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Interview With Host, Judges of 'American Idol'; Latest Developments in Kobe Bryant Trial

Aired March 1, 2004 - 21:00   ET


SIMON COWELL, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: He can't sing, he can't dance. So what do you want me to say?

WILLIAM HUNG, "AMERICA IDOL" CONTESTANT: I have no professional training of singing and dancing.



LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, "American Idol" is back for its third smash season, and the real stars of the show are here, the judges, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, plus host Ryan Seacrest -- they're all here.

And then, Kobe Bryant's back in court today, as his defense scores a stunning victory. And another stunner. This just in. The judge has suddenly postponed tomorrow's scheduled testimony by Kobe's accuser. The debate heats up tonight with Tony Kovaleski of KMGH, on the scene in Eagle, Colorado, and on top of this story from the start; Court TV's Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor; high-profile defense attorney Chris Pixley; and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig. She's counseled victims of sexual abuse.

They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Ryan Seacrest returns for the 400th time to LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we just leave him in a seat? We go to him. And he's joined by the panel, Simon Cowell, the "American Idol" judge, BMG Records executive and author of "I Don't Mean To Be Rude, but: Backstage Gossip From"...


KING: ... Paula Abdul the "American Idol" judge, the Grammy and Emmy Award-winning entertainer; and Randy Jackson, "American Idol" judge, Grammy Award-winning music producer and author of "What's Up, Dawg?: How to Become a Superstar in the Music Business."

Tomorrow night, the fourth group of eight semifinalists performs. Wednesday, the fourth group of semifinalists. The top 12 finalists have been selected so far.

Why is this show -- Simon, we'll start with you -- a hit?

COWELL: A lot of people say it's just me, but...


RANDY JACKSON, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE": Oh, yes! Right! Of course!


COWELL: It's a team effort, Larry...


KING: No, I mean, what part of it is the judges and what -- what -- I mean, "The Gong Show" had a theme.

COWELL: Yes. It's reality, isn't it?


COWELL: Yes, I think so. Yes. They can't cheat on this show. It's looking through the keyhole. And it's the good and the bad.

KING: Paula?

PAULA ABDUL, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: That, and the fact that the chemistry is just there. I think that with America voting, you know, they have a vested interest in picking the pop star.

KING: Randy?

JACKSON: Well, I think, you know, both of them are right. And I think also, the public gets that emotional investment, you know what I'm saying? It's like the "Rocky" story. You want your pick to go all the way, kind of a deal, you know what I mean?

KING: So you're involved?


KING: The audience is involved.


KING: Ryan, you became the full-time host second year, right?


KING: What do you think?

SEACREST: Well, I think all of what our judges have said, plus the fact that you get to see the great performers, as well as those that aren't so great. We just saw that clip, when you came into the show, with William Hung. And I think audiences love to see the really talented folks, and they also like to see those less talented that struggle with this.

KING: Why do you think, Simon -- well, let's take a look. We'll take (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a loser here and get your thoughts as to why they even go on, people who get famous for being bad. Watch.


HUNG: (SINGING) She bangs, she bangs, oh, baby, when she moves, she moves, I go crazy because she looks like a flower but she stings like a bee, like every girl in history. She bang, she bangs...

COWELL: Thank you. Thank you! You can't sing, you can't dance. So what do you want me to say?

HUNG: I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.

ABDUL: Good for you.

JACKSON: That's good. Now, that's good.

ABDUL: That's the best attitude yet.

HUNG: You know, I have no professional training of singing.

COWELL: No! Well, there's the surprise of the century!



KING: Why did that kid go on?

COWELL: They're nuts.


JACKSON: Plain and simple.

COWELL: Everyone wants to be famous and...

KING: Yes, but for being ridiculed?

COWELL: I don't -- well, none of these people -- you know, like, what's his name, William, they don't realize how bad they are. I mean, seriously, Every single person -- because we normally ask the question before we start the audition, Do you actually believe you could be the next "American Idol," i.e. the best undiscovered talent in America? Yes.


COWELL: They believe it.

KING: You think, Paula, a friend tells them, You're good? ABDUL: I think not just friends do, but the families do. And they come, and we're just amazed at -- you know, the thing for me is, I see someone like William Hung coming in, and he's licking his chops. Simon's licking his chops. It's like shark bait. And I'm just hoping and praying that -- Oh, no, you know? But it's the truth.

COWELL: That's not quite true.

JACKSON: Oh, come on! Come on!

COWELL: There is a sweet exterior...

KING: Now, wait a minute, Simon. Do you want them to be bad?


COWELL: Well, sometimes, yes. But I like it to be like a real, live audition. I mean, if you see a show like "Star Search," it's sanitized to only show what they think is the best. I know, because I've been doing this for years, that if you have an audition, an open audition which isn't televised, 95 percent of the people who turn up are useless.

JACKSON: Terrible.


KING: ... say the same as an executive?

JACKSON: Terrible. Terrible. Come on. You see it all the time.

KING: What percentage of your people are terrible?

JACKSON: Probably 95 percent of them, too. It's the same thing.

COWELL: I think it's gone up to 97 percent.

JACKSON: Yes, it's probably 99 now.

KING: How about a -- there isn't a high percentage of people who are just good?

ABDUL: I think there are. I think there are -- there's a huge percentage of real good. But there's not a -- there's a small, small...


JACKSON: I would say OK. They were just OK.

SEACREST: Randy, you guys have always said no matter...


SEACREST: Simon had 30 seconds of silence. JACKSON: Yes, yes, yes. Oh, my God!

SEACREST: But you guys have always said it doesn't matter how many you actually see, you're only going to find a few that are superstars, right, Randy?

JACKSON: Well, that's what you see every time. I mean, you know, in this top 12, there'll be three or four people that are great, then there'll be people that are OK. I mean, last season, it was the same thing, you know what I mean? I think any audition you have, that's usually what happens, you know?

KING: Have you seen people who are great who didn't get votes?


KING: No. In other words, if they were great, that greatness came through and recorded and such that they received applause and votes?

COWELL: Yes. Normally, the American audience get it right. But you know, we were saying after the show we recorded on the weekend, which goes out tomorrow, that, in a way, I'm glad that there are so many bad people on the show because it actually shows the audience how difficult it is to be a star. I mean, if everyone was great, it would be the most boring show on earth.

KING: Why do you sort of defend, everyone, Paula?


JACKSON: Look how he looks at her! Come on!

KING: Well, why -- do you...

JACKSON: Come on!

SEACREST: This is what goes on though.


KING: Are you always looking for the good?

ABDUL: Well, being an artist and knowing what it's like for them to be out there and, you know, rising above adversity week in and week out, you know, they connect with me and they know that I know what it feels like. And I think you have to balance, you know, the good with the bad. You give constructive criticism. You have to give some positivity. I mean, we did put them in the final 32, so we did like them.

JACKSON: That is true. That is true.

KING: That's right. Somebody put them there.

SEACREST: Which is the point we made the week that you guys weren't satisfied with that entire group, you know? Simon said he was disinterested, didn't care any more at that point that week. And I said, Well you're the one that put them through. You're the one that put them into that next round.

JACKSON: But in defense...


COWELL: ... taken their places.

JACKSON: Yes, but in defense, though, the top 32 -- guess what? It's about being great every night, right? So a lot of these kids crumble under the pressure. I mean, we put them there because they were probably good to get into the 32, say, OK, hey, this is the greatest group of 32. Yes, let's go. Whoa. Here we are. Then they get there and they fall apart.

KING: When you were asked to be on the show, did you like the idea right away?

COWELL: Well, I came up with the idea, partly, for the show.

SEACREST: You created the show.


JACKSON: Yes, you're the creator.


JACKSON: Aren't you the creator?

KING: Oh, I see. Paula, did you like the idea right away of going on?

ABDUL: I still love the fact when it's the first five seconds of credits, because his name's not on there, he turns his chair away!


KING: You're a weird guy.


JACKSON: He is a weird guy. That was true, Larry. He is a weird guy.

COWELL: I'm not wearing pink braces on TV!


JACKSON: Come on! Come on, now.


KING: When you get to be 70, what are they going to do to you? JACKSON: Don't crack on Larry. Larry's cool, man!

ABDUL: I want to say I did love the idea of the show because it's fascinating to me. I love finding raw, untapped talent (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: Randy, you?

JACKSON: No, I think it's -- I think it's great because it's, like, the only true reality show. Simon said earlier. It's real reality.

KING: So you liked it right away (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

JACKSON: Oh, yes, it's a good idea.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We're going to include your phone calls for Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson of "American Idol."

Tomorrow night, Super Tuesday, ten -- well, nine primaries and one where they just sort of caucus. But we'll be there for all of it with two live shows tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern and midnight Eastern. And our co-hosts are Bob Dole and Bob Woodward. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING) It's the light of day that shows me how and when the nights falls my lonely heart calls.

ABDUL: I say yes, and we all say yes.


JACKSON: Welcome to Hollywood! Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING) Because they always start to cry...

COWELL: You're through.

JACKSON: Welcome to Hollywood, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SINGING) Just once can we figure out what we keep doing wrong...

COWELL: We are going see you in Hollywood.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) believin' I can have it all now. I'm dancin' for my life. Take your passion, make it happen, pictures come alive, now you dance right through your life...

I didn't make it!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're out of their minds! They are out of their minds!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hell! Now [DELETED] them, Kristin! (ph)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You better believe that some day, I'm going to make somebody a lot of money, including myself. Biggest mistake ever!


KING: You like that, Paula? Confidence?

ABDUL: She had passion. Not good, though.

KING: They have to sing a cappella?

SEACREST: They do when they walk into the audition room. You know, watching that clip back, it reminds me of all the time that people walk into the room to see these three on the road, and they come out and they say, I don't need your show anyway. It's going to fail without me.


ABDUL: That's right.

SEACREST: You know? I think that young lady was one of those instances. But...

JACKSON: Oh, she definitely failed.

SEACREST: ... something happens in that room, and sometimes they turn and they walk out and they say...


KING: Some people get real angry at you, Simon? Anyone ever staunch (ph) back when you rack 'em?

COWELL: Yes. We have a lot of security guards in there now.

KING: Really? Or...

COWELL: Yes, as a deterrent. And they're visible, as if to say, You'll get beaten up if you beat me up.

KING: Has anyone come at you?

SEACREST: What was the story with the water?


COWELL: I got water thrown in my face this year, but that was nothing. In the first season, some guys were waiting for me in New York with baseball bats.

JACKSON: Downstairs.

KING: Really?

JACKSON: Yes. Yes.

KING: Let's -- you want to know why this happens? Well, here's an example of the bad cop routine of Simon. Watch.


COWELL: It's the No. 1 show in America, biggest talent show ever, and I would give that performance 3 out of 10. I'm being serious. Sorry. Houston, we have a problem.

JACKSON: A serious problem, dude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything I can improve on or anything or...

COWELL: Yes. Don't sing again. I think it's lucky we didn't charge the audience to come in tonight because they'd ask for a refund.

You are a terrible, terrible singer.

What the hell are you supposed to say constructively after a performance like that? Whoopie.


KING: Is that hard do?


ABDUL: Oh, God!

KING: Really?

COWELL: I'm English.


JACKSON: Oh, what does that mean?

COWELL: We do it naturally.

JACKSON: Oh, yes. Yes.

KING: Not hard to do, really?

COWELL: No, honestly not because I think it would be unkind, a lot of the time, to give people, like, false hope.

KING: What do you think of that statement? JACKSON: Oh, I think sometimes he's right. I think if you're really terrible, you really should know it. But I mean, you know, you don't have to, like, squash them every time. You know, like, Oh! You know, you don't have to be like that. But that's that British thing.

KING: Paula, what do you think?

ABDUL: Well, he knows what I think.



ABDUL: I just think that he's -- he goes over the top oftentimes. I mean, you know, there are times where I find myself with my arms and my shoulders shaking because I'm laughing, I'm trying to hold in. I mean, he's funny. But sometimes, he goes over the top. And Randy, you -- you...



ABDUL: He just doesn't -- you don't need to do it. And he goes one step too far. He told a girl...

KING: Isn't that part of...

ABDUL: ... she's ugly when she sings.

KING: Isn't that part of the...

ABDUL: I think that's really rude.

KING: Isn't that part of the hit of the show, though?

ABDUL: Yes. I suppose so.

KING: Ryan, what do you think?

SEACREST: Did you see him roll his eyes? Because Larry said "part of the hit."

JACKSON: Ryan, is that part of the hit of the show?


SEACREST: You know what? My biggest beef is it's your job to give your opinion and be candid, be honest, but you rarely give them direction. You rarely give them...

ABDUL: I agree.

JACKSON: Agreed. Very good, Ryan.

(CROSSTALK) SEACREST: Thank you, Randy.


KING: You don't say, Here's what you should do.


SEACREST: ... here's what was bad, but here's what you should do to get better. And I feel like if you're going go out and crush them...

ABDUL: And kill them.


SEACREST: ... then give them something that they can take away.

JACKSON: That's right!


JACKSON: Now, Ryan...


JACKSON: Paula and I do a lot of that.

SEACREST: Yes, but if you know, then share it with them.

COWELL: Are you saying I should do that because it's the right thing or it would make better TV?

SEACREST: I think it would be both the right thing and make better TV.

ABDUL: I think that...


COWELL: Well, you have a radio show. How many of the losers...


SEACREST: Your other two friends seem to agree with me.

JACKSON: Oh, my God!

COWELL: No, but I'm serious. How many of the losers would you put on your radio show?

SEACREST: I just think that when these kids go in...


SEACREST: I think when these kids go in... ABDUL: They need to know why.

SEACREST: ... you can give them a little something...

ABDUL: Because they need to know why...


JACKSON: That's right.

COWELL: No, talk is cheap. If you have a TV show and radio show, if you really, genuinely believe that, you'd give them air time. But you don't give the people who lose air time, you just give the winners air time...

SEACREST: That's not true.

JACKSON: Is that true, Ryan?


SEACREST: That's not true.

COWELL: Yes, it's true.

SEACREST: No, when they get voted off the top 12, they come by and do the radio show.

COWELL: So -- so...

SEACREST: Do you see? This stuff never ends.


COWELL: So out of the 24 people who don't make the final, you'll put them on your show.


KING: Let me...

JACKSON: Larry, so how you doing, man?


KING: They pay me anyway.


KING: Let's include...

JACKSON: Larry, what's happening, dude?

KING: Let's include a phone call. Las Vegas. Hello. Don't sing. What's your question? CALLER: OK, good evening. Being that you have pre-screeners before you get to your show, how do you let someone like -- excuse me for being rude -- Hung or such the person, even get through, when there is another show on TV, which I'm just going to say "Star Search," where they have pure talent? It's not about the game of who could knock who. There's people that should never even get up and open their mouth in front of you. I feel sorry for them.

KING: Fair question.

CALLER: They are people with raw talent.


COWELL: I think it's fire the screeners. Fire the screeners.

ABDUL: Fire the screeners.

KING: No, you know that they're put on for effect.

COWELL: Yes, as you know, what we try and do, Larry, is we have 70,000 people. And we say if a third are bad out of, you know, the bunch as a whole, then give us a representative bunch.

JACKSON: A cross-section.

KING: So you do want bad people?

COWELL: We do it representatively.

KING: You do?


KING: A bad guy gets on over one who was better because that week, you want a bad guy?

JACKSON: Well, here's what happens...

SEACREST: No. Not on a week-by-week basis. I mean, some of the bad people who you see, some people genuinely believe they're good.

KING: I see.


KING: Because there were people better than Hung.


JACKSON: You know what else...


JACKSON: You know what else that happens, Larry, is that I was talking to someone the other day that was in the pre-screening process. They said, God, I can't believe this kid has gotten that far because we cut him. So we want to see -- someone that they may think it's horrible, we may go, like, Well, you know what? He's actually not bad if they change this and that or whatever, you know what I'm saying?

ABDUL: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) want to see potential. But I do feel that, you know, there's a lot of great talent out there, and sometimes they fall through the cracks and we don't get to see them.

KING: What about her point about "Star Search"? They're all pretty good.

COWELL: I disagree. I mean, we were talking in the break that, you know, name one person who's won "Star Search," a singer, who's gone on to become a successful recording artist.

KING: And yours already have, right?


KING: Your runner-up...


COWELL: Yes, three of them now. Yes.

KING: All right. We'll take a break and come back with some more moments, more phone calls for our group, and then we'll discuss the Kobe Bryant case.don't go away


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING) Big wheel keep on turnin', Proud Mary keep on burnin'...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SINGING) Well, since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING) Rescue me, take me in your arms, rescue me, I want your tender charms 'cause I'm lonely and I'm blue...



COWELL: You're through to the next round.

JACKSON: You're going to Hollywood, Amy! Come on!





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SINGING) Crazy, crazy for feelin' so lonely...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SINGING) She's a lady, whoa, whoa, whoa, she's a lady...




COWELL: Nothing good.


COWELL: There's not a song in the world you could sing.



JACKSON: Oh, classic moment.

KING: Do you look forward to the tryouts?

COWELL: Oh, that's a good question. Watching them back, yes, but doing them, no.

KING: Brooklyn, New York. Hello. And by the way, good news. They're going to stay with us one extra segment, so we'll have them for a few more moments because we know how lively and wonderful they are.


KING: So we decided to hold them over one segment.

Brooklyn, New York. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hi. My question is for Simon. I know he's very critical about the people who audition, but he was just on Oprah recently and she had a talent show, and he complimented the woman who won. I thought she was fabulous. Is there an age limit on "American Idol" that she couldn't audition for you? And do you think she'll go far? Because I thought she was absolutely terrific.

COWELL: We've set an age limit at the moment.

KING: Oh, boy.

COWELL: I think it's 26 on our show.

SEACREST: It's 24, 16 to 24.

KING: Who was the woman on Oprah?

COWELL: She -- well, Oprah did, like, a talent show for older people. And she was about 38, 39. And she was good. She was very, very good.

KING: But she has no hope, 38, 39, can't get a recording contract?

COWELL: She wouldn't have done. It's like Paula. I mean, once you reach a certain age...

JACKSON: Oh, come on! Come on!

COWELL: I'm not saying Paula couldn't do it...


KING: Are you saying that no person middle age can make a hit?

JACKSON: No, but...

ABDUL: You know what's bad, is that kids who come out there and say, I'm 24. I made the mark. I know I'm old. It's, like, 24, you're old? Please.

JACKSON: If you're great, and if she's that great, you know, she'll get a deal. But I mean, she needed someone to help her because companies generally don't want to sign older people.

KING: You need the right producer...


JACKSON: Yes, you need everything at that age, you know, because companies want to invest...

KING: Do you feel sorry for them, Host?

SEACREST: Sometimes I do. You know, I mean, I have to deal with them when they get done...

KING: You're the one that has to...

SEACREST: ... with the critique and feedback.

KING: ... comfort them, right?


SEACREST: And it's tough. I mean, my job is not to judge. That's what they do. My job is to try and make them feel better and try and get them to turn up the next day, one more day with these three.

KING: Cop-out.

COWELL: Thank you.


SEACREST: Smile and read the results.

KING: That's why we're hosts.


SEACREST: Hey, good for me. I'm young. Simon's done it all, you know what I mean, at his age, so...

KING: Columbia City...


SEACREST: ... time to make it.

KING: Columbia City, Indiana. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Since I'm one of Paula's biggest fans, this is for her. But if you want to answer anyway...

KING: Go ahead. How old are you?

CALLER: I'm 12.

KING: OK. Go ahead.

CALLER: What has been the funnest thing for you this season?

KING: Paula?

ABDUL: Oh, you know, it's thrilling being able to sit where I sit because I get a chance to see amazing talent. And I really do enjoy what I do. I love my job. Contrary to having -- well, just stop looking at me! It is really difficult having to sit next to this -- but I really love what I do. And it's thrilling. It's really thrilling for me to be able to see the growth of these contestants and see them win and go on to achieve great success.

KING: Are you surprised at the success of last year's winners?



COWELL: No. They were good. They were good.

KING: Ryan?

SEACREST: No, not really. I mean, you know, I've had a chance to interview them both since they've left "American Idol," and they're really talented on a consistent basis. I think that's the key. They're not just good once in a while, they're good every time you see them and...


ABDUL: The coolest thing, though -- you and I were at the -- was it the American Music Awards? And we were sitting near each other, and Ruben and Clay...

SEACREST: Yes, it was the AMAs.

ABDUL: ... were performing. And we looked at each other, went, Oh, my God.

JACKSON: Well, it's funny...

ABDUL: They're up there out of the element of "American Idol," and they're living their dream.

SEACREST: Well, and the place went nuts for them.

JACKSON: I just put together this tour for Kelly and Clay, right, the band. And hearing them both sing, I was just so proud that they were really talented. It's, like, Oh, my God. You know, we've been doing something right, dude.

KING: San Jose, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, everyone.


CALLER: Ryan, I love you.


SEACREST: Thank you.

CALLER: Sorry. I was wondering, with the fact that everyone in group one was so strong and everyone in group three was so strong, who determines how the groups are divided up? And why were those people in group two not so great?

SEACREST: That's a good question. Who is it that actually decides that?

COWELL: Well, I mean, obviously, not a music expert.


COWELL: But the point is, is that some of the people who were put into group two, the producers must have thought, due to their early auditions, that they were good. And I think as Randy said, they mess up on the night through nerves and stuff.

KING: Do you often disagree with the producers?


JACKSON: Yes. All the time.

KING: Do you verbalize this to them?



KING: Are they the final word, if you're the co-creator?


COWELL: Sometimes.

KING: You mean you win some, lose some?

COWELL: Well, I mean, it's their show to make. I mean, they -- they -- most of what they do is fine, but we don't always agree.

KING: Well, you can't knock the ratings, right?

JACKSON: No. I mean, you're still winning, you know? It's great.

ABDUL: It's a formula that works.

KING: All right, they're going to spend some more moments with them. We'll be back with those moments, a few more phone calls, and then our panel on Kobe Bryant. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING) But one last cry, one last cry before I leave it all behind...

COWELL: You know, of all the people who've got potential, you are probably the best out of the group tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING) You are my heat, you are my fire, you make me weak with strong desire...

ABDUL: You know, you did yourself proud. You made us pay attention. You sang every note on key. Good for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SINGING) Some kind of wonderful, some kind of wonderful, come on, y'all...



KING: That looked like opening night Vegas. She's good.

COWELL: She's really good. You didn't like her very much but me and Ran -- I think you and I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) didn't we?

JACKSON: You know Paula loved her. Come on.

KING: Is she going on?

COWELL: She's in the final 12. She's one of the front runners.

SEACREST: One of the reasons you guys liked her, what, the unique voice? She didn't really sound like anybody else we've had so far?


COWELL: I don't want to be rude but isn't Larry supposed to ask the question?


SEACREST: He's been waiting to do that, by the way.

KING: Bradenton, Florida.

CALLER: Hi, I have a question for Paula. I just want to say I'm a big fan. I heard you're recording a new album. I was curious when is it going to come out?

ABDUL: There's no break between "American Idol" ever. Randy and I have been trying to get in the studio. We're going to be there. We're getting in there.

JACKSON: It's going to happen.

ABDUL: Have I not written some good songs.

KING: Tampa, hello.

CALLER: My question for the judges specifically Simon is last year the movie from Justin and Kelly kind of maybe kind of got somebody a case of too much too soon. Do you think that oversaturation of a good thing might happen to "American Idol" like, say, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in case in point?

COWELL: I think you're right. I think, you know, we always said it's a show that should be on once a year. And that's exactly what happened, I think, happened with "Millionaire." They overexposed it.

KING: Are you in danger here? How many nights a week you are on?

SEACREST: Two nights regularly.

COWELL: Yes, two...

KING: Then you have specials.

COWELL: It's a results show normally. It's enough. It lasts for -- how many weeks?

COWELL: 30 weeks?

ABDUL: 30 to 35 weeks.

KING: Minneapolis, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Simon, I think you're great. We lived in the U.K. for a while and we were big fans of "Pop Idol." We're wondering if that's still a big hit over there and we are wondering if you're associated with it at all.

SEACREST: He's a little embarrassed right now.

JACKSON: Yes, he's embarrassed.

SEACREST: Bear with us.

KING: Why?

COWELL: I'm pleased to say the second series was bigger than the first.

KING: Why are you all looking at him?

COWELL: Thank you very much.

ABDUL: Humility is not a pretty color on Simon.

JACKSON: Humility just doesn't work on Simon.

KING: Was "Pop Idol" a hit?

JACKSON: Well, for people in the U.K. Not to us here.

COWELL: The show started in England and then we took to it America. We just did the second series in England and it was a hit.

KING: Didn't work here?

COWELL: No, no, we went to England first then we took it to America with "American Idol."

KING: I see. I see. "American Idol" is "Pop Idol."

JACKSON: American singers are better though. American singers are better.

COWELL: Thank you very much.

KING: OK. North Tonawanda, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I wanted to speak with Paula.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I wanted to ask her if she would ever release all of her music videos on DVD.

ABDUL: Wow. I never thought of that.

KING: Why not?

ABDUL: I just never have. Maybe I will.

KING: Couple other bases. Would you take rappers?


KING: Why not?

COWELL: I don't think most of America would enjoy watching them or listening to them.


SEACREST: People are enjoying the context of this competition.

COWELL: It wouldn't work.

JACKSON: Not in this competition. Not in this competition.

COWELL: That's what I'm saying. In this competition.


KING: Would you have a rap contest? "Rap Idol?"

COWELL: No. Wouldn't work.

JACKSON: When you look at the music charts, Larry...

ABDUL: If it was separate as rap, yes.

JACKSON: The top ten today Billboard or "Hits" magazine, hip hop is probably 65 percent of the top ten. He's crazy. He's from England.

COWELL: Honestly, I don't think it would work...

SEACREST: It is working now though.

COWELL: Because the songs aren't good enough.

JACKSON: It's 65 percent of the music business today.

COWELL: Try it.

KING: By the way, is it music? Is rap music music? Can you hum it.

COWELL: Go on then.

KING: Hum a rap tune. JACKSON: What would you like, 50 cent or...

KING: Any rap song.

SEACREST: You know, Ludacris and Usher.

JACKSON: Stand up.

KING: Hum.

COWELL: OK, I take back what I said. It would work.

KING: How long are all of you committed to the show, Simon?

COWELL: How long are we committed? Two or three more years or so.

SEACREST: Yes, Simon, how long are you committed?

KING: Is he the king pin? What he says...

COWELL: No, we all have separate contracts.

KING: Thank you all very much. Ryan. Ryan, hurry up, you got another show to do. Simon, Paula, Randy.

COWELL: I'm sorry for his disrespect.

KING: Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul on every night on a TV set near you. We'll be right back to talk about Kobe Bryant, don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When coming home I breathe a little faster every time we together...

COWELL: Horrendous. Absolutely horrendous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I listen to my heart my heart sings to me...

COWELL: That was painful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All by myself, don't want to be all by myself, anymore...



KING: Let's meet our panel. In Eagle is Tony Kovaleski. He's a reporter for KMGH-TV. Nancy Grace, Court TV anchor, former prosecutor. In Atlanta is Chris Pixley defense attorney and back in New York Dr. Robbie Ludwig, psychotherapist who counsels victims of sexual abuse. Tony, it was quite a day, get us up to date.

TONY KOVALESKI, KMGH-TV CORRESPONDENT: It was quite a day, Larry. A lot of issues going on in the court room. We were told last week that this issue between both sides is going to be really a battle. We got to see that in the court room. Very contentious between the defense and prosecution. Even the judge got involved. Couple of the big events that happened, Larry, we were told tomorrow the alleged victim would be in the courtroom for the first time with Kobe Bryant. Now that has been delayed until later this month. Also today, early on, the judge ruled that the prosecution must turn over all physical evidence to the defense so they can do their own individual testing with their experts. And that was highly contentious, Larry.

KING: That's the underwear, right?

KOVALESKI: That is the underwear and the undergarments and the cuttings. They want their expert in Los Angeles to be able to review it. Hal Haddon, an attorney for Kobe Bryant said that it's probably going to take six and eight weeks to do that scientific testing. From there we're looking at another two months of battling back in the courtroom. So, we're still a long way away from trial here in Eagle.

KING: Nancy grace is the defense trying to say that maybe someone else treated her poorly sexually and not Kobe?

GRACE: You know what, Larry. You just broke down everything it took these lawyers to argue about 10 hours in court today. You said it in one sentence. That's exactly what the defense is going to try to argue. They are claiming that this girl, this young lady, she's 19-years-old, had other sex partners in the 15 hours after the incident with Kobe and 72 hours before. Is that true, don't know. But allegedly there is other sperm in her underwear. Significance, under the Rape Shield law prior sex activity has nothing to do with whether she was raped that night. But what the defense wants to argue, if she had sex shortly before or after the incident with Bryant, that maybe that caused the vaginal injuries. That's where they're headed.

KING: Is that logical to you Nancy?

Is that a sound way to look at it, if she has been active?

GRACE: It's a very wise and strategically well thought out plan by the defense. They've got a shot at defeating the Colorado rape statute based on these facts. But what I see happening, is when the accuser comes into the courtroom, it's going to be closed doors, no media, no witnesses in this hearing. The judge will be able to listen to her testimony and determine whether this theory by the defense is really relevant.

KING: I see.

Chris, why did he postpone her appearance?

PIXLEY: It's a really good question, Larry. I think it was surprising in the first place that the judge was going to allow the accuser to be examined on this issue. The fact is that in order for the defense to argue that prior sexual conduct or subsequent sexual conduct surrounding the period of time of these allegations is actually admissible doesn't require the testimony of the accuser. So for the judge to say, listen, I not only think that this is a relevant issue or potentially relevant issue and that I'm going to hold a hearing on it. But to allow the accuser to testify, was a very significant move. I think now the judge realizes look, there's a good deal of testimony that we need to consider before we even get to the accuser's testimony. What may be put off until the end of March doesn't occur. Not sure we will see the accuser testify in this issue.

KING: Dr. Ludwig, psychologically, what's the reason for the rape shield law?

LUDWIG: Well, studies have found that when jurors know about an alleged victim's sexual past, that it alters the way they view the victim. That if a victim says, yes to sex once, it's kind of an old very antiquated idea that who's to say they won't say yes again?

So it's very different if a virgin gets raped than somebody who has had sexual intercourse before.

KING: That sounds unfair.

LUDWIG: It's very much unfair, but these prejudices do exist. And that's why the rape shield laws were developed, in order to shield the victim from this type of prejudice and also a person's character is on the line. So, it's very important to have these rape shield laws in place, otherwise many rape victims would not come out and basically have the courage to face what they need to face in order to go through with a court procedure.

KING: Tony, there is no hearing of any kind tomorrow?

KOVALESKI: Larry, there will be a hearing but it's going to be behind closed doors and outside of the public view.

KING: What's it about?

KOVALESKI: There will be more issues like the 15 minute tape with Kobe Bryant that was taken. We're told that's going to wrap up tomorrow and whether or not Kobe Bryant believed he was actually under arrest at the time of the tape, and that should be thrown out. That was done by detectives from the sheriff's department. Also we're being told they're going to continue with this rape shield issue and possibly also talk about the medical mental health privilege. So they've got a lot of housekeeping items to deal with. Many witnesses expected to move forward. We're told we're probably not going to be in court for any public arena at all tomorrow. They'll be in court but not with the media.

KING: Nancy what could be a key question.

Can a hooker taken to the largest extent, can a hooker be raped? GRACE: Larry, you're dead on again here. I have had cases, rape cases were the victim had been a prostitute. I have had cases where the victim is a 4-year-old little girl. So the range of rape victims is wide, Larry. And that is why we have the rape shield law. And frankly, everybody saying it's a big bombshell that the judge is going to allow this victim to be questioned. I don't think so. He can still stop inappropriate questioning by the defense. And the reason I think this judge is allowing this closed door hearing is to cut off any appellate argument, in case there is a conviction, he can say with clear conscience, look I gave them a full and fair hearing on this issue before I ruled and my ruling is sound.

KING: Chris, what's your read on this closed door hearing?

PIXLEY: Well, I don't know what to make about tomorrow's hearing because we've got so many different issues that are being discussed. There are the fourth and fifth amendment issues. There is of course, the rape statute. I disagree with the other panelists. I understand the purpose behind the rape shield law and probably at odds with the legislature -- legislature in the states around the country. But the fact is, whether or not a rape shield statute or where the statute found unconstitutional in Colorado, judges in that state would still have the right to decide that testimony regarding past sexual history or subsequent sexual history isn't admissible. And it would be handled on a case by case basis. Now, That's How we handle most other evidentiary issues here. And it can be handled well in advance of trial. Right now we place the burden on defendants in a system that's already stacked against them.

KING: That's the key, Robi.

Why is rape different than robbery?

LUDWIG: It probably has do with sexuality. And our views about sex and who should have sex and who shouldn't have sex even though we know rape is a crime and sex is the vehicle to commit that crime. But that's not what people see, and we expect a lot from women in this country. Based on our puritanical roots that women should act a certain way. If women hold themselves in a certain way then bad things won't happen to them. And that's really just not the case.

KING: Tony, could you get a read on Kobe's mood today?

KOVALESKI: Well, a read kind of difficult because most of our prospective is from the back side. He was certainly engaged, as always. He came into the courtroom today in a suit and tie. Many times he's shown up a little bit more casually, which is a suit, maybe a turtle neck. But he has been engage from the very beginning involved talking with his attorneys about the issues, and really seems to be focused on what is happening and involved in the insight and interaction with his attorneys.

KING: What can the defense do with the underwear, Nancy?

GRACE: Well, I think part of the prosecution's resistance in handing over the girl's underwear is because they probably want all testing done within that lab. I guarantee you, Larry, I wouldn't just hand over my state's evidence to the defense. They would have to come and test it there at the lab and not take it away. I would not jeopardize it in any way. What they're doing is, they're going to take her underwear and see if there's other additional sperm on there to see if they can come up with another argument. Larry, this whole argument is totally inappropriate. This is why rape cases are one of the most underreported cases on the law books. Because women first get raped, and then they go through H.E. double L. on the stand. They are dragged through the mud, they are made to look like hookers. Their reputation is ruined. That's why women don't report rape.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll have Chris respond. We'll have more on the Kobe Bryant matter, Still In its infancy, but still intriguing. Don't go away.


KING: Chris Pixley, what's your argument against Nancy's thought that rape victims don't come forward because of this?

PIXLEY: Yeah, I think it's a specious argument that rape victims wouldn't come forward if it were not for the rape shield statute, because it assumes, Larry, that the public's familiar with court rules...

GRACE: Not what I'm saying.

PIXLEY: ... in a subject area that we don't talk about in polite conversations. Sexual assault is not something that lay people talk about. They certainly don't talk about the rules of court. So for Nancy to assume that the rest of the world is as versed as she is on how the courts handle rape and rape allegations is just wrong.

GRACE: That's not what I said, Chris. What I said is rape victims first get raped, then they're treated like crap in the court system. And I know that from prosecuting rape cases and defending rape victims.

Now, anybody that has been in our system sees the type of cross- examination that rape victims undergo. And frankly, it's outrageous. And I am anxiously looking forward to seeing what this judge does to protect this victim.

KING: Tony, what happened today with regard to venue?

KOVALESKI: The venue, Larry, we reported last night that the venue is now locked here in Eagle County, unless there is a major occurrence between now and the trial. What we've learned is there was a December 12 filing date for both sides. Both the prosecution and defense have elected not the file for change of venue. It means we're locked into Eagle, Colorado. And our sources are saying if everything continues as is scheduled, we're looking at an August or September trial date -- Larry.

KING: Are you surprised, Chris, they didn't -- that defense didn't ask for a change of venue? PIXLEY: You know, Larry, I'm not surprised, because you know that they were doing a great deal of work trying to assess what kind of a jury that they were going to be able to get in Eagle County. You know, this is a case where the defense team has been filing motions just about every 20 minutes of every day for the last six months. So if they didn't file themselves, that means that they've assessed the likely jury pool, they think it's as good as they would get anywhere else.

KING: Columbus, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello, Larry.

KING: Yeah.

CALLER: Hello, Mr. King, I love your show, first of all.

KING: Thank you. What's your question?

CALLER: My question is for your wonderful panel. If Kobe Bryant, even if he wins this criminal case, how much does he stand to lose in civil court?

KING: Dr. Ludwig, will there be a civil case?

LUDWIG: I'm not sure how that works. I think Nancy and Chris would be better able to answer that legal question.

KING: Right. Nancy?

GRACE: I think it's a distinct possibility, a la O.J., even though there was a not-guilty at criminal trial, there was a civil suit afterwards. I think it's a good possibility there will be a case by the alleged victim in this case for civil damages after the jury verdict in the criminal case.

But Larry, one quick thing, we already see where the defense is headed in this case. They're going to portray this girl to be a tramp. And I have some advice. She needs to stay off the cover of "The Globe" and "The Enquirer" and "The Star" partying down in a midriff top. We see where they're headed. Don't play into it.

KING: Chris, do you want to comment?

PIXLEY: Well, you know, the one thing that's interesting to me is that early on in this case everyone on the prosecution side said, look, this woman is not looking for money. Now, when we talk about it, and we talk about it realistically, is it likely that there will be a civil suit afterward? Even prosecutors like Nancy Grace acknowledge, yes, there likely is going to be a civil suit of some kind. Now, we don't know how that will come out. And it likely will be...

GRACE: Why not? She says he raped her. I'd take him to court, too. You darn right I would. PIXLEY: Well, but that's different than the kind of conversation that we were having early on when you said, look, she's not looking for money. Everyone was talking about how she's not looking for money...

GRACE: No. I have always said this is a possibility.

PIXLEY: Well...


KING: Tony, is there any word there about civil action?

KOVALESKI: You know, Larry, we have so far to go between now and trial date. And so many hurdles, and we saw more in the courtroom today. More delays. And even that August/September trial time seems to be somewhat in jeopardy with what we heard in the court today. So getting just through the legal process and the criminal trial seems to be enough of a challenge. Talking about a civil trial is really premature at this point.

KING: Montgomery, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi.


CALLER: Hi, Larry. Enjoy your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: It's not a legal question, but I was wondering why we hadn't seen Kobe Bryant's wife but one time with him?

KING: Do you know, Chris? Would you advise her not to come to some things, or as a defense attorney will you advise her to come?

PIXLEY: You know, Larry, that is such an individual question. I don't think in most cases that it's necessary. And in most cases you're not going to have the media following this. The real question becomes, do you need to do this with the media covering every entry and exit from the courtroom? It's not something that you have to have. I think what matters is the fact that Kobe is there and has been there for every proceeding, and with few exceptions hasn't asked to be excused. I know he was the other day.

KING: Chris, would you have the wife at trial?

PIXLEY: Well, if she's not going to be a witness, Larry, if she's not a potential witness in the case, then I would want her there at trial and I would want the family there as well, yes.

GRACE: That's crazy.

KING: As supportive of her husband -- Nancy, we only have 30 seconds, why? GRACE: She needs to be there every single time showing her support of him. Unless she's going to hyperventilate or start crying in open court, she needs to be there supporting him. It will convince the jury.

KING: Thank you all very much. Thanks a lot, as always. Tony Kovaleski at Eagle, Colorado, Nancy Grace in New York, Chris Pixley in Atlanta, and also in New York, Dr. Robi Ludwig.

Big night. Big day coming up tomorrow in the United States. I'll tell you what we're going to do tomorrow night right after this.


KING: Tomorrow we'll have two live editions of LARRY KING LIVE. Our regular slot at 9:00 Eastern, and then normally repeated at midnight Eastern. We'll do a live second show because of 10 states and super Tuesday. Bob Woodward and Bob Dole the special guests.

Speaking of the word special, you look up special in the dictionary, you get a picture of Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT." So Mr. Special, on this first day of the Ides of March, takes over.


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