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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Encore Presentation: Interview with Ellen DeGeneres

Aired September 12, 2004 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ELLEN DEGENERES, ENTERTAINER: My feelings were hurt, because I don't know why you didn't think of this.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Ellen DeGeneres, the ground breaking comedy superstar is a hit on daytime TV, and now she's back here on prime time for a no holds barred (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on her remarkable life and career. From high profile heartbreak to coming out to whatever you want to ask, we'll take your calls too.

Ellen DeGeneres, is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We are so happy for her because she's a great person, and so many good thing happening. The trade paperback of her book, "The Funny Thing is," the "New York Times" best seller will be out shortly.

She host the Emmy Award winning show, going in it's second season, just started the second season. It got more em my nominations than any other time. A total of 12. Ellen -- are you a comedian who does a talk show. Are you a -- or talk show host who writes?

What are you?

DEGENERES: That's the question. What am I? If we could just get to the bottom of that. You know, I don't even think of myself as a comedian. I mean, that would be the job...

KING: No.

DEGENERES: No. I didn't start out thinking I'm a comedian. I don't think I fit that bill. I'm not on all the time and I don't really care about being on stage all the time.

KING: So, what then was your goal?

DEGENERES: To earn a living, you know. I didn't know what else to do. I was struggling, I was young, I had nothing going on. I was a waitress and shucked oysters and I sold vacuum cleaners and I painted houses and hated what I was doing. And I hated working and I needed money. And I was funny around my friends, and they asked me to perform at a benefit, I did. And someone saw me there, and asked me play at college. And someone saw me there. And all of a sudden, I was working coffee houses. There wasn't even a comedy club. KING: What do the folks at home think? DEGENERES: The folks at home, being the people in New Orleans?

KING: Yes.

DEGENERES: I think, they would be shocked to see how far I've come. I mean, everyone that new me growing -- I didn't seem like -- I wasn't the class clown. I wasn't popular. I wasn't outgoing. And this is fluke to me even. I hadn't -- I could never have imagine in my life doing this.

KING: What was -- what was your break?

How did we know your name?

How did you come to our attention?

DEGENERES: The first time probably people really were aware of me, I unfortunately had the title of Showtimes Funniest Person America. And that's a really tough title to travel around with when you're not even known.

KING: And you were doing stand up?

DEGENERES: I was doing stand-up. And I won -- all these people entered...

KING: Like a comedy contest?

DEGENERES: Yes, it wasn't like me and Robin Williams or anything. It's like, I won against people that were, you know, in mine league. And so I was traveling around and somebody would see the funniest person in America is appearing at Chuckles and you know, the mini-mall. And they'd walk in and of course be disappointed.

KING: Before we talk, let's talk about the talk show first. How did that come about, you hosting a talk show?

DEGENERES: When I was doing "Ellen," when I was doing that sitcom years ago, I was approached by two different companies saying, when this show finishes would you like to host a talk show. And Rosie O'Donnell had just got a show at the time and I think somebody else had just gotten a show. A lot of people were doing talk shows. And I said, no because I just felt like -- it would look like one more person doing a show. And so I thought I would wait.

And then of course, when the show was canceled, nobody was offering me anything. Everything was gone. Then I did another sitcom and that failed, and it looked like it was failing and a couple of companies came and said, if this fails, do you want to do a talk show?

And I said, yes, I have nothing else to do. It was my last chance to do anything.

KING: But in the middle of all this, you had "Finding Nemo" an enormous hit for you.

DEGENERES: Yes.

KING: Wasn't it? So it wasn't all downside.

DEGENERES: But that, I had been doing that for three years and I didn't know when that was coming. That happened to come out right before the talk show started. So, it was just the timing of it all was beautiful. I mean, you know, I couldn't have planned it any better.

But When i started doing "Nemo," I wasn't working. I was doing nothing. I did "Nemo," then I did a sitcom that didn't last and then I did this.

KING: And also we were talking before the show about doing -- having been in "Shrek 2." You never saw Albert Brooks? You never were with him?

DEGENERES: Nobody in the movie. I was by myself in a -- I hope I'm not the only one that was like that. I hope they made everyone do it that way. That would be sad to find out I was the only one that did that. percent.

KING: I'm sure they did. But you never were with your mate?

DEGENERES: No, my mate.

KING: Albert Brooks was your...

DEGENERES: Yes, well. Yes. He wasn't really my mate. But yes, Albert Brooks and I never worked together until -- we saw each other at the premier. It was weird.

KING: You must have flipped though, how they did it, put it together.

DEGENERES: Well, I knew -- I mean, it was a Pixar film and they do such beautiful work, so I knew it was going to turn out to be a good movie. I had no idea that it would end up doing what it did, and that Dory would be a character that people would love so much.

KING: Could be another one?

DEGENERES: I don't think so. I don't think Disney and Pixar can come to an agreement. So, since they can't I don't think there be a...

KING: That would have worked see. Like "Shrek 2" worked, that would have worked.

DEGENERES: Believe me.

KING: It's an institution.

DEGENERES: It was disappointing to me. I was planning on doing Dory again.

KING: OK, the talk shows come about. Now how did you conceive it.

What was Ellen DeGeneres going to do, that 15 other people didn't do?

DEGENERES: I didn't think about it, I really didn't. Everybody said, what are you going to do that's different, and these things failed. They told me the demographic of who watches a daytime television show, this is what appeals to them. It's like, you know, here's the thing, I'm out of options now. You know, it seems like the sitcom isn't going to work for me. I'm just going to be myself. I'm going to do what I -- you know, whatever -- I'm going to think on my feet. I'm going to talk to people and have a conversation with people and hopefully ask different kinds of questions than other talk shows. I'll try to do something different and have it a happy, positive show everyday.

KING: Did guesting on other shows through your career help?

Did you use things you learned by being asked questions?

DEGENERES: Yes.

KING: Are people good and bad at it?

DEGENERES: I mean, like talking to you is very, you know, it's a conversation. I don't feel like I'm -- this is prepared, it's just going where it's going to go. Johnny Carson was amazing. To be on Johnny Carson, to be fortunate to be on that before he retired was amazing. There are shows you, as you know, that people are not paying attention. And if you are not paying attention you can't...

KING: Follow up.

DEGENERES: You can't -- yes, you can't catch a joke. You can't -- and you can't -- and it doesn't make the person feel comfortable because you know they're not listening.

KING: Did you think it would work?

DEGENERES: You know, Yes.

KING: Did you have confidence?

DEGENERES: Sure, but maybe that was naive, because Everybody is so surprised. Like you know, can you believe it worked? It's like, I wouldn't have done it if, you know.

KING: Odds were against you, right.

DEGENERES: Gods are against you...

KING: Most new daytime talk shows fail. DEGENERES: Yes, but most people fail in this business. Most comedians fail. I can't look at my life and what could possibly go wrong. I can only look at it in -- you know, here's what I see. Here's my goal and that's the only thing I see.

KING: How involved in the show are you? Is it hands on? Are you selecting guests?

DEGENERES: I don't select guests. You know, I mean, most of them are just the third caller. We just take whoever calls in. You know, I'm more hands on than any other show I've ever done. Sitcoms, I just kind of -- I'd show up and I would Imbruglia every once in a while. But this show, every segment, everything we do, the set, everything is -- I make digs decisions on.

KING: Were you surprised at what happened with it?

DEGENERES: I don't...

KING: You didn't know what to expect. But -- what, 12 Emmy nominations, were you surprised?

DEGENERES: Yes, and I didn't know at the time 12 was a big deal. I was like, oh that's great. And then, I found out there was one we weren't nominated for and I...

KING: What was that?

DEGENERES: Best song. And of course, my reaction was oh, that's great, 12. Mine's like what's wrong with our song, you know. I'm like I want everything. I think I'm surprised by the fact that where I am right now. I've really come to a really good place in my life. And it's amazing this show helped turn it around. And so, I'm surprised it had such an impact on how people respond.

KING: Because some might have bet that a controversial host, and you certainly had your share of controversy, would have been a mark against it succeeding.

DEGENERES: Sure. A lot of the stations...

KING: The most controversial Rosie got, the less successful her show got.

DEGENERES: You know, and here's the thing, I don't really think I'm controversial. And I think what I did was controversial. And I think that, you know, anytime you announce something about yourself, especially, when it's not socially accepted and people don't understand it, that's controversial. I've never been political, I've never really been outspoken. I'm a comedian who happens to be gay. And that became a big deal and it over shadowed everything else in my life and in my career, and everything I'd worked for.

And there were a lot of station managers that were afraid to buy the show, because they thought she's going to talk about being gay. The whole things going to be about -- it's going to be political. It's like, if you watch any of my stand-up specials, nothing is about that.

KING: In fact, your show doesn't have an agenda, so to speak, you're not there to prove a point.

DEGENERES: Never -- my only thing is I wanted to get beyond that. That's all I've ever wanted to do. That was -- no.

KING: Good thinking. We'll be right back with Ellen DeGeneres, an extraordinary talent. We're going to be including your phone calls to. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEGENERES: I've got a secret too, I like to dance. But don't tell anyone. Tony.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: What does that have to do with a talk show? What's with the dancing?

DEGENERES: You know, here's what happened.

KING: OK.

DEGENERES: I didn't want band. That's the only thing I knew I was going to do different. I wanted a D.J. and I love music. And so I had a D.J. and when I finish my monologue, I come out and do basically a little bit of stand-up, I talk about what's going on in my life. When I go to sit down, there's music playing and I like to dance, so I dance. It started as joke. Then I started dancing more and then suddenly the audience started standing up and dancing with me. Now, it's a major part of the show where I dance in the beginning and it's a huge thing.

KING: Do you do it even if the first guest is on a very serious topic?

DEGENERES: We don't have serious topics.

KING: No serious topics at all?

DEGENERES: No.

KING: What's as serious as you get?

DEGENERES: I don't know. We don't really -- I don't talk about anything...

KING: No issue-oriented?

DEGENERES: No. Nothing issue -- that's just not me. I wouldn't even know where to go with that stuff.

KING: So it's the personality of the guest? The guest drives it rather than the subject driving it?

DEGENERES: It's whoever's on. We -- you know, Pamela Anderson was on today, which will air tomorrow and she has a new clothing line and she brought out, like, a teddy, a skimpy kind of brassiered teddy thing and I put it on over my clothes. And whatever's happening, I just go with it, or I try do something different than what they would do on another show.

KING: You also have a male audience, right? A significant male audience. How do you explain that? First of all, where are they in the daytime?

DEGENERES: I don't know. I've heard that stockbrokers are watching the show. I mean a lot of people take an hour to watch the show. They'll stop working and watch or they Tivo it or VCR, you know, tape it and then watch it at night. It's everyone. It's kids, and it's, you know, it's women, obviously, that's a big daytime audience, but it's a lot of, you know, it's everybody.

KING: The time you're usually on is what, late morning or early afternoon?

DEGENERES: New York, we're on at 10 a.m. L.A., 3:00, and then different markets, different times. Usually late morning or early afternoon.

KING: Unlike a sitcom which is on a network, when you're syndicated, you're on different affiliates in all cities, you have to be involved in the promotion of the show?

DEGENERES: We do promos and you do -- you know, I do what I can.

KING: Do you talk to stations?

DEGENERES: Yes.

KING: Are you very, very involved?

DEGENERES: I'm involved as much as I can possibly be. The show takes up a lot of my time. But, you know, to start out a show, it's a lot of press and I've done a lot of press work.

KING: How do you explain, Ellen, overcoming all of the personal things that made the press with you. You had to overcome a lot. The breakup, coming out, that you became that person. How did you ride that wave out?

DEGENERES: You know, exactly that. I think I rode it out. There was nothing to fight. Because for a while, I did -- I tried to fight it, I don't understand, I don't understand what I did wrong. I don't understand why -- you know, and whether it was true or not, I felt like people hated me. That's what it felt like.

KING: Because you broke up or because you came out or all of the above? DEGENERES: I felt like -- well, mainly I felt like people hated me because I wasn't getting work. That's where that feeling came from. The phone stopped ringing and nobody was interested in anything to do with me.

And then the break-up was public which was painful because it's, you know, it's painful anyway and it was public and it was huge and it was, you know. And I just tried to refocus everybody back on who I was before all of this. And that, I thought if they just get to know me, if they just see me and see I'm not dangerous, I'm not scary, I'm not doing anything wrong, I'm not trying to be an activist. If I was trying to be an activist, I would have done that with my time off rather than try to get my career back on track.

KING: Did you hire a PR agency to assist in sort of recreating an image?

DEGENERES: No.

KING: So this was -- you rode the wave alone?

DEGENERES: Yes. I didn't have representation for a long, long time. I went to my manager who I have now and said, help me. It's been three years and I'm not working. And I need to work and I know that I can do this. I just need to be give a chance. And there isn't someone else like me out there. And that's what makes it hard because they don't know what to compare me to but give me a chance and I can work.

KING: How did you get "Finding Nemo?"

DEGENERES: Andrew Stanton who wrote and directed the film when "Ellen" was on, when my sitcom was on, his wife was watching the show while he was writing it and he could hear my voice in the background and the rambling and the digression and that's what Dory was, this rambling. And he wrote it with me in mind.

So he wrote that movie for me and came to me and said, you have to say yes because I wrote this for you. He didn't care about what was going on, he didn't care that I wasn't working, he didn't care about anything and offered me the role.

KING: Great for your career, though?

DEGENERES: Huge. Huge for my career.

KING: Back with Ellen DeGeneres. Her book, "The Funny Thing Is..." is going to be out in trade paperback when?

DEGENERES: Any day now.

KING: OK. And the series is back on, the new series of shows started yesterday and we'll be taking your calls at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEGENERES: I want to know what kind of sit-ups you do, I want you to teach me those sit-ups, and I want you to show me some workout things because I need to know.

BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: All right. Are you ready?

DEGENERES: All right. We're going right here.

SPEARS: OK. Lay down.

DEGENERES: You lay down there.

All right. I'll lay down here.

SPEARS: Now, I'm going to stand over you like this.

DEGENERES: You're going to push my legs back, aren't you?

SPEARS: Yes. OK. So give me your legs.

You hold on to mine.

DEGENERES: I know this one.

SPEARS: Throw them down. Yes, like that. You're good.

DEGENERES: I know this one. I would have shaved my legs if I thought I was doing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEGENERES: I think I've realized that I am -- I can't even say the word. Why can't I say the word? I mean, why can't I just a say -- I mean, what is wrong? Why do I have to be so ashamed? Why can't I just say the truth, be who I am, I'm 35 years old. I'm so afraid to tell people. I mean, I'm just -- Susan, I'm gay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How big a thing was that? Memory fades, but that was big, wasn't it?

DEGENERES: No. That will never fade. That was about as big a thing as you can have happen in your life. It was big just privately. It was big for me to let go of that shame and to just finally tell people instead of holding onto the shame that I felt. But it was really big.

KING: The biggest audience you'll ever have on a television night, right?

DEGENERES: I don't know, I'll try to aim for bigger. KING: For nighttime?

DEGENERES: Yes, 46 million viewers in one night. Yes, and then I heard like in New York they had closed down restaurants and people were -- you know, you could hear cheering in the streets and... KING: Why do you think we're fascinated with that subject of a person's sexuality?

DEGENERES: I don't know?

KING: Why should it matter, one could ask the question, at all?

DEGENERES: I would love to ask that question. Why does it matter? It doesn't matter. And that's why I think that I just wanted the show -- because my character was coming out, I wanted the show to be funny, I wanted it to be poignant, I wanted it to be what people could relate to and make it funny because it's not usually funny. It's really hard and it's really sad and you're usually kicked out of your family or society or church. You know, there are a lot of people that can't do it. So I don't know why it matters. But for some reason it matters tremendously.

KING: Now part of the comeback, we're going to show a clip here. I had the honor of being a presenter at the 2001 Emmys, the Emmys in which you hosted, one of the funniest hosting jobs ever.

Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEGENERES: They can't take away our creativity, our striving for excellence, our joy. Only network executives can do that.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGENERES: I mean, I feel like I'm in a unique position as host, beause think about it, what would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was the Emmys that were postponed because of 9/11. That put you in a tougher spot. Was that one of the tough spots to be in?

DEGENERES: Oh, it was horrible, because that was the third one that we wrote. We were doing one before 9/11.

KING: For 9/18, I guess, wasn't it?

DEGENERES: No. It was before that. It was like -- or maybe right after that. Then 9/11 happened, then we were canceled. Then we wrote another one which I didn't want to do, I begged to get out of that. And they said, you have to do this. And they said, just don't make it funny.

It's like, well, you know, that's not my job. So then I wrote a serious one and then we started the war. And then so we had to cancel -- literally I was -- rehearsed all day long and was just about to go into hair and makeup and they said, the war just started.

So then we canceled that one. And then we had another one. And there were bomb-sniffing dogs going through my dressing room.

KING: Most security I ever saw in my life, going into that.

DEGENERES: Sharpshooters everywhere. I knew everything that was going on. Nobody else did. But I was aware of all the things that were going on, who was in the audience. It was so frightening to relax and to follow Walter Cronkite, and everything that I had to do, it's like it was really tough.

KING: Now what's with "Oh God", You're going to be George Burns?

DEGENERES: All right. Let's put it that way.

KING: Give me the history of this.

DEGENERES: Yes. We were looking for a movie for me to do. And I really had no interest in doing one unless it was exactly the right thing. My manager said, what if you remake "Oh God" and you play God, you play the George Burns part? And I thought that was hilarious.

KING: We say remake it, a similar script, you help a grocery store clerk?

DEGENERES: No. Not at all. No. So it's based on -- it's loosely based on. It's going to be more current about -- in commenting more about -- my last special, "Here & Now", comments on technology and what has happened. And my take on technology is it has gotten out of hand and we've lost what's important, which is silence and communication, and no one talks anymore. Everybody is on cell phones. And I think if I'm going to play God, it's going to be sort of that take on what is going on, what has happened with...

KING: What went wrong?

DEGENERES: Yes. Sort of. There's a lot that has gone wrong. But it has to be funny.

KING: Will God be gay?

DEGENERES: No. No.

KING: I mean, you could see you doing that, too, in the modern world, no?

DEGENERES: Not really. Not really. I mean, I think that it's not going to be -- first of all, I think that would make it very political. It's political enough that God is a woman or that anyone is playing. I mean, when George Burns did it, they got upset -- you know, "they," I don't know who "they" are...

KING: This Jewish guy that was God.

DEGENERES: He was Jewish, very upset because someone Jewish was playing God. It's a movie, you know? So it's like -- and I'm a woman which is already going to be something that people are going to be up in arms about. So it's just -- it's not really about -- it's not going to be about anything about sexual orientation, it's going to be about what's funny with people.

KING: Are you shooting it now?

DEGENERES: No. I'm doing my talk show every day. We start in June if we can get the writer on board, we're compiling a list of screenwriters.

KING: Who else is in it, anyone cast?

DEGENERES: We haven't -- until we write it and until figure out what it is, we can't cast it. So I have some ideas.

KING: Any director?

DEGENERES: No. We're hoping -- we're trying to...

KING: So far, it's just you, right, is that what you're saying?

DEGENERES: All right. It's not going to happen, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I'm pressing in there now because...

DEGENERES: So far it's just -- we just closed the deal. So they didn't want to make a deal with anybody else until we decided for sure it's going to happen.

KING: Ellen DeGeneres, we're going to your phone calls with this multi-talented lady who's on top. Your calls next. Don't go away.

(MUSIC PLAYING: "DISCO INFERNO")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEGENERES: Because I don't want to harp on it because you're private about it, but you had some horseplay with Coldplay.

GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTOR: Resulting in.

DEGENERES: Resulting in a little tiny baby that's going to come.

PALTROW: That's right. JIM CARREY, ENTERTAINER: It's part of the trick! It's part of the trick!

Here's what...

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: The man is not wound up too tight?

DEGENERES: Oh man, I was scared to death. I thought he cracked his head open.

KING: He is unique.

DEGENERES: Yes. Jim Carrey.

KING: To say the least. Our guest is Ellen Degeneres. We're going to include -- you were just telling me you have a contract for five years and you wouldn't mind if it went forever?

DEGENERES: I would love for it to go -- easily, I could see doing this for another 10 or 15 years?

KING: Why?

DEGENERES: I love it. I feel like I'm the most fortunate person. I mean, everything I've done has led me to this job, you know, being a comedian and just everything I've done.

KING: It's nice to have a job to feel like -- I have that, where you feel you have the best gig. I mean, what could be a better gig than this?

DEGENERES: Nothing could be better than this for me. I mean, a sitcom was always like, yes it was great, but you're playing the same character over and over. This, I get to be myself. I don't have to be funny all the time. I can just have a conversation. If I'm funny, that's great, too. It's -- it's fun.

KING: And the money's pretty good?

DEGENERES: the money's find.

KING: From Marie, Ontario, Hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. Good evening Ellen.

DEGENERES: Good evening to you.

CALLER: I would like to ask you what's your most -- you funniest or your most memorable moment on your talk show so far?

KING: The one we just showed wasn't bad.

DEGENERES: Yes, there have been a few -- there was one that no one saw and then we replayed it, I fell, that was -- it wasn't funny, it was embarrassing, but it turned out to be funny. It's a good lesson to remember that even though something is painful, it will be funny at some point. There are things people say or things that I say, that I don't know what I'm saying, and I am sorry afterwards. I don't know if...

KING: When you say nobody saw, what do you mean nobody saw it?

DEGENERES: I was walking off, and we had been doing fake snow, it was Christmas, and fake snow was dropping, and I slipped and fell really hard. Then we got this telestrator, which we call a "Looky- Lou" (ph) out of it, so we can look back and look at things and market. So, I don't know -- I'm sure that she was asking because she had one, I should have asked her. Is she gone?

KING: Gone.

DEGENERES: Sorry.

KING; You still do stand-up, though, right?

DEGENERES: No.

KING: "Here and Now" is stand-up isn't?

DEGENERES: It's my last special. I haven't done -- since that special, that's probably my last HBO special that I'll ever do.

KING: Don't you miss that?

DEGENERES: No.

KING: Standing on stage making people laugh?

DEGENERES: I do it everyday.

KING: Yes, but not with guests, just you.

DEGENERES: No, it's me and the audience. I come out and I do about, you know, three or five minutes...

KING: Yes, but you don't an hour.

DEGENERES: It's better. I get to come out and do three to five minutes of stand-up and it's brand new every single day. When you're doing the tour, you're doing the same material every night. So, you know this is...

KING: You don't miss that at all.

DEGENERES: No.

KING: Arcata, California, with Ellen -- Ellen -- Ellen DeGeneres. I've got the trial on my mind, that's tomorrow night. What do we got tomorrow night, the women of court TV.

Ellen DeGeneres for Arcata -- for Arcata, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Ellen. I'm a huge fan of yours. And I was wondering, it would make my day if you could do a Dory voice and a Dory quote or something?

DEGENERES: A Dory voice and quote?

CALLER: Yes.

KING: Come on, let's hear Dory's voice.

DEGENERES: Well, it's basically this voice. There's nothing really -- because I asked if they were -- but I'll, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. That -- I'm Dory, what's your name. That's my voice.

KING: Did you think -- you knew they were Pixar and you know that's a big hit.

Did you think it would be as huge as it was?

DEGENERES: No. I thought, that I would be the one to jinx it. Because everything I had done so far movie-wise was not a huge hit. So, I thought this was the one Pixar film, and if it doesn't do well, then am the common denominator.

KING: What did you think when you saw it?

DEGENERES: It was gorgeous. It's smart and it's funny, and it's beautiful.

KING: And it looks great.

DEGENERES: Yes. It's just, you know -- and the fact kids watch it all the time.

KING: All the time.

DEGENERES: Do your kids watch it?

KING: How about nightly?

Albuquerque, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Ellen, I love your show. I wanted to ask, I have a roommate who is just starting out performing at our local comedy club. And I wanted to ask what advice you'd give to him as far as an aspiring comic, like learning how to network and getting his name out there? DEGENERES: You know, the only thing I really recommend, if you're starting out in stand-up is to not try to copy anybody else. You can be influenced by people. I was influenced by Steve Martin and Bob Newhart and Woody Allen, but I never tried to be someone else. I always tried to be myself. And the reason people are successful is they're unique. He needs to have style of his own and the material needs to be whatever is true to his voice and his sensibility. It can't be -- and he shouldn't sellout. If somebody says to do something, if it's not true to him, don't do it no matter what.

KING: That's great advice, don't do what you're not. Don't do what your not.

DEGENERES: People will read it right away. I think people love honesty. People know that if your trying to be something your not, it's not going to last. It might get attention, but....

KING: You don't take stand on social issues -- gay marriage.

DEGENERES: No, I would love to see equal rights. I would love to see if I'm in a relationship with somebody and you spend years and years. There are a lot of people who have been together for 30 years, and I don't care what it's called. I don't really have the desire to get married. So, I don't need that word. And don't -- I just want to be able to be protected and the person I love to be protected should something happen to me, and you know, we still have the same tax breaks.

KING: Do you think the public continuously more and more aware though, that it's better than five years ago and five years ago was better than 10 years ago?

DEGENERES: In some ways. I think that there are always going to be people who, like you said, for some reason it upsets people. For some reason, it's like -- it has become where it is more acceptable because you see more television shows that have gay characters on it. But you know, until they start seeing that people are people and we shouldn't -- that's the most dangerous thing, that we all judge, and go if you're not just like me, then you're wrong. I mean, that's where we're running into trouble, seeing other people that aren't exactly like us, and we think they're wrong.

KING: You did a strong show on it, you were on this program to discuss "What If These Walls Could Talk" with Sharon Stone and the like. That was making a statement, weren't you there?

DEGENERES: Yes, you know, I guess so. It was more about, this was a couple trying to have a baby and the struggle of what it's like -- to not be able to create a baby. And what are the options?

Do you adopt? Do to a donor? And it was more of -- more of that.

KING: To Thousand Oaks, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. KING: Hi.

CALLER: Ellen, Larry, good afternoon, good evening. What I would like to know, you laid out the plans of your show and the movie. My question of what next is kind of moot, but what's your wildest dream?

What is the brass ring for Ellen? What would be on your death bed that you said, I did this?

What is the brass ring for you?

KING: Good question.

DEGENERES: Yes, it's a great question. My wildest dream, I was going to go some place else, but I realized that was my own personal life. My wildest dream has come true. To do everything that I've done, and then to lose everything and then to have another chance, to come back, because not too many people get a second chance. And not too many women 45-years-old get a second chance. So, for me to not only be working again, but to be accepted and to feel so embraced, you know, I didn't think I would have this again. So I would say I probably am experienced -- experiencing my wildest dream.

KING: Second chances are rare.

DEGENERES: Yes.

KING: Why?

DEGENERES: You know, I don't know. I think that that's a wonderful ability -- I think one of the best qualities anyone can have is forgiveness. And that is the ultimate forgiveness to say, she's doing something else, lets at least -- that's all I wanted, was when I had the show, just watch it once. Don't judge what I is, don't have a preconceived idea of what this talk show is. It's not political, it's not -- there's no agenda. It's light positive funny show. This is who I am. And if people just see, maybe I'll have a shot at this.

KING: Did you guest on O'Donnell -- Rosie O'Donnell Show?

DEGENERES: Yes, I've been on Rosie's show a few times.

KING: What do you think happened there?

DEGENERES: I don't know. You know, maybe she didn't -- I don't really know Rosie that well. I mean, I've spoken to her, but we're not really friends. We don't, like -- so I don't really know and I couldn't say what her...

KING: But the show was top of the world, right?

DEGENERES: Yes, it was, it was.

KING: So it has to instill in any performer the fear that that could happen to me, too.

DEGENERES: More than anybody I know what can happen to me. I know every single day that something can happen to take this away. And that's why I think it's so important to be honest with your viewers every single day, because if you're not honest, you know. And that's why when I did come out, I thought I was just being honest. And then my honesty was what kind of -- you know, I think it was coupled with a lot of things. But so if -- now, I'm honest. That's all I can be. And I hope that they take me...

KING: There are a lot of critics who say, don't be phony, and then they get mad at you when you're honest. So you're in that, that's catch-22, the ultimate.

Ellen DeGeneres, "The Funny Thing Is", a very funny book. This is a funny book.

DEGENERES: Thank you.

KING: It's coming out in trade paperback any minute, maybe now.

DEGENERES: It just -- seconds.

KING: Any second. We'll be back with more calls right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "FINDING NEMO")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you talking about? You're showing me which way the boat went.

DEGENERES: A boat? Hey! I have seen a boat. It passed by not too long ago. It went this way, it went this way! Follow me!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute! What is going on? You already told me which way the boat was going!

DEGENERES: I did? Oh, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this is some kind of practical joke, it's not funny. And I know funny. I'm a clown fish.

DEGENERES: No, it's not. I know it's not. I'm so sorry. See, I suffer from short-term memory loss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Short-term memory loss. I don't believe this.

DEGENERES: No, it's true. I forget things almost instantly, it runs in my family. I mean, at least I think it does.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That's fun. You're fun. DEGENERES: We're trying to make people's dreams come true and Sean Hayes wanted to run the agility course that a dog did.

KING: Kansas City, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Ellen.

DEGENERES: Hi.

CALLER: Love your show.

DEGENERES: Thank you.

CALLER: I saw you on tour last year for your -- the one you were doing, "Here & Now," and you did a great singing episode. Are you -- a little spot there, are you ever going sing on your show more like you do your dancing?

DEGENERES: Occasionally, I will sing a note or two. I'm not really a singer. You mean when I was doing "Shoop"?

CALLER: Maybe could you do a little bit now?

KING: Where did you see her sing?

CALLER: In Kansas City when she came and did her "Here & Now" tour.

DEGENERES: When I was on tour, when I did a...

KING: You sang in "Here & Now"?

DEGENERES: Well, I didn't really sing. I wouldn't call it singing. But you know, it was rapping to a little Salt N Pepa "Shoop." It's -- you know, now you have seen it and you see it on the DVD. You get the DVD "Here & Now" and you'll see me rapping on "Shoop.

KING: Chattanooga, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Ellen. I'm a big fan of your show.

DEGENERES: Thank you.

CALLER: And I was just wondering -- I mean, you're such a positive, strong, role model for a lot of people, what would it take for you to run for president, because lord knows we need someone honest?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Would you ever go for political office?

DEGENERES: I would never -- it would take -- there would be nothing to get me to run for president. I don't even understand how anyone would want that job at all. Although I would be able to play golf which I don't seem to have time now. So I think...

KING: Are you a golfer?

DEGENERES: No. But it seems like you have to be if you're president.

KING: Rockford, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Ellen, I'm a huge fan. You're one of my role models. And I'm a very strong believer in Jesus Christ. And I was wondering if you believe in God at all?

DEGENERES: Yes. Of course I believe in God, absolutely.

KING: But what do you make of the teachings that deal with your sexual proclivity, where it is a sin and you see these ministers say it's damned from hell, as if you chose this?

DEGENERES: Yes. I find it interesting. I was raised to believe that God is love. That is what I saw in church every day as -- every Sunday is God is love and God is good. And I don't associate judgment and -- with love. I just don't -- I believe in compassion, I believe in love and I believe in people being as good as they can to one another, so I don't really pay attention to the people that have those beliefs. And that's their right to have those beliefs and...

KING: Do you get angry at them?

DEGENERES: I used to. I used to get angry. But then I don't think I'm being any better than if they're angry at me and I'm angry at them, what does that do? So now I just feel like everybody has a right to have their opinion.

KING: How do you maintain your nicety? Really, I'm not kidding. You've been wrapped around a lot. You're into things that people are bewildered about and you remain accessible, nice. Do you have to work at that really?

DEGENERES: Not really.

KING: You like people?

DEGENERES: I do like people. Sometimes I don't like people. Sometimes I get really frustrated and sometimes I don't understand how people that aren't nice are liked and admired and I think they don't seem like they're really being honest or really being nice and yet everybody is -- I don't understand that. But I think I am -- you know -- I think I'm a good person, you know, I really do.

KING: I think you are, too. Hagerstown, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hi. This is Chris. Hi, Ellen.

DEGENERES: Hi, Chris.

CALLER: Hi. We're big supporters of yours no matter what. We love you. And I was just wondering, you were talking about second chances and we heard that you have a new partner and we were wondering how life was going with her?

DEGENERES: Life is very, very good. We've been together for four years this month which is -- I can't believe it has been four years. But life is really good and I'm in a nice quiet relationship that seems...

KING: Is she in the business? DEGENERES: She's a photographer. Yes, so she used to be an actress.

KING: Did you meet with her taking pictures of you?

DEGENERES: No, no. We met through friends. I had met her years before. I had met her through -- we have mutual friends. But I was always in relationships and she was in relationships. And now we met when we were single and it has been four years.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Ellen DeGeneres, the host of the Emmy-winning "Ellen DeGeneres Show", star of the Emmy-nominated HBO comedy special "Here & Now," "New York Times" best-selling author, soon to be seen in "Oh God", she has got it all going for her. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, I bet you have got a pretty smile.

DEGENERES: No. I appreciate it but -- really, you think? I mean, no, I have given it a lot of thought and I'm comfortable with my decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I just think it's a shame when a pretty girl like you doesn't want to smile.

DEGENERES: Oh, for God's sake, would you just take the picture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEGENERES: How many tickets you writing there? It's not like I don't have a driver's license. I have two. It's kind of a funny story. I was at the DMV, Department of Motor Vehicles. Of course you know that, a big strong handsome policeman like you. Tall, too. Your crotch comes right up to my window. Hello!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's from the DVD out now, from the original show, right? Which had a different name, right?

DEGENERES: Yes. That was "Ellen" but the first season was called, "These Friends of Mine" and it's now out on DVD.

KING: As "Ellen."

DEGENERES: As "Ellen," yes.

KING: Chicago, hello. CALLER: Hi, Ellen, I love your show, it's the best talk show since Phil Donahue.

DEGENERES: Thanks.

CALLER: I was wondering what was the worst job that you've ever had or the job you've hated the most like since you were ten or whatever?

DEGENERES: My first job, I actually liked my first job, I was driving cars out of a car wash, you know, once the car comes out, you get in and you wipe it. That was exciting to me to drive the nice cars and wipe down the -- with Emerald. The worst job I ever had and I lasted a half a day was I worked in a glove factory in Atlanta, Texas. It was horrible.

KING: What was your job?

DEGENERES: I was checking for too many fingers or a hole or something and gloves would just go by. Just being enclosed. Everything I did that was a 9:00 to 5:00 job I hated. Being in an office. I worked in a law firm. I was a court runner. I just hated being in a office.

KING: Although that episode in the glove factory sounds like an "I Love Lucy" show.

DEGENERES: It wasn't funny like "I Love Lucy" but yes.

KING: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Ellen. Who would you most like to interview and why?

DEGENERES: During commercial breaks, I'm interviewing Larry here because I'm fascinated...

KING: I'm testing for the show.

DEGENERES: I'm fascinated by his life. People that, you know, I've said before I'd like to have Bono on. I think Bono would be interesting. He seems like an amazing real person.

KING: Are you after, are you hunting down people?

DEGENERES: We have been fortunate enough that people are hunting us down. We have everybody that you can imagine. And the only reason we don't have him is because they're not in town.

KING: Have you had anyone say, no, absolutely no, I will never go on.

DEGENERES: Not that I know of. Maybe they're protecting me from knowing that. But no, no one's never said no.

KING: Are you going to do another book? DEGENERES: No. That was my second book and they both did very well. Maybe later but not for a while.

KING: So, one more movie, no more stand-up, no more books?

DEGENERES: No.

KING: The "Ellen DeGeneres Show" is it?

DEGENERES: I hope it's enough. I hope that it's an entertaining one-hour show that people look forward to. I don't want people to burn out on me. I don't want to do stuff where people start getting tired of seeing me. It's enough. An hour a day of me is plenty for people.

KING: Do you like the fact that your relationship is known, have you gotten accustomed to that now, we show the picture? Some people want privacy more.

DEGENERES: We do have our privacy. We're a very private couple. We go to events together just like anyone would go with their husband or wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, we go out together. We're a very private couple, very quiet and we're very happy. I'm fine with that. I feel like I'm in a very safe secure place for the first time ever.

KING: Does she come to your show?

DEGENERES: She comes as often as she can. She's been busy. She had her first solo show -- her art exhibit and she just directed a short film. So she's been really busy.

KING: Great seeing you, dear.

DEGENERES: Thank you very much.

KING: Nothing but continued success. You deserve it.

DEGENERES: Thank you.

KING: Ellen DeGeneres, the host of the Emmy Award-winning "Ellen DeGeneres Show" with 12 nomination in one season and the "New York Times" bestseller, her book, "The Funny Thing Is" is coming out -- may have just come out in trade, paperback. I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night, Bill Maher returns. We always welcome Mr. Maher and his keen observations on passing scene. As we like to say, he's never dull.

Stay tuned now for more news around the clock on your most trusted name in news, CNN. Good night.

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


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