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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Dick Clark
Aired April 16, 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, exclusive, Dick Clark, the broadcasting legend, goes public for the first time anywhere with an important announcement about his health.
After 50 years in TV, the man long known as America's oldest teenager has some news that could save your life, and maybe his own. And he's going to tell us all about it. Exclusive next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: It's a great pleasure to welcome Dick Clark to LARRY KING LIVE. He's one of my favorite people. He's one of the legends in the business. He's the most youthful 74-year-old on the planet. And he has an announcement to make tonight, and we shall embark on a discussion about it.
And that is?
DICK CLARK, TV PERSONALITY: Well, after 10 years, I'm -- this is the first time I've talked about it, Larry. But I have Type II diabetes, which isn't earth-shaking news. But what got me shook up was that when I went in 10 or 11 years ago and they told me I had it, I didn't think much about it: do a little exercise, watch my diet, take medication if necessary and all would be well.
And about four or five months ago, they announced that two-thirds of the people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke. Whoa! I better get serious about this thing.
KING: Type 2 diabetes, that's where you don't take insulin.
CLARK: It used to be called adult...
KING: Adult onset.
CLARK: We didn't think much about it.
KING: Not really.
CLARK: But it's pretty serious, though. And I thought, well, I don't talk about my health a lot. It doesn't affect me at all. But I thought maybe it might not be a bad idea to let people know you've got to get and see your health adviser, find out what's going on. KING: Tell me about the association, because we want to be up front with the public, with Merck.
CLARK: Well, this is a whole program. You've probably seen a little bit about it in print and in the articles and so forth, causing this problem to be up in front. And this whole program is sponsored by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and it's sponsored by Merck.
CLARK: Now, I'm being paid to do this. There's no secret about that. But that's not the important thing. The important thing is to get the word out, to get people who know they have diabetes -- and by the way, two-thirds of the people who have diabetes don't realize they're at risk for heart disease.
KING: Doesn't give you telltale signs, does it?
CLARK: There's no sign. And to all intents and purposes, you and I can wander along not thinking anything about it. You've had other health problems.
KING: I picked it up on a blood test. You?
CLARK: Probably a sample blood test. It's been a long time ago.
KING: Sugar count. Do you take your sugar counts a lot...
CLARK: No, I don't.
KING: Where you prick yourself and get the little blood test?
CLARK: I -- I did for awhile but I go in about every six or seven weeks and have it checked up, anyway.
KING: Me, too. But you've got to watch yourself, correct?
KING: Exercise, foods.
CLARK: The key, Larry, is two-thirds of people with diabetes don't realize the seriousness that it can cause their hearts. They don't realize they can have a stroke, drop dead of a heart attack. So you've got to get this thing under control.
The other portion is two-thirds of the people with diabetes die from heart disease. So that two-thirds of them is kind of bothersome.
I've got another statistic I can pull right out of my head. By comparison, people without diabetes or heart disease -- let's see if I can get this straight. People that -- when you compare people without diabetes or heart disease to people with diabetes, it's extraordinary. The increased risks that people with diabetes have, even if their cholesterol is normal. KING: What products of Merck's do you take?
CLARK: I don't want to talk about that.
KING: You're not there to talk about it?
CLARK: No, the Merck people pay me to talk in generalities.
KING: But do you use a daily product? As I do?
CLARK: I use a medicine, yes. But Larry, the important thing is for people watching or listening to us now, to go to your health adviser and find out if you have the problem. Then he or she will prescribe what you need.
Probably what they'll say is get on a diet, do more exercise, and if necessary, they'll give you medication.
KING: Do you also do your eye test? You could go blind.
CLARK: It's one of the bad things about this. I used to have wonderful 20/20 vision. And now I'm watching you through this eye. This is...
KING: Oh, really? You've already had eye...
CLARK: No no no, this is the trick. I've got two contact lenses. This is for across the room, and this is for close up. And your mind is...
KING: Are your eye tests OK for about the diabetic effect?
CLARK: It's diminishing. Every time I go in, they have to perk it up a little bit more. It's...
KING: Are you scared?
CLARK: Now I am scared. I don't think it is anything serious at the moment. I am not going blind right now, but looking down the road...
KING: ...the discoloring and things you have to look for?
CLARK: I don't check for discoloring but...
KING: I understand (ph) you can lose body parts.
CLARK: Yes. My feet when they go to sleep on an airplane really gets me thinking -- things are not working right. So I get up and walk around. But that is kind of normal.
KING: Good idea anyway.
CLARK: That's normal for everybody to do that.
KING: Why did you hold this in for 10 years? CLARK: Nobody ever asked me about it.
KING: No, but usually now we are in an age where people want to communicate with other people about things. Was it that you thought it would affect career or anything?
KING: You are thought of as a guy who never has -- you never get sick.
CLARK: But I look at Mary Tyler Moore who has serious diabetes.
KING: She has Juvenile Diabetes which is worse.
CLARK: No worry about that in terms of the public's eye. And she is taking care of herself and so on and so forth. I sort of address the same problem, in some effect that's a personal problem. My family knows -- there is no sense talking about it.
KING: So you are going to go around now starting a campaign to be involved? What is your role going to be?
CLARK: Doing just what I am doing now. Calling to people's attention that if you do not know whether you have diabetes, get in and find out.
KING: It's a simple test. Doesn't hurt.
CLARK: It's a painless thing. And the problem is there are no overt signs as you know. You don't realize the thing is creeping up on you. So you have to find out whether...
KING: Do you have any -- the only thing I know, I like to bring myself in -- the only times occasionally I'll get is when sugar gets too low. When I don't have enough sugar, I'll get a little dizzy, and I take a glass of orange juice. Do you have any symptoms?
CLARK: I haven't had that problem. I get a little lethargic in the mid afternoon, like I need a kick or something. But nothing regular.
KING: So the effect on your life has been more pronounced the last few months with that announcement about the effect of heart disease. That woke you up more.
CLARK: The only thing effected is my mind. Everything else is the same. I am now much more careful of my diet. I adhere to my exercise program which is about 20 minutes a day. I do it seven days a week. I have a little stall in the breeze way of our garage where I have a walking machine, a stair climber, and I do 15 pound weights, and I watch television. Because I hate exercise. Do you like exercise?
KING: Hate it, but you have to do it. Nobody likes it.
CLARK: Oh yes. There are people who...
KING: There are people who like it?
CLARK: I like it when I'm done. Every day when I finish I like it. But you have to tell the truth. This is a confession on my part. Because I hate exercise. But I have found that now that I am in it, if I'm on the road and I am sitting in a hotel room, and I don't have my stuff, I still have to do a little something.
KING: I won't miss it. I'll walk the hotel lobby. I'll do something, or I feel terrible. By the way, have you had -- has this had any impact on your life other than the mental part?
CLARK: No, none at all.
KING: Do you know why you have it?
CLARK: No, because nobody in my family has ever been detected as having any sort of diabetic problem. And I am sort of guessing, because it goes back a number of years, that if my mom or my dad had it, they probably never discovered it. They probably never had a test for it.
KING: Died before -- of something else.
KING: Is longevity strong in your family?
CLARK: My father lived to be 93. My mom lived to be in her late 70s.
KING: We'll be right back with Dick Clark. Lots to talk about. We'll talk about career. There is always something going on with Dick Clark. We'll come back to diabetes later. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now here he is, the star of our show, Dick Clark!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": That name, that name kept coming up all day, the name Dick Clark. I think, and I know why, show the hearings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, 9/11 COMMISSION: Why doesn't the president ask to meet with Dick Clarke?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, with all due respect to Dick Clarke, if you're speaking about... (LAUGHTER)
LENO: Why was he -- why was he there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We are back with Dick Clark. What do you make of the other Dick Clarke getting famous? You are the other Dick Clark.
CLARK: I used to be the only Dick Clark around. Now every other word is well, Dick Clarke said this, and Dick Clarke did that. And I am listening, saying what?
KING: The "Tonight Show" even rang you like giving testimony.
CLARK: Jay Leno, bless his heart is a very good friend of mine, and I have done his show a lot. But watching the other night -- there I am in the middle of the hearings. One of the congressmen or whoever is conducting the interrogation says to Dr. Rice, well Dr. Rice, Dick Clarke said so and so and so and so. What do you think about that?
She said, well Dick Clarke said that (ph). And then they cut away to me in front of what appears to be the same scene. And I'm saying...
KING: How do you stay so neutral?
CLARK: I love what I do. I love the invigoration of doing things I haven't done before. I mean, Larry, this I think now is my 56th or 57th year since I've drawn a check and being paid to talk.
KING: To broadcast, right?
CLARK: Initially, I wanted to be in radio when I saw radio broadcast done by Gary Moore and Jimmy Durante, in an old theater in New York. I said that is what I want. I was 13. I got my first check in radio when I was 17, and I have been doing it ever since.
My father said to me at one time, if you are still a disc jockey by the time you are 30, you better find another line of work. Little does he realize I am in my 70s and I still do seven or eight hours of radio every day -- or every week.
KING: You started in Rome, New York, right?
KING: That little (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that little -- outside of Utica.
CLARK: Yes, my father was a wonderful guy as was my mother, but I'm directing the attention toward him right now. When he found out I wanted to be in radio, he quit his job. He was in the cosmetic business. And my uncle was opening a radio station, and he said, Dick -- my father Dick -- come on up and run this place. It needs a good sales manager, and you can do this hands down. So he was thinking he's a little fed up with New York City. And he moved upstate, run the radio station, maybe help the kid, and lo and behold he did.
KING: How many different shows have you hosted? "Bandstand," "Pyramid," "Bloopers."
CLARK: "Bandstand," "Pyramid," "Bloopers, "The Other Half," "It Takes Two," "Missing Links," I don't know, Larry.
KING: Many of them your ideas right?
CLARK: Some of them were, some of them weren't. The "Pyramid" show I was a hired hand for a wonderful game show innovator named Bob Stewart. He developed that show. And it was one of the first opportunities I had to get out of the grasp of ABC as the kid who played records.
They held me to a tight contract, and finally said, well you can do a game show. And he offered me the job, and I did it for 15 or 17 years.
KING: You've also always liked, in all the years I have known you -- I nearly went to work for you, remember? You always liked ownership.
CLARK: Well that's gone now.
KING: Yes, but you used to own radio stations. You were very active in producing shows that you were -- you liked it behind the camera as much as the camera?
CLARK: When I was 26 I think, I formed my first corporation, Larry, thinking that someday they are going to make me retire. And if they do, I'll have activity going on backstage. But when you mentioned ownership, that was the day and age when you could own a show.
KING: You can't now?
CLARK: No. The government gave (ph) that away for us. It's virtually wiped out all independence.
KING: What do you make of the Clear Channels? And one corporation owning 1,400 stations?
CLARK: Well, someday somebody will sort that out. I don't know whether that concentration is good or bad.. I have to deal with Clear Channels. I don't want to go on the air and say it's a bad idea. I'm enough of a diplomat to say let the government straighten that out.
KING: Of course you do programming right?
CLARK: A lot of my programs are on Clear Channel stations. KING: What happened to your network?
CLARK: It's still prospering. The one we tried to hire you for. Do you want to do it?
KING: United, right?
CLARK: United Stations Radio Networks (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's probably the second or third biggest. This isn't like when you were on neutral night...
KING: But you'd like owning? Do you like owning stations? Plus it's a headache, too, isn't it? I mean, let's be honest, the broadcaster has less headaches than the manager.
CLARK: But it's like being the producer of a television show. People say what is a producer? A producer is a garbage collector. You collect all of it and you sort it out and if you can get away from it then it doesn't leave a lot of odor, you get all the glory and if it smells bad, you get all the blame.
KING: But you'll do the Golden Globes? You have a company that does events. How many different aspects do you do?
CLARK: Different things.
KING: I could call you to do what?
CLARK: You could call us to do everything but a soap opera. We've done sports, we've done some form of news, we've done drama, motion pictures for television and for theatrical, a lot of comedy, tons of variety, talk shows, award shows, of course, are our staple.
KING: Are you getting ideas all the time? Do people come to you and say Dick, I got this, let's try this.
CLARK: We probably -- probably have 30 to 40 things going on right now. Hopefully we'll sell one or two in the next three months.
KING: Let's go all over the base. What do you make of this NBC show that includes American bandstand?
CLARK: Oh, "American Dreams?"
CLARK: Well, I have an ownership position in that.
KING: Oh, shuck. Is that one of your ideas?
CLARK: No, it was a -- it was an idea of Jonathan Prince (ph) who used to work for me. He came to me one day and said, let's have breakfast with Betty Thomas, a very famous director of motion pictures, she has an idea, she's starting on it. I said, Betty, stop. We're already working on it, I don't want to compete, I don't want to hear you. She said, fine, finished her coffee and left. And Jonathan said, I got an idea I want to present to you. I want to -- I got this dramatic show idea about a 60s family and how they go through this maturation process, and I'd like to have one of the kids go to "Bandstand," use the old clips and use that as a central focal point of the whole thing. I said, great. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) made one call to NBC. Now, that show was on ABC for 100 years. People said, how come "Americans Dreams" didn't end up on ABC? We took it to NBC, because they indicated some interest and they bought it. And I love it.
KING: And it's done well, right?
CLARK: Oh, I am so proud of that show. I had very little to do with it, Larry. I mean, it's done by Jonathan and his gang, but the casting was wonderful. It's one of the best shows on.
KING: We'll trace the history of "American Bandstand" with an American legend, Dick Clark, announcing tonight for the first time publicly that he has type II diabetes. More after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: This is Gladys Pips & the Knights.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CLARK: Twenty-three years ago, "American Bandstand" went on the air. We had the birthday celebration (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but on this day in August, since this is really around the day, we ought to get together, cut the cake and celebrate. So here we go. All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with the one and only Dick Clark. Made an announcement tonight, but he's certainly fighting it, type II diabetes. But he's doing everything you're supposed to do, and we'll talk more about that later.
How did "Bandstand" start?
CLARK: It started in 1952. There were a couple of radio disk jockeys, used to have kids come into their radio studio. And the television station, WFIO, ABC affiliate in Philadelphia...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is WFIO-TV, Channel 6 in Philadelphia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Were you working in Philadelphia at the time?
CLARK: Yeah, I was working in radio.
KING: You had moved from Utica to Philadelphia?
CLARK: Yeah, and that was the best thing that ever happened to me in terms of major markets. But the radio station was successful, and the television station had nothing on them, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Sunday, put a couple of disk jockeys on, and pattern themselves after radio. They tried to hire radio disk jockeys, couldn't get them, so they assigned two other guys, Bob Horne (ph) and Lee Stewart (ph). Lee Stewart (ph) was the Muntz (ph) television salesman.
KING: Mad Man Muntz (ph).
CLARK: Yeah, who also ended up being one of my closer friends in life. But Lee Stewart (ph) was the most inept broadcaster you ever met. God bless him, he's gone upstairs now. But Lee, bear with me, you've got to admit, you weren't great. But he was a colorful guy.
And Bob Horne (ph) was an experienced, professional broadcaster. And they hated each other, hated each other.
KING: And they'd co-host.
CLARK: And they didn't like kids.
CLARK: Unfortunately, that partnership dissolved. Bob Horne (ph) stayed with it for three more years, got into an awful lot of trouble, not good stuff.
KING: And it was called "American Bandstand"?
CLARK: It was called "Bandstand" then. He was fired and they said, we've got to get somebody in there to try to hold this thing together. It was a huge money-maker. You've got 67 percent of the audience in the old days.
And so they hired me. And I...
KING: You were doing a popular radio show.
CLARK: I was doing the radio version of it on...
KING: Oh, I see.
CLARK: No, they just called it "Bandstand."
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) dancing?
CLARK: No, they just tried to lock them together hip-to-hip to work off the television show.
KING: What did you do with it that made it?
CLARK: Probably nothing other than I genuinely liked kids. And when I saw that maybe they were going to replace it with -- they were going to replace the old English movies they were running on ABC at that time with something new, I said, maybe this is our chance. So I ran up with a Kinescope, which is a 16-millimeter film of a television tube, and got "don't call us, we'll call you" sort of response. And in my youthful naivete I thought, gee, they like it.
For whatever reason I convinced two guys, Jim Aubrey (ph) and Dan Melnick (ph).
KING: Jim Aubrey went on to run CBS.
CLARK: And Dan Melnick (ph), who's a famous producer, came down to watch it. And Melnick (ph) wrote a memo saying, I don't know why, but I think we ought to buy this. They bought it for a seven-week trial.
And keep in mind, Larry, in those days ABC had 67 affiliates. CBS had what, 150. NBC had 180, whatever. There was huge competition. Within four weeks, it went to number one. It can never happen again.
KING: And why?
CLARK: It was the original reality show. I mean, it was an open window to kids dancing and the fashions changed, and the music was there.
KING: And you liked the music, right? Many adults -- while putting down that music, you genuinely liked rock.
CLARK: Well, I grew to like it. I came out of a jazz and rhythm and blues background primarily. When I walked into this, I had to learn a lot about this amalgam of country music and what was then called -- what did they call it, race music.
KING: Race music.
CLARK: Black music was race music.
KING: Did you put black artists on?
CLARK: Oh, they were on from the day one, from the two guys before me.
KING: That wasn't being done much in television.
CLARK: Very first guest was Dizzy Gillespie. And we almost had black guests, but it was -- Philadelphia in those days was the northernmost Southern city in the country, and it was highly segregated.
KING: No integrated dancing?
CLARK: No, we had all white dancers. And then the producer and -- Tony Memorella (ph) sat down one day, and with no direction, no instructions, no memos, no, you've got to do this, said, you know, the music is so integrated, maybe we ought to invite some black kids in to mix it up a little bit.
So we got a few of them in. And the black guys danced with the black girls and the white guys danced with the white girls, because that's where it was those days. And the very first day ever, Larry, I spoke to a black kid on the air, I sweated, and I don't sweat. I've grown up with this thing. I don't get sweaty palms. That day, I was drenched in perspiration, in the thing called "The Rate-a-Record" segment, we had our first black kid.
KING: And they voted on how they thought...
CLARK: Yes. "I like the beat and it's easy to dance to" is probably what he said. And when I got off the air, we ran to the offices, has there been any reaction? Have we gotten any phone calls? We waited a few days to see if we got any mail. Nothing there, nobody cared.
KING: How many years was it on?
CLARK: Thirty-seven years. Not a bad run.
KING: No. Did your musical tastes change as American musical tastes changed?
CLARK: Well, yes. I mean, everybody's taste changed.
KING: Because you know music. There are a lot of people who don't know -- or some people stopped at Sinatra. You went on, right, you know the acts.
CLARK: I was able to stay reasonably current. We still do the American Music Awards every year, so I have to stay tuned into what's going on. But the biggest problem that happens as you get older, you atrophy in all aspects of your body, your mind, everything. And you hang in with Frank Sinatra or the big band days or whatever was your moment in time.
I mean, nowadays people are looking back fondly at the '70s, they think it's the old days. I want to break this to you, Larry, but they are.
CLARK: But I was able to sort of keep up with things.
KING: Are you concerned about this pirating of records and downloading?
CLARK: Yes. I think the music business is kind of like the circus business. It's so archaic in a way. It's not the wagons moving from town to town putting the tent up anymore. They didn't realize what the Internet was going to do to their world.
Fifteen years ago, Larry, I gave a speech, and I don't know why I got on my soapbox, but I was saying, there will come a day when our music will come into our homes via a wire over the air and be stored in a box. We'll never see a record. We'll never know anything at all. And lo and behold, it's here.
KING: Let me get a break, and we'll pick right up. Dick Clark, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: Back in the USA, Chuck Berry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His name is Jerry Lee Lewis.
CLARK: The hottest dance sensation in the last four years, the thing called the twist. Ladies and gentlemen, here's Chubby Checkers.
Number one song, "At the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)."
We've got a very special surprise guest you will not want to miss on "American..."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: You prefer -- now I see you on "Diff'rent Strokes" and for years on "Good Times," would you prefer to be an actress or a singer, or it doesn't matter?
JANET JACKSON, SINGER: Well, I like them both a great deal, but I think acting wins just by an inch.
CLARK: Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Janet Jackson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with incredible Dick Clark, really there is no one like him, is there?
What do you make of this following Janet Jackson crackdown going on, on the Howard Sterns, on decency?
CLARK: Larry, the big furor and the breast-beating that's going on -- that's a bad pun -- but the breast-beating that's going on in Washington is ludicrous, because, first of all, it's an election year and they can grab onto anything they can grab onto.
The fear -- whether you are afraid of rap lyrics or Janet Jackson's right breast or whatever it is, it's a reflection of what's going on in our lives. And you can't -- the specter of having Big Brother come in and the government censoring what we can say and do and hear is more scary than anything I can think of.
I don't subscribe to everything I hear on the radio or see on television, but you pretty much have your own censoring device. You can turn it off. KING: So Howard Stern you believe has a point?
CLARK: I happen to be a big fan of Howard Stern. I would not ever want to do what he does for a living, because it's so outrageous and tough and he's got to work at it every day of the week. But he's a brilliant guy. He appeals to a staunch, hard-core audience, and it would be a shame if they muzzle him.
KING: Does it look -- he fears the worst.
CLARK: Yes, and I...
KING: Do you share that fear?
CLARK: I shared the fear, because broadcast licensees have had the fear of God thrown into them, and he may be the scapegoat.
KING: Was it true that in 1959, ABC told you to give up your outside businesses or leave the network, and you elected to stay?
CLARK: That was fun.
KING: What happened?
CLARK: Sort of what's going on today. I was accused of accepting records -- accepting money to play records.
CLARK: Yes. What they didn't realize, Larry, was I was an entrepreneur.
The record companies I know paid guys to play records. It was legal in those days. And nobody ever paid me because I was making too much money. It had nothing to do with morality or anything, I just -- I managed artists, I published music, I pressed records, I distributed them. Everything was horizontally and vertically integrated in my life. I was way ahead of my time.
Nowadays, it's looked upon as, wow, that's the way you do things. You couldn't do it back then.
KING: Will you always have the ability to make money?
CLARK: I hope so.
KING: I mean some people have it, and some don't, the ability to generate money.
KING: You've been successful...
CLARK: What I did, Larry, was I was well paid for what I did. And I took that money and...
KING: That's what I mean.
CLARK: ... spent it on other people's talents. Combined, we've been able to build a business out of it.
KING: So you weren't the kind of person who said, I have to be the only talent.
CLARK: Oh, no. No. No. I learned that a long time ago, when "Bandstand" was popular. People used to say, "He's great. He's wonderful." You don't understand, it's the kids.
KING: Is it -- is that what made that show?
CLARK: Oh, yes. Absolutely, 500 percent.
KING: Why do you keep doing it? I mean obviously, you don't need the finances.
CLARK: People have been saying to me for the last 10 years, why don't you stop the "New Year's Rocking Eve" that I do every year? I've been doing that for 32 years out there in the middle of Times Square.
KING: You used to be with Ben Grauer...
CLARK: Ben Grauer, that's how I got the job.
KING: Ben Grauer used to do "New Year's Eve."
CLARK: When we've got -- when we first put that show on, we should have somebody from Times Square commentating. How about Ben Grauer? And they said, oh, let's get somebody young. Well, you do it. Well, I was younger in those days, so I did it, and it's grown into a tradition. And then people say to me, why on earth would you do that every year?
KING: Why do you need it?
CLARK: I think it's -- the money is not great. And I own the show and I pay myself, so I'm being highly...
KING: You own "New Year's Eve?"
CLARK: I own "New Year's Rocking Eve" on ABC. But I'm highly underpaid.
But the reason, Larry, because I think it's an obligation. It's the joy of being part of people's holiday. When all hell broke loose and it became sort of, is everything going to be all right there? People said, well, you don't have to go on. I said, no, I've got to go. I've got to be there, because it's part of American tradition.
KING: Now, how about all the other things: the businesses, all the radio hours? Do you keep doing it because you have to do it?
CLARK: Do you know about my latest business venture, the Krispy Kreme thing?
KING: What? What, are you going to open franchises?
KING: I think they own most of their places.
CLARK: No. No. No. No. No.
KING: They're franchises?
CLARK: Mostly franchises. I pestered them. I wanted the franchise in Times Square. And the New York franchise had been given away. And I kept pestering, screaming and yelling, and going and being a noodge. And they finally, the chairman called me and said, "How would you like to be an overseas franchiser? So you're now the franchisee in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland."
KING: You have the Krispy Kreme franchises in the British Isles?
KING: And it's a hit?
CLARK: Oh, it's a big hit. The first store opened in Harrods' Department Store.
KING: How do you step into this? Well, you had to like the...
CLARK: I love...
KING: You had to like the donuts.
CLARK: I loved the donuts. And I said, you know, this is a very interesting problem. There are three or four other things like that in my life, Larry, that nobody knows about. But that's my other life. This is my other life. I love...
KING: You have other businesses? You have other things, like Krispy Kreme?
KING: So you make a lot of calls every day...
KING: ... checking up on how things are going.
CLARK: Yes, well, it's part of the normal routine.
KING: What was your biggest bomb?
CLARK: Oh, I've had a couple of failures on Broadway.
KING: Shows you produced? CLARK: Yes, didn't work out at all. It's a major disappointment. My biggest television disappointment was a thing called -- I don't know what it ended up being called -- "Wednesday Night Live."
It was supposed to be Sunday nights in the old Ed Sullivan time period, and it got shunted off to Wednesdays. It lasted, I think, 13 weeks and died. That was my fondest desire to be Ed Sullivan and present a variety show.
KING: You also produced a wonderful show that should never have gone off, "Donny and Marie."
KING: That was a great afternoon television show.
CLARK: It was an expensive afternoon television show, Larry, and the distributor was very, very good. They hung in there for as long as they could.
KING: Sony, right?
CLARK: Sony, Columbia Tri-Star. It had a lot of music. It was variety. It was a very -- it wasn't just talking heads.
KING: I know. I guested on it a few years ago. It was a great show.
CLARK: I know. It was a fairly big operation, and the economics just didn't work.
KING: What do you make of Donny hosting "The Pyramid"?
CLARK: He watched me a lot.
KING: He's got it down, don't he?
CLARK: He is. You know, I've known the Osmonds since the dawn of time, and I'm a big fan of Donny's, and I'm delighted that he got the job.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. I'm going to ask Dick the unanswerable show business question, what works? Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is the "$25,000 Pyramid." Today's special guests are Marcia Wallace. And from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Michael Dorn. And now, here is your host, Dick Clark.
CLARK: That's the way to go, Johnny Gilbert (ph).
Thank you very, very much. We have a very enthusiastic group of people with us, and we have lots of new goats (ph) to play the game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: Thank you, Elly (ph). We're at 44th St, right in heart of Times Square, the crossroads of th world. Now this is just a little piece of the crowd. And the warm weather tonight. It's almost 50 degrees, here tonight. This crowd extends further north than it has in the last 30 years. It's way, way up there to 59th St. And it's going to be a great, happy party, because the weather -- I don't even need my coat tonight, it is so warm. But there's a lot more coming up, right after this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dick Clark announcing tonight for the first time publicly that he has Type II diabetes. In the last segment we'll talk more about it. I want to touch some other bases. I know if we could bottle it, everyone would do it, but what works? How do you -- how do you know?
CLARK: What works on television?
KING: Yes, is it a sense that you have?
CLARK: I don't know, Larry. I've been very fortunate. In terms of -- I'm trying to put this as modestly as possible. In terms of money, I made a lot of money but it didn't change my life effectively. I bought a better car and a bigger house and that was about it. I still had the same number of clothes but I really, really like what's ordinary. I like...
CLARK: I like going to state fairs. I like going to the mall. I like hanging out, doing nothing, walking the beach, going to the playground. I mean and very often when really good stuff happens to you in terms of money you lose track of what's important and I fancy that I haven't lost track of that. I really have a feel for what regular people like.
KING: What is your -- why do regular people like reality shows? Why do they like "The Apprentice"?
CLARK: Young people prefer reality shows. Older people tend to not be so tuned into it. That again, I think, is a reflection of what's been going on. We've been living in a scripted lifetime, all of our lives in television. Everything with the exception of the news is scripted.
KING: The "Truman Show."
CLARK: And all of a sudden somebody discovered if you throw a window on a mess of people, "Big Brother" was one of the first ones and just follow them around, then they added a little semi scripting drama casting conflicting people and so forth that's kind of fun and it's been a savior for all the four major networks.
KING: Do you like watching it? You watch a lot of things.
CLARK: Yes, I try to watch everything.
KING: You have to.
CLARK: I watch and I really didn't think I was going to like "The Apprentice." I said who the heck would want to watch business people fighting in the gray flannel suits and all of that, but the drama of those people is so interesting and the casting is great. They put it together. And then you got "the Donald." I mean he is a case study.
KING: So are you thinking now of coming up with some reality show?
CLARK: Oh, yes.
KING: The Dick Clark Productions?
CLARK: We've got one. It's -- I can't tell you about it because it's fragile and other people will borrow it. We have two networks interested in it. I'm hoping that 1 takes it and you'll see it probably this fall.
KING: Do you hire the host?
KING: Are young hosts important? Must the host be young?
CLARK: For the most part, yes, with the exception of Regis Philbin. Regis broke it open for those of us in the older category.
KING: And Trump isn't young.
CLARK: That's true but he's a mogul. It's the type casting.
KING: What makes a good quiz show host?
CLARK: You know interestingly enough they make jokes about you got to have a nice head of hair and good teeth and they make them out to be kind of dumb. The truth is game show hosts are amongst the brighter people you'll find.
CLARK: They've got to watch it. They got to do seven or eight things at once. Bob Barker...
CLARK: ...is extraordinary, because he's not just standing there saying come on down. He is writing, producing, directing, doing about eight things all at once and through that mind of his he's got it all going and you watch and you feel well it's just happening. It wouldn't happen without him.
KING: There aren't many, I guess Merv Griffin, guys who come up with shows.
KING: It's a hard thing to do isn't it to...
KING: ...to come up with the concept, invent something and bring it to light.
CLARK: The trick, Larry, is to either wrap something in the new wrapper like "American Idol." I mean that's the original "Amateur Hour" back in the...
KING: That's all it is, Major Bowes.
CLARK: How come we didn't think of that one, you know. I'm so angry. It was started in...
KING: It's not new. What is there to think of?
CLARK: Well, you got Simon.
KING: Oh, a critic.
CLARK: An angry Englishman who speaks his mind and gets your blood churning and people tune in to hate him. That was a key.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON COWELL, AMERICAN IDOL: That was absolutely horrendous. Everything about you today was mediocre.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Oh, so he's the key to that?
CLARK: Oh, I think that was a major key.
KING: Never thought -- so it revolves around the personality of him because anyone could do, let's look at new talent, put them on.
CLARK: I would guess by now having reached the peak it's reached that they could take Simon off and it would roll along and somebody else would play the part of the hard judge.
KING: Are you looking for new talent?
CLARK: Oh, yes, all the time.
KING: Do you listen to radio?
CLARK: I listen to it. You would not enjoy riding in the car with me because I play that push button like a typewriter. I'm going from station to station.
KING: What shows do you do on radio?
CLARK: I do a thing called "Rock, Roll and Remember," which has been on the air for I think 18 years, the united stations.
KING: Do you do a top 40?
CLARK: Yes, music countdown, music survey that's top 40. We're going to do a daily music comment time, events of the day to a record.
KING: Are you busy all day long?
CLARK: Most every day.
KING: You look at all the people you brought to television. You were the first one to bring Buddy Holly on television, right?
KING: Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis.
CLARK: Well, if you carry it through it's all of those, Bill Haley and the Everly Brothers in the early days. Then it moves on to the Jefferson Airplane and the Mammas and the Pappas and eventually ends up with Madonna and Michael Jackson and the rest.
KING: Through all those years who didn't you get you wanted?
CLARK: Ricky Nelson was one of the first ones, because Ozzie wouldn't let him appear on anything other than his own show.
CLARK: Until that show went off and then Ricky did a lot of...
KING: What about Elvis?
CLARK: Elvis, the colonel wouldn't let him work for scale. We paid, I think, $155 and the only thing the colonel would let us do is talk to him on the phone when he was in Germany.
KING: Did you do that?
CLARK: Oh, yes.
KING: Did you play his record to dance to though?
CLARK: Oh, sure.
KING: That you could do? Did you have to pay a royalty when the record played?
CLARK: No, you have a standard license when you're a telecaster or broadcaster. It just takes care of itself.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments and more about Dick Clark and diabetes right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELVIS, SINGER (via telephone): I'm glad that I could come in the army and do my part, you know? But, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when I can return to the entertainment world, because once you get a taste of show business, there's nothing like it.
CLARK: You know it. Elvis, thank you ever so much for talking to us, we look forward to your return. We'll see you just as quick as we can all get together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dick Clark. What do you make, one thing about Ryan Seacrest? They're calling him the next Dick Clark.
CLARK: Yes and the kid from TRL before him from MTV.
KING: Carson Daly.
CLARK: Carson Daly. They both had that little (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because they're hanging around kids. They're playing records.
I think Ryan is a brilliant guy. He's an extraordinarily hard worker and he took that one show from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taken over part of Casey Kasem's empire.
KING: Rick Dees.
CLARK: And he took Rick Dees' job. Time will tell whether or not he can keep it going for 30 years.
KING: But like you he is entrepreneurial.
CLARK: Oh, very much so, very much so.
KING: Do you go for more checkups now?
CLARK: Oh, yes. I do it for the last ten years. I go in every two months or so.
KING: Every two months?
KING: For a diabetic workup?
CLARK: He takes my blood pressure, takes my blood and tells me I'm doing well or whatever.
KING: Other than this, have you ever had a serious ailment?
CLARK: Oh, yes. KING: Like?
CLARK: Oh, I don't know how many years ago they found something in one of my lungs and over a weekend I went in and they carved it out, couldn't figure out what it was, sent it to the Atlanta Disease Center and they sent it back to them. We don't know what the devil it is. It was not malignant fortunately. It turned out to be nothing, but scared the daylights out of me.
KING: Were you a smoker?
CLARK: I smoked for about 20 years and stopped eons ago. I stopped in 1968 or so.
KING: What got you to stop? I had a heart attack.
CLARK: That's a pretty good incentive.
CLARK: My favorite uncle died and he was a heavy smoker. He died of emphysema. My mother had partial emphysema and also died I think partially due to smoking, but I had stopped smoking before she passed on and I had this dreadful cold and I got the news of my uncle's death and I said I'm out of here.
KING: How about rumors. There have been rumors. I read a rumor once about you that you had Parkinson's.
CLARK: No, my father.
KING: Oh, your father.
CLARK: My father had Parkinson's. And I've been involved with the Parkinson's Association for years and years and every year somebody will say, and I'm sure this announcement of the diabetes thing, people will say has he got Parkinson's? At the moment I don't. I don't have any signs. I hope I never get it, because it's an unpleasant problem.
KING: How about the other disease of aging that we ask people over 70, prostate?
CLARK: That's in pretty good shape.
KING: That's in good shape.
KING: Any -- no other signs in the cancer area?
CLARK: No. KING: You got good genes.
CLARK: Yes, I think -- I think, well, select your parents very carefully, Larry, is the moral of the story.
KING: This -- what do you have to do for this company? What is required of you as a spokesperson?
CLARK: I have to go out and talk to as many people as I can.
KING: You're beginning tonight?
KING: You're going to do a lot of other things?
CLARK: I'll be out for about five or six months, beating the bushes, trying to get people aware of the tie between diabetes and heart disease, and stroke. That's kind of new news. It's -- the medical...
KING: The number one trigger of heart attacks is...
KING: ...is diabetes.
CLARK: Just let me be redundant again to say...
CLARK: Two-thirds of the people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke. That's a staggering statistic, and it deserves your attention.
KING: That's right. So watch your sugar intake, watch and certainly exercise.
KING: Certainly see a doctor to get the tests if you haven't.
CLARK: And my doctor advice is, eat less. He said, I don't care what you eat, but cut it in half -- well, he didn't say cut it in half, just leave some on the plate.
KING: You know, that's so simple and so hard to do.
CLARK: That's the perfect diet.
KING: Obesity probably is the number one contributor to diabetes, right?
CLARK: Right, it's extraordinary. KING: Were you ever fat?
CLARK: As a preteen, I was chubby. I never got real fat.
KING: Is there a sweet you don't eat and you love?
CLARK: No, I don't eat as many sweets as I used to. I used to be a chocaholic. I would hide the chocolate from my kids.
KING: From you kids?
CLARK: And the kids, and when the kids would get it and they'd eat, I'd say, well, how did they get it? And so I used to put it in high places, like any old drunkard, hiding his bottle in a chandelier. Hid my chocolate. But I've cut back on all of the sweets.
KING: How long have you lived in the West?
CLARK: Since 1963.
KING: All that time?
KING: Do you ever miss the east? Do you want to go back to Philadelphia?
CLARK: I have a home in New York.
KING: You do?
CLARK: I commute back and forth. I've been commuting for 30 some odd years. I love the east, and I love the scenery change. I miss that out here, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else but California.
KING: Diabetes, can you eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts?
CLARK: Yes, on occasion. But you can't gorge. I mean, the whole Krispy Kreme thing is, it's a treat. It's not a daily occurrence. Every now and again, when you want to have a real treat, you...
KING: And hot.
Thank you, sir.
KING: Thank you, sir. Our guest, Dick Clark.
Be back in a minute to tell you about the weekend. Don't go away.
KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night, we're going to have a kind of unusual thing here. Heather McCartney, the wife of Paul McCartney, is going to host this show tomorrow night. Her guest is Paul Newman.
And then Monday and Tuesday we'll be in Washington with Bob Woodward and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next. Good night.
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