while, maybe twice a year we have dinner still. And we have a great time. We have a wonderful time. But the rest of the time I'm saying Regis, don't you dare poop on the floor, so I feel close to him.
KIMMELL: What would the number be then. Would you say a four on a scale of 10 that you miss Regis?
GIFFORD: Yes, I'd say a four.
KIMMELL: That's a good number.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORD: I was teasing, of course.
KING: Kathie Lee Gifford...
GIFFORD: It was three. Just kidding.
KING: When she was last a guest on our show October of 2000. But that wasn't her -- last time she was on was a hostess, hosted Sarah Ferguson in January of 2001.
GIFFORD: Yes, that was fun. Never came back, I guess it wasn't as good as I thought it was.
KING: Do have you any new thing coming at all you can tell us at all about?
Then we'll get into a query of a whole bunch of things.
KING: Come on!
GIFFORD: The biggest surprise, here I am, 50-years-old this year, and I celebrated it in August. And this is a time when nature's basically saying to a woman, thanks a lot. You know, you're drying up. You're not going to have any more babies, we're done with you. For me to discover at this point in my life, Larry, the most creative time in my life has just been unbelievable. I've written two musicals that are going to premiere this fall in Dallas, and hopefully on their way to Broadway.
GIFFORD: And I'm almost finished with the third one. I'm like the little kid that had their finger in the dyke.
KING: All original?
GIFFORD: Yes. The first one is on "The Life of Aimee Simple McPherson" that I took four years to write. That Jimmy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) encouraged me the whole. And he's just be fabulous.
KING: Are you in it?
GIFFORD: No, I'm not in it. I have a magnificent leading lady. It was Christine Ebersole, but she had to pass right now because of personal reasons. But I have a Tony Award nominated actress Carolee Carmello.
KING: Words and music?
GIFFORD: I wrote all of the lyrics. I wrote the book. And I co-wrote some of the music. But most of the music was written by a man David Palmer, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) David Friedman and myself.
KING: And this will open in Dallas, when?
GIFFORD: Dallas -- I don't know the exact date, but it's right after labor day.
KING: What's the title.
GIFFORD: It's called "Hurricane Amy."
KING: Good title.
GIFFORD: She was the most interesting person I've ever read about, studied -- she just the most fascinating life. So that's been a joy. I sat and talked to her 92-year-old daughter and her 90-year- old son. And...
KING: Amazing person.
GIFFORD: Unbelievable person. And still shrouded in mystery all these 60 years later. So it's fascinating, you know. And she lived almost a parallel life with me in many ways with me, because she was in -- the tabloid press came after her. The beginning of the Hearst press. And she was in the trial of the century at the time, for corruption of morals and manipulation of evidence. I mean, it's just fascinating.
KING: She dared to want equality.
GIFFORD: She was married three times. She was divorced twice. She died of an overdose barbitautes. It was accidental but still died alone at -- she was 53-years-old. And -- but Charlie Chaplin was her best friend. And he was an avowed atheist -- her she was, you know. But she was a pioneer. She was a feminist before there was a glorious side.
KING: Why Dallas?
GIFFORD: Because there's a fabulous eater there, run by a magnificent young man that does great, great work. And it's a wonderful place out of town to bring it to New York ultimately. To see what works and see what doesn't.
KING: When it goes to New York will it be in Nederlander (ph) Theater?
GIFFORD: Yes. Absolutely.
KING: And what's the other one?
GIFFORD: The other one -- Cassidy, my daughter and I...
KING: How old is she now is?
GIFFORD: She's 10 and a half.
KING: And Cody is?
GIFFORD: Fourteen next month, I know. I know, people assumed I stopped feeding them when I left the show and they just stayed, eight and whatever. The other one is based on the book optioned, that won the Newberry Award for finest children's literature of 1958. It's a book called "The Family Under The Bridge." It's about a little Parisian hobo, who loves Paris, hates children, hates dogs and hates women. But within a 10 day period of discovering three little homeless children and a dog under a bridge where he has always slept, his life is transformed in 10 days before Christmas. I can't believe nobody had ever optioned it. Never made it into a musical. So, that's premiering a couple of different place this is holiday season.
KING: Made for children?
GIFFORD: No, it's a -- it's got very serious theme, although, was Annie for children, was Mame for children, no but it was around the Christmas period and...
KING: Do you like the behind the scenes things?
GIFFORD: More than any that I've ever on it.
You don't miss the stage.
GIFFORD: I'm fine with it when I'm on it, but for me it had become like a microscope not a spotlight. I like being in the spotlight once in a while when I choose to be in. But being in the daily talk show the way I was, and even this week doing Jimmy's show has been great fun ,it's more of a microscope. And think about it anything that's under a microscope burns It gets burned if it's under there too long and it destroys everything. But a spotlight you can choose and make sure -- you lose a few pounds.
KING: A lot of pressure to come to Broadway with a musical.
GIFFORD: There's enormous pressure. I've never done anything easily in my life and to think that I had never even had written a song until 6-years-ago. That's what's so thrilling to have this whole new life.
KING: One of the great songs you sung is that takeoff on your own you did in your act.
GIFFORD: That's the first song I ever wrote.
KING: What's the title of it.
GIFFORD: It's called "You Sell." It's the one did when I hosted Letterman. I took it out of moth balls. And you know I ended up writing that? I didn't choose to write that. I called my friend David Friedman, who is a brilliant writer and I said David, you've got to write me a song, a novelty song about the tabloids. Because I've got to make fun of myself. You know, that's the best way to take the arrows out of somebody's, you know, bow and arrows, just laugh at yourself first. There's really not a whole lot anyone can say.
So, He called me back about -- right away said I've tried, but I've never lived it so I can't write it. He says why don't you put down a few thoughts and I'll take it from there. Well, about an hour and a half later I sent him the lyrics. Ten minutes after faxed them to him, he calls me and goes congratulations you just wrote your first song. You want to hear it? And I went what! That's how brilliant he is, within 10 minutes he had written the melody to my words. That's over 200 songs ago. I know. I know, well I'm menopausal, I don't sleep anyway so I might as well be up and doing something.
KING: Our guest is Kathie Lee Gifford. We'll talk about things current and then go to your phone calls. As we go to break here's a scene of Kathie Lee and at aforementioned Ms. Ripa in "Hope and Faith" which will air tomorrow night on ABC -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY RIPA, ENTERTAINER: You see that guy, he's really big Hollywood director.
GIFFORD: He is?
RIPA: Yes, and here doing a big movie.
GIFFORD: Really, I've done a little acting myself.
RIPA: So if you just be a peach and let me wait on that table.
RIPA: Really, great.
GIFFORD: Over my dead body! Listen, Missy, I've been doing this for 15 years. The people love me. You really think you can just step in and do my job?
RIPA: I don't see why not. I got a pretty face, a hot bod and a big mouth how hard can it be?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's Kathie Lee singing the title song of her book and her CD both coming in May, "Gentle Grace." They're not that age now.
GIFFORD: I can't believe that. I'm looking at that going, gosh, that was so long ago.
KING: Let's talk about a couple of current things and then go to calls. What do you make of zip! the Super Bowl?
GIFFORD: Oh, gosh, it's been the dumbing down of television for many years but now it's the numbing down and the slumming down of it, too. I just don't watch television for that very reason for the most part. Very little network television do I watch. I'm offended by it or I'm -- I don't like to see people demeaned.
I can't stand to see human beings demean themselves or other people demean them, all of the reality stuff. I don't like to see women -- I don't like to see that anyway. We're so saturated with sex as a society today that they've made sex boring. Sex can be really, really good when it's done right. You know what I'm saying?
KING: I've heard.
GIFFORD: Now it's everywhere. It's too much and boring. Read a book.
KING: Now they're going to have a delay on the Grammys.
GIFFORD: I was talking to Pierre Cossette today, who's been the producer of the Grammys for years and years. And I just adore him. He went to USC with Frank. They've been together, friends, forever. He's Uncle Pierre in our family and I was talking to him today and I said, "Pierre, how is it going?" He says, "Kathie Lee, if you'll show your left one with a star on it I'll let you open the Grammys for me." I said "Pierre, first of all nobody wants to see mine and second of all I don't think your camera can get down that low. You know, gravity." He laughed.
KING: Is it a dumbing down?
GIFFORD: Remember when there used to be a thing called great writing? Great writing, you know, and now that I write for a living, I so understand how important it is. The reason I did the sitcom with Kelly is yes, I adore Kelly and I love Faith Ford too but if it hadn't been a good script I wasn't going do it. It's all in the writing and unfortunately, they always go for the cheap joke, you know, it's always about, they always make the fathers look like idiots. It's just boring.
KING: And the Super Bowl's case, that's become like a national holiday, super bowl. So the whole world watches.
GIFFORD: Yes that's right and the reason we didn't see it, we had 100 people over to our house for Super Bowl. It's a big holiday at our house and Frank took that particular moment to gather the 100 people into this room with the big screen and watch me nine years ago sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl twice. He made our guests sit through it twice. Cleared the room. The man can clear a room. People went home early. It was ugly, Larry.
KING: You found out about it later?
GIFFORD: I read about it the next day and I was glad he did it, because it's not that -- I don't think breasts are offensive. Breasts are a beautiful thing. They're part of the human anatomy, but I don't like the tackiness of all of this.
KING: You think it's cyclical or it's going to get worse?
GIFFORD: I think it's going to get worse as long as people are accepting it and not making an outcry. I'm not a prude, Larry, at all. I'm all for...
KING: You don't want to ban things.
GIFFORD: I don't want to ban things. I just want us to have a little taste, a little class and I would like people to honor the family hour. There's a reason for the family hour, but if you see what's on the family hour lately, it's a joke. You know, I think you should be able to do whatever you want on cable. I don't like a lot of it, but then again I don't watch it. That's what our country is all about is freedom but I should have the freedom as a parent to know my children are protected when they're sitting with me in front of the TV.
KING: Before we go to break and calls, a lot of people are starting to call in, you faked a little catfight with Joy Behar on "The View." Let's watch this clip and get a thought here.
GIFFORD: This was so much fun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORD: I love those ladies.
KING: What was the argument over? GIFFORD: I don't remember. No, I think it was about I said I was going to stand up for Star Jones because apparently Jimmy Kimmel picks on her and I didn't know that. And so I told her I was going to go out next week to L.A. and be with Jimmy and I would tell him to stop picking on my friend and then Joy got...
KING: Angry at that?
GIFFORD: I don't know. It was one of those things. I remember when I kissed Tom Selleck because Regis was trying to get, on our show, Tom Selleck to kiss him. Remember when he did the movie with Kevin Kline and he kissed Kevin Kline? And I could tell that Tom Selleck was uncomfortable. And Regis kept irking him and everything, you know, chiding him on.
So I said, all right, I'll kiss him. And I went over and I just laid a good one right on Tom Selleck. It was nice. He's such a doll, he's such a sweet man. You know when you've been in television as long as we have, when there's a moment, you can either take advantage of it, see what happens, but the people that don't last very long on TV are the people that don't go for those moments, the golden moments.
KING: Don't take the risk.
We'll be back with your phone calls for Kathie Lee Gifford as we go to break, more of her wonderful talent. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORD: This is a day that I knew was coming for a long, time, but I didn't know exactly when it be. I'm announcing today that I'm going to be leaving our show.
GIFFORD: Oh, I was hoping you'd do that, at the end of my contract in July. And it's always a difficult decision for me every year, you know Reg, you and I talk and I think about my family and I think about what I want to do. And 15 years later I'm still making those kinds of decisions, but it's the right time and I'm leaving you so successful. Look what I've done for you, Reg.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: No regrets?
GIFFORD: He is the best.
KING: Oh, he's the best.
GIFFORD: I would regret not having had the 15 years, that I would regret. But I had them, and they were great.
KING: Butternut, Wisconsin, for Kathie Lee Gifford, hello. CALLER: Kathie Lee, I am so happy to talk with you. I love you and I still miss you. You were the best.
GIFFORD: Thank you very much.
CALLER: My question is, what was your favorite moment with Regis on the show?
GIFFORD: Oh my gosh, we had so many. Before we were a national show, Zsa Zsa Gabor threw such a fit in one of the make-up rooms with Claudia Cohen (ph). And she came out. She interrupted host chat and went out screaming. And that Revlon -- it was insanity. I looked into the camera and said, I think I'll get us some coffee and walked off. Those kinds of moments. The sumo wrestling thing that I watched was unbelievable.
For me, the most incredible interview was when Regis wasn't there, Audrey Hepburn. Oh my gosh, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. She had just come from Ethiopia, from working with Unicef. And she was as beautiful -- even though she had the colon cancer then, nobody knew it, but I just thought, this woman is as beautiful inside as she is outside.
KING: She's the best.
GIFFORD: Yes. Those are the kinds of people I felt -- Lena Horne. I like the old timers. I'm not the latest for the people with the bullet on the billboard chart. I like the people who have this body of work, and they've proven over and over again the substance and their depth.
KING: A lot to be said for longevity.
GIFFORD: Yes there is.
KING: San Jose, California, hello. San Jose, hello.
KING: There ain't no San Jose.
To Chattanooga, Tennessee hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Kathy, you're still beautiful.
GIFFORD: Oh, you're kind, thank you. Get those eyes checked, honey!
CALLER: Oh! I wanted to ask the first question, are you still the ambassador for child help USA?
GIFFORD: Yes, I am. CALLER: And if so, I raise funds for them, too, through kidscookiemix.com and we're going nationwide. And I just wanted to know what you do now with them?
GIFFORD: I still work with them. The 2 ladies who started Child Help USA -- it's one of the most amazing stories, I'd love for you to have them on sometime, Larry.
KING: What do they do?
GIFFORD: They played the girlfriends of Ricky and David Nelson on the old "Ozzie and Hariette Show." They went on a post World War II USO tour to Tokyo and saw little children running around the streets, beautiful little children, ratty and raggedy and hungry. And they said, oh my gosh, we need to get them into an orphanage.
They took them into their hotel rooms that night, found out the next day when they tried to find an orphanage for them, that they were called garbage children, because they were the product of Amer-Asian union. Our American soldiers had liaisons with Japanese women and these children were born and they were considered garbage kids.
So, they went back to America, raised the money to come back. And they built many orphanages all over America. Then, when that need was no longer there, they channeled all their love for children into Child Help USA, which is the single largest organization L.A. and the best organization that battles child abuse, physical, mental and sexual abuse of children in this country.
They are the 2 most spectacular ladies. And I'll give you their information.
KING: Atlanta, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Thank you, Larry. Kathie Lee, I admire you and I know that your faith and belief have gotten you through many rough times. My question is, my son is in a Christian band and they write their own songs, and music, and they feel they're meant to spread the word through music and testimony. I want to know what advice you would give them as they continue their journey and what advice would you give us as parents?
GIFFORD: Do you like what he's doing? Are you supportive of him?
CALLER: Absolutely. He came to me when he was 14 and said, mom, I just want to write music and I want to write Christian music. And I said, Jason, we're just little peons in this country.
GIFFORD: Aren't we all.
CALLER: And I said no, but then he sat down and he taught himself at 12 to play.
KING: What advice would you give? GIFFORD: I would give him the same advice that my daddy gave me when I was a little girl. My daddy, who was just the love of my life, he said, honey find something you love to do and then figure out a way to get paid for it. That's what I've tried to do my whole life, because my daddy knew where my passion would be, is where my real success would be, maybe not success in terms of what the world calls success but joy, and where your passion is, where your joy will be and that's true success.
Not the billionaires in the world who are miserable that have all kinds of ailments and mean and nasty and nobody loves them. Live a Godly, loving life, and everything else will be added unto you. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you. It just works.
KING: Mount Pleasant, Iowa, hello.
CALLER: Cathy, you are so beautiful and I miss seeing you on live. My question is, I know how much you loved your daddy and how special he was. I have that same relationship with my father and it is just so special. You can't describe it.
GIFFORD: Okay, now you're getting to me.
CALLER: My father-in-law has Louie Body Disease and we are going through the last stages of Louie Body and Parkinson's with him as well. And we're struggling to get through it and I wanted to know what got you through the end times? And the song that you wrote...
KING: What is Louie Body?
GIFFORD: It's terrible.
CALLER: The song that you wrote for your daddy? "I Love You Daddy"
GIFFORD: "Good Bye Lullaby"
CALLER: "Good Bye Lullaby." Is that going to be published?
GIFFORD: Yes. Right after I released "Gentle Grace" album. I have an album that I kept it on my shelf for over a year, because I was -- it was ready to go and then my daddy was in his last stages. And I feel for you. God bless you.
KING: How old was he?
GIFFORD: He was 78. But he had been six for seven years.
KING: What is that disease?
GIFFORD: There's my daddy on the last day of my show. You can see that already he's ravaged.
KING: What happens with the disease?
GIFFORD: It's usually -- at the beginning people think it's Alzheimer's, because it has many of the same symptoms. But the difference is, Louie Body -- Alzheimer's as we know it, President Reagan being is 93 tomorrow, Alzheimer's can go on many, many years. Louie Bodies Dementia really has a seven-year time period from the first onset of symptoms to the very end. And what happens is your brain dies. You can have the most vital, healthiest body in the world, but the brain stops sending the right signals.
KING: Unlike Alzheimer's you die of Louie...
GIFFORD: You die of Louie Bodies.
KING: I mean, you can live a long time...
GIFFORD: You live a long time with Alzheimer's. The good news about it is you do know it's coming and you do say everything to your loved one.
KING: You don't forget?
GIFFORD: No, oh, my father knew until the very end. And one day my sister said to him -- this is a hard story tell, and this is the song you're talking about called "Good-bye Lullaby," when all of a sudden you switch places and you're the one taking care of the parent and everything that the parent once did for you you're now doing for them.
My sister told me the story of going in and talking to my daddy one night and he didn't want the nights turned off and he was fearful and she was tucking him in and she was singing to him and she was calming his fears. And she said, "daddy, do you know what's happening, do you know something's wrong?"
And he goes "yes, I know." Because by then his speech was quite bad.
And she goes, "Do you know what it is, daddy?"
And he said, "my brain is dying."
And it was awful, and she says, but, "are you OK, daddy? Are you OK?"
And he goes, "yes, just don't leave me alone." And we never did.
KING: Is there pain involved in his death?
GIFFORD: For us.
KING: I mean physical pain?
GIFFORD: I don't think so, because the brain stops sending that signal as well. I'm sorry.
KING: Let me take a break. We'll be right back with Kathie Lee Gifford. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, can I get a warmup?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's warm enough. Now let's wrap this up, all right? I gave you a check an hour ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd like another piece of pie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're out of pie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd like some chili.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're out of chili.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You like some chinese?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love chinese.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good, Hong Kong Charlie Wong's (ph) is open 24 hours. Tell them Marge sent you. Now beat it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's going to be a regular character or there's going to be a show about her.
GIFFORD: I love it. I turned down a sitcom last year that was very funny and well written but they wanted me to do it in L.A. So I said, listen you guys, find something that funny and that well written and we'll do it in New York. Marge is cute, isn't she?
KING: She sure is. Columbus, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Kathie Lee. It's great to see you. You're a first- class act. Oh, what happened?
GIFFORD: I'm here. We hear you.
CALLER: OK, Kathie Lee, you're a first-class act and we miss you terribly.
GIFFORD: Thanks very much.
CALLER: And my question is, what inspired your new CD and book? I cannot wait to get those. I'm so excited you did another one.
GIFFORD: I haven't done an inspirational album in 25 years. Coming in May and since I had started writing, I thought, I felt it was time because now it's my own voice. I've sung other people's songs all my life so I'm incredibly deep respecter of lyric and melody. My dad was a jazz saxophonist and I grew up on the great songs of the '30s, '40s and '50s until rock and roll took over and there are some great rock and roll songs too, but the great songs of all time in my mind are the classics.
And so I wanted to sing songs -- years and years and years ago when I first came to know the Lord in a personal way, I so understood his love. I responded to that immediately because I had the pattern and the role model of a mother and a father who were godly people, and so I understood the heavenly father because my earthly father was so godly but so I understood love but it took the last 25 years of a lot of failure, a lot of hurt, a lot of disappointment, a lot of discouragement and truly agony of the soul to feel like I'm ready now to understand now to understand God's grace. There's a difference. Grace is part of his love but it's a different facet of it
And so this whole album and this whole book is about getting through the storms of life, when you feel like you'll never get through. There is no way out.
KING: No anger at God for your father's illness?
GIFFORD: No. No, I remember, when we told my daddy that he was sick and what he had. I was with my mom and our dad down at our place in the Keyes (ph) and we told him and he accepted everything as he did, everything just stoically. He said, well then we'll get through it together. And my mother had a fit. My mother lost it. They've been 54 years. She was 19, he was 25 when they got married. And she'd never known any other person in her life but my dad.
KING: Is she still living?
GIFFORD: She's still living, she's gorgeous. She's 74 years old. She just had a birthday, she looks 60. She's the belle of the place she lives. I mean, all these retired admiral's lover. She's adorable.
KING: Is she in Florida?
GIFFORD: She's in Annapolis, Maryland. But I said mom, we believe that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. We can't say we believe that for other people unless we believe it when it happens to us, too.
KING: Chicago, hello.
CALLER: My name is Lena, I'm 19 years old and I'm your biggest fan. I've read your autobiography a bunch of times. You've meant so much to my life. I had a question, because I'm, wanting to a writer and producer in television and I'm a young girl kind of out on my own. Do you have any words of advice for me about the crazy world of Hollywood? GIFFORD: Did you hear what I said earlier about to find something you love and then get paid for it. Get in at the bottom, wherever they'll take you and do everything they ask except for sexual favors, don't do that, and you just be the best they ever had. That's what my daddy always said. I said Daddy, they want me to do this. He said honey, you get in there and be the best they ever had. And know when to leave, too. That's the interesting thing. My daddy used to say, if you can do something with your eyes closed it's time to do something new and that's when it happened to me with Reg. It wasn't fair to Regis anymore. He needed somebody there to be alive and vibrant and excited.
KING: So Cody is a sportscaster on a kids TV news show called "Kids News" anchored by Paula Zahn's daughter Haley Cohen?
GIFFORD: And another young man named Huanza (ph). And it's all kids from the New York area.
KING: How often are they on?
GIFFORD: They're on every Saturday. It's a syndicated show and Cody's a sportscaster. It's the cutest thing. He had just gotten one of those palate extenders right before he started. He looked like a young Frank, so adorable, so handsome, so studly, my little stud puppy and then he starts the show. So he's in a troubled -- kind of -- you know, last month he got the braces to go with it. I don't understand a word he says anymore. He still looks cute.
KING: How good is Paula's daughter?
GIFFORD: Excellent, smart and sweet.
KING: Is she going to be an anchor?
GIFFORD: I don't know. I think she's the kind of kid that could be anything she wants to be.
KING: Northhampton, Massachusetts.
CALLER: Thanks for taking my call.
GIFFORD: It's all Larry got it, but I'm with you.
CALLER: My mother and grandmother and I miss you so much. My question is you're so spiritual and into God and stuff. Have you ever thought of ever doing any type of traveling and seminars or anything else like that?
GIFFORD: I've been asked and I think I'll do much more of it now. My children were so small and I just thought I can't have the answers for the rest of the world, not that I do, but I can't go around leaving my own children because that's a problem I think with our culture, too many of us have left our own children even in wanting to do good things for other people. We neglect sometimes the very people who need us the most so I'm going to do some of it with these two projects, never as much as I would have done before I had my kids because I didn't have them for other people to raise them although Frank is the best mother I've ever seen in my life. He makes me look so bad.
GIFFORD: Dote, oh, my gosh. You and Al Pacino and Frank Gifford and Clint Eastwood are the greatest examples of older fatherhood. You really are.
KING: I love it.
GIFFORD: You guys who've done everything and accomplished everything, you light up when you talk about your children.
KING: I like taking him to preschool.
GIFFORD: I don't think Frank has missed one day. Taking them, picking them up, hasn't missed a game...
KING: It's the biggest thrill.
GIFFORD: I've missed everything. I'm with you here, Larry.
KING: You're the father. We'll be back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": I hate to bring up any unpleasantness but you were on "The View" last week. Let's just take a look at the tape of Kathie Lee on "The View."
MEREDITH VIERIA, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": You must be excited because you're going to be doing another cohosting gig with Jimmy Kimmel, right?
GIFFORD: I'm going out to L.A. next week to cohost for Jimmy Kimmel on his show all week long. Why, I do not know.
GIFFORD: You misunderstood that.
KIMMEL: Let's keep going and playing.
GIFFORD: Let me explain that first. I meant why does he want me? Why does he want me? Look at all of you. You're all hunky, horny kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORD: hunky, horny kids.
(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORD: I've learned to scoff at critics and to laugh at the jest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put on a bra!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put on bra, come on!
GIFFORD: Put on bra?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
GIFFORD: Put on a jock strap guy.
GIFFORD: He wants me to put on, I'll put it on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORD: And then I continued the song I've learned to love at critics and to -- jest.
KING: This is a weird time to go to the Gibson film. You said you saw "The Passion of the Christ."
You're the one who saw it?
GIFFORD: Quite a few people have seen it.
KING: What did you think?
GIFFORD: You know what, we had a screening of it in our own home a couple weeks ago. And I had a lot of friends who were curious about it.
KING: You're not Catholic?
GIFFORD: I'm not Catholic. No, I am a very bad Christian.
GIFFORD: I try to live my life according the way Jesus lived his but I'm human and don't do that great. The movie was the most powerful thing that I've ever seen in my life. Without a doubt. As great a "Braveheart" was, this is 10 times "Braveheart." This is the most powerful film I've ever seen. People that could not speak for 10 minutes afterwards.
KING: English subtitles, right?
GIFFORD: English subtitles, but even without them it would be unbelievable.
KING: What about the anti-Semitism?
GIFFORD: Not a bit. Then you are going to have to call the whole New Testament anti-Semitic. If you want to do that, fine. But I think the people that are calling are doing it because they have a certain agenda that is just unfair. They're defaming, Mel, actually.
KING: Some responsible people have said it, some very responsible people.
GIFFORD: Yes, they have. I have a Jewish gay friend, one of my dearest friend, who watched it in our home. And afterwards he said to me, it's not anti-semitic at all. If a Jewish guy killed somebody else a month ago in the Bronx, am I responsible for it?
Are you responsible for something any other Jewish person has done?
It's ridiculous and the Jewish, Jews had no power to crucify anyone. It was all the Romans, the only people who could crucify.
KING: You don't understand where the gripe comes from?
GIFFORD: I think comes from fear, but their fears are unfounded. They have a reason to be fearful of true anti-Semitism, absolutly. My maiden name is Epstein. I'm a Hebrew Christian. And -- but the people that were at the cross were Jewish, Jesus was Jewish, Mary was Jewish, Mary Magdalene was Jewish, all of the disciples were Jewish. You know, you have just got to take in the whole picture. And it's a 2,000-year-old story and it's not going to go away. And because of Mel's movie it's going to be only more. I hope the controversy drives more and more people to the theaters.
KING: How good is the actor?
GIFFORD: Jim Caviezel is so unbelievable. I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day who said I'm going to see him next week. He said you want me to tell him anything, I said yes, tell him only Jesus did Jesus better. He was that good. That good.
KING: That good?
GIFFORD: Really good. I think it's spectacular and Mel's a brave and courageous guy.
KING: I only have about 10 seconds.
Michael Jackson, big trouble?
GIFFORD: He was in big trouble before any of these things happened just, I think, spiritually, emotionally, psychiatrically. What's the word I'm looking for. Yes, I feel tremendous sadness. The whole thing is just very, very sad. He needs a lot of help. I think the whole family does. Lots of families do. Couple of members of my family do, including me. I am going to my psychiatrist Monday.
KING: Thank you.
GIFFORD: Great to see you, Larry. God bless you, Shawn and the kids.
KING: You too.
GIFFORD: Thanks for having me.
KING: Kathie Lee Gifford. I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tomorrow night, Sharon Osbourne, exclusive interview. Her first interview since the terrible things that happened to her husband, Ozzy, and since the loss of her television show. Sharon Osbourne tomorrow night. And Saturday night, we'll repeat the Janet Jackson interview. And Ed Bradley on Sunday.
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