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CNN Larry King Live
Encore Presentation: Interview With Oprah Winfrey
Aired May 13, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the one, the only Oprah. She's on a first name basis with the world. Her power and influence is extraordinary. She can make a book an instant best seller, turn a neglected problem into a national cause and help build a bright new future by opening school doors. And yet --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I have a deep fear of not fulfilling my potential on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So what else can she do? And how is she going to do it? Oprah for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
When we asked her to do this about six months ago, she readily said yes. I can't thank you enough.
WINFREY: No, I'm happy to be here. I can't believe its 50 years for you.
KING: Fifty years.
WINFREY: What does it feel like?
KING: Fifty years.
WINFREY: Fifty years?
KING: I remember it like it was yesterday.
WINFREY: Do you really?
KING: Yeah, I can remember my first day on air.
Do you want to do 50?
WINFREY: You know what? I don't think I'll be doing 50. And it's so interesting because I remember when Donahue was on. And Donahue did 25 and everyone said, Donahue's 25. You think -- and I said, never I will do 25. It looks like God willing, I will make 25, yeah.
KING: I first met Oprah going on her show in Baltimore.
WINFREY: Yeah. In 19 -- seventy-something. KING: '78 or '79.
WINFREY: Yeah. That's right.
KING: And you brought my daughter on as a surprise guest.
WINFREY: How old is she now? How old is she?
WINFREY: Ayeeee. Ayeee. Oh my God.
KING: Do you feel your importance? Do you sense it?
WINFREY: No. If you're saying that I'm important, I understand that I have ...
WINFREY: I understand that I have a wonderful platform that we've built over the years and I remember when you were doing your column for -- Do you remember this?
KING: "USA Today."
WINFREY: "USA Today." And you had written a column and you said, I would like to know who her publicist is. Do you remember that?
WINFREY: Years ago. And at the time my publicist was an intern girl who had started the very first day I did who had not a clue about -- Alice McGee (ph) who later became a producer and later helped develop our book club idea.
But when you wrote that article, I said, if he only knew that my publicist was a young girl who started the same day I did. Her first day out of college and I said to her when I started getting lots of mail, I said, Alice, would you help me with the mail? I'll pay you a dollar a letter.
And then I started getting so much mail, I said, I can't afford a dollar a letter anymore.
So yeah, it's been a great ride for me. It's been really ...
KING: During an interview you did with us in September you said, I don't feel like I have used my life to the highest good.
KING: Has that changed since opening the schools?
WINFREY: Well, the opening of the school was one of the greatest days I've ever experienced. Ever. I felt like I had 20 weddings all in one. It felt like everything I'd heard people say weddings were.
Like, it's like out of body, you don't remember what happened, you're sort of floating through it.
So the opening of my leadership academy felt like that but it also felt like for me the process of getting to something is as good as actually arriving there. So the process of building the school and working for years to make it happen, that was really wonderful. And then to sort of be there and actually see that these girls' lives were going to change, it was really wonderful.
KING: So do you sometimes feel, what's left to do?
WINFREY: No, I don't feel that at all.
KING: You don't at all.
WINFREY: No. Do you?
KING: No. I don't.
WINFREY: No. OK. I know Katie is interviewing you tomorrow night but I thought I might give myself a little shot here.
KING: What do you want to do ...
KING: ... that you haven't done?
WINFREY: There's several things that I really want to do. I am on the air -- I am going to be -- I have like four, five years left on my show and when I'm done with that contract, I'm going to be done. I'm ...
KING: That's a done deal.
WINFREY: I'm going to be done. When I'm done, I'm done.
KING: You have an announcement to make.
WINFREY: No. It's not an announcement. I'm just saying, when I'm done, I'm done.
WINFREY: OK. But before I'm done, I really do -- I feel strongly that I want that- -- my so-called legacy, everybody uses the word "legacy." I want the work, the body of work for that show to have been not just for myself but for all the people who watch me and have grown up with me.
No, I'm sure you get it, too, people say, I've been watching you since I was four.
KING: It's scary. WINFREY: Yeah, it is. It's scary when somebody says that. But I want to have changed the laws, the laws, state by state, for child predators in this country. That's what I want to have done. And I won't be satisfied until that is done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: The children of this nation, the United States of America, are being stolen, raped, tortured, and killed by sexual predators.
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WINFREY: I want the laws to change because you know, every time we are outraged as a citizenry and as a country. All over the world people are upset when a child is snatched, when somebody goes into somebody's house, you know, and molests a child, kills a child.
It's inconceivable. But every time it happens people say, oh, we're outraged, it shouldn't happen, the law, he should have been put in jail, he should have been able to stay in jail.
Well, I want to change that. So that's my big goal. So no, I'm not even kind of done. I haven't even gotten started.
KING: You want to be, then, a political activist?
WINFREY: Is that what that's called?
KING: You're going to have to appear before state legislatures.You're going to have to change laws.
WINFREY: Is that what that's called, then?
KING: Yeah. An activist.
WINFREY: Yeah. OK. That's what I'll be then. I didn't know it had a name. Because what I was going to do, I was going to use the public to help me because I'm not going to do it by myself.
KING: You've got a platform.
WINFREY: I've got a great platform. And you were asking me the question about clout. What's the point of clout if you can't do something with it? So I thought I would use the clout to garner support from everybody else who is as outraged as me, as I am.
KING: We've got to cover a lot of topics tonight.
KING: And it's an honor to have you.
WINFREY: I was going to bring you -- what do you give you? I was on my way here and I was, I should be taking something, like a ...
KING: For you it would be a Mercedes Benz ...
WINFREY: I don't know. What do you need, though?
KING: I don't know. I need your just being here.
KING: It's pleasure enough.
WINFREY: I did two shows and I came and I wanted to say happy anniversary.
KING: You did a show last Thursday with the Rutgers basketball team.
WINFREY: Right. Right.
KING: What is your read on the Imus story?
WINFREY: Ooh. I knew that. My read on the Imus story is that first of all I felt as the -- as Vivian Stringer, the coach, felt. I didn't have any great ideas about whether he should or shouldn't be fired. I felt that that would be left up to his bosses who have obviously decided that was what should happen.
I know that I have my own radio channel and if somebody on my radio channel had made such degrading remarks, I would have fired them.
But I wasn't -- I didn't want to get into it, whether he should or should not because I think that should be left up to his bosses but the thing that really, really saddened me is that we have reached a point in our society where someone could feel comfortable making such degrading remarks about women and not just women, but racial remarks against women.
So it was both racial and anti-feminist, I thought.
KING: So when you hear something like I-man said, do you cringe, do you get angry, what is your reaction?
WINFREY: No, because he wasn't talking -- I cringe not because I feel this, because Imus has no power in my life. And I would want those women to also know that when they were on my show and they were saying that he spoiled their moment and that it ruined it for them, what I wanted to say but I had seven minutes is that he can't do that. He doesn't have the power to do that. Nobody has the power to do that to you.
So I cringed because the very notion that we live in a society where anyone can call women "hos" makes me cringe.
KING: Oprah is the guest. We will be right back on our 50th anniversary week kickoff night. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WINFREY: I have said this at least a thousand times. I love teachers and that is why I wanted to give you the hottest ticket in television. Open your boxes, open your boxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: The very first class of Oprah Winfrey - the first girl that I interviewed when I said, "Why do you want to come to my school?" She said, "Education is my tomorrow." And so that has become the mantra for our school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be here because it is my dream to come to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy because I want to be a leader in my community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Oprah, kicking off our 50th anniversary week.
WINFREY: Katie Couric is here tomorrow. Katie is interviewing you. KING: She is going to interview me. And then Wednesday night, two hour special ...
WINFREY: Is she going to interview you like this or is she going to interview you by satellite?
KING: No, no. Like this.
WINFREY: Like this. OK.
KING: We'll be in New York.
WINFREY: OK. And then Friday night is everybody.
KING: Bill Maher hosting a show with a lot of surprise guests.
On this program ...
KING: ... you endorsed Barack Obama.
KING: For the president.
That still sticks, right?
WINFREY: Yeah. Of course.
KING: Can a black man be elected president of the United States?
WINFREY: I believe he can. I believe a black man can and I believe he can.
KING: You think he is going to win the nomination?
WINFREY: I'm not here to say whether he will win or not, but you asked me, do I believe that he can? I believe that he can. Is it possible? Yes. I do believe that it's possible.
KING: Have you endorsed a candidate before?
KING: What made you do so now?
WINFREY: Because I know him personally. I think that what he stands for, what he has proven that he can stand for, what he has shown was worth me going out on a limb for and I haven't done it in the past because I haven't felt that anybody -- I didn't know anybody well enough to be able to say, I believe in this person.
KING: Is there a side of you, the woman side, that would lead toward a Hillary?
WINFREY: Well, I have great respect for Hillary Clinton. I -- I think I've said this before and it's true. Because I am for Barack does not mean I am against Hillary or anybody else.
So the fact that I would endorse Barack Obama and the fact that I would support Barack Obama, I have not one negative thing to say about Hillary Clinton.
KING: Just you like Barack Obama?
WINFREY: I like Barack Obama.
KING: Have you contributed to him?
WINFREY: I haven't contributed.
KING: Would you?
WINFREY: Well, the truth of the matter is, whether I contribute or not contribute, you are limited to how much you contribute so my money isn't going to make any difference to him.
I think that my value to him, my support of him, is probably worth more than any check ...
WINFREY: ... that I could write. Yeah.
KING: Run for office yourself?
WINFREY: You know that is not going to ever happen.
KING: Because? Why?
WINFREY: Because we just said I'm going to become a political activist and I feel that ...
KING: The next step could be ...
WINFREY: But no. I feel that the platform that I hold, the chair in which I get to sit in every day and speak to the world, is of far more value to me than any political office could be. Value in that I get to speak to people's hearts and get to connect with people all over the world.
Like right now. This is so amazing. Usually I'm in a gym in South Africa in the middle of the morning because I can't sleep watching you and so are other people in the gym. So -- places all over the world, 200 countries.
No matter what is going on around, what country you are in, you are there.
KING: It's weird.
WINFREY: It's really weird. And then, it's interesting. It's the one comforting thing when you're in a foreign country. There's Larry. Hi, Larry. No matter what, there's Larry.
KING: Satellites are amazing.
KING: Speaking of countries and South Africa, one of my favorite places, by the way.
KING: When I visited there and went to Mandela's house ...
KING: How did you get the idea to open that academy?
WINFREY: Because I was sitting with Nelson Mandela, one of my personal heroes. And I don't know if I told you this story before but when I was doing Christmas kindness in South Africa, I was invited to stay at Nelson Mandela's house and I was really -- I don't get nervous about meeting people but I was a little nervous about being in Nelson Mandela's house for 10 days straight.
So I had 29 meals with him. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Twenty nine meals.
And in the beginning I was really worried about what are we going to talk about? What am I going to say? And Steadman said, relax, he's Nelson Mandela. He'll no what to say, you'll just listen. And that's what happened. It was like one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
So I love South Africa.
KING: But that led to opening a school?
WINFREY: Yeah. I was sitting in his living room one day and we were talking about what was needed and what I could do and I said, what I wanted to do is build a school because I believe that education can save the world.
And that would be the mark that I get to leave on the world, is that I, throughout developing countries, when you say, is there anything left to do, there are 100 million girls in the world right now who will never have the opportunity to go to elementary school. Before I die I want that to change.
KING: You're going to build more schools?
WINFREY: Yeah. I'm going to build more schools. I just spoke with a school outside of Durban, about three hours outside of Durban, actually, I didn't built it, I organized the process of building it, but took the money from the people who gave it to me for my Angel Network and we built a model school.
I mean, train the women how to make the bricks in the village, went out into the communities and met with people for a year and said to people tell us what you need for a school.
And these are poor villagers, no running water, no electricity. We built a channel underneath the school and built a windmill so that the children play on it and pump the war. So we -- when it rains we save the water and pump the water so now they have toilets.
KING: How do you react to the critics who say, why not build it in Montgomery, Alabama?
WINFREY: Because we have a government that builds schools. I don't have to do that. I live in the best country in the world. I live in the country where had I not had the opportunities that I've had, thank God almighty, born in 1954, I wouldn't be able to sit here with you or to stand where I stand every day.
So we live in a country where education is free. That's what people miss. That education is free in this country. So I want to make that possible for children in the world who don't have that opportunity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: Welcome home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Oprah Winfrey is our guest. Do I have to say "Winfrey"? We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dream was to come to this school because I want to be a good leader and I want other girls out there to be able to look up to me and be able to look up to me and want to follow in my footsteps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: I couldn't wait to show the girls where they would now be living. Come on in, and welcome to your new home. Every single thing that you see here was chosen by me for you because I care so much about you. I'm going to show you the bathrooms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, in honor of Oprah ...
WINFREY: You wear the color purple.
KING: Which is still on Broadway, right?
WINFREY: It's still on Broadway and opening in Chicago on May 1st and moving out throughout the country.
KING: You said in an interview last year that you failed in an effort to mentor a group of girls from your adopted hometown of Chicago.
WINFREY: I failed because I think it's really nice to do nice things for people but I reached a point in my life where I don't just want to do nice things or do good things, I really want to be able to change people's lives forever and I strongly believe that the way to do that is changing the way people think about their lives and that education - you can't change a kid unless you educate a kid, you really can't.
You can give them shoes, you can give them a place to stay, you can give them food for a day, but I am in the business, I think, now, of being able to teach people how to fish. You know that whole fish for a day or teach people how to fish.
And so years ago, when I first moved to Chicago, because I was a poor kid and always knew that I'd have to find a way to give back and I started a mentoring program just for women in my office and going into the projects, sort of adopting these girls out of the projects and trying to take them places on the weekend. The first thing I did was to take them all to get library cards.
I wasn't successful because I didn't have the time or the attention to give to them that would be able to break the cycle of poverty for them.
KING: You learned from that.
WINFREY: So -- I learned from that.
You've got to be able to -- so that's why I decided I want to build a school that I can have the girls full time and change the way they think, change what they think is possible for themselves.
KING: What is it like to be very poor ...
KING: ... and then very rich? I mean ...
WINFREY: It's the best. It's the best. It's the best.
Every day I ...
KING: Well put.
WINFREY: It's the best because every day I think I have it so much better than people who are born rich.
KING: Oh yeah. So much.
WINFREY: Don't you think the fact ...
KING: To make it ...
WINFREY: Don't you think the fact that you had to struggle ...
WINFREY: The fact that you never had everything.
KING: But what's it like to have an absurd amount of money? By absurd amount of money in that you can ...
WINFREY: I don't call it absurd, Larry.
KING: What do you call it?
WINFREY: I call it -- I don't know what I call it. I don't have a name for it but I don't think it is absurd.
But I do think this is the weird thing. That even now I will be in a store and I will be looking at something and I will think, should I get this one, should I get the green one or the yellow one and it will dawn on me, I can get both. I can get both. I can get the whole rack.
KING: You can get the store.
WINFREY: I can get -- yeah, so that -- some things I have some still old habits, like someone said that we were in a hotel not too long ago and it was like, we're not sending out for the laundry because you know they charge you five dollars for a pair of panties. So some things -- I still can't get over some things.
KING: You still ...
WINFREY: Oh no.
KING: Four dollar handkerchiefs, no.
WINFREY: Gayle will tell you this. Recently I was in a hotel and I called her and said, "Call me right back." Because you know when you dial from a hotel phone, if you don't use like a calling card or something it's like, I don't know ...
KING: Eight dollars.
WINFREY: A minute. So I'll call and say, will you call me back because it's too expensive. And she says, who is this? Yeah.
So some things like that I still hold on to.
KING: Are you an easy touch with old friends?
WINFREY: What does that mean?
KING: A guy -- a woman calls you up who knew you when you were in high school. No. A girl who worked with you in Baltimore.
KING: Is on the skids.
KING: Easy touch?
KING: Are you?
WINFREY: You mean, would I help you out?
WINFREY: I've done that for a few people. I've done that for a few people.
KING: Must have a lot of people. I knew you when Oprah...
WINFREY: But this is -- no, but this is what you have to do. This is what I've learned. You cannot. I never loan money. You only loan money, Larry. You know this. You only loan money if you never want to see the person again. So that's what I call sometimes an exit fee for some people. You loan the money and you'll never have to worry about them calling you again because they won't pay you back.
WINFREY: And you know they're not going to pay you back. But for the most part if somebody -- that actually happened to me not too long ago. Somebody I had known in Nashville, actually, that helped me get into radio called and said, literally helped me get into radio because I started just like you started and I said, I'm going to give you this money, I'm going to give you exactly this and you never have to pay me back.
KING: Smart thing to do.
WINFREY: Yeah. Because that way you don't have to worry about it. You know?
KING: It's our 50th anniversary week. Our kickoff guest is Oprah Winfrey. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Coming up Wednesday, Katie Couric turns the tables and interviews me. Thursday, a "CNN PRESENTS" special, 50 years of Pop Culture through my eyes. And Friday, an all-star toast, hosted by Bill Maher. What a 50 years its been, what a week it's going to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With all that's happened to you, why not just go to Hollywood and make movies?
WINFREY: People have possibilities in their lives and that no one can dictate to you what is best for you to do, but you.
Yes, we have been abused, yes, we are dysfunctional, what in the hell are we going to do about it? We have to take responsibility for our own lives and that's really where I am with myself and also with the show.
How can you in your own life make a difference in somebody else's?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Oprah and she just said ...
WINFREY: Isn't it weird we get -- you get paid for talking ...
KING: We get paid.
WINFREY: You've been paid for 50 years for talking.
KING: Isn't that dumb.
WINFREY: No, I ...
KING: It's not dumb. Because you're good at it you get paid for talking. I get paid for talking.
WINFREY: But I still am amazed at it.
KING: But it ain't work.
WINFREY: It's not.
KING: We don't go to work.
WINFREY: No. No.
KING: You go to your show.
KING: But you don't go to work.
I feel like -- you know, we say this all the time on my show that you can find something you love. And I always as a kid, I loved talking. I was always talking in school. I was the first woman in my -- and I can't believe that I get paid and paid a lot of money for talking.
KING: How about the down side of the business?
KING: How do you react to tabloids having a field day with you? You and Steadman and ...
WINFREY: I've actually grown up with it. You know we've been together now over 20 years and I've been, you know, this sort of known person for about the same amount of time and I have actually matured with it. It used to just make me so upset and so mad all the time.
I was just talking to my friend Quincy Jones the other day. I remember years ago I was on the cover of "TV Guide" or something. They put my head on Ann Margaret's body. And I'm like crying because of crazy stuff, you know, like, I can't believe they're saying. And I was sitting on a pile of money. They're acting like I just -- and so Bill Cosby had said to me one time, "Put your head in a paper bag, breathe deeply three times and move on." So I really have gotten to the point where -- that's what I was saying to you earlier about -- I was hoping that the women of Rutgers wouldn't allow all of this degrading talk about who they were to affect how they felt about themselves because nobody can make you feel badly about yourself.
KING: What do you make of your influence with books? That you can ...
WINFREY: Well, it just started as a fluke. I was saying that I started out with a young intern who started the exact same day that I did, Alice McGee. And her job was to sort of be a runner for me in the Beginning, so she'd go get me pantyhose at the Walgreen's store and come back and bring lunch and that kind of thing.
And Alice, then, I started paying her to be my publicist and then she moved up and became an associate producer, producer. And Alice and I used to exchange books all the time and we would, you know, say what are you reading now, what are you reading?
And one day she said, why don't we do this on TV? And I go, it'll never work on television, you know. America doesn't read and you can't talk about books on television. And she said, what if we had a club. So that's how it all started. And I am surprised every time.
KING: And then you stopped it for a while.
WINFREY: I stopped it because I was overwhelmed trying to because somebody just said -- an audience member just said to me the other day as I handed out the latest book, "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy. Have you read this book?
WINFREY: I should have brought you that for your anniversary. You should read that book.
KING: "The Road."
WINFREY: Yes, "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. You know why? Because it's about a father and son at the end of time and fathers love this book.
KING: Well, I'm a father.
WINFREY: So for you -- you're a father all right.
KING: Chance and Cannon are both fine.
KING: They're eight and seven now.
WINFREY: See. Yes, you would have loved this book.
Anyway, so ...
KING: You'd be a great mother. WINFREY: I now feel like I am a mother, Larry.
KING: Of -- Oh.
WINFREY: I have 151 girls. I am a mother to 151 ...
KING: And by the way, on that, were there complaints that that school is too strict? Parents can't get to see their kids or something?
WINFREY: Well, there was some complaints about it but I pay no attention to it. Pay no attention to that many behind the counter, like in "The Wizard of Oz." Pay no attention to the man behind the door.
There were two complaints. Two that ended up being blown out of Proportion. And I called the two parents and said to the two parents who were allegedly complaining that if you have a problem with the way we are running this school, please feel free to come and get your daughters at any time because I'm not changing the rules because you don't like the rules.
And they're complaining because there's no junk food. And I go, there isn't and there's not going to be. And they're complaining because it took too long for them to get through security at the gates because the kids -- when they come to see their children I make you go through security with whoever you're bringing. I'm not changing that. And if you don't like that you can come and get your daughter any time you want. Feel free to do that. I'm not changing the rules.
And they're complaining because we had a major problem with cell Phones, cell phones. Some of the girls -- you know because some of the girls -- you can only come to my school if your parents make less than $10,000 a year. No more than $10,000 a year.
So there's a range. Some children have families that make nothing, and some make seven, eight, nine and almost 10. OK, so some of those kids can afford cell phones and that's the first thing they all want is cell phones. And we had a rule in school that you cannot bring your cell phones to class. I cannot have the cell phones ringing in the classrooms. I said to the girls, what should the rules be? And they said, that we should not have the cell phones in class.
And then several girls broke that rule. So now you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to take the cell phones away and that's what we did. So parents were complaining about that.
KING: Oprah and I were involved -- and I haven't talked to her about it...
KING: ...off the air or on, in one of the deals dealing with a book.
WINFREY: What? KING: I had the author on, you called in to say he was fine ...
WINFREY: Oh, that thing, that thing.
KING: That's called a grabber. Don't go away.
WINFREY: Oh, that thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: I said this to people, "It's a little thing but it's a big thing because if the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that'll be enough.
There's so much you can do. You do your best and then you surrender it. You surrender it. You surrender all...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Oprah on our 50th anniversary week. She is the kickoff guest.
WINFREY: I'm the kickoff guest.
KING: We had that -- an incident. James Frey came on our show.
KING: He'd written a book called "A Million Little Pieces."
KING: It was one of the books you selected as your book of the month.
KING: Later, people complained that it was fraud or he didn't do the things he said he did.
KING: At the end of the show when he was on, being contrite, you called in, his mother was on with him.
KING: You said, I stand by you.
WINFREY: I stand by you.
KING: The mother started to cry, they grabbed his hands. It was one of the great moments on television. Headlines next day, "Oprah Stands By." WINFREY: Yes.
KING: Next week, "Oprah Annihilates James Frey."
WINFREY: I didn't annihilate him. You can even ask him. I didn't annihilate. At the end of that conversation on my show, I said, look, I know I was tough on you but I had to be tough on you because you really disappointed me and so he understood that. And actually I called him a couple days later to see how he was doing.
KING: What's your -- now, in looking back.
WINFREY: Well, it made me very wary of doing memoirs and so you will notice that since that time I've only chosen two memoirs. First of all, I went a whole year because I had chosen Elie Wiesel's book.
KING: Great book.
WINFREY: Yes. And I chose "Night" because I so believe in Elie Wiesel and I know that everything that he had said in that book was true and you know knew that was true. So I felt that that was really -- not only did I love that book or wanted other people to experience it the way I had experienced it, but also I could trust that it was the truth.
And so -- and then I went a year and didn't choose a book because I was working for the school and just honestly didn't have time to read any other books.
And then the next book I chose that I could trust was the truth was Sidney Poitier's book. And so ...
KING: Which was the next number one paperback?
WINFREY: Yes, number one. So now I've moved on from memoirs because I don't know -- you know, because a lot of publishers -- I was surprised to find, that the publishers do not vet the stories or vet the books. And in the case of James Frey, it hadn't been. So I was trusting the publisher, you know.
KING: When you get a major publisher that's logical.
WINFREY: That's right.
KING: We all in this business trust the publisher.
WINFREY: I was trusting that the publisher knew that it was true or not and so that's why I felt so comfortable, you know, calling up at the end of the show. I couldn't find the number. What's the number, what's Larry's number? How do we get through and there's only a minute left. So I called up and then later regretted that I had made that call. And I made it because I'm thinking, well, if it wasn't true, the publisher would have said it wasn't true. They would have said it was fiction but that is not always the case.
KING: What's your barometer for picking the book? What does it have to do?
WINFREY: I just have to -- it's the same thing as anybody else who reads a book and says, you know, God, I love that book.
KING: Don't you love five, six books a month? I do. I love a lot of books.
WINFREY: I don't get a chance to read five or six that I love because I have read so many things that are -- that I have to read for this show.
And so in terms of like a good book that I feel I love it and at least a million other people love it, I don't run into that very often.
KING: Do you. What ...
WINFREY: And I have to read every book. That's why I was saying the other day on my show, a woman said to me, did you read the book? How insulting is that? Did I read the book?
KING: So I've got to get "The Road."
WINFREY: "The Road" By Cormac McCarthy.
KING: When you're with a guest -- and this affects all of us -- and you either disagree or don't like them. Is that the hardest part of the day?
WINFREY: No. The hardest part of the day is paying the bills because I still pay all my bills and I look through all the ...
KING: You still write the checks?
WINFREY: I still write the checks. Yes, I do.
KING: How about the guests that you don't like?
WINFREY: It doesn't matter. You know I am a very spiritually centered person. So there's very few people that I don't like and if I don't like you it's because your vibe is so negative that it's almost hard to even sit next to you.
I tell you what's difficult is -- and I was going to ask you this question. When you're with a guest, that you know is lying, you know ...
KING: All you can do is all you can do -- you try to go ...
WINFREY: You know they are skirting around the truth.
KING: And you try to go to the curb and get to it.
KING: Of course it's not a trial. WINFREY: No, it's not a trial. It's not supposed to be a trial.
KING: You can't hold him in contempt.
WINFREY: Now have you ever done an interview -- I know Katie is doing an interview tomorrow night, OK, have you ever done an interview where you know that you asked the wrong question and you -- the person shut down.
KING: Oh yes.
WINFREY: That's happened.
KING: That's happened. Have you ever had ...
WINFREY: Yes, that happened to me.
Years ago I was ...
KING: I bet.
WINFREY: ... interviewing Sally Field and I asked her a very -- and she was dating Burt Reynolds at the time. Was it Burt Reynolds?
KING: Yes, Burt Reynolds.
WINFREY: OK, she was dating Burt Reynolds at the time and I asked her an inappropriate question. I will say it's inappropriate so I won't repeat it. I asked her an inappropriate question and I saw the veil come down. And I was on live television and she basically shut down.
So I learned from that experience. Don't ask a question that's going to put a person in a compromising position or an embarrassing position when you're on live television. They'll shut down on you and then where do you go.
KING: And then when they're shut ...
WINFREY: It's over.
KING: ...they don't come back.
WINFREY: They don't come back. They're not giving up anything for you.
KING: Back with more of Oprah.
KING: Don't go away.(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We're back with Oprah.
Wee have an e-mail question for Oprah. When we announced you were going to be on, someone sent an e-mail. WINFREY: Yes.
KING: From Adrian (ph) in Athens, Georgia. "If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at age 12..."
KING: ..."what one piece of advice or sentence of encouragement would you offer to the young Oprah?"
KING: Twelve. What would you say?
WINFREY: We did this in my magazine. I'm not trying to promote my magazine but we did this, asking your younger self.
Gee, 12, I was -- that was a very rough time for me. I would probably say, like, hang in there.
KING: It was a rough time?
WINFREY: It was very -- yeah, yes, it was a rough time. Twelve, 14, very rough time.
KING: Family rough?
WINFREY: Yeah, family rough. I was being, you know, sexually abused at the time. I just recently saw for myself, my mother had saved, I don't have anything from my past but she saved a certificate from the Sears -- I mean like Sears & Roebuck charm school.
KING: You went to the ...
WINFREY: I went to the Sears & Roebuck charm school and I was 12 years old and I just saw paper -- a clipping.
KING: You graduated?
WINFREY: Yes, I graduated from the charm school and I saw a picture of myself and my gosh -- I had on the cat-eye glasses and I am so unattractive. I am like one little ugly girl. You know I felt so bad about myself. That's why I wanted to go to charm school.
KING: The number one book in the United States now running for a long time is "The Secret."
KING: We have done some shows on it. You have done some shows.
KING: What do you make of this?
WINFREY: Well, what I make of it is I was really very excited that this line of thinking, this level of, I call consciousness, has reached the masses in such a way that that book could be number one. I was really very excited about it because basically the message of "The Secret" is the message that I've been trying to share with the world on my show for the past 21 years.
The message is that you're really responsible for your life. You are responsible for your life. I have known this -- I've known this since "The Color Purple."
In 1985, I probably told you this story when I did "The Color Purple," but in 1985 I did "The Color Purple." Prior to that I had read the book, Larry. This is when I got the secret thing, but I didn't know it was called, "The Secret."
I read the book, "The Color Purple" and then went out and got books for everyone else I knew and I was obsessed about this story, obsessed about it. I ate, slept, thought, all the time about "The Color Purple."
I moved to Chicago. I get a call from a casting agent asking would I like to come and audition for a movie. I've never gotten a call in my life from anybody for a movie or anything like that. And I say is it, "The Color Purple." And he says, "No, it's a movie called 'Moonsong.'"
And I go, well, I've been praying for "The Color Purple." And I go to the audition and of course it was "The Color Purple." I audition. I don't hear anything for months.
And I go to this fat farm and I think it's because I'm fat because I was about 212 pounds at the time. And I think I didn't get the call back because I'm so fat. And I am at this fat farm and I am praying and crying, saying to God, help me let this go because I wanted to be in this movie so much. I wanted it, I wanted it, I wanted it.
I thought I was going to be in the movie. There were all these signs that I was should be in the movie. And I go to this fat farm and I'm praying and crying and as I'm on the track singing this song, "I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee my blessed savior, I surrender all." I am singing that song, praying and crying. A woman comes out to me and she says, on the track, it's raining and she says, "There's a phone call for you. And the phone call was Stephen Spielberg saying, I want to see you in my office in California tomorrow."
Now, what I learned from that, that moment, absolutely changed my life forever because I had drawn "The Color Purple" into my life. I didn't know Stephen Spielberg. I didn't know Quincy Jones, who saw me in Chicago in 1984. He was there for a lawsuit that was being filed against Michael Jackson because he had been working on his "Thriller" album. And he saw me on "8:00 A.M. Chicago" and said, "That's Sophia."
Now I didn't know him. I didn't know anybody that had anything to do with that. But I knew that I had drawn that into my life and it changed the way I thought about my life forever.
KING: So you're not surprised at the success of "The Secret."
WINFREY: I'm thrilled for the success of "The Secret." I think that the message needs to go further because I think the mistake that was made with "The Secret" is that they tried to -- they, don't know who they are -- that they tried to let that be the answer to all questions.
It's not the answer. It's just one law. The law of attraction is one law. There are many laws working in the world. But it is very true that the way you think creates reality for yourself.
There are other factors going on, so it's not everything, but you really can change your own reality based on the way that you think.
KING: And we've got a treat for you, a special two-hour "CNN PRESENTS: LARRY KING, 50 YEARS OF POP CULTURE." Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Hi, I'm Larry King. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see a movie and Larry King makes that appearance as Larry King interviewing a fictional character.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: I'm always frank and earnest with women. In New York, I'm Frank and in Chicago, I'm Earnest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's always a certain kick out of that because you're like OK, this is a movie that has a sense of humor about itself.
KING: OK, let's go to phone calls now on LARRY KING LIVE.
White Plains, you're on the air with Gwynn Harris.
MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: When Catherine Zeta-Jones goes...
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES, ACTRESS: I love Larry.
CAREY: ...right after...
ZETA-JONES: ...so I'm going to reach over and choke him to death with those stupid suspenders.
CAREY: That's just one of my favorite moments in a movie ever.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Indeed with more than 20 credits to his name...
KING: Professional paranormal eliminators in New York and the cost of it all.
COOPER: ...Larry proved himself cameo king throughout the years. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at King, look at his face.
COOPER: He even got to do drag in an animated land far, far away.
KING: Hey, buddy, let me clue you in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad was a woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Time flies. By the way, don't forget, "Oprah and Friends" on XM Satellite Radio. You're having fun with that?
WINFREY: Yes, I'm having fun with that.
KING: They're going to have a special channel for Larry King for a week starting today.
KING: It started today. The Larry King channel, it's XM-130. What are you?
WINFREY: I'm 156. XM-156.
Does the 50-year anniversary -- what does it really mean? I mean I I know we're all celebrating you and...
KING: It mean I'm old. It means I've been around 50 years.
KING: I can't believe it.
WINFREY: And -- what are you most impressed with how it's changed in 50 years?
KING: Oh, what you mentioned before, all those 200 plus countries.
KING: When I was a kid in Brooklyn...
KING: ...I dreamed of being on the radio. Just if I could do Dodger games. That would be the world would be Dodger games.
WINFREY: Wow, yes.
KING: No, it was CNN, my God.
WINFREY: Two-hundred countries.
KING: Moscow, they watch.
WINFREY: Does anybody intimidate you?
KING: No, I learned well (ph) because the host controls the show. You know that.
WINFREY: Yes, yes, yes.
KING: You're going to speak at Howard University.
WINFREY: Yes, I'm going to speak. Yes, I don't know what I'm going to say yet but I'll be working on it.
KING: Don't know what you're going to do yet.
WINFREY: Yes, I don't know what I'm going to say.
KING: Anybody you want to interview?
WINFREY: You know the people that for me that I learned the most and they are the most memorable for me because obviously you interview celebrities, I interview celebrities, and celebrities are fun, wonderful to have on if you can get them.
But it's the real folks. Like I interviewed a woman a couple years ago. She had been hit by a drunk driver and burned alive in her car. Face completely burned off. Her name was Jackie (ph). And you know everybody talks the talk and I say a lot of this in my magazine about looking for your inner beauty. And it was a moment sitting with that woman, Larry, who had had her whole face burned off and her ears are pinned back and -- just really. And she said -- I asked her whether there were times she wanted to die and she said, no, I have too much to live for.
And I thought, my God, that is walking the walk. You know that's not just, you know, verbalizing, talking about it.
And most recently I had a guy on who was in a big plane crash and he -- Singapore Airlines about six, nine years ago. I can't remember how many years. But as he was leaving the plane, he said, all the bodies were on fire on the plane. And he looked back and he saw that auras were coming up out of the bodies, up out of the flames, and that he wasn't a religious person but he learned in that moment that he wanted -- and that some auras were brighter than others and that he said I want to live my life so that my aura is always bright.
And so that kind of thing really impacts me.
KING: Are you happy?
WINFREY: On a scale -- I just did a happiness show.
KING: Oh yes?
WINFREY: I am off the charts. I am off the charts.
KING: You ...
WINFREY: I'm off the charts happy.
KING: On a scale of 10 you're an 11.
Are you? Are you an 11 on a scale of 10?
WINFREY: Probably 15.
WINFREY: Yes, I'm off the charts.
KING: You're off the charts.
KING: Oprah, I know that one of your catch phrases is "what I know for sure."
WINFREY: Yes. Well, may I say that that catch phrase came from the late Gene Siskel because I had been interviewed by Gene Siskel many years ago and he asked me at the end of the interview, what do you know for sure?
And I was so stumped that I went home and like three days later and I called him up and he goes, the interview is over, Oprah. I don't need to know now.
KING: Well, what I know for sure ...
KING: ...is this was a great hour.
WINFREY: Thank you.
KING: And I've been honored to have you...
WINFREY: Oh, thank you.
KING: ...as our first guest of the week.
WINFREY: Thank you. Happy anniversary, Larry.
KING: Thank you, doll.
KING: Tomorrow night ...
WINFREY: Katie Couric ...
KING: Turns the table. WINFREY: ... turns the table. Yes.
KING: AC 360 is next.
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