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Interview With George, Ann Lopez

Aired June 9, 2005 - 21:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need a kidney. You can give me the gift of life.

GEORGE LOPEZ, COMEDIAN: You know, Angie's kind of in charge of the gift-giving.


LARRY KING, HOST "LARRY KING LIVE": Tonight, comedy star George Lopez, told that he was being buried alive by a genetic disorder, and then his wife saves his life, giving him the ultimate gift, a part of herself, her kidney. An hour of love, sacrifice, sharing, and healing, and some laughs, with George and Ann Lopez, next, on LARRY KING LIVE.

Great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE on this Thursday night, George Lopez, the star of ABC's "George Lopez," currently gearing up for its fourth season. The new film, "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D" will open tomorrow, and we hear it is incredible. We'll talk about that later.

His wife, Ann Lopez, is a TV producer and a life-saving kidney donor to him. In April of this year, George and Ann revealed a secret they've been keeping for years, that George had life-threatening kidney disease and that he received a kidney transplant from Ann.

Why was it a secret?

G. LOPEZ: Well, I think, importantly that we have a 9-year-old daughter that we didn't want to alarm, you know, that her father was sick and was winding down. I think in keeping it kind of quiet, we did -- we told her a couple days before the surgery, Larry.

But also, you know, I didn't want to shut production down of the show, because, you know, you have 170 people who rely and their families rely on you. We kind of knew and had formatted that April 19th was the day we were going to do it. Unless I actually hit rock bottom, I wasn't going to stop production, so that -- what I say is that, you know, I wasn't going to stop until it stopped me. So, I mean, I had that determination because it had been something I wanted to do my whole life, and I wasn't about to pull off the side of the road when things had been going so well, just because of my health.

KING: Tell me how you discovered something was wrong. G. LOPEZ: Well, I mean, it goes back to my childbirth. I mean, I was born with this thing, but what happened was that I had tore my Achilles in the middle of the '90s and I was taking over-the-counter drugs, you know, for pain. And what happened -- what they were doing was, my kidneys were already in distress and that just affected them to where it started giving me a dull pain, and I was literally bent over. We were in Florida, and Ann says, when you get back, go see the doctor. So, he ran some tests, ran a creatinine level check and came in with the bad news, and he said, not only...

KING: What was the news?

G. LOPEZ: Not only do you have kidney disease, but you're progressed to the point where you're going to need a transplant by the time you're 45, and I was just, really, just blown away. And Ann says, I'll give you one of mine, and I'm like Ann, the guy's just telling me that I'm going to die, be quiet.

ANN LOPEZ, WIFE, KIDNEY DONOR: He told me to be quiet.

KING: Wait a minute, was it cancer of the kidney?


G. LOPEZ: No, you know what, I was born with a narrowing of the ureters. You know, most people drain urine this way, and I did this way, like, kind of a wine glass. But, over the years of holding it in and having the urine back into my kidneys, I had become toxic.

A. LOPEZ: The flow was restricted, so it was going back into the kidney and making the kidney toxic.

G. LOPEZ: I was toxic my whole life. My whole life. Just since April 19, I'm not toxic, and I'm a completely different person, Larry. It's almost like I don't feel Latino anymore, if you can understand that.

KING: What do you mean by -- we'll get to the whole process -- what do you mean by feeling buried alive?

G. LOPEZ: If you had your longest day and you got home and you put the key in the door and said, man, this is the longest day. I'm so tired, I can't wait to go to bed. I felt like that in the morning. I mean, literally, I felt like I was climbing out of being buried alive. I just didn't have any energy. Two days into last season, I went home and I told Ann, I'm not gonna make it through the end of the year. This was two days into rehearsal.

So, everything was a labor. Every show, every day, every situation, every appearance, but, what it was, was, I had to perform and get myself up the whole year, and like I said, I knew that we were going to meet with the transplant team at Cedars and I knew that they were going to take care of me. I didn't know Ann was going to match, but when that happened in February, it completely alleviated all the pressure that I felt, and...

KING: How were you able to work feeling that way?

G. LOPEZ: Well, I think you do what you have to do, man. When this is what you do, I think -- and being a standup and being on stage was just being free. I felt alive. I almost felt, you know, like I was in heaven, because...

A. LOPEZ: He has super will, I'll tell you that much. I think that's really what got him through because he was exhausted.

G. LOPEZ: I grew up poor, and, you know, I was making some cash, Larry. That's the bottom line. When a Mexican gets a job, he ain't giving it up because he don't feel bad. We may not go to work when we feel good, but I'm not staying home because I feel bad.

KING: So, you were in pain, doing the TV show, doing the standup.

G. LOPEZ: Oh yes. I don't think people will know exactly the level. I don't even think Ann knows. I used to go to my dressing room and just sit in the chair and think...

KING: What was the pain? In the -- in the...

G. LOPEZ: It was overall, man. I was overall just winding down. I mean, I used to urinate like a racehorse, you know, that had been given salt tablets. I mean, it just was the worst thing ever. And, I'd sit in this chair, and once I stopped, I had to remotivate myself to get up. So, once I was going and rehearsing and doing -- I was OK. If I went to lunch, I always ate light. I started to live defensively.

I told Larry David, and Larry David goes, oh, that's interesting, living defensively. I lived defensively, where I was just living to make it to April 19 and didn't want anything bad to happen.

KING: Why that date?

G. LOPEZ: Well, why don't you tell that story, Ann? Why April 19?

A. LOPEZ: I actually consulted a psychic, who...

KING: Come on.

A. LOPEZ: I did. I did. Iris Saltsman (ph) in Miami.

KING: I know Iris.

A. LOPEZ: You know Iris?

KING: Iris Saltsman -- I know Iris very well.

G. LOPEZ: All right, get to the point. Don't linger.

A. LOPEZ: Anyway, she -- I told her I need a date for surgery, and she said that for us, for the month of April, April 19th or 20th, but April 19th was better, and when we told the doctor, he said, well, that's my birthday and not only that, it's a Tuesday, and they only do transplants on Tuesday and a Friday. So, it kind of worked out.

KING: So, what did you think...

G. LOPEZ: And I got out of the hospital four days later and that was my birthday.

KING: What did you think when she said, a psychic said?

G. LOPEZ: You know, when a woman is giving you part of her body and she wants to see a psychic, you say, go ahead, see two of them, I don't care. Go to a palmist, right off the freeway.

KING: Now, tell me what happens when they transplant. First of all, are you lying together? Give me the scene.

A. LOPEZ: No, no. I went into surgery...

KING: How did they check that you were a match?

A. LOPEZ: Oh, well, that was a long process. I always knew I was a match though. I could kind of -- maybe all wives think that, but I just -- from the moment, I...

KING: Even though you're not Mexican.

A. LOPEZ: No, I'm not. I'm Cuban. I'm Cuban, but, you know, I just always felt like I was going to be a match and I never really worried about it. What I worried about was him getting sicker and how ill he was getting.

KING: So, how do they check if you're a match?

A. LOPEZ: You go in for a lot of blood tests, a lot of...

KING: Not one test?

A. LOPEZ: Oh, no, we were in there for -- I was going for about four months, and -- every week -- and lots of blood, lots of urine, lots of prodding, lots of...

G. LOPEZ: Tissue.

A. LOPEZ: ...tissue samples, CAT scans.


KING: Other than the two of you and the doctors, who knew you had this condition?

A. LOPEZ: My mother, who's a physician -- retired physician.

G. LOPEZ: She told her mom. I wasn't that happy about that, but she told her And then, my manager Ron, and just a few selected people. The woman who plays my mother on the show, Belita (ph) knew, because I needed a place where I could go talk to somebody.

KING: It's funny it didn't get out, (INAUDIBLE).

G. LOPEZ: Well, you know, the thing with us is, you know, you want to say differences in culture, but some people, some cultures are very forthcoming. I mean, I remember I was at a coffee shop and this woman was talking about having a hysterectomy and that she hoped to be gardening by the end of the month, and I'm sitting there going, if anybody finds out about this, they're not going to find out from me, so...

A. LOPEZ: It was very cloak-and-dagger at Cedars.

KING: What would have been so terrible?

A. LOPEZ: Well, for our daughter, our daughter.

KING: So, she would have found out, and...

A. LOPEZ: You know, two -- two parents going under the knife. We just wanted to protect her and keep her away from that and to ruminate that Daddy's ill and, you know, to see it in the press, if it had gotten in the press, and we were really trying to protect her more than anything.

G. LOPEZ: But also, for me, if you shut production down of a show because you're not well, then they can bypass and look over for another show to take its place. So, I had worked so hard at this show, Larry. It is my life. I'm devoted to it. I've recommitted myself to it, and they're not going to take it from me because I have bad kidney function. I mean, it's going to take more than that.

KING: We'll discuss the surgery, what happens, what's entailed, in a minute. Our guests are George Lopez and Ann Lopez. George's film, "The adventure of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D" opens tomorrow. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's still one last hope. You do have another son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And George is AB negative. Remember? You remember. During the blood drive. Remember? During the blood drive, the blond nurse, she wanted you to give more blood because you were so rare.

G. LOPEZ: Well, I don't know about a kidney, but who wants a drum stick?



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) G. LOPEZ: When Carmen sees how tough being an adult is, she'll be begging to be a kid again. Maybe we can even break her down to the good years. How old was she that summer I really liked her?


G. LOPEZ: She got her tonsils out and she whispered the whole summer.

"Daddy, can you read to me?" I can't hear you, honey, go to bed.


KING: We're back with George and Ann Lopez. Why didn't you have dialysis?

G. LOPEZ: You know, I was right up to the point, Larry, I was 18 percent kidney function in both kidneys. So they're literally, like let's say your kidneys, your normal kidneys are this size. I had two raisins that were connected that were still pumping urine, so the doctors said, when you stop making urine, please come in. But I got right up until the level of dialysis. I never, fortunately for me, I never had to do it. And I had preventive, you know, live donor transplant. So this was my angel, saved my life.

KING: Did you ever think you were going to buy it?

G. LOPEZ: I did. I did. I used to think that -- I'd lay in bed, and I don't think I'd tell Ann, but I thought, you know, my daughter's 9 years old, I'm not going to be able to see her graduate from high school, I'm not going to, you know, walk her down the aisle and stuff like that. So I thought about -- I thought about it a lot.

A. LOPEZ: He did. And I would have to tell him, no, you're going to be fine, you're going to be fine.

KING: What happens in the procedure?

A. LOPEZ: In the procedure, they took me in first, and we had operating rooms side by side. And so my team...

KING: Is he in his operating room?

A. LOPEZ: No, not yet. His team -- my team...

KING: So where were you?

G. LOPEZ: I'm in a holding tank (INAUDIBLE) at Cedars in a little room there with...

KING: So you're not in a hospital room?

G. LOPEZ: No, not in a hospital room yet. I'm with a lady that is putting on way too much makeup.

A. LOPEZ: So anyway I go into my operating room with my surgical team. And then when they were 45 minutes away from harvesting my kidney, then George would start his operation.

KING: Harvesting means?

A. LOPEZ: Harvesting means taking my kidney out and bringing it to his operating room so it could go inside his body.

G. LOPEZ: Let me tell you how scared I was sitting in that room. I was in there maybe five minutes by myself before they came and got me. And then that's when the rubber met the road. Larry, I was scared to death, man. I was scared to death.


G. LOPEZ: Of what -- you know, we've known April 19th for so long. And now here it was, and they were going, let us prep you and they put the I.V. in and you change into the gown. And there you are. I know Ann's already under, and she's gone in another room. I was scared.

KING: You were not scared?

G. LOPEZ: I was scared to death.

A. LOPEZ: Not scared at all.

G. LOPEZ: Scared to death.

KING: Why not?

A. LOPEZ: Because I knew I was giving him life. I mean, what...

KING: But for yourself, possibly?

A. LOPEZ: No. Well, you know, maybe because I've been around hospitals my whole life. Both my parents were physicians. So maybe I'm used to hospitals and things. But you know, the procedure, it's not like it used to be. It's arthroscopic now, so it used to be a very big procedure where they would have to go, you know, cut through...

KING: Oh, they don't make a big scar...

A. LOPEZ: ... make a big scar. Now I have a four-inch incision above my belly button, three little scars on the left side, where they went in arthroscopically. I was in the hospital for two days. Easier than giving birth to a baby. Easier than when I broke my ankle. So I have to tell you...

KING: Much after pain?

A. LOPEZ: About three days of -- you know, they pump your stomach with C-2. So there's gas pains. I now know what a colicky baby feels like. And a lot of jokes from our daughter. But that's about it. That's about it.

KING: Did you tell her on April 19th? A. LOPEZ: We told her on April 17th, two days before, and we wrote a book with her, and told her what was going on. And we did it in a very lighthearted way.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) be in the hospital?

A. LOPEZ: No. She came out and nagged to see me. She couldn't see George that night, but she did see me the very first night.

KING: You're lying there, now what happens?

G. LOPEZ: I'm lying there, man, and I see the doctor, I go, happy birthday, are you ready to do some good work? And he's like, yes. And then next thing I know, I go under, I mean, literally like that. And I wake up and I'm just hammered. I mean, I feel like a hammered sheet of metal, just in the most pain, and I had the driest mouth, Larry, just I'm laying there and they're yelling -- I went under an assumed name, Tom Ace, because I didn't want it to get out. So they're yelling Mr. Ace, Tom, wake up? And I'm kind of going, why are they yelling at this dude, man? Let this guy wake up. And then I realized, oh, that's me.

So I come out and just, they get a Q-tip and wet my lips, and it's just almost like if I was standing under a waterfall. That's how dry I was. But I was just in the most pain I'd ever been in my life. And then the next day, I felt incredible. And then Thursday, I felt better than I'd ever felt in my life, a day and a half later.

But then the best part was the guy was mopping, and they go Tom Ace, hey, loco, that's George Lopez. He's mopping.

KING: Now, is it immediately better?

G. LOPEZ: Yes, immediately.

KING: You're urinating fine? Does...

G. LOPEZ: I'm urinating. I have a catheter in, which...

KING: How long did that stay?

G. LOPEZ: That stayed in for four days. And when I came out, I looked to see how long it was, and I probably shouldn't have, because it was -- you know, looked like a guy was watering his grass in the front yard.

KING: But you didn't feel it going in?

G. LOPEZ: I didn't feel it going in.

KING: You feel it going out.

G. LOPEZ: But I felt it coming out. And let me tell you, I had a stent put in too. I had a stent that was in -- that was at the incision of the ureter and the bladder there, and that had to come out at Cedars. And let's just say I medicated myself pretty much then. You could have maybe drove a mini Cooper through me and I wouldn't have felt it.

KING: I thought stents stay in.

G. LOPEZ: That one was just to make sure that the incision would stay and heal, and then it came out.

KING: Now, do you feel any different with one kidney?


KING: Not at all?

A. LOPEZ: No, not at all.

KING: All your waste goes fine. You don't...

A. LOPEZ: Everything's fine. Of course, it was major surgery. So you know, I was tired. And what it is is that both kidneys are lazy, and they work at 50 percent each. So when you take one, that one has to say, oh, OK, I have to work at 100 percent. So it takes about two months to get the kidney to work at 100 percent. We're at seven weeks now. And I'm feeling really good.

But the first month, I was tired. I was tired.

KING: How did they know which kidney to take out of you?

G. LOPEZ: You know, they left them in, because they were so atrophied that they were eventually going to disappear. So I have a kidney, it's right here in front, almost like a glove compartment kidney, you know. It's right here in front. It works fine. And the thing about Ann was that 20 percent of the people in the world, Larry, have an extra artery that goes to their kidney that pumps double blood. Well, that's what Ann has. So my surgery took a little bit longer because they had to find another artery to connect this kidney. So I have a turbo kidney. It's GPS, I got the whole big sound system kidney, and you know, I'm part Cuban now, and I got a female part in me, which is, you know, the peeing sitting down is what I'm getting used to now.

KING: What at all do you feel different about?

A. LOPEZ: You know...

KING: Nothing?

A. LOPEZ: I felt -- physically, I don't feel any different. As a person, obviously, I feel like I helped my husband, and I'm very excited about that. And I feel good about that, but I also want to help other people. I mean, this operation is so easy. If people would just realize how simple this operation is. That's why...

KING: You fill out a donor card.

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely.

A. LOPEZ: Absolutely. Absolutely.

G. LOPEZ: Or even help somebody who's on the list, if you match, you know, become a live donor, like what Ann -- Ann literally saved my life because we did live donor transplants. And I don't think that's the awareness, and it needs to be raised, is family members can save other family members' lives. And even not even family members. People with the medication now can save other people's lives.

A. LOPEZ: Well, my mother was, you know, she is a physician, but she's Cuban. And the Latino culture, it's not anything religious, it's just in our culture that you don't give away your parts. And my mother was very against me doing this.

KING: Really? Even though she's a doctor?

A. LOPEZ: Oh, yes, even though she's a doctor. She was very against me doing this.

G. LOPEZ: I knew she didn't like me.

A. LOPEZ: No, it wasn't until I came home from the hospital, George was still in the hospital, and he called her and he said, you know, she saved my life. And after that phone call, she looked at me and said, she said, "I get it now, I understand."

G. LOPEZ: Well, here's the thing...

KING: Let me take a break and we'll come back and pick up with how George feels right after this.


G. LOPEZ: You know, most families talking about good (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Well, I graduated from Stanford. And I have a very successful law career. Mexicans, hey, tell her about that time I got electrocuted, hey? Tell her. Tell her! Tell her! Hey, my feet were wet, and I touched the wire. And you know what? Hey, I got up, hey, I got up. And I didn't spill my beer.




G. LOPEZ: You want to be treated like an adult?


G. LOPEZ: OK. The rent's due the 1st.


G. LOPEZ: $300. You have to pay for your own phone, do your own laundry, and you know what? You have to take the bus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fine. If that's what it takes to get you off my back. I've already got a job. I'll just take an extra shift.

G. LOPEZ: OK. Then you're our tenant, OK? Any problems with the building? Bring it up with the super. He lives in the next room and he's 11.


KING: We're back with the Lopezes. Their daughter -- what's her name?

G. LOPEZ: Mayan.

KING: Mayan. She is here, she said you could have told me.

A. LOPEZ: Yeah, she says, I don't know why they're worried about me. I wasn't worried.

G. LOPEZ: Well, here's news for her. If I need another one, I'm going to her. I'm going to her first.

KING: Do you feel either physically or emotionally different?

G. LOPEZ: I feel both. I mean, I feel like, two days after, when we got home, I went into a room and I was crying. And she says, what's the matter? And I said, thank you so much, because I feel amazing, Larry. It's almost I feel guilty I feel so good. It's reenergized. I'm pumping good blood. It's reenergized my zest for my life and career. I mean, it's improved our relationship, obviously, and my relationship with my daughter. And I'm not going to bed at 7:00. I mean, I have long, full days, and I feel great.

I get up in the morning, and I'm working out at 5:00 in the morning, and I go all day. I'll tell you, it's -- hey, if you're in bed and you want to get out, that's when you feel good. Because most of us say, well, I'm just going to lay around for another month. But I wanted to get out and get going. I'm doing standup, I'm doing, you know, the Universal Amphitheater on Sunday. And I'm going to live a full life and reconnect with my career.

KING: How soon before you knew it was a success?

A. LOPEZ: A couple of days.

G. LOPEZ: Yeah, a couple of days.

A. LOPEZ: When there was no rejection.

G. LOPEZ: It accepted -- my body accepted this kidney with such zest, that there was never -- I never got a fever, I never had a -- I had a couple of mood swings with the medicine. That's why I'm taking -- there's a prednisone, is the steroid. That's why I grew this. I figured I couldn't grow hair before. So why not grow it now? And, you know, I'm fine. You know, I'm losing weight the right way and, you know.

A. LOPEZ: The year before the surgery was hard, because he was -- it was just all about getting him to do the things that he needed to do for work obligations. And so it was just, you know, he was going to bed before our daughter. So it was really difficult. He was always tired.

G. LOPEZ: The hardest part now is everywhere I go now, people always say to me, you must have to be so nice to your wife now that she's given you a kidney. And I'm thinking, you know, not as nice as I had to be before she gave me the kidney. I can pretty much do whatever I want now.

KING: It's got to feel terrific to know that you saved a life.

A. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: And for you to know she saved your life.

G. LOPEZ: I was, you know, Larry, I always thought I lived a life not worth saving. And from the time we met...

KING: Why?

G. LOPEZ: Because I grew up tough, man, and I don't have much of a family. And they all hate me, and you know, I don't talk to any of them. And I always felt neglected and overlooked, and under -- underlooked at it. I mean, I had this my whole life, man. I wet the bed as a kid. And instead of taking me to the doctor to find out what was wrong with me, I just got ridiculed by my family, you know, and I had borderline hypertension in high school, and that went undetected. And then through my 20s, I never got sick. And when I thought I was tired, I just thought I was tired. So in my 30s, I got pneumonia in '91, which was a sign of some kidney dysfunction. And then through the '90s, I was exhausted, and Ann would say rest, and I was trying to take some supplements. Everything I was doing was wrong until '97, when I found out I had kidney disease. And by then, it was too late. So it goes -- I've been neglected my whole life. And Ann is the only person who unconditionally has ever cared about me.

A. LOPEZ: Well, you know, the thing I think is so interesting is people are really looking at me as a hero, or he calls me angel. But I'm very uncomfortable with that, because, you know, I think our society, all these television shows now, you know, "The Apprentice" or "The Bachelor" -- and we're friends with the people that produce these shows and you know, and "American Idol" and "Survivor," it's all about being number one. And what's happened to our society where, you know, something -- a story like this, while it's heartwarming and wonderful, but why is it so fantastic to people? Oh, my God, I can't believe you would give a kidney to your husband. Why wouldn't I? I mean, why wouldn't I?

G. LOPEZ: Well, there's people out there -- there are probably people out there that are married, that the wives wouldn't give the husband a ride. So you know, let's be honest.

KING: Well, probably people have fear...

A. LOPEZ: Fear. KING: Giving up, will I function, you know...

G. LOPEZ: Right.

KING: ... it's a tough thing to do. But strangers do it for strangers.

A. LOPEZ: Exactly. Those are the heroes to me.

G. LOPEZ: Yes.

A. LOPEZ: Somebody to give a kidney to someone you don't know.

KING: You wrote a book, it was a "New York Times" best seller, "Why You Crying?" It's now out in paperback.

G. LOPEZ: It is. It's a very good book. It's a hard look at life, but I think if you're on the fence, you come from a bad -- I think anybody will enjoy the book, but if you are in a place where you grew up tough and you need some motivation, I'm the living, walking, breathing American dream, plus a new kidney.

KING: I want to ask you why the family deserted you.

G. LOPEZ: Yes, sir.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with George Lopez and Ann Lopez. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy anniversary!

G. LOPEZ: Oh, this is different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since you forgot our anniversary three days ago, I forgot how to make cake. You're eating dirt, vinegar and a moth.




G. LOPEZ: You promised us you weren't going to have sex.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad, I was doing Jason's laundry.

G. LOPEZ: When we go home, we're going to go to, and find out what the hell this term "doing laundry" means.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys, stop freaking out. I am actually doing his laundry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I swear we haven't done anything wrong. G. LOPEZ: Then why did you lie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, because I knew you guys would freak out if you found out Jason's parents were out of town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, what kind of parents just leave their kid alone in a house and then go off to live in another country? That can't be legal.

G. LOPEZ: No, it's not. It's called abandonment. At least that's what the cops said when they dragged my mom back from Tijuana.


KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with George Lopez, the star of ABC's "George Lopez," currently getting ready for its fourth season. He's of course on the receiving end of life-saving kidney transplant from Ann. His new film, "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D" opens in theaters tomorrow, and "Why You Crying?" is now in paperback and available.

Ann, as a TV producer, you don't produce George's show, though, do you?

A. LOPEZ: No, no, I...

G. LOPEZ: She produces me.

A. LOPEZ: I produce him, and I just produced a movie of the week that was on ABC last December for George called "Naughty or Nice."

KING: How did you meet?

A. LOPEZ: We met -- I was actually casting, and I was at Disney doing a freelance job, which was a national talent search for Latino comedians for a movie that J.J. Abrams wrote, called "Taking Care of Business." And J.J. actually wrote a Latino part. We found a Latino comedian, and they went ahead and cast Jim Belushi. So.

KING: Really? He didn't get it?


KING: Did you like him?

A. LOPEZ: Yeah, I did. So he...

G. LOPEZ: What was not to like, Larry, come on?

KING: You asked her out, George?

G. LOPEZ: I asked her out months later. I was battling myself at that point, you know.

A. LOPEZ: He asked me to go bowling. Cuban women don't bowl. So. G. LOPEZ: You know what I mean? I was battling...

KING: Only if you're Mexican, go bowling.

G. LOPEZ: You know what I mean? I bought her a beer.

KING: What happened in your life?

L. LOPEZ: Oh, man. You know, my father abandoned me at two months and my mother was not always...

KING: Ran away?

G. LOPEZ: Yeah, ran way, went back to Mexico. And my mother was not...

KING: You grew up here?

G. LOPEZ: Yeah, in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles. And my mother was not well, you know. She had epilepsy and she was illiterate and not all together. My grandparents raised me, and my grandmother was tough. You know...

KING: Do you have a family history of kidney disease?

G. LOPEZ: You know what? I think if anybody, my mom might have it. So I -- I think it's...

KING: She passed away?

G. LOPEZ: No, she's still alive. But I don't talk to her.

A. LOPEZ: (INAUDIBLE). We don't really have a...

G. LOPEZ: This is my family, you know, really. And my fans are my family.

KING: What was it like when you were 8 years old?

G. LOPEZ: Oh, it was just awful, man. It was awful. I spent all this time alone and just...

KING: Were you funny?

G. LOPEZ: I was always funny. I was always funny.

KING: You made the other kids laugh?

G. LOPEZ: Yes, I did. I was always -- you know, one thing, I was always funny. And I think something would always come to me. And I was born with -- and I think through therapy, Larry -- I used to think I was born with this gift. But what it was was, it was a way to repel pain and to repel feelings. So I put up a wall with the humor. So the humor was a wall to protect me from really being hurt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) G. LOPEZ: You see that? Slumped shoulders, dead eyes, spirit almost crushed. That's good parenting.


KING: I know that last Saturday night, the Southern California Chapter of the National Kidney Foundation had a wonderful dinner. I spoke at it, and you did a tape for it. Are you getting very involved now?

G. LOPEZ: Yes, absolutely. You know, we...

A. LOPEZ: We have our little bracelets.

G. LOPEZ: We're wearing the donate life...

KING: All my children wear them.

G. LOPEZ: ... bracelets, and I'm committed to wearing this for the rest of my life. And I've told the National Kidney Foundation that I am the guy who will raise awareness of -- and not only in our culture, but in all cultures about how important it is to donate and live donor transplants.

KING: You're asking people to do what? Just list it on your driver's license or you mean to go further?

A. LOPEZ: We are actually -- I'm trying to raise awareness as to live donation. I think there's a lot of people that don't even know very much about it.

KING: Live donation meaning what? What are you asking...

A. LOPEZ: Live donation meaning...

KING: Call up?

A. LOPEZ: Give a kidney. Give a kidney.

G. LOPEZ: Give a kidney to somebody who...

A. LOPEZ: (INAUDIBLE) someone. Don't be afraid. It's not -- I really would like to tell my story as a donor, so that we can take some fear out of this.

KING: You're asking people to just donate kidneys as you would donate $100 to...

A. LOPEZ: Sure, why not? Why not?

G. LOPEZ: Save a life, Larry.

A. LOPEZ: Save a life. Save a life.

KING: Can you give a kidney at any age?

A. LOPEZ: Yes. I think Neil Simon got one...


KING: Neil Simon got one late.

A. LOPEZ: Late, from his manager.

KING: What about the donor?

A. LOPEZ: The donor, I think it was his publicist, who was also 70. So you can.

G. LOPEZ: A couple of old dudes swapping kidneys, come on.

KING: When you go down to give a kidney, they will test you...

A. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: ... and then find someone on the list. Is there a list of...

A. LOPEZ: Yes.

G. LOPEZ: There is absolutely a list.

A. LOPEZ: There are 60,000 people on the list right now.

KING: Sixty thousand?

A. LOPEZ: Sixty thousand on a list for a kidney, and there's -- I think there's 88,000 total for liver and kidney. Yeah. It's a very big thing.

G. LOPEZ: Those are lives worth saving, Larry. Every life is worth saving.

A. LOPEZ: And I think the frightening statistics -- sorry, sweetie -- is that what we found out through the National Kidney Foundation is one out of every nine adults, 20 million Americans are walking around with chronic kidney disease, like George did. Like we have a neighbor, Ken Howard, the actor, who also had a kidney transplant...

KING: Did he?

A. LOPEZ: ... five years ago and...

G. LOPEZ: They didn't even know.

A. LOPEZ: They didn't know. They didn't even know they had chronic disease.

G. LOPEZ: They just think they're fatigued.

KING: Doesn't the pallor of your skin change?

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely.

KING: They get yellow...

A. LOPEZ: The whites of his eyes.

G. LOPEZ: Yeah. Everything. My eyes were gray. I have a picture of my daughter Mayan and I from the father/daughter dance in March. And you'll show the picture. And my eyes look -- I'm winced. And there I am with my daughter, I'm holding my daughter. And they're not these eyes. I had a big smile on my face, but my eyes are gray and tinged, and I don't look well. And the picture came after I'd had my -- the transplant, and it was obvious to me at that point that I was not well, but yet nobody really picked it up.

You know who noticed? Robert Rodriguez's wife, Elizabeth, and her sister works at Baylor, the medical center. And we were doing "Shark Boy" and we were at their house. She told -- Elizabeth told Robert that night, George isn't well. His eyes don't look well.

I feel blessed and lucky, and, you know, I feel alive for the first time in my life, Larry. I lived toxic, man. And next year, on April 19th, when I have my birthday, April 23rd, I'm going to put a big 1 on the candle, because I think I'll be 1.

KING: We'll be back with more, talk about this movie. It's kind of wild. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are my real mother and father like?

G. LOPEZ: Well, our father's easy. He ran out on mom before you were born. I didn't know him, but I tracked him down last year. I punched him in the face. He asked me for a kidney and he died.


G. LOPEZ: Oh, yeah. She's kind of hard to describe in just a few words. She's a short, bitter drunk. Actually that covers it.




G. LOPEZ: I'm going to kill you!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George, what is going on?

G. LOPEZ: I caught them in bed together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, dad, we didn't do anything.

G. LOPEZ: You are a dead man. You better think about what you're going to say to God, because you're going to meet him today! Cramp, cramp, cramp, cramp!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How could this happen? You let her dress like a tramp. You move her boyfriend into the house. You did everything right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad, I swear to God, nothing happened. It was an accident. We were listening to music and we fell asleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just so tired with football camp and the weight room, I couldn't help it. We just crashed.

G. LOPEZ: Yes, well, come over here, I'll help you sleep for a month.


KING: My guests, George Lopez and Ann Lopez.

Did you ever consider, before Ann, buying a kidney?

A. LOPEZ: Well, you can't buy kidneys.

KING: You can't?

A. LOPEZ: No, no, you cannot buy kidneys. You could not...

G. LOPEZ: You can bribe somebody. You really could...

KING: I'll give you $10,000.

A. LOPEZ: No, in fact -- well, that's, obviously, that's illegal...

G. LOPEZ: It's under the table.

A. LOPEZ: ...but also, as a donor, you go through a lot of psychological training -- psychological, not training, but psychological analysis, to make sure that you're not being coerced and that you're not being forced into giving a kidney.

In fact, you know, the great thing about being a donor is you have your own team and they are really concerned about your own health and your health and if, by any chance, there's going to be something long-term, they won't let you donate. You have to actually be approved, not only physically, but psychologically.

KING: Really?

A. LOPEZ: Oh, yes, and also, if you change your mind, they will just -- they will say, you know what, we'll just say you didn't match. So there's a lot of safety valves for the donor. You're protected.

KING: And it's illegal for you to offer money to a friend? That's illegal? Doesn't sound illegal.

G. LOPEZ: You know, it's a contribution. I don't think it's illegal. I mean, if Ann -- if Ann had not matched, there was no way I was gonna go to my family for a kidney, so I don't know where I was gonna get one. If I would've gone on the list, I probably...

KING: But there are matches, right, because you're telling people they can...

G. LOPEZ: Right. We want them to donate of their own free will, is why Ann's kicking me under the table.

KING: How many...

G. LOPEZ: But let's be realistic...

KING: Are there thousands of matches are there or are there 12 kinds of...

A. LOPEZ: No, no, well, you know, well, you have to have a certain -- I mean, there are so many things involved that -- I mean, they don't even tell you what's involved.

KING: When you go in to donate a kidney -- let's say someone watching this show goes tomorrow, donates a kidney. With that kidney, what do they do with it?

A. LOPEZ: They'll match it up, blood type, antibodies...

KING: And then find a person that fits all those bills.

A. LOPEZ: ...proteins. Fits all those and the best match will get the kidney.

KING: And, obviously, a woman can give to a man?

A. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: Can a child give to an older person?

A. LOPEZ: I don't think they like children to give until they're a certain age because obviously they need to it grow. But -- I think you have to be an adult, 18.

KING: And nothing physically feels different, other than feeling better?

G. LOPEZ: Nothing physically feels...

KING: One kidney is operating.

G. LOPEZ: One kidney is operating with two arteries, super kidney, and I'm part Cuban now. I can't wait till Castro falls.

KING: You never thought about it before. G. LOPEZ: Never thought about it before. Actually, I'm telling you, the influence of Ann, I mean -- when the runaway bride had run away, and I was golfing at Lakeside with these four guys -- five guys, actually, there were five of us -- and they were talking about how the fiance had abstained from sex and those guys were saying, what are -- it's a ridiculous. And I said, so what's wrong with that? The guy didn't want to have sex with her. You know, he wants to do it the old-fashioned way. He wants his wedding night to be special. Those guys looked at me like, who the hell are you? I go, I think that's -- I'm going to be quiet now. I think that's Ann's kidney talking.

KING: And you feel no different physically?

A. LOPEZ: No different. You know, the misnomer is that we've lost something. The thing when is, you have two kidneys, they're not operating -- they're each operating at 50 percent. So, now, even though I only have one, it's still operating at 100 percent. Just as you only have one liver, it operates at 100 percent.

KING: There's no physical feeling different?


KING: Try to talk her out of it?

G. LOPEZ: You know what? I didn't try to talk her out of it, but I did...

A. LOPEZ: He kind of talked me out of it.

G. LOPEZ: I did go up there one day and said, I really appreciate what's going to happen and I want you to know that if it were the other way around, I would absolutely do the same for you and she said, I know. So, I really would. I would do anything for her, before and after.

KING: We'll be right back with two great people, George and Ann Lopez. Don't go away.


G. LOPEZ: Drugs, Carmen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, Dad, I can explain. I didn't do any drugs.

G. LOPEZ: Let me guess. You were at the party and the drugs just happened to show up.


G. LOPEZ: Is that you talking or the monkey on your back. How many colors do you see, huh, junkie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George, stop it! George, stop it. Carmen, what really happened? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, a bunch of guys from another school came and crashed the party and started smoking pot and then the cops came and no one would admit the drugs were theirs so they brought us all in for questioning.

G. LOPEZ: OK, sweetheart. You should have said that. Now I believe you. Hurts, don't it, junkie?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honey, thank you so much for letting Daddy put up his freedom angel.

G. LOPEZ: Of course, baby. I know what that means to your dad. I would never make fun of his suffering in Cuba.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you do to Daddy's freedom nutcracker?

G. LOPEZ: I turned it into Castro. Come, see what will happen if you try to take back my island!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you give me the nutcracker!


KING: We're back with George and Ann Lopez.

A couple things before I ask about the film. You were telling me that you sweat now and you weren't able to sweat?

G. LOPEZ: Yes. You know, as a kid, these guys would be playing basketball or baseball and these guys would just be pouring in sweat and I didn't sweat, even when I was working out.

KING: That had to do with the kidney?

G. LOPEZ: Yes, being toxified, you know, it affects the sweat. I would sit, literally, up -- we have a steam shower at our house and nothing would come out. I'd be there and there'd be, maybe, a couple beads of sweat, and now I went in there -- the first time I went in there and used it, it was just pouring out, and a simple thing like sweating.

KING: What'd it feel like?

G. LOPEZ: Oh, it just felt great. I sit in there every day, three times a day.

KING: You did have some rough times in your marriage?

A. LOPEZ: Yes, we did. KING: What was the tough hurdle to overcome?

A. LOPEZ: You know, George just had a horrible childhood and he didn't -- he never saw people who loved each other. He never saw people who respected each other. He never really saw family. They never celebrated birthdays or Christmas very much. So he -- I don't think he could accept the life I was trying to give him, which was a very traditional marriage, a very traditional life, and he was fighting it.

So, he was really living kind of a double life. I mean, at home, he'd be a great husband and a great father and then he'd go on the road and he was drinking, drinking a lot, and he would come home and I'd see he was tired. Now, it could have been the kidney, but I think he was hungover, and since I didn't have anyone in my life growing up that drank, I didn't see the signs of him.

KING: How'd you stop?

G. LOPEZ: Well, she threw me out of the house. That will get your attention. So, she threw me out of the house, packed all my stuff in my Volvo by then, and it literally looked like a NASCAR from 1960s where only the driver fit. I mean, I had all my stuff packed in there, toilet paper, frying pan, all my possessions. Larry, I could literally just barely put the car into drive, it was packed with so much of my stuff.

A. LOPEZ: Never cross a Cuban woman.

KING: No baby yet?

A. LOPEZ: Yes, we had a baby.

G. LOPEZ: Yes...

A. LOPEZ: That's the only reason he got a second chance.

G. LOPEZ: And I moved to this condo that we had lived in that was bare except for half a crib that I had yet to take completely apart, and I was sleeping on a blowup mattress, and I had a VCR/TV combination on the floor, and every day I saw that half-finished crib. I thought, you know what, I'm going to blow what everybody in my life had blown, which was a family life and a chance to be good, a chance to be happy, because I can't control myself. And that's...

A. LOPEZ: Tough love, baby, tough love.

G. LOPEZ: That's when it all turned around.

KING: Talk about other things. The Jackson trial is at the jury. Was it tough for you to testify?

G. LOPEZ: Well, you know. I wanted to get my side of the story out. I met this boy at a comedy camp at the Laugh Factory. Ann had very little contact with the mother, and I saw the father a lot. My intention with him was only to help him. And the father was a little aggressive in pursuing money for this fundraiser that never happened. And we had a falling out. About the same time I fell out, Michael Jackson was coming around and was calling the kid in the middle of the night and they were staying on the phone for three hours, which I thought was odd. And I got out, man.

But I know they were enamored by Neverland and the trips there and by you know, I think Michael let them borrow a truck. And things. So I got out at the right time. But also, we invited the kid to my house and he left a wallet that had $50 in it. And we returned it to him and then the father accused me of stealing $300. That's what got me into court.

A. LOPEZ: It was like a Fellini movie. I mean, you walked in and saw these players you kind of knew, but it was very...

KING: Do you know Michael?

G. LOPEZ: I don't know Michael. That's the first time I saw him, Larry. Let me tell you, I was -- literally, he looks like an usher at the El Capitan Theater. I mean, he was dressed in this kind of Pee-Wee Herman -- I tell everybody, he dresses like the Captain and Tenille at the same time. I was blown away by his look.

KING: Do you feel sorry?

G. LOPEZ: You know what, here's -- that's a very good question. After testifying -- and he made contact with both of us and he tried to do -- he's doing his hand and he waved and he's laughed a little bit. For the next four days, I really felt sorry for his existence. I felt sorry for what he'd done to himself, I felt sorry for his childhood.

I mean, forget about what the allegations are, as a human being, I felt more compassion for him for the life he had lived. I couldn't get him out of my head four days after testifying.

KING: What about the kid? You feel sorry about the kid?

A. LOPEZ: I do. I do.

G. LOPEZ: There's trouble everywhere. Nobody wins in this thing, man. And whatever the verdict is, nobody -- there's no winner in this.

KING: We'll be back to wrap things up, our remaining moments with a great guys, the Lopezes. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you feel up there?

G. LOPEZ: Well, you know, I think genetically Latinos are built with the gene that makes you comfortable in court. I was just there to state the facts. So I know the facts. And, you know, I remembered as best I could. And I tried to do a credible job.

You know, my job wasn't one for the defense or the prosecution. My job was just to get my side of the story out and to tell the truth as I knew it.




G. LOPEZ: Well, well, well, if it isn't Shark Boy and Lava Girl. What are you doing halting my endless fun coaster and infiltrating my lair?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you bringing misery to our planet? You're supposed to be running it.

G. LOPEZ: You're supposed to be running it. I am running it. Right into the ground! I'm Mr. Electric! No school, no discipline, no rules. And most important, no dreams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why we have to stop you.

G. LOPEZ: You and what army?


KING: Now, this movie, it opens tomorrow. "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl." A lot of talk about it. It's in 3-D.

G. LOPEZ: It's in 3-D.

KING: But it was done in Austin, Texas?

G. LOPEZ: In Austin. Robert Rodriguez -- Troublemaker Studios is in Austin. And the reason it's in Austin is because he doesn't want executives coming by twiddling with his stuff. He always brings a movie in at a great price and they always make money. So, Elizabeth, his wife, has an office there. Robert does it.

So, you in a room like this. I mean, I played this guy, Mr. Electric. I sat in a chair like this in a t-shirt that was five sizes too fight for me. I felt like Simon Cowell, you know. I got tape as a body. And literally, every camera is this far. And I'm acting the pieces of tape.

I going, hey. And there would be a blue piece of tape for Shark Boy and a fluorescent tape for Lava Girl.

KING: No other actors.

G. LOPEZ: No other actors. Just so my eyes had to be directed. And Robert and I kind of had made this guy even more powerful and bigger. The more we started to do, Robert is like, you know, I want to do more, let's do more. And I spent ten hours a day, six days a week yelling into cameras. And turning on a Lazy Susan chair and doing this and getting big and the 3-D and arrhh!

KING: How did you know what it was all about, then?

G. LOPEZ: Well, I read the script. But I had to trust the director, which, you know, Robert Rodriguez is so brilliant.

KING: It had to be all new to you when you saw it?

G. LOPEZ: It was all new. I just saw it at the premiere last Saturday and was just completely blown away.

KING: All green background?

G. LOPEZ: All green background. But only all green background, but a green guy blowing a green tube of air at me to keep me kind of cool. So he's even in green, totally in green, blowing green tube air.

KING: Where is the thought? It's all done inside? Never outside?

G. LOPEZ: Never outside. And you got to see this. You've got to take the kids to see this movie. I think it's a movie for kids, it's about living dreams, keeping dreams alive, dreaming with your eyes open. It's something for adults. Parents will get coming out of it, teenagers. This movie is for everybody. And it comes at a good time when we've become so cynical that -- dreams should never die. Dreams should always stay alive

KING: TV show going well?

G. LOPEZ: The TV show is going well. We moved to Wednesdays at 8:00. And that's really, ultimately, what I wanted to achieve when I started doing standup. And Sandra Bullock has been great to me from day one. We told Sandra we had the kidney transplant.

KING: That's her baby.

G. LOPEZ: That's her baby. And she's just been fantastic and offered every service to us that could be possibly, you know -- didn't offer a kidney, but other than that you know, every...

A. LOPEZ: She didn't know. She probably would have.

G. LOPEZ: But she's been great since day one. And we have a great relationship, even now. Just fantastic. Everybody's been great.

KING: Do ever get Mexicans mad at you?

G. LOPEZ: No, I don't. Actually they're very supportive.

KING: But you make fun at your own culture. G. LOPEZ: Well, you know, what I do is I bring up the dysfunction in the culture. And in that, they laugh.

If they weren't laughing, Larry, I'd probably go an alternate route. But I continue to sell out theater after theater all over the country. And what it is, is maybe it's -- I'm a Mexican guy, but it applies to all cultures, you know. I think that kind of dysfunction and negativity and that whole kind of non-support system and the tough love from the old days is prevalent in every culture.

KING: Why did they move you to Wednesdays?

G. LOPEZ: Wednesday is the crown jewel at ABC. So, I think that ABC and Steve McPherson know that the creativity level of this show is very good. And they moved us to a place where we can thrive.

KING: You lead off the night?

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely. And "Lost" is at 9:00. And Freddie Prinze Junior, his show is right after mine. So, I was a huge fan of "Chico and the Man." Loved Freddie Prinze Senior. And I'm going to take care of Freddy Junior.

KING: Would you produce him?

G. LOPEZ: Would I produce him. I have produced him since we met.

KING: Thank you, George.

G. LOPEZ: You're the best, Larry, we love you.

KING: Thank you, darling.

George Lopez. "The George Lopez Show" gearing up for another season, Wednesdays at 8:00 on ABC. New film "Shark Boy and Lava Girl" in 3-D, in theaters tomorrow. And two healthy people.

We're sitting here with only total of two kidneys.

Aaron Brown is next -- we'll see you tomorrow night -- Aaron.


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