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Robin Givens on Her Ex, Mike Tyson; Interview With Congressman Patrick Kennedy

Aired June 22, 2007 - 21:00   ET



ROBIN GIVENS, NEW BOOK ALLEGES BOXER EX-HUSBAND MIKE TYSON BEAT, RAPED HER: I don't know if I thought of it -- thought of it as rape, as the time.


KING: Robin Givens shares shocking stories of abuse at the hands and the fists of one of the world's most dangerous and notorious men, her ex-husband, former heavyweight boxing champ, Mike Tyson.

Well, he didn't hit you, did he?

GIVENS: Yes. Yes.

KING: And then, Congressman Patrick Kennedy. His first prime time interview on his fight to reform America's mental health system and his personal battle with addiction.


REP. PATRICK J. KENNEDY (D), RHODE ISLAND: I have, you know, alcoholic and addict in -- written on my forehead.


KING: Plus, Tom Arnold and comedian Richard Lewis on how they survived horror of substance abuse, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Robin Givens, the terrific actress and author of a terrific new book, "Grace Will Lead Me Home." And it's published by Miramax, about a cycle of domestic abuse and violence, how it's passed down from one generation to another.

Why did you write it?

GIVENS: It was time for me. It was really time for me to put to bed a time in my life and just move on and, you know, we were talking a little bit earlier. I just can't believe that it's actually a book.

KING: Your abuse was what kind?

GIVENS: Well -- KING: You grew up around it, right?

GIVENS: No. I really didn't.

KING: But it's a family thing, isn't it?

GIVENS: But I didn't realize it until later.

KING: Did your father hit you?

GIVENS: Almost. Almost. It's in the book. And I was sort of -- OK. Almost.

KING: But the audience doesn't know it.


It was an interesting, somewhat painful thing to kind of go back.

KING: Hard to write about?

GIVENS: Very hard. Like I said, sort of going back and looking at your family and discovering who you are and why you are the way you are was nice. There were other parts that were difficult.

KING: You were in a tough situation with Mike Tyson.

GIVENS: Umm-hmm.

KING: You're well within yourself. You're a terrific actress. You can stand on your own.

So the obvious question, why did you stay?

GIVENS: Well, I -- I really didn't for so -- for too long. I -- it's so hard to even think about the complexities of all of this because so much of me really felt loyal and I didn't want to fail him. I wanted to love all of his pain and hurt away. I wanted -- he gave me a purpose, in many respects. I -- that might --

KING: The purpose to help him?

GIVENS: Well, yes, yes. And to sort of, you know, protect him, to be there by his side.

KING: And his abuse to you was not -- well, he didn't hit you, did he?

GIVENS: Yes. Yes. I mean, you know, it's funny -- it's not funny at all. But I later heard -- I write about the first hit in the book. And I think as painful as that was, to have, years later, Michael recount it as well and remember it as well as I had remembered it, enough to describe it to someone as his best punch ever, was terribly disturbing to me and as painful.

And I wondered, I have to tell you, Larry, I mean there was a big part of me that wanted the world to sort of stay up -- stand up and say however much of a hero this person is, somebody's got to say this is wrong.

KING: But his fist, a boxer's fists are a lethal weapon.

GIVENS: Um-hmm.

KING: You could have charged him just on that.

GIVENS: Um-hmm.

KING: It's a crime for a boxer to hit someone.

GIVENS: Yes. And it should be a crime for anybody to hit some -- I mean --

KING: But for a boxer, it becomes more than just aggravated assault.

GIVENS: Yes. But I think for us it really got into the -- like I said, it was so complicated. I mean, to have somebody that was so powerful and so big in my mind cry on my shoulder after doing such a terrible thing. And in many respects where I was the one that may be at first being consoled, and then I'm doing the consoling. It just became sort of a pattern of things.

KING: Our guest is Robin Givens.

It's an extraordinary book, "Grace Will Lead Me Home."

You won't read a more honest work.

We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inquiring minds want to know, how does a woman who went to Sarah Lawrence and Harvard Medical School wind up falling in love with a guy who is a graduate of the school of hard knocks?

GIVENS: God, I want to know, too. There's something -- we have a lot in common -- traditional families and we just sort of love each other. It was sort of love at first sight. It was hard at the beginning, but we got through it and we ended up married.




GIVENS: Michael is intimidating, to say the least. I think that there's -- there's a time when he cannot control his temper.


MARVIN MITCHELSON, GIVENS' ATTORNEY: The relationship has become completely not viable between the parties. There is violence. There's been continued violence. And she fears for her safety.


KING: We're back with Robin Givens.

The book is "Grace Will Lead Me Home."

You even describe a marital rape by Mike while you were in Russia.

GIVENS: Well, it's funny, because I didn't use that word. And I actually -- I was told that it was in a clip in a newspaper somewhere. And I -- I thought about it. And I went back that night -- well, you know, after hearing about it. And I read that portion of the book.

KING: To yourself?

GIVENS: To myself, yes, to sort of see what I had written. And, I mean, you talk about an honest work. I mean I sort of told what happened. I don't know if I thought of it -- thought of it as rape as the time or if I really even think about it now. I know I felt helpless and out of control.

KING: Is it because you were married you didn't think of it as rape?

GIVENS: Probably. I know that --

KING: In other words, if you weren't married, it was rape?

GIVENS: Undoubtedly --

KING: Suppose you were on a date.

GIVENS: Undoubtedly. Undoubtedly.


Forty-eight hours after that occurrence, you and Mike sit down for a now infamous Barbara Walters interview on ABC's "20/20."

Let's look at a clip from that.


BARBARA WALTERS, HOST: What's it been like, this roller coaster?

GIVENS: It's been torture. It's been pure hell. It's been worse than anything I could possibly imagine.

WALTERS: Does he hit you? GIVENS: He shakes. He pushes. He -- he swings.


KING: Why did you do that?

GIVENS: I don't know.

KING: Why did you say that?

GIVENS: I don't know.

KING: What did Mike say afterwards?

GIVENS: We went to dinner. We were fine. I mean, we went to dinner. We all, you know, I mean, you know -- and Barbara knew, you know, she knew a lot of the circumstances and encouraged us to be honest. And, you know, he was a part of the whole, you know, honesty.

But I think that I was so numb at the time. I mean, I was so very -- which I -- which I write about, just being numb, where you just slowly kind of remove yourself from yourself. And I was so in over my head. And I tried --

KING: How long were you married?

GIVENS: I guess not quite a year.

KING: I had lunch with Mike Tyson last week. I know Mike very well.

GIVENS: Did you?

KING: Yes. I've interviewed him many times.

GIVENS: Right.

KING: and had a wonderful lunch in Los Angeles.

GIVENS: Right. Um-hmm.

KING: But he is really trying --

GIVENS: Um-hmm.

KING: -- to help himself get out of -- get out of whatever he was in. He's been in a Helpful House. He's been there for three months.

GIVENS: Um-hmm. I know.

KING: He's into forgiveness, asking people to forgive him and he's apologizing to people.

GIVENS: Um-hmm.

KING: Has he called you?


KING: Are you surprised to here this?

He's very contrite.

GIVENS: We -- actually it's something, because I did a -- I did a small film not too long ago with a little boy who played my son in the movie, from "Get Rich Or Die Trying." He played 50 Cent Young. And my sons were -- and they never are at the set. But they became very friendly with this little boy. And my son, my oldest son, Buddy, who's into being cool, wanted to go to this premiere. And I never go to those sort of things. And Michael was there.

And I only went for my son. The next thing I know I'm like, oh great. But, you know, we sort of hugged and he told me I'm sorry. And I said, I'm sorry. I love you. I love you. God bless. You know, he was rubbing -- my son has this afro this big and he's rubbing his head through this -- all this hair and -- and it was almost going to be the ending of my book. JoEllen (ph) and I, my editor, talked about that quite a bit. I called her. I said I think I'll have the end, you know, because I literally had each son in, you know, hands in my hand.

And I was walking outside of the Chinese Mann Theater along Hollywood Boulevard and I felt, wow! I mean it felt like all the eyes were on us there and -- and I can't --

KING: The paparazzi didn't get this?

GIVENS: But I can't -- no. But I can't -- I can honestly say, Larry, that I didn't necessarily recognize -- there were remnants of the person that I was married to.

KING: Do you think he's changed?

GIVENS: I think so. I mean, life does that to you. And it's either that --

KING: He's trying.

GIVENS: I know. I know. I know that he is. So -- so I'm happy for him.

KING: He's such a complex person, isn't he?


KING: There's a side of him that has this enormous kind of -- there's a killer side of him --


KING: -- that he wants to defeat and then there's a tender --

GIVENS: Oh my god. KING: -- intelligent.

GIVENS: Oh, thank you. Thank you for saying that.

KING: Very intelligent.

GIVENS: Because so many people were like you're smart, how could you be with him?

I mean, I said he was -- he was far more smart than I could ever be. I mean, any -- anything I ever knew was from a book. If it wasn't in a book, I didn't know it. I remember my mom telling me at one point, what does your gut tell you to do?

And I said well, just what's a gut?

Explain -- explain that to me.

He knew just about life and people. And we could sit and watch boxing movies together.

KING: Oh, yes.

GIVENS: And he -- the history and what --

KING: He knows it. He could have won the quiz show on boxing.

GIVENS: Yes. Yes. And -- and he was my friend, I mean literally where you do nothing together. And I would go to bed with Clearasil all over my face and he thought that was cute.

KING: So was there --

GIVENS: And I wasn't all dressed like this, you know?

KING: So was it an unhappy divorce?

GIVENS: Well, you know, it's -- you know, we were together right after my divorce. We were -- you know, it was hard, I think, for us to -- to sort of break away from each other. The divorce didn't stop us from being together. I mean so --

KING: Robin Givens is the guest.

We'll be back with our remaining moments with this terrific lady. I've I used that a lot with her, but she's really -- she really is.

"Grace Will Lead Me Home."

Don't go away.



RAOUL FELDER, GIVENS' ATTORNEY: I unequivocally and irrevocably state as follows. One, Michael could have his divorce. Two, I will not seek nor accept any money for myself. I never married Michael for money. Therefore, this represents no loss for me, other than the loss of losing my husband and the affect this whole situation has had on both our lives. I wish him well.


KING: We're back with Robin Givens.

This is crazy, but you were once actually named the most hated woman in America.


KING: This was at age 24. One biographer of Donald Trump claimed that you had a sexual relationship with him.


KING: And Donald denies that, by the way.

GIVENS: Well, he should.

KING: People called you a gold digger. They say you married Mike Tyson for his money. A CNN/Newsnight poll reported 93 percent of all respondents thought the divorce was your fault.

GIVENS: Right.

KING: Why?

GIVENS: I don't know.

KING: How did that happen to you?

GIVENS: I -- I don't --

KING: What did you do?

GIVENS: I don't -- I'm not -- I'm not quite sure what I did. I -- I -- it seems like I did it all wrong, except I sit here in front of you feeling that life is so good, you know?

I really do -- which is really what my book is about, that I believe that every single person who is watching your show tonight is going to go through a difficult time in life. Not everyone will make your show and sit before you, but they're going to go through a difficult time. And you can be better for that difficult time.

KING: is that what you're saying to people?

GIVENS: Yes. It really is. I -- I am just happy. I'm just --

KING: Is faith a part of this?

GIVENS: Oh, faith, for me, I mean my grandmother's name was Grace.

KING: Grace. This is -- this is not a girl named Grace, meaning you.

GIVENS: No. No. My grandmother's name was Grace. And there was a time for me that -- that even coming home, to be able to sit here in front of you or to be home in New York or to be home and safe, to be able to live and do what I do and have -- to be all that god -- I feel that god intended for me to be is -- is just wonderful. So it's sort of like whatever the past is, it is what it is.

I do feel that, you know, it's so difficult to grow up in front of the press. I see all of these people now and I look at Lindsay and all of -- Lindsay Lohan and all if and I'm thinking I was as young as these girls.

KING: You were, huh?

GIVENS: However much you get dressed -- people dress you up and they come and they do your hair and your makeup and they pick stuff for you, you're a little girl. And -- and to be called those things and critiqued and criticized -- so I thank god that I am who I am.

KING: What kind of -- are you in a relationship now?

GIVENS: No. But one day -- I believe in marriage and --

KING: Do you miss it?

GIVENS: Yes. Yes, of course. I mean I'm sort of seeing somebody, but not too serious. But I want to -- I want to have that, like, fairy tale. I want to grow old with somebody and -- and, you know, hold hands and go to the movies and trust and all of that.

KING: Are you very career oriented?

GIVENS: No. No. Not anymore.


GIVENS: No. I am --

KING: You used to be.

GIVENS: Yes. I was very career oriented and now I'm just so into being happy. I mean, my children have been -- I, you know, I say your parents should kind of grow up and then your children finish growing you up. You know, I loved -- when this book -- when I finally actually saw the book, you know, I sat with my 7-year-old. My big son was at practice and went to the beach. And we took a chair and I sat and he was digging in the sand. And I sat there and I read. And nothing makes me happier.

KING: You dated Brad Pitt at one time, correct?

GIVENS: Yes. Yes. Actually, right -- right after, you know, this.

KING: Tyson?

GIVENS: After all of this. And he was wonderful and calm --

KING: A nice guy?

GIVENS: Yes, he was wonderful.

KING: So you're happy for him?

GIVENS: Oh, I'm ex -- I'm very happy for him. He's got children and all of that. So, yes. I'm very happy for him.

KING: Were you ever in despair enough to be called depressed?

GIVENS: Yes. Yes. You know what happened to me is that I -- after all of this, that you're mentioning, all of those things are even hard for me to hear right now, to tell you the truth.

KING: Yes.

GIVENS: I sort of had this adrenaline, you know, this sort of I was in survival mode. And I went out and I, you know, I auditioned and got "Rage In Harlem" and I got "Boomerang." I got these roles that women wanted, everybody wanted. And, you know, my agent was saying you're so hot and -- sort of after I was out of the woods, I just began to see my life. I mean, it was almost like it began to my play in my mind. And I felt so sad for that person in my mind. It was almost like I didn't feel the pain until then. So I sort of removed myself and I started writing and doing the things that I love to do and here I am.

KING: Would you say you're in a happy state now?

GIVENS: I am -- I am -- I am giddy. You know, I just -- this, for me, is almost -- to have written every word and I just sort of can't believe it. And my children, I just don't know where they came from. I feel blessed, you know?

KING: Would you do Broadway again?

GIVENS: Yes, I would do Broadway again. I got in good shape during Broadway.

KING: You did "Chicago."

GIVENS: I did "Chicago."

KING: A lot of dancing.

GIVENS: Yes, a lot of dancing.

KING: Thanks, Robin.

GIVENS: Thank you very much. KING: Good luck to you.

GIVENS: Thank you so much.

KING: Robin Givens, "Grace Will Lead Me Home." The publisher is Miramax Books.


KING: What happened that night, in your memory?

KENNEDY: Well, obviously, I don't have much memory of the evening. But I will say that --



KING: An important program tonight.

Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island.

How are you doing?

KENNEDY: Excellent, thanks.

Thanks for having me on.

KING: There have been better times, right?

KENNEDY: Oh, this just couldn't be a better time, actually.

KING: Why?

KENNEDY: Well, it's been a year and a month of sobriety for me. We're on the verge of passing a sweeping public health bill that will give millions of Americans the same opportunity for mental health coverage that I had when I needed it. And this is an important civil rights bill. It's an opportunity for us to end the discrimination against people with mental illness and a chance for our country to make a final step forward in the long history of moving forward to guaranteeing civil rights for all Americans, and, in this case, civil rights for people with mental illnesses.

KING: Which we have many.

KENNEDY: Mental illness is a physical illness and that's the whole purpose of this campaign, is that mental illness, in our legislation, is making the point, is a physical illness. I mean, the brain is an organ in the body.

KING: Yes.

Before the crash, did you know you had a problem?

KENNEDY: I knew I had a problem, but I didn't come to terms with it. I hadn't fully admitted it to myself.

KING: So it took that incident to bring it about?

KENNEDY: It took that incident for me to admit it to myself. That was the most important person who it took for me to admit it to. But it certainly -- it wasn't -- it was very difficult for me to admit it to my family and to the rest of the nation at the same time, for sure.

KING: Yes.

Were there signs -- as you look back, were there signs before the crash that you might have recognized?

KENNEDY: I should have been able -- after I, the crash and I read the papers about myself, I said, oh my god.

How could I have not seen this was creating havoc in my life, you know?

I had been in a -- the newspapers had written up a sordid history of me and my problems with the -- with alcohol, my problems with drugs, my problems and run-ins with the law. I mean it was basically a chronology of how I was not one who mixed well with drugs and alcohol.

So it should have been very apparent. The writing was on the wall. But it clearly wasn't writing that I had been reading. I mean --

KING: What did -- I don't want to dwell on it, because we've got -- we'll touch a lot of bases. What happened that night in your memory?

KENNEDY: Well, obviously, I don't have much memory of the evening. But I will say that because of that experience -- and it was the most frightening experience, the next morning, realizing that, you know, I had the world watching me. And the -- finally I had to come to grips with this illness and admit to myself that I had this problem, that I was an addict and that I needed help and that I couldn't hide this fact anymore.

And I had always thought that I could continue to manage my illness, you know?

Admit halfway that I was an addict and not fully. That I could still not -- I wasn't as bad as all the others that, you know, so long as I could still maintain some level of control over my illness, I would be all right. All of these notions I had to get rid of. And that's what treatment allowed me to do. And being totally sober is what -- is the only way to be able to address this illness. You can't take this illness halfway. You have to be absolutely --

KING: You're lucky you didn't die, though?

KENNEDY: Well, absolutely. It was a matter of time for me.

KING: It was coming. KENNEDY: I'm lucky I got a wake up call and I -- I didn't hurt anybody. And I am, you know, every morning I get on my knees and I thank god that I got that wake up all and am able today to live free of this addiction.

KING: You said you were outed.


KING: What do you mean?

KENNEDY: Outed in that --

KING: The accident outed you?

KENNEDY: It outed me. Yes. Now I have, you know, alcoholic and addict in -- written on my forehead.

KING: There he goes, right?

KENNEDY: Yes. So I can't do anything. I'm a public figure. People know me in my state of Rhode Island as someone who's been through this, obviously nationally. Obviously, this show probably will make some difference to that.

KING: Internationally.

KENNEDY: Internationally.

KING: But you were reelected.

KENNEDY: Yes, actually by my biggest margin of numbers ever.

KING: Did it come up in the election?

KENNEDY: Well, of course it did. I -- initially everybody called for my resignation. The Republican Party called for me to resign and so forth. But everywhere I went in my campaign, everybody comes up to me -- because now they know I have had them, so they feel comfortable telling me about their problems.

KING: What if --

KENNEDY: And I'm telling you, you know, initially my staff told me, don't talk about it, you know?

They were all worried about, like, boxing me up and trying to keep me protected. Don't -- no one wants to hear about it and we've got to protect you.

You know what?

It was the exact opposite. Everybody wanted to talk to me about it. And they felt -- it was a -- it actually made me an even better politician for my constituency and it's actually strengthened me as a political leader back in my state. And like I said, I went up six points -- my best numbers ever in my own state in my reelection.

KING: Did you think of resigning?

KENNEDY: I have to think -- I had to say it for a while there I had to look at, you know, what was in my best interest in terms of my own health. And for a period there, I had to look at what -- you know, in the short term, my own health was my number one priority. But I realized that you know, I could -- once I got that reprieve, that 30-day reprieve, which is what we need to allow Americans to have.

KING: Did your alcoholism lead to the depression or the depression lead to the alcoholism?

KENNEDY: Well, once people learn about this more, they'll understand that there is something called co-morbidity, which means -- or co-occurring disorders and whether it's the chicken or the egg.

KING: So not all alcoholics are depressed, right, or are they?

KENNEDY: No. Well, alcohol is a depressant.

KING: Right.

KENNEDY: So it's -- you know if you use alcohol long enough, you will be depressed and end up in depression.

KING: We'll take a break in a moment. Do you think about that night a lot?

KENNEDY: I don't. I have no reason to. I think about every day and getting up and thinking about how great I feel. It did change my whole life. So in a sense I have to think about how that day changed my whole life.

KING: We'll be right back with Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island. Don't go away.


KENNEDY: I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions. Today, in court, I accepted the consequences of my actions. I've cooperated fully with the capital police and with the attorney general's office. I think they've done a fantastic job in their professional work. And I look forward today to moving on to the next chapter of my life.




KENNEDY: The greatest opportunity that I've had in all the years that I've been in Congress is being able to not only get access to the recovery but to be in a place in government where I can help get that same access to recovery to the millions of Americans who also deserve the same access to recovery that members of Congress do.


KING: We're back with a major program tonight and we've begun it with Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Interesting story, Congressman Jim Ramstead of Minnesota, a recovering alcohol himself and a Republican, reached out to you.

KENNEDY: That's right.

KING: Were you friends?

KENNEDY: We had been working together on this legislation from when I first came into Congress. Ironically, I had been to treatment. This is a chronic illness. I had been to treatment for drugs and alcoholism as a high school student.

KING: Really?

KENNEDY: Yes. And I had already been speaking out about, you know, mental health because I had already been -- Tipper Gore came to my state. I'd spoken about the fact that I had bipolar disorder.

KING: When you had your problem, he came to you?

KENNEDY: I was obviously getting treatment in his state. But he certainly went well beyond, you know the obligatory visit and hi, how are you and, you know, I hope you're better. He came to see me every weekend that I was -- where there were visitors allowed for me.

KING: Why is the mental health and addiction equity act named for Paul Wellstone?

KENNEDY: Well, Paul was the original champion for this issue. And, you know, in his memory, this is really the legacy of Paul Wellstone. Paul's brother suffered from a mental illness and sensitized Paul to the barriers for families trying to get their loved ones treatment in this country. KING: Do you expect the legislation to pass?

KENNEDY: If the people watching this program call their representatives in Congress and their senators, and plead with them to pass legislation for coverage for mental health...

KING: What should they specify?

KENNEDY: They should specify that they should pass a strong mental health parody bill and that it ought to pass this year.

KING: Mental health parody bill?

KENNEDY: Yes, the Paul Wellstone Bill. They ought to pass the Paul Wellstone Bill.

KING: What do you make of this rehab culture? People seem to -- celebrities and others, they jump into rehab.


KING: Does that diminish the term and the effectiveness, do you think?

KENNEDY: Well, it does very much -- what also diminishes it is there are millions of Americans who are on the road to recovery who are absolutely silent because the -- of the anonymity of 12-step recovery programs. Anonymous, you know, anonymous, anonymous.

The problem politically is that they don't come out and say, "Pass this bill." And I say to them, just because you belong to an anonymous program doesn't mean you give up your responsibilities as citizens of this country.

KING: Why do you think if someone has kidney disease we treat it differently than mental disease?

KENNEDY: Well, because we think that people obviously have a decision when it comes to their disease. If you had an eating disorder, well, it's your choice whether you're eating too much or not eating. Why don't you just eat more? Or if you're an addict or an alcoholic, just stop drinking. No one would wish that on anybody. If you could tell me that they were doing that voluntarily, give me a break. That's not true.

KING: If the story that night had been Congressman Patrick Kennedy rushed to the hospital with a bleeding ulcer...


KING: Totally different than...

KENNEDY: I wouldn't have been on your CNN or everything else for three-day cycle top of the news.

KING: Correct.

KENNEDY: The purpose of passing this legislation is that once -- we've learned this in these hearings that 80 percent, according to some of our testimony of the emergency rooms during the weekends, of the cases are drug and alcohol related. But you don't see that because insurance companies don't reimburse for drugs and alcohol. So the doctors write it up as contusions, lacerations, concussions, intubations, which means car accidents don't get written up as incidents of a result of alcohol because all they get reimbursed for is sewing up the wound, the concussion, putting someone in incubation, you know, concussion. That gets -- and then on the third page of the reimbursement, it says, oh, by the way, the person was drunk and, you know, loaded, OK.

So -- and the doctors tell me that's 80 percent of the cases. Our medical system is paying for that, OK. And we don't pay for it up front, so all of those costs are symptoms of the root problem which is alcoholism and addiction. KING: Are you ever tempted?

KENNEDY: Of course. That's why I have to stay on top of treatment every single day. That's they say in this business one day at a time because you can't look at this any further than one day or it seems like it's unmanageable. If you look at it just in terms of one day, then it's certainly manageable.

KING: Do you have good family support?

KENNEDY: I have excellent family support.

KING: The Kennedys group, don't they?

KENNEDY: I am so lucky. And you've interviewed by cousin, Chris Lawford.

KING: Oh, what a guy.

KENNEDY: The best, absolutely the best. I have a loving family. I am so blessed by my family. And, you know, we all need each other.

The beauty of this program, too, is in life is that we learn about interconnectedness. It's about we not me and that we all need each other.

KING: In a sense, Congressman, was that incident lucky?

KENNEDY: It's transformed my life. You know, not just personally but politically, you know because...

KING: Are you a better Congressman?

KENNEDY: Philosophically, my view of politics is just evolved tremendously because, you know, the whole -- I think what's wrong with our world, our policies and the like is this notion of the survival of the fittest. We can all be independent, self-reliant, you know, don't need anybody else. We need each other. We all need to depend on each other and we can't do it alone. And the more realize we are part of the greater community, and as Dr. King said, you know, "We are all interdependent. What affects one affects all indirectly." The more we realize that, the better off we'll all be.

KING: Knowing the Kennedys, do you have ambitions beyond Congress?

KENNEDY: My ambition is to pass this parody bill and to advance this agenda. And I really -- that's it for me. And some day, if I'm given a chance to do more with this agenda, I'm definitely going to do it.

KING: Thank you, Congressman.

KENNEDY: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island. Lots more on this when we come back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen more talk about celebrity addiction and efforts to kick it than ever before. Chris Rock even joked about it on "Good Morning, America."


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: I'm all right. You know, rehab was tough, you know. My hair grew back and now it's all about the new record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't blame Chris for channeling Britney Spears. Addiction and rehab are all the talk in Hollywood.


KING: Last night we started our summer suspender sweepstakes. Each week this summer, we'll run a clip from a previous show. I ask a question, you figure out who the question is for. Here's last night's question.


KING: As a young black comic and a star, was there a black predecessor that you looked up to?

And the guest was Chris Rock. If you got it right, congratulations. If not, you'll get another shot next week.



KING: We have just heard an incredible interview with Congressman Patrick Kennedy concerning depression and addiction. We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE two old friends, Tom Arnold, he's here in L.A., actor. His new movie is "Pride." It comes out next week on DVD.

TOM ARNOLD, ACTOR & RECOVERING ADDICT: I'm depressed and you know...

KING: He has battled alcohol and drug addiction and had been clean and sober now for 17 years.

And in San Francisco, Richard Lewis, actor, comedian and author. He has battled addiction and has been sober for 13 years. He wrote a book about called "The Other Great Depression."

RICHARD LEWIS, ACTOR, COMEDIAN & RECOVERING ADDICT: Good to see you. Congratulations, Tom.

And by the way, I know this is a very serious subject but I didn't have a chance to tell you, Larry, congratulations on your 2,000 years in broadcasting.

KING: Thank you very much.

LEWIS: What was Abe Lincoln like after the interview?

KING: Thanks for being with us, Richard. You'll never be back.

Anyway, Tom, when did addiction start for you?

ARNOLD: Probably when I was 11 or 12. I remember there was a guy in the neighborhood and I'd always -- I was raised by -- it probably started before that when my mom left when I was 4. But you know she was an addict. You know she was an alcoholic. And there was a guy in the neighborhood that never worked and he'd always played with us kids. And I'd always say, "Dad, why can't you be like Larry?" And he'd say, "Because Larry is a drunk." He doesn't -- and he would give us beers. And I remember the feeling the first tall boys I ever drank at Schafer Stadium in Iowa, and it felt good, you know, finally. I felt like, you know, good about myself.

KING: Richard, how did you start?

LEWIS: You know, I was thinking of that. It's almost impossible to know except after I graduated Ohio State and decided I wanted to be a comedian, few -- realizing the struggle, I think I started drinking more and more. And then, the pressure of trying to succeed in the arts, I think sort of escalated the alcoholism.

KING: Does it own you, Tom?

ARNOLD: Yes. Yes. I mean I can be even though I haven't done cocaine or drank, or I mean I can be addicted to food, to work, to anything. And you know depression is something you watch out for.

KING: Is that part of this process?

ARNOLD: Well, it is for me because of -- technically, it's called family of origin trauma or whatever. I hate to -- my therapist said to quit laughing every time I say something serious. But you know it's something you've got to continually work on and deal with. And you know a lot of us weren't born like this, some of us were, but...

KING: And Richard, you chose to use depression as part of your act?

LEWIS: Well, I was, you know, I -- you know, listen, my parents, bless their soul, you know, they didn't have any tools. I had a decent childhood but I did have low self-esteem for God knows how many reasons and how many pools I bought therapists through the years to figure it out. But the alcoholism, I believe, is a disease. I do believe that there was nothing I could do to stop it on my own without getting more spiritual. That's just my thing.

There's a lot of ways to get sober if you have a problem. There's 12-step programs. There's other ways to go about it. But depression is certainly part of it.

But one thing I want say and it's very important, when I was told to come on your show, Larry, it that, you know, it's the thinking that got me to drink and medicate all of these feelings of depression and fear and you name, is the stuff that getting sober has enabled me to figure out, you know, what kind of person Richard Lewis really is. And that's one of the great things about sobriety. You can sort of go back, right, Tom, and try to figure out who the heck you were.

KING: Were you a functioning alcoholic, Tom?

ARNOLD: Well, at the end, I was just using a lot of cocaine and, you know, up to half an ounce a day. I think part of the attraction to cocaine was my publicist says this, "People never ask if you're on drugs until you get off of the drugs" because I'm so hyperactive. And I think I liked that.

KING: But could you work?

ARNOLD: I did but I mean I was going to soon to be not working. I was fired. I lost my fiancee.

KING: Did you hit a depth? Did you hit a time when...

ARNOLD: Well, I mean when my fiancee believed herself, Roseanne, and I said I know you're doing it. I mean I lied to her all the time. So you know and then she finally said, "I know you're doing it. You've to get out of the house. You're not working on show." You know and it was a public thing, too. Like these kids that -- it was in the tabloids.

And I went in there -- this was my second time in rehab -- and I went in there basically to get her back, get my life back. And then I stayed in rehab because -- somebody put a picture of me when I was 4 and I hated myself because we do hate ourselves. Richard knows this.

LEWIS: We do.

ARNOLD: I couldn't do it for myself but I could do it for the 4- year-old me. I said I'll do it for him.

KING: Richard, did you hit -- was there a point where you hit a rock bottom?

LEWIS: There was, Larry. In fact, I took three years off of stand-up because I knew subconsciously that if I go on stage or went on television, I would burn that bridge. And I knew that I didn't want to because I was so wanting to drink and do drugs that that became the center of my universe. But my bottom was sitting in my house high on cocaine after six days looking in the mirror and saying, "Wait a minute, do I want to blow everything? Do I want to just drop dead here with a disease that I consider a disease that I give myself unlike many of the friends who die of AIDS and cancer and God knows what else." I went, no. So I called two friends. They took me to see the Cedars Sinai and I went no more. I give up. I can't lick this thing. I'm going to stop. And, you know... KING: Thank God.

LEWIS: ....and 13 years later, I stopped. I'm sober.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Tom Arnold and Richard Lewis, don't go away.


KING: Tom, what do you do to stay sober?

ARNOLD: Well, I mean I got to be...

KING: It's been a lot of years.

ARNOLD: I recommend 12-step meetings and I recommend, you know, working with other people maybe being in a service like this is kind of being a service.

KING: To help beat it.

ARNOLD: Yes. So I'm being selfish, yes. And Richard and I do a lot of things together. They're of service and I recommend that. And you know even though we've been sober 13 or 17 years, there are things out there that are not our drug of choice that we've got to be careful with. You know if we have a surgery, if we have...

KING: Oh yes?

ARNOLD: ... you know, go to Afghanistan like I did this last year. I had a couple of surgeries, went to Afghanistan and work. One after another.

What's that?

KING: You had to be careful of the surgery?

ARNOLD: Well, again, I think if you go to surgery and you get, you know, you get medicated to go to surgery, you have to be careful of that. But also the...

KING: They give you morphine?

ARNOLD: Yes. It doesn't work for us.

LEWIS: Well, it's the painkillers they'll give you, you know, to wean you off of the -- you know, during rehab you have to be careful of that, right, Tom?

ARNOLD: Right, exactly.

KING: Richard, how do you stay clean?

LEWIS: Well, you know, basically, what Tom said is very true. I have a great doctor. I have sober people in my life, men and women, who have, you know, either more years than me or even less but whose lives set an example for me and others who I really respect. And if I'm, you know, having a tough day or a tough time of it, I'll pick up the phone or I'll say, "Can you meet me for a cup of coffee?" And most importantly, I'm always available 24/7. In fact, my wife says she has alcoholic envy because I can be anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, and run into another alcoholic and we understand exactly the cravings, exactly how we're feeling. And to help somebody who's maybe an hour or two days four days, I remember how I was when I was thrown into an alcohol specialist's office and there was no way I thought I could go a day let alone a year without a drink and I have. So, you know, to be able to share some of that...

ARNOLD: It's like being a sports fan, Richard. I mean it's like a connection of being an alcoholic. It's like being a sports fan. If you're a Dodger fan and you run into another Dodger fan, you have a connection.

LEWIS: Good analogy. And to be able to help someone that reminds you where you're at and to see that darkness leave that person's face and have him turn his life around or her life around is really a blessing.

KING: Do you fear a relapse?


KING: You do?

ARNOLD: I mean I could. I'm not necessarily -- I mean, I could. I could do everything bad. But it's eating. It's -- you know, taking care of myself. There's a lot of things that I have maybe not done as well as I could. I mean it has to be a whole package.

KING: Do you fear it, Richard?

LEWIS: Yes, you have to fear it. I mean it's a disease, you know. As far as I'm concerned, I relapsed twice within the first couple of months of my sobriety and then I realized that it was a joke, I mean, with the drugs and alcohol. And that was no (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

But you know what Tom is alluding to or more than that, I'm sorry, Tom, is that there are so many cross addictions: sex and sugar and eating and you name it. I mean, so, you know, if the key is to get sober and to have a better life, and to fix some of your character defects, then I'm all for it. I mean I know people sober who I don't like very much. And I know a lot of people who drink normally who are great, great individuals.

So, you know, there's a mix here but in terms of not doing drugs and alcohol, that's the primary reason to get sober. Otherwise, you know, I wouldn't even be on the show. I mean I really should be dead or homeless or in an institution.

ARNOLD: You should be. You should be.

KING: It's important for the Congressman Patrick Kennedys to come forward, though.

ARNOLD: Yes. Well, he got arrested and you know I think it was very important.

KING: Because he came out?

ARNOLD: Yes, that kind of nips it in the bud. It's a powerful message when it's somebody like that who used to -- you know because they -- what does that do for him? I mean it helps him. We know -- Richard, I know, to be honest about it. It helps you. But I think him coming forward -- because he could have.

KING: You're a help, Richard, when you help others, aren't you?

LEWIS: I'm a help but I was going to say what Tom is saying, when someone like -- you know when Patrick comes forward and so many others, it's fabulous. But you know we're comedians, you know. And I didn't get sober to become somber. So when I go on stage tomorrow night or all year long, I mean I like to joke about it because I love watching people in the audience, like, give their significant other and go, hey, you see, you know he's drunk. He's a recovering drunk and he's still -- his life is better.

KING: Wow!

LEWIS: I mean that's where it's at. That's been a pleasure in my life.

KING: You both are good friends. You're super to do this.

ARNOLD: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Congratulations on 13 and 17 years. Tom Arnold...

LEWIS: Thanks very much.

KING: ...and Richard Lewis.

"AC 360" is next.


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