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Star Jones Reveals Secret Surgery

Aired August 17, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST:. Tonight, Star Jones.
She's dumped a whole lot of weight and now she's finally unloading about how she did it.

Why did she keep her gastric bypass surgery secret for years?

And the storm caused by her abrupt exit from "The View".


STAR JONES, CO-HOST:. I will not be returning as co-host next year.


KING:. It was just a warm-up for the controversy that followed.

We'll get her candid take on Rosie and Whoopi much, much more.

Star Jones tells all, takes your calls, next on LARRY


She was last with us in June of last year, shortly after her abrupt and controversial exit from "The View". In fact, she left "The View" and flew right here.

And now she's back, a completely different Star Jones. She has a new talk show, simply called "Star Jones." It debuts this Monday night at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Court TV. And we'll talk more about that later.

It's fair to say you're in a different place personally, professionally.

How do you feel?

STAR JONES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR & ANCHOR, COURT TV:. Lighter in every way possible. There is no more baggage, no more secrets. I'm still working on the insecurity, in all honesty, Larry. I have worked really hard this past year to release the insecurity, the inability to give up control. And writing the "Glamour" article and finally talking about the exact nature of how I Started on this weight loss journey, I think it's helped a lot.

KING:. How did you gain so much weight? JONES:. Gosh, do you know you are the first person to ask me that question?

I'm not sure, but I can tell you that I've always been a big girl. I don't ever remember going to one of those shops in the malls, the 5, 7, 9 shop. I remember being envious of girls who could go into the 5, 7, 9 shop.

KING:. So do you always remember eating?

Were you an eater?

JONES:. Well, I always remember being big. You know, I went from being a teenager to a size 14. And every, you know, all the women in my family, we are big, robust, full-figured. A lot of us have struggled with weight in our family. You know, we're a Southern family and although we were never wealthy, food was plentiful, but exercise was not. And I went gradually up to 300 pounds.

KING:. All right, when you were last on this show, June 29th of last year, we pushed you a little hard on the issue of weight loss.

Let's take a look.


KING:. You're saying you always had (INAUDIBLE)?

JONES:. I've always said there was medical -- I mean look at me, for goodness sake. I've been -- I --

KING:. So where was the impression given that you did this on a diet?

JONES:. I have no idea why anybody would suggest that that's the statement that I've made. I actually have always said it was a medical intervention. Always.

KING:. That means surgery, right?

JONES:. What else could it mean?


JONES:. You know, first --

KING:. What goes through you when you hear that --

JONES:. You know, what?

First of all, Larry --

KING:. Go ahead.

JONES:. This is really important and I want to thank you, because the journalist in you wanted to ask a lot more follow-up questions, and I know that. The gentleman in you knew that I was not emotionally ready to go there.

KING:. No, you were in a bad place.

JONES:. I was in a very bad place and it's rare that you get to say thank you for allowing me to come to it on my own time. It has not been the easiest to admit that I was so out of control that the girl who could pass a New York state bar and win scholarships to go to school couldn't control the one thing she needed to control -- her health.

KING:. Why couldn't you say all along they did liposuction?

JONES:. It wasn't liposuction.

KING:. Oh, it wasn't?

JONES:. It was much more.

KING:. Well, what was it?

JONES:. It's, you know, that's another thing, I really want people to understand, this is real surgery. This is not suck the fat out surgery, which is obviously surgery. But what I want you to know that I had full laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery. That means that my stomach was reduced in size to help me get control of my health, so that I could breathe, walk, talk, sit on an airplane seat without asking for a seat belt extender.

KING:. This is a special kind of surgery, right?

JONES:. Absolutely.

KING:. Not everybody does it.

JONES:. Oh, not everybody should do it. It is only reserved for the morbidly obese. And I say those words very harshly on myself, because I wasn't full-figured, I wasn't chubby, I wasn't plus size. I was killing myself.

KING:. What kind of doctor does it?

JONES:. It's called a bariatric surgeon is the specialty, the area. And you've heard other people talking about the different weight loss surgeries. For me, it was emotionally crippling to realize that I had gotten myself to almost in a corner. I was 307 pounds on the day of the surgery. And just so people don't think that this is an overnight sensation, this is no pill you can take. It will be four years Sunday that I had the procedure. It's sort of like my birthday this week. Four years.

KING:. Is 307 the most you ever weighed?

JONES:. Well, it's the most I know of. I can tell you honestly that I used to make these little -- I'll never get over 200. I'll never get over 225. I'll never get over 250. Oh, my god, I can never reach 275. And, Larry, I never weighed myself again after I saw the number 275. The first time I again saw what I weighed was in the hospital on the day of surgery, and it was 307.

KING:. Any danger in that surgery?

JONES:. It is one of the more dangerous surgeries, one in I think there's still between 200 and 300 people die from complications surrounding it. It is reserved for people who are ill, who can't control their weight, whose weight is weighing on them in every way possible -- your heart, your lungs, your joints, all the organs of your body.

KING:. What do you weigh now?

JONES:. I am fluctuating between about 140 and 145.

KING:. What have you learned from all this?

Are you a different person?

JONES:. Yes.


What have you learned?

JONES:. The first thing I learned is I had to change my lifestyle. Gastric bypass Started me on the road to weight loss and health, but it doesn't get you this body. It doesn't get you to breathe this way, because you can gain that weight back. I'm four years out.

So I had to eat better. I had to change my diet. I have to exercise. I exercise between four and five times a week, every single week now. And this is somebody who never threw a ball, caught a ball or ran for a ball in her entire life, because I didn't want to.

KING:. Well, what's your diet like?

JONES:. Oh, I can pretty much eat what I want to, but in a portion that is reasonable -- and I don't mean, you know, this little egg thing. I've read recently people saying oh, no, she has to eat this amount of food. That's not accurate. Remember, it's four years later. So I eat a normal portion of food. Now, that's normal for regular people, not Americans. That's super-size.

KING:. Aren't you afraid you might go back again?

JONES:. No, because you asked me what I learned, that is only part one of what I learned. I also learned emotionally to not get comfort in food, to challenge myself to be stronger and to have more courage, to allow people in to help me when I'm going down the wrong path. I learned that probably is the greatest lesson. And I wish that I had had the courage to learn it earlier.

KING:. Star Jones our guest.

Coming up, Star's previous status as a role model for fuller- figured women and how her weight loss has affected that -- or has it?

We'll ask, next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:. In the August issue of "Glamour Magazine," Star Jones Reynolds makes her bombshell admission.

JILL HERZIG, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "GLAMOUR MAGAZINE":. Star really wanted to tell her own story this time. She kept this quiet for all these many months. And when she finally went public with it, she wanted it to be in her own voice.




JONES: I want to be the poster child for a weight loss method. I don't want to be in the box that says Star Jones, she took this pill, she had this surgery, she did this diet. That's not what I want to do.


KING: We're back with Star Jones.

Her new show debuts Monday on Court TV. It's called "Star Jones." It airs at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

What did gastric bypass surgery cost?

JONES: A lot of money, but I have insurance.

KING: Insurance covered it?

JONES: Because, I mean, when you are over 100 pounds, insurance will cover it if you have insurance. That's an issue for most Americans.

KING: Yes.

JONES: Which is, you know, we could spend the next hour I come to visit with you on health care in the United States. It's the difference between living and dying, oftentimes. And it's what I get the most mail about, from people who have also tried to have the surgery.

KING: Where was it done?

JONES: In New York. I don't want to -- I don't want to suggest to anybody where they should go or what doctor they should go to. I think that would be irresponsible on my part. But I chose a doctor that was recommended and I was very pleased with my results.

But Larry, my result is not going to be everyone's result. They must work with their doctor to find out if it will work for them.

KING: What was it like to be 300 pounds?

JONES: Whoa. Well, I've now lost 160 pounds or so. It's like carrying another human being on your body at all times.

KING: You huff and puff all day?

JONES: Not just huff and puffing. Walking from here at this desk to your Green Room, I would have needed to use the inhaler. I couldn't get enough air in my lungs. I would sit on a airplane seat and be embarrassed to ask for a seat belt extender, because I knew that that meant that I was obese and you need the extender.

KING: So you're never not thinking about it?

JONES: You can't not think about it. You can't breathe. You can't walk. I love to, in church, stand up when the choir sings and sing along. I would feign that I was too overcome to stand, because I knew I couldn't stand through the whole song.

KING: Are you still -- you couldn't do -- what about your career for full-figured women?

JONES: Well, you know, here's the deal.

KING: You can't do that.

JONES: No, that's not true. I can absolutely be an advocate for healthy, full-figured women.

KING: You can't do dresses.

JONES: Well, I never did for full-figured women.

KING: (INAUDIBLE). What did you...

JONES: What I did do, and I'm very proud of is, is I remember when I first Started on "The View," the reason that we included women of all sizes in our fashion shows was because it represents a tremendous segment of our society.

Listen, I'm not going to be a girl who tells you, you have to be thin to be healthy. You just have to be healthy. And there are a lot of full-figured women who, quite frankly, move better than either one of us.

KING: We have an e-mail from Anissa (ph) in Virginia Beach: "Star, do you honestly think the public didn't see through your talk about medical intervention? Do you really believe the public didn't know that you had had gastric bypass long before admitting it?"

JONES: That's -- that's an amazingly great question. In my head, I pretended as if you didn't know. Of course, I knew you knew. But I kept saying to myself, you just don't say it -- don't say it, Star because it won't be real. It won't be real that you were vulnerable or that you couldn't control yourself.

I kept trying to tell myself that I was psyching my own self in to believing my own silliness. And I just thought, if I just maintain this control, that just this amount, that I would be fine. When, in reality, the real control came when I released it.

I would talk to people on the street. There's nothing like being in the back of a taxi and the guy is turning to you, you don't know him from a can of paint, and he said, "You know, my wife needs that surgery that you had." I had never said I had surgery, but the man presumed it. And instead of shying away, I talked to him about it.

KING: An e-mail from Diana, Long Beach, California: "How many surgeries have you had to remove loose and hanging skin left by the weight loss and do you need more?"

JONES: I'm a very, very blessed person genetically. I talked about the fact that I had a breast lift and I tightened my stomach because that was the real place that I couldn't -- the skin was the skin. But I have had no other surgeries and I haven't needed any other surgeries.

KING: Any limitations on what you can or can't eat?

JONES: I choose to limit bread, because I find it very dense. I need protein in my diet, because I tend to be more anemic. So you'll see me eating where, if you had dinner with me, you'd just see me with more chicken and fish and vegetables than you'll see me with a whole bunch of carbohydrates, because, for me, it works better for my digestive system.

KING: Are you hungry a lot?

JONES: Never at all. I mean I eat when I'm hungry. And, Larry, don't think I don't treat myself. I mean, I'm here in Los Angeles visiting with you. I went to one of my favorite restaurants there. I went to Rosco's. All -- I mean it's just a moderation. You know, the difference is, you don't have six pieces of bacon, you have two.

KING: Well, isn't your stomach shorter?

JONES: It's smaller, but four years later -- I keep emphasizing the four years, because let me just give you a better example. I have a friend right now, three people in her family have had some form of a weight loss surgery. One has kept the weight off for about eight years. One gained 100 pounds back and one died from complications. The same family, three different results.

It happens all the time, depending on your health, your lifestyle, your commitment. I don't want anybody to think it's a Band- Aid, because it's not.

KING: We'll find out more about Star's new TV show a little later.

But up next, Star's TV viewing habits since leaving "The View".

We'll take your calls, too.

Don't go away.



BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST: The truth was that Star has known for months that ABC did not want to renew her contract and that she would not be asked back in the fall. We gave her time to look for another job and we hoped then that she would announce it here on the program and leave with dignity. But Star made another choice.



JONES: That's the first time I've seen it. I had not seen it before.

I'm sad that -- that the platform that I helped to build was used in a way to attack me professionally.


KING: Any regrets over that?

JONES: I'm sad that I learned everything I could about one of the greatest broadcasters in the history of the world over nine years and she didn't learn anything about me, because obviously it is -- to leave with dignity is to tell the truth. And I wanted to put all that baggage aside in every aspect of my life, because one day I knew I'd sit across from you and I would be going on to a new show and a new chapter, and I didn't want anybody to have any questions on where I was in my life.

And I'm finally here, Larry. I'm finally at that place.

KING: Based on what happened, would you do anything differently?

JONES: I think I probably would have sat down with my co-hosts and told them that I was having some serious struggles emotionally and I wasn't ready to talk about it, but I needed them to be as supportive of me at that time as I had been of them whenever they were going through their own struggles.

KING: Have you talked to Barbara since?

JONES: We haven't talked. She -- I got a very nice note when they announced that my new show was going to be on Court TV and I get a couple of e-mails from Elizabeth. She and I always exchange e-mails. We still do. KING: What about Miss. Behar?


KING: Well, were you friendly with her?

JONES: We were friends for a very long time. But you know what, Larry?

People change and we grow and it's OK. I wish them well with the direction of their show. I know that Whoopi's going to join and you know how much I love Whoopi. I know that she's going to bring a wonderful, intelligent diversity to the panel. I know that at some point they probably will replace my seat. I don't think they've done that yet.

And I hope they get a professional, as I said to you the last time I was here.

My job was to add facts to the opinions when I was on that show. And I'm going to do that on my own show, but it was, at that time, just to give it a little bit of education and productivity. I'd love to see that again.

KING: Would you guest on "The View?"

JONES: I'm not sure that they'd like me.

KING: If they asked?

JONES: Why don't we wait until they do.

I'm good enough -- I'm patient enough to, if they liked to, they can send the invitation.

KING: Do you watch it?

JONES: I haven't. The show changed a lot after I left and I really needed to spend some time focusing on me and where I wanted to go next, focusing on the things that I need to do.

I got to teach a class every month in East Harlem this year. I got to spend my time with my grandparents. My grandfather passed away in May and this was a wonderful year that I did get a chance to spend some time with them.

I spent some time in therapy, where I needed to be. And I wanted to correct mistakes of the past.

KING: What did you make of the whole Rosie O'Donnell/Donald Trump thing?

JONES: You know, they're two very strong personalities. You know, I have known Donald for a long time and he is a friend, and he's always been there for me.

I hate when people fight out things in public. I don't like that kind of TV. I think you know that about me, also.

In the year since I've been here, I promised you, sitting at this same table, that'd be the last time that I talk about the issues surrounding me leaving "The View," and I kept to that word, didn't I?

KING: You did, yes.

KING: The on-air clashes between Rosie and Hasselbeck got a lot of attention.

Let's take a quick look at one of those.



ROSIE O'DONNELL, CO-HOST: But I wanted to know what people like you -- but you are my friend...


O'DONNELL: Since September.


O'DONNELL: Do you believe that I think our troops are terrorists?


O'DONNELL: And you would not even look me in the face, Elizabeth and say no, Rosie.

HASSELBECK: What are you talking about?

O'DONNELL: I can understand how people might have thought that...

HASSELBECK: I asked you...

O'DONNELL: Why don't you take this opportunity, like I'm six?

HASSELBECK: Because you are an adult and I am certainly not going to...

O'DONNELL: So are you.

HASSELBECK: the person for you to explain your thoughts. They're your thoughts. Defend your own insinuations.

O'DONNELL: I defend myself.

HASSELBECK: Defend your own thoughts.

O'DONNELL: Right, but every time I defend them, Elizabeth, that's poor little Elizabeth that I'm picking on.

HASSELBECK: You know what? Poor little Elizabeth is not poor little Elizabeth, OK?

O'DONNELL: That's right. That's why I'm not going to fight with you anymore...


O'DONNELL: ...because it's absurd. So for three weeks, you can say all of the Republican crap you want.


O'DONNELL: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to do it.

HASSELBECK: It's much easier to fight someone like Donald Trump, isn't it?

Because he's obnoxious.

O'DONNELL: I've never fought him.


KING: Who was right?

JONES: Baby, you think I want to be a quarter in that dollar?

You got the wrong girl. That was after me. I had nothing to do with that. And I can tell you, when we first Started "The View," the women talked about being able to debate and discuss, and even sometimes argue, but it was never personal. And I think that television needs to remember that. Debate is healthy. Controversy is good. But we don't need to ever attack each other.

KING: Well, one thing, did you make a congratulatory call to Donald Trump?

JONES: No, I talked to Donald about "The Apprentice." Actually, I have a friend who I was interested in being on. I did call him, though. Absolutely called.

KING: But not a congratulatory call?


KING: The last time she was a guest here, she was Star Jones Reynolds.

What happened to Reynolds?

JONES: She still is.


But the name show is -- never mind, I'll find out next.


JONES: I mean you have to be honest enough to recognize that your own credibility as a lawyer is on the line every time you walk into the courtroom.



JONES: And he does do that to me a lot. He just says, "Yes, baby." But I see some of those babies really are a bitch.






JONES: Well, we have got a lots to talk about, so let's get right to it.

It is almost Labor Day, and you know what that means?

No more wearing white. The kids are going back to school and good-bye TV re-runs.



KING: We're back with Star Jones, her new show debuts on COURT TV, it's called "Star Jones" at 3:00 Eastern on Monday.

What happened to Reynolds?

JONES: Mrs. Reynolds is at home, cooking dinner at night. Ms. Jones is the ex-prosecutor, the television journalist, the talk show host, and I figured if I learned to separate them, then maybe I would communicate that to the public.

KING: What's that red book you're clinging to?

JONES: You know, a lot of people thought that, you know, I just wrote this article just -- for Glamour magazine, just woke up one day and had an epiphany. But in reality this is sort of my little bible. I write down my thoughts and -- over the past year to get myself to the point where I had enough courage to talk about everything that I was going through.

KING: And you are going to keep it like after this show?

JONES: Yes, actually I'll write down something that you said or something that you did.

KING: It's like a diary?

JONES: No, it's just notes of things that I don't want to forget.

KING: You look back on it, then?

JONES: Absolutely, I look back on it. I remember sitting in a therapist's office and coming out of it, and something that she said, and it stuck with me. "Too bad emotional help doesn't come on a P.R. schedule, right, Star?" And it has stuck with me for a long time.

KING: Whoopi, a woman of color, will be added to "The View," not replacing you.

JONES: Mm-hmm.

KING: Replacing Rosie, right, that's the seat.

JONES: Actually replacing Meredith, she's going to be the moderator, yes.

KING: Right. Oh, she'll be the moderator, correct. What do you think of that?

JONES: I think it's great. As I said, she was going to bring intelligent diversity. It's important to have television look like America, you know, from CNN to COURT TV to ABC to CBS to A&E. And it should not just be what is in front of the camera but what's behind the camera also.

Editorial input is important. Decisions are made around the table. If we allowed our government to only look like one aspect of society, think what it does, and that's why we have some of the issues we have today. People who make decisions should look like everybody in America, and so I think it will be a great addition.

KING: Isaiah Washington I think is on your show Monday night.

JONES: Right, he's...

KING: He said that it's a different world for blacks and whites on television. Do you agree with that?

JONES: Well, it's a different world for any race. I think we need to not be naive and if we're going to have a real discussion about race in America, then we need to have a real discussion. Everybody gets nervous about it, because the last thing you want to do is be perceived as racist. Last thing you want to do is be politically incorrect.

Well, in reality, we've been politically correct too long. We are over 100 years from the Emancipation Proclamation, and it is time that we have a real discussion on race in America.

KING: What's the concept of the new show?

JONES: It is a mixture of current events, news, pop culture and entertainment on one platform, daily, every single day, Monday through Friday, at 3:00, and what we're going to do is sit across from each other, celebrities, public people, private people in the middle of interesting stories, and share those stories in the hopes that us at home can learn something from it.

So the goal is to take what you're talking about at home at night, and put it on television the next day, but make it relevant to our lives.

KING: A little bit Oprah? A little bit this show?

JONES: Well, from your mouth to God's ear, a little bit. A little bit of Oprah, a little bit of Larry, a little bit of "The View," a little bit of my prosecutor days in Brooklyn, and a whole lot of audience.

Somebody asked me, am I the prosecutor or the defense attorney in this? I'm the juror. I'm going to ask the questions that the audience wants to know.

KING: No studio audience?

JONES: No studio audience, not now, but lots of interaction from the audience, from phone calls to text messaging to e-mails. The goal is to make the audience feel like I'm engaging in a dialogue instead of just doing a monologue.

KING: But it fits COURT TV even though it's not just legal?

JONES: Well, that's the best part about it. Remember, COURT TV is re-branding. When they first came to me at the latter part of last year to discuss this, it was all about the new branding of COURT TV, so I was excited to be a part of something brand new. So this genre, this format is new for COURT TV, and it pulls on every aspect of my professional career.

KING: Murphy, North Carolina, as we go to some calls, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I -- I'm nervous. Star, congratulations on your weight loss, and your TV series on COURT TV. I have a question about your surgery.

JONES: Yes, ma'am.

CALLER: How long was it after the surgery that you could get back to eating solid foods? Because I had a cousin that had that done and she constantly had diarrhea and vomiting, and had to stay close to the bathroom. Did that ever happen to you?

JONES: Well, in all honesty it really affects people very differently.

KING: That didn't happen to you? JONES: No, I didn't have those kinds of stomach issues and I do know someone, Murphy, from North Carolina, who has had stomach issues, but here's the interesting part about it is, you can't really judge it by me. You have to judge it by your health.

I don't know, did this person have diabetes before? Did the person have gastroenterological problems before, what were their intestines like, what were their eating habits? For pretty much everybody across the board, the first eight weeks, you are not going to be able to eat solid foods, and then you reintroduce foods into your diet.

So it's hard to really give you advice on when you can reintroduce solid foods. It's really something that you and your doctor know.

KING: Paris, Lindsay, Nicole, Britney, they have all needed lawyers lately and Star is one. Find out what she has to say about these Hollywood girls gone wild. More calls, too, coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lohan's latest DUI comes less than two weeks after she ended her long stay in rehab.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" can tell you Britney's behavior has been on full display lately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Nicole Richie was driving the wrong way on the freeway. That was a near death experience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer slapped the heiress with a 45-day prison sentence for driving on a suspended license.



JONES: I'm annoyed. I'm sorry, I'm annoyed with that picture. You know why I'm annoyed? No woman in the world wants a camera on them as they are climbing into the back of a car, and the thought that you have a camera that's stuck in the front of your car window, that is just so intrusive.

KING: Gross.

JONES: And so inappropriate and it's disgusting.

KING: What would you say about these girls, Paris, Lindsay, Nicole?

JONES: Well, you know, first of all, they're individuals and each one of them is in a different phase in their lives right now. So I think that the media needs to stop just lumping them together, as if they were a monolith.

Each girl has her own issues, her own background, her own experiences but they've been lumped together as the so-called bad girls of Hollywood, right? I was so impressed with Nicole Richie recently. She's going to have a baby. She's actually preparing for the greatest role she'll ever have in her life as a mother.

She's making changes in her life for maturity's sake and I congratulate her for that. You know, I know that Britney is having a tough time, and I don't know her well. I've interviewed her several times, but in some ways I really wish people would lighten up a minute.

She's 20-something years old and she's trying to find her way and yes, she's screwing up, but don't we all? And by the same token, quit being so hypocritical when it comes to us talking about, like we really care about her children, trust me, they're not going to miss a meal. Their diapers are going to get changed. They are going to go to school or daycare with the nanny on time.

Spend as much time worrying about the 500,000 kids in foster care in the United States of America or the crackhead prostitute who puts her baby out and burns the baby, as we do, worry being these two kids who are going to be fine, then we wouldn't be as hypocritical.

KING: We got an e-mail from Ellen, West Orange, New Jersey. "I was just wondering, are Star and her husband planning on having a family?"

JONES: We're not sure. We've been talking about it. We actually have. This is a very exciting time career-wise for me, and so we've sort of put that discussion on the backburner for right now, but it's not gone.

KING: Sebring, Florida, back to the phones, hello.

CALLER: Hi, my name is Skip, Larry, love your show.

KING: Thank you, Skip.

CALLER: Sorry, I wanted to make a comment and ask you a question. Your breathing sounds really difficult. Is it hard because of your surgery?

JONES: No, actually, I think I'm a little hoarse because I've been talking since 4:00 this morning. But I think that when I was heavy I probably did some long-term damage to my lungs without question, and so there's always going to be a little bit of a raspiness. But my asthma is gone. I'm glad you asked.

Since my surgery, I have not used the inhaler that I talked about earlier. So yes, you might hear still a little labored breathing but I think that's more fatigue than anything today.

KING: Is there going to be a big difference between the Star Jones we saw on "The View" and the Star Jones we'll see on "Star Jones"?

JONES: Yes, actually, Larry, you will. I was big, boisterous, loud, but for the wrong reasons. I think it was masking insecurity. Too much hair. Too much makeup. Too much jewelry. All of it in an effort to sort of shield myself from having to look at me for real.

Now, I've gotten rid of all of that. I'm not too embarrassed to say I need glasses to see far. So the reason I put them on and off is if there's a clip that you want me to look at on the show, I need the glasses. To sit down and have a conversation with you, I don't.

That, before, was -- I was too vain to wear the glasses on television. I also don't think that I was open and willing to be vulnerable before. You know, I was a girl that was born in Carolina, but raised in a tough area. I was a homicide prosecutor in my 20s. You don't show weakness where I come from.

Right now, though, I've learned it's OK, because actual weakness unites you with other people.

KING: Our guest is Anderson -- our guest is Star Jones. Anderson Cooper stands by to host "AC 360" at the top of the hour.

Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER: We're often mistaken for each other. It's OK, Larry.


COOPER: We're tracking Hurricane Dean, upgraded tonight to a Category 4 storm, winds in excess of 130 miles an hour. Tonight at the top of the hour, the path it may take which could end up with Texas or Louisiana getting hit. We are going to be tracking it.

We have got updates throughout the evening as well as late developments in the Utah mine tragedy, including what the federal government knew about risky operations in the mine and whether they were too lax in safeguarding lives. We're keeping them honest. All that and more, Larry, at the top of the hour.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper hosting "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll get Star's views on some stories making news lately, the kind of stuff she'll be covering on her own show from Michael Vick's dogfighting charges to Don Imus' rumored return to radio. Her thoughts on that and other stories when we come back.


KING: Star Jones debuts on COURT TV Monday at 3:00 Eastern, she'll be talking about things like Michael Vick and dogs.

What's your read on that, Ms. Prosecutor?

JONES: Ms. Prosecutor. Right now, I think that there's a lot of speculation about plea bargains in the work right now. And I guess the reason why is everybody around him has taken a plea. We had a saying when I was in the D.A.'s office. There's a train with limited seats on it. Get your ticket early because you get the best seat.

Whoever takes the deal first gets -- always gets the best deal. I also think that you live in the truth when you are a defendant. If you know that the other side has the evidence, then you make a choice that's going to work for the rest of your life, and you move on.

KING: Does Don Imus Deserve to come back?

JONES: Everybody deserves a second chance. I hope that his show is different than it was before. I don't like the culture of hate on radio or on television. I don't think that it is good TV to insult people or good radio to insult people. So that's not my choice from the beginning.

And I've said before, and I don't have any problems saying it, I would have fired him a long time ago. But I would have fired him for a different reason, because that's not the kind of communication that I like and I don't think that it adds anything to America's culture.

KING: What do you make of the squabble and the forthcoming publication of O.J. Simpson's book, and Goldman getting the rights?

JONES: You know, having covered that case, I lived it when I lived out here in Los Angeles for three years, from the criminal to the civil, up through the child custody case. And I was very surprised when I heard about the book initially, because I thought it was in tremendously poor taste.

Talk about wanting to be in the room when the decision to publish that book came down. That would not -- if I would have been at that table, I would have probably made a stink, had they had me at the table. So the fact that it was published at all sort of disgusted me.

I understand Mr. Goldman wanting O.J. Simpson to not profit from anything that surrounds the death of his son and Nicole Brown Simpson, completely understand that. But in some ways, I would have liked to see the manuscript and the book tossed in the trash, because no matter what you think about the case, two people were brutally murdered, and I'm not comfortable with anybody profiting from that.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back we'll talk about Barack Obama and a couple of other things and more about the debut of her show Monday, right here on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Star Jones, our remaining moments. The Barack Obama story, a fascinating one, and the concept of is he black enough? Is he black enough for you?

JONES: Oh, that is so offensive. Why do you want to start with something that is going to make my stomach upset? Is he black enough?

(CROSSTALK) JONES: You know what? Let me tell you something, black is not a state of mind. It is a state of being.

KING: I'm not just quoting what they're saying.

JONES: Oh, who are they? Because I'm annoyed by them just for the simple fact that no one gets to judge another person's blackness. When you are African or African-American and living in the United States of America, the day you forget that you're black, trust me, society will remind you.

KING: I have no doubt of that.

JONES: Mm-hmm.

KING: I'm trying to figure out how this all started.

JONES: I don't either. I mean, I am so proud that Senator Obama is running for the highest office in our land. I'm proud that Senator Clinton is. I'm proud that John Edwards is. You know why I'm proud? Because we're having a real debate over issues that affect people's lives. That's what I care about.

KING: What will we see Monday afternoon at 3:00?

JONES: At 3:00 you're going to get a chance to see a real conversation on television. We're doing great segments, one that I think you will actually enjoy and you'll want to watch. An "Open Letter" every single day. I get a chance to express your views, my views on an issue that makes you dance in the street or want to blow up a building, because it just angers you that much. Every single day.

We're going to do "Star's Tea Party," which is not with little pinkies and a cup. It is a conversation with women about women, and the issues that we face in life. Three different women from different backgrounds and experiences every single week. It changes all the time. And then we'll add some men to the mix every now and again.

KING: You have Isaiah on Monday?

JONES: And Isaiah Washington will be my first guest on Monday afternoon.

KING: And he will, I understand, take you a different tack here?

JONES: Absolutely. You know, one of the things that is enjoyable about telling a celebrity's story, as you well know, is to look at their background, where do they come from? What makes them the people that they are? And in this interview, you will get a chance to see another side of Isaiah that people may not know.

KING: Are you as happy as you seem?

JONES: There's a big smile on my face. Larry, I have a great opportunity. I mean... KING: You do.

JONES: I mean, this is about as beautiful a second chance that anybody could have, to be welcomed back into an audience's home is a privilege to me. I don't look at it as a right. I look at it as a responsibility. It gives me the chance to go back to doing television for the reason that I started, to not be intoxicated by celebrity, to say to the audience, I will earn your trust, I will be a person that you expect me to be, and I'll speak for you.

It's why I started in television, and it's where I'm going as of Monday, and it is the greatest opportunity of a lifetime, and I don't plan to screw it up.

KING: I don't think you will. You ever miss being a prosecutor?

JONES: Every single day. I miss the...

KING: You do?

JONES: I -- there is nothing better that I've ever done than walk into a courtroom and say, Star Jones, on behalf of the people of the state of New York.

KING: Did you like sending people away?

JONES: That's not what a prosecutor's job is.

KING: Well, it's also to protect those who didn't do it.

JONES: Well, the prosecutor's job is to seek justice. That is the way I came into it and that's the way I went out of it. I'm as proud of the convictions as I am of the dismissals, and the dismissals were because I didn't have the evidence.

KING: And quickly, what was your first job on TV?

JONES: My very first job in TV was NBC, but my very first appearance on television was COURT TV.

KING: Really?

JONES: I have come full circle.

KING: You came on to discuss a case?

JONES: I came on as their very first young whippersnapper legal analyst when they launched in July, 1991.

KING: You were a baby?

JONES: I was an absolute babe in the woods. And I remember my colleague, Jack Ford, saying in the commercial: it's OK, you can talk, you can speak up. I don't think anybody has ever said that to me again.

KING: Good guy, Jack Ford.

JONES: He's the best.

KING: You remain friends?

JONES: Absolutely. And I can't wait to see him on Monday because in the tradition of COURT TV, I'm going to sit with him again.

KING: He's a terrific guy, give him my best. Thank you, Star, as always.

JONES: Thank you, Larry. Thank you. And make sure you watch on Monday.

KING: Star Jones. I will. Her new show is "Star Jones," it premiers Monday on COURT TV at 3:00 Eastern.

Our newest podcast is now ready for downloading at or on iTunes. It's Priscilla Presley giving you a tour of Graceland. If you're an Elvis fan, it's a podcast you will not want to miss. Check it out, or on iTunes.

Now to New York, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." And I got it right, Anderson.

COOPER: Hey, Larry, thanks very much.