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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
The Death of Patrick Swayze; Interview with Harry Connick, Jr. and Clive David; Interview with Jeni Stepanek
Aired November 21, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Patrick Swayze's wife, Lisa Niemi, on her husband's last days of courage and love and torment, battling a deadly disease in public. She said cancer took his life, but didn't beat him.
His brother, Donny, is here, too, revealing the true bravery only Swayze's family saw.
Plus, breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow on the shocking advice from a government panel on mammograms. It's divided some doctors, angered some patients and left women asking, what do we do now?
Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Actor Patrick Swayze died in September at the age of only 57, almost two years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was married to Lisa Niemi for 34 years. She is a dancer, actor, director, producer and co-author of "The Time of My Life," written with Patrick.
And we welcome her to LARRY KING LIVE, with Patrick's younger brother -- an amazing look-alike, Donny. He's also an actor. In fact, he's just completed a Western, in which he played a villain.
There's nothing villainous about the Swayzes. I had the pleasure of knowing Patrick. And Patrick was scheduled to be on this show the night he went into the hospital with pneumonia.
You'd remember that, Lisa?
LISA NIEMI, PATRICK SWAYZE'S WIFE: Yes.
KING: He was supposed to be here that night. And I had the pleasure of welcoming him previously on another film. And he was a -- God, what a special guy. He was -- you look up special in the dictionary and you get a picture of Patrick Swayze.
NIEMI: Yes. Thank you.
KING: Now, you both wrote "The Time of My Life".
How did you come to write it?
Do you -- how does it work when you write together? NIEMI: He -- well, I had been bothering him for over a year before that about putting down his thoughts in a book. I said, look, you know, I'll get a video camera, you just talk. I'll record it, you know. And so a lot of it is just recording and then shaping all of that stuff. And the book, it's very much written how he talks. And, of course, it's...
KING: Yes, it is.
NIEMI: ...a very, very candid, as only Patrick can be. And he is famous for being sometimes -- because sometimes you never -- you never knew what he was going to say.
KING: But your words are in there and your thoughts.
KING: And the editor had to put the -- balance all this together, right...
NIEMI: Oh, yes. Yes.
KING: ...to make it two people.
NIEMI: Yes. There was -- there was -- there was a lot of great work that went into this book. And we were just thrilled with all the help that we received on it, because it was just first class.
KING: And I had the honor of attending maybe one of the greatest memorial services I ever saw. Of course, it was a tribute, as well as a memorial service.
NIEMI: Yes. Yes.
KING: How are you doing, Donny?
It's been two months.
DONNY SWAYZE, PATRICK SWAYZE'S YOUNGER BROTHER: Well, hanging in there. You know, right after he passed and we had the -- the memorial, it -- I guess I -- there was a little bit of a feeling that at least his pain -- his -- he's not in pain anymore. So I was -- I was...
KING: Happy for that?
D. SWAYZE: Happy that he wasn't in pain.
D. SWAYZE: But now -- now that and then I had this Western I went off and -- and filmed. I got...
KING: You went and did you a movie, right?
D. SWAYZE: I did. I got the -- you know, and at first, I wasn't sure I'd be able to. I thought it was too soon. But and then strapping on a gun and going to play the lead villain, it was a little therapeutic, I've got to say. I got to vent a lot of frustration.
NIEMI: He got to let it -- let it all hang out, I'm sure.
KING: How are you dealing with it?
D. SWAYZE: (INAUDIBLE) coming back.
KING: How are you dealing, Lisa, with it?
By the way, you don't call yourself a widow, right?
You call yourself a wife?
NIEMI: You know, I -- I, you know, either of those labels don't -- of course I'm still his wife and -- and -- but more than...
NIEMI: ...more than anything, you know, I -- he's always going to be in my heart. And that's the way it was, you know, when we were married also, you know, so.
KING: It was a real love affair. Great pictures in there.
NIEMI: Oh, thanks.
KING: Getting married in a dance studio. You two were poor.
NIEMI: Oh, yes. Well, we -- we managed to eat on $20 a -- a week. But that was -- but that wasn't so hard to do when you were dancing and weren't watching your weight.
KING: Tell me about pancreatic cancer, which is the killer name to people.
When they hear pancreatic cancer, what, 5 percent live, right?
NIEMI: Well, make it to five -- make it to five years.
KING: Five years.
D. SWAYZE: Only 5 percent make it to five years and...
KING: How did you...
NIEMI: And that's (INAUDIBLE).
KING: How did you learn it?
How did he learn it?
NIEMI: The -- well, you know, he was having some indigestion problems and then noticed he -- he had some jaundice. And we immediately got him in. And -- and everything just kind of snowballed from there. And I didn't know a lot about pancreatic cancer at that point, but he did. And when he got that diagnosis, the -- the first thing, unfortunately, because of pancreatic cancer, he said, "I'm a dead man."
And it's a really tough, tough, merciless disease, especially, you know, in the advanced stages, which he was diagnosed. And, of course -- and -- and someone was just mentioning about, you know, how hard it is to live, you know, with this knowledge and -- and fight this disease. But for us, every day, every week was a supreme victory.
So it wasn't like oh, my gosh, could we make it to six months?
It was damn, yes, we made it. You know, so it was very, you know...
KING: I was in -- I told you before we went on, I met his doctor, Dr. Hoffman...
KING: ...who -- who thought he was an amazing patient. I asked him, you have to pick up pancreatic cancer early so you can operate and it's like a 14 hour operation if you get it early.
I said, well, how do you spot it early?
He said you'd have to take a C.T. scan every week.
D. SWAYZE: Just about. You have to stumble into it.
KING: Did he deal with it bravely?
D. SWAYZE: It was unbelievable. I -- I wasn't with him when they -- when they first found out he had pancreatic cancer. But I came the next day when they were expecting the phone call finding out how bad it was. And I was there when he found out that it had, indeed, metastasized to the liver, which, as you know, that's...
KING: Yes, yes.
D. SWAYZE: ...that's even more of a death sentence. He -- I was looking in my big brother's eyes and he didn't even -- he didn't even flinch. He -- he just -- he -- I don't know what was going through his mind, but after about 15 seconds, his eyes narrowed and he said, well, it's time to -- time to jam, you know. It's time -- time to get busy.
And -- and it -- it was amazing. And -- and throughout the entire 20 months, he faced every roadblock with -- with -- it was amazing courage.
KING: Did he think, Lisa, that he could defeat it or was he holding on to just live as long as he could?
NIEMI: But this is why we get treatment, you know. Because there's going to be that first -- one first person who has the kind of pancreatic cancer he had, which is adenocarcinoma at an advanced stage. There's going to be that first person that beats it. And this is why...
KING: He was going to be the first?
NIEMI: This is why -- why not?
And so we always -- we called ourselves real -- realist -- realistic optimists. You know, it's just, we were -- we knew what a tough, you know, road we had ahead of us. And at the same time, we held out the best of hope that he could be the first.
KING: What did you feel inside, though?
NIEMI: Every day -- I love what somebody has said. Every day was like a -- a 911 emergency. This just -- you know, you were -- you were on call 24 hours a day, ready for anything. You know, you wake up ready -- ready to fight. And it's -- you know, and it -- it's a very tough...
KING: A lot of pain, right?
NIEMI: It's underneath it, you know. But for me, you know, I -- it was important to me that, you know, if I was going to cry, I'd go -- went and did it with my close girlfriends.
KING: That's what I meant, did you do that?
NIEMI: Yes. Out of -- out of his sight, when he did not know. But in his -- when he looked at me, I wanted him to know that he was going to be OK.
KING: Lisa's biggest regret is something she didn't tell Patrick nearly enough. And that's ahead.
KING: The book is a major bestseller, "The Time of My Life." The author, Patrick Sway -- the late Patrick Swayze -- it's hard to say that -- the late Patrick Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi.
By the way, your regret that we mentioned we were going to talk about, you didn't tell him you loved him enough?
NIEMI: You know, that's what it felt like. And I have to say, in the last almost two years he was fighting this, I -- I said it probably -- I can't tell you -- I lost count how many times that I would say that and...
KING: But before that, did you say to yourself, I should have said it more?
NIEMI: I -- you know what? And this is -- boy, especially after losing him, they -- you know, I regretted every bump we ever had in our relationship. I regretted every time I yelled at him. I regretted every mistake I made and wish I could go back and fix it.
And at the -- at the same time, it's, you know, and particularly like looking back at our whole life together, as we did in this book -- and, you know, I have to remind myself that when I look at that story, I'm also very proud of those bumps, because we always came out the other side and relationships are not easy.
KING: How close were you with him, Donny?
D. SWAYZE: We were very close. I was -- I'm six years younger, but he -- I always liked to hang along, little brother. When I was like six and he was 12, he would argue with his friends whether or not -- you know, he would say, "My -- Donny is coming with me."
KING: He did?
D. SWAYZE: Oh, no.
KING: He didn't push you away? SWAYZE: Oh, no. He took me with him...
KING: Most big brothers push little brothers away.
D. SWAYZE: Yes.
NIEMI: But, of course, if they were playing Tarzan, it was up to Patrick...
KING: Patrick won.
D. SWAYZE: Yes.
NIEMI: ...Patrick's discretion whether he was going to be boy or cheetah, you know, so...
D. SWAYZE: Depending on his mood.
D. SWAYZE: We liked to play super heroes who didn't have super powers, because we grew up in the dance studio with gymnastics and we had two trampolines and a swimming pool. So we liked it.
KING: What was it like, though, to deal, for both of you, the fact that it was so public?
A lot -- people get pancreatic cancer. That's terrible. And some of them live. Most of them die. But they don't read about it on the front page of the "National Enquirer".
NIEMI: Well, it certainly, made it very, very challenging. And...
KING: You had to hide out from people?
You had to go in three different cars, go to three different doctors, you know...
D. SWAYZE: You know, like grocery shopping at 7-Eleven corner store for two years because going into the grocery store was just too much, that they don't -- then in every checkout stand, they would have a big picture of my brother with some horrible headline with a lie -- a blatant lie that...
KING: Days to live.
D. SWAYZE: Oh. When he was -- had just started a new treatment and was -- needed to be hopeful and -- and -- and positive.
NIEMI: Oh, and if we do a list of how many organs he's had removed, because he had part of his lung removed, part of his stomach, part of his intestine.
What else did he have?
D. SWAYZE: He had a heart attack.
NIEMI: Heart attack.
D. SWAYZE: He had the -- and they said he was the -- then, after all that, he was climbing up on the roof of Cedar Sinai Hospital smoking marijuana with his little brother Donny. You know, what a guy, with one lung and one heart.
KING: When you read lies, don't you get angry?
NIEMI: Well, yes, but -- yes.
D. SWAYZE: Absolutely.
NIEMI: You do. But you just can't -- you can't believe that they can say this and get away with it.
KING: Patrick spoke to Barbara Walters about the fact that he was dying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP from Patrick Swayze: The truth," courtesy ABC News)
BARBARA WALTERS, HOST: Are you scared?
P. SWAYZE: I don't know. I'm being so -- either truthful or stupid as to say no. But then I immediately, when I say that, I have to say yes, I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How was he -- scared or not?
NIEMI: Oh, he -- he -- he had his stark moments, that's for sure. He -- you know, he never talked about it too much, though.
KING: Were you with him when he died?
NIEMI: Yes. Yes.
KING: He died in the hospital or at home?
NIEMI: No, at home. And that was a -- that was a big decision, to bring him home. The -- there were -- some people were encouraging to keep him in the hospital, just simply because usually it's easier on the family.
KING: Were you there, Donny?
D. SWAYZE: Yes, we were both there. We were holding his hands.
KING: They say people die as they live. If -- if you were brave, you die brave.
KING: Did he die brave?
NIEMI: Oh, my God, very much so. And, you know, it's -- it's -- it's kind of -- Donny and I were talking about this. It's kind of hilarious because, of course, Patrick's played all these tough guys in movies and he's got the guns and he can do all the fighting and -- and you go, well, that's kind of actor tough. And Patrick is always saying how tough he is. And I go, yes, yes, that's the movies, honey.
But in reality, it's -- he blew me away. He really blew me away with his strength.
KING: Well, why?
NIEMI: His -- his strength and dignity and courage was -- I mean, because I...
KING: You knew he was going to die then?
NIEMI: Oh, he -- well, you know...
KING: I mean that -- that day, did he know? NIEMI: I -- you know, even then, we didn't say it out loud. And I actually talked to a nurse about that. I said -- you know, I said, you know, we haven't really said -- because once -- once he was on -- on that journey out of this world, you know, it went pretty fast. And I asked the nurse, I said, you know, we haven't really talked about it and I haven't really said, you know, are we -- are we both looking at the same thing here?
And she said, trust me, he knows. He knows. And so we just (INAUDIBLE).
KING: We've got a great and timely Web exclusive for you. Julie Frishman is president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. She offers her thoughts on the death of Patrick Swayze.. You can read them at CNN.com/larryking.
Back with Lisa and Donny in 60 seconds.
KING: Patrick Swayze was in some of the most popular movies of all time.
Let's take a look back at a few of his famous roles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P. SWAYZE: Nobody puts baby in the corner.
I'm telling you straight. It's my way or the highway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He likes to show off his muscles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm going to show them off on you, little buddy. You get him out of here.
P. SWAYZE: What a crock of...
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: Who is that?
Who are you?
What are you?
P. SWAYZE: You're awake.
I think tomorrow is a say something hat day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He thought he was going to be a dancer, right?
KING: He didn't know he'd be -- he thought he was going to be a dancer...
KING: You would ballet dance together.
NIEMI: Oh, yes. Yes. When he -- that was his -- his first job leaving home was his as a dancer. And unfortunately, his -- or fortunately, depending which way you look at it, you know, a bad knee injury that he had previously pretty much put an end to that.
D. SWAYZE: He was once written up in "Dance" magazine as the strongest male dancer in the United States and they compared him to the Bolshoi dancers.
When Patrick was on this show in 1992, we talked about how his movies was received -- were received by critics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM APRIL 17, 1992)
P. SWAYZE: Critics pretty much, I think, they're on the level of amoebas. The ones that have been around for 15 or 20 years, because they're obviously jaded and cynical. And so I'm not interested in reading...
P. SWAYZE: Yes, because, you know, like they didn't -- they -- they destroyed "Amadeus." Look what it did. They destroyed "Ghost." Look what it did. They destroyed "Dirty Dancing," two movies in my life. And look what it did. You know, so I don't put much credence in what they say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Straight up, Patrick Swayze. The book, "The Time of My Life."
We'll be back right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM APRIL 17, 1992)
P. SWAYZE: I have a tendency a lot of times with me, when I -- when I get the emotion, you want to play the emotion. And that's not what we as people do. If anything, we go to the ends of the Earth to not allow that emotion out. And that's what rips an audience's heart out or makes you care. It's not a self-indulgent actor who's out there crying in his breast. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was a wonderful interview, by the way.
Patrick's doctors told him he didn't have a good chance of living very long.
Let's listen to him describe how he felt when he heard that news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P. SWAYZE: When my doctor at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles said the words "pancreatic cancer," a single thought pop into my mind -- I'm a dead man. That's what I had always thought when I heard someone had pancreatic cancer. I mean, usually it turned out to be true. My doctor told me that my chances of surviving for more an few months weren't high and I had no reason to doubt him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How on Earth did he do "The Beast," which -- you directed one of the episodes, right?
KING: You were with him when he did a lot of those.
NIEMI: Yes. It -- it's...
KING: How did he do that?
NIEMI: Well, it's -- it's amazing because it was up in the air for quite a long time before they started shooting it, whether he was going to be able to. And the doctors and the studio -- A&E and Sony were incredible during the whole process. And when his -- his prognosis came back good, he was responding to chemotherapy, they said, let's go ahead full steam.
And it's really interesting because up until he went to shoot the series, which is brutal. It's -- it's -- there wasn't a day that was less than 14 hours -- sometimes much, much over that. And -- and where he had gone from being pretty sedentary, all of a sudden he's putting forth this enormous energy that's just bursting. And it's -- I'm looking at him like what, it's like a whole different person. And it's this -- we got...
KING: How do you explain it?
NIEMI: You know, I think, it's that performer's adrenaline.
NIEMI: And when he has it -- the same thing when he did the audio book for this. He -- he did the audio book, what...
D. SWAYZE: He did it three weeks before he died. The crew -- the crew on "The Beast," they didn't know he was suffering as bad as he was. He -- they thought he was in remission. And he -- that was the way he wanted it.
NIEMI: God, that was a play (ph).
D. SWAYZE: And like she was saying, he did this audio cassette. He read this entire book three -- two or three weeks before he died.
And -- and in August alone, he was in and out intensive care three times. In between the second and third time, he -- he did four or five 12 hour nights and read that entire book.
NIEMI: And -- and it wasn't like he was, you know, suffering doing it. You know, he'd have a hard time getting down there. And we'd go and check on him...
D. SWAYZE: Oh, yes.
NIEMI: ...later on.
D. SWAYZE: I made him a protein shake one night and was taking -- and I was feeling a little peeved that, you know, all the task masters, they've got him, you know, down there...
D. SWAYZE: ...all night doing this. The poor guy was so sick he could barely walk to the recording studio. And then I went down and I peeked through the window and he was this vibrant self, like two years ago. And he was -- he was -- he was up on his haunches and he was reading it with passion. It was unbelievable.
NIEMI: He's just -- he had this mind over matter.
KING: Did you like directing him?
NIEMI: Oh, it was -- it was so fantastic. It was such an honor. And -- and he was -- he was just a doll.
KING: Was he a believing man?
Did -- did he -- did he believe in God?
NIEMI: You know, most of -- his beliefs are very kind of more -- are Eastern-based. You know, he -- he believed that all great religions point to the same truths. But, you know, as far as, you know, and it's -- and it's kind of hard. I think it's easier, sometimes, when you do believe in a very set thing...
KING: You would think.
NIEMI: ...because you go this is where I'm going to go when you die. KING: Did he believe...
NIEMI: ...when I die.
KING: ...he was going somewhere?
NIEMI: He -- he didn't know, you know?
Of course he does now. But, yes. But I think, in some ways, it's easier to believe. But -- but if you really pinpoint those people do they really know, you don't know until you're there.
KING: Do you ever feel his presence?
D. SWAYZE: Not yet. No.
KING: That might come.
D. SWAYZE: You know, it was interesting, I didn't feel his presence leave when he died so I didn't -- I don't know how to explain it.
KING: Maybe he hasn't left yet.
D. SWAYZE: Maybe that's what it is I think.
KING: What's your favorite Patrick Swayze movie?
We want to know.
That's tonight's Quick Vote question. Go to CNN.com/larryking to answer it.
We're back with Lisa and Donny. The book is "The Time of My Life".
And still coming, a major discussion about the mammogram issue.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P. SWAYZE: There's my relationship with Lisa. I can't even begin to express what she has meant to me over the years. Lisa and I are a part of each other. I can no more imagine life without her than I can imagine living without my own heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This, by the way, is a terrific book and one of the surprising revelations in it is that after being together more than 30 years, you packed a few suitcases and left. And the media never knew.
NIEMI: Yes. KING: Was it over drinking?
NIEMI: Yes. I think, for the most part, because, I mean -- like I think everybody pretty much knows what an amazing guy he is. But, you know, alcohol can do some pretty bad things to people.
KING: How long were you apart?
NIEMI: A year. A year.
Was that hard?
NIEMI: It was very -- very hard. Of course, I was only about 15 minutes away and we talked every day and saw each other on most days. And -- and -- but, you know -- but at that point, you know, I didn't feel like I had much of a choice. And -- I had -- really had to be willing to lose the relationship. And to his credit, you know, things turned around and when we did get back together, you know, we had some -- still had rough bumps and everything. It was really good we did because it was better than ever.
KING: You were telling me before the break, you still have the ash.
KING: Are you going to spread over the ranch? That was his wish, right?
NIEMI: Yes -- that's -- yes. Yes. He mentioned that. Also, it was hard to get anything about any kind of wishes he would have after he died because we never -- we never -- we were always --
NIEMI: Exactly. We didn't want to talk about the negative stuff. Yes, the ranch and also there is particular mountain in New Mexico that I get to look at frequently.
KING: You acted after he died, you did this western. Right?
KING: How did it affect you when you acted?
D. SWAYZE: Well, I was playing a bit of a monster of a character. I put the full force of everything I was feeling. All the pain of -- you know, having to drive my brother to his chemo treatments and dodging paparazzi on the way. And then cash to lose my best friend and mentor. I just put it --
KING: When does the movie come out?
SWAYZE: I think March. They are talking about - it's called "Heathens and Thieves." They will circulate it. NIEMI: Spoken like a good actor. He uses the pain for something constructive.
KING: That's what you do.
D. SWAYZE: I did. Maybe some of the crew members wished I was easier to deal with on the set.
KING: John Kennedy said life isn't fair. Obviously it isn't. Are you bitter? Why did it happen to us?
NIEMI: You know -- someone asked me am I angry yet. I said no. But it is a coming. I can feel it. I have -- I have since then touched on that. There's been cynicism that's definitely come up.
KING: What about you, Donny?
D. SWAYZE: I just miss him terribly. You know, I -- everything I do, I mean, we did so many things that were similar.
KING: I speak for all of us when we say we all do.
D. SWAYZE: Thank you.
NIEMI: Thank you.
KING: The book is Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi, "The Time of My Life." If you want more information about pancreatic cancer or want to make a donation to the Patrick Swayze Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Stanford University, go to our blog at CNN.com/larryking.
Up next, Harry Connick, Jr, is here with Clive Davis, making fabulous music together. Stick around.
LARRY KING, HOST: What an honor to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE two of my favorite people, Harry Connick Jr., the singer, pianist, actor, one of today's top interpreters of the great American songbook. He sold 25 million albums worldwide and his new one may be his best. Its title is "Your Song" and it contains some of the great songs ever written in this country.
With him is Clive Davis, a legend in his own time, the rock 'n' roll hall of famer, multiple Grammy winner, responsible for discovering people like Janice Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, and that's just a few.
Do you still produce, Clive? Do you still go and -- or did you do it for Harry?
CLIVE DAVIS, PRODUCER: Well, no, I do still very much selectively. I just produced a new Whitney Houston comeback album and we are in the studio with Carlos Santana, but this was the first time ever for me. We had never collaborated before. And obviously I produce with Harry. So I was the one who approached him. KING: You approached him.
DAVIS: Yes, I did.
KING: How did you feel, Harry, when you heard from the legendary Clive Davis?
HARRY CONNICK JR., ARTIST: I was thrilled. I mean, after I found out who he was. I had never heard of him before.
CONNICK: I was so excited because the prospect of never worked with a producer before other than a guy I've worked with -- I've known him since high school and we have a very unique relationship. But this was sort of an outside input from somebody on Clive's level. I was blown away at the prospect of doing that.
KING: How -- your generations are different. Did you have problems? Between the two of you?
CONNICK: Oh, no.
KING: I mean did you have disagreements?
CONNICK: We had disagreements, but they weren't because of any generational issues. It was because we knew what record we wanted to make, it was just a matter of, I think, finding each other's language out and figuring out -- because Clive and I come from two different places. Clive comes from...
CONNICK: Well, not only rock but from -- and don't interrupt me. Clive comes from a marketing point of view, an A&R point of view, I'm coming from a music point of you.
Are you laughing at the clown now?
KING: No. I'm just wondering what it's like to interview someone when you're never going to interview them again.
KING: No, go ahead.
CONNICK: No. So we come from different worlds. I come from a practice room playing music and Clive comes from a completely different place. And I think it was finding the common ground, which took a few meetings, but...
DAVIS: The common ground here for me was show how great songs can have a long life and to show that they can be sung and re-sung and reinterpreted. Great songs that the public would want on...
KING: But you're not associated with songs like "Just the Way You Are," "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Besame Mucho", "Some Enchanted Evening." You know, you're a Bruce Springsteen.
DAVIS: No, no, no. You can -- yes, I'm in the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame. Yes, I was involved with Patti Smith and Lou Reed, et cetera. But very much I have found songs, beginning with (INAUDIBLE). He and I write the songs for Barry Manilow.
Every song that Whitney Houston has ever recorded and so more recently in the last few years I was looking for the best -- to me, the best young contemporary pop singer in the world. That person is Harry Connick Jr.
KING: I'm going to agree.
DAVIS: And I was looking for an album where he could reinterpret songs that everybody would want on one album. So I love "Some Enchanted Evening." My career began with Broadway as a disciple of god of (INAUDIBLE). So whether it was "Camelot" or "My Fair Lady," your sound to me...
KING: So you're at home?
DAVIS: Oh very much at home.
KING: What about you, Harry? Were you at home with "Some Enchanted Evening."
CONNICK: I was. My friend Kelly O'Hara was performing. I don't know if you've seen "South Pacific" on Broadway.
KING: I haven't seen the new version.
CONNICK: Well, she's amazing in it and she's a dear friend. And I heard her in the show and I came to Clive with that song because I heard it the night before. I said what about this? He said, well, it's an incredible song I just don't know if it sort of fits.
KING: Enzio Pinza sang it.
CONNICK: It's an amazing -- yes, it's a very classic song. And -- so I recorded it. And Clive was like, I don't know if it really fits the record but we both kind of realized afterwards. We thought it was going to be a bonus track and it ended up going on the CD.
CLIVE DAVIS, MUSIC PRODUCER: It ended up going on the CD because he did an incredible arrangement of it and brought a whole new feeling to "Some Enchanted Evening," as he does with "The Way You Look Tonight," so he has recorded Charlie Chaplin's "Smile." He's recorded "Mona Lisa." But he's also recorded Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are," Elton John's "Your Song," or "Close to You," that the Carpenters had...
KING: This is one of the great, great CDs of the new century, I think. It really...
KING: No, you are...
CONNICK: Thanks, Larry.
KING: ... singing at the top of your game. You're an experimenter, though. I saw a concert you did in New York. You did it all jazz, right?
CONNICK: Yes. Well, that's where it comes from for me, Larry, being a jazz musician. And I think all of these decisions come from the same place. And what was so fascinating about working with Clive on this project is, he said, "We know you're a jazz musician. We know you write the orchestrations and do the conducting and the scoring and all of that stuff."
He said, "But let's put a lot of that aside and just feature you as a singer," with sort of co-starring with these great songs. And -- and so that's what this was all about.
KING: Where did you record?
CONNICK: At Capitol here in L.A.
KING: Here in L.A.?
KING: In the round building?
CONNICK: That's right. That's right.
KING: The old round building?
DAVIS: ... when he went into that Capitol recording studio, and there are big pictures of Nat King Cole when he was going into record. We record "Mona Lisa"...
CONNICK: In the same room.
DAVIS: ... and I must say, he does it great.
CONNICK: On the same piano that Nat played on. I mean, I've done 10 records at Capitol, but to sing "Mona Lisa" in that room is pretty...
KING: On a personal note, my father-in-law was an A&R man at Capitol. He signed the Beach Boys.
CONNICK: I'll be darned.
DAVIS: Did he?
KING: Karl Engemann. He was there for years.
CONNICK: This is actually about me and Clive.
KING: I see. I don't usually get personal. I threw that in...
CONNICK: Yes, I know.
KING: ... as a little touch to add the historic aspect of the building you were in, Harry.
KING: You're really pressing me, Harry. You're really pressing me. You know, I really -- I suddenly don't like this album anymore.
CONNICK: You think I care about your father-in-law and the Beach Boys?
KING: Now, I understand -- is this true -- you weren't there most of the time he was recording?
DAVIS: No, we had met every week in my office for six straight months going -- he has a studio in his home in Connecticut. He would come in every Wednesday. He would come in with the tracks. He would sing live. He'd go over tempo. He'd go over the...
CONNICK: Which was weird, by the way.
CONNICK: Clive's got this incredible office in New York.
KING: I know. I've been up there.
CONNICK: Well, I'm sitting on this side of the table. He's sitting about where you are. And I'd have these -- I've never done this before. I've never -- when I go in the studio, I write the music, I sing it, it's done, and the record label hears it. Well, I would do these arrangements, and Clive was sitting across, and I'd go, "When somebody loves you, it's no good unless," and so -- and Clive would kind of sit back, and then he'd turn around and hit the play button, repeat the song, and I'm -- I'm thinking, "I have to do it again?" You know?
"When somebody loves you, it's," like six times later, I'm like, "Bro, like, I'm going to pull my voice." And this is every Wednesday for like four hours. But he would say, "That song is -- you know, should be two beats a minute faster, or, you know, at a minute and 50 seconds."
KING: You would classify him a perfectionist. Yeah.
CONNICK: But not only a perfectionist, but thorough. That's what I was blown away -- Clive, you don't have to do that anymore, you know what I'm saying?
KING: Yes, you made it.
CONNICK: You can go float around the world on a yacht.
KING: Hey, Harry, can I get a break?
CONNICK: In a minute.
KING: We'll be -- we'll be right back with Harry Connick, Jr., and Clive Davis, this brilliant CD -- you can tell I like it, especially the way he's treated me. "Your Songs," don't go away.
KING: We're back with Harry Connick, Jr., Clive Davis. The CD is "Your Songs."
Clive, was it difficult to work with someone who if -- when you think of Harry Connick, Jr., a lot of people would say jazz first?
DAVIS: Yes, but this was a different kind of album. And I know, with his voice, with his phrasing, that with great songs, that he was versatile. And, yes, he does that well. So to some extent, it was -- you know, where he's always been left of center, it was moving a little closer to the center.
DAVIS: But not to change either his integrity or change his imaginative arrangements. When he said to me, fearing who's going to arrange this album, I looked at him straight in the eye and I said, "You are." Who's going to orchestrate?
CONNICK: Yes, I thought it was going to be a different thing.
DAVIS: You are.
DAVIS: And so it was not to change that. But when you hear all these songs on one album, you want to hear Harry Connick, and you want the melodies to come through, and you want to just swing to it, and nobody does it better. And that's my mission, to make sure the world knows that this young man is the best singer, contemporary pop singer, in the world today.
KING: You always do your own arrangements, Harry? CONNICK: I do. I think the first couple of records I did -- I know the first couple of records I did were done by a guy named Mark Shaiman, but ever since I was probably 22, I've done all the orchestrating and the scoring and conducting and everything. I had the skill to do it, so -- and that's what I was worried about, because I said, all right, I'm going to work with Clive. He's probably going to say, "Let's bring in a whole new team."
So I tried to preempt him and say, "Well, what about John Williams? I'm a huge John Williams fan, or maybe Quincy Jones." He says, "Do you understand what we're trying to do? Do you understand the formula here? We're trying to make an album that's easy to listen to, that features you as a singer, not without all of the lengthy jazz solos and everything competing with your voice."
I said, "Yes, I think I understand that." He said, "Well, you should write it. You should do all the work you normally do to preserve your own musical identity."
KING: What about the musicians?
CONNICK: Well, some of them are guys that have been in my band forever. And when we record in L.A., there are the best musicians in the world. Bruce Dukov, the concert master, I mean, these people are amazing. And when you stand up with a conductor's baton after having spent hours and hours writing these scores, and you start to conduct them, you're standing in front of the greatest musicians in the world, so...
DAVIS: But he relaxed greatly when -- after the basics were done, and we looked to soloists, because this album does have Branford Marsalis on tenor sax...
DAVIS: It does have Wynton Marsalis, you know...
KING: Not bad.
DAVIS: ... playing. Yes. So that -- along with Roger Ingram.
CONNICK: I got them on speed (INAUDIBLE).
DAVIS: So that we have major, major other musicians...
KING: There's a song you've included that fascinates me, and it was a brilliant recording, and then you switch language, even, "Besame Mucho."
CONNICK: That was for my dad. My dad -- to make a long story short -- was the district attorney of New Orleans for...
KING: Many years.
CONNICK: ... about 30 years.
KING: Also owned a record store, right?
CONNICK: He did, back in the '50s. He and my mother owned Studio A Records to put themselves through law school. Well, my dad's fascinated with Spanish culture. He lived in Spain. He even studied to be a matador. He's run with the bulls in Pamplona. He loves Spain and anything Latin. And he's been bugging me to record "Besame Mucho" for years, and I thought this would be a good opportunity.
So I didn't know what Clive was going to say. I said, "What do you think about 'Besame Mucho'? Does that fit the criteria for copyrights that we're looking for, extremely popular songs that everybody knows?" He said, "Man, that's great. What about signing half in Spanish and half in English?"
So to do that for my pop, who speaks Spanish, was -- I thought it was pretty cool.
KING: Do you speak Spanish?
CONNICK: Hell no.
KING: So how did you do it? You read it off...
CONNICK: I had a -- I had a teacher come in.
KING: You read it phonetically?
CONNICK: I read it -- well, I had a teacher come in who -- who was with me in the studio. She was in the control room. And I -- because I had to get it as perfect as I could. I don't know how close it is, but I...
KING: You think people will remember that song?
DAVIS: Oh, without question.
KING: It's a great -- great hit of the '40s, though.
DAVIS: Absolutely. Yes, but that's what's great. Take a hit, great hit of the '40s, '30s, '50s, '60s, and show -- with an arranger like Harry Connick, with a voice of Harry Connick -- how wonderful it sounds. And I'm getting letters and e-mails from all over the world. They love it.
KING: When we come back, maybe Harry and I will sing. No. I'll let him sing. And we'll hear from him about a noble project about Musicians' Village. Back in 60 seconds.
KING: Harry Connick, Jr., the album is "Your Songs," the -- what are you called on this album, the producer?
DAVIS: Yes, co-producer with Harry.
KING: Clive Davis, did it take guts, guts to do a Sinatra song, "All the Way," written for Frank by Sammy Cahn?
CONNICK: Was it -- was it written for him? I guess it was written for him.
KING: For the movie, "The Joker is Wild."
CONNICK: "The Joker is Wild." That's right. You know, this probably sounds immodest, but I never think of being intimidated by -- I mean, how -- what are you going to do? Are you going to sing "All the Way" better than Frank or "And I Love Her" better than the Beatles or "Mona Lisa" better than Nat Cole? By virtue of being me, I just go in the studio and try to interpret it as best I can.
I don't even think about -- I mean, I've studied Frank and Nat and all of these people. But, you know, I sing "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" -- I mean, how are you going to do that better than Elvis, you know? All -- all you can do is really, really study the lyric, develop your own...
KING: (Singing) When somebody loves...
CONNICK: Please, again, don't interrupt.
KING: I'm trying to lead you in with this.
CONNICK: Especially with -- especially with the singing, really.
CONNICK: There's one singer at the table, and I think we know who that is.
KING: Oh, Harry, you're testing me. OK. I like -- I love that, the way you did it.
CONNICK: It's an -- but, you know, that's -- that particular song is -- even if it's -- it's like a -- I feel like it was written for me. Or if you sing it, you know, if you're singing that to your wife...
KING: Yes, it's a very personal song.
CONNICK: Oh, my god. You know, when somebody loves you, it's no good unless they love you all the way, you know, through the good or lean years and the in-between years all the way. Who knows where the road will lead us? You know, it's just -- you don't even have to be a singer to -- as you just proved to -- to come out...
CONNICK: And sing. I'm just seeing how far I can go, Larry.
KING: It's called "Give it to the Jew" night. Anyway...
CONNICK: You know, technically, I am Jewish. My mother was -- was Jewish.
CONNICK: That's right. From Manhattan.
KING: That's where the talent comes from.
KING: OK. Towards -- what is Musicians' Village?
CONNICK: Musicians' Village is a project that I started with Branford Marsalis right after Hurricane Katrina, along with Habitat for Humanity, to build a bunch of homes for displaced New Orleanians.
Our idea was to get as many of the displaced musicians back into the city. We've ended up building 80 residences with 80 percent of those homes being lived in by musicians and their families. And now we're just about to break ground on a big center for music called the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.
And all of the homes are lived in, and legendary New Orleanian musicians are there, young and old, and it's just an incredible place.
KING: I don't -- I don't know of anyone who's done more for his city than this man.
CONNICK: Well, thanks, Larry. I love New Orleans.
KING: And after Katrina, your appearances on this show, you helped so much. Brad Pitt going to be mayor?
CONNICK: You know, I...
KING: There was a rumor they've been trying to get him to run for mayor.
CONNICK: Not that I know of. Whoever -- whoever is the next mayor I'm hoping will have the right combination of personality and knowledge and surround himself or herself with the -- with the right people to do what needs to be done for that city, because it is such a -- an American treasure, you know?
KING: What a city. So who are you recording with now?
DAVIS: Well, right now, we've just finished Leona Lewis, the new artist that I introduced last year, to show that there's no sophomore jinx. I'm in the studio with Carlos Santana, the great guitar classics of all time. Santana.
I'm finishing a Barry Manilow album for...
KING: He never stops.
DAVIS: ... early next year, and a new artist called B.C. Jean, who wrote "If I Were a Boy" for Beyonce, and we're doing new material. KING: You ever think of retiring?
DAVIS: I never think of retiring because I look at you, more vital than ever, so you're not retiring, I'm not retiring.
KING: Neither am I.
Harry, why didn't you follow up more with your film career?
CONNICK: Well, I'm still doing it. It's just -- you know some films you do are more successful than others, just like some recordings, so I'm always doing movies based on things that I really want to do. And if they become popular, that's great. And the last couple I did were sort of, you know, smaller movies. And -- but I still -- I'd still like to do it.
KING: You're amazing.
CONNICK: Thanks, Larry. I think the same about you and Clive, and it -- it really is a great honor to...
KING: My honor.
CONNICK: I'm screwing with you, and I like to screw with Clive a lot, too, but it's all out of respect, you know? Not so much for Clive, but...
KING: The amazingly...
CONNICK: ... really for you.
KING: The amazingly talented Harry Connick, Jr. and Clive Davis. And the album is "Your Songs," and it's great. You want to sing us out?
CONNICK: What would you like?
KING: "Besame Mucho," a little bit.
CONNICK: Do I have to do it in English or Spanish?
KING: Spanish! Well, if you can remember Spanish.
CONNICK: (Singing) Besame, besame mucho, como si fuera esta noche la ultima vez. Besame, besame mucho, que tengo miedo a perderte, perderte despues.
KING: We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: We have no kings and queens. We've known presidents and prime ministers. But the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known in my life is Mattie Stepanek.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was President Jimmy Carter of Mattie Stepanek. Hard to believe it's been five years since Mattie left us. He suffered from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, the same diseases that claimed his three siblings. Mattie was 13 when he died but boy, did he make the most of those years. A port, a peace advocate, a philosopher. He inspired millions with his message of hope and peace and finding your Heartsongs.
And now there's an incredible new book out about his life. "Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs." Its author is Mattie's mom, Jeni, and she joins us now from Washington.
Kind of celebrating heroes month here at CNN and I can paraphrase the president when I say of all the heroes I've known, Mattie was the greatest.
Why the book, Jeni?
JENI STEPANEK, MATTIE STEPANEK'S MOTHER: Well, Larry, people have been asking me for years and years, even before Mattie died, when are you going to share the story of Mattie's life. When are you going to share what it was like at home, in the hospital, on the road with this child that we have his poetry, and we have his peace essays? And I decided after he died that I needed to write this book sometime. Didn't want to do it too close to his death, because I wanted the book to be a pure celebration of his life, his inspiration.
And Larry, in the last five years, as I've held these stories in my heart, I have watched parks be named after my son. I've watched schools and libraries, and international summit where teens gather from all over the world to study Mattie's message of hope and peace. People are talking about his possible sainthood. And I decided now it's five years after his death, it's time to tell the story so you know the child behind the inspiration. So that's why I chose to write it now.
KING: The last time we were together, you didn't have that breathing apparatus. Can you explain what that is, Jeni?
STEPANEK: Yes. This is a -- it's a ventilator, much like Mattie had on the back of his wheelchair. I've opted to not use a trach tube. You'll remember the trach that Mattie had in his neck. Instead for as long as I can go with this, it's called non-invasive ventilation. And every time I put my mouth on the straw, it gives me a deep breath of air and keeps me breathing longer.
KING: You have the same disease Mattie had, right?
STEPANEK: Yes. I have the adult onset version of this condition. My four children inherited a fatal during childhood version. Did not know I had this disease when I was carrying my four children. I was very athletic during the pregnancies. And, actually, I didn't even use a wheelchair, until Mattie, my youngest, was 4 years old.
KING: Never forget that first day I met Mattie when we did that interview, and I came in and didn't know what it was all about, and immediately engulfed in him and loved him and spent many hours with him, many times on the air with him, on the telethons with Jerry Lewis. The world saw him as a poet, a philosopher a peacemaker, celebrity.
What was he like as an ordinary kid?
STEPANEK: He was as witty as he was wise, Larry. And I guess you do remember because you knew him a little bit off-screen as well. Remember you had lunch with him, dinner with him. You played with him. Mattie loved to practical joke. So when Mattie said remember to play after every storm, he meant that in a philosophical way, but also a day-to-day practical level.
At home, he was really just a good kid. Not a perfect kid. Nobody's perfect. But what you saw was what you got. Mattie was as polite at home as he was out on the street. And while the world misses the poet and the peacemaker and the philosopher, I miss my little boy who gave me foot massages and left me little notes by my bed. I miss morning coffee and afternoon tea. And debating with him over philosophy and politics. I miss the private life behind the public life that people got to know.
KING: Back with more of Jeni Stepanek. The book is "Messenger: The Legacy of an Incredible Little Boy."
KING: By the way, terrific book "Messenger." Chapter 17 you write of Mattie's final days.
How hard was that to do?
STEPANEK: Oh, Larry, I laughed writing parts of this book, because I loved remembering Mattie. But writing Chapter 17, it tore my heart out. I actually had to write it differently than I had done the other chapters. The other chapters I'd put together stories and edit, and chatted over with someone else. Chapter 17, I essentially just sat down and wrote it from word one to the last word in the chapter. And Larry, what was even harder than writing this chapter was, I read this book for audio book. Getting through that chapter took an inner strength that I wasn't sure I had, but I evidently do have.
KING: Did he pass away as bravely as he lived?
STEPANEK: Yes, he did. I'm just -- I'm always proud of my son. But his final months -- he actually went into a coma in the spring of 2004. And nobody was sure that he'd ever wake up again. For whatever reason, I believed that Mattie would wake up. And in fact, he did. He was awake for about three weeks before he ultimately died. And his final words -- he was almost 14. Three weeks before his 14th birthday. And his death, in his parting, was making sure his mommy would be OK. Challenging me not to lie down in the ashes of his life. Challenging me to choose to inhale, not simply breathe to exist.
And one of the most beautiful parts of his final weeks was -- there was a baby in the next bed in the ICU. And the baby started crying. And Mattie, who was in pure agony, his bones had been breaking, his body was twisted because of what this disease had done to him, Mattie started calling out for his nurse desperately, just calling out. I need a nurse, I need a nurse. And when the nurse came running into the room, and she said, what is it, Mattie, what is it? His response was, the baby's crying. Please hold the baby. Love the baby, because babies are god's gift to us. Babies are a gift of life. And so the nurse started crying. But she picked up the baby and held the baby and rocked the baby. And that's what mattered to Mattie was to -- he was always in a position of telling us, it's going to be OK.
And that was -- I think that's why people were so drawn to him. Mattie was a peacemaker. Mattie made us believe in peace. He didn't just say peace was possible. Mattie made us believe it. And Mattie made us want to reach inside ourselves and think peace, say peace. And he was so very real, behind the scenes and on camera. And he was like that even as he died.
KING: The book is "Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.P. Stepanek."