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Judge Rules on Anna Nicole Smith's Body

Aired February 22, 2007 - 21:00   ET


JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, BROWARD COUNTY DISTRICT COURT: Richard Milstein, Esquire, is awarded custody of the remains of Anna Nicole Smith.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the decision comes down on Anna Nicole's burial, after a day of unforgettable drama that goes from curious to curiouser.


SEIDLIN: Justice is not perfect.


KING: To most curious of all.


LARRY BIRKHEAD: We all loved Anna and it's in her best interests to come together.


KING: But now, word Anna Nicole's mom will appeal.

We've got the latest with Howard Stern's brother and sister, and his attorney. Plus, those for Larry Birkhead and Anna Nicole's mom.

And then, the one and only Barbara Walters on what our fascination with the Anna Nicole story means, Rosie O'Donnell's impact on "The View" and her big Oscar special.

And more. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

It keeps going.

We're going to spend a couple of minutes to kick things off with Carlos Diaz.

He's been on top of this for us since the get go. He's a correspondent with "Extra" and in court today. And he's in Plantation, Florida.

Carlos, basically, this decision was?

CARLOS DIAZ, "EXTRA" CORRESPONDENT: People are calling it a non- decision. It is not a non-decision. In my humble estimation, it was the right decision.

If you were in court and you heard Richard Milstein, who is the independent counsel that was assigned as the guardian to Dannielynn last week, this is the one person in court, Richard Milstein, that everyone respected. He brought a kind of a normalness to the court. And, in the end, the judge awarded the body to Dannielynn under Richard Milstein's care.

Now, I say it's the right decision because an hour later, around an hour later, after the decision came down, Richard Milstein had the three of them -- Howard K. Stern, Virgie Arthur and Larry Birkhead -- walking out together, basically arm in arm, which many people thought would be impossible.

KING: Virgie, though, we understand, has appealed.

Is that true?

DIAZ: Virgie will appeal tomorrow in court. We don't know if it's going to be shot down immediately. One of her lawyers -- she had a team of lawyers -- one of her lawyers in court has said that he will appeal tomorrow. And that will be heard tomorrow in the same courtroom.

KING: After announcing the decision in the battle over who should get custody of the body, the judge detailed where he believed her remains should be laid.



SEIDLIN: But I -- I want her buried. I want her buried with her son.


SEIDLIN: I want her -- no. There's no shouting. This is not -- this is not a happy moment. I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas. I want them to be together.


KING: How did today compare to preceding days?

DIAZ: Well, let's see here. You had a lawyer faint. You had, once again, judges and lawyers yelling at each other. The judge issued a surprise statement at a surprise time.

I think it was par for the course, Larry. And, also, the fact that the judge got emotional when he was reading his verdict was -- should not have been a surprise to anyone. He was emotional throughout the proceedings, so why not tear up during the reading of the verdict?

KING: Thanks, Carlos.

We'll see you again tomorrow night.

Carlos Diaz of "Extra."

Joining us now here in Los Angeles, Bonnie Stern, Howard K. Stern's sister, and Gary Stern, Howard K. Stern's brother.

Bonnie, since the award was made to the lawyer for the baby, do you still consider it a victory for your brother?


KING: Because?

B. STERN: Well, because really Anna's wishes are being carried out. She wanted to be with her son. She gets to be with her son. She gets to be buried in the Bahamas, which is where she chose to reside.

KING: Is your brother that emotional, Gary?

GARY STERN, HOWARD K. STERN'S BROTHER: He is a deeply committed, deeply caring, deeply loyal individual. He has tremendous love and tremendous passion for Anna and tremendous love and tremendous passion for Dannielynn. And I think when Howard buried his hands in his head when the verdict was read, I believe he was truly crying tears of joy.

KING: After the decision was announced, there seemed to be a remarkable show of togetherness outside the courtroom.



QUESTION: You've got to speak up, Howard.

HOWARD K. STERN: I just want to say that I'm very grateful that Anna Nicole's wishes are going to be carried out.


L. BIRKHEAD: I don't think these are working.

You want me to say what you're saying?

H.K. STERN: Yes.

L. BIRKHEAD: He's saying that he's -- Howard's saying that he's just very glad that Anna's wishes are carried out and she will be

H.K. STERN: ... that she's going to be going back to the Bahamas with her son.


KING: Honestly, Bonnie, did that surprise you?

B. STERN: Yes. But pleasantly.

KING: Who do you think pulled it off?

B. STERN: I think the...

KING: Milstein?

B. STERN: Yes. Definitely. The guardian for Dannielynn.

KING: Does it surprise you, Gary?

BIRKHEAD: It surprised me, but I was happy to see the show of unity. I think it brought honor. I think it brought dignity to these proceedings and hopefully it brought closure and will allow Anna Nicole to have an honorable and dignified burial in the Bahamas.

KING: Well, there still will be a paternity battle, at least it was nice to see both of them standing together in unity for the late Anna.

Joining us now from Fort Lauderdale, Krista Barth, the attorney for Howard K. Stern, and in Fort Lauderdale, as well, is Ron Rale, the attorney for Anna Nicole, who was named as successor executor in her will. And he is a close friend of Howard K. Stern, as well.

Krista, were you surprised at the way all of this came together in front of the courtroom after the trial -- after the day?

KRISTA BARTH, FLORIDA ATTORNEY FOR HOWARD K. STERN: Surprised, but very pleasantly surprised. It was -- it was really terrific. It was great. And sorry to see that, you know, we still have one party that seems not on board. But hopefully we'll get there.

KING: What got them together, Ron?

Was it Mr. Milstein?

RON RALE, ATTORNEY FOR ANNA NICOLE SMITH: I give him a lot of the credit because, really, he's been just a perfect gentleman and so professional all the way through. And just his presence, I think, helped facilitate that to occur.

KING: Virgie Arthur is going to appeal. Her lawyer -- one of her lawyers will be with us in a while.

Krista, are you surprised at that?

BARTH: I am very surprised, Larry. I am. Just -- I was surprised that there was a real lack of evidence for their side as to any of Anna's intentions. So I'm not sure what the basis for an appeal would be.

KING: Assuming Anna Nicole's body goes back to the Bahamas for burial, who makes the arrangements, Ron?

Who handles the funeral?

RALE: Well, I think the way it's going to work is that we have the order. That's where the body is going to go. She's going to be with Daniel. And I think Milstein is going to oversee the process and then take input from everybody involved. And it's kind of just reaching out so that everybody can participate.

KING: Did you talk to Howard today, Bonnie?

B. STERN: No, I haven't.

KING: Did you talk to him, Gary?

G. STERN: I haven't, but he did speak with my mother and I spoke to my mother.

KING: And, what did he tell her?

G. STERN: He was very pleased that Anna Nicole's wishes were carried out. That was really the most important thing to Howard, at this point in time, that Anna Nicole be buried next to her beloved son.

KING: Krista, were you surprised at the judge's decision?

BARTH: Absolutely not, Larry. Absolutely not. I think from the beginning there was very little question as to what the right thing to do was, even in the absence of all of this legal argument and factual argument. But every single person in that room, including the witnesses for Miss. Arthur, testified that Anna just adored this little boy and that that was her whole life and they really felt like that's where she wanted to be. And there was just -- I didn't think there was any other result that could have happened.

KING: So, Ron, this was a kind of clear-cut victory for Howard, right?

RALE: Really, the result is a victory for -- Howard wouldn't say it's a victory for himself. It's just carrying out Anna Nicole's wishes. So whether it's Mr. Milstein who's overseeing it or Howard, that's not the issue. All that Howard ever wanted was for Anna Nicole's wishes to be carried out.

So it's a victory for Anna Nicole's intent.

KING: Krista, what did you make of the judge?

BARTH: I thought he had a very difficult situation to deal with, Larry. I mean there were just more media around than I could have ever imagined. And it's a difficult issue. It's emotional. I mean not a -- you know, we got a good result, so I'm pleased. I think that he moved through the evidence quickly, yet efficiently, and heard what he needed to do.

KING: He was tough on your client at times, though, wasn't he?

BARTH: He was. He absolutely was, Larry. And I think, you know, what I was very happy about was I thought that upon cross- examination of Mr. Birkhead, some rehabilitation was done and some people learned, out of someone else's mouth, other than my client's, what he was really about.

And even the people that were against Mr. Stern had to admit that he did love Anna, that he did work for her very hard and took care of her. And I think it's a very sad thing that she's gone and there are probably lots of people that wish now that they had done something more for her, to help her.

KING: Yes.

What's next, Bonnie?

B. STERN: For my brother?

KING: Do you know?


B. STERN: I don't know. Probably...

KING: There's going to be some paternity...

B. STERN: Probably something with the paternity with Larry Birkhead, I'm sure.

KING: Do you expect fully that everybody involved here is going to give their DNA and one day we're going to really know, know?

B. STERN: I think there's a good possibility of that happening.

KING: What do you think, Gary?

G. STERN: I think there's a possibility of that happening and what I really hope Howard has the opportunity to do, at this point, is to really grieve the loss of two people whom he loved dearly, more than life itself, Anna Nicole and Daniel. And hopefully having closure on this issue will initiate the grieving process for my brother.

KING: Ron, do you expect everybody to give their -- have their DNAs taken? Do you expect we'll know truly -- because no one knows who the father is?

Howard doesn't know. You can't "know" know until you have a DNA.

Do you think we'll find out, Ron?

RALE: We'll find out. I'm sure it's going to happen at some point, and maybe hopefully sooner rather than later. You know, it probably -- I told you before, it would have happened a few weeks back. I know people were questioning, saying yes, right, yes, right.

But it's going to happen. So hopefully we'll be able to talk again, after the results.

KING: In fact, it was you that stopped it, right?

RALE: I was the one that stopped it on January 23rd and I, you know, who would have known that that would have been the last opportunity to confer with Anna about it?

But she was ready to go. I swear she was. And, you know, I take the blame and I now, you know, looking at it, it's really a sad thing.

But it's going to happen a different way now. So we'll just take it a different proceeding at a time and maybe we won't even need courts. So we'll see.

KING: We'll be seeing lots more of both of you.

And, Bonnie...

B. STERN: Thank you.

KING: ... you'll rest better tonight, huh?

B. STERN: Yes, we will.

KING: Will you go to the Bahamas for the funeral?

B. STERN: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: Will you go, Gary?

G. STERN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: This is a very close family, the Sterns?

G. STERN: We are a very close-knit family, Larry, and this has really brought us that much closer. And we are so much more unified and so much stronger as a result. And it's during times of turmoil and times of challenge and tragedy that you really appreciate having a close-knit, caring family.

KING: Gary has one of the great jobs in America -- principal of an elementary school. They don't come more important than that.

Thank you all very much.

G. STERN: Thank you very much, Larry.

B. STERN: Thank you.

KING: Coming up, Larry Birkhead's sister joins us to talk about her brother and how he's dealing with today's decision.

His lawyer, Debra Opri, will also talk about it. As we go to break, Judge Seidlin's plea for Dannielynn's well- being.

Don't go away.


SEIDLIN: And they're going to work out the logistics and the details with mother -- with mother and the two gentlemen here. And I hope to god you guys give the kid the right shot.




H.K. STERN: I'm very happy with the decision. All that mattered to me was that Anna's wishes were carried out and that she's going to be with her son.

QUESTION: After all the acrimony in court, how is it you two are standing side by side right now?

L. BIRKHEAD: I think it's that we understand we all loved Anna and it's in her best interests to come together and get this thing worked out for her best interests and lay her to rest.


KING: Joining us now from Boca Raton, Florida is Debra Opri, the attorney for Larry Birkhead, who maintains he is the biological father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby daughter.

And with her is Judy Birkhead, Larry's sister.

Judy, what was Larry's reaction to goings on today?

JUDY BIRKHEAD, LARRY BIRKHEAD'S SISTER: He was very pleased with the outcome, Larry.

We've prayed for everybody to come together and do the right things and he was very pleased with today.

KING: Debra, didn't he want the baby to be buried -- the -- Anna Nicole to be buried in Texas?

DEBRA OPRI, ATTORNEY FOR LARRY BIRKHEAD: Let me tell you what happened. There was a two way fight. There was Virgie, who wanted Anna to come home to Texas, and there was Howard, who wanted Anna to stay in the Bahamas and be buried with Daniel.

The overriding consensus -- and this was not Larry Birkhead's fight -- he just wanted Anna's intentions to be carried out and he wanted to testify to that effect. But everyone was in agreement that Anna Nicole wanted to be with Daniel and Daniel is buried in the Bahamas. So I think everyone lived with that agreement.

Something that happened, Larry, which is fascinating to everyone, which they may not know. While everybody may have questioned why I kept insisting on a DNA test to determine the biological natural father, the question became did the judge have the legal authority to appoint a guardian ad litem when there was already a natural biological parent who could have assumed that role?

The guardian ad litem appointment by the state should not have been made, in our opinion, until and unless a DNA test...

KING: I got you.

OPRI: ... had been taken to rule them out.

But we are not arguing with Judge Seidlin because there's the old you have to see the forest through the trees and Larry Birkhead agreed, he absolutely agreed that the interests of Anna Nicole...

KING: All right...

OPRI: ... her intent on being with Danny, was sufficient and there is no battle to fight in that regard.

KING: Judy, were you surprised at the coming together in front of the courthouse?

J. BIRKHEAD: I was surprised, in a way. I wasn't surprised about my brother, because he has a loving and giving heart. And he just wants the best thing for this baby and for Anna.

And I know that -- that he is very pleased with this, as we all are as a family.

KING: Judy, he acted so kind. He acted like it also was his show.


J. BIRKHEAD: He acted like it was his show?

He's pretty good at that. He's very witty.

KING: Debra, were you surprised...

OPRI: You know...

KING: ... at the ...

OPRI: You know how we...

KING: Debra, were you surprised at the gathering together?

OPRI: No. Let me put it this way. When we were concluding the meeting with Mr. Milstein, I went to Larry and said, Larry, I believe a show of unity is necessary to honor Anna. How do you feel about that?

He says, I think it's necessary. I think we should do it. And I said I'll go up to Howard's attorney and see if we can get it done.

And Howard was in agreement, Larry was in agreement. And we got Virgie to go along. And I explained to Virgie, it doesn't matter what your hurt feelings are or your disappointments, we have to show the world that everyone is worrying about Anna now and that we are concerned about making sure she's buried, buried in the proper way and buried timely.

And let the media know that if Howard K. Stern and you and Larry could resolve your differences in this area, maybe, just maybe, we could resolve our differences in all areas for Dannielynn.

KING: And Virgie, though, is going to appeal, tomorrow, that decision.

OPRI: You know, I -- Virgie has attorneys. And for whatever reason, they chose to appeal. Larry could have appealed.

But there comes a time and a place to pick your battles, Larry...

KING: Yes, well...

OPRI: ... and I just don't think this is a battle to be fought.

KING: Judy, your brother is not going to give up his battle to be the father, though, right?

J. BIRKHEAD: He will never give up the battle, until his last breath. He'll fight to the bitter end. He wants this baby. He has loved this baby from the conception and there's no way he is going to give this fight up.

KING: And when does...

J. BIRKHEAD: He loved Anna, as well.

KING: When does that continue, Debra?

OPRI: Well, we filed emergency papers for the Bahamas today. We are going to the Bahamas this weekend for our court appearance on Monday. We'll be preparing for that one all weekend. We're asking for immediate custody and a DNA determination so that the biological parent can take custody of Dannielynn...

KING: Thank you...

OPRI: And we're preparing for tomorrow's paternity tests. We're taking California orders for paternity and the turning over of Anna Nicole's DNA to our DNA center for testing. And we will be in the courtroom in Florida tomorrow morning.

KING: Wow! Thank you both very much.

Debra Opri, the attorney for Larry Birkhead.

J. BIRKHEAD: Thank you.

KING: And Larry's sister, Judy, who we had not met before.

When we come back, the attorney for Anna Nicole's mother, who's going to appeal. And, Dr. Joshua Perper, the suddenly well known Broward County medical examiner.

Don't go away.


SEIDLIN: Because I'll tell you something, in the old days I'd be banging some heads together. I mean it. You all really should do the right thing by this Danni -- Dannielynn. You should get into a jurisdiction immediately and have every -- you two are the primary potentials here -- to submit to a DNA and find out who the father is. It's enough baloney here. It's enough baloney.




OPRI: The mother.

H. STERN: She's going to talk to them.


OPRI: Speak from your heart. Speak from your heart. You loved her.

L. BIRKHEAD: She just -- she...

ARTHUR: I loved her with all my heart.

L. BIRKHEAD: She just said she loved her with all of her heart and I think what's more important is that we're all trying to work together to...

OPRI: And on behalf of Howard, Virgie and Larry, Larry will be seeing his daughter very soon (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I just want to say thank you to Howard.


KING: Joining us now from Plantation, Florida, Tom Pirtle, the attorney for Anna Nicole's mother, Virgie Arthur.

Your client sought custody, to have the body taken to Texas. How is she dealing with the decision, Tom?

TOM PIRTLE, ATTORNEY FOR ANNA NICOLE'S MOTHER: Well, I believe she's hurt by the decision. Virgie, the only thing she had and the only thing she wanted was Anna's body to bury. These other parties, they've got other fights to fight. They've got custody. They've got to look at the estate.

And all Virgie has ever wanted was her daughter's body.

So she's hurt by it. And she's -- they're working on some papers tonight to file with the court of appeals.

One thing she's made real clear is she's not going to delay this funeral even if it means that her daughter is buried in the Bahamas. KING: What's the

PIRTLE: She doesn't want that to happen.

KING: What's the basis of the appeal, Tom?

PIRTLE: Well, we've always said it's just a simple question of law -- who's the next of kin?

And we believe that the judge applied the unclaimed body statute, which applies to indigents -- that the county has to bury.

And he said in his own ruling, the only thing he can do is determine who to give the body to. And clearly Mr. Stern didn't -- didn't have a right to the body, because they weren't married. Mr. Birkhead didn't have a right to the body.

And so the court appointed an ad litem for the granddaughter of Virgie and then the ad litem, who has never met this kid, took a position hostile to Virgie and...

KING: Do you...

PIRTLE: And I wondered, Larry, I wonder if that's a good policy if you've got a parent who's single and they die with a small kid and they have a parent that comes in to claim their body.

Are the courts in Florida going to appoint an ad litem for that six-month-old kid and that six-month-old kid then go against the -- and have a trial with the grandparents?

KING: Do you think...

PIRTLE: I don't know whether that's what this granddaughter is going to want in the end.

KING: Do you think you have a good shot?

PIRTLE: We do, because if you understand what I've said, that scenario doesn't make sense and it wastes time and money.

KING: Yes.

I understand what you -- thanks, Tom.

Tom Pirtle, the attorney for Anna Nicole's mother.

We'll be having him on again.

Dr. Joshua Perper is in West Palm Beach, the Broward County medical examiner. He performed the autopsy.

Where is Anna Nicole's body now, doctor?

DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: The body is now in the medical examiner's office. We received an order from the judge that we should remit the body to the guardian for the child and we are going to do so unless an appeal is going to block us.

The judge also, from the bench, issued a request basically directing me to fly with the guardian to the Bahamas to make sure that the body is finally buried in the proper place in the Bahamas.

KING: When -- barring the appeal not going through, when will you do that?

PERPER: Well, we started already to do a number of procedures which are required for the shipping of the body to the Bahamas. And if there is no appeal, I would assume that probably within two days or so we will be able to do so.

KING: How would you describe the condition of the body?

PERPER: Yesterday, there was a viewing of the body and the condition of the body was excellent. However, the embalmer has stated to me that they cannot guarantee that the same condition is going to persist if there is a delay in burial.

KING: So what you're saying is as quick as you can get it to the Bahamas, then as quick as you can bury, the better?

PERPER: Absolutely. And it is possible that a second viewing can be done in the Bahamas if the shipping is prompt.

KING: Thank you, doctor.

Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner.

Coming up in our second half hour, an old friend, the queen of interviewing newsmakers and movie stars, Barbara Walters with a peek at her annual Oscar night special.

We'll get her thoughts on the Anna Nicole Smith case, as well.

Stick around for Barbara, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: She's one of the most enduring figures in American television history. Joining us from New York is Barbara Walters. Her annual Barbara Walters Oscar Special airs this Sunday night on ABC at 10:00 Eastern. It is her 26th event -- or yearly event of doing this. She's also co-executive producer, co-host of the Emmy Award-winning "The View", the daytime morning show.

A couple of things current and then right to your Oscars special.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": OK. Can I say one thing? It's not 10:00. It is at 7:00 at night in the East. It's 6:00 p.m. Central. And it follows at Academy Awards in the west. Other than that, Larry, everything you said was wonderful. OK? Now we can go on.

KING: The reason is, I'm in the west. So I'm affected by that.

WALTERS: I see. I see. OK.

KING: OK, Barbara. What do you make of the Anna Nicole thing? The whole story?

WALTERS: I feel very sad for that beautiful little baby who one of your people kept calling the kid. Other than that, Larry, I may be one of the few people in the country who has not been following the story. And we have discussed it very little on "The View".

KING: Why do you think so many people are following? Why do you think there is such a fascination with it?

WALTERS: I don't know. Why do you? You do it every night.

KING: We do it, but I can't figure it out. I know I do it, the producers book it, I do it, we talk about it. But what is the fascination of it?

WALTERS: I'm not sure I know. I think there are more interesting things to discuss, more things that are important to people, more things that are inspirational to people. It's a very tawdry story. An awful lot of people seem to be involved. And I guess it's, you know, it's tabloid at its extreme.

KING: Now, "The View", though, has discussed Britney Spears. In fact, I think you even said you spoke to her manager, right?

WALTERS: Yes, I feel that's a different story. Britney Spears...

KING: Why?

WALTERS: Because this is a young woman who had great talent and still does have great talent and had a whole wonderful life ahead of her. And we have seen a lot of young people who seem to have it all misuse it and fall into terrible, terrible trouble.

And one can only hope that she will be able to recover and go on with what is a very promising career. And we all knew Britney when she was a little girl. And so many young people and not so young people grew up with her. I think it's a different kind of a story.

KING: Your daughter worked with adolescent girls, right? And still does?

WALTERS: my daughter does work with adolescent girls. My daughter has a camp in Maine called New Horizons, which is a therapeutic wilderness camp for adolescent girls in crisis, girls who are acting out and so on. And her camp is nine weeks. I mean, this is not in and out. And it -- these girls come out of it in very different shape, I think, although I shouldn't speak for the camps, since I'm not part of it. And then they follow through to see what happens next. This is not a quickie. And she has spent her life doing that. I'm very, very proud of Jackie.

KING: Ought to be. Does she then get a good read on the Britney Spears or the Anna Nicoles when they're teenagers or...

WALTERS: ... Larry, I have to tell you that when I talk to Jackie, I say, how are you? How are you doing? How come you didn't call me yesterday? You did and the phone was busy?

I don't really discuss Britney Spears with her. I discuss her work and her camp and her views on the young people she has with her. Her camp provides a great deal of structure, which these young women don't seem to have. It also provides a great deal of love and support. And I'm not sure that they have that. But it's what I think Britney and some of these young women should have. Where was that support? And where do they get lost?

KING: How did the Oscar thing start?

WALTERS: I can't remember. It's been 26 years of doing them. And it's different this year because this is the year that we have three nominees and also the woman, Ellen DeGeneres, who is hosting for the first time.

And we had to make a decision quite a while back who we would go with. And we lucked out, I guess, because we had to decide before the nominations.

There I am all dressed up. The only time I get dressed up at the Oscars. I don't usually look like that on "The View".

But we have Helen Mirren, who people think is going to get an Academy Award for best actress in "Queen". We have Jennifer Hudson, whose story is a movie. You know, so amazing. And a man who almost never does interviews, and he is hilarious. At least he ended up being hilarious on our show. And that is Eddie Murphy.

So we think it is a terrific lineup. I'm not just saying this to go plug, plug, plug. We really think it's a wonderful lineup. And these people are at the brink of probably the most important professional night of their lives.

KING: Did you find Eddie responsive?

WALTERS: Well, it's interesting. When we interviewed Jennifer Hudson, who walked on that set when she got the part of Effie (ph) in "Dreamgirls", we said who surprised you the most? And she said Eddie Murphy. I mean, she had Jamie Foxx and Beyonce. She said Eddie Murphy because he's very shy and very quiet and like a little mouse, until suddenly he would explode in this great talent.

So we do our interview and he's very funny and just fine and rather subdued -- and I interviewed him twice before -- and very formal. Then we finish the interview. And I said, Eddie, we're finished. I just have two questions to take over, but you don't have to answer them. He said, you're finished? You're finished? He was so relieved that we had finished this interview because he doesn't like being interviewed. But he then was absolutely so funny.

I had two questions. One was people say you're a recluse and the other people say you had a slump.

I can't do it, he said. Slump? Slump? This is an outrage. He said a lot more than that. But it was the old Eddie Murphy, just hysterical. So we're doing that as a separate section.

But the Eddie Murphy off camera is a very different kind of a man. And he says that he would like his life frozen just the way it is now. This is the best time of his life. He talks about his personal life, he talks about the divorce. He talks about the new love of his life.

And for each of these people right now is the pinnacle. Helen Mirren says she's not a star, but it will never be this good. Jennifer Hudson, who is still a kid says this is going to make me a star. She has a different kind of confidence.

KING: Eddie is sensational in the film.

WALTERS: He's absolutely wonderful. And for him, to risk a role like that, that supporting actor, not best actor, very little money when he can demand any kind of money, and to try something totally different in that role, to sing, to dance, to show passion, to show the effects of drugs -- and by the way, Eddie Murphy, who started at 19, had never done drugs, had never -- never drunk, never been a drinker, never smoked, I don't think, had a very strong and happy childhood, unlike most comedians. Unlike many comedians.

KING: Still ahead with Barbara Walters, Ellen DeGeneres' tearful revelation during her Oscar special.

And as we go break, Eddie Murphy's nominated for "Dreamgirls". He gave Barbara an unexpected answer when she asked about his favorite film role.

We'll be back.


WALTERS: If you had to pick one of the films that you would want to be remembered for, I mean, you're only 45, but what would it be?

EDDIE MURPHY, COMEDIAN: If I had to pick one of my movies that best represents what I do? I think it would be first "Nutty Professor" because it's got multiple characters. And it's got sweet little love story in the middle. And it has Sherman Clemp, who's sweet. And it's got these outrageous characters. And it's a remake of a great Jerry Lewis movie, just all -- it just works on so many different levels. And it just, you know, showcases what I -- what makes me different from the rest of the puppet heads in town, me and the other puppet heads.



KING: Barbara Walters' annual Oscar special airs Sunday night on ABC.

Before we talk about Ellen DeGeneres, why was the Eddie Murphy thing kept a secret?

WALTERS: Well, Eddie Murphy does not like to do interviews. The only reason that he did this with me, I think, even though I've done two of them in the past, is that David Geffen, whom you have been reading about, perhaps, criticizing the Clintons, who is one of the producers of "Dreamgirls," asked Eddie to do it. And he didn't want to and he sort of did it grudgingly.

We told no one. We didn't announce it. And the crew who did the interview when they showed up did not know who we were going to interview, because we were so afraid that Eddie would back out.

As it turned out, he was very happy with it. That's why he was so funny when I finally said it's over. But it's the first time we have kept it a secret. We told people who the three other stars were. We never mentioned Eddie Murphy until the interview was finished.

KING: All right. This special interview with -- includes an interview with the host, Ellen DeGeneres.

You got a bit emotional talking about sexual molestation and her stepfather, later talking about gratitude and appreciation. Watch.


ELLEN DEGENERES, COMEDIAN: One night tried to break the door down when I was sleeping and I had to kick a window out and go sleep in a hospital overnight and just stay on the floor. And it is a small town, so I couldn't tell people why I was there. He was a horrible, horrible man.

WALTERS: Your mother continued to stay with him.

DEGENERES: She didn't believe me. Well, I didn't tell her for a long time. And I finally told her years later, and then he said that I was lying. And she would keep bringing it up, and then his story kept changing through the years, and she realized he was lying.


KING: First, Barbara, how did you come to interview the host?

WALTERS: Well, because we called the show "Risk and Reward," because all of these people have taken big risks, and certainly Ellen DeGeneres is. I mean, this is the first time that she's hosted. She told us she'd like to do it every year.

She's not going to be confrontational. She's not going to be political. She's not going to tell George Bush jokes and she's not going to dance.

And in talking with her, she brought up the fact that her stepfather had molested her as a child. And we went on to ask after that, is this why you're gay, do you think? And she talked about what it was like -- she said no, it is not. And she talked about what it was like, Larry, 10 years ago, when she came out publicly and said I am gay, on television. Her show was dropped. Nobody would telephone her. Not just she couldn't get a job, nobody even phoned her. And finally she had to write her own script to get back on.

Here we are 10 years later, we have Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Academy Awards, and we have Rosie O'Donnell, who was -- talks about being a lesbian and her children and her companion as openly as can be. Look how far we have come.

KING: Yes. Did you -- do you like Ellen DeGeneres?

WALTERS: I like her very much. I liked everybody on this special, I really did. But Ellen is -- I've interviewed Ellen before. She's very natural. She's very touching. I think she's in a very good place in her life with Portia de Rossi, and we went back and visited them at her beautiful house, with the dogs and the cats and the -- she's in a very good place and she's a nice person. I'm fond of Ellen.

KING: She'll be terrific too, I bet.

WALTERS: I bet she will be. You know, and somehow the fact that she's not going to be confrontational, I think maybe it's time for us, you know, you talk about Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears -- maybe it is time for us to have something that seems like, I don't know, fun, wholesome, nice.

KING: Relief.


KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of Barbara Walters. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 360." He's home. Where are you, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm here in L.A. and I'm glad to be here, Larry. Thanks. We're going to be covering all the angles in the Anna Nicole Smith case, from the legal circus to the judge breaking down in tears.

Plus, breaking through autism. One woman's remarkable story. Find out how technology has transformed her world.

And hospitals actually dumping patients on skid row. You're not going to believe this. We're keeping them honest with a special investigation.

All that and more, and the latest from Iraq and Iran in just a few minutes, Larry.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper. Welcome back. He'll host "AC 360" at the top of the hour, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

Just ahead, we'll talk with Barbara, more about her Academy Award show, and about the whole Trump-O'Donnell kerfuffel, if there's such a word.

As we go to break, Oscar nominee Helen Mirren talks about her stint in psychotherapy.


HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS: I did go to a psychiatrist. But she had a very, very strong Scottish accent, and I just couldn't understand a word she was saying. And I kept saying, I'm sorry, what did you say? And she'd say, well, I think you're (inaudible) -- and he talked really, really quietly as well. (inaudible). I'm like, I'm sorry, what was that?

And then in the end, I asked him, "I'm sorry, what was that," so many times that I thought, oh, blow this.

WALTERS: Forget this.

MIRREN: Forget this, this is a waste of time. I thought, you know, think again. I think the whole psychiatry thing is not going to work for me.




WALTERS: What is interesting in this world of rehab is that he went in for three whole weeks of treatment. And in those weeks, he really felt that it was his religion, he felt that -- he said that three weeks were like three months and Jesus put him back together again.

But what -- somebody said to me, you know when your kid smokes and you don't want your kid to smoke, or your kid drinks and you don't want your kid to drink, so you make the kid smoke all day until he or she can't stand it, you make the kid drink all day. I want to know what they did in the three weeks. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Funny. Barbara Walters Oscar special airs Sunday night on ABC.

You haven't been on since that whole flap. What has been the aftermath emotionally for you about the whole Trump-O'Donnell thing?

WALTERS: Well, you know, that was three months ago. It was in December. We're now almost into March. As Bill Geddie, our executive producer, said, we've offended a whole new group of people by now.

KING: But how did it affect you, Barbara, emotionally? I mean, they were two friends, right?

WALTERS: You know, there were people who really thought that we did this as a publicity stunt.

KING: You're kidding?

WALTERS: No. I think it was difficult for everybody. And the show was on hiatus. So all of this stuff is going on, including Donald Trump's appearance with you. And, you know, I tried not to get in the middle of it. Rosie was on vacation. I was on vacation, and we kept hearing and hearing and hearing about it.

You know, did we love it? No. Did it make people talk about "The View?" Yes. But, you know, it's over. At least as far as we're concerned, it is over. We haven't mentioned his name at all until tonight. Whether it's over for Donald, I don't know. I assume so. He has many other interests, many other things to do. But we've moved on.

KING: It's over for you?

WALTERS: We've moved on. It was over for me ages ago and over for Rosie. We never talk about it.

KING: Today on "The View," you mentioned your trailblazing stint as co-anchor of ABC's evening news, you were the first female anchor on in the evening.


KING: How is Katie doing in your opinion? And how is she being treated, in your opinion?

WALTERS: Well, I think there were similarities between Katie and me -- and I'm very fond of Katie and I think she's doing so well. But that is all eyes are on them.

When I came to ABC, I came to be the first female co-anchor of a network news program with a partner, Harry Reasoner, who didn't want me. And it was very difficult.

It still has been difficult for Katie. What is she wearing? How is her hair? I mean, things that are unimportant.

I think she's done a very good job. I think it has been tough for her. I think she's getting better and better and that she's found her stride.

But you know, to have that kind of a spotlight on you is very tough. And I think that Katie is a very special girl with a special talent, and I think all of us -- I think -- I don't know. I'm very supportive of other women on television. I always have been. While I was waiting to talk to you, Paula Zahn, whom I love, came in to give me a hug and a kiss. And not that I don't think that women have it much easier -- I mean, when I think of my colleague, for example, Diane Sawyer, who's doing such sensational work now -- but we had to work a little harder, we had to climb a little faster. Then we're called driven if we are obsessed, you know, things that they still never say about the men. So I think give Katie a little more time and you'll see, she'll just be fine.

KING: Some more time with my favorite -- one of my favorite people, Barbara Walters. Her ABC special airs Sunday night, the annual, the 26th annual Oscar special. Back with remaining moments with Barbara after this.


WALTERS: You said losing "American Idol" was a blessing.

HUDSON: Oh yes.


HUDSON: Goodness. It was a blessing in disguise. It was just -- I feel like God had it planned out all the way back then. Even when I didn't know what was going on. The rest of the world, nobody knew what was happening. But it seemed like it was planned out perfectly well. So it was the experience of "Idol," which was the platform and the vehicle for me to be seen, and then ironically, all of a sudden, there is auditions for "Dreamgirls." I don't feel like had I won, that I would be sitting here.



KING: By the way, you can also hear Barbara Walters interviews on Sirius Radio. You mentioned David Geffen earlier. What do you make of the Geffen split from the Clintons and support of Obama?

WALTERS: Well, you know, these are going to be -- from now until next February, when we have the beginning of the primaries, we're going to hear so much of this from all different people.

David is very blunt. I'm extremely fond of David. This is the way he feels. And you already have two people, at least their own people, arguing, scrapping. I mean, politically, for people like you and me, Larry, I mean, and people in this business, it's just great. But I wish they hadn't started quite so soon, you know.

KING: Were you surprised how at how strong his language was for someone who supported them so much?

WALTERS: Well, this is David -- by the way, I went to the White House with David when he....

KING: Slept in the Lincoln bedroom?

WALTERS: I did not. David did. I did not sleep in the Lincoln bedroom, and that's all I feel like saying about that.


WALTERS: David has always had very strong opinions, and David is a very important person in the industry. A lot of people may not know him. I just mentioned that he was one of the producers of "Dreamgirls."

But, you know, David is very strong, and in the way he feels, and obviously he feels hurt. And both Hillary and Barack Obama have tried -- have said, we're going to stay out of the nastiness.

Well, they do, but then their people have to fight for them. It's going to be interesting times.

KING: Your show Sunday night is about stars. Stars on the scene.

WALTERS: And stars...

KING: And Barack Obama...


KING: Barack Obama has now become what you would call a star?

WALTERS: Uh-huh.

KING: How do you read him?

WALTERS: How do I read him? In what sense?

KING: As a person, as a figure? He's only two years in the Senate. One term in the legislature.

WALTERS: I'm going to say what everybody else has said. He's refreshing, he seems very candid, he's very attractive. Two years ago, who would have thought that Hillary Clinton would have this competition?

This is what is so amazing about politics. Everything can change in a day. I was with two people last night who have worked with Hillary. And -- Clinton -- I call her Hillary. OK, we all do. We don't all do, but we feel close to her, those of us who interviewed her over the years.

And they said, I said, how does she get through this? And they said, because she realizes that every day is a new day, and that every day things can change. And I guess you just take a deep breath and expect that.

KING: Where do you watch the Oscars, at home in New York?

WALTERS: I stay home with the small staff that produces the Oscars. I don't go to the Oscars. Everybody thinks I do.

Let me just give the time again, because it's a little confusing.

KING: All right, please do, because we're short on time. Go.

WALTERS: Real fast. 7:00 in the East, before the Academy Awards at 7:00, 6:00 Central time. Following the Academy Awards, which is where you're going to be. Where are you doing to be, Larry?

KING: I'm going to be in Washington. I'm going to come east, so I'll see it at 7:00.

WALTERS: OK. You're always so nice to me. I love you, Larry, do you know that?

KING: I know it, Barbara. It's been intense for so many years.

WALTERS: I know. And we're not going to tell anybody who's sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom.

KING: Don't say a word!

WALTERS: Not a word.

KING: Thanks, Barbara.

WALTERS: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Barbara Walters. The annual Barbara Walters Oscar special airs this Sunday night, 7:00 in the East, 6:00 in the Central time zone, and following the awards, out west.

WALTERS: Thank you.

KING: Barbara Walters. Always great to have her with us. One of the great figures in the history of American broadcast journalism.

Right now, we shall turn the podium -- oh, he's here in the studio, he's not over there. He's somewhere in our studios here in Los Angeles, lurking in our studios. He likes to lurk. Anderson Cooper stands by with "AC 360." Welcome home, Anderson.


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