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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Encore: Natalie Cole Needs a Kidney; Carl Edwards Describes NASCAR Crash

Aired May 2, 2009 - 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, Natalie Cole exclusive. She is fighting for her life and talking about it here first. Money, success, and fame can't buy what she desperately needs: a new kidney. She beat the drugs that almost killed her, can she win this struggle for survival?

And NASCAR's Carl Edwards. He walked away from this. He's here to tell us about a miracle at Talladega next on LARRY KING LIVE.

What can one say about Natalie Cole, the great singer, actress, best-selling author. Her latest album, by the way, "Still Unforgettable," I have it here in my hand, came out a little while ago. It won two Grammys earlier this year. She's the daughter of the late and great Nat King Cole. And this CD is now out in Europe. Last on this program, my gosh, seven years ago.

NATALIE COLE, SINGER, NEEDS KIDNEY: Oh, is that how long it's been?

KING: Well, September of 2002.

COLE: Oh, my goodness.

KING: And you've been pretty busy.

COLE: I have.

KING: Now let's get right to the nitty-gritty. What -- what's wrong with the kidney?

COLE: Well, it started about a little over a year ago. Initially, I was diagnosed with hepatitis C. And I went -- that was in February of 2008. And then I went on chemo in May. And by...

KING: You had cancer of the kidney?

COLE: Well, it's like a virus, you know. And they treat it very aggressively. And -- but I've had it forever. And I had it from -- from drug use. There are three ways you can get hepatitis C, tattoos, blood transfusion, or drug use with needles.

KING: So you caused your own problems?

COLE: More or less. And it was 25 years it's still existing in my body. I went and did the interferon, the chemotherapy. And within four months, I had kidney failure. KING: Caused by the interferon?

COLE: Oh, we're -- yes. We're -- I'm ready to address that now. I didn't want to address that yet. But the doctors are...

KING: Is that the usual?

COLE: Yes.

KING: You mean...

COLE: It's something that the medical -- that physicians have not really addressed. They've not acknowledged it, but it's very impacting to the kidneys.

KING: Do they give it as a matter of course?

COLE: No, they're not saying much about it. But it's shown that several people that have had chemotherapy, that it has impacted their kidneys.

KING: So interferon...

COLE: Interferon.

KING: Now, is this your opinion or have they -- have they now acknowledged it?

COLE: No. They haven't acknowledged it yet. But when I spoke with my doctor, he didn't say no and he didn't say yes.

So I think that...

KING: You believe it, though?

COLE: Absolutely, with every bit of my body. I never had a kidney problem in my life. Never. And within four months, I was in renal failure. My kidney was functioning at less than 10 percent. And within five days, I was on dialysis.

KING: What's it like? What's your first sign when kidneys aren't working?

COLE: For me, it was I couldn't breathe. I -- I went into -- literally, my kidneys stopped functioning. They stopped, you know, processing the fluid that was starting to build up in my body.

KING: How did you go to the bathroom?

COLE: I was able to go to the bathroom. But I was having such trouble breathing and my kidney failure was, you know, functioning very, very low. So I went to the -- the doctor came to me, actually and X-rayed me and took me to his office. And he said, you've got to go to the hospital right away.

KING: What specifically is wrong with your kidneys right now? COLE: Well, it's...

KING: Is it both kidneys?

COLE: It's -- yes. It's renal...

KING: What's wrong?

COLE: It's renal failure. Other than the fact that I was on chemotherapy earlier last year, there's nothing wrong with my kidneys.

KING: If you don't get a new -- you need one, right?

COLE: Right.

KING: If you don't get a new kidney, what happens?

COLE: I'll be fine. I'll be fine.

KING: You will be fine?

COLE: I will be fine. Dialysis, which is what I'm on, I go three days a week. And anyone that knows about kidney function or dialysis or anyone that's in someone's family, perhaps, you know that it's about a three-day-a-week treatment for three-and-a-half hours.

KING: But if you don't get a new kidney, it's -- you've got to be on dialysis forever?

COLE: Then you've got to do the dialysis for the rest of your life, which is pretty challenging.

KING: Neil Simon, the great playwright, had this well -- in his 70s.

COLE: Right.

KING: And he said the dialysis was terrible.

COLE: Oh, really?

KING: He didn't like getting it.

COLE: Well, he probably didn't like it because it -- you know, it interrupts your life, you know?

But other than that...

KING: What do you do when you get dialysis?

COLE: You go to -- well, the first thing that they had to do was they had to put a catheter in my chest in order for me to be able to be hooked up -- to get hooked up to these machines that they have. But it's really a very fascinating process. Basically, they're cleaning my blood three days a week. So I have the healthiest blood on the planet. KING: How long does it take, each section?

COLE: Three-and-a-half -- about three hours and 15 minutes. That's how long I'm on.

KING: How long to hook you up?

COLE: Ten minutes.

KING: And what do you do, sit there, read?

COLE: You sit there and you read. You eat. You watch TV. You nap, just, you know.

KING: Where do you do this at?

COLE: There's a wonderful facility that I go to called DaVita. There's a gentleman named Kent Thiry who founded this organization some -- a little a little while ago. I just met him very recently. There's now 1,400 of these facilities around the country.

KING: Are there a lot of people there every day?

COLE: Yes, it's booked.

KING: Men and women?

COLE: Yes. I mean, there are so many people that are in some form of -- are having some form of dialysis around the country. It's amazing. It's like almost half a million people now.

KING: Would you donate a kidney to a friend?

That's tonight's quick vote question. You can go to cnn.com/larryking and cast your ballot and more with Natalie in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the great Natalie Cole.

In effect, though, there are people worse off than you in that...

COLE: Absolutely.

KING: ...if they don't get a kidney, they die?

COLE: That's -- that's right.

KING: If you don't get a kidney, you have dialysis the rest of your life?

COLE: Yes. Well, if you don't have dialysis, absolutely, you will die. Dialysis is actually keeping me alive.

KING: Are you on a list somewhere? COLE: I am. I'm on a very long list, which is why we are looking to donors -- living donors. You can get a kidney also from cadavers, which is not abnormal. You know, it sounds a little weird but...

KING: Is there an order -- you can't get Natalie Cole -- because she's Natalie Cole, can't get ahead on the list?

COLE: It's what?

KING: You can't get ahead on the list?

COLE: No. They don't do it like that. They do it according to what your needs are.

If I was more ill, let's say, a lot of people that have kidney problems are diabetic. They're overweight. They have obesity issues. They have very, very high blood pressure. And they have just different things going on with them.

I was on dialysis in London. And there was a gentleman there who had no toes. So he's already dealing with diabetes.

KING: You can work...

COLE: But he was also on -- you know, having kidney problems.

KING: You can go out and sing?

COLE: Absolutely.

KING: You can tour?

COLE: Absolutely.

KING: All right. But let's say you're touring, you're opening in Detroit.

COLE: Yes.

KING: There's a center there where they can hook you up?

COLE: Yes.

KING: All dialysis is the same?

COLE: All the facilities are the same.

KING: They do the same thing?

COLE: They know -- I have a wonderful team of people at my facility here in Los Angeles that I tell them where I'm going and they make phone calls and make appointments. And it's really quite amazing. I have been on dialysis in Istanbul, Milan, Indonesia, Manila, London. It's -- it's amazing. It's really fascinating.

KING: And we're amazed ourselves. I'm going give this to you. We'll check with it later. We actually ask the question.

These are all e-mails from dozens, dozens of people offering to be tested to see if they can match who want to give you a kidney.

COLE: That's -- that's amazing. That is really amazing.

KING: What do you make of that?

COLE: I -- I don't know. I always felt that it was just so -- so strange, you know, to solicit to strangers, you know, for a kidney. But people -- people are really great. There are some great human beings out there. That's all I can say.

KING: Your son wasn't a match?

COLE: No. He wasn't.

KING: What does it take to match?

COLE: Well, it takes a few things. There's -- there is -- it's more than blood. It's not just if you're B negative. And I'm B positive. There's -- your general health has to be really, really good. There are some other requirements that they have.

In other words, my son had some blood pressure issues. And they felt that that was a red flag. To a regular doctor who you see, let's say, once every couple of months, that's not a big deal, if your pressure is at, say, 135/80. But to the transplant people, that's a big deal.

KING: If you have something to say to Natalie, go to CNN.com/larryking, click on our blog and we'll share some of your comments with her a little later in the show.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Natalie Cole is our guest. We will include your phone calls.

We have an e-mail from Sandy in Owings Mills, Maryland: "If you don't have a donor, how can somebody go about getting tested to see if they're a match for you? And is there any age criteria for donating?"

COLE: I would say that it would be favorable to get a kidney that -- from someone that's younger. Absolutely.

KING: Younger than you?

COLE: Yes.

KING: How old are you?

COLE: I'm almost 60 so...

KING: You're almost 60?

COLE: Yes.

KING: Whew.

COLE: I look pretty good, right?

KING: Unbelievable.

How old was your dad when he died?

COLE: He was 47. Isn't that something?

KING: The smoking (INAUDIBLE).

COLE: You're right. That's exactly right.

KING: That's what killed him.

COLE: But I have to say, Larry, that the -- the attitude of going through this is really what makes the difference between your friend...

KING: The attitude of the giver...

COLE: ...that you were -- that you spoke of. The attitude of the -- you know, the person that's going through this is really what's all-important. I mean...

KING: You have a good attitude?

COLE: I -- I do. I -- you know, I just...

KING: Are you saying if you never get a kidney and you have to do this until you're 90, you'll do it until you're 90?

COLE: Well, I'll have to do something if I want to live. Absolutely.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

COLE: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: Comedian George Lopez, under -- a friend of yours, underwent a kidney operation in April of 2005. And his wife Ann was his donor. He talked about the kidney problems on this show about two months later.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Tell me how you discovered something was wrong?

GEORGE LOPEZ, COMEDIAN: Well, I mean, it goes back to my childbirth. I mean, I was born with this thing. But what happened was that I had tore my Achilles in the middle of the '90s. And I was taking over-the-counter drugs, you know, for med -- for pain.

And with that, what they were doing was my kidneys were already in distress and that just affected them to where it started giving me a dull pain. And I was literally bent over. And we were in Florida. And Ann says, when you get back, go see the doctor.

So he ran some tests. He ran a creatine level check and came in with the bad news. And he said not only...

KING: What was the news?

LOPEZ: Not only did you have kidney disease, but you're progressed to the point where you're going to need a transplant by the time you're 45. And I was just -- really just blown away. And Ann says: "I'll give you one of mine." And I'm like: "Ann, the guy is just telling me that I'm going to die. Be quiet."

ANN LOPEZ, WIFE OF GEORGE LOPEZ: He was telling me to be quiet.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: George said to you he'd give you one, but he only has one.

COLE: Yes. He said, I'd give you mine, but I only have one. That was very sweet. You know, that -- that's amazing. And, see, that just goes to show you, too, that there are different reasons now. There's so little that's known about the kidney.

KING: Little?

COLE: There's a lot -- there's not a lot known. I mean, I have two friends right now who both have had -- either one is getting ready to have some kidney problems and another just got a transplant about two years ago. Both of them have kidney trouble that the doctors do not know why, that they are -- that they went into kidney trouble.

So it used to be a blood transfusion, tattoos or needles -- needle use. That would be the reason why you would have, you know, hepatitis or something. But now with -- with kidneys, anything can happen.

KING: We always hear about a lot of pain with kidneys -- pain in the lower back.

COLE: You know, that is not my experience. That is not my experience. I'm telling you that it's just so unusual. I think that that's why I have to let you know about an organization. One of the friends that I was talking about that had the transplant two years ago was an attorney. His name was Ken Kleinberg. And he started an organization called the University Kidney Research Organization.

Not enough is done about kidney research. We need more money for that. The National Kidney Foundation, a wonderful organization. But they focus more on preventive -- watching your blood pressure, you know, watching your weight, things like this. Not a lot is done about research. And they need to know more.

KING: You were an addict for how long?

COLE: Oh, not even that long -- five, six years. Yes.

KING: Did it affect your work? Were you able to be stoned and go on stage and sing?

COLE: Yes, but I really wasn't that good. I wasn't as good. I was much better sober.

KING: So when this happened -- by the way, how did you beat it?

COLE: I really went into cold turkey.

KING: No rehab center?

COLE: No, I had rehab. The rehab was for the cocaine. The heroin I did on my own. I just went into cold turkey. It was a horrible, horrible experience. And, you know, I got in trouble when I said something about Amy Winehouse. You remember...

KING: You criticized her, right?

COLE: Yes. Yes. And I was really not just criticizing her. I was really criticizing my -- my wonderful organization, which I support lovingly, and that's the Grammys. And that's who I was really criticizing.

KING: You criticized them for having her on?

COLE: For having her on there and for -- for...

KING: But isn't there some hypocrisy since you had the same kind of problem?

COLE: Well, there -- nobody was hiring me when I was on drugs. Nobody wanted anything to do with me. And that's how it should have been. I needed to earn my stripes.

KING: Do you know -- maybe this is impossible -- do you know why you got into drugs?

COLE: I think it's a matter of having low self-esteem. I think that there is a void in one's life, in one's heart that you just can't fill and people fill it with different things, whether it's drugs, whether it's sex, whether it's liquor, whether it's gambling, whether it's -- some kind of addiction, you know. And there are just those of us who are like little walking around garbage cans where we just can't figure out what to do.

KING: So do you, frankly, in part, blame yourself?

COLE: Absolutely. You have to take...

KING: You brought on your own disease? COLE: Oh, you have to take responsibility for it. I mean, yes, you can go back to your childhood and you can, you know, throw some blame in a couple of individuals and a couple of spots. But at the end of the day, you do have to take responsibility for your life.

KING: Natalie says she identifies with the Obamas. We'll talk to her about that.

Plus, a surprise coming. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Natalie Cole. Supposing you pop up on the list right now, what happens?

COLE: We're good to go.

KING: If they call you?

COLE: Yes. If it is a person that's a living person, and everything matches up perfectly, then we just ask them, can you wait until the end of the year, when I finish my schedule. I have got a schedule. I'm working.

KING: Wait a minute. Come on.

COLE: So I would not -- no, no, no.

KING: They have got a kidney for you, you would say, hold it, I am opening in Detroit?

COLE: Yes, but see, this is the deal...

KING: That's chutzpah.

COLE: No, it's not chutzpah. This is the deal. It is not a life and death situation. And I know that your show was doing that for the -- for the ratings. But it's not.

KING: Were we saying that? I didn't see it.

COLE: Yes. It was like, oh, she's struggling for her life. It's between life and death. We were getting calls all over the country. My manager was fielding calls from people who think ah...

KING: We wouldn't do that.

COLE: Yes, right.

KING: Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold it. Hold it. I will defend us. I didn't know we did this. But if you hear someone needs a transplant, that is the first thing you think.

COLE: Yes. Well, heart transplant different, totally different.

KING: No, I would think any transplant, liver... COLE: And liver, totally different.

KING: How about brain?

(LAUGHTER)

COLE: Very cute. Very cute.

KING: I would think life and death. If I hear "transplant," I would think -- it's true, I would think life and death.

COLE: Yes, but it's really not...

KING: So you can put it off?

COLE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: They can say, hold the liver?

COLE: And you know what, there are more people that need a transplant than there are people to give it, than there are donors, which is unfortunate.

KING: What was hepatitis C like?

COLE: Horrible. I didn't even know I had it. It is a very interesting situation, because I didn't know anything was wrong with me. And it wasn't until I started taking chemo that I got really, really sick.

KING: And really sick meaning?

COLE: Well, the chemo -- if you have ever known anyone who has been on chemotherapy...

KING: I know, they get bald. But they complain, they say that -- nauseous.

COLE: Nauseous, losing weight. You just can't do anything. Can't lift your head up off the pillow. Very, very difficult. Now that was hard to work. I had to work.

KING: You worked with it?

COLE: Yes, I did. Because I just couldn't see myself laying in bed for the next four or five months.

KING: So the cure is worse than the disease?

COLE: Yes, absolutely. Even the doctors say that.

KING: Are there times you want to die?

COLE: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I just couldn't take it. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Well, actually there is a few people I can think of. (LAUGHTER)

KING: What then kept you going to get on the stage? What does keep you going?

COLE: It was the only thing I had left, Larry, my voice. God didn't take my voice. He took my health for a minute. You know, but my voice was still there. And now we should talk about my music.

KING: I am going to. I think your father would be proud.

COLE: I think he would too.

KING: I have no doubt that he would be proud.

COLE: Thank you.

KING: By the way, a transplant, if it comes for you, entails what? How long does it take? What do they do?

COLE: It will take about -- I will be in the hospital four or five days. The donor will be in the hospital probably two days. Their recovery time will be about two weeks. Mine will be about three months. And there is a quarantine factor, which is where you can't really be around a lot of people for two weeks after the surgery.

KING: Because?

COLE: Infection. You are just really susceptible to a lot of infection.

KING: Isn't there a black market in kidneys?

COLE: I have heard there is. We don't want to talk about that.

KING: People buy them?

COLE: But yes, absolutely. Oh yes, because, you know, in places like India, where they're willing to give their eyeballs away, because, you know, these things are very, very valuable. So you can buy a kidney in India, or in certain places around the country for, you know, probably 10,000, 15,000, up to 50,000. People would do it in a minute.

KING: Before we talk music and other things, what are you -- do you have a fear going back to the drugs?

COLE: No.

KING: Not at all?

COLE: Not now.

KING: Not now? But you did?

COLE: I did. And as a matter of fact, I think one of the best signs of recovery is being afraid that you are not going to make it. I think it is a good sign. When I was in rehab, I was there for six months. And the first month, I couldn't wait to get out of there. You know?

As a matter of fact, the first time I went, because I went twice. The first time I want to rehab, I was there for 30 days. And I couldn't wait to get back to my drugs. And they were in a safe. So I knew, you know -- you know, I just wiled away my time.

But the second time, I was in rehab for six months. And I was petrified to leave. I didn't want to leave. And that was a good sign. My counselor told me that was a good sign.

KING: Was there a second time because you failed?

COLE: Yes, the first time. Well, I had the drugs in the safe, so I wasn't -- I just wasn't ready. You know, you have to be ready. It's something that you really do -- you do it with the help of professional people. But you still have to do it yourself. And it really does -- it, you know, it requires resolve, great resolve, great strength.

KING: Natalie Cole is our guest. Want more information on organ donations go to cnn.com/larryking, click on blog and link to the United Network for Organ Sharing. We have also got a link to Natalie's Web site, where you can get updates on her search for a donor. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Natalie Cole. By the way, her Web site is www.nataliecole.com. And in a few days or a week, they're going to tell you how to link up to their own, right, to find...

COLE: Right. So if they want to be a donor or be tested, because everybody has to be tested.

KING: And there's another Web site that you gave us, www.csmc.edu, and you go to search, and when you hit search, go to kidney transplant. What does that one do?

COLE: Well, that is going to give you information on what it is to be a donor and kidney transplant and what it all entails.

KING: Red carpet fashion guru Steven Cojocaru has had two kidney transplants. He told me a little about it in January of last year. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN COJOCARU, FASHION GURU: Out of nowhere -- I had this great life, this air head on the red carpet.

KING: Fashion consultant.

COJOCARU: Fashion guru, fashion -- really a TV person talking about fashion, sort of making fun of it. And having a good time there, and out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, which is a disease that affects the kidneys. And with some people, they can last their life with their natural kidneys. I couldn't. I had to have a transplant.

KING: Is it cancer of the kidney?

COJOCARU: Not at all. It's a genetic disease.

KING: How do they treat it until you get a new kidney?

COJOCARU: You have only one option, dialysis.

KING: So you did dialysis?

COJOCARU: I did dialysis. Well, I had one kidney. My best friend gave it to me, Abby (ph). And then I got a virus. And then I struggled for -- three, four months I was in the hospital. And then I lost it, which was...

KING: You mean, you got a kidney, and lost the kidney?

COJOCARU: Yes, I lost the kidney.

KING: It was a good kidney?

COJOCARU: It was a great kidney. It was a grade A kidney. And then I lost it. And then I had to go on dialysis.

KING: How long dialysis, what, three days a week?

COJOCARU: I did it at home. I was a very good student and I had my Ph.D. in dialysis. And I did it at home. Not a lot of people do.

KING: You had a machine at home?

COJOCARU: I had a machine at home and lived by that machine.

KING: Then what happened?

COJOCARU: Then a miracle happened. I was looking for a second kidney. And nowadays, they try to give you a kidney quick. You get a live donor. Rather than being on a list, that is kind of a better option.

So my doctor and I, we were looking for possible matches. And there were no matches. And out of the blue, my doctor says, why don't we look at your mother? You know, and my mother has energy like you have never seen, the energy of 10 men.

And I immediately said, no. I didn't want to cut open my mother. Plus, I was a little bit of a brat. And I said, she's too old, I want like a 19-year-old football player who passed, you know? And then she turned out to be a phenomenal match. And that's the miracle.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: What were you saying?

COLE: I was saying, that is unusual they would look at his mom. Because normally they would want a cadaver -- I mean, a kidney that is younger, fitter.

KING: What do you make of doing dialysis at home?

COLE: I have had that option presented to me. And I'm not so sure. I don't know that I want to be that responsible.

KING: Do you feel that you might be subject to disease more than the average person?

COLE: No.

KING: You don't think so?

COLE: No.

KING: Tampa, Florida, with a call for Natalie Cole. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, my question for Natalie Cole is, with 16 people dying every day due to lack of organ donations, what are your thoughts about the cloning of organs, therefore using science and stem cell research to give hope to those that make a list but don't necessarily have a chance to survive the lengthy process?

COLE: I think this is a really good platform for stem cell research, actually. To be able to use your own stem cells to create kidneys for people who are dying, as you said, because I just said to Larry earlier, there are more people that are getting transplants or needing transplants than there are people who are able to be donors.

So I think that it is a very good, you know, campaign for stem cell research. Absolutely.

KING: Are you singing as well as you always did?

COLE: Better than ever, which is really amazing. I mean...

KING: Tony Bennett, he is 82.

COLE: Yes, well, Tony is ridiculous.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: How do you explain that? You should have been singing better at 30?

COLE: I know. And you know what I said to someone today? I said, I don't know. As a matter of fact, it was the lady that I spoke to before I did this interview. And I said to her, I don't know. I am not so sure that you are at your peak when you are 30. I think you should be getting better as you get older.

And I am. I really am. I don't understand it, Larry. I think it is just God's grace.

KING: Was it your idea to sing with your late father?

COLE: Yes. And we started doing that in Las Vegas in the '80s, before "Unforgettable" even was thought of. And people started boo- hooing so loud in the audience. But it was a big hit, it was a big success. We use a little reel to reel. It was very crude. You know?

KING: That voice though. There was no voice like Nat King Cole's.

COLE: None, not at all.

KING: And great piano player.

COLE: Oh, I know. All the great piano players are like so jealous of his technique, because he -- you know, he taught himself how to play.

KING: Oh, he did?

COLE: Yes.

KING: Your blog comments are next. Give Natalie your best at cnn.com/larryking. We'll see you in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We have a little surprise for you, a little surprise.

Say hello, caller.

SMOKEY ROBINSON, SINGER: Hello, Natalie.

COLE: Hey, honey.

ROBINSON: You know who this is?

COLE: Yes.

KING: You know who that is?

COLE: I know who this is.

KING: Who is this?

COLE: Sweetie. Smokey.

KING: This is Smokey Robinson, the legendary R&B soul singer, songwriter, close friend of Natalie's.

Have you two every worked together, Smokey?

COLE: Oh, yes.

ROBINSON: Oh, many times. COLE: Oh, absolutely. We have had a ball. Absolutely.

ROBINSON: Yes. Natalie's my baby. I wanted to call in and tell you that, you know, Frances and I are praying for you, honey.

COLE: I know.

ROBINSON: And everything is going to be all right.

COLE: I know it.

ROBINSON: Everything is really going to be all right.

COLE: You're so sweet.

ROBINSON: You know, I just wanted to call in. I heard that you were going to be on the show today. And I said, let me call in and say -- tell my baby that everything is going to be fine.

COLE: You are so sweet. Thank you so much.

KING: Smokey, what do you think of the way Natalie has handled these health problems?

ROBINSON: Natalie is a trooper. Natalie is a trooper in every aspect of life. I mean, so she's just a trooper. And she handles everything. So I know she is going to handle this perfectly, because that's who she is. She has always been that way.

KING: She has been pretty candid. What do you know about her that we may not know?

COLE: Oh, no, Smokey, get off the phone.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON: No. We're not going to give up any family secrets, Larry.

COLE: No. We are not going to do that. We're going to stay cool, we're going to keep our friends.

ROBINSON: You know, Natalie and I have been together too long for me to start talking about that.

COLE: Amen, amen. That's right. Thank you. Love you.

KING: Smokey, I want to congratulate you far getting a second star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He got a star honoring him and the other members of the Miracles. He got a star for his work as a solo artist, as well. Natalie got a star on the Walk of Fame in 1979.

Anything you want to say to our lady here, Smokey? ROBINSON: Well, first of all, thank you very much for that, Larry, I appreciate that. But, like I said, I wanted to call in and tell her that -- of course, she knows, I love her and everything is going to be fine.

COLE: Everything.

KING: Thank you, Smokey.

COLE: Thank you, sweetie. Love you.

ROBINSON: All right. Bye, baby.

KING: Let's take a call from West Palm Beach. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Hi, Natalie. This is Glenda (ph). I wanted to ask you, do you have any plans to do movies and TV series in the near future?

COLE: Actually, yes. I'm looking forward to doing some -- doing some writing for a series that I'm interested in working on, as well as a Christmas movie, possibly for television. But we'll see. And we're still trying to work on -- I mean, you know, one of these days I'm going to try to sit where Larry is sitting. You know, when you get...

KING: You want to try this?

COLE: Yes. I would love to. I would absolutely love to.

KING: Want to sit in one night?

COLE: I'd love to. I think what you do is absolutely fascinating.

KING: Well, we could do it, I'm sure.

COLE: I would love to.

KING: (INAUDIBLE), now what the producers would love is, why are you sitting here doing a show?

COLE: And I'd break into song a little bit?

KING: No, no, no.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Let's take a next call.

COLE: OK.

KING: Ms. Cole, your kidney is ready. We would love that. Now if you could arrange that.

COLE: That would be awesome. But you have to remember, it is not -- it is not like that. You know, if it's ready, just keep it. I'll be right there.

KING: Not right there. You have got to finish singing. You don't walk off the show.

COLE: No. You know. Hey, you know what? I'm glad it's not like that.

KING: Yes.

COLE: I'm really glad that it is not that dire.

KING: We are, too.

COLE: Because that would be -- you know, that's stressful, very stressful.

KING: No kidding.

COLE: Yes.

KING: Oh kidding, yes. We'll be back with our remaining moments with the wonderful Natalie Cole right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we leave, we'll ask her about the president. Her tour starts next month, right, as this kicks off with the CD and everything?

COLE: Yes, yes.

KING: The CD is "Still Unforgettable," winning Grammys. But I asked her during the break if she is dating anyone and she said -- tell them.

COLE: Well, I found out something very interesting while I was ill, since I've been ill, and that is, number one, you find out who your real friends are. And number two, guys don't seem to do very well with girlfriends that get sick. I don't mean just a cold, I mean, like this kind of illness.

KING: You mean, they don't want to go -- they don't want to...

COLE: They're uncomfortable.

KING: What are they afraid of?

COLE: I don't know. It makes them uncomfortable. But I was dating a gentleman who was basically an idiot.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: This, of course, is what attracted you to him.

COLE: Yes, of course. And -- but, you know, you don't find these things out until -- you know, until you're into it and then you find out that they really have nothing to contribute. They're -- they're just not engaged. They don't want that problem. It's a problem.

KING: Yes.

COLE: And of course, we heard about a very sad story, Mayor Riordan and his wife.

KING: Yes.

COLE: OK? I mean, they've been married for a long time until she got deathly ill with cancer and he's out the door.

KING: You've got a point.

COLE: You know? I find that to be pretty disturbing.

KING: What do you think...

COLE: You know, unless he's coming with a kidney, I don't want to see any guys right now.

KING: What are you thinking of our Obama, the Obamas?

COLE: Now, he don't have to bring anything. He can just come right here.

(LAUGHTER)

COLE: I love him. I love him dearly. I really, really do. I think that he -- he represents a genteelness in a man that I just don't get a chance to see very often, he and his wife both.

And I was speaking to the interviewer earlier and they remind me very much -- my sister and I spoke of this, as well. They remind me of our family as we were growing up, my sister and I, and my dad and my mom.

And at one time, we were called the black Kennedys, because we were so -- you know, we were so -- especially to the black community, we were way up there. You know, we had the wealth and the big house and the success and the fame. And my mother dressed us very stylishly. And my father -- I mean, it was just -- it was a very unusual time in our history.

KING: And you compared him to -- to her, too?

COLE: And so I know how they feel.

KING: You like Michelle?

COLE: I love her. I think she is great. I think that the -- I guess it's the stability that they have been able to already build. In other words, they came stable. They came with a foundation.

KING: Yes. Well, your father... COLE: And I'm very respectful of that.

KING: ... I never met him, but I have talked to so many people about him. Your father, if one word were to describe him, it would be class.

COLE: Yes. You got it. You got it.

KING: When you've got it, you've got it.

COLE: You can't buy it. You can't invent it. You can't fake it.

KING: When he did that show that many stations in the South didn't carry.

(CROSSTALK)

COLE: That's correct.

KING: NBC carried it, to their great credit.

COLE: That's correct.

KING: Stations wouldn't carry it...

COLE: I know.

KING: ... because he was black.

COLE: Yes. Isn't that something?

KING: It was absurd.

COLE: It was totally ridiculous.

KING: And he smoked.

COLE: Yes, I know.

KING: He smoked.

COLE: And so did Sammy and so did Dean and they...

KING: They killed themselves.

COLE: Ah!

KING: OK. The tour is starting next month. Where do you open?

COLE: We will be -- OK, wait a minute. First place is going to be Seattle, with the Seattle Symphony.

KING: Ah.

COLE: And then we are going to -- I think we are doing a show up in Vegas and then we go to Seoul, Korea, which I have never been to before. Now don't forget, I have got to find dialysis facilities all over these places.

KING: You better.

COLE: It's going to be very interesting.

KING: Thank you, doll.

COLE: Thank you, my dear. Good to see you.

KING: The great Natalie Cole.

A horrific crash left a mess on the track at Talladega last weekend, could have killed driver Carl Edwards and people in the stands. Now take a look at how he went airborne and came down alive in a smoldering mass of fiberglass and pedal -- and metal, rather. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, and that destroyed the front end of Newman's car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Edwards will not make it to the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Brad Keselowski won this race.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Darrell (ph), I want to ask you...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Carl Edwards crossed the finish line. He'll tell us how he made it there. And find out about the woman who -- in the crowd who was injured. Don't go away, we'll be with him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Carl Edwards, the NASCAR driver who walked away from a spectacular last lap crash at the Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. He was leading the race at the time. Let's, for the 750th time, show you what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, and that destroyed the front end of Newman's car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Edwards will not make it to the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Brad Keselowski won this race.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Darrell (ph), I want to ask you...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right. What is it like to look at it?

CARL EDWARDS, NASCAR DRIVER: That's a little bit -- a little bit wild. You know, I didn't see it until I got out of the infield care center. And I really wasn't sure what happened.

You know, I'd been in a lot of wrecks, but not one where I saw the pavement out of the front windshield. That was wild. And then the fence posts and all that. And you know, the big thing is that nobody was hurt. That was really fortunate.

KING: How about you were going to win?

EDWARDS: Yes. We were going to win. That's why we were racing so hard. I've got to correct myself. I say no one was hurt. I talked to the young lady who was hurt not -- and she's doing well, that's the good thing.

But yes, I mean, we were going for the win. And that's the thing about NASCAR. It's hard to talk about this accident and, you know, be negative about it, because I love the sport so much. And it's so entertaining. It's so great.

But I think NASCAR and myself both agree that we've got to make sure we're safe, you know? But a wild accident.

KING: What happened?

EDWARDS: Well, what happened was Brad Keselowski, a good friend of mine, we were doing great. We were going to the front. It's a restrictor plate track, so you have to team up with someone. They have to be right behind you.

And I think that the cars were going about four or five miles an hour faster than everyone else because of that. And we were looking at the finish line. And he we went high.

KING: You were going to win, he was going to finish second?

EDWARDS: Yes, but he wanted it to be the other way around. So he did his job, got under me. And I went back to block, turned backwards, and the car lifted off the ground.

KING: Did he make this -- did he force this? EDWARDS: Brad -- Brad and I both -- if the roles were reversed, I probably would have done the same thing he did. I would have kept my foot on the gas and hoped that he somehow saved it.

KING: Why did you go airborne, do you think?

EDWARDS: Old Bernoulli's Principle there. The air goes over the top of that round car and it speeds up and causes low pressure and lifts the car up. And the reason it didn't go higher is because of NASCAR's innovations over the last few years to those roof flaps that you see come up. They spoil that lift.

KING: All right. Why -- you run across, like in a movie. Why weren't you hurt?

EDWARDS: The reason I wasn't hurt is because of all the people that were hurt before me, all of the guys who have wrecked like that and been hurt, we've got great safety advances.

KING: Or gotten killed.

EDWARDS: Yes. And NASCAR has really done a good job of making these cars as safe as they can. At most race tracks, we aren't in a situation where we can go airborne like that. And almost any race -- any wreck we have is safe. This place is -- you just have more wrecks, and you use all of that safety equipment.

KING: Talladega is known as a fast track, though, isn't it?

EDWARDS: Yes, that's the thing about Talladega. If they didn't have restrictor plates, the cars would go 230 miles an hour around the place.

KING: So they prevent you from doing it?

EDWARDS: Yes, they slow us down, puts us in this big group, makes us have to do things like Brad and I were doing, where we're pushing one another.

KING: You're going to race again this weekend?

EDWARDS: Yes, Richmond, Virginia.

KING: How far a race is it?

EDWARDS: That race, I think, is 400 miles.

KING: Are you a little nervous?

EDWARDS: No, Richmond is -- Richmond is a good place to go after something like that.

KING: Why?

EDWARDS: It's three-quarters of a mile long. We'll be going 140 miles an hour at the most. And it's good short-track racing, so that will give me a week to get that out of my system, you know?

KING: When we come back, Carl, I want to ask you why you do this, why you do what you do. And is NASCAR selling crashes? Is that what fans really want to see? We'll have him answer next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Carl Edwards. You were quoted as criticizing NASCAR, saying people are going to die. Are they promoting that, in a sense? Do they want to see -- not necessarily see people die, but see accidents?

EDWARDS: No. NASCAR doesn't. I don't believe that they want to see accidents. None of the drivers want to see accidents. There are fans that say, hey, you know, we want to see some wrecks. But the majority of our fans like the competition.

And NASCAR does the best they can to race at these race tracks, even these old, historic places like Talladega, to minimize the risk. They do the best job they can. So they're not selling it. They're doing the best they can. We have a meeting this week about this topic, you know, because it was brought up by the injuries that were sustained by folks.

KING: Why did you run across the finish line?

EDWARDS: I'm kind of a Will Ferrell fan.

(LAUGHTER)

EDWARDS: And he did that at the end of...

KING: "Talladega Nights."

EDWARDS: ... "Talladega Nights." And I -- that was awfully close to give up. You know what I mean? I had to go and finish the race.

KING: You weren't mad at the other guy, though?

EDWARDS: No, I'm not mad at Brad. That's the box we're put in. You know, he can't go below that yellow line and he can't lift off the throttle when he can see the finish line.

KING: Do you remember being in the air, though?

EDWARDS: Oh, yes. Yes, I've never had that feeling before.

KING: Yes, pretty exhilarating.

EDWARDS: Yes, it's great for a second.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Well, were you scared?

EDWARDS: I wasn't scared, because I thought I was still going down the race track. I didn't realize I was going into the fence like that. And so when I hit the fence, that was...

KING: You thought you were still going?

EDWARDS: Yes, because I turned backwards, and I thought maybe I'd still continue down the racetrack.

KING: Why do you do this?

EDWARDS: I grew up -- my dad raced cars out of a little local Volkswagen shop. And to me, my heroes were the guys out there driving race cars. And I just dreamed of being able to make a living at this. And I'm so fortunate to be able to do it.

You know, stuff like this is -- is not good. I'd rather be on your show about winning the championship or something, but I love it.

KING: Why do you like the NASCAR better than, say, the Indianapolis kind?

EDWARDS: NASCAR, the reason we have the spectators we have and the support that we have and people love it is because it's the most competitive form of motor sports on the planet. There are 20 different guys that could win every week. And it comes down the driver's skill and the crew chief's talent and the pit guys' talent. It's the best motor sports competition in the world.

KING: Can you make a great deal of money?

EDWARDS: Yes. Yes. I've been real broke. And now I make a really good living doing this. And I'm -- and it's like you. You know, you get to do something that you love. That's a dream come true.

KING: What does your wife think of it?

EDWARDS: My wife wasn't too pleased with it on Sunday. But in general, she loves it. It's kind of like any -- you know, when I started, she's -- everything I did was good. As long as I was all right, it was good. But now that she's getting used to it, she's -- you know, she wants to win just as badly as I do. She enjoys it.

KING: Was she there?

EDWARDS: No, she wasn't there. That was bad. She had to watch it on TV.

KING: Did she know about it before you were able to call her?

EDWARDS: She knew the wreck happened. She was watching. And someone called her and told her I was all right. And that was really nice of my folks to call her.

KING: Do you have kids?

EDWARDS: No, none yet.

KING: Do you want to be a father?

EDWARDS: Yes, for sure. I can't wait.

KING: How long do people in this field keep on keeping on?

EDWARDS: Mark Martin, I believe -- I don't want to age the guy any older than he is, but he's at least 50 years old. And he just won the race two weeks ago. So, you know, I'm looking up to him.

KING: How old are you?

EDWARDS: I'm 29.

KING: You had to think.

EDWARDS: Yes. It was close to something like that.

KING: What makes a great driver?

EDWARDS: You know, there are a couple of things that make a good race car driver. I think, most importantly, you have to be able to figure out what the inputs that you put in, what result you get from those inputs.

And if you can have that cataloged in your head, and you can build that throughout a race and throughout a career, and understand what each one of your movements does on the pedals or the steering wheel, and use those in a split second, that's what makes a good race car driver.

KING: Is it athletic reflexes?

EDWARDS: There's -- there's athleticism to it. But there's just -- you can't take -- there's no body type for it. It's just people can either do it or they can't.

KING: So I couldn't necessarily take a great athlete from another sport and put them in a car?

EDWARDS: Right. No, it's not like that.

KING: It's great reflexes.

EDWARDS: I mean, right here, Larry King, you might be the greatest race car driver to ever live, you just never tried it.

KING: Yes, oh, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Well, I'll go out with you one day. Will you take me for a ride?

EDWARDS: Come to the races, yes.

KING: You need a two-passenger thing. EDWARDS: Yes, I'll give you a ride. And if you want, maybe we can even get you in the driver's seat. That would be fun.

KING: Giant left turn, though, right? Is that what they kid about it?

EDWARDS: Yes, it's just driving in circles. That's all it is. It's easy.

KING: And do you drive without fear?

EDWARDS: I used to. The thing that got me hooked on it was the first time I drove a race car, it scared me bad. And that's what made me want to do it more and more. And that has slowly gone away. And now the biggest fear is just not losing the race -- or not winning the race.

KING: Not winning the race.

EDWARDS: Yes, the fear of losing.

KING: Great pleasure, man.

EDWARDS: Thanks.

KING: You get a lot of credit. It was great meeting you.

EDWARDS: It was good to be on with you.

KING: I'm going to come see you race here in L.A. in October.

EDWARDS: Yes. We'll have a good time.