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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Valerie Bertinelli's Secret Life

Aired February 26, 2008 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the good girl who grew up on TV and married a rock star only seemed like a princess in fairy tale. Behind the scenes, there was a real life struggle with infidelity, weight gain, even drugs. But she's battled back in front of the world. Valerie Bertinelli is thin, in love, telling us all about losing it.
The skinny is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

She's back -- Valerie Bertinelli. Look at the way she looks. Best known to TV audiences for her roles "One Day At A Time" and "Touched By An Angel," a major spokesperson for Jenny Craig and author of the new memoir, "Losing It and Gaining My Life Back One Pound At A Time". There you see its cover. We have the book right with us.

How does it feel to be a loser?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What does it feel like?

VALERIE BERTINELLI, ACTRESS: It feels good. It feels real good.

KING: Do you feel it every time you look at yourself?

BERTINELLI: No, I still have the shoes. You know, I -- I don't -- hopefully, one day I will be happy with the gifts that God has, you know, given me.

KING: Hey...

BERTINELLI: ... but self-esteem a tricky thing.

KING: You were on this show in mid-April. That's less than a year, shortly after you started with Jenny Craig.

Let's take a look at that appearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM APRIL 2007)

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 will -- you know what, I won't know until I get there, how overweight I was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How much do you weigh now?

BERTINELLI: Well, you never ask a lady that question, do you?

KING: I know it. But you, you can. You write about it.

BERTINELLI: Yes, 132.

KING: What did you weigh at the height of all...

BERTINELLI: Well, 172 when I started the diet. And I was at least little bit heavier than that before I got involved with the diet and then I started to lose some weight.

KING: Are you now what we call maintaining?

BERTINELLI: Yes, but I still -- it's not an obsessive thing, I don't think, but I still want to lose at least five to seven more pounds, just because maintenance is a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be. I tended to kind of relax a little bit and think well, I'm here now.

And I don't want to fall into those old habits. I went, a couple weeks ago, to visit Wolfie in New Orleans. And I love New Orleans. And I was there for two days and I gained two pounds. So then I had ...

KING: Really?

BERTINELLI: ... it took me like a week-and-a-half to take it back off. So I want to get a little under so I enjoy New Orleans the next time I go.

KING: Maintaining is hard, though, isn't it?

BERTINELLI: It's -- I don't like to call anything hard. I mean, you know --

KING: Well, but once you got on a losing road...

BERTINELLI: But it's a challenge.

KING: ... staying in the same mode is more difficult, isn't it?

BERTINELLI: Right, because then you get to a point where I made it, I can relax now. But when you're someone like me, who has food issues, you really -- I don't know if you ever really get to totally relax. You just have to change a mind set that is -- you know, mine is 47 years in the making. So I have to change that 47-year-old mind set.

KING: Do you still see yourself as a fat girl?

BERTINELLI: No, surprisingly enough. I mean I'm heavier than when I was at, you know, when used to call myself fat. But I don't feel fat any longer. There's a freeness or -- that has come with this diet.

KING: What took you to Jenny Craig?

BERTINELLI: They came to me. And they gave me a call and, of course as soon as they called --

KING: When you overweight? They called when you were overweight?

BERTINELLI: Right. Well --

KING: And?

BERTINELLI: It is a diet company.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Yes.

BERTINELLI: So when they called, I thought oh, criminy, you know, they think I'm fat too. How did they know I was fat, because I really don't spend that much time in the public eye? But it really was the best decision of my life, the best.

KING: What do they do that others don't do or that didn't work for you with other things?

BERTINELLI: For me, it was the accountability and the groupness of it. There's all the people on the Web site, the Val's pals. A shout out to them. And doing it with Tom and doing it with my boyfriend and doing it with my brother and my mother and my girlfriends, it really made it much more -- I could do it, because I was leaning on people. And they would come to me for advice, too. It just makes it easier when you do it with a pal.

KING: You write in the book that when you got home after doing your interview here in 2007...

BERTINELLI: Yes?

KING: ... you found your cat Dexter was very sick.

BERTINELLI: Oh, I know.

KING: And you said you had to struggle against the instinct to eat.

BERTINELLI: I soothe myself with food. That's my drug of choice. I really -- I use food as something to get away, something to make me feel better. And now I -- I can't use it that way. I don't want to use it that way. It's -- food is to nourish your body and to keep you moving and keep you healthy. And that's the way -- I'm trying to switch that mind set over.

KING: You know, when you go public, as you have, writing and talking about it, and Jenny Craig, you put yourself on the line.

BERTINELLI: Um-hmm.

KING: Of course, we can see.

BERTINELLI: Um-hmm.

KING: Did you give that a second thought?

BERTINELLI: I did, and third and fourth. But I think that I had come to a point in my life where I realized I can't do it any other way. I've struggled to diet my entire life and this is the only way I was going to be able to do it, because I had to be held accountable in front of a lot of people.

And I'm the type of person that when I do something for other people, I'm going to do it to the best I possibly can. I don't hold myself very -- I don't do the same kind of accountability to myself. If it was just me -- and I used to just hide behind the diets and just do it like when no one knew I was doing it, it's never going to happen.

KING: There's an ironic scene in the book. When they're shooting you for the first time for Jenny Craig, the art director thinks you're not fat enough.

BERTINELLI: I know. When we took the before pictures and they were all looking at the screen and I'm seeing this tub of lard, huge Jabba the Hut person. I'm like I cannot believe I let myself go this badly. And one of them said, you know, you just don't look that heavy.

I'm like are you kidding me? Are you looking at the same picture I'm looking at? I look huge. So, I guess that was sort of a compliment. But all I knew was that I didn't look small to me.

KING: How often do you track yourself?

BERTINELLI: I get weighed in every couple of weeks now.

KING: Do you own -- weigh yourself on your own every day?

BERTINELLI: Every day. Every day. Almost every day. I haven't weighed myself the last couple of days just because I -- I don't know why.

KING: Are there days you feel fat?

BERTINELLI: Not really anymore. No.

KING: That's really good.

BERTINELLI: No. And even though I still want to lose some more weight, I still -- I feel really good right here. KING: Do you keep track of what you eat?

BERTINELLI: Yes. Yes. I don't write it down as much anymore. But sometimes, If I think I'm having a bad week or it's like a stressful week, I will write it down. And I'll write down how much I weigh on that day and I'll write down what I eat and I'll watch the track through the week and it's helpful.

KING: Is that recommended by Jenny Craig?

BERTINELLI: Um-hmm.

KING: When you're in the full program?

BERTINELLI: Journaling is very important. I think journaling is great anyway. I've been journaling since I was -- 1975 was the first journal I was able to pick up, when I was doing research for my book. I forgot a lot of stuff and --

KING: Another word for a diary?

BERTINELLI: Yes. Yes.

KING: Another word for a diary.

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: Do you go back into it often?

BERTINELLI: Sometimes, yes, when it's stressful. I find writing things down and writing your feelings down is really helpful. And you don't have to be -- like you don't have to write pages and pages, just a line or two is great.

KING: Valerie Bertinelli is our guest. The book is now out. It's the memoir "Losing It and Gaining My Life Back One Pound At A Time".

When Valerie says losing it, she's not just talking about dieting. She went a little crazy at times. Boy, did she ever.

It's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY JENNY CRAIG INTERNATIONAL)

BERTINELLI: When I was heavy, I would look at my old pictures and just sigh. Then I called Jenny. Thanks to Jenny Craig, I've lost 40 pounds. Jenny has delicious, real food -- chicken carbonara, chocolate cake. No wonder their program was so easy for me to stick to. Now, I'm not saying I look like I did back then, but I sure feel good in my skinny jeans again.

Have you called Jenny yet?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You look good in the skinny jeans so we want to help you stay in them by burning your old clothes.

BERTINELLI: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to burn them. Come on.

BERTINELLI: Oh, my god.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You people -- that's good.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You people in the front row may want to lean back a bit. You've all got long hair.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're gone. Sweet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Valerie Bertinelli.

You described yourself as an emotional eater.

BERTINELLI: Yes, very much so.

KING: All right. What have you substituted for that?

BERTINELLI: Journaling helps. Just doing something else. Going for long walks. Something other than eating, because it doesn't -- it may feel really good at the moment and taste really great. But once you're done and the last bite is out -- in, all you do -- all I do is feel awful about myself.

KING: What about exercising?

BERTINELLI: Yes, very much so.

KING: You do a lot of it?

BERTINELLI: Yes. I like a -- I like to walk a lot.

KING: What's your relationship with Kirstie Alley?

BERTINELLI: I haven't spoken to Kirstie since she decided not to come back. And now she's starting her own diet company, God bless her. If anybody can do it, she can. So I'm -- I'm hoping to get a hold of her this week.

KING: The tabloids portrayed the two of you as rivals.

BERTINELLI: It's ridiculous. I -- you know, the tabloid is a tabloid. No. I mean there is no reason for us to be rivals.

KING: Why do you think cat fight stories?

BERTINELLI: I don't know.

KING: Why do they like them?

BERTINELLI: Because women aren't given respect in this country. They think that there can't -- there can't be two women that can be friends. It makes no sense to me whatsoever, but that's the way it is.

KING: You write in your book -- a fascinating book, by the way...

BERTINELLI: Thank you.

KING: ... that you're somewhat of a spiritual seeker.

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: Kirstie, as we know, is a Scientologist.

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: I spoke to her last week. Did she talk to you about that?

BERTINELLI: Yes, we've talked about it. In fact, we were in her pool. She covered me in layers of sweats and we were in her pool working out. She gave me at most amazing workout, by the way.

And she was telling me about Scientology. It sounded fascinating. But I'm really on a quest that I want to find for myself. And I've -- like dieting, I've gone through a lot of different things. I have taken Kaballah lessons. I've gone to the Self-Realization Fellowship. I just -- and I go back to the Bible.

I think most all of these things, they all basically say the same thing and it's just finding -- my motto, which has always been, you know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. It's a real simple thing to do, but not so simple sometimes. So that's, you know, basically what all of those things are saying.

KING: What's Kaballah's been like?

BERTINELLI: Be nice. Don't lie.

KING: What's Kaballah been like?

BERTINELLI: Kaballah was interesting, but it was -- for me, it was like too much work. It was all this studying that was going on. I love the red bracelet. I think -- the red string. It always reminded me to be kind, which is what I really was searching for, that be kind, don't say bad things about other people, it won't come back to you. You put positive thoughts out, they come back to you. So I really like that part of it. But the other, I was just -- and the teacher was fabulous. But I just couldn't -- the rituals -- and I like going to a really great church. I want to be inspired once a week to -- to keep that going for the week. And I just -- I -- Shabbat Challah, it just wasn't working for me.

KING: Queen Latifah is now with Jenny Craig.

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: Are you going to do any things together?

BERTINELLI: I don't know. I don't think so. I haven't been told. Right, it's two separate campaigns right now. But I would love to do something with her.

KING: Why did you write the book?

BERTINELLI: I thought many reasons. But then it really came down to what in my story has value to anyone else and how would they feel like they could relate to me and make themselves feel better about their lives and what they've done and the choices that they've made.

So I'm hoping that's what happens, when women of my age or my peer group read this book. I don't feel so alone anymore. I felt very lonely during a lot of the stuff that I was going through. So I hope that's what happens.

KING: So in your mind, you are saying will the reader relate?

BERTINELLI: Um-hmm.

KING: Will this help the reader?

BERTINELLI: I don't think stories are really that much different. I mean I think all of our stories are so much more similar than they are different. And our lives and the -- who we are as people. We're much more alike. And I think sometimes we forget that and we feel very isolated and alone and I don't want that to happen anymore.

KING: OK. The book, though, is very candid.

BERTINELLI: Yes, I --

KING: You talk about drug use, infidelity, sharing a kiss with another woman.

BERTINELLI: (LAUGHTER)

KING: Why did you decide -- you didn't have to reveal that.

BERTINELLI: No, but that's what happened in my life. I mean there's a lot of stuff that I didn't put in, you know, because I didn't (LAUGHTER).

KING: You mean this is the soft stuff?

BERTINELLI: This is the soft stuff, yes. Well, it's just stuff that -- that really pertained to me and my growth as human being. And if it was a story that was just going to make someone else look bad and not me, then I wasn't going to put it in.

That's not my intention with this book. I'm not throwing anybody under the bus. This is about me. And I think all the stuff written about Ed and -- basically people knew all that stuff already. There's nothing, you know, shocking in there.

KING: Do you have a good relationship with Ed now?

BERTINELLI: Yes. Yes.

KING: Was infidelity tough -- tough for you to do? In other words, were there guilt feelings?

BERTINELLI: Oh my god, yes. That -- and that went right into all of the eating issues. And -- no. Infidelity -- oh, I know for a fact that I will never ever, ever do that again, because I know how it feels to hurt somebody that way and to be hurt in that manner. And I think your heart just falls apart and aches in both ways.

When I knew that I had hurt Ed that way and when he had hurt me that way, there's -- who wants to feel like that? So I know, I mean if anything happens between Tom and I, I'll know that there's a separation of our intimacy and we're not connecting as much. Then it'll be, you know what, we need to be apart before anything happens.

KING: So you're committed to Tom, even though you're not married, right?

BERTINELLI: Yes. It's 2008.

KING: And being attracted to a woman, they say that that occurs -- that every woman is, at one time, attracted to another woman.

BERTINELLI: I was 21 and she was a great kisser. (LAUGHTER)

BERTINELLI: I don't know what else to say.

KING: Well, that's a good reason.

BERTINELLI: Yes. Yes. It was. And it was an interesting experiment. But, again, I felt guilt the next morning from that, because I thought, oh my God, I just cheated on my husband, even though it was with a woman and he probably would have been like (INAUDIBLE).

KING: What's special with Tom?

BERTINELLI: Special? His sense of humor. We connect in a way spiritually. He's a wonderful father. All the things that I value in a human being and in a man. He seems to step up to the plate.

KING: Do you reveal the names of who you had the infidelity with or who the woman was?

BERTINELLI: No. I don't -- it's not my business.

KING: Because you're not there to harm them?

BERTINELLI: No. It's not my business. This is my story and this is what happened to me. And I don't -- like I said, I don't want to throw anybody under the bus.

KING: Before we go to a break, let's see how well you know Valerie.

Here's tonight's King Quiz: What was the name of the character Valerie Bertinelli played in the popular sitcom "One Day At A Time?"

Was it, A, Julie Davis; B, Barbara Cooper; or C, Jenny Clark?

The answer right after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before the break, we asked you what was the name of the character Valerie Bertinelli played in the popular sitcom, "One Day At A Time?"

Valerie, the answer?

BERTINELLI: Barbara Cooper.

KING: Barbara Cooper.

Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERTINELLI: I'm the only girl in school who doesn't have a t- shirt with something dirty written on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a terrific kid. I'm proud of you -- best camper award three years in a row, honor roll, class treasurer...

BERTINELLI: I'm Miss. Excitement. I'm the only kid I know who goes to confession and has to make up sins.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a very nice girl.

BERTINELLI: I don't want to be a nice girl, I want to be like Julie.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you think when you look back? BERTINELLI: I think it was a whole other lifetime ago. But she was adorable and I just --

KING: She was adorable.

BERTINELLI: She was just adorable. I hate when people talk in the third person, but I just look at her and it doesn't really, to me, seem like me anymore. She was a -- it was a totally different part of my life. And I wish I had -- I could appreciate back then what I can appreciate now about her.

KING: Why did that show work?

BERTINELLI: Norman Lear. The man is brilliant.

KING: Yes. What else?

BERTINELLI: Yes. And Bonnie and Pat and all the writers and the directors. It was just a very well put together show.

KING: How is Bonnie doing?

BERTINELLI: The last I saw her, she was doing great.

KING: What a talent.

BERTINELLI: Oh my god, yes.

KING: The drug issue, when was that involved in your life?

BERTINELLI: Early '80s, some of the late '70s. I had done drugs with Mac and then I gotten together with a man named Scott Colomby. And he didn't do drugs at all, so I stopped doing drugs for the two- and-a-half years I was with him. And then I met Ed and I started doing them again. And then I just -- I couldn't keep up and I stopped.

KING: Do you remember what attracted you to it? I mean it had to make you feel good (INAUDIBLE).

BERTINELLI: It made me lose weight. I lost weight. And that was a great little, you know, side effect, for me. Of course, now I know that losing weight that way doesn't feel good and it's not very long- lasting. It really screws up your body.

KING: You will lose weight, though, doing it, right?

BERTINELLI: Oh, yes. Yes.

KING: Why do you --

BERTINELLI: You also won't sleep and your nose will bleed and you'll, you know, have heart palpitations. Yes, it's real great.

KING: Wasn't it hard to stop?

BERTINELLI: No, because that's not my drug of choice. Neither is alcohol, neither -- gambling, none of that stuff.

KING: Food outweighed that?

BERTINELLI: I was always hungry. Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BERTINELLI: And the food just tasted better than the coke felt.

KING: Your teenage son, he's Wolfie, right?

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: Do you have any problems with him reading the book?

BERTINELLI: He doesn't want to read the book. And I said, listen, if you want to know anything, you can ask me any questions you want. He's like, no, ma, I really don't want to know anything. I said, because, you know, there's some stuff about drugs and a little sex. He goes, mom, nothing. Stop.

So I don't know if he's going to read any of the stuff that the papers are going to pull out. I was curious as to what people would just pull out from the book, as opposed to reading it, because I really do believe the book needs to be read in its whole entirety and you can't just say oh, yes, you did drugs and you had affairs and you did this. You have to see what led me there and how I got out of that, I think, instead of just pulling stuff out.

KING: What about your family?

BERTINELLI: I read the chapter about my brother Mark to my parents and they were very moved by it. But other than that, they haven't read the rest of it. But my dad does know when I lost my virginity. We talked about it just last week.

KING: He learned it in the book?

BERTINELLI: No, he had actually learned it -- I can't -- I don't remember, but I actually had talked about it, like in an article in the early '80s. I'm sorry, dad.

KING: What do you think surprises them, if anything?

BERTINELLI: I was able to hide the drug use a lot, so that might surprise them. But, you know what, I'm here today so -- and I never became an addict. And I never let it run my life. I wish I hadn't done it. I probably would have -- those five years that I did on and on do it, I probably would have -- who knows? You know what? No regrets. It is what it is.

KING: You have the ability to write very candidly about other people and yourself --

BERTINELLI: Is that a good thing?

KING: Was that hard? It's cathartic.

BERTINELLI: It's very cathartic. And I guess in the middle of writing it, I wasn't really thinking about other people reading it. (LAUGHTER) And I just had fun getting it all off my chest and going back through all the journals and diaries.

And my dad kept these amazing scrapbooks of everything that I had been in -- "Teen Beat" magazine and "Us" and all those things that I had been in that I had forgotten about. So he's -- he was a great source to go to.

KING: What was the hardest thing to write about?

BERTINELLI: Probably the sex. I tried to like pull that down as much as possible and not make it -- it was --

KING: In other words, you're a very sexual person?

BERTINELLI: I never thought of myself that way. But, yes, going through all the sex stuff, I really did pull it down a bit, because I -- some of the stuff, it's like oh, I didn't want to read about, you know, it -- you kind of like see where it goes and then basically it's like a movie where the pan -- you know, the camera pans off it.

KING: Was it early in your life?

BERTINELLI: Sex?

KING: Yes.

BERTINELLI: Um-hmm.

KING: How early?

BERTINELLI: I think I was a little over 16 when I lost my virginity.

KING: Looking back, was that too young?

BERTINELLI: Yes. Yes. I was also too young to get married. But all of those things happened to me and I'm -- I still made it out the other side OK. I don't want to regret anything and learn from it.

KING: Eddie van Halen, a very, very significant figure in your life.

BERTINELLI: Oh, yes. I've known him for almost 28 years.

KING: Has he read the book?

BERTINELLI: No. He got the book a couple of days ago but he said, look, I'm a slow reader. I don't know if I'm going to get through it, you know? And I thought it's pretty easy. It's 288 pages but --

KING: How would you describe that relationship? BERTINELLI: Now?

KING: The whole -- no, the whole thing.

BERTINELLI: Oh, dear god. Madly in love in the beginning. Totally infatuated. Then just trying to keep up. And I didn't treat him very well at all during a lot of it, when he was under a lot of pressure and stress. And I feel -- I feel badly about that.

But I was too young to -- we were both too young to figure out how you make a relationship and a marriage work. I mean we really shouldn't haven't been married. But the good thing is, is we stayed married long enough to have Wolfie.

KING: Money, fame and marriage don't guarantee happiness, especially if insecurities get in the way. And Valerie has got a bunch of them.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: She unloads when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then there's the story of all the all- American girl hooking up with the heavy metal head man. Some call it a miracle, but "One Day At A Time" star Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen's marriage lasted two decades. Valerie and Eddie's differences finally took its toll. The couple has called it quits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a kiss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little kiss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I mean we saw this movie on TV where Faye Dunaway kissed Robert Redford with her mouth open.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hanky panky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's different. She's a divorcee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just what is that supposed to mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, everybody says Divorcees are hot to trot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't need to use sex anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great, just when I'm getting there, it goes out of style.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Terrific cover, "Losing It and Gaining My Life Back One Pound At a Time." Valerie Bertinelli; Free Press is the publisher. We discussed that it was therapeutic. You had a lot of anger in your life.

BERTINELLI: Unfortunately. Well, anger is grief or fear, really. I wasn't willing to go to those places to feel any of the fear or the grief that I was going through, mainly grief, sadness, so I covered it all up with anger, which a lot of people did.

KING: Took it out on who?

BERTINELLI: Took it out on Ed, took it out on myself. I didn't do my job as well as I could have.

KING: Don't do it anymore?

BERTINELLI: No, I let so much roll off my back now. I don't want to be right. I just want peace. I really do -- like dr. Phil says, are you contributing to this relationship or are you contaminating it? I choose to contribute. I'm very clear. The blinders are off. I make my choices really looking at them now.

Like Poncho Barnes says at the end of the book -- I love her quote -- when faced with a choice, choose happy. I just love that quote because any choice you have in your life -- you can look at two things and go, oh, neither one of them. That's not a chase. You know what, it is. You pick one and you make it happy. You put your best forward. You think about it in a positive way. Then it does become that.

KING: How old were you when you got "One Day At a Time?"

BERTINELLI: I had just turned 15. I was 15 in April and we shot it in June.

KING: You had to audition?

BERTINELLI: Yes, a lot.

KING: They kept bringing you back.

BERTINELLI: Yes

KING: Did you always want to be an actress?

BERTINELLI: I don't know where that came from, actually. I loved drama class in junior high and high school.

KING: Who sent you there? Who said be an actress?

BERTINELLI: I did. I told my mom, this is what I want to do. There was a girlfriend in school who was doing commercials and stuff, and I thought, oh my god, that's so cool. I don't remember that much, any of it. I think something else was leading me to go there and I did.

KING: Did it come easily to you?

BERTINELLI: No, no. I was always insecure and looking at myself. To be a really good actor, you have to take that outside of yourself and not watch yourself and really just be in a moment. I spent a lot of time not being in the moment. So, no, I wasn't very good.

KING: So when you did your first show, you must have been very nervous?

BERTINELLI: I was, but a certain calmness came over me. I remember holding on to the door of the apartment, and I had the basketball in one hand. I remember looking up and I could see the audience, and I knew my parents and my family were out there.

I thought, one day, I'm going to have children and I'm going to be able to show this to them. That's going to change the rest of my life. I knew that at 15. How did I know that? I don't know. A certain calmness came over me.

KING: What was Norman Lear like to work for?

BERTINELLI: Norman, I adore him. He's brilliant and funny. The man is so smart, but scary. He really is -- his instincts are unmatched. He really is an amazing man.

KING: With your insecurities, is there a degree where you fear you don't deserve the success?

BERTINELLI: All the time. All the time. I never felt like I deserved it, ever. Now, I'm starting to feel like, you know what, this is nice. I deserve this. If I can have a voice out there for someone to relate to, I'm going to talk.

KING: You also, in some ways, were the opposite of that image, right, the wholesome good girl, girl next door image, right?

BERTINELLI: I was a good girl doing bad stuff. That's how I'll put it. Yes, I'm still a good person inside. We all are. We all have that good core to us, but sometimes you get lost along the way.

KING: What about Mackenzie Phillips (ph), your co-star. You were seen as the wild child, but she --

BERTINELLI: She was really given an unfair wrap, as far as I'm concerned. She was going through a lot of stuff in front of a lot of people that really weren't her fault. Her problems were deeper and -- but she's an amazing woman.

KING: You did drugs with her, though.

BERTINELLI: Yes. She's the one that got caught doing it. So I had a lot of guilt about that. Here it is, I am doing it with her, and she's the one being fired.

KING: What's your relationship with her now.

BERTINELLI: When we see each other, it's just like we just saw each other last week. We don't see each other a lot. She's got her life. I have mine. Same with everybody. I run into them. We all go to the basically hair salon that we've been going to for 30 years. So we run into each other once in a while.

KING: Could they do a look back show?

BERTINELLI: We did a reunion show a couple years ago and that was a lot of fun.

KING: On her bad days, Valerie said she could really pack it away. Her favorite foods and how she fought the cravings -- who can't relate to that. Don't go anywhere.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERTINELLI: This is all about behavioral changes and being more aware of what we put into our mouth and being accountable for it. I'm going to change my goal. I'm going to lose more. There, I said it out loud, so now I have to do it.

For the first time in 20 years, I'm going to wake up New Year's Day and not think about my weight and not make a single resolution to lose a pound, because that part of my life, that battle, that roller coaster, I'm sorry, is over. I reached my 40-pound goal this month. For that, I sure have so much to say to you. The flips to do, tears to cry. I know this may sound weird, I'm speechless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERTINELLI: For 20 years, I would start the New Year with the same resolution -- lose weight. Right about now, I would break it. But not this year because I called Jenny Craig, and they designed a program that I could really stick to.

Can you do a favor and say voice over? Imagine, my first New Year's without resolving to lose one single pound. Don't give up. This could be the best year of your life

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Valerie Bertinelli. The book is out right now, called "Losing It," and it's published by Free Press. What were your favorite foods during the food craze days?

BERTINELLI: My goodness, I don't know if I would call them my favorites. Yes, I would. Jalapeno cheese poppers, Jalapeno and cheddar cheese poppers, or they also had the sour cream cheese poppers, cream cheese poppers. I loved them. I would have them for dinner every night when I was going through my depression up in Utah, being away from my son too much. Yes, --

KING: What were you doing in Utah?

BERTINELLI: I was shooting "Touched By An Angel" at the time. I would be flying back and forth to L.A. to tuck Wolfie in bed and then get back there. That was my comfort.

KING: What was breakfast?

BERTINELLI: Breakfast was probably a cup of coffee. Then I would get to the set and have a breakfast burrito, one of the really fattening ones. Then lunch -- I would usually sleep at lunch and not really eat too much. Then I would get so hungry at the end of the day, I would get in and I would just pop a whole box of poppers into the toaster oven, and fix myself a nice vodka and cranberry juice and that was my dinner.

KING: What was the snack at bedtime?

BERTINELLI: No, that was near bedtime. That was me going to bed. I would eat that and then go to bed.

KING: That will gain you a lot of weight?

BERTINELLI: Yes, a little bit. I gained about 20 pounds in those two years.

KING: When did you start worrying about weight?

BERTINELLI: When haven't I worried about weight? I have stopped now. I used to worry about it from the time I was 12, 13.

KING: Were you a fat kid?

BERTINELLI: No, I wasn't a fat kid at all. I felt like one. I look back at the pictures and I think there's this gorgeous, young, sweet teenage woman and she thinks has child-bearing hips. Not at all.

KING: OK, you're a former teen stars. What do you make of the current teen stars and what's being done to them and by them?

BERTINELLI: Nothing's being done to them. Don't go out. Stay home.

KING: None of the blame is external?

BERTINELLI: I dislike the paparazzi as much as I anyone else. When I'm driving down Mulholland and I see them sitting there, I want to scream out the window, get a fricking life. But, you know, you can get away from not having them follow you. You can maybe keep your underwear on once in a while and then they won't be as interested in taking your picture. You can stay home. Invite your friends over. Have movie night. Have parties at home. I don't feel one little ounce -- when it comes to some of the other ones that seem to have some mental illnesses, then you are thinking, you know, it's a little vulturistic. You guys need to stop pecking at the -- that I don't like. But, on the other hand, I'm thinking, stay home.

KING: With the amount of tabloids and the amount of tabloid television shows, do you think it's harder now than when you were starring on television.

BERTINELLI: It's only hard as you want it to be and the way you make it. I haven't had as much of an eye on me. I had a bad experience when I was halfway through my diet. I didn't realize my ass was being shot on some tele-photo lens.

It's not fun, but excuse me for putting a bathing suit on in Hawaii when I'm half way through my diet. I guess you have to be aware sometimes. I don't know. We have it so -- we're so blessed and to really have that really disrupt our lives, I'm not going to let that.

KING: Do you think, though, the public and the press enjoy seeing celebrities crash?

BERTINELLI: Absolutely. It's that whole thing about building people up and then bringing them down. I think -- once again, that feeds into the negativity that we have anywhere, not just in this country. We've just got to start putting more positive thoughts out and positive actions.

KING: Why do we want to see bad things happen?

BERTINELLI: I don't know. I really don't. I don't like seeing bad things happen. No, it's not fun. I don't know why that is. It makes some feel better about their lives. Then make your life better.

Sometimes it's easier -- and I probably did this a lot too -- it's easier to focus on somebody else because you don't want to put the focus on yourself and fix yourself. So, that might have something to do it.

KING: Your son Wolfie's drawn into rock and roll, right?

BERTINELLI: He's a musician.

(CROSS TALK)

BERTINELLI: Yes, he's really brilliant.

KING: Are you worried about it.

BERTINELLI: Frankly, yes. I didn't want him going out on the tour. I wasn't happy about that decision. Wolfie really gave me a great argument. I'm not going to deny him a chance.

KING: What was the argument.

BERTINELLI: He said, mom, this is fabulous chance for me. He didn't use fabulous. It was a great chance for me. I get to spend time with dad. And you were working at this age, too. How can you tell me I can't go?

KING: Is Eddie a good father?

BERTINELLI: Yes, he is. He could stand to be a greater father to himself, but he's a terrific father to Wolfie.

KING: Valerie has got a lot on her plate these days and it isn't food. She fills us in on living the good life when we come back.

BERTINELLI: I do?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: With Valerie Bertinelli, we have an e-mail from Theresa in Katie, Texas; first of all, Valerie, you look marvelous.

BERTINELLI: Thank you.

KING: I would like to know, what is your relationship like with Eddie since you finally divorced?

BERTINELLI: It gets better and better every day. It's not volatile any more at all. That was only briefly. It's good. We're like friends. But you know what? It's just that same thing I told you earlier. I prefer peace over being right. He doesn't need to know I'm right. I know I'm right.

KING: How did Eddie deal with it when you gained weight?

BERTINELLI: You know what, he was always very kind. He never -- I mean, sometimes when he was drinking, he would say some cruel things. But I chalked that up to the booze. Of course, words ring in your head for a long time. He was mostly very kind.

KING: There have been stories you might want a talk show of your own?

BERTINELLI: I thought about it back and forth. I don't know. It's a hell of a lot of work. I don't know. And you have it down. Possibly.

KING: How would you describe yourself? At this point in your life, Valerie Bertinelli is --

BERTINELLI: On a great journey and shall that journey never end. I always want to be learning something.

KING: Happy?

BERTINELLI: Yes. Yes, for the most part.

KING: Happiest ever?

BERTINELLI: No, no. I mean, I'm still reaching for that. The happiest day so far ever of my life was the day Wolfie was born. I'm probably going to end up stalking the poor thing. Any girl that comes into his life --

KING: How are you going to handle that thing, when he has girls in his life.

BERTINELLI: I am already handing. He has a beautiful girlfriend right now and I adore her.

KING: How old is Wolfie?

BERTINELLI: He'll be 17 in a couple weeks.

KING: Yes, I guess he can have a girlfriend.

BERTINELLI: Yes. She's beautiful and sweet and kind. When I say beautiful, from the inside, she's obviously gorgeous on the outside. Again, another beautiful young woman with self-esteem issues.

I'm looking at her going, you're absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and you think you're ugly. Why? I don't get it. It happened to me 30 years ago. It's still happening to this to day.

KING: You had two hit TV shows?

BERTINELLI: Did I? I wouldn't call "Touched By an Angel" my show. I came in on the last two years. I was on a hit show.

KING: How long was first one?

BERTINELLI: Nine years.

KING: Why did it go off?

BERTINELLI: I think, basically, Bonnie had said, I think I'm done. I don't know. I don't want to put words in her mouth. She can tell us later. She can write her own book. I think it had come to a head and it was done.

KING: Was that sad?

BERTINELLI: Very. I was ready to move on. It was like graduating college. Part of me wanted to hold on to it.

KING: How did they end it? Did they call you all together an announce?

BERTINELLI: We basically knew around the beginning of the year. They were writing it, I think -- it's been so long. My memory is awful, too. Thank god for the journals. But we kind of knew it was coming. The negotiations were happening. We were all like, not really into it. KING: Does your boyfriend do?

BERTINELLI: He's a financial something or other. I don't know. I don't pay attention. I'm terrible. I know the company he works for. I've seen his card, but I don't know. He's going to hate me.

KING: So he goes out of the house every day and he goes somewhere?

BERTINELLI: He works from home and he goes to Scottsdale every couple of weeks. That's where the office is in Scottsdale. Oh, god. I'm such a bad girlfriend. Bad girlfriend.

KING: Bad, bad girlfriend. Valerie has a philosophy of sorts. You might say she's taking life one day at a time. Our final thoughts with Valerie Bertinelli when LARRY KING LIVE return.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERTINELLI: You should have seen dad doing the bump with Candy. I wish I was taller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will be tall?

BERTINELLI: Yes, with my luck, the only thing that will grow is my bust.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Valerie Bertinelli. Was it hard to learn to date again?

BERTINELLI: Oh, hated it, hated it, not fun. I had gone on, I think, a date -- not a date, I dated one other guy before I met Tom. That date didn't even start until three years after Ed and I separated.

KING: How did you meet Tom?

BERTINELLI: Through my brother, my pimp. He introduced me to Ed too. My brother Patrick has set me up me on all of my good dates.

KING: Did you hit it off right away.

BERTINELLI: Right away, right away. We cooked together for one of our first group dates and that was a lot of fun. We met at -- my sister in law Stacy works for the local radio station there.

Now Stacy's going to be mad at me too. They had this wine auction function thing that they do to raise money. She had told me to come. We'll have a lot of fun. I said, OK, just don't set me up. I don't want a date.

She didn't. She wanted to. The one guy that she wanted to set me up with did but came, but he brought his fiancee. So, yes. She was like, I guess he's back together with her. Tom had come with another girlfriend of mine but we all went on a group together. He was sitting across the table from me and talking to my girlfriend Gina. He was making her laugh like he always does.

My brother was right here. I was like, OK, what about this guy? What's up with this guy? Who he is? What's he about? What does he do? Patrick filled me in.

KING: That was nice. You hit it off --

BERTINELLI: Immediately.

KING: How does your son like him?

BERTINELLI: Wolfie loves him. Wolfie loves him. We have a lot of fun together.

KING: Main things your involved with now -- OK, the book is out. Are you going to tour?

BERTINELLI: I'm doing a book tour.

KING: You're still with Jenny Craig?

BERTINELLI: Absolutely. They'll have to kick me out of that company kicking and screaming. I just love it.

KING: Tom a major part of your life.

BERTINELLI: Yes.

KING: What else?

BERTINELLI: That's all I can focus on right now. To me, it starts with Wolfie, making sure he's safe and taken care of. Then I got to do this book tour. Then poor Tom comes in third, but not really. He's going to try and work his schedule around mine and be out with me as much as he possibly can.

KING: Would you go back to sitcom television.

BERTINELLI: Absolutely, in a heart beat. In a heart beat. I think we need some good sitcoms out there and I would love to be a part of one, yes. Now that the writers aren't striking, maybe they will --

KING: Do you see scripts?

BERTINELLI: Not very many now, a few. There's been a writer's strike.

KING: Would you expect to see scripts?

BERTINELLI: I would be hopeful, yes. That's my love, doing sitcoms first. KING: Because?

BERTINELLI: To make a person laugh, to make an audience laugh, there's a lot of joy in that. You're spreading laughter and you burn a lot of calories when you laugh, too.

KING: Also, you like being someone else every week?

BERTINELLI: Well, Barbara wasn't really someone else. She was pretty much me. But, it's not that. It's more the laughter and being a part of that and bringing joy to people. That would be fun.

KING: You're a sweetheart.

BERTINELLI: Thanks, Larry.

KING: The book is "Losing It And Gaining My Life Back One Pound At a Time." Valerie Bertinelli, the publisher is Free Press.

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