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CNN People in the News

Profiles of Mike Myers and Julia Roberts

Aired August 03, 2002 - 11:00   ET



MIKE MYERS: Yeah, baby, yeah.


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, from international mystery man to evil genius. He's built a comedy empire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike Myers is a bankable star in any Austin Powers film he wants to make.


ANNOUNCER: A stand out from any early age, he grew up with characters he brought to life. He would became a shagadelic star, spoofing the spy movies he watched with his dad.


MYERS: I think he would love it.


ANNOUNCER: But his father would never see his son's success.


MYERS: My career is doing very, very well and his health was deteriorating.


ANNOUNCER: And she's the sort of success story they make movies about.


JULIA ROBERTS: I am just a girl from Smyrna, Georgia.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: America's been fascinated with all of her romances.


ROBERTS: Let's not kid ourselves, like I'm above gossip and fodder.


ANNOUNCER: But has this runaway bride finally settled down?

This wedding itself came as a surprise.

ANNOUNCER: America's sweetheart, Julia Roberts. Their stories and more, now, on people in the news.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.

Mike Myers' latest Austin Powers film "Goldmember" is breaking box office records and turning the comic actor into a franchise unto himself. But don't let Myers' over-the-top antics and low-brow humor fool you. He's serious about his silliness. Behind the laughter there is a lot of determination, passion and pain. Here's Kyra Phillips.


MYERS: Yeah, baby, yeah. That's just groovy, baby.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name, Myers, Mike Myers.

MYERS: I am a performer who writes, I love to perform. I'm made of 30 percent water and 70 percent ham.


MYERS: It's about swinging, baby. Isn't this magical?


PHILLIPS: His profession? Comic assassin.


MYERS: Let's go.


PHILLIPS: Killing audiences with his characters.

VERNE TROYER, ACTOR: You don't know exactly what to expect, so you just kind of roll along and to keep up with what he's doing.

PHILLIPS: And slaying them with his catch phrases. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS: Yeah baby, yeah. Oh, behave.

They're going to love me, I know it.


PHILLIPS: His fee?


MYERS: $1 million.


PHILLIPS: Actually $25 million for the latest installment of Austin Powers, plus 21 percent of the gross.

LEAH ROZEN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Mike Myers is a bankable star in any Austin Powers film he wants to make. He's a bankable star in the "Shrek" sequel. Beyond that, I think there are questions.

PHILLIPS: But there's more to this international man of mystery that meets the eye.

JOYCE SLOANE, SECOND CITY PRODUCER EMERITUS: He really is a quiet guy. So, isn't that surprising?

PHILLIPS: He's also a perfectionist. His characters have come straight out of his life.


MYERS: No, way.


PHILLIPS: And who found his greatest success with a character he created in tribute to his father.

MYERS: I was forced to watch Monty Python. I loved it at the time. And I, extremely, very much appreciate it now.

PHILLIPS: Mike Myers was born there 1963 and he grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, a land of donut shops and strip malls that provided the inspiration for "Wayne's World."

MYERS: And later on, monkeys might fly out of my butt.

PHILLIPS: The youngest of three boys, Myers's father Eric was an encyclopedia salesman, his mother Bunny, a former actress.

MYERS: My parents were born in Liverpool, England and I grew up thinking that I was related to the Beatles, because all of my aunts and uncles talked like, Hullo, how are you? Great? So, wonderful. Love it...

My parents were huge comedy fans, especially S&L and SCTV and Python.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to have an argument, please.


MYERS: And Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.


PETER SELLERS, ACTOR: I am Inspector Clouseau.


MYERS: People who are funny were sort of like gods in my house.

PHILLIPS: So, Myers was a child actor, appearing in commercials and on Canadian television, including "Range Rider" and the "Calgary Kid," a children's show that obviously had a limited budget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reg, I know a way out. The forbidden canyon.

OK, kid, lead the way.


PHILLIPS: He attended several high schools eventually transferring to Stephen Leacock (ph) for it's television production class. While there, Myers appeared in high school television productions.

It was a high school experience Myers would later adapt for "Wayne's World."

MYERS: We we're not worthy.

It is something I have been doing since I was 12 years old. It was suburban adolescent, North American heavy metal experiences I knew as growing up in the suburbs of Toronto in the mid `70s.

PHILLIPS: On the day he graduated in 1982, 19-year-old Mike Myers auditioned with Toronto's Second City. The comic troupe has produced a virtual who's who of comedic actors from Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi to John Candy, Martin Short and Bill Murray.

MYERS: I was going to go to a university called York University, it has a great film program, but on my last day of high school, my last exam was at 9 o'clock, the audition for Second City was at 12; and I was hired at 3. Myers performed with Second City's Toronto touring company for a year and a half, moved to London for another year and a half, where he teamed with a comic Neil Mullarky. Then joined Second City's Chicago company.

SLOANE: The audience took to him immediately. In other words there were five other actors on stage with him, but Michael was the only one you'd notice. He totally took focus. Not wanting to steal focus, but you couldn't take your eyes off of him. He was that good.

PHILLIPS: Chicago had another attraction, Myers's future wife Robin, whom he had met following a hockey game.

SLOANE: He wanted to work in Chicago. Why do you want to work in Chicago? You're doing so well in Toronto?

He said because I'm desperately in love. And I would pass him every now and then, at the theater, and say are you still desperately in love? And he'd say, oh, yes. And he was, and he still is.

PHILLIPS: Myers work with Second City got him a role in a television pilot, "110 Lombard Street".


MYERS: Be careful.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: What do you want, Mike?

MYERS: Your car.


MYERS: Ah, come on.



PHILLIPS: Though the show was not picked up, Myers would soon get a bigger break, the boy from the suburbs of Toronto got a job interview with "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels.

MYERS: I was terrified. I really had only been to New York, like I drove through it once. And it was weird talking to Lorne Michaels and seeing the Empire State Building behind his head, because you only see it in the movies and stuff. And I just, I had to interrupt at one point and say, I'm sorry is that the Empire State Building? And he was sort of like, Well, yeah. You know?

LARRY SUTTON, ASSOC. EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Mike Myers's wrote a term paper, when he was in school, wrote about the Canadian he admired most. And that Canadian was Lorne Michaels. I don't know if this was a little bit of sucking up to your future boss, but at the time he had no idea.

PHILLIPS: Myers was hired and in 1989, just seven years out of high school, he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" as a feature performer.

MYERS: I had wanted to be on the show since I was 11, so it's kind of a dream come true.

PHILLIPS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Mike Myers becomes a movie star, but loses the man who would have enjoyed it most of all.

MYER:S He never saw "Saturday Night Live" or "Wayne's World", or my wife, or our two little dogs now. You know, all the things that make you really happy.




ANNOUNCER: And later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Julia Roberts, a new movie.


ROBERS: Pretty extraordinary.


ANNOUNCER: And a new man.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The eternal question, is this it? Will it last?


ANNOUNCER: Behind the headlines of Julia's surprise wedding, still ahead on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.




MEYERS: Working on "Saturday Night Live" is like a combination of fast-food and fantastic voyage. You work all the time. There's no windows in that studio.

PHILLIPS: Mike Myers's work on "Saturday Night Live" made him a star.

ROZEN: He stood out from the pack on "Saturday Night Live" and part of it was that he created these identifiable, sympathetic characters you look forward to seeing week after week.

PHILLIPS: Many of those characters found their inspiration in Myers's real life. There was Sprocket's host, Deiter (ph), who Myers says he based on a waiter in Toronto.


MYERS: Before I begin, would you like to touch my monkey?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I would be honored.

MYERS: Touch it!


MYERS: He would be taking your order, and then it would be like, your order has become tiresome. And he would bolt and leave, and never come back. And he would like, you know, I'd say, Like, yeah, I'd like the BLT.

PHILLIPS: There was Linda Richmond, the hostess of Coffee Talk, a character modeled after his own mother-in-law.


MYERS: Welcome to Coffee Talk, I'm your host Linda Richmond.

LINDA RICHMOND, MYERS MOTHER-IN-LAW: This is Linda Richmond, and I'm Mike's mother-in-law.

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Wait a minute. You are the mother-in-law of Mike?

RICHMOND: You got it.

MEYERS: Linda Richmond, it is. My actual mother-in-law.

RICHMOND: He's a goyem sha mensch, that's what he is.

KING: You married a Jewish girl?

MYERS: I did.

KING: How do you like having a character based on you?

RICHMOND: Oh, I absolutely love it. It's just like butter.

MYERS: Are you a little vaclemphed (ph), right now?

ROZEN: How many other people could have taken Yiddish phrases and made them standard American vocabulary?

MYERS: I'm a little vaclemphed (ph).


ROZEN: Who hasn't described themselves as feeling a little vaclemphed (ph)?

PHILLIPS: Myers's biggest breakout character, however, was Wayne Campbell. The party loving host of a cable access television show "Wayne's World" (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS: This is Stan Maketer's (ph) doughnuts. Excellent munchables.


LUKE AVISON, FORMER STUDENT, STEPHEN LEACOCK COLLEGIATE INST.: One of their major hangouts is the Stan Maketa Doughnut Shop. Right around the corner from where Mike grew up and we al grew up was Tim Horton's, who is a Canadian hockey legend. But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm going, Oh, yeah, that's our neighborhood.

PHILLIPS: Myers quickly found himself in Hollywood turning the sketch into a full-length movie.

MEYERS: It's a kick driving through the gates at Paramount. I used to hear that music in my head, that -- remember in the "Beverly Hillbillies," whenever they would go through the gates at a movie studio there would be that music.


MYERS: It's "Wayne's World," "Wayne's World", party time, excellent.

PHILLIPS: The "Wayne's World" film became an enormous hit, grossing more than $200 million.

ROZEN: Most of the "Saturday Night Films" -- and I have seen just about all of them -- you really, after about 20 minutes go, OK, there's no more to this. And with "Wayne's World" you were happy to see what their next adventure was.

PHILLIPS: It's catch phrases.


MYERS: Schwing!

No way.



PHILLIPS: Caught on nationwide.

Myers is a full-ledged celebrity, if a quiet one.

SUTTON: Unlike the other characters of "Saturday Night Live" he maintained a nice quiet personality. During the years he was filming in New York you never read about him being out at a club at four or five in the morning. Almost every other cast member on the show, you'd read about that. PHILLIPS: But while Myers' professional life was thriving, personally, he was hurting. His father Eric had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1987.

MYERS: He came and saw me at Second City and he would heckle the people on stage. Like if I wasn't in the scene, he would go oh, get off the stage. You're rubbish. Bring Michael on, he's the only funny one.

And I had to like explain to the whole cast that, you know, my dad has Alzheimer's and he's going to shout stuff out. And they were very, very cool about it.

My career was doing very, very well and his health was deteriorating. There was a time when he just didn't recognize us. And then there was a time when he just mute staring out into space. And I took comfort in that, because I thought, in a weird way, that his soul had left his body.

PHILLIPS: Eric Myers died in November 1991.

MYERS: I think I do miss being able to report, check in, make real, you know. He never saw "Saturday Night Live" or "Wayne's World" in my wife, or our two little dogs now -- you know all the things that, you know, make you really happy.

PHILLIPS: Myers wears a reminder of his father every day.

MYERS: This is my dad's Encyclopedia Brittanica "Salesman of the Year" ring from 1957 when he came from Canada to Liverpool. And he got this ring. And this is my wedding ring now because he couldn't be at my wedding. So_

PHILLIPS: Myers worked through his pain continuing on both "Saturday Night Live" and in Hollywood, but his movie career would stall.

1993 "Wayne's World II" began with script problems and ended as a disappointment at the box office.


MYERS and DANA CARVEY: We're not worthy, we're not worthy.


PHILLIPS: And another film Myers starred in that year, "So I Married An Ax Murderer" also did poorly.

ROZEN: The perception of Mike Myers after "I Married An Ax Murderer" flop, was that he could only do "Saturday Night Live" characters. And that the audience wanted him in a presold character.

PHILLIPS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Mike Myers walks away from Hollywood.


ZAHN: Mike Myers wasn't the only "Saturday Night Live" alum to breakout only to burnout and search for something beyond Hollywood. Which leads us to this week's "Where Are They Now?"

ANNOUNCER: Stand up comic Victoria Jackson joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1986 playing the ditsy blond. The lovable comedian also branched out to the big screen in movies like "Casual Sex" and "UHF."

So where is Victoria Jackson now? Now 43, Jackson still performs around the country on the comedy circuit and is joined on stage by her two daughters. She's released two children's albums that play up her little-known skills with the ukelele. And she has become a born-again Christian and lists her favorite Bible verses on her Web site.

We'll be right back.




PHILLIPS (voice-over): By 1994, Mike Myers had lost his father, made several movies in rapid succession and needed a break. He quit "Saturday Night Live" after six years on the show. And for a year and a half dropped out of the public eye.

Instead of making movies he visited family and spent time with his wife Robin, whom he'd married in 1993. Instead of power lunches he took power skating lessons to improve his hockey game. And along the way came an idea for a new character.

I wrote Austin Powers because I was driving home from hockey practice and I heard the "Look Of Love" on the radio. And just all that sort of great, sort of spy stuff and, you know Ursala Andres and all the sexy stuff. And I wrote a song for it. And I'm going to sing it for you right now.

PHILLIPS: Myers wrote the script for "Austin Powers" in just three weeks. And in 1997 his lost-in-time secret agent shot his way into the theaters.


MYERS: That's not your mother, it's a man, baby.


PHILLIPS: The movie was just a moderate hit at the box office, but would develop a cult-like following.

ROZEN: What happens is the first "Austin Powers" film comes out on video and people see start seeing it. They start telling all their friends, you've got to rent this, you've got to rent this. Movie turned into a huge video hit.

PHILLIPS: Myers followed up his spy troop with a dramatic turn. He played Steve Rubell, owner of the famed New York disco, Studio 54. Though the movie flopped, Myers got good reviews.

ROZEN: Myers turned Rubell into this almost sympathetic, in some ways tragic, over coked (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He was able to create a compelling character in a film that mostly seemed to be peopled with stereotypes.

PHILLIPS: In 1999, Myers slipped back into his false teeth and his shagadelic suits for "Austin Powers II."



MYERS: Are you kidding baby? I put the grrr! in swinger, baby!


PHILLIPS: The sequel was a box office blockbuster making more money in its first weekend than the original did in its entire theatrical run.


MYERS: Yeah baby, yeah.


SUTTON: I think the reason people find him funny is that he makes fun of himself through his characters. Austin Powers is just a guy who is just so over the top, doesn't realize that what he's doing is so out of date. And you sort of laugh at the character, but on the other hand you have a good time with him and enjoy the exuberance that's in that character.

PHILLIPS: For Myers the experience of making the film was -- well?


MYERS: Groovy baby.


MYERS: It's like a two-month party. I had the most fun I've ever had in my life. I was very sad on the last day. It is kind of like the last day of camp or something. And somebody told me that every two years I have to have a two-month party, that would be an Austin Powers movie, I would be happy.

PHILLIPS: Myers next role wasn't even on camera, provided him with yet another run away hit. The animated fairy tale "Shrek."


MYERS: That will do, Donkey. That'll do.


PHILLIPS: Myers had originally begun voicing the character with a Canadian accent, then switched to Scottish when he felt it wasn't working.

MYERS: Like you'd watch it and they redo it to what you just did. It's an amazing back and forth. Very inspiring. I ended up really loving how long it took and how much time you get the luxury of being able to sculpt if and shade it and do all that stuff.

PHILLIPS: But Myers's reputation is not flawless, he's known as a perfectionist. And "Wayne's World" director Penelope Spheres (ph) has publicly acknowledged tension on that set. Plus in 2000, Myers found himself embroiled in a lawsuit over "Sprocket (ph)," a movie based on Myers' Dieter character from "Saturday Night Live."

Myers was getting a reported $21.5 million to star in and write the film for Universal and Imagine Entertainment, only to pull out shortly before shooting was to begin.

SUTTON: He worked for two years and didn't think he had a good script. The studio said well, we want this movie, it is a familiar character, everyone knows him from "Saturday Night Live". And he said, well, I'm not going to make it if I don't think its any good.

ROZEN: "Sprocket" has become one of the great jokes of Hollywood. That Mike Myers objected to and withdrew from the film because he didn't like the script, a script he had written.

The parties settled. "Sproket" was shelved. And Myers told "Entertainment Weekly" if he had to do it all over again, he would. He's now working on "The Cat In The Hat" the studios he once feuded with.

PHILLIPS: In the meantime, Myers has yet another smash on his hands. Austin Powers III grossed more than $70 million its first weekend, the biggest in movie history for a comedy. In this film Myers added yet another character to his ever growing stable. The Dutch swinger Goldmember. But he also gave Austin Powers a father, played by Michael Caine, one of his father's favorite actors.


MICHAEL CAINE, ACTOR: If you've got an issue, here's a tissue. Ha, ha, ha.


MYERS: He was a hero to my father because he had a working-class accent like my father had a working-class accent. He's one of the first movie stars to talk like how people talk, you know, in England. Mikes whole youth was watching movies with his dad. And in a way, this movie is a tribute to a connection with his own father. Michael Caine wanted to wear the teeth, and he wanted wear -- he wanted to do the whole thing in the crazy clothes. And they came together and I saw this thing in Mike's face and I went, that's why he's doing this. There was so much emotion and so much joy.

MYERS: Oh, I think he would love it. If my dad were to write a book, it would be called "In Praise of Silly".

PHILLIPS: A sentiment Mike Myers has built his career on.

MYERS: Yeah, baby, yeah.


ZAHN: In addition to filming "The Cat In The Hat" Myers again is set to lend his voice to "Shrek II." He also has a cameo appearance in the upcoming comedy, "A View From The Top" starring Gwyneth Paltrow, who returns the favor in "Goldmember."

ANNOUNCER: Coming up on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Julia may reign at the box office, but not at the alter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Julia Roberts doesn't have a great name for sticking by relationships.

ANNOUNCER: Is the "Runaway Bride" finally going to stick around, next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. In Julia Roberts' new movie, "Full Frontal," she plays a successful actress who falls in love with the member of a film crew. It's a movie within a movie and it's supposed to be a satire -- a send up of Hollywood film making.

But for anyone who has followed the headlines lately, Julia's performance in "Full Frontal" could be a case of art truly imitating life. Here's Daryn Kagan.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESOPNDENT: She's been dubbed America's Sweetheart and not only because of her love affair with America.

America delights in watching her love affairs - on screen and off. She's courted Hollywood's leading men - Lehman (ph), Dillon and Daniel (ph) in full glare of the paparazzi, which makes it all the more amazing that Julia Roberts managed to keep the lid on one of Hollywood's best kept secrets.

Fourth of July weekend at Julia's ranch in Taos, New Mexico, unsuspecting friends and family were invited to what they thought was an Independence Day celebration. That celebration turned into a secret midnight wedding to L.A. cameraman Danny Moder.

ANNE-MARIE O'NEILL, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: The celebration itself was - came as a surprise to a lot of people. It was at a mirada (ph) on the edge of Julia's property. Everyone drove out there even right down to the minute where Julia and Danny were about to get married a lot of people still didn't know what was happening.

And they exchanged simple vows -- handwritten vows -- and it was very loving. They kept kissing through the ceremony. They kept asking, "Could we kiss?"

KAGAN: The couple met two years ago on the set of Roberts' movie "The Mexican."

But sparks didn't fly right away. Roberts was four years into her relationship with Benjamin Bratt and Moder was still married to make-up artist Vera Steinberg.

The story of how the two finally got together would cause a bit of a scandal.

Prior to the stealth wedding, Roberts' erratic love life had earned her the nickname "runaway bride" even before she made the 1999 movie.

She left Kiefer at the alter and divorced country crooner Lyle Lovett after less than two years of marriage.

Last year she ended her four year relationship with Benjamin Bratt.

O'NEILL: Julia Roberts doesn't really have a great name for sticking by relationships. We've seen her go out with Kiefer Sutherland and Lyle Lovett and Benjamin Bratt. And she's a huge movie star and that kind of helped the impact on those relationships.

And a lot of the time she was a bigger movie star or a bigger celebrity than the person she was dating.

KAGAN: A super celebrity who reigns at the box office. Nine of her films have grossed nearly $100 million each.

UNKNOWN MALE: How's the pay in movies?

KAGAN: Money provided comic relief in her hit "Notting Hill."

UNKNOWN MALE: How much do you get paid?




KAGAN: In real life she commands even more - $20 million per film - joining the megawattage of Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis.

The actress recently put aside her mega salary to work again for director Stephen Soderbergh on his low budget "Full Frontal" -- a comic look inside of Hollywood.

O'NEILL: It was just very much a stripped down set and they did have to do their own hair and make-up. They did have to share trailers and get along.

It was very low budget, bare bones - kind of like movie camp for movie stars.

KAGAN: But the Hollywood star won't need to share her trailer anytime soon.

ROBERT THOMPSON, PROFESSOR OF FILM, TELEVISION AND POPULAR CULTURE, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: Julia Roberts, of course, is this powerful business woman. She's a person with an awful lot of clout in Hollywood.

KAGAN: Clout that Roberts isn't afraid to use -- even on Oscar night.

THOMPSON: She got up there and no sooner had she started talking than she let everybody know she was now directing this presentation of the Oscars -- she was in control.

At one time she literally said, "Stop the clock -- it's making me nervous."

How many people on planet earth can say, "Let time stop?" And with Julia they stopped it.

KAGAN: Power, money and respect. Last year Roberts was honored by her peers at the Screen Actors Guild Award.

ROBERTS: I've never been nominated for a SAG Award before. I've never been to this event and it's a really incredible night.

If this was a prom this would be the best school ever to go to.

To be sitting across the table from Annette Benning -- to have her come over to me and say, "I just want to say I thought you were great in your movie." And I was like, "Well, I just want to drool all over you. Can I?

KAGAN: Roberts spent last year on red carpet taking home a Golden Globe Award and the golden man himself - the Oscar - all for her performance in "Erin Brockovich."

ROBERTS: There's two things that aggravate me, Mr. Massery (ph) -- being ignored and being lied to.

STEPHEN SODERBERGH, DIRECTOR: To go to work every day on "Erin Brockovich" and see someone with so much talent comport themselves with such grace and such wit and such generosity of spirit was not only instructive but inspiring.

UNKNOWN MALE: There is no movie star who shines more brightly.

KAGAN: It's been an up year for the golden girl. But fame has a down side.

When the story of Julia Roberts continues - love, intimacy and the pursuit of privacy.

ROBERTS: People are welcome to know whatever they wish to know as long as they want to be honest about it and also respect the fact that we don't sit and ask them, "What's your life like? Are you getting married? Where do you live? What do you do? What makes you guys happy?" I don't do that to other people unless they're friends of mine.





KAGAN: Today's queen of Hollywood began life in modest surroundings nearly a continent away in Atlanta, Georgia.

Julia Fiona Roberts debuted at Crawford Long Hospital on October 28th, 1967.

Julia went home to a two-story house in Midtown, one of Atlanta's middle class neighborhoods.

Her parents, Walter and Betty Roberts, ran a writing and actors workshop. The children of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. were enrolled there. It was the only integrated children's theater group in Atlanta.

Dexter King is now a writer, Yolanda King an actress and producer.

YOLANDA KING, ACTRESS AND PRODUCER: Mr. Roberts was so imposing. I loved him but I was also a little intimidated by him, too. And - but he was. And he taught me so much and - he and Mrs. Roberts - about the work and just about living and being really open - grabbing life and making the best of it.

ROBERTS: The only thing my father ever directly said to me about acting was, "Don't ever say anything unless it means something -- unless you're telling people something they don't already know. There's no reason to speak unless you're doing that."

KAGAN: Biographer Joyce Wagner says despite years of trying, the acting studio failed.

JOYCE WAGNER, BIOGRAPHER: It was the great dream but I think it turned into a financial nightmare and they were always hard pressed for money. And it collapsed at one point and that was it.

KAGAN: In 1967 Julia's parents' marriage was also over. Betty Roberts remarried and moved with her daughters to Smyrna, a small town just north of Atlanta.

Her brother, Eric, remained in Atlanta with their father, who took a job at a local department store.

WAGNER: After the divorce Julia didn't see much of her father.

KAGAN: There were weekly phone calls and vacation visits but while Julia was still in grade school, that limited contact came to a tragic end.

WAGNER: Walter died in 1977. Julia was either 10 or very close to 10 years of age at that point. Ironically, he was very young when he died. He was in his mid-40s.

KING: I remember being so sad and distressed because he really died very unfulfilled. And he had lost the workshop. And I know he was very disillusioned.

KAGAN: Julia says it was her sister Lisa, just two years older, who provided love, support and good counsel. Julia joined Lisa at Smyrna's Campbell High School. She played on the high school tennis team.

And while there were no drama classes offered in high school, she couldn't resist the lure of the family business.

At age 17 the recent high school graduate moved from small town Georgia to the big city - New York. And, like her older brother and sister, she went to pursue a career in acting.

Within two short years Roberts landed a role in the low budget film, "Satisfaction." The movie closed soon after it opened in 1988 but for Roberts there was one upside. The film's producer was then married to Sally Field. The veteran actor would become a mentor to Roberts.

SALLY FIELD, ACTRESS: I must have missed the passage . . .

KAGAN: Just one year after the making of "Satisfaction" Field would push, yank and push some more to get Roberts into the ensemble cast of "Steel Magnolias."

ROBERTS: He's really cute. And I thought he was a pest at first but then he kind of grew on me and now I love him.

WAGNER: Julia is like a sponge - she wants to know. And she's smart enough to know who best to learn from than older actresses who have trod the same path.


ROBERTS: Yeah? UNKNOWN FEMALE: Is the job still hot?

KAGAN: After Roberts wrapped "Steel Magnolias" . . .

ROBERTS: I think maybe.

KAGAN: ... "Mystic Pizza" opened. Now it's a video favorite but in 1988 it was not a box office hit.

So Field would again have to step in on Roberts' behalf to convince Disney to give her a chance at comedy in the form of a charming prostitute. The picture - "Pretty Woman."


Director Garry Marshall described 21-year-old Roberts as a blend of Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball and Bambi.

MARSHALL: I said, "Richard, when she goes to look at the box, just kind of click the box on her fingers."

Her reaction to that was so honest and it was so spontaneous and so natural that when I saw it on film later I just left it in.

WAGNER: And that spontaneous, earthy, great laugh set it all in motion as far as I'm concerned. That was the turning point.

KAGAN: People poured into the theaters to see "Pretty Woman."

ROBERTS: If you're talking 24 hours a day -- it's going to cost you.

KAGAN: In its first four weeks it grossed more than $150 million and became the highest grossing film of 1990. And it earned Roberts her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

After some fizzles at the box office, Roberts hit the big time again in 1997 with yet another romantic comedy, "My Best Friend's Wedding."

ROBERTS: I'm a busy girl. I've got four days to break up a wedding and steal the bride's husband.

KAGAN: The film grossed $127 million. Another hit followed -- "Notting Hill," "Runaway Bride."

UNKNOWN MALE: A lot of people are under the impression that you get to choose who you love.

KAGAN: Her box office hits like "The Mexican," "Pretty Woman," and "America's Sweetheart" are often all about love.

ROBERTS: That woman that you just have to spend the rest of your life with -- that was me.

KAGAN: But it's the star's turbulent love life that fuels the press.

ROBERTS: I participant in that stuff - let's not kid ourselves - like I'm some kind of stoic person above gossip and fodder and all those things. I find that on days when I really participate in that kind of water cooler conversation is - if I were to be honest with myself - a day that I'm just really looking to not look at myself.

KAGAN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues - Julia's new love and marriage and a mysterious photograph.

O'NEILL: If she knew photographers were really watching her the day - no one really got to the bottom of it. Maybe she was just being cheekie.


ZAHN: Our look at Julia Roberts, her new husband and the scandal they created when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues. But, first, here's this week's "Passage."

UNKNOWN MALE: Ooops! She walked off the stage. Pop princess Brittany Spears is in some hot water after stopping a performance in Mexico City.

Spears abruptly ended the show - the last on her world tour - after only five songs, citing weather safety concerns. An angered Mexican audience - some of whom had paid $190 for tickets - started throwing Brittany merchandise onstage and calling her a fraud.

It seems that "Scorpion King" star The Rock will not be the only pro wrestler body-slamming Hollywood. The WWE - formerly the WWF - has opened a headquarters in Tinsel Town to create film and television roles for their action characters. The announcement comes on the heels of former wrestler Jessie Ventura making his debut in a comedy movie. And - no - it won't be a collection of sound bites from his reign as Minnesota governor.

The doormat of Big East football is mixed up with the mob again. Actor James Gandolfini will be doing a second year of pitching football games for his alma mater, Rutgers University in New Jersey.

TV's Tony Soprano did commercials for the Scarlet Knights last year in hopes of changing his team's fortunes. They finished two and nine.

JAMES GANDOLFINI, ACTOR: I probably watched a game.

UNKNOWN MALE: Maybe the opposing teams made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

For more celebrity news that scores a touchdown, pick up a copy of "People Magazine" this week. We'll be right back.



KAGAN: Dexter and Yolanda King, children of Martin Luther King, Jr. first met Julia Roberts in the late '60s while attending her parents' acting workshop in Atlanta.

KING: It was an extended family - it really was - all of these black kids and white kids getting along. No problems - we had no problems whatsoever - racial problems.

KAGAN: Racial equality was preached within the Roberts home.

BETTY MOTES, MOTHER: She said "The Rolling Stone" that she was brought up in a liberal family and she was. And she was taught that it's what is inside you that counts, not the color of your skin.

KAGAN: Color became an issue for Roberts during the filming of the thriller "Sleeping with the Enemy." It was the spring of 1990 and Roberts was on location in a small town in South Carolina.

A casual night out turned ugly when a member of the film crew was denied entrance to a local bar because he was black. Roberts had a fiery argument with the bar owner.

ROBERTS: I was enraged. I was out of my mind.

KING: And she just went off. And I can see her doing that. And just that outrageous - just outrage - the righteous indignation. I can see it pouring forth from her and rightly so.

KAGAN: And it's that characteristic - just behaving like a person with far less money and far less fame that might explain why fans adores her.

ROBERTS: OK - I'm so on the verge of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KAGAN: Julia Roberts comes across as genuine. She gets mad, she has fun.

ROBERTS: I want my man to see this. Look at the muscle. Forget the award - just look at the muscle. This weighs 14 pounds - it does.

KAGAN: The American public seems fascinated with her love life.

ROBERTS: That is not a light little piece of machinery.

KAGAN: When Julia Roberts ended her relationship with Benjamin Bratt last year, the split put her back in the news and back in touch with the man who would become her husband.

Danny Moder reportedly helped the star get through her break-up. The couple were seen together often and in April made the romance public. But there was a hitch - Moder was still married.

In May Roberts was photographed wearing a T-shirt that read "A Low Vera" - a play on words perhaps in protest of Moder's estranged wife, Vera, who was rumored to be stalling their divorce.

O'NEILL: Why she was wearing the shirt - the "A Low Vera" shirt - that's her little mystery whether that was a message, whether she knew photographers were watching her that day. No one really got to the bottom of it. Maybe she was just being cheekie.

KAGAN: By June Danny Moder's divorce was final. The 33-year-old Los Angeles native grew up in the film business.

O'NEILL: He comes from a Hollywood family. His father was a producer. And he's very much a non-celebrity. There is - there is not an ounce of fame about him. And I think maybe that's what attracted Julia Roberts to him.

KAGAN: Friends of Roberts have said that Moder is the perfect match for her -- both down to earth, caring and compassionate.

O'NEILL: The eternal question is, will it last? From all accounts her friends say that this is it. Her friends say that she's extremely happy. And we'll wait and see.

ROBERTS: I've come to Haiti to visit with the children.

KAGAN: Roberts' other passion in life is her commitment to helping children around the world.

She traveled to a turbulent Haiti in 1995 as a goodwill ambassador. She spent six days visiting children.

ROBERTS: These children cannot be left to deal with the consequences of a political situation that has nothing to do with them. They need food, they need healthcare, they need education.

KAGAN: Friend and co-star Rupert Everett predicts Roberts' philanthropy will continue.


KAGAN: He sees her at age 50 shirt sleeves rolled up washing babies.

ROBERTS: I am proof positive that anything is possible in your life. I am just a girl from Smyrna, Georgia who wanted to be in movies.


ZAHN: Julia Roberts' new movie, "Full Frontal," opened this weekend in limited release. The film was shot in just two weeks at a cost of just $2 million.

And that is it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us and be sure to join me every weekday morning for AMERICAN MORNING right here on CNN. Again, thanks for joining us.