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Weight Loss Camp; Video Game Defense; Inhaling Aerosols

Aired July 26, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, something I worry about. And I know I'm not alone. It has to do with what our children are doing with their free time during the long, hot summer.


ZAHN (voice-over): Do you know what these are? They're cheap. They're legal and part of a deadly new teenage fad called dusting. Tonight, the warning signs you can't ignore.

What are our children playing, stealing cars, shooting cops?

JACK THOMPSON, LAWYER: They're murder simulators.

ZAHN: Did this video game turn a teenager into a killer?

They got four tough weeks in the mountains.



ZAHN: And dozen of pounds to lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is going to be a significant turning point in their lives. Their life will never be the same after this experience.

ZAHN: Our PAULA ZAHN NOW exclusive series, weight loss camp. It could change your life, too.


We begin tonight with a new mystery in the London terror investigation, police still looking for four men behind last week's failed attacks. But now another question has emerged. It involves a fifth bomb found in a park over the weekend. What we didn't know is, did one of the original four put it there? Or is there a fifth bomber on the loose?

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson walks us through the mystery from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the bomb that hasn't been explained. It was found when someone noticed a suspicious backpack in London's Little Wormwood Scrubs Park. It was similar to the four bombs, like this one found on a bus in East London, that failed to go off on July 21. In fact, it used the exact same container as the other four bombs. And police were forced to use control explosions to disarm it.

(on camera): The ground is still damaged where the bomb-disposal team dealt with bomb number five. But the question is, who left it there?

(voice-over): Could it have been one of the suspected bombers that police are hunting for? Or is there a fifth man?

Westbourne Park subway station in West London, at 12:21 p.m. last Thursday, while three would-be bombers were setting off together on their mission from a South London subway station, the man police call suspect number four is caught, apparently alone, on a security camera here. He's just minutes away from boarding a train and trying to detonate the explosives in his backpack and is the only one of the four bombers known to go anywhere near Little Wormwood Scrubs Park, where the fifth bomb will be discovered two days later.

(on camera): The important thing to note here is that he only has one backpack and is only big enough for one set of explosives. Now, remember that as we go along the route.

(voice-over): His journey would have been quick, passing through just two stations.

(on camera): The police say, when he tried to let off his bomb, he then escaped by climbing out of the back window of the train.

(voice-over): They say he left his backpack on the train and that he ran along the track for about 200 to 300 yards, then climbed down behind these houses.

(on camera): He came out of the backyard through an open door at the back of this house, out the front door, on to this street, and then took off up the street.

RIZGIR NASIR, WITNESS: Yes, ran down here.

ROBERTSON: Down the street here?

NASIR: Down the street here, down there.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Rizgir Nasir was working in a carriage at the end of the street. He says the man he saw running down the street, the man police think was the would-be bomber, was alone.

(on camera): Was he carrying anything?

NASIR: No. Just he -- I think he had spare clothes with him.

ROBERTSON: Spare clothes. No second backpack?


ROBERTSON: No second backpack at all?

NASIR: Definitely not.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Suspect number four was last seen about 10 minutes later under this bridge, not carrying a pack. He was half- a-mile from Little Wormwood Scrubs Park.


ZAHN: So, as you can see, the mystery continues, Nic Robertson reporting for us tonight.

Turning now to violence in our part of the world, a murder trial has just started. It touches on a violent video game. Chances are your kids know it. The man on trial admits gunning down two policemen and a dispatcher. But his defense, the game "Grand Theft Auto" made him to do it.

Here's Dan Lothian.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happened early on a Saturday morning, a little more than two years ago in the west Alabama city of Fayette.

TOMMY WILLIAMS, PARAMEDIC: As I was driving to work, I got a call that says, You've got to get down here now. It's bad.

LOTHIAN: More than a dozen shots riddled police headquarters, killing 55-year-old officer Arnold Strickland, 40-year-old officer James Crump, and 38-year-old dispatcher Leslie Ace Mealer.

WILLIAMS: This was just a tragedy, and it was -- I wasn't prepared for what I saw.

LOTHIAN: The suspect, 18-year-old Devin Darnell Thompson, was being booked on a stolen auto charge when he allegedly grabbed one of the victim's guns, opened fire, then led authorities on a high speed chase in a stolen police car. He was later arrested.

(on camera): Charged with capital murder, Thompson, who has now legally changed his last name to Moore, pleaded not guilty by reason of serious mental defect. Then came a twist that attracted national headlines, allegations that a video game, "Grand Theft Auto," may have inspired the crime.

(voice-over): In the game, which he's described as having played obsessively, stealing cars, killing cops and escaping is rewarded.

As the trial got under way this week, Moore's defense attorney, Jim Standridge, told jurors that the teen was disconnected from reality after repeatedly playing the video game and that he suffers from the post-traumatic stress disorder, triggered by abuse and extreme neglect as a child.

But prosecutors say Moore knew exactly what he was doing and the evidence will prove it.

And in a separate civil case, family members of the victims are suing the companies that made the game, sold it to him, and built the machines to play it. Attorney Jack Thompson filed the $600 million wrongful death lawsuit.

THOMPSON: We know that these cop killing games are leading to these killings, because that's what they are. They're murder simulators.

LOTHIAN: The makers of the game had no comment, but an editor at a publication that reviews video games defended it, saying, "I don't think playing the game will make you a killer."

And another editor at "GamePro" magazine says, "In general, violence shouldn't be blamed on a game of fantasy."

SID SHUMAN, "GAMEPRO: They've been described as murder simulators. I think that's bunk.

LOTHIAN: Fantasy vs. reality in the case of a troubled teen who could face the death penalty if convicted.


ZAHN: Lots of issues for a jury to wrestle with -- Dan Lothian reporting.

Since it came out in 2001, "Grand Theft Auto" has sold 21 million copies in various editions, making it the best-selling video game ever.

Coming up, something that is much more dangerous than any video game. And it is perfectly legal and, because of a new fad, potentially deadly.

Please stay with us for the frightening truth about dusting.

And a little bit later on, we're going to visit a summer camp that starts with a bag search. The camp is not looking for drugs. What kind of camp is it anyway?

Stay tuned.


ZAHN: This summer, we have been following the story of two teenagers who are fed up with being overweight and determined to change their lives. Last week, they told us about their hopes and their dreams and their hurt as they headed off to a camp to lose weight. There, they go through a merciless ordeal to change not just what they eat, but their behavior. But can they cut it?

Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen checks up on their progress in tonight's installment of "Four Weeks to Lose."


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In mountains of North Carolina, a family arrives and a young man's journey begins.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do we have here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Nathan Ruffin.


COHEN: It starts right here, on a scale.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two-hundred-point-five.

COHEN: In the next four weeks, Nathan hopes to lose 30 pounds at Wellspring Adventure Camp. It's a serious place. They search luggage for hidden food. They weigh out portions. Campers have mandatory morning walks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of our bodies are different.

COHEN: And counseling sessions four times a week.



COHEN: This is the man who gave Nathan the chance to be here.

YUHASZ: How are you?


YUHASZ: This is going to be a significant turning point in their lives. Their life will never be the same after this experience.

COHEN: Louis Yuhasz raises scholarship money for kids like Nathan. He does it to honor his father, who died from an obesity- related illness.

YUHASZ: His life was cut short because of fewer opportunities like this. So, when think about you can't do, just think of what you can do, as opposed to what you can't.

COHEN: So, can Nathan do it?

N. RUFFIN: Bye, mom.

COHEN: He's never been away from his family before.

S. RUFFIN: I love you.

N. RUFFIN: Love you, too.

COHEN: Nathan tests the waters. And campers who have been here before fill him in.

N. RUFFIN: Do they tell you that you have to lose a certain amount of pounds each week or...




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like, they're totally against that.

COHEN: What they're for...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it? You got it?

COHEN: ... is getting kids to move, move, move and making them more aware of what they eat by writing down every calorie.

SHAWNA RUBECK, WEIGHT LOSS CAMPER: Hi. It's nice to meet you.

RUBECK: Nice to meet you, too.

COHEN: Shawna is another scholarship student here at Wellspring.

RUBECK: I'm excited, too.

COHEN: We've also been following her in her quest to lose weight. She takes to camp immediately. Nathan does too, at first. Everything seems great. But then comes the initiation ceremony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready to commit to becoming a tribe-ling and to stepping out of your comfort zone?



COHEN: For the next four weeks, these campers will be Nathan's family. It dawns on him that this is going to be far different from life at home with his own family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not always going to be easy.

COHEN: Nathan breaks down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's wrong? Do you need a hug? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He needs a hug.


N. RUFFIN: Thanks.

COHEN: The next morning, he writes a letter to his mother, begging to come home.

N. RUFFIN: The first night, I cried for four hours. Can you please come on Monday, mom?

COHEN (on camera): What is going to make you feel better, do you think?

N. RUFFIN: I think the only thing that could make me feel better would be seeing her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did everything get their beads?

COHEN (voice-over): Tiffany (ph), his behavioral counselor, strikes a deal with Nathan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll give it a week. We'll see how it goes. I think he'll be OK.

COHEN: But, a few hours later, Nathan decides even a week is enough.

He wrote this letter to our producer: "I decided to go home. It's not working out."

(on camera): You have been very comforting to Nathan.


COHEN: He's having sort of a hard time.

RUBECK: Yes. He is. And I feel like, I don't want him to go home, because, I know how hard it was to get in here. And I'm just trying to help him. Like, he says he that doesn't want to stay here and that he can't. But I feel like he really can, because I know that he really wants this that bad.

I wrote my dad a long letter, because I miss him, too.

COHEN (voice-over): She, too misses her family. But she's ready to give these next four weeks her all.

RUBECK: I'm scared. But I'm going. (INAUDIBLE)

COHEN (on camera): How does that feel for the first time in your life to be surrounded by other overweight kids?

RUBECK: Comforting. It feels very comforting, comforting to me.

COHEN: In what way?

RUBECK: Because I know that, because they're overweight and they have been teased, and they're struggling with it, and they're here for the same exact reason as I am, that they're not going to tease me or judge me because I'm fat.

COHEN (voice-over): This month is her chance to lose 40 pounds. Right now, she weighs 239.

(on camera): When she come back in two weeks, what changes do you think we are going to see?

RUBECK: I think you're going to see that I'm more confident, and I'm probably going to have lost some weight by then.

COHEN (voice-over): In two weeks we'll see. Is Shawna meeting her goal and will Nathan still be here?


ZAHN: So, Elizabeth, we heard about some of the goals, 30, 40 pounds. I mean, it's -- you're talking about a lot of weight. So, what are the rules about the kind of food these kids are allowed to eat?

COHEN: The rules, like, Paula, are actually very basic. They have basically healthy food. It's nothing like what you would consider really diety.

For example, the day that they were there, they had fish and they had vegetables. You can see corn bread on that plate. Now, those foods that you were just looking at, those are called controlled foods. They're not allowed to have second helpings of those. They're allowed to have as much fruit, as much fat-free yogurt and as much fat-free soup as they want. Those are called uncontrolled foods.

The goal is to keep the intake down to 20 grams of fat or less and 1,200 calories a day or less. Now, it was so interesting to us that the kids said they were not hungry. Now, here you see, Nathan is writing down the foods that he ate. This is one of the ways that they get the kids just to be more aware of what they're eating. For a lot of these kids, they have just sort of eaten without really thinking much about what they're putting in their mouth. And they're really trying to do a dramatic change here.

ZAHN: As you know, there are so many best-selling books out there that show us so many different ways to eat. Does this camp subscribe to any particular philosophy, other than eating sensibly?

COHEN: You know, they really don't prescribe, subscribe to any particular philosophy.

Again, it just all about eating sensibly. But there are a couple of things that they tell the kids they have to do. Here you see they're handing out a book, "Nine Truths About Weight Loss," which is sort of the bible for this camp. They tell them they have to write everything down. And they don't give them a chance to indulge. Some diets will say, oh, go ahead and have that banana split if you really want it every so often. They don't get a chance to do that.

They're also supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day. And 10,000 steps is about four to five miles a day. So, that's quite a lot. Now, what you saw them writing down there is not just what they ate that day. But they're supposed to have goals, for example, a goal to lose 30 pounds or a goal to walk a certain number of steps. Those goals are evaluated all the time in their behavioral sessions. And that's another thing that sets this camp apart, is that they talk to these kids four days out of the week to give them some kind of counseling.

ZAHN: It looks like they run a very tight ship there. I hope these kids are successful.

COHEN: They do.

ZAHN: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks.

COHEN: Thanks.

ZAHN: Still ahead, I want to sound an alarm about something your teenagers may be doing behind closed doors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The feeling was instant. And, it's just your body goes numb. And it feels like your brain freezes in time. You're pretty well incoherent.


ZAHN: And it can be deadly. And all it takes something you probably have sitting around your home.

Please stay with us. We'll explain. We'll also let you know about some of the warning signs if your child might be doing this behind closed doors.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And liftoff of space shuttle Discovery.


ZAHN: Ah, what a stunning sight. And there was plenty of anticipation this morning. But now that the space shuttle Discovery is back in orbit after more than two years, maybe NASA could be playing, "Nobody Does It Better."

Meanwhile, Carly Simon songs are the soundtrack of many of our lives. But did you know she started singing to cure her problem with stuttering and that she was painfully shy, that she still has stage fright? We're going to have a surprising look at a great talent and one of my favorite singers in a little bit.

But while you are anticipating that, it's time for Erica Hill at Headline News to update the hour's top stories.

Did we O.D. on the anticipation thing there?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not really. I mean, I'm a big Carly Simon fan, too.

ZAHN: Well, good.

HILL: So, I'm going right along with it.


ZAHN: Thanks.

HILL: But, of course, the anticipation stated off with the shuttle, so we're actually going to back to shuttle story for just one moment.

NASA officials are taking a close look at what may be a tiny piece of thermal tile that fell off Discovery's belly during launch this morning. Now, it has happened in other launches without causing problems on the trip back home. It's, of course, cause for a concern, though, because it was a broken tile on a wing which led to the Columbia disaster two-and-a-half years ago.

A new development tonight in the case of Natalee Holloway, the 18-year-old Alabama girl who has been missing in Aruba for nearly two months. Investigators told CNN today they plan to drain a pond near a beach where Holloway was supposedly dropped off the night she vanished. Just yesterday, her mother announced a reward of $1 million for the safe return of her daughter.

A day of grieving and reviewing safety procedures at the National Boy Scout Jamboree, this following the deaths of four adult Scout leaders. The four men were electrocuted on Monday when a tent pole struck an overhead power line. Boy Scout officials say the jamboree, with attracts tens of those of Scouts, will go on as planned.

And we'd like to introduce you to Ralph and Norton, the only two adolescent whale sharks in captivity in the Western Hemisphere, quite a claim to fame. They're swimming in a five-million-gallon tank the size of a football field. It is the big attraction in the new Atlanta Aquarium. But this one is just a preview. The aquarium opens Thanksgiving week.

I'll guess I'll have something to do over Thanksgiving here in Atlanta.

ZAHN: All I know is from that picture there, Erica, it looks like they have sort of a heavy-duty polka dot problem. HILL: That's what I noticed, too. I'm hoping that's a lighting issue.

ZAHN: That's what I thought, maybe perhaps a reflection of the water. Who knew?

HILL: Could be.


ZAHN: See you in 20 minutes or so.

HILL: Sounds good.

ZAHN: Thanks.

Coming up, we turn to a much more serious subject, a potentially deadly one, at that. Do you know what dusting is? Chances are your teenager does. It is a legal high from something that is so commonplace, you probably wouldn't give it a second thought.

Stay with us for a frightening story that could save a life.


ZAHN: Now a story about what your children could be doing while you're not watching. I had heard of huffing and whippets, cheap ways to get high, but I was shocked to learn about dusting.

Kids are doing it with something you probably have sitting on your desk at home, sometimes with deadly results.


ZAHN (voice-over): In today's computer-driven world, a product designed to clean keyboards of crumbs and dust is fast becoming a fixture in American homes and offices. But today's teenagers have discovered an unintended use for the popular spray, getting high.

CRAIG DANT, FORMER INHALANT ABUSER: It started off, I was maybe just doing it once a week or so. But once -- once my addiction got worse, it was every day and every night.

COHEN: It's called dusting or huffing, with abusers inhaling compressed air from common household products directly into their mouths and lungs for a quick, intense high. It's cheap, undetectable by screening tests, and as easy to get as a trip to local office supply store.

HARVEY WEISS, NATIONAL INHALANT PREVENTION COALITION: As far as these products are concerned, they're as close as your kitchen cabinet.

DANT: I just knew that I could get it anywhere around the house. Or I could just run to Wal-Mart or wherever and pick up something. And it was cheap and always easy to get. COHEN: Recent films like "13" help expose the shocking abuse of inhalants, which studies have found most common among eighth-grade girls. They and other teenagers, experts say, mistakenly believe they're just inhaling air. But compressed air products also contain gases that can cause brain, liver and kidney damage and even worse.

WEISS: Sudden sniffing death syndrome, it could be the first time, the 10th time or the 20th time. You never know when that might happen.

COHEN: For their part, retailers like Wal-Mart, Office Depot and Staples have started trying to prevent abuse of compressed air products by putting age restrictions on purchases.

And Falcon, the maker of Dust-Off, warns right on its labels that "Inhalant abuse is illegal and can cause permanent injury or be fatal."

WEISS: This is a problem. Should parents talk about it? The decision not to talk about it could be a fatal decision by a parent.


ZAHN: Abuse of a product like this could lead to someone's death.

Joining me now is someone who has lived through the tragedy of losing a child to dusting. Jeff Williams is a police officer in East Cleveland, Ohio. Barely five months ago, his 14-year-old son, Kyle, died inhaling from can of dust spray.

We're sorry about your loss.


ZAHN: Thank you for being with us tonight and sharing your story.

What happened to Kyle?

WILLIAMS: Well, we don't really know, or didn't know at the time. I guess, a few weeks before that, he got together with a friend of his, who showed him that you could inhale the air from the computer cleaner, and it could give you a 20-second little high.

ZAHN: So basically what these kids are doing is taking a can like this and directly inhaling from the straw.

WILLIAMS: They stick the straw into their mouth and squeeze it and inhale the -- what they think is air from the can.

ZAHN: And in your son's case, you had no idea that he had ever tried this before, and you were a police officer, and you thought you had seen it all. Have you ever heard of dusting before?

WILLIAMS: Never heard of it. We -- you know, Kyle would walk in the house -- all the kids walk in the house -- we'd always go, did you use any drugs, did you use any alcohol, what are you doing? You know, we always asked. If you ask, you have the communication open.

I'm a police officer. I know about it, drugs. My wife's a nurse. I have a police canine at home, a drug dog. He got shot in the line of duty, and he's retired now. So you couldn't get drugs at my house, you know, which was very reassuring to me. And you weren't going to bring marijuana in, you weren't going to, you know, bring those type of drugs in.

ZAHN: So describe to us what happened the morning your wife went in to wake up Kyle for school.

WILLIAMS: I was working. And Cathy got up, and went down to wake up Kyle, and you know, yelled in his room. And when he didn't come out, she went in there, and he was sitting up in bed. And she figured that, you know, he was joking around, or he sat up and fell back to sleep, which he would do occasionally. And so she went in and shook him. And when she shook him, you know, he fell over. He had the red straw from the can sticking out of his mouth, and the can in his hands. And he was dead.

ZAHN: You had to endure the shock of finding out your son was dead. But on top of that, you had to endure the shock of knowing how he died. What did you find out?

WILLIAMS: I found that using dust-off, or the group of computer cleaners is a -- something largely done by the young teenagers now. They don't believe that this is using an inhalant. They classify it different, because they think it's air. It doesn't carry a chemical high to them, like glue or paint would. And it's a very short-lived high. It just makes you dizzy, you know, just makes you confused. It's, to them, a fun little thing that doesn't last and it can't hurt you. And they're just deadly wrong.

ZAHN: After Kyle died, you started a sort of a mini- investigation of your own to find out how long he might have been abusing the product that way. What did his friends tell you?

WILLIAMS: I believe it was about two to three weeks he had been doing it. And there were a few signs. But I didn't know. And that's my problem. You know, I know about all the other drugs and the signs, and I looked for those. But I didn't know they were using this, and I didn't know the signs when they were there.

Kyle complained that his tongue hurt, that the product -- the propellant is actually a freon-type thing, and it creates frostbite. And that's why his tongue hurt.

About a week before that, he complained that he threw up. And that will sometimes make you just sick to your stomach, you threw up and then you're fine, which fit what happened to him. I kept him home from school, but he was fine the next day.

He had almost like a black eye around one of his eyes on three or four occasions, but it would come and go. And I even questioned him about it. I told him, that's really odd that that's happening. You know, what do you -- what's with this? And...

ZAHN: What would he say?

WILLIAMS: He just said he didn't know. And went down to play his computer. So I mean, it had the signs; I didn't know what they were. And that's what people have to know. They have to know what to look for. If you don't know, you can't stop it.

ZAHN: Did his friends indicate to you that he had any idea that this was dangerous at all?

WILLIAMS: They indicated the exact opposite. He talked to his best friend, like, a week before, when he slept over his house, and he told him that, you know, he should try it. And he told him that it can't hurt you. You know, it just makes you light-headed. It can't hurt you. And it's wrong, it kills you.

ZAHN: What did they think would happen when they inhaled this stuff?

WILLIAMS: They think that it's just going to make you light- headed for, you know, 30, 60 seconds. And that's the extent of, you know, what it does. It's a deprivation of oxygen.

In Kyle's case, when it deprived his heart of it, it immediately stopped beating.

ZAHN: So in the end, who do you blame for Kyle's death?

WILLIAMS: Well, I blame the companies. I blame myself. But what good does it do?

ZAHN: My heart goes out to you. And I wish you the best of luck so you can save some other families the pain that you have gone through.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

ZAHN: Good luck to you, and thank you for sharing your story with us tonight.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.


ZAHN: A man absolutely determined to save lives, and making sure other parents know what he didn't.

We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Still ahead -- we all know the songs about the men in her life, but there's still a lot Carly Simon hasn't told us. Did you know about her debilitating stage fright? Or who the song "You're So Vain" is about? Please stay with us. More on that. But right now, it's time for Erica Hill at HEADLINE NEWS to update the top stories -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks, Paula. A heat wave still bringing misery to much of the U.S. Nationwide, officials are investigating more than 40 deaths believed to be caused by the scorching heat over the past week. Temperatures soared past 100 in several cities on Monday. Some areas are not expected to receive a break until tomorrow.

The man accused of kidnapping teenager Elizabeth Smart from her home in Salt Lake City three years ago had been found incompetent to stand trial. The district judge today ordered Brian David Mitchell confined for mental treatment until he is well enough to stand trial. He faces kidnapping, burglary, and sexual assault charges. Elizabeth Smart was found nine months after her abduction, about 15 miles from her home.

Meantime, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts continues his courtesy calls on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans say they pressed Democrats to agree to a date for a quick confirmation vote. At the same time, some senators and the White House are wrangling over how much of Roberts' private papers should be given to lawmakers in the runup to the confirmation hearings.

And that's the latest from HEADLINE NEWS at this hour, Paula. Back over to you.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica.

Coming up, one of life's little mysteries. Who inspired Carly Simon's hit song, "You're So Vain?"


CARLY SIMON, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Well, I guess, you know, I mean, those who are interested in clues, let's see, the name of the person it was about had an E in it.


ZAHN: Oh, gee, Carly, that's a big help. Want another clue, stay tuned.


ZAHN: Carly Simon, over the past 35 years she has become a legend in pop music. And she's overcame a lot along the way, a painful stutter as a child, severe stage-fright and more recently a life-threatening illness. Well Simon's new CD of standards, "Moonlight Serenade," has just come out and she happens to be the focus of tonight's "People in the News" profile.


SIMON: We can never know about the days to come ZAHN (voice over): Like a sultry breeze, she blew on to the scene. It was the 1970's. At six feet tall, her legs wouldn't stop and her talent seemed almost as endless as her toothy grin. Provocative, sensual, seductive. Her name was Carly Simon.

SIMON: Of course, I can't tell you everything about everyone that I was with.

ZAHN (on camera): Well we only want to know about Mick Jagger and --

SIMON: You only want to know about the naughtier excursions.

ZAHN (voice over): One Oscar, two Grammys, and three decades later, Carly Simon remains one of the greatest singer/song writers in pop music history. A luminescent diva with a past that continues to intrigue.

ZAHN: There is still so much mystery about who inspired the song, "You're So Vain." Are you amazed by the level of interest in that question.

SIMON: Yes. I'm amazed by it. And the only real thing that's mysterious is why it's still so interesting.

ZAHN: At 60 years old, her body of work reads more than 25 albums deep. And this month, she's coming around again. Her latest is "Moonlight Serenade."

SIMON: My love must be a kind of blinded love .

ZAHN: A collection of romantic standards, produced by long-time collaborator Richard Perry. The man behind Rod Stewart's mega-selling song books one, two and three.

RICHARD PERRY, PRODUCER: I called her, I said I can taste this album, I can hear it in my head completely already. One thing led to another, and here we are.

SIMON: Anybody and everybody who loves these songs, who is able to do them, should do them, because we all have different interpretations, we all have different voices. I want to do it in my own way. I want to do it. I want to sing.

ZAHN: And for nearly 35 years we've listened to that voice sing.

SIMON: All those crazy nights .

ZAHN: But the road to legend has certainly been paved with pain. A decade long marriage to singer James Taylor ended bitterly. Anxiety, depression and stage fright have haunted her for years.

SIMON: There are days that I'm so depressed and something can get to me and that will bring me down so far. And I still don't understand how I can let myself sink so deep. But invariably, what helps me come out of it is music. And my songs and my ability to compose myself out of it.

ZAHN: Do you think music has saved your life during some of these dark periods?

SIMON: Yes. I think music has definitely been my way through the dark periods.

ZAHN: She was born Carly Elizabeth Simon on June 25th 1945, in New York City. The third of four children. Her mother, Andrea, was a housewife. Her father, Richard, a legendary publisher.

SIMON: I think it was my father's downfall to become the founder of Simon & Schuster. That sounds so ironic to say that, because he was so successful. But the thing that he was greatest at was playing the piano.

ZAHN: Country homes. Trips to Paris. Monday nights at the MET. It was an artistic affluent household filled with the who's who of luminary friends. But in the midst of wealth and proper pedigree, Richard Simon's youngest daughter was different. By Carly's fifth birthday she began to stutter. Her first anxiety attack came three years later.

SIMON: Very needy. Very insecure. I had such a bad stammer that I really couldn't talk. It would come out very -- it was like that.

ZAHN: Psychotherapy, medication, nothing stopped that stubborn stutter. Until one day in 1955, Carly's mother devised and ingenious idea.

LUCY SIMON, CARLY'S SISTER: Our mother was extremely thoughtful and good about the stammering. And in fact, I think it was the stammer that started her singing. Because she didn't stammer while she was singing. So she had difficulty getting a sentence out or getting a word out. Our mother would say sing it Carly, and she could sing it.

ZAHN: From pass the butter to hold the mustard, Carly Simon sang all day long. And as the years past, the stammer slipped away. But so did the father and the love that she so desperately wanted.

SIMON: He got sick when I was 10. And it was shrouded in mystery, what was wrong with him. Made me start distrusting everything. And I felt that the only way I had to protect myself against his, you know, falling down dead, was knocking on wood. The first time he was in the hospital, I knocked on wood 100 times the first night he was in the hospital and he was alive the next day. And then the next night I did it 500 times and he was better. And so I thought, well I've got to keep doing it 500 times a night. And I would always fell asleep knocking.

ZAHN: Five years later, in 1960, the knocking stopped. Carly was 15-years-old when Richard Simon past away.

L. SIMON: Carly probably never fully believed that he, in fact, loved her as much as he loved Joey and me. There was always the lingering sense of, that's unfinished and I have to get that from someplace else.

ZAHN: Coming up James Taylor and the downward spiral of rock's first royal couple.



ZAHN: Carly Simon was only 15 when her father died and it was one more obstacles she would have to overcome in an already troubled childhood. But soon, she found the focus for her life: Music. Here's more of our profile in our "People in the News" segment.



ZAHN: On March 7th, 1964, 18-year-old Carly Simon and her sister Lucy appeared the "ABC" variety hour "Hootenanny."


ZAHN: It had been just four years since the death of their father, Richard Simon. Immersing themselves in music, the siblings were now a duo and Carly was splitting her time between Sarah Lawrence and the stage. But in 1968 with guitar in hand, Carly set out on her own: New York secretary by day, sexy songbird by night. For four years she shopped her music and searched for the perfect song.


SIMON: I wrote the melody to "That's the Way I've Always Heard It To Be" and that was kind of where I started writing and taking my compositions more seriously.

ZAHN: In a season of change, Carly Simon had found her voice. Released in March 1971, that haunting ballad would become the breakthrough single on self-titled debut album. Eight months and a million albums later: Album number two.


ZAHN (on camera): You created "Anticipation" in 15 minutes?

SIMON: Maybe an hour, but that's (inaudible). I was waiting for Cat Stevens to come over who was my date and I wrote, "I must not focus on 15 minutes from now, I must focus on right now. These are the good ol' days."

ZAHN: But Cat Stevens wasn't the only man catching her eye. There was another guy and his name was James. The romance would be one of the most the most photographed couplings in music history and when singer-songwriter James Taylor married Carly Simon on November 2nd, 1972, they were instantly proclaimed rock's first royal family. (on camera): What do you remember about the good ol' days with James Taylor?

SIMON: Oh, gosh. We had some fine, fine moments.

ZAHN (voice-over): Days after the wedding, the mania went into overdrive. Carly's latest, "No Secrets," had just hit the shelves. On it, a mysterious singer about an oh-so-lame suitor. Who could it be? Three decades later we are still scratching our heads.


ZAHN: But as the hits rolled in and the decade rolled on, cracks began to appear in the marriage. Dueling careers fueled battling egos and there was the matter of Taylor's drug use.

I was never the kind of kid who wished every night or prayed that his parents would get back together. That didn't seem like -- it seemed logical to me, even at a very young age, that they were splitting apart.


JACOB BRACKMAN, FRIEND: And the punch line was that he cleaned up within months of their separation and has been clean to this day. It's a mystery, but that made it even harder in a way.


ZAHN: Adrift, Carly's anxiety fueled her life-long battle with stage fright. An early 80's concert tour was suddenly canceled when the pop star collapsed backstage.

But Carly Simon was far from over. She would soon come around again. She married poet Jim Hart in 1987. She went home with an Oscar for best song in 1989 and on the highest of highs, she sailed into the '90s. But in 1997, a devastating discovery would send her once again into the darkness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carly's breast cancer was obviously terribly traumatic.

SIMON: I heard about it over the phone and I went into swift denial and I put my head down on the table, still with the phone in my hands saying that this can't be. This just cant be true. It's impossible.

ZAHN: Family and friends rallied. Eight long months of chemotherapy followed.

(on camera): Were you afraid of dying?

SIMON: Yes, but no more so than I usually am.

ZAHN: How's your health now?

SIMON: I think it's good. I still knock on wood.

ZAHN (voice-over): Now, after more than three decades in the spotlight, the legendary singer-songwriter returns.


ZAHN: And with this resurgence comes that question, a secret that still gets under our skin.


ZAHN (on camera): You once admitted that it potentially be a composite of a number of men who were dear to you in your life, whether it was Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty --.

SIMON: Well, I guess, you know -- I mean those who are interested in clues, the name of the person it was about had an "E" in it.

ZAHN: Well, thank you. That's very helpful, Carly.

SIMON: Maybe I could disclose another letter. Let's see, it also has an "A." .

ZAHN: All right. We'll be asking you about this for the next 30 years.

SIMON: Well listen, two vowels ain't bad.

L. SIMON: She speaks from her heart. It's all genuine. There is nothing phony about her. So, what you see, is who she is.

ZAHN: At 60 years old, Carly Simon remains a musical legend. An unwitting icon whose soundtrack we know by heart.

SIMON: I hope that people will be subtly changed by what I've said or written or composed.

ZAHN (on camera): You really want to touch people.

SIMON: I really do.

ZAHN: That's important to you?

SIMON: I really need to touch people. I don't want to be alone here in this universe.


ZAHN: Well, back to burning question about "You're So Vain," at least one other person knows who the song is about. Simon sold the secret at charity auction just two years ago. TV executive Dick Ebersol won it for $50,000. So far, he hasn't been talking about it.

Thanks so much for joining us. that's it for all of us here tonight. Tomorrow night: Would you send your gay child to a special camp to straighten him or her out. It's called conversion camp. It is extremely controversial and we will be debating whether it works at all and why you'd want to do that in the first place.

I hope you'll be back at the same time, same place tomorrow night. Until then, have a great night and "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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