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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Imus Apology Accepted...Now What?; Can Valerie Bertinelli Lose The Weight?; Steve Stanton Fired for Sex Change

Aired April 13, 2007 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
C. VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: We, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knight Basketball Team, accept -- accept Mr. Imus' apology.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, inside last night's meeting with the pastor who was there to help bring Don Imus together with the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Imus' wife told his listeners today how terrible he feels. Now learn what he told the women he insulted.

And then, prime time exclusive -- Valerie Bertinelli. First, she had to admit to the world that she needs to lose a lot of weight. Now, she has to have the whole country watch to see if she can drop those pounds. It worked for Kirstie Alley.

Will it work for her?

Plus, meet Steve, who's finally about to fulfill his desperate lifelong desire to become Susan.

How did he tell his wife and son? And what's he going to do about being fired by the city he'd managed for 14 years once his gender reassignment plan was revealed?

He's here to make a big announcement, too.

And it's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

In our opening segment, our guests are: in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Reverend DeForest Soaries, Jr. the senior pastor of The First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, who mediated last night's meeting at the governor's mansion.

Here in Los Angeles, Larry Elder, host of the very popular "Larry Elder Show" and a best-selling author in his own right. He's been described as the firebrand libertarian.

In Washington, another old friend, Joe Madison...

JOE MADISON, TALK RADIO HOST: Yes, hi.

KING: ... a talk radio host known to his listeners as "Madison the Black Eagle."

And a return visit here in Los Angeles with actress, singer, ordained minister Della Reese.

What was that like last night, Reverend?

REV. DEFOREST SOARIES, JR.: It was the most intense experience I've had in my life, Larry. These young women were noble. They were vocal. But they were not vulgar. They were passionate, but they were polite. They were honest and frank, but they respected Mr. Imus' willingness to come, and, as you saw today, ultimately accepted his apology.

KING: How well did he handle himself?

SOARIES: He was fine. It started out somewhat tense, but he was articulate. He was -- he was absolutely honest. And, of course, he had -- he had just been fired by CBS two hours prior...

KING: Yes.

SOARIES: ... and so it was clear that he was really not there to save his job, because he had no job to save.

KING: Earlier today, the Rutgers coach, Vivian Stringer, summed up her players' response to last night's meeting.

Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STRINGER: C. VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: We, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knight Basketball Team, accept -- accept Mr. Imus' apology and we are in the process of forgiving.

We still find his statements to be unacceptable and this is an experience that we will never forget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STRINGER: We're going to take this point in all of what's happened as something very positive. It's not about hate, it's not about anger. It's about an understanding. And I think these women at Rutgers University have got the attention of the nation here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today she's very glad that Imus was fired. She also said this kind of coarse language doesn't belong anywhere in reasonable dialogue between reasonable people. Larry Elder, as an American -- not a black American -- as an American, were you offended?

LARRY ELDER, RADIO HOST, "THE LARRY ELDER SHOW," BEST-SELLING AUTHOR: I was offended by those remarks. I thought they were over the top. They were racist. They were inappropriate.

But I also think, Larry, that the punishment didn't fit the crime. The guy apologized and then apologized and then did the obligatory perp walk by going on Al Sharpton's show, a man who himself falsely accused somebody of rape and never apologized; a man who once said of the Central Park jogger, that she was a whore, never apologized; and how Al Sharpton gets the moral compass to determine whether or not somebody who has made racist remarks should lose his job is beyond me.

Those young ladies had a remarkable season. They worked hard. And why they all of a sudden became victims -- and their season was, one of them even said, ruined because of what this guy said -- is beyond me.

In the department store of life, Don Imus operates in the toy section and it seems to me there should have been some perspective.

KING: Joe Madison, what do you think?

MADISON: Don Imus doesn't operate in the toy section, because presidential candidates, senators, opinion makers, news people don't play in toy stores. They come on Don Imus' show to sell books. They go on Don Imus' show to discuss public policy.

These young ladies remind me very much of many years ago, of the Little Rock 9, who met this adversity with a great deal of dignity. And they won the respect. Let's be quite honest. It wasn't Al Sharpton that got Don Imus fired. It was General Motors. It was Sprint. It was the marketplace and the advertisers who said they did not want to be associated with that type of language, that attitude and the individual who delivered it. And that's exactly why Don Imus was fired.

We actually broke this story on WOL and X.M. on Thursday morning, when our callers called up. And we didn't tell them to wait on Jesse Jackson. We didn't tell them to wait on Al Sharpton.

As a matter of fact, my mantra is very simple -- do not wait. You are the leader. You pick up the phone and you call CBS...

KING: Right.

MADISON: ... and NBC. That's what we did.

KING: Della Reese, your thoughts in the aftermath now?

DELLA REESE, ACTRESS/MINISTER: I think we're just -- we're at a point now when we've said what we had to say. He has apologized. The young ladies have been given a portion of respect. You see?

We're giving him too much attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

REESE: What we need to be thinking about is some of the things that -- people aren't eating, Larry. We have children not eating. We have children who need help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

REESE: We have AIDS. We have...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're at war.

REESE: We have -- yes. We have so much stuff that's important to think about that we have just spent too much time...

(CROSSTALK)

MADISON: And we all need to be invited...

(CROSSTALK)

MADISON: ... we all need to be invited, as African-Americans and white Americans, not just to come and talk about racial issues, although I think that the United States should have been at the global conference on racism in South Africa and maybe Imus might have learned something. But I hope that the media will diversify its opinion...

KING: Do you think...

MADISON: ... makers, too.

KING: Larry, do you think the story deserved the attention it got?

ELDER: No, I don't think the story deserved the attention --

KING: No?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

ELDER: ... that it got. And we've given this man far too much power. He doesn't earn it. He doesn't deserve it. And, once again, Larry, this is selective outrage and a double standard.

Spike Lee had weighed in. Spike Lee says the man should have been fired. Spike Lee once said he does not like interracial couples and when he sees them, he gives them visual daggers. He also did, Spike Lee, say of Trent Lott that he was a card carrying member of the Klan with no proof.

Yet nobody held them accountable.

KING: Yes.

ELDER: It's not fair.

KING: Deirdre, his -- Don Imus' wife Deirdre is a health and environmental activist in his own right. In fact, her book -- she didn't deserve this. This is her new book. She deserves some attention for it. It's called "Green This: Volume I of Greening Your Cleaning." This is Deirdre's new book.

Deirdre was -- she hosted for her husband this morning.

Listen to part of it.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, COURTESY WFAN RADIO)

DEIRDRE IMUS: They gave us the opportunity to listen to what they had to say and why they're hurting and how awful this is. And I have to say that these women are unbelievably courageous and beautiful women. And one thing I want to say is that the hate mail that's being sent to them must stop. It's -- this is -- this is the wrong -- if you want to send hate mail, send it to my husband.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: Reverend Soaries, do you think this is over?

SOARIES: Yes. Well, Larry, I do think it's over, in one sense. My focus has been exclusively on the complications created for these young women by the situation. I think Larry is right in that it's gotten too much attention.

But my response as a pastor from my church member was in response to the response. By Easter Sunday, all of these people's lives were turned upside down. They didn't create the attention. They didn't make a statement. They needed help in responding.

But I will say this. Three boys from Duke were victims of over zealous prosecution and 10 girls from Rutgers were victims of over zealous shock talk. The boys from victim -- the boys from Duke are -- are respected as having been victimized. The girls from Rutgers are receiving hate mail. I think that's a double standard.

KING: Yes, but Della, that's the minority, isn't it?

REESE: It is the minority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the minority.

REESE: Absolutely it is the minority.

But you see, we've got -- we've got to forgive this and get past this, see?

Forgiving is (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SOARIES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). REESE: ... it's...

SOARIES: We...

REESE: Wait --

SOARIES: We...

REESE: Wait just a minute now.

SOARIES: It's the reality of what?

It's 100 percent. I'm not arguing that this is all of America. I'm a pastor in a local church and my responsibility primarily is to care for the needs of my people. So it's the minority from the global perspective.

I'm not functioning as a global leader. I'm not trying to change the whole world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But pastor...

KING: I'm running short on time.

SOARIES: All I'm trying to do...

KING: Go ahead.

SOARIES: All I'm trying to do is serve the people that I preach to every Sunday.

MADISON: Well, I'm going to end...

(CROSSTALK)

MADISON: ... I'm going to say this, Larry, that we all need to learn this lesson...

KING: Quickly, Joe.

MADISON: Be careful what you think. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. And your actions might become your legacy.

ELDER: And real quickly, Larry, according to a team spokesperson, two or three negative e-mails, they received. Six hundred positive e-mails they received.

There's always going to be some nut ball out there sending something...

MADISON: Absolutely.

ELDER: But it weren't -- but it wasn't very many.

KING: Thank you all very much. We haven't heard the last and we'll have you all back.

ELDER: Thank you.

KING: Up next, from "One Day At A Time" to one pound at a time, a lot of pounds -- why Valerie Bertinelli needs the pressure of millions of eyeballs to slim down and shape up.

And as we go to break, Oprah, who is our guest Monday night to kick off our week long celebration of 50 years in broadcasting.

Here's her thoughts on Don Imus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY: I felt as the -- as Vivian Stringer, the coach, felt. You know, I didn't have any great ideas about whether he should or shouldn't be fired. I thought that that would be left up to his bosses, who have obviously decided that that was what should happen.

I know that, you know, I have my own radio channel. And if somebody on my radio channel had made such degrading remarks, I would have fired them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JENNIE CRAIG AD)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: This is it.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: This is it.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: This is life, the one you get...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back.

And it's a great pleasure to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, after too long an absence, Valerie Bertinelli.

In fact, you're out and about, you see "People" magazine, she's on the cover. A great shot, too, and a great story.

VALERIE BERTINELLI, ACTRESS/SPOKESWOMAN FOR JENNY CRAIG: Thank you.

KING: She -- and there it is.

New spokesperson for Jenny Craig.

She played Barbara Cooper for nine years on the hit TV sitcom "One Day At A Time." She played Gloria on the series "Touched By An Angel." Before we get to the weight thing and all of this, what are your thoughts on the Imus thing?

BERTINELLI: Oh, I just think that harsh words shouldn't be said anywhere anything. I think there's too much hate in the world already and I think we just have to spread more positive.

I don't understand why anybody has to say -- and it's not just Imus, which was horrendous.

But what about Coulter?

What about Limbaugh?

What about -- I mean there's a lot of people saying hateful things.

KING: Well, any effect on your 16-year-old boy, all of this?

BERTINELLI: You know what?

He really -- no. No. He's a pretty bright boy and he -- man, young man. I mean he treats women wonderful. I think this is much more sexist than racist, as far as I'm concerned.

KING: Oh, really?

BERTINELLI: Absolutely. I think -- yes.

KING: More anti-woman than anti-...

BERTINELLI: Yes, absolutely.

KING: All right, how did -- tell me the history of this hookup with Jenny Craig.

BERTINELLI: A long time coming. I drove by their center a million times, it seems like. And I saw what a wonderful job Kirstie did in her go at it. I mean she looks phenomenal now. And she had a great time doing it. She did it with humor and I thought I really want -- I want to do this.

And when they called...

KING: They called you?

BERTINELLI: They called me. But I thought I'm going to do this diet. I'm not going to do it, you know, on TV. I'm just going to do the diet. And I was thinking -- getting myself in there. And then they called. I thought ooh, gosh, that would be really fun to work with her. But then I'd have to like really lose weight and really do it.

KING: But you -- you put yourself on the spot with the campaign.

BERTINELLI: You really do. KING: I mean they pay you...

BERTINELLI: Yes. And you have to...

KING: You are a paid spokesman.

BERTINELLI: Um-hmm.

KING: But you still -- the public looks at you.

BERTINELLI: Yes. And I have to lose six pounds a month, which so far so good. I've lost 13, so.

KING: And you always...

BERTINELLI: And it's only been a month.

KING: Have you always had a weight problem?

BERTINELLI: Yes, I think I -- I really have, whether it's been in my head or in reality, it's always been there, because there's been times where I've been a perfectly normal weight and I think I'm fat. We always have that fat voice in our heads, which is stupid.

But that's, once again, something about society and how you grow up. And I was told I was chubby and chunky when I was 13, so I believed that my whole life.

KING: But when we saw you on "One Day At A Time," you were never overweight.

BERTINELLI: I look at that now and I think that. And yet I was told I was chunky.

KING: What's the goal?

BERTINELLI: My goal is to get down to my driver's license weight, which I haven't changed in 15, 20 years.

KING: How much overweight are you?

BERTINELLI: I think...

KING: In your opinion.

BERTINELLI: In my opinion, it'll -- you know what?

I won't know until I get there how overweight I was. I know that I'm starting to feel a lot better with this first amount of weight that's come off. My knees don't hurt any longer and my -- it's easier for me to run up the stairs. So I'm getting more energy.

I'm going to really try and base it on that and not give it a number. I've given it a size, but I don't know if that's the size I'm -- I don't know.

KING: How -- what's the heaviest you've been?

BERTINELLI: I'm not telling you.

KING: In your own mind -- all right, without giving the weight, was it something you were embarrassed by?

BERTINELLI: Oh, absolutely. That's why I'm not saying the number. I think maybe when I get down to where I'm comfortable and where -- I know it's so silly, because I'm doing this in front of everybody. But -- and it, really, it's just a number. But I don't want my boyfriend knowing how fat I was.

KING: Now, you're not tall.

BERTINELLI: No. I'm 5'4," 5'4"-1/2. 5'4"-3/4. (LAUGHTER).

KING: So it had to be -- what kind of eater were you?

BERTINELLI: I'm a grazer.

KING: Really?

BERTINELLI: I'm not a, you know, I -- I was never a TGI Friday eater, where they give you ridiculous amounts of food. But -- and I was -- I never really kept myself to Jenny Craig portions, which are really healthy, normal portions.

But I think I just grazed a lot during the -- and I didn't even realize what I was eating...

KING: Like a cow?

BERTINELLI: I was unconscious. Yes, thinks, Larry.

KING: You grazed in the grass.

BERTINELLI: Yes, I'm a cow.

KING: No, well, cows graze.

BERTINELLI: I know. Yes. Yes.

KING: Horses graze.

BERTINELLI: It's an English term, you old cow, you know?

KING: Yes.

But...

BERTINELLI: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: But so you -- so it wasn't emotional eating?

BERTINELLI: I'm a bit of an emotional eater, yes. Emotional, unconscious. And may -- the great thing about Jenny Craig is that they will tell you. You'll fill out this questionnaire and they'll tell you where to look what your eating habits are. And emotional and unconscious were my two big ones.

KING: Do you have to attend anywhere?

BERTINELLI: Yes, I go to the center once a week to get weighed in.

KING: And then you take your food home?

BERTINELLI: And then...

KING: The food comes from them, right?

BERTINELLI: ... yes. And then you go -- you go to their freezer and they pack it all up for you and you just add what you want. It's really easy. They make it really easy to lose weight.

KING: Good to have her back.

Valerie Bertinelli.

She's the spokesperson for Jenny Craig.

More after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY JENNY CRAIG INTERNATIONAL)

KIRSTIE ALLEY, ACTRESS: Hey, Jennie, listen, I'm not fat anymore. But my friend Valerie Bertinelli is.

BERTINELLI: Hello. Standing right here.

ALLEY: Oh. No, she's going to love you. Your program was so easy for me to stick with that I lost 75 pounds. No, she's not fat like I was. She's just sort of fat.

BERTINELLI: Yes. Tell her I want to lose 30 pounds.

ALLEY: You tell her.

BERTINELLI: Oh, no. I'm too shy.

ALLEY: Shy?

You're losing weight in front of millions of people.

BERTINELLI: I am?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JENNIE CRAIG AD)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: This is it. UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: This is it.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: This is life, the one you get. So go and have a ball.

This is it.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: This is it.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Straight ahead and rest assured you can't be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on. So while you're here, enjoy the music, keep on doing what you do. Hold on tight we'll muddle through one day at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: One day at a time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Valerie Bertinelli.

You can see her on the front cover of "People" magazine. And she's the spokesperson for Jenny Craig. Mackenzie Phillips, who played your older sister, she was tall and thin.

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: Did that have an effect on you?

BERTINELLI: It did, very much so. Yes. I wanted to look just like her. And I was -- I had just had the curves, you know? And I didn't like it. And she was just...

KING: Yes, there she is.

BERTINELLI: Oh, there she is. Yes.

KING: What happened to her?

BERTINELLI: I'll be seeing her tomorrow, actually, at the TV Land Awards.

KING: What is she doing?

BERTINELLI: She's busy working. She's a working actress.

KING: Did she lick that drug problem?

BERTINELLI: Yes, she did. Yes. Yes.

KING: Were you with her and support her through all that?

BERTINELLI: I wasn't with her through a lot of it. Some of it happened during the show and I was with her and I always supported her. But in her -- the recent, all of -- everything she's gone through, no, we don't stay in touch a lot, unfortunately. But I love her. KING: We have an e-mail from Sylvia in Port Orange, New Jersey: "Valerie, you have always been beautiful. Do you believe your years of dealing with Eddie Van Halen's alcohol problem, then the breakup of the marriage to him contributed to your weight gain?"

BERTINELLI: No. No, not at all. I have different reasons -- I mean I've been struggling with my weight almost my entire life. Ed had nothing to do with it. No.

As a matter of fact, he was -- he was encouraging a lot of the time, discouraging at some points, too. But, no, I can't...

KING: Do you ever see or talk to him?

BERTINELLI: Yes, all the time.

KING: Is he the father of the boy?

BERTINELLI: Yes. He's -- he's Wolfie's dad. I see him all the time.

KING: Is he a good father?

BERTINELLI: He's a wonderful father. Yes.

KING: You were in Al-ANON, right, the...

BERTINELLI: I would go...

KING: ... relative of the alcoholic, right?

BERTINELLI: Well, it's very difficult to -- some of them -- to go to, because it's supposed to be anonymous and it ends up not being anonymous when they see you there, because they talk about it. So it's -- I went to private therapy after that. But, yes...

KING: And Eddie had two battles with oral cancer, right?

BERTINELLI: One, I believe.

KING: One?

BERTINELLI: Or two...

KING: How is he doing?

BERTINELLI: He's doing great. He really is.

KING: So all is nice, huh?

BERTINELLI: All...

KING: Has...

BERTINELLI: All is terrific. We have a really wonderful family. His girlfriend comes over for Christmas dinner and all the kids are there...

KING: He knows your boyfriend?

BERTINELLI: He knows Tom. It's terrific, yes. All the kids are together at Christmas, in the summer and -- yes, it's great.

KING: Was there ever a kind of rock bottom moment about your weight, when it really hit you?

You said you drove by Jenny Craig a lot.

BERTINELLI: There might have been a few rock bottom moments where -- that it -- I'm -- I'm a slow learner. And it takes me -- I'm a -- I procrastinate a lot. And I -- there was a moment in a store where someone didn't know I was listening and they said something very unkind about my weight. And it was -- I crawled out of the store hoping that they didn't see me, because I didn't want them to know that I had heard them.

And I've heard different things and separate things. And I think it just -- it was a buildup to where I fin -- and then my knees hurting. Then I finally said, you know, this is ridicule. I'm going to be 50 in three years and I don't want to do this anymore. I want to have the body. I want to be the person -- I want to enjoy my life.

I found out I would -- I was becoming a hermit. And I wouldn't go out. I wouldn't do things. I didn't want to go out. I didn't want people to see me. And I don't want to be a hermit for the rest of my life. I have a whole other life to live.

KING: Boy, do you not look 50.

BERTINELLI: Oh, thank you.

Well, I'm not 50 yet.

KING: Oh, me. I mean you don't look anywhere close to it.

BERTINELLI: Thank you.

KING: Is it kind of also a little embarrassing?

BERTINELLI: Very embarrassing...

KING: To be called by Jenny Craig?

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: To say we'd like you to be our spokesperson?

BERTINELLI: Yes. It's like oh my god, they know I'm fat, too. It's like how could they know that I don't go out anywhere?

But, yes, it was embarrassing. But now it's become freeing. It's like OK, I can say it. Yes, I know what you're thinking.

KING: Now the commercials, are you and Kirstie going to be kind of teamed...

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: Yes?

BERTINELLI: Yes. And I just love it. We -- we just shot the second one yesterday and it's just -- it's so much fun, because this woman, she's brilliant. She's -- her mind.

KING: Oh, yes. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BERTINELLI: She just always goes. She's got ideas and ideas and I'm just -- I'm a huge fan. I'm going to be her stalker. Don't tell her, but I just love her.

KING: Do you know that Jenny is a close friend of this show and she's been on this show?

BERTINELLI: Really?

I have not met her yet. I'm very excited about that.

KING: You haven't met Jenny Craig?

BERTINELLI: No, I'm very excited about meeting her. I'm hoping to go down to San Diego soon so I can meet her.

KING: Oh, you ought to go when her husband -- a great guy.

BERTINELLI: Yes?

Oh, that's nice to know.

KING: You're on a 1,200 calories a day?

BERTINELLI: Um-hmm.

KING: Can you make that?

BERTINELLI: Easily. Easily.

KING: That's hard.

BERTINELLI: I've been doing it for over a month. It's not hard. It -- well, OK, yes, it's hard, obviously, because it's always hard going on a -- if it was easy, it would have been able to do it a long time ago.

But the reason maybe I'm thinking it's easier is because I have a terrific consultant. I have -- I have Kirstie. I have people -- I have Tom helping me. He's on it. I have the support of my boy and my stepson. I have -- this just -- I -- it's just, there's a lot of support around me. I think that's how you do it.

KING: Tom is your boyfriend?

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: We'll be back with more with Valerie Bertinelli coming up.

Before we go to break, we're in the middle of our suspender sweepstakes.

Take a look at the last night's question. We'll give you the answer, when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Can you tell us why you didn't sit on the back of the bus that day?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Next week, CNN is kicking off a week long celebration of my 50 years in broadcasting.

This week, you get a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to see my show live and an autographed pair of my suspenders in Larry

King's Suspenders Sweepstakes.

How?

Each night we'll run a clip from one of my most memorable shows. I ask the question, you figure out who the question is for. And then you go to cnn.com/larryking50. Correctly identify the guest, you have a shot at winning the trip and the suspenders. You have until tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern to enter, so let's roll tonight's clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And your humanitarian work is exemplary.

Has it impacted your acting? Has it impacted your reaction to celebrity? What effect has this had on you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Want to see it again?

Here you go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And your humanitarian work is exemplary.

Has it impacted your acting? Has it impacted your reaction to celebrity? What effect has this had on you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Think you know who the guest was?

Go to cnn.com/larryking50 and enter now.

KING: And last night's guest was Rosa Parks.

Congratulations to the winners.

Our guest is Valerie Bertinelli.

Now, do you find, since this all came out, people checking you out?

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: I mean you go to the grocery store, hey, Valerie, what are you buying that for?

BERTINELLI: Not a lot of that yet. I think it's still too new. But most everybody that's -- especially in the last week, it's you don't need to lose weight. It's like where were you a couple of month's ago when I (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know.

KING: You don't look overweight.

BERTINELLI: Thank you. I am, I am.

KING: Paparazzi ever fall you around?

BERTINELLI: No. And I don't believe they ever will. I'm not interesting enough, thank God.

KING: Would you do a TV series again?

BERTINELLI: Absolutely, in a heartbeat.

KING: Any offers coming in?

BERTINELLI: No.

KING: What do you mean, no?

BERTINELLI: Well, because -- OK, sitcoms, whatever I mean -- basically when they're looking for mothers of 20-year-olds or 24-year- olds they're hiring 35-year-old actresses. I'm kind of up there. So I don't know. I think they'd be stupid not to hire me. I think I'm pretty talented, but I don't run the networks.

KING: You do summer stock, you do theater, you do anything?

BERTINELLI: I'd love to do that. I'd love to do that. Well, to do my -- before I die list, that's one of the things I want to do is do a play again, preferably on Broadway or off-Broadway.

KING: You've done that before?

BERTINELLI: Not Broadway but I have done plays before, yes, and I enjoy them.

KING: Don't you miss the whole shstick?

BERTINELLI: I do. I miss being in front of a live audience. I like that. That's what I like about sitcoms. But they're not doing a heck of a lot the sitcoms these days so I don't know I might have to wait a little while.

KING: Don't you think all this attention can bring something back to you. Somebody is going to say, hey.

BERTINELLI: And they'll realize I'm not dead.

KING: She fits this.

BERTINELLI: That'd be nice because I haven't really tapped out of the spotlight since Wolfy was in kindergarten. I've really kind of not worked a lot. I've worked a little, but I don't like to travel because I don't like to be away from him.

KING: Because you a very young about to be 50.

BERTINELLI: Well, thank you.

KING: I mean you really are.

BERTINELLI: Would you stop saying I'm about to be 50.

KING: You're the one who said it.

BERTINELLI: I know. I know. But it should pass through the years.

KING: You know we should go out and eat.

We'll be back with Valerie Bertinelli.

Oprah Winfrey Monday night, Bill Clinton next Thursday night and Katie Couric interviews me on Tuesday. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, the complete first season of the Emmy-winning sitcom series "One Day at a Time" is coming out on DVD on April 24 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

BERTINELLI: It's about time.

KING: There it is, the cover. Yes, it is about time.

BERTINELLI: Yes, yes. Wait; let me say hi to the Batallis (ph) and the Alaterris (ph) first because they're all sitting around having a party watching Larry King right now.

KING: They're your boyfriend's family?

BERTINELLI: Yes, his family.

KING: Where in Ohio are they?

BERTINELLI: Cuyahoga Falls, did I say it right?

KING: It's outside of Cleveland?

BERTINELLI: Yes, yes.

KING: We have an e-mail from Lisa in Fort Smith, Arkansas. "How have you raised such a wonderful son when both you and his father have been in the spotlight at the same time? How have you kept him grounded and out of trouble?"

BERTINELLI: He is a very, very loved boy. I mean he is unconditionally loved by both of us. And you know what we really haven't been in the spotlight as much as people really think. I mean we started off that way. But I have taken it easy since -- not taking it easy, I've been raising him since he came into kindergarten. It's about 10 years. So I'm there. I'm an at-home home.

KING: When you look at "One Day at a Time," when you look at Barbara Cooper, what do you think?

BERTINELLI: I think what a sweet little girl. And it's not me. It looks like some -- I can't connect to it. It's a whole other lifetime ago. I mean do you do the same thing when you look at baby pictures, too? Who is that little thing? It's the same thing except I have live action baby pictures.

KING: Why was the series so successful?

BERTINELLI: Gosh, I don't know.

KING: A lot of years.

BERTINELLI: A lot of years, nine years, from '75 to '84. I think maybe it had to do with -- just those kinds of things were not talked about a lot back then. And you know how can you go wrong with Norman Lear producing your show? I mean he knew what the heck he was doing.

KING: Great scripts.

BERTINELLI: Yes, great scripts.

KING: First thing, it has to be the script comes first.

BERTINELLI: Yes, yes. They did a lot of work on those.

KING: Best of luck, Valerie.

BERTINELLI: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Now, we'll follow you, OK?

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: We'll keep in touch...

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: ...like once a month, once every six weeks.

BERTINELLI: I'll come in and I'll tell you how much weight I lost.

KING: We will not weigh you but you'll be on and tell us -- well, we'll see how well you're doing.

BERTINELLI: Well, you have to be honest, too. I mean you can't lie.

KING: Larry: I must say though, you look terrific.

BERTINELLI: Thank you.

KING: Valerie Bertinelli, the new spokeswoman for Jenny Craig.

Up next, we'll meet the married father fired by the city he served more than 14 years after his plan to become a woman was made public. That story when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

Coming up next week, we're celebrating my 50 years in broadcasting. Kicking it off Monday when the incomparable Oprah Winfrey joins me for the hour. Tuesday, Katie Couric turns the tables and interviews me. Wednesday, a "CNN PRESENTS" special, 50 years of pop culture through my eyes. Thursday, former president Bill Clinton's first interview since his wife Hilary Clinton announced her presidency. And Friday, an all-star toast hosted by Bill Maher.

What a 50 years it's been and what a week it's going to be.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Steve Stanton, the former city manager of Largo, Florida. He was fired last month after disclosing he was a transsexual and wanted to become a woman. With him is Karen Doering, she is senior counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She is the attorney for Steven Stanton.

How long has this feeling gone on, Steve? When did you first say, "I'm the wrong gender?"

STEVE STANTON, HUSBAND & FATHER FIRED AFTER 14 YEARS AS LARGO, FLORIDA CITY MANAGER: Yes, very earlier, since I was a child I can remember I wanted walk into the candy store in my sister's shoes. It was a very profound knowledge that your body didn't match your spirit.

KING: What's the difference between that or wanting to be or being gay?

STANTON: Yes, it's sexual identification. Orientation is very different from gender identification. So when you're a transsexual, it feels like your body does not match your...

KING: You don't belong?

STANTON: Yes, yes, yes, and it's not synonymous with the sexual orientation at all.

KING: Yet you grew up hiding all of this. You got married and you had a son. What was marriage like?

STANTON: Marriage was good. I loved my wife. I got married because I wanted to have a lasting relationship. She's the best thing that's ever happened to me. We had a good marriage.

KING: Good boy, good son?

STANTON: Good son, a great son. My little son is named Travis and he and I are extremely close.

KING: How's he dealing with all of this?

STANTON: He's been dealing with it great. He's been dealing with it great. His school took all of the right opportunities to make sure that he was able to continue on with class and has not missed a day.

KING: How did you tell your wife?

STANTON: Initially, it was difficult because you don't think you would ever grow up wanting to change your gender. There those things that you think are permanent. And I realized I had to, it was a very difficult decision. I actually did it in an eight-page letter, in an eight-page letter and it was very difficult.

KING: Is it difficult, Karen, for a lesbian to understand this because you're different, right? You don't want to be a man?

KAREN DOERING, SENIOR COUNSEL, NATIONAL CENTER FOR LESBIAN RIGHTS: Correct, correct. You know sexual orientation is about who you're attracted to whereas you know gender identity disorder, the medical condition that Steve and a number of others have, is where basically your internal sense of who you are, what your mind tells you is your proper gender is inconsistent with the physical anatomy you have.

KING: And yet you became city manager, successful city manager for 14 years. You earned $140,000 a year, right?

STANTON: Yes, yes.

KING: Why didn't you just -- since you loved your wife and loved your kid, why didn't you just live it out?

STANTON: Yes, that's been the thousand dollar question. Why now and how come you had to do this? I guess ultimately, you want to be authentic to yourself. You want to make sure that you're going to be around for many years with your son. And I just wanted to be true to who I am. And I actually believed -- I believed that the city of Largo would be able to accept this. Even though that sounds maybe...

KING: Have you started the process?

STANTON: Yes, I have, absolutely.

KING: By doing what?

STANTON: Well, the first process is electrolysis to remove the hair from your face. It's an extremely painful process and then hormone therapy where you start changing the outside of your body. And the last phase is when you try to actually experience life in your true gender.

KING: When will that take place?

STANTON: That will take place in about 30 to 60 days; at the end of the May is when I'll be going as Susan full-time.

KING: Is your wife going to stay married to you?

STANTON: No, we'll be separating probably around June.

KING: You were fired. You were surprised.

STANTON: Yes, shocked.

KING: What was the vote?

STANTON: Five to two.

KING: The mayor voted?

STANTON: The mayor voted to support me as well as another commissioner.

KING: We contacted the mayor for the record. That's Mayor Pat Girard of Largo. And she said the city had no comment on the dismissal.

STANTON: Yes, at this point that's appropriate. And everybody is worried about being sued and that's been a big concern. Everybody is always focusing on litigation these days.

KING: Are you going to sue?

DOERING: We advised Steve what his options were. We looked at the law and it's very clear what the city of Largo did is illegal. You cannot fire somebody just because they announce that they're going to transition from male to female. That's absolutely clear that that's what they did in the city of Largo.

So what we did was we laid out the options for Steve, and had real heart to heart about what litigation really looks like. It'll probably go on for years. And we talked about some other possibilities. And then we left it up to him to decide whether or not he wants to sue the city of Largo. KING: You have decided yet?

STANTON: Absolutely. I decided the first night.

KING: You're going to sue?

STANTON: Of course not.

KING: Not sue?

STANTON: Of course not.

KING: Have you have gotten any other offers?

STANTON: Offers to sue?

KING: To be city manager somewhere else?

STANTON: Well, yes, I have some interviews scheduled. But the city of Largo has been great to me, 17 years. It is a city of progress. Other than the commissioners who were just inundated with a lot of negative email, the community was extremely embracing. I was not surprised but reaffirmed how supportive they were with me.

KING: We were told you were going to make an announcement tonight of some kind?

STANTON: Yes, I think everybody thought we were going to sue because that's typical of what...

KING: So the announcement is you are not going to sue.

STANTON: We are not going to sue. Absolutely not.

KING: That's the announcement?

STANTON: Well, because I think that there's a time for healing as opposed to the decisive process of litigation. I always said from the first time that I really wanted to educate. I wanted to educate, to make people understand that just because you're transsexual doesn't mean you cannot lead, doesn't mean you can't be a productive person. I think I can do that better as an advocate.

KING: As a lawyer, would you have had a good suit?

DOERING: Absolutely. I think he had a very strong suit and we've actually brought and won cases for transsexual people who were fired in the workplace in Florida. We talked about that with Steve. We talked about the options.

But from the beginning, and one of the things I admire most about Steve, is he said I just want to make sure that nobody else has to go through this. He knew he was in a very high-profile job. He knew that, you know, it would make the news when he announced he was transitioning. And he hoped and believed that the city of Largo would do the right thing and he would be able to transition and keep his job. Unfortunately, that didn't happen but he wants to educate. He wants to help people understand this medical condition, transsexualism, under what it is, and understand that these are human beings. It could be you or me or somebody's kid.

KING: How did you tell the city?

STANTON: How did I tell the city?

KING: How did you do it? Did you go before the city council?

STANTON: Yes, we had an opportunity to make an appeal. We did that. We brought...

KING: I mean how did you tell them you were transsexual?

STANTON: Well, I didn't really tell them. I was "outed" -- quote, unquote by a local newspaper, who said we're running the story whether you tell your community or not. And that was unpleasant. That was kind of devastating actually.

KING: So tonight you officially tell them you're not going to sue.

STANTON: Absolutely, yes. When I told them the night of the process that -- I specifically said suing the city would be like suing my own mom and it would have been. Largo's been too good to me.

KING: Did your co-workers know? Who knew about it other than your wife?

STANTON: Well, when I first started to get very close to the point of which I would be bringing this in the workplace, I brought in four or five people that were occupationally trained to ensure some confidentiality, to talk very frankly of what the impact of this decision would be in their operation. And so about five people from the city.

KING: We'll be right back with Steve Stanton and Karen Doering. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A constant professional.

Mayor Gerard?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have not communicated well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice Mayor Krocher (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, consider stepping down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Arson (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I have lost confidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Black?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope we can move forward in this city with a greater understanding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Woods?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he's lost his standing as a leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Gentry (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I no longer can trust his judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Guyette (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Motion carries 5-2.

In an effort for the city manager to be put on administrative leave, I believe...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...we do need to appoint an interim city manager.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His record has been outstanding. And if it was not then you would have never given him a pay raise in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I question the performance and that has been my issue since day one with the city. And there are so many examples here, I can't cite all of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've dealt with city managers and other managers all the time and his is one of the best performances I have seen. He has served this city well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steven doesn't exist any longer and Susan basically is brand new. No social security number. No elementary school. No high school. No college. We are talking about a phlegm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Steve Stanton and his attorney, Karen Doering. One commissioner was reported as saying, "I do feel he was the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect nor the confidence to continue." Any response to that?

STANTON: Yes, and that was a perspective that a few people had. I think people don't understand the courage and conviction it took to stand up and really discuss something extremely personal like this and knowing the public reaction that was going to follow.

DOERING: One of the things we know from the medical experts who deal with transsexualism all the time and at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, we deal with people transitioning in the workplace all the time and this is the kind of reaction that is absolutely normal and human. When you tell somebody, you share a deep part of yourself. Hey, I'm transsexual. The initial reaction is how can I not have known that? How can I trust you now? You kept this from me. And that is a very human reaction.

KING: What was the plan you said had?

DOERING: Well, Steve had come up with a great plan. It's the kind of plan that we recommend for anyone who's transitioning in the workplace. You tell a human resources person. You tell your immediate supervisor. As the city manager, the closest thing he has to an immediate supervisor is the mayor. You bring in some of the key leaders in the organization. You set up training so that -- and you plan how you're going to announce this to folks so that you can do the education, so that yes, there's going to be a speed bump. This is going to be shocking to people. But there are ways when it's done properly, when it's handled properly, it can absolutely be done well. People transition in the workplace all the time and are very, very successful.

KING: What is it like, Steve, to live in a body that's wrong for you? Day to day, wasn't it?

STANTON: Yes, it's something, when I discussed with other transsexuals, it's a situation when you wake up, it's the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about when you go to bed at night. It feels like that there's something profoundly wrong with who you know you are and who you portray to be.

KING: And you want to be your wife?

STANTON: No, I want to be who I am. I don't want to be my wife. I want to be who I am and I want to be an authentic person and I want to be somebody who can be productive. And I think I can still do that. And I can still be an extremely effective city manager.

KUDLOW: Do you expect your son to call you Dad?

STANTON: I expect my son to call my anything he's comfortable calling me. What I do expect and I have received is his love and support. KING: Are you scared?

STANTON: I'm terrified. This is going to be a very substantial challenge. Having my reputation smeared by so many people that really thought because I'm a transsexual that I'm not able to do my job and all of the things that people sort of came up with and justified, their decisions has been devastating. So I'm very...

KING: Are you scared of the surgery?

STANTON: No, not at all.

KING: No?

STANTON: No.

KING: That's what I meant.

STANTON: Yes, the surgery, no. The surgery is not -- a lot of folks don't have the surgery. My intention is to do so. But right now I need to get my life...

KING: A lot don't have the surgery. They just, what, wear female clothing?

STANTON: Well, they live who they are.

KING: They're hiding?

STANTON: I wouldn't say you're hiding but I don't think your genitalia really defines your personality and who you are as a whole person.

DOERING: Yes. And the surgery is for a lot of people is cost prohibitive. Almost every insurance company out there puts this specific prohibition in there that they do not cover sexual reassignment surgery. And so, this is a medical condition. It's the only accepted medical protocol but it's not covered by insurance and not everyone has $20,000 or $30,000.

KING: What specialist does the surgery and what code of surgery?

DOERING: Well, there are many...

KING: Plastic surgeons?

DOERING: Well, there are medical standards of care and different -- depending on which surgical procedure, if it's, you know, a chest reconstruction of some sort, depending on whether it's a male to female or female to male, then that would probably be some sort of plastic surgeon.

KING: Isn't female to male harder?

DOERING: Female to male...

KING: Surgery.

DOERING: The bottom surgery for them is more difficult, yes.

KING: Do you know where you're going to have it done already, Steve?

STANTON: I have no idea. It's almost irrelevant at this point. It really is. That was a big focus. That's the sensational aspect of this story, the sex change, what is he going to wear, when is she going to be...

KING: That's because people think about that.

STANTON: Yes, they do. And it shows a lack of education. And that's why I think litigation in this situation is not nearly as important as education. And I think -- I had a very unique opportunity having a national stage now to communicated in ways that people don't.

KING: Do you want to be a city manager again?

STANTON: Oh, absolutely. I was extremely good at it. I was extremely good at being a city manager. I enjoyed the city of Largo and had a lot of friends in the city. And that's been the biggest adjustment that so many people...

KING: Do you want to stay in Florida?

STANTON: Probably but not necessarily. You know City managers, we tend to be nomadic. So I'll go where I feel comfortable.

KING: Have you received a lot of support?

STANTON: I've received extreme support. We have people sending food to the house and flowers. There was an interfaith rally in the city of Saint Petersburg. Absolutely. I was not prepared for the emotional outpouring that so many people gave us the last three weeks. It's been superior.

KING: Where is it all going to go, Karen? Do you think we'll ever have a society that totally accepts this?

DOERING: I think we will. Again, I think it takes time. This is a new concept that society doesn't understand very well. And I think by Steve, you know, taking the stand because he was such a public figure and sharing his story, it helps people understand transsexualism. It helps them understand that this is just another medical process. And once he transitions and starts living as Susan, people will realize that he's the same person he's always been. And Susan Stanton will be absolutely every bit as good city manager as Steve Stanton.

KING: You're going to be Susan?

STANTON: Yes.

KING: Why did you pick Susan?

STANTON: I didn't, my mom did.

KING: What does she think of this?

STANTON: Well, she died but she would have been proud. She would have been proud.

KING: So she knew all about this?

STANTON: She did not know about it.

KING: Then how did she pick Susan?

STANTON: Because I asked her when I was about 7, "Mom, what would my name have been if I was a girl?" And she told me the name Susan. And it just exploded in my head. That was the identification of who I was.

KING: May I be the first to welcome you, Susan?

STANTON: Thank you.

KING: He's still Steve. He will be Susan.

Thank you, Karen.

DOERING: Thank you.

KING: Steve Stanton, the former city manager of Largo, Florida; Karen Doering, his attorney, the senior counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. And again, Steve announcing tonight, he will not -- repeat, not sue the city of Largo.

Next week, it's my 50 years in broadcasting. We kick it off Monday night with Oprah Winfrey.

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