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Interview with Comedian George Lopez

Aired October 20, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the one and only George Lopez.


GEORGE LOPEZ, COMEDIAN: I snuck a bottle in. Wait a minute.


KING: He brought down the house -- the White house.


G. LOPEZ: In that amount of time?


KING: Can the comic conquer late night TV?


G. LOPEZ: If it was a real Mexican show, there'd be plastic on the couch.


KING: One of the best television fathers ever is here -- ripping on the real ones, "Balloon Boy's" father, Jon Gosselin and David Letterman.

Plus, a prime time exclusive -- "So You Think You Can Dance's?" Mary Murphy. She says her ex-husband raped and beat her for nine years.


MARY MURPHY, JUDGE "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE?": And he talks about this and, you know, he finally apologized.


KING: Her shocking story is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

We begin with George Lopez, the host of "Lopez Tonight," which will premiere on TBS, our sister station, on Monday night, November 9th at 1100 p.m. Eastern. He's also featured, by the way, in the upcoming CNN special "Latino In America" which debuts tomorrow night.

We need another late night talk show?

G. LOPEZ: I think we need one that is diverse and inclusive. I think we were on the right path 20 years ago, when Arsenio Hall had some success for five years and then it's kind of gone away. Now that we are Latino in America, Larry, I think that we need to -- to be the bridge between the black and the whites, include the Asian and Middle Eastern into this show...

KING: This is (INAUDIBLE)...

G. LOPEZ: ...that is not on network, that is on -- that is on cable.

KING: It's a minority show?

Is it -- I mean are we -- are you building it that way?

G. LOPEZ: Well, there will be some white people on, yes. So it is a minority show.

KING: You'll let some whites in.

What's the concept?

What is it going to look like?

G. LOPEZ: You know, the con -- the concept it will not look like, I don't -- I won't have a desk. I won't have cards. It'll be a couple of chairs. It will look like a club, Larry. I know I'm not a club. I've seen you out a little bit. I know you like the club look.

KING: I've been to clubs, yes, George.

G. LOPEZ: Yes. It'll be -- it'll be a little bit darker. It'll be a huge audience -- 400. And it will -- it will have a higher pitch and a higher energy and be more inclusive and more diverse than what we are seeing, particularly in what we consider late night TV.

KING: Are these your guests every night?

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely.

KING: A band?

G. LOPEZ: A band which will be led by Michael Bearden, who is the musical director and put all the music together for the "This Is It," the Michael Jackson documentary.

KING: Wow!

G. LOPEZ: So that starts the 29th. I start November 9th. So Michael will be co-starring in this movie that will show how talented Michael Jackson was, but also how important the music is to that. And then he's my band leader. KING: A monologue every night?

G. LOPEZ: I'm not sure if I want to call it a monologue, Larry, because I'm still an active comedian. I'd like to call it a little bit of a -- a stand-up introduction to the show.

KING: All right.

G. LOPEZ: I intend it to be a little bit harder edged, since it is TBS and not a network that -- on cable, they will allow you some liberties with language.

KING: Yes, I've heard.

G. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: The pilot for the show included an interview with the actress, Eva Longoria. Here is a sample of that.




G. LOPEZ: You can do whatever you want.



LONGORIA: Yes. It's a -- it's a Mexican show. I could put feet on the furniture.

G. LOPEZ: Yes. That's true. Yes.


Thank you.

But if it was a real Mexican show, there would be plastic on the couch.

LONGORIA: That was George.


KING: George is very funny.

It's different, though, being an interviewer than an interviewee, you realize that?

G. LOPEZ: Yes. But you're speaking to someone who's been interrogated several times.

KING: I know that. But you -- are you an interrogator? G. LOPEZ: Listen, I am a disciple of the old "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. I understand how to let conversation unfold and how to listen. I mean I don't think that there's anybody, including anyone who is a talk show host now, that has the ease and the patience and the humor that Johnny Carson did so perfectly for 30 years.

KING: Right.

G. LOPEZ: And -- and no one's going to take the place of that. I just think in this -- in this climate of how different people are, that there isn't a lot of listening that's going on.

KING: Will there be serious guests?

G. LOPEZ: You mean will Lou Dobbs be on?

I hope so.

KING: Yes, will Lou Dobbs be on?

G. LOPEZ: Io hope so. Listen, I don't want this to be a softball every night. I'd like people whop -- who have differences of opinion to be on -- politicians and authors and not necessarily people who -- who agree with me, Larry. I mean it's -- it's about the audience. It's really the audience that drives the show.

If I'm compelling enough and have enough personality and I'm funny enough, people will watch me.

KING: Well...

G. LOPEZ: I've had some tremendous success in syndication of -- of my sitcom. I'm hoping that in engulfing America and having a little bit carved out, that they come to "Lopez Tonight".

KING: A couple of variations on this question Tweeted to Kings Things, basically is, do you need a sidekick?

G. LOPEZ: I don't believe that you need a sidekick. I will use Michael as a sidekick. I plan to use the audience as 400 sidekicks (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: But no man's sitting there (INAUDIBLE)?

G. LOPEZ: No man sitting there with me, no.

And I'm sure the announcer will not be seen every night. Being in stand-up and having the audience so close and having such a big audience, I want them to be part of the show. I don't want them to feel like they were just pulled off of City Walk at Universal, brought to a show and aren't allowed to be incorporated in what they're going to see.

KING: Are you going to kick it off with any kind of Letterman confession? G. LOPEZ: I will say...

KING: You want to get attention, George.

G. LOPEZ: I will say this.

KING: What did you make of that?

G. LOPEZ: I am not sleeping with any of my staff members.

KING: So far.

G. LOPEZ: I've been married for 16 years. I'm not really sleeping with that many people in the house.

KING: What did you make of that whole Letterman thing?

G. LOPEZ: You know, it's -- it's a difficult -- it's a difficult thing. Everything is so public. To have somebody leave a note on your car and to have that become something that -- again, it is a very private matter between he and his wife. There's also a young son involved. And we're just become so salacious with details that it doesn't really pertain to us, but we can't get enough of the information.

KING: Do you think comedians have generally been kind to him because he is a fellow comedian?

G. LOPEZ: I believe that he has earned the respect of every comedian working and he should continue to be respected for being the current king of late night TV.

KING: Would you joke about him if your show had started?

The truth.

G. LOPEZ: I -- I may have, but respectfully.

KING: Well, there's a way to do it.

G. LOPEZ: Remember, this is a man who -- who stayed engaged for 21 years, which, you've been married seven times, I'm -- I'm one, but it feels like seven times.

KING: Where did that come from, George?

Don't tick off a host.

G. LOPEZ: You know that we've been -- you go through things. It's hard to...

KING: No, you're not kidding.

G. LOPEZ: It's hard to -- to let an engagement unfold for that long.

KING: Correct. Well, there's a lot...

G. LOPEZ: And I love you.

KING: There's a lot to be said for longevity.

G. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: George Lopez is our guest. His show premieres Tuesday the 9th.

Are things better or worse for Latinos in America today than they were a few years ago?

Tell us what you think, And we'll share some of your comments on the bottom of the screen during the show.

And I'll bet George has something to say about a balloon and a boy. I'll ask about it next.



G. LOPEZ: Who do you think is running this country?


My friend (INAUDIBLE) low rider.

This is a magical week for Latinos -- a live HBO special by Mexican-American Chicanos, a Supreme Court justice who is Latina and Cash for Clunkers. Imagine all the space our driveways will have now (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) clunkers.


KING: Funny stuff. George Lopez premieres "Lopez Tonight," a week from Tuesday, November 9th.

George, Jay Leno in prime time, do you like it?

G. LOPEZ: You know, I respect the 10:00 hour for the history of TV and what it -- what it's done. I mean look what "E.R." did there for 16 years; "CSI," "Gray's Anatomy," all of the great hour long dramas, through cable. For me personally, if this show was offered to me at 10:00 every night, I -- I would not have taken it.

KING: Do you think Jay made a mistake?

G. LOPEZ: I know -- I can't speak for Jay Leno. I just think it's a really difficult time period.


And what about reality TV?

What do you make of the Jon and Kate Gosselin phenomena?

G. LOPEZ: I can't imagine the fascination. And -- and speaking as a Latino, because these people have eight kids, "Jon & Kate Plus 8." Larry, eight is just a start for us. We're still dating at eight.


G. LOPEZ: But it's amazing to me the fascination people have. First of all, not only -- I think every parent of questionable status should thank them, because they make every parent look good. They make parents that don't put their kids in car seats. I don't think that the kids have ever gone to show and tell and pulled out deposition papers to show the class.

So -- so when they go away, I think we'll all be a little bit better. I think it'll hurt Ed Hardy, because that's the only shirt that, apparently, Jon has.

KING: How do you explain the phenomena, though, of public interest in it, which is now waning?

KING: You know what we used to do was eavesdrop into other people's -- if you were in an apartment. And now you get it fed to you through the Internet and on reality shows.

KING: Yes.

G. LOPEZ: Listen, I'm not that crazy a fan about reality in reality. So to see reality shows -- and it's gone away from the extreme makeover, where they would take somebody ugly and in an hour, make them beautiful, because they realized that beer had the same effect.

Why waste time on a show?

So now we've gotten into the fighting and -- and now I hear that -- that the octo mom thinks that Jon Gosselin is hot. That -- that would be the only strain of this virus that could be worse.

KING: We move on to the "Balloon Boy" hoax. It seems very likely the parents are going to be facing charges.

What do you make of that story?

G. LOPEZ: I think they should -- I think they should face charges. First of all, speaking from somebody who -- whose grandfather never wanted him around in anything he was doing in the garage...

KING: He...

G. LOPEZ:'s fascinating...

KING: ...he'd put you in a balloon.

G. LOPEZ: It's fascinating to me that -- that, first of all, how anybody would be a storm chaser, Larry.


G. LOPEZ: The idea of somebody who's not smart enough to come inside when the weather gets bad is already.

So how do you top being on "Wife Swap?"

You create a balloon, name your kid Falcon and try to get the kid to fly.

First of all, if you looked at the balloon, it couldn't have carried a Cornish game hen, much less a 6-year-old kid so.

KING: By the way, you know that Wolf hosted the show that night, that kid broke that whole thing on this show...

G. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: ...when he said to his father, this was like -- this was for TV.

I mean, anyway, "Saturday Night Live" had a field day parodying the wall to wall coverage of the "Balloon Boy" story.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here, balloon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you're not news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I was on the news for a whole day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn't make you news, balloon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if I told you I had a boy inside of me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a boy inside of you, balloon?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to get out of here, balloon.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm -- I'm sorry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not my fault.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just a balloon.


G. LOPEZ: It's an over sized Jiffy-Pop.

Can we call it -- why are we calling it a balloon?

I'm surprised when it landed, popcorn didn't end up in the field. First -- and again, where do you live that this balloon can float 25 miles and never hit a house or a high wire?

KING: That's right. That's true.

G. LOPEZ: In the middle of Colorado, they never went over a residential district.

KING: Would you go up in a balloon?

G. LOPEZ: If people would watch my show, hell, yes. I'll take Falcon with me.

KING: His new show starts Monday, November 9th. I said a week from Tuesday. It's Monday.

Back in 60 seconds with George Lopez and his sensitive side -- what brought him to tears, next.


KING: Mary Murphy from "So You Think You Can Dance?" is waiting in the wings. She's got an incredible personal story of a dark, once secret past. That's ahead.

We're talking with George Lopez.

He is featured in CNN's two part special, "Latino In America." It premieres tomorrow night in this time slot, 9:00 Eastern.

Here, he gets serious with CNN's Soledad O'Brien.



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I've got some pictures I want to show you.

(voice-over): We showed Lopez a stack of photos featuring Latino TV and film icons.


O'BRIEN: Desi Arnaz.

G. LOPEZ: That man right there created the way we shoot the sitcom.


O'BRIEN (on camera): You don't like that picture?

G. LOPEZ: Yes, I do like that picture. I didn't expect it to come out of there. But it's very emotional. I mean it's -- you know -- yes.

O'BRIEN: You're sort of choked up about it.

G. LOPEZ: I am. I'm very emotional. And, you know, I loved them and they helped me, you know, create something that I thought would never be done.


KING: Why was that so emotional?

G. LOPEZ: You know, I was inspired by Freddy Prinze and "Chico and The Man" and...

KING: Yes.

G. LOPEZ: And with his untimely passing, to think that my show and this kid that was moved by him and lit up by him talking about heroes that, you know, 25 years later that I would be the star of a show that was the first one with a Mexican-American lead to ever get into syndication is very emotional, Larry, because I'm not supposed to be here. You know, I'm not supposed to j to be this successful.

KING: You're not supposed to be alive.

G. LOPEZ: I'm not really partially supposed to be alive.

KING: Freddy Prinze, that's a sad ending, wasn't it?

G. LOPEZ: Very sad.

KING: That was tragic.

G. LOPEZ: But you can -- you know, it motivated me not to -- to use drugs. I mean I loved him so much. And I'm friends with Kathy, his wife, and Freddy, Jr. Who just became a father himself.

KING: Wow!

G. LOPEZ: So out of the tragedy...

KING: Where does time go?

G. LOPEZ: ...came some really -- a really great (INAUDIBLE).

KING: We have a call for George.

Chicago, hello.


I mean hi, Larry.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This question is for George. Sorry about that.

KING: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question to George is, what his thoughts are on Latinos in the media currently.

G. LOPEZ: Latinos in the media. Well, I think that we're doing incredibly better than we were 10 years ago. There are some fine actors and actresses and correspondents and people who are on "The Today Show" and all over TV. So we are not only in front of the camera, now behind the camera and it's not just one-sided anymore.

KING: You're the largest -- you're about to be the largest union...

G. LOPEZ: We're about to be the largest growing population.


G. LOPEZ: Then when that happens, we can just forget about diversity forever, Larry.

KING: George is going to tell us why he thinks President Obama is Latino, next.


KING: We're really looking forward to November 9th and the premiere of George Lopez and "Lopez Tonight".

Earlier this month, George was part of a Fiesta Latino at the White house.



G. LOPEZ: Latinos in the house.


Latinos everywhere.

You know who else is Latino?

Obama. He just doesn't know it.

G. LOPEZ: He lives in a house that's not his.


G. LOPEZ: He left it white because he can't decide what color to paint it. Very Latino.


G. LOPEZ: Says he's going to change and nobody believes him. Very Latino.


KING: All right. Was that -- as funny as it was, a little edgy to do that?

G. LOPEZ: It's a little edgy. I'll tell you how tough it was, Larry. My thoughts were pre-screened by the Secret Service.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) show it to them.

G. LOPEZ: I lost so much material that went to -- that went to President Obama.

KING: Did you have to submit stuff?

G. LOPEZ: It came back, it looked like an old KGB newspaper.

KING: Did you have to submit stuff?

G. LOPEZ: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Really?

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely. And this was a man...

KING: Why?

G. LOPEZ: ...who did a promo with me for my show -- you know, I got him a birth certificate.

How could he say no?


KING: They really screened stuff (INAUDIBLE)?

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely. Absolutely. And here -- here's the beautiful part of it. The president said, I don't mind if you make fun of me, it's just some other things. Health care apparently is off the table.


KING: That's funny. We get what we didn't hear then.

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Newark, New Jersey: "As a fellow Latino...

G. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: ..."what would you most like to see changed about the current role of Latinos in American society? How can that change be accomplished?"

G. LOPEZ: You know what I think I would like to see changed is that we be considered in every conversation as conversations that include black and white. I think we're a larger -- a largest -- a good demographic that we can be included in conversation now. Not only are we the secretary of Labor, the secretary of the Interior, now we have a female who is on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

G. LOPEZ: It's been a great day for you.

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely fantastic. Listen, all women are judges anyway. Let's make one official.

KING: The friendship with Obama -- you endorsed his candidacy.

G. LOPEZ: I did endorse his candidacy...

KING: How is he doing?

G. LOPEZ: ...from the beginning. I -- I believe that he is, so far, our hardest working African-American president we have ever had.

KING: I agree completely. And I think every American would agree.

G. LOPEZ: It crosses party lines.


G. LOPEZ: But he's working -- he's working really hard. And -- and listen, he -- he -- he'll have another election in a couple of years. So he's working hard. He's making some strides. He may have taken on a bit much early. I wouldn't have taken on all of that. But...

KING: What did you make of the Nobel Peace Prize?

G. LOPEZ: I never saw something that had peace in the title create so many fights.

KING: Good point. George and his wife did an incredible hour, by the way, on this show back in 2005. He talked about the genetic disease that made him feel buried alive and his wife's life-saving gift of one of her kidneys.

Watch. Here's some of what they said that night.



G. LOPEZ: I'll tell you how scared I was sitting in that room. I was in there for maybe five minutes by myself before they come and got me. And then that's when the rubber met the road. Larry, I was scared to death, man.


G. LOPEZ: I was scared to death of what -- you know, I had -- you know, we had known April 19th for so long and now here it was. And then they were going let us prep you, and they put the I.V. in and you change into the gown. And there you are. I know Ann's already under and -- and she's gone in another room.

ANN LOPEZ: Oh, yes.

G. LOPEZ: I was scared...

KING: You were not scared?


G. LOPEZ: I was scared to death.

A. LOPEZ: I was not scared at all.

KING: Why not?

A. LOPEZ: Because I knew I was giving him life.


KING: I just remembered, you had a beard.

G. LOPEZ: I did. You know Cheech called and wanted the mustache back so I couldn't -- as much as I wanted to keep it.

KING: Why did you shave it?

G. LOPEZ: Do you know that was a side effect of the medicine, of the prednisone. It -- it caused me, who had never grown facial hair, because I believe I've got a little bit of Native American in me, in the blood, so there's not a lot of facial hair -- not enough to get a casino, but enough to black out when I drink.

(LAUGHTER) G. LOPEZ: But -- but I believe that was a side effect of the prednisone. Larry, I was under so much medication, I could literally just hold my fists together and grow a beard like Play Doh. You've seen the kids play with Play Doh.

KING: How old -- how is your health now?

G. LOPEZ: I'm in fantastic shape. Now all of my problems are completely mental.

KING: Do you -- do you feel, having a female kidney, do you feel like shopping a lot?

G. LOPEZ: You know, I...

KING: Changing the wall paper?

G. LOPEZ: ...I can't turn down a bargain. And it is difficult at a Dodger game to sit down and pee, when everybody's standing up.

KING: All right.

We're going to take a break and come back with more to come.

Will George run for political office?

Hey, how about -- we already have a Latino mayor in Los Angeles, right?

G. LOPEZ: Yes.

KING: Villaraigosa, a good guy.

G. LOPEZ: A good guy.

KING: How about Mayor Lopez, next.



LONGORIA: Hi. I'm Eva Longoria. See how Latinos are changing America and how America is changing us.


G. LOPEZ: OK, now it's getting a little ridiculous.

KING: Too many promos, do you think?

G. LOPEZ: Too many promos. Much like TBS. It's almost like you were watching my promos and they showed a baseball game in between.

KING: Does it get embarrassing when it's that much?

G. LOPEZ: You know, it gets embarrassing because now I'm getting the Frank Caliendo comparisons, because they did the same thing for him last year, and it didn't work out for Frank so.

KING: That's right.

Frank was a funny guy, though.

G. LOPEZ: Frank was a funny guy.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Kevin in Washington: "There are so few Latinos in movies, do you think Hollywood is racist?"

G. LOPEZ: Ouch. I think that they're selective. I think racist is an over term -- an over used term. I think they're selective. And if you're talking about a fantasy world, obviously there are more Martians in movies than there have been Latinos. So we have our work cut out for us. Babe was a pig that talked. We could've done that.

KING: Why is that?

G. LOPEZ: I just think it comes from the writing and comes from the producing. As a producer and a writer and the star of my own show, you select who you want in the show. So for movies and directors and people, we're always the ones who answer the door. We're the help. We're not going to be the help for long. We'll be the largest growing demographic. And then we'll have them answer the door.

KING: A question Tweeted to us. Please ask George Lopez if he's considering running for mayor of Los Angeles.

G. LOPEZ: I will not seek the office of the mayor, although I think my English is enough to -- is good enough to be governor.

KING: Would you ever -- did you ever have political desires?

G. LOPEZ: No. No. I wouldn't pass the background check. And I wish that I would have thought of the IOU Program.

KING: We don't want to get to that incident in Juarez.

G. LOPEZ: No, we don't. But if you're talking about Latino in America, we have made it to the top of the FBI's most wanted list.

KING: Are you there now?

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely.

KING: New Rochelle, New York. Another call, hello.



CALLER: George, I'm so glad I get to talk to you. I wanted to ask you, do you think your show is going to surpass Letterman and Jay Leno? G. LOPEZ: I would aspire, if I would have got into late night, that absolutely. I think I'm -- I'm not direct competition with Jay Leno or David Letterman. I just feel like there's a chance for a more diverse audience, a more inclusive audience, that will bring me a different section of the country than what they're fighting over.

KING: Who is on the first week?

G. LOPEZ: TBS has asked me not to say.

KING: Why?

G. LOPEZ: They want to do an announcement. But I will say, it will not be Charro. We will not go Eric Estrada.

KING: Will we flip when we hear it?

G. LOPEZ: I almost want to tell you because you're Larry King. We will flip, yes.

KING: Canton, Ohio, home of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yes, go ahead. Canton, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I have a question for George Lopez.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: What did you think about the death of Michael Jackson?

G. LOPEZ: Well, listen, I testified in the trial, the Michael Jackson trial.

KING: In Santa Barbara? No, in --

G. LOPEZ: In Santa Maria. I testified in the trial. I believe that the trial aspect and Michael Jackson as a performer are completely different things. I don't think there's ever been a more dynamic performer than Michael Jackson. I don't believe that there's been maybe a sadder end to a life than Michael Jackson. I think what "This Is It," the movie, will show is that he looked like he was in pretty good shape the night before he passed.

KING: Yes, strange.

G. LOPEZ: And that he is and continues to be revered as a great entertainer, as all people who have passed have been great entertainers. Same as Jimi Hendrix, same as Janis Joplin, same as Elvis Presley.

KING: Do you still do stand-up?

G. LOPEZ: Absolutely. It's the greatest way to communicate with an audience. It is immediate. And as Richard Pryor and Eddy Murphy and Bill Cosby and George Carlin, and anybody who has ever done it that's taken a risk, always does it to the end.

KING: So like Leno, who runs to the Mirage every weekend and does an act in Vegas, might you do that?

G. LOPEZ: When your heart is in stand-up, it's there forever. And it's given me so much, I'd hate to abandon it at the end.

KING: Is the whole act Latino-based?

G. LOPEZ: No, it's economic based. A lot of it is political, obviously, because who I am. But if you look at the material, it's economically based. And yes, it is, because we're still trying to find our place in America. Now Taco Bell has a Black Taco, so the struggle continues.

KING: What is a Black Taco?

G. LOPEZ: I'm not sure what it is. But if I took a bagel and blackened it, I'm sure the Jewish community would not be happy.

KING: Is it inviting to you, a Black Taco?

G. LOPEZ: It does not invite to me.

KING: A girl in a black dress?

G. LOPEZ: Is attractive to me. The Black Taco, not crazy about. The dude with the black eye, not wild about him either.

KING: OK. We're all waiting for November 9th, man.


KING: Jorge, we love you.

G. LOPEZ: Thank you.

KING: Like that, Jorge?

G. LOPEZ: I do, I love it.

KING: Mary Murphy is here. You know her from "So You Think You Can Dance." Dancing, by the way, may have saved her life. Her painful past revealed next.


KING: Mary Murphy is known to millions as the most enthusiastic judge on Fox's hit reality show "So You Think You Can Dance." She's now breaking her silence about a dark time, a very dark time in her past: a nine-year abusive marriage. She says it nearly destroyed her. Let's start, though, with the hyper enthusiastic persona you've been presenting to the world on "So You Think You Can Dance." Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mary Murphy, all the way through that you were doing this.

MURPHY: Can I have an amen?


MURPHY: I can hear it! Yes, I can hear it! I hear a train! I hear a train! Woo hoo!



KING: So how do you deal with shyness? Have you always been like that?

MURPHY: Yes, for the most part, yes. Absolutely.

KING: Does it combine with the dance when you dance?

MURPHY: Yes, I think so. I've always had this energy about myself through most of my life. I can't really explain it. It definitely started out early. And me and my mother both have this amazing laugh. And I think hers is actually louder than mine. Hers started with the scream, and then we went down into laughter.

KING: Now behind that smile, though, a painful secret. You say your first marriage was physically and emotionally abusive. You tell your story in the latest "Us Weekly." Why? Why tell it? It was so long ago.

MURPHY: It was a long time ago. And to be honest with you, I did just tuck it away and just buried it, and went on with my life. And I thought that I could leave it there. And I wanted to leave it there until my father died a couple of years ago. And we discussed it, because there were some things that happened that my father saw. And I went to my parents.

And their attitude was make the marriage work. I wanted my father to be my knight in shining armor. I wanted him to just come down and pretty much, you know, attack him. But he didn't.

KING: So your father let you down?

MURPHY: He father let me down.

KING: He died knowing that?

MURPHY: No, we came to terms. I went home to take care of my father for the last few months of his life. He was dying of cancer.

KING: That made you reveal it though?

MURPHY: We talked about it, of course, because it was still bothering me. That was the only thing, I think, that my father has ever done that really bothered me in my lifetime.

KING: That he didn't take action. MURPHY: He didn't take action. And the answer was to make the marriage work. And you know, he apologized to me. And we got to talk about it. And I'm very grateful for that. And then I tucked it away again. I still had no intention to talk to anybody until I saw Rihanna's face. And seeing that just brought it all up.

KING: So you're doing this -- are you doing this to help others?

MURPHY: I am doing this to help others. And I do know -- and for personal reasons, for myself. That abuse, it just survives and thrives in silence. And I want to get this out of that neat little package, throw it away forever, so that I hope to have a chance at a happy relationship, because I don't feel like I have that chance until I do this.

KING: You also who spoke about your past earlier today on "The Ellen Degeneres Show." Things got emotional. Here's some of the interview with Ellen.


MURPHY: Towards the end, when my father was dying, I went back home to take care of him, and I was able to have some resolve with him, because we talked about everything in my life and talked about this. And he finally apologized.

ELLEN DEGENERES, "ELLEN": That's what you want. You want him to get it. It comes a little late.

MURPHY: He finally got it.

DEGENERES: I think anybody who has any type of abuse in their life, when your parents don't believe you, it's the hardest thing in the world. And you are waiting for one day for them to apologize and say, I'm sorry I didn't believe you in the first place. I know because it happened to me. So we'll be back.


KING: You got married young, right?

MURPHY: I was very young.

KING: In college?


KING: Was it happy at the start?

MURPHY: For a very short period of time, it was happy. I think after I got married, around three months into it, things were getting out of control. The control started happening more and more, about talking to anybody, male or female. The jealousy if I did increased, until we ended up starting to have just horrible fights. And then, at the time, when I -- after a fight that I didn't want to have sex, it just escalated to the point that he literally had to rape me in order for me to have sex.

KING: You said neighbors called the cops?

MURPHY: Yes, neighbors called the cops.

KING: You were bruised and hit?

MURPHY: The policemen -- they came in and his sense of entitlement -- and I was in the bedroom hiding. And they said we want to talk to her. And he said, no, she's my wife. And from that moment on, I could just feel that this is something that he felt like he was entitled to. I didn't even really know my own rights at the time. I was so young. And I was so scared, and scared of him, that when the police officer said no, we want to see her now, and when I came out of the other room, they looked at me and said, would you like to press charges right now?

I looked at him, and with the look on his face, I said, absolutely not, went back in my room, and laid there and cried.

KING: He was from another country, right?

MURPHY: Yes. Yes.

KING: We spoke with Mary's ex today. I'll talk about it in 60 seconds and get her thoughts. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. I spoke with Mary's first husband by telephone a short while ago. We've agreed not to disclose his name. And here's what he said. He strongly disagrees and denies. He says he never raped you, never abused you physically or emotionally. He told me, quote, "I never harmed her." He said he's, quote, "totally shocked by your allegations." Mary's first husband is from the Middle East. And according to him, if all of these allegations are true, she could've had me deported.

He says he and you fell in love as teenagers. He says he supported you in your career, helped you find your first dancing job, in his words, this is not a way to pay me back.

As for Mary's motivation for coming forward, this story, he wonders if it's, quote, "more fame or sympathy she wants." He's now happily married, wishes Mary well. He also says he's happy to see Mary realize her dream. He said he got you your first job. He also added that the idea of rape or psychological thing was unheard of. He would call you, he also said -- and he sounded heart felt -- that he's very, very proud of you. How do you react to hearing that?

MURPHY: Well, first of all, about the fact that he denies everything --

KING: Everything.

MURPHY: It doesn't shock me. You know, it just doesn't shock me. I expected that. His sense of entitlement -- and I think a lot of men out there, by the way, when they do get married, they feel like this is their right to do whatever they want to do. And it's not. And I was a scared, frightened person.

To think that he got me my first job is ludicrous. And the fact that, you know -- if I wanted to have fame, I would have done this story six years ago, before I'm famous all over the world.

KING: He said you were re-married. You were married, divorced, and remarried him.

MURPHY: No, that's actually a lie. We have never been divorced. Never been divorced. There was another re-marriage in Jordan, but the fact of the matter is --

KING: You were never divorced --

MURPHY: We told his family that we were divorced. You'll never see a divorce in the record, because we were not. He lied to his family, said we were divorced, and was engaged to another woman in the Middle East. And then, when I didn't even find that out until we went over there, and the next day, my brother-in-law sat down and said oh, they always go back to their first love. And I was just thinking what does that mean?

KING: Why didn't you take action against him?

MURPHY: Take action?

KING: Yes.

MURPHY: I was scared to death of him. Are you kidding me? Take action? I was so fearful. Plus, you were beaten down, Larry, so many times. And I tried to leave several times, but there weren't the shelters there are today. And any woman out there now, they don't have to stay in that situation. But I know how difficult it is to leave. I know how difficult that is, because I'm told, over and over again, that you are going to be homeless. What are you going to do out there? You're going to make minimum wage. You think you're going to make it as a dancer? You think you're going to make it?

I did try to leave. And I was having a hard time making it. And he would sweet talk me. I would go back. It was back and forth back and forth. And I don't feel really proud of that. I feel -- most of the time in my life, I feel so strong. I put this behind me, went out and worked like I've never worked before, and I still work today like I feel like I could still be homeless, because of being told that so many times. I still don't feel like -- like I'm that successful.

KING: Well, so you're not --

MURPHY: I'm proud of what I've done.

KING: You ought to be.

MURPHY: But there's still this other side of me that I have not been successful. And I believe it's all due to this.

KING: You're not surprised of him denying it?

MURPHY: No, not surprised one bit.

KING: How is life now for Mary Murphy? Her inspiring climb to the top of the dance world next.



KING: For all these years, Mary, when you stayed silent, when you would see programs like this and others, and you'd see battered women come on and talk about what happened to them, and domestic shelters where they could go, didn't you then want to say, I am going to come out?

MURPHY: No. I think I was still too frightened, for one thing. I'm not going to lie to you that he still scares me.

KING: Now?

MURPHY: Yes, even now. I still live in fear that he'll do something to me, that I'll end up going missing. And I am --

KING: It's that bad.

MURPHY: I'm towards the other side of my life now. If that happens, all eyes will go in that direction at least.

KING: So you're relieved you came out?

MURPHY: I'm relieved. There's a sense of relief in the fact that I have gotten so many thousands of e-mails now from women all around the world. You know, if I helped just one person leave a situation like that, you know, that will be a great thing.

But this story is not going to define my life. This is a small part, a chunk that has been tossed out. This is not going to define who I am. I am a dancer, you know. Dancing is going to define my life.

KING: What about relationships since then? Have you been weary of men?

MURPHY: My relationships have not gone well. And this is one of the reasons. This is the only thing in my life that I don't feel like I'm successful at. And I want that chance. I think this is the first step. I'm definitely going to go into counseling now.

I thought I could do it all on my own. I thought I was stronger once I broke free, and then achieved success in my dancing, and in business as a dancer. I thought I could do it all. I realize now how powerful being silent can be.

KING: So you're not seeing anyone, not dating?

MURPHY: I am not seeing anyone right now.

KING: If you, by the way, or someone you know is a victim of abuse, you can seek help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE. That's 1-800-799-7233.

Mary's career from now on, after this.


KING: Terrific talent and a vivacious judge on "So You Think You Can Dance." She's Mary Murphy. By the way, our friend David Arquette has written a blog exclusive for us. It's about feeding America. You can read the powerful commentary only at There's a link there, if you'd like to help, also, on the blog. You can read about Saudi Arabia by Robert Lacy.

Mary Murphy's here. Let's take another look at Mary at work.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mary, give us an eyebrow and give us your verdict.

MURPHY: I can't anymore because of botox.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mary Murphy, I love you. I love --


KING: That's funny. Where's your career now? You want to be a judge forever? What do you want to do?

MURPHY: Oh, my gosh, if I could be a judge forever, and watch great dancing around this world, I've definitely died and gone to dance heaven. Because to be entertained like this by these amazing dancers has just brought me the most joy in my whole life.

KING: What do you want to do beyond this?

MURPHY: I'm definitely working on my children's program. San Diego is start. Hopefully I'll go nationwide with that. I definitely want to provide ballroom dancing to any child that can't afford it.

KING: So you're teaching dancing to children?

MURPHY: I'm not teaching right now. I've been so busy with the show all over the world. But what I'm doing is we're teaching the teachers in my studio and then sending them out into the schools in San Diego.

KING: Can anyone dance?

MURPHY: That's a good question. I think anyone can dance. I think we all innately have a rhythm in us. You see it with babies. You put the music on, and then they really start moving naturally. Somewhere along the line, in our society, anyway, that was kind of pounded down a little bit. But I think anybody can. It just determines how long are you willing to work on something? Yes, you may not be the most talented or don't feel like you have any rhythm. It just takes more time. But if you dedicate yourself and you'd like to learn how to dance, I certainly believe you can.

KING: When did you know you could dance?

MURPHY: I think I got my first taste of kind of dancing a little bit -- I wouldn't really call it dancing -- being head majorette. But just hearing the applause, being out in the lights, I knew I really liked it. I still never dreamed of the life of a dancer, because, in my town, there was no dancing going on. It was more -- I describe it like "Footloose." You know, you probably be arrested at that point in time if there was anybody dancing.

But it wasn't until college that I started modern dancing. And I fell in love with that. And then it was just by chance. It was like a fork in the road that I walked into a studio for a summer job, while he was away, for about four to five months. And the owner of that studio and his boyfriend asked me to go to New York City to watch the ballroom championships. And that moment in time changed my whole life, because I walked into this most amazing world, those crystal chandeliers, the three tiered balconies, and all these beautiful dancers. I'd never seen professional ballroom dancing at that point.

And I was like, wow. Two people dancing together, it transformed me and took me into a different place, where I could escape. And just -- I can't describe the feeling of dancing, and what it does for you. But I just felt beautiful. It made me feel beautiful, instead of how I was probably really feeling inside, totally ashamed and dirty.

KING: Well, you don't have to feel that way anymore.


KING: Thank you, Mary.

MURPHY: Thank you so much, Larry.

KING: What a story, Mary Murphy. "Latino in America," by the way, premiers tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern on CNN. I bet you didn't know that. We're the first ones to bring it to you. And George Lopez, he premiers November 9th. I bet you didn't know that. But you do know now that Anderson Cooper starts right now -- Anderson?