Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Larry King Live
Manhunt for Cancer Teen/NFL Star Michael Vick Released from Prison
Aired May 20, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, nationwide manhunt for a 13-year-old with cancer on the run with his mother -- from the law and treatment that might cure him.
Did they flee the country?
Plus, Michael Vick case exclusive -- the former football star was released from prison today, 21 months after pleading guilty to running a dog fighting ring.
KING: He says he's sorry, but can the quarterback redeem himself in the eyes of his sport and animal lovers everywhere?
And then the gorgeous Vanessa Williams, the "Ugly Betty" star and former beauty queen took a fall and rose back up above it all, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANESSA WILLIAMS (singing): I want to be close to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we begin, good evening. Just a reminder that my book, my autobiography, "My Remarkable Journey," is available in all bookstores, on audiotape or, of course, in the written form, as well.
Half the proceeds from this book is going to go to the Larry Kind Cardiac Foundation. We've received a terrific response today. And I'll be on "The View" tomorrow and also on "Jon Stewart."
So I hope you look for you and I hope you enjoy it.
Breaking news tonight in the story of 13-year-old Daniel Hauser and his mother, Colleen. The two were supposed to appear in court yesterday for a hearing on Daniel's welfare. They didn't show up. And just now, authorities reveal the two were seen Tuesday in Southern California, maybe on the way to Mexico.
Daniels has Hodgkin's lymphoma. He quit chemo after a single treatment. His parents have sought alternative treatments based on religious beliefs.
A judge ruled that Daniel was being medically neglected. There's an arrest warrant for Colleen Hauser and the court has ordered Daniel be placed in protective custody -- when, of course -- and if he is found.
Joining us now New Ulm, Minnesota is Sheriff Rich Hoffman, the sheriff of Brown County.
Dan Zwakman is in St. Paul, a spokesman for the Hauser family.
Philip Elbert is the court-appointed attorney for young Daniel.
And in Atlanta, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent.
All right, Sheriff Hoffman, what's the latest?
Where do we think they are?
SHERIFF RICH HOFFMAN, BROWN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: The latest -- what we just released is that we believe they're in the Southern California area -- in the L.A. area.
KING: And the warrant says they've committed or are accused of being committed of what crime?
HOFFMAN: Well, the mother was charged with contempt of court. We have an apprehension detention order for Daniel Hauser.
KING: And Dan Zwakman, you are the spokesperson for the family, meaning?
DAN ZWAKMAN, HAUSER FAMILY SPOKESMAN: Yes, I am. Since the beginning of the hearings and the trials, they've just needed somebody, being the type of being they are, being very quiet, they needed somebody to speak on their behalf. I just stood up and took that position.
KING: And do you agree with what they're doing?
ZWAKMAN: I agreed with their freedom of choice to decide what they were going do, but in no way -- absolutely no way do I agree with them taking off like this. Absolutely not.
KING: Sheriff, there are reports Colleen and Daniel may be traveling with a man named Billy Joe Best, who, in 1994, at age 16, he ran away from his Massachusetts home to avoid chemotherapy.
Are those reports true?
HOFFMAN: I cannot comment on that. I just know that Daniel and Colleen -- we are -- it is confirmed that those two are traveling together.
KING: So you won't confirm or deny about the other gentleman?
HOFFMAN: That's correct.
CNN's Boston affiliate interviewed Billy Joe Best's parents this evening. And this is what they said about their son when asked about the news today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY WHDH)
SUE BEST, SON FLED CHEMO IN 1994:
We support him in trying to help anyone dealing with cancer. I would hope that he wouldn't partake in running away, because it's just going to cause trouble. I'm sure she was very scared. She was afraid the judge was going to order chemotherapy to be forced on her child. And I can relate to that feeling. And I might have run myself back then, if that happened to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Philip, you're the court-appointed attorney.
You represent the child, right?
PHILIP ELBERT, DANIEL HAUSER'S ATTORNEY: That is correct.
KING: All right.
And your concept is that he should come back?
ELBERT: Well, what I want to let Daniel know is that the court does need his input. The case isn't done. The judge has not issued his final order. The judge wants to hear from Daniel, so we need him here to give his position to the judge.
KING: Are you impressed by the fact that if Billy Joe Best did this in -- at age 16 in 1994, therefore, he didn't get the treatment and he's alive?
ELBERT: Well, that's one of the issues that we argued at the trial in this case, is that chemotherapy and radiation is not the only choice.
Dr. Gupta, what is this disease?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is called Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is a type of cancer -- a cancer of the lymph glands. We have lymph nodes all throughout our body. And sometimes cells within those lymph nodes can become malignant -- they can become cancerous.
And this is -- this is a particular type of lymphoma. There's all sorts of different types. But this is one that is fairly treatable. It's -- this has been one of the ones that has been treatable for some time either through radiation or through chemotherapy. But the data -- Larry, you talk about cancer a lot -- but the data on this particular cancer very good in terms of how it responds to therapy.
KING: All right. Now, many adults, Sanjay, in cases of cancer, choose alternative therapies. They're over 21. They go to Germany. They go to Mexico. And they have every right to do that.
The case here, is what, that being a child the adult can't make the decision for him?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean children -- children are different in this particular situation. You know, with an adult, they absolutely have the right to refuse treatment. The concern here is that he's a minor.
Is the appropriate course of action being taken for him?
That's really the question. But, also, I think it's worth pointing out there's a difference, for example -- because we were talking about Miss. Fawcett a couple of days ago on your show.
Integrated therapies, where you integrate other types of therapies into traditional therapy is different than alternative therapy, where you basically say I'm not doing to do any traditional therapies and I'm simply going to do things that haven't been tested, haven't been proven.
So there's a little bit of a difference there, too.
KING: All right, Dan Zwakman, obviously, as we said, as Philip said, the court wants to hear from the boy.
What do they do?
If the court orders him he must get the treatment, what do they do, strap him down?
How do they do that?
ZWAKMAN: Well, Larry, this was a big issue that came up in the court. And the California attorney that came up to present her case had a very similar case in this in California, where a juvenile decided emphatically that that juvenile would not take chemo, just in the -- just like this case.
In that case, the case was actually dismissed because they realized that if somebody, regardless of the age, refuses to take the chemo, in some faces (ph), it can be considered assault and in other cases -- well, put yourself in this case.
If you were -- if you were a doctor and somebody came to you and says I absolutely do not want this treatment, you are doing this against my will, you'd better do it right and I intend to bite you in the meantime.
As a doctor, would you accept that person as a patient? In California, it was -- the case was dropped because of the liability in it...
ZWAKMAN: ...and just the fact that you may not find a doctor willing to do that.
KING: Should a patient -- underage -- be able to decide his or her own fate when it comes to illness?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY KARE)
ANTHONY HAUSER, DANIEL HAUSER'S FATHER: I'd like to tell him to, you know, come back and be safe and be a family again, I guess. That's what I'd like to tell him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Sheriff Hoffman, we know you have to serve the warrant.
Do you agree with it?
HOFFMAN: We're ordered by -- you know, to act on the court order. I guess I can't let my opinion fall into it. We have a job to do and that's to obey the court orders.
KING: Philip, would you say that if he came back, there is a good chance the court might allow the parent to make this decision?
ELBERT: That's certainly an option. And we won't know that until we have more testimony, which is what we wanted to do on Tuesday.
KING: Dr. Gupta, if there's no treatment, what happens?
GUPTA: Well, you mean if there's no treatment available or there's...
GUPTA: ...or if he doesn't get treatment?
KING: If he doesn't get treatment.
GUPTA: Yes. So that's the -- that's the sort of sad part about this. With Hodgkin's lymphoma, if he's treated, he could go from having this potentially fatal disease to probably being cured. Now, for people under the age of 20, the cure rates -- the survival rates are extremely high.
So -- and, but if he doesn't get it, what will happen is this particular cancer will likely continue to grow. There are lymph -- he already has, I guess, an area of a swollen lymph gland. He has a mass in his chest. Those will continue to grow. He will develop fevers. He will develop night sweats.
But eventually, as these tumors grow, they may push on important organs in his body and it would likely lead to his death.
KING: Dan, are you part of the Nemenhah group -- the religious group that believes in natural healing?
ZWAKMAN: Yes, I am.
KING: OK. Is that -- would a Christian Scientist be placed in this same position?
ZWAKMAN: No, I don't believe they would. It's my understanding of Christian Science that -- and correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe their theory is or their idea is that they use no outside medicine at all...
ZWAKMAN: ...and no intervention at all. And we are absolutely not that way.
KING: So what do you favor?
ZWAKMAN: What we favor is -- what we believe is that -- we believe in the Creator and that he created the Earth. We believe in a Redemptor. And we believe in a Holy Spirit.
What we believe is the Creator created the Earth. He put plants on it. These plants nourish us. We live off it. We live off the growing things. And, I mean, for thousands of years, we used -- as medicines -- things out of the Earth.
KING: I've got it.
ZWAKMAN: And we -- and we look to that to be the first course.
KING: I got you.
ZWAKMAN: I should say that, you know, we look for that to be the primary way of healing.
KING: Philip, do you know the boy?
ELBERT: Yes, I do.
Is he intelligent?
ELBERT: He is very intelligent. He was able to convey his wishes to me every time we met.
KING: All right.
Do you think, then, he would convey them well to the court?
ELBERT: Yes, he would.
KING: Then why doesn't she come back?
ELBERT: I can only speculate. I don't know the answer to that.
KING: What's your guess?
ELBERT: My guess is it's because of fear. And what I would say to that is we don't know what the final result is. So we need everybody here. We need to conclude this case.
KING: Sheriff, are you confident you're going to find them?
HOFFMAN: I am confident we will find them. I'm hoping, for Daniel's sake, we find them.
KING: What if they go to Mexico?
HOFFMAN: Well, we're working with other agencies that, you know, are assisting us -- the FBI, ICE, as well as B.C. in Minnesota. You know, there's law enforcement throughout the nation helping us.
KING: All right, Sanjay, if the boy made a good presentation, what would you do, Sanjay?
KING: What would your advice be?
GUPTA: My advice would be to treat him, without question. This is a -- you know, look, there's a lot of type of cancers and lots of diseases out there that simply don't have good treatments. And I think in those situations -- you know, embracing things that haven't been proven to work is much more palatable.
In this situation, he has treatment and it's toxic treatment. So it's not easy, by any means. And I think that's an -- it's an important point. He'll likely develop mouth sores. He'll have nausea and vomiting. It is not pleasant, by any means.
But he has a very, very good chance of surviving, being cured and never having to deal with this again.
As a doctor, as a fellow citizen, I would say he should get treated.
KING: What happens if and when Colleen and Daniel are found?
What do you think?
We want your opinion on this interesting case. Let's hear your thoughts on our blog at CNN.com/larryking. Back in 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY KARE)
COLLEEN HAUSER, MOTHER OF DANIEL HAUSER: We're a simple, honest family. We're not out to harm anybody. We never -- this is just our way of life. And why people want to infringe on it, I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Here's a statement from Dr. Bruce Bostrom of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota: "We always work hard to include families' traditions and wishes in our treatment plans. If he returns here, we're hopeful we can find a combination of traditional and non- traditional approaches to cure Daniel's cancer, while also mitigating some of the side effects of that treatment. We still believe that Daniel's disease is curable. But we know it is getting worse, so the sooner he begins treatment the better. We know that we share the same goal as his parents -- we all want Daniel to get better."
Dan Zwakman, what do you think is going to happen?
ZWAKMAN: Well, I agree. We all want him -- we all want him to get better. There's no doubt about that. It should be the first priority here.
There's a little bit of conflict in what the doctor stated there and that was that they wanted what the family wanted. In this particular case, we have a young man, who, for his own reasons, one of those being his aunt who has died from -- who had cancer and actually diagnosed as dying from the treatment.
He knows there's other side effects.
ZWAKMAN: He realizes that giving the chemo does sometimes have the effect of actually creating another cancer...
ZWAKMAN: ...and burning out a thyroid and some of the...
KING: I understand.
ZWAKMAN: ...and some of the other things that Dr. Gupta mentioned there.
KING: Philip Elbert, what do you think is going to happen?
ELBERT: Well, that's a difficult question to answer. What I hope -- the ultimate hope of everybody is that Dan -- Daniel gets well. That's what we all hope is going to happen. How we get there right now is an unanswered question. KING: What's the -- Sanjay, we have about a minute.
What's the timing here, based on what you know of this?
GUPTA: It's a little bit hard...
KING: How soon does he have to get the treatment?
GUPTA: Well, it's -- I don't think there's an exact date. I think what -- what's concerning a little bit is that he seems to have some of these lymph nodes that have been growing in size. I've just been reading some of the same reports that everyone else has.
And that means that the cancer is probably growing, A; B, not responding to any of the nontraditional alternative therapies that he may be receiving.
So, you know, as the doctor said from the hospital, the sooner the better. But I think, you know, in the next week or two, for sure.
KING: We'll be following this closely.
Thanks to you all. Michael Vick is out of prison.
Can he ever go back to pro-football?
His attorney, Billy Martin, is here.
It's exclusive, next.
KING: Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick released from prison today, serving time for bankrolling a dog fighting operation. This high profile case has had sports fans, dog lovers, sounding off for almost two years now.
What's next for Mr. Vick?
His attorney, Billy Martin, joins us exclusively tonight from Washington.
And we welcome Wayne Pacelle. Mr. Pacelle is president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. And he's in Los Angeles.
He visited with Michael Vick in prison, by the way.
All right. Billy, did he get home all right?
He was driving, right?
BILLY MARTIN, MICHAEL VICK'S ATTORNEY: He's actually still driving. You can imagine, after 19 months of confinement in the federal pen, he wanted some private time with his fiance. So he and Kijafa Frink are driving. KING: And they're in -- they're heading for Virginia, right?
MARTIN: They're driving from Kansas to Virginia, yes.
KING: Now, when that time when the confinement ends -- he's confined to the house, except on particular occasions he can leave -- what do you expect the NFL to do?
MARTIN: You know, we -- he has a very good agent, Joel Siegel.
KING: He sure does.
MARTIN: And all of those decisions are made by Michael and Joel.
As his lawyer, I've handled, with Larry Woodward, the criminal case. I am not involved in the football.
KING: All right. As a -- as just a citizen, do you think the NFL should take him back?
MARTIN: As a citizen, I think everybody deserves a second chance. This was a crime for which he's paid a horrendous cost -- more than $100 million lost for Michael Vick, 19 months in jail, disgrace and shame to his family. He's paid a very dear price.
MARTIN: And I think he deserves a second chance -- a second chance at employment.
KING: Wayne, you visited him behind bars -- probably not something you envisioned you'd be doing.
What's your position on all this?
WAYNE PACELLE, PRESIDENT & CEO, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we don't have a position on whether he should be reinstated in the NFL. I'll tell you, Larry, I didn't think I'd be sitting opposite Michael Vick a couple of years ago. And Billy Martin will tell you this, we were, obviously, totally at odds with him and with Michael Vick.
We thought what Michael Vick did was absolutely vile and repugnant. And he served time -- and justly so. Terrible things were done to dogs for recreation and amusement and gambling. And it's sickening.
And Billy came to me and said Michael wants to do something to fight dog fighting. And I will tell you, I was very skeptical. But Billy made a case. And I said, you know, I will see him and talk to him, but I need to look him in the eye and...
KING: And what...
PACELLE: ...and really see...
KING: And what did you believe now?
PACELLE: You know, I really -- I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I can't judge whether he is a changed person.
But what I can say is he told me he wanted to fight dog fighting. That is the explicit goal of the Humane Society of the United States. We want to eradicate -- discourage from our country -- and it's particularly bad in urban communities, where young African-American boys and men are involved in this.
KING: Yes. If...
PACELLE: And we think Michael Vick might be able to -- to help.
KING: At the same time, if Mr. Goodell, the commissioner, asked your opinion, what's the opinion of the Humane Society of the United States if we were to give Michael Vick permission to negotiate with teams?
What would you say...
PACELLE: I'd say it's...
KING: As an opinion?
PACELLE: You know, I would say it's premature at this point. Michael needs to demonstrate that he's going to put boots on the ground and really fulfill his pledge to fight organized animal fighting.
KING: Now, whether he will or should get a second shot, of course, is widely discussed all over the country today. He's a great player.
He was the topic today on our pal's, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption."
Watch what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "PARDON THE INTERRUPTION," COURTESY ESPN)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's going to take him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plenty of teams.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plenty. Plenty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think every coach in the league wants him, but I don't think that that many owners want him. The owner has got to put his arm around him on a platform and say...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...you know, please forgive us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, Tony...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Herman Edwards was on TV today...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...and he said a small market team would take him. Small market cities...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...don't have people who love dogs. Really?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, Billy, how do you -- how do you react to what Tony said?
MARTIN: I think that Tony -- Tony has a very deep knowledge of sports. But I think, Larry, that there are people who think that he's been punished too severely -- some not enough. But I think most fair- minded people would agree that he has earned the right to pursue his livelihood. All he's done is play sports and play professional football.
Michael Vick is one of the best athletes to play the game. He deserves a second chance at his livelihood.
KING: Yes, by...
MARTIN: He's paid a dear price.
KING: I thought, Billy, that when you pay your price to society, you -- you're entitled to come back.
MARTIN: Normally you are under our system of justice. Under the rule of law, you are. But this case has hit a lot of -- it strikes a lot of people in a different way, Larry, which is why we'd like to get away from that and really have Michael Vick treated like every other person who commits a crime, who serves their time and is ready for a second opportunity.
Up until the dog fighting, Michael Vick was somebody who -- he was a role model. He was somebody who was great at what he did.
He made a mistake. His poor judgment led him to lose everything and disgrace himself and his family. He's ready for a second chance. He deserves that chance. And I think that Michael will show that his words will support, that he is, indeed, deserving of that second chance.
And, by the way, PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wants the NFL to require that Michael undergo a full psychological evaluation before letting him thought of to come back.
MARTIN: Larry, that's...
KING: We'll be right back...
MARTIN: That's bizarre.
KING: We'll be right back with more.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, COMMISSIONER, NFL:
I said before that I will review the matter once he's concluded all of his legal issues. And at that point in time, I will want to meet with Michael. I will want to meet with his people. I'll want to meet with other professionals to understand is he -- does he understand the mistakes he made and is he genuine and have remorse for those actions and is he prepared to handle himself differently going forward?
That will ultimately be my decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Richel -- Rachel Ray, the television host -- a proud owner, by the way, of a pit bull -- has spoken out about abuse suffered by animals victimized by the Vick operation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "RACHEL RAY SHOW," FEBRUARY 28, 2008)
RACHEL RAY, HOST: There are no bad animals any more than there are bad people. And it breaks my heart the way that these animals were tortured.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
RAY: It just breaks my heart. And that so many people not only give them a bad rap, but to think any of God's creatures could be born innately evil -- I mean to abuse any animal, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What do you make, Wayne, of PETA's suggestion about a psychological evaluation?
PACELLE: Well, I think we've talked about this a little. I've talked with Billy and some of the other folks. I think it would be good for Michael to get some psychological counseling. Now I'm not really clear on the psychological evaluation. My own view is that Michael needs to do stuff on the ground that affects the lives of young kids in urban communities who are drawn to this world of dog fighting. If he can steer kids away from that, then he will begin to start this process of healing, and he will help contribute to the move to eradicate dog fighting in America.
You know, Larry, it's more widespread than people have any idea. Michael Vick's case brought that to light.
KING: Billy, the commissioner has forgiven others, some with criminal charges as well. What do you expect him to do?
MARTIN: Really, Larry, I would be really speculating. Joe Siegel has really had numerous calls to the commissioner. The commissioner knows what he wants to do within the league. I would hope that the commissioner will look -- that might look to see whether Michael was, indeed, a changed person after serving 19 months.
I think he will see that he is a changed person. I think the commissioner will see that Michael Vick is very wanting of a chance to prove himself. That is why he reached out to the Humane Society and Mr. Pacelle. He wants the Humane Society to use him to show other young people the evils of dog fighting. There's no better example.
He wants to be able to say to them, look what happened to me. Look at everything I lost. Look at my family and how I hurt them. Don't you do it. I think it's a great opportunity.
KING: When we discussed Peter's suggestion and we went to break, I think I heard you say absurd. Why?
MARTIN: I don't think there are -- we've spoken to psychologists and psychiatrists. I don't think there's a test they're prescribing that is appropriate. Clearly, we've had Michael speak with psychologists early on. So if Michael was in need of further counseling, his probation officer, his lawyers, and a judge can make those determinations.
I think it's inappropriate for PETA to step in with that recommendation. What we need is for Michael to be given an opportunity in life to show he's changed. That psychological test that they're asking is not supported by a wide range of professionals.
KING: Wayne, quickly, if this case got such attention, wouldn't you think dog fighting would be reduced severely?
PACELLE: Larry, we had a record number of busts last year. Dog fights arrests, as well as cock fighting arrests have gone up dramatically.
PACELLE: I think the heightened awareness because of the Vick case. I think our main argument is also being advanced; not only is it cruel, but it's often associated with other criminal activity. A lot of folks involved in dog fighting are involved in narcotics traffic, violence against people.
I think the law enforcement sees it as a curse and a plague in communities. That's why I'm really excited to work with folks, you know, including Michael, in addressing this issue in urban communities where we're seeing it as an epidemic.
It happens everywhere. It's a rural phenomenon. It's an urban phenomenon. But where we're seeing the growth is in urban communities, where people have Pit Bulls for the wrong reason.
KING: Thank you Billy Martin and Wayne Pacelle. Of course, we'll follow this closely. Great news about Natalie Cole. We've got an update about her health. And the lovely Vanessa Williams is right mere, next.
KING: Before we meet Vanessa, get this; on March 31st, Natalie Cole was on this program to tell us about her need for a new kidney. Good news today, Natalie got her kid any. She had transplant surgery Tuesday at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles. She's resting comfortably. The kidney came from a deceased organ donor.
Natalie was on the kidney dialysis since September and had this to say on our show recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: If you don't get a new -- you need one, right?
NATALIE COLE, SINGER: Right.
KING: If you don't get a new kidney, what happens?
COLE: I'll be fine. I'll be fine.
KING: You will be fine?
COLE: I will be fine. Dialysis, which is what I'm on -- I go three days a week. Anyone that knows about kidney function or dialysis or anyone that's in someone's family, perhaps, you know that it's about a three day a week treatment for there and a half hours.
KING: But if you don't get a new kidney, you've got to be on dialysis forever?
COLE: Then you have to do the dialysis for the rest of your life, which is pretty challenging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: During that appearance, we received hundreds of offers from you, willing to donate a kidney, an impressive reaction we'll never forget it. Natalie's doctors advised her to postpone her summer tour as she recuperates for the next three to four months. I'm thrilled for Natalie. Wish her a speedy recovery. I hope this new kidney gives her a whole new life.
You know Natalie, Vanessa?
VANESSA WILLIAMS, ACTRESS: Yes, I do. Actually, my first husband's manager did her PR back in the '80s. That's when I first met her.
KING: Great girl.
WILLIAMS: And wonderful singer.
KING: OK. Vanessa, of course, plays the powerful hungry fashionista Wilhemina Slater (ph) on ABC's "Ugly Betty." And her 13th album, "The Real Thing," I have it right here in my hands. You see its cover -- will be released next month. It's been -- "Ugly Betty" renewed for a fourth season.
WILLIAMS: Thank god. They changed our night though. We're now going to be Friday nights at 9:00 starting September. But we have our season finale tomorrow night.
KING: Are you surprised at its success?
WILLIAMS: When we first did the pilot, it was so out of the box that we didn't know whether we'd find an audience. When we were picked up, it was fantastic. When we were originally slated for Friday nights, it was great. Then we moved to Thursday's night before "Gray's Anatomy." We knew we've got a hit here. Then we won the Golden Globe our first season out we knew that we had some --
KING: Did you like it as soon as you got the script?
WILLIAMS: You know, it was fantastic. One of the first scenes I filmed was Wilhemina getting botox by her assistant in her lounge chair in her office. I said, this is a ballsy character.
KING: The "Ugly Betty" season finale is on tomorrow night. Here's a sneak peek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clairmede (ph), leave me alone you pill- popping hag. I'm sorry. That was completely inappropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is she wicked or misunderstood?
WILLIAMS: She -- I think people understand her. She is a woman who is very guarded because she's been hurt a lot. She had to fight for everything that she has attained in her lifetime. After the past three seasons, we've been able to see Wilhemina scratch and fight and maintain her power level because of who she is.
KING: The key theme of "Ugly Betty," I think this is true, is that inner beauty matters. Does that message, you think, get across?
WILLIAMS: Certainly with Betty's character.
KING: It's funny.
WILLIAMS: It's funny. It's irreverent. I get a chance to act like a brat and get away with lots of things that normally I would not. But America Ferrera does a fantastic job as Betty. There's always a moral component to the story. I think we do a great job of bridging this fantasy world in the magazine and this familial side of the Suarez family.
KING: Does all this attention, success take away from your musical career?
WILLIAMS: Well, it doesn't take away from it. It just gets a little more difficult to do my gigs.
KING: You can't do a concert tour?
WILLIAMS: I just did Atlantic City two weeks ago, but I just stopped filming. I can do those, the one-offs, the Foxwoods, the Vegas gigs.
KING: Which you love.
WILLIAMS: Then getting into the studio, that was the issue. It took me a couple years. I signed with Concord Records. Then once we figured out what the song choices were going to be and get the producers on board, we started filming -- recording out in L.A. Then they moved us to New York for this last season.
So I did some in L.A.. I did some in Nashville, Tennessee, when I was shooting the Hannah Montana film. I finished it up in New York.
KING: By the way, if you've never seen Vanessa work as a singer, she entertained for the Larry King Cardiac Foundation in Washington a while back. She is sensational.
WILLIAMS: You like the old stuff. I love good standard. On this album, I have an old song called "Come on Strong," which was kind of my homage to Wilhemina Slater. She's demanding. You tell me what you need and you come and get me.
KING: If only you were pretty. More with Vanessa on television, music, family, and the business of reality. See you in 60 seconds.
KING: Welcome back. We're talking to Vanessa Williams who stars in "Ugly Betty." The series season finale is Thursday on ABC. By the way, I was pleased to play a part in the show last year. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's take some calls. Burlington, Vermont, you're on the air with Daniel Meede (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I want to know, why don't you give Wilhemina Slater some credit? Isn't that a little sexist?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, not at all. I'm just here trying to set the record straight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the photo where you were shoving her?
KING: Wait a minute, do we have that photo in the system. Wait a minute, Daniel. Whoa, you are really shoving her there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have problems with successful women or just women who don't want to sleep with you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what this is. It's Wilhemina's assistant putting on a female voice. I'm sorry.
KING: It sounds like a girl.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Larry.
KING: You're welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't it also true Wilhemina put in 20 years of hard work while you got your job through nepotism?
KING: Fair question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it wasn't nepotism. My father gave me the job. That's not was I meant to say. I deserved it. This call is a fake. It's Mark from my office. Wilhemina is a back stabbing, conniving, vicious --
KING: My producer says this call is coming from Vermont.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful foliage out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He's terrific.
WILLIAMS: He is.
KING: That was a good scene.
WILLIAMS: It was funny.
KING: It's time for your remarkable question of the night. This one's via i-report. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Larry, my name is Cal Lieberman. I'm 22 years old from Illinois. My question to you is this: when you were 22 years old, what was your dream job? Did you imagine doing what you're doing now? What advance do you have from an aspiring journalist trying to break into today's market in today's economy?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Good questions. My dream job is what happened. I dreamed of being on the radio. I got a lot more than that. I never dreamed there would be satellites or television all over the world. This is all a pitch dream come true. I try to describe it.
The advice I give, never give up. If you want it -- Vanessa will back this up. If you've got talent, you've got talent. Then what separates the wheat from the chaff, do you want it? My one book and one tape are out right now. "My Remarkable Journey," on tape. You're going to love this, Vanessa. A lot of fun, fun read. Half the proceeds go to my cardiac foundation.
Again, we'll be on "The View" tomorrow morning and tomorrow night on Jon Stewart.
Have you got a remarkable question for me? Go to CNN.com/LarryKing, send it my way. We'll be doing this for the next few weeks. If I read your question on the air, you'll get an autographed copy of the new book, "My Remarkable Journey." And you'll have our chance at our big prize, a trip to meet me in Los Angeles. See the show live.
More with Vanessa after this.
KING: Back with Vanessa Williams, who plays Wilhemina Slater on "Ugly Betty." "Ugly Betty" going into its fourth season next month.
One thing I want to cover, you resigned your Miss America title after "Penthouse" published those racy photos. I lot of people may not remember this.
WILLIAMS: Twenty six years ago, 26 years ago.
KING: You're kidding?
WILLIAMS: I'm not kidding.
KING: Twenty six years.
KING: But the official Miss America website stresses you performed all your duties in exemplary fashion before you gave up the crown. The recent fuss over the semi nude photos of Miss California, Carrie Prejean, what do you make of it? Does it stir up painful memories? WILLIAMS: Not at all, just because it's a whole different system. I know USA and Trump and Miss America is a completely different system. Again, I won 26 years ago. It's been 25 years. So it didn't really stir up anything for me.
And, again, I had, you know, had ten -- ten months. I had only six weeks to go, with a two-week vacation at the tail end. So I had done my duty. Yes, I had done my duty. I served my role and, you know, it wasn't something that I was embarking on and cut short.
KING: Was the question fair?
WILLIAMS: I -- see, I didn't watch it live. I have seen clips of it and stuff. Obviously that's her opinion and she has a right to her opinion. Again, when we did it, we had a seven-minute interview, which was not televised. And back in the day, we're talking 1983, we were asked everything from your position on particular political ideas, but also what do you think about the future of electronic music versus acoustic instruments. It was a lot more thought provoking than one shot, one answer, here you go.
KING: Miss America is known for that, right?
WILLIAMS: Yes. Yes. It's all scholarship money, too.
KING: Did that crown help or hurt you?
WILLIAMS: For me?
WILLIAMS: Oh. To be considered a serious artist I think being a miss anything is always going to be a setback, because you have to prove and be beyond what people expect in order to be considered equal. But my mother says that being a black kid growing up in an all-white society. She said you're going to have to do better than everybody else just to be considered equal to the rest of these kids. So I've had that same kind of credo from, you know, third grade on.
KING: You have always then had to swim upstream?
WILLIAMS: I think so. I think so. That's being black in America. Being a minority, being a woman.
KING: Of everything you do, choreograph, write, dance, act, what do you like best?
WILLIAMS: My favorite is Broadway, because I get a chance to do it every night, sing, dance, act, play a role, work with a fantastic ensemble, and make it new and fresh and different each night. And also I live in New York. I drive down the Westside Highway. I'm there. I'm finished. I have a little dinner afterwards. I'm home.
KING: You're telling me you really like the new version of "Westside Story." WILLIAMS: I have seen it twice. It's one of my favorite shows, but I love Bernstein. I love the music. It is the one thing that takes my breath away. Seeing Joe Robbins, his choreography is just magical.
KING: You watch it then differently than I watch it, right?
WILLIAMS: I watch it, you know -- because I never got a chance to play any of that. That was one of the roles I would have loved to sink my teeth into.
KING: Are you saying you're too old now?
WILLIAMS: I'm too old. I'm 46.
KING: You always admit your age, right?
WILLIAMS: Yes. Well, it's documented. Who are we fooling?
KING: Always admit their age. You look young.
WILLIAMS: Well, thank you.
KING: I want to remind you, we have got a big "American Idol" show for you Friday night, the winner, the runner up, Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul, everybody from the top ten, all on LARRY KING LIVE, Go to CNN.com/LarryKing right now to send them questions. While you're there, check out Danny's commentary about the performances last night. See it all only at CNN.com/LarryKing.
Vanessa's got a new album. See her new video and hear what Vanessa thinks about working with Hannah Montana next.
KING: That's Vanessa Williams. The new CD out any day, right?
WILLIAMS: June 2nd, yes.
KING: Close to you.
WILLIAMS: It's "The Real Thing."
KING: "The Real Thing." What was it like working with Hannah Montana?
WILLIAMS: Miley is fantastic. I mean, she is one of those super star kids that has a great family. So I --
KING: Father's terrific.
WILLIAMS: Father's great, Tish is great, mom, grandma's always on set.
KING: Is she a true talent?
WILLIAMS: She is a true talent, and she's surrounded by a family that's grounded and makes her behave like a kid. She has to be responsible.
KING: So this is not a hit of month?
WILLIAMS: No. She's got a tremendous voice. She's got a really funny personality and a talent as an actress. I think we'll see her for a long time.
KING: She's going to be around?
WILLIAMS: Will be around, for sure.
KING: What about Mr. Obama, is he going to be around? What do you make of him?
WILLIAMS: I was at the inauguration. I was talking to Roland backstage about how freezing that day was out on the lawn. But, you know, I think he is doing an extraordinary job. It is a tough one. It is a tough one, but he's an amazing person and I think, you know, he's got a tough road ahead.
KING: Were you involved in the campaign?
WILLIAMS: Not really. I met him when I was campaigning for Special Olympics. I have been on the board for almost ten years now. And we do our Capital Hill day and met him as a senator when he just announced. So very excited. I could tell right there the charisma and the intelligence, and just the star appeal that he has as a speaker, but as a personality.
KING: You know Michelle?
WILLIAMS: I have never met her. I'm a big fan of hers.
WILLIAMS: I can't wait. I can't wait.
KING: What happens after "Ugly Betty?" Nothing is forever.
WILLIAMS: What happens? I would love to go back to Broadway. There's been a lot of interest. The last thing I did was "Into the Woods" which was in 2002.
KING: Sonheim (ph), right?
WILLIAMS: Sonheim and Lapein (ph) both recreated and did this production. So that was a joy to work with both of them. So I'd love to do -- go back to Broadway and do something.
KING: Because you like to sing and dance and do it all and act and get audience reaction, right?
WILLIAMS: Exactly. There's nothing like doing it live and making it different every night.
KING: Is every night different?
WILLIAMS: Every night is different. And when you work with an ensemble, you never know what's going to happen. And it is live theater, so something could happen.
KING: And then that night when they see you will never be repeated again in their lives.
WILLIAMS: Exactly. Exactly.
KING: You're a delight, Vanessa.
WILLIAMS: Thank you so much.
KING: Just enjoy having you around.
WILLIAMS: Well, thank you.
KING: Try to do some -- get prettier. She's a great talent. "The Real Thing" is the CD. And "Ugly Betty" is back.
Hey, want the chance to win a trip to Los Angeles, meet me, watch the show live? Enter our contest, CNN.com/LarryKing. Send me a question about my life that you would like me to answer. If it's read on the air, you win an autographed copy of my book, "A Remarkable Life," and a chance for the trip. All the details CNN.com/LarryKing. Check it out. Good luck.
Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?