updated 7/7/2006 12:01:37 PM ET 2006-07-07T16:01:37

Guests: Diane Diamond, Brian Oxman, Leo Terrell, Keith Ferguson, Beverly Coffman, Barbara McCombs, Larry Sutton

RITA COSBY, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening everybody.  This is our final show of LIVE AND DIRECT as we move on to some new and very exciting ventures here at MSNBC.  We‘re going to talk about them a little later on in the show.  We‘ll also show you some of the amazing and news breaking moments that we have experienced and shared with all of you this past year. 

But first tonight, some big stories to cover this evening.  We are tracking an all points bulletin for two escaped cons.  They may have been behind bars for a nonviolent offense, but cops say they are now armed and very dangerous and committing violent crimes in multiple states. 

And she dated one of the most notorious killers in recent history, but has Amber Frey finally found true love?  And guess who with?  But first tonight, we ironically begin where we started exactly a year ago, with the king of pop, Michael Jackson at the center of a legal battle, a new one.  A former associate of Michael Jackson is going after the superstar saying Jackson owes him almost $4 million.  The case could get real ugly after the jury heard phone messages Michael Jackson left for old associate Marc Schaffle (ph).  The pop star even appeared in court via a videotaped deposition. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you ever pay him a fee for anything he did? 

MICHAEL JACKSON, ENTERTAINER:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.  I‘m sure he got money. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You are sure he got—why are you sure he got money? 

JACKSON:  Because he seemed to be always happy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And for the inside scoop on this case, as she has been from the beginning, joining us is the author of the book “Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case.”  Investigative journalist Diane Diamond.  Diane, these messages are really incredible.  I want to play another clip where Michael Jackson talks to Marc Schaffel and says, I feel betrayed. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON:  Marc, it‘s Michael, let‘s break all time records Marc.  I want to make history so badly.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Marc, please, please, please, never let me down.  I really like you.  I love you.  I have been betrayed so much by people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, when you hear that, what was the nature of their relationship, Marc Schaffel and Michael Jackson.  It seems pretty frank there. 

DIANE DIAMOND, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST:  Right.  But this is the tone that Michael Jackson takes with anyone that he needs help from.  People that he does business with. 

COSBY:  What did he get from Marc Schaffel? 

DIAMOND:  They were together about three years.  They did a charity record that was never released, Sony never released it.  Gee, maybe it had something to do with Jackson calling Tommy Mottola the devil.  But then they went on to do other projects.  Rebuttal videos when Michael Jackson was in trouble and what not.  And this is what Schaffel says Michael owes him money for.  Today, interestingly, $3.8 million is what everyone said that Schaffel wanted. 

COSBY:  And that was his original amount that we were hearing.  But you found a few minutes ago the amount has changed? 

DIAMOND:  It‘s now down to $1.6 million.  And I just talked with Howard King, Schaffel‘s attorney, and he said we always thought it was $1.6.  You reporters just didn‘t know.  Welcome to the world of Michael Jackson.  There‘s no saints in this saga.  There‘s Michael Jackson, who gets sued by everybody it seems.  It sounds like on those tapes anyway has a problem still with some drugs or alcohol or something.  And then there‘s Marc Schaffel, that has this background that would make a sailor blush.  You know, he has a list of people who call him a con man and a former gay pornographer.  So how these two got together, I don‘t know.  Welcome to the world of Michael Jackson. 

COSBY:  Let‘s play a little more of the conversation between these two characters. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON:  I don‘t want someone else beating us to it then we come in second.  Do it now.  Do it now.  OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Sounds like a desperation at that point. 

DIAMOND:  In the criminal trial, we heard that he was out of money. 

He needed to do it now to make more money.  And I think that was in

reference to making the charity album.  The charity song that never came

out. 

COSBY:  When you talk about the adult entertainment, fascinating.  The attorney for Marc Schaffel said Michael Jackson basically, don‘t go there, don‘t get into my background with the adult entertainment business, or I‘m going to go, where?  Is there something else about Michael Jackson that we don‘t know yet? 

DIAMOND:  I think these two were very close.  I don‘t mean sexually.  But I mean very intimate in business and other things, and Marc Schaffel has a background of collecting information on people and using it against them when he needs to. 

COSBY:  So he has dirt on Michael Jackson? 

DIAMOND:  Well, you‘ve heard some of the tapes he‘s gotten.  What other kind of tapes does he have?  What else was Michael Jackson asking him for?  I have a source very close to Marc Schaffel who says that at one point they were dispatched to pick up a package of drugs from an empty house, the mailbox of an empty house.  If that—you know, if they are going to play dirty with the gay pornography background, Schaffel can play dirty too. 

COSBY:  Real quick, $300,000.  We are hearing that it might have gone to a family now.  The location has changed from Brazil to Argentina.  What is the allegation that Schaffel was involved with? 

DIAMOND:  He said—and Michael Jackson owes me $300,000 that I gave to somebody in Brazil.  Interesting, Brazil.  Well, tonight, I hear from Howard King, the attorney, no, no.  It was really to a Mr. X in Argentina.  So, again, yet another mystery.  Layers and layers. 

COSBY:  Great to see you.  Thank you very much.  And everybody let‘s bring in Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman and also with us tonight civil rights attorney Leo Terrell.  You know Brian, this Mr. X in Argentina.  What do you make of all this mess? 

BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY:  Brazil, Argentina.  It‘s all in South America, I guess, where it comes down to Mr. Schaffel. 

COSBY:  Do you think it‘s all just made of up stuff? 

OXMAN:  This is an accounting case.  The case involves whether or not you have checks, receipts and whether or not you document your claim.  And in this particular case, I wasn‘t one of the attorneys who handled it for a time, and I requested these documents to be produced and they never were produced.  Now is the time when push comes to shove, and it‘s time to produce those documents, and they just aren‘t there. 

COSBY:  Well, in fact, are there—there are a lot of recordings.  Let‘s play a little bit.  This is, again, Michael Jackson talking to Marc Schaffel.  He is talking this time about Marlon Brando. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON:  Marlon Brando has been pushing and he is a wonderful man. 

He is God.  We have to get this done.  He wants it done before Christmas.  He wants a lot of money and we would own it together.  I mean, I fell that he is not going to be living too much longer.  That what it is, I think.  Please, Mar, I need the money for the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, how desperate is his financial situation back then and now, Brian? 

OXMAN:  Well, Marlon Brando wanted $1 million to do this production, and the production was supposed to take place on the 21st of February, and Rita, you were at Neverland ranch on that date in 2003.  So all of this commotion was going on right around you and you were personally there.  Everybody was in a great commotion at that particular time.  But as to desperation for money, I just think it‘s a normal part of Michael Jackson‘s life and he always seems to land on his feet. 

COSBY:  He does.  He keeps rebounding and really is a survivor in a lot of ways.  Leo, this is another clip where he talks about his finances and other issues.  Again, Michael Jackson.  This was played in court. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON:  Let them know that this has to come out now and get Sony on it and make them enter this song at number one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, it sounds like there is still this fight, Leo, that he is worried.  What do you make of this?  How bad is it that he is dragged back to court? 

LEO TERRELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY:  First of all, I want to say I have enjoyed going on your show all this time and I‘m going to miss you. 

COSBY:  Thank you.  You‘ll still see a lot more of me. 

TERRELL:  That‘s good.  I‘m glad to hear that. 

COSBY:  Thank you. 

TERRELL:  First of all, what bothers me about this is that Brian is absolutely correct.  This is a case about checks and receipts.  And all I have heard so far is someone trying to sell a book and gossip.  People are constantly trying to bring Michael Jackson down.  For all of the wrong reasons.  And this $300,000 payoff, I haven‘t heard anything from those tapes about checks or receipts or anything.  But people want to attack Michael Jackson.  All of the innuendoes that I heard before Brian and I came on is a perfect example of trying to drag him down.  And this man has had enough.  That‘s why he left the country. 

COSBY:  Why do you think he keeps getting targeted?  Do you think where there‘s a lot of smoke there‘s fire? 

TERRELL:  Oh, yes.  There‘s people—people on your show, people that just came on your show, who want to bring him down.  Some people want to make their careers off Michael Jackson.  And it drives me sick.  Why?  What has this man done to certain people?  Certain people want to create a career off this man, and that‘s what makes it sickening. 

COSBY:  The jury was puzzled.  They said they felt that they let a pedophile go free.  Do you think there will always be a cloud over him, Brian? 

OXMAN:  I think that in the trial in Santa Maria, 14 times that jury said not guilty.  And they said not guilty because of the case that was presented.  And the case was that these accusers were here.  Michael was here in another city, another state.  There was no crime committed there, and that‘s why there was a not guilty verdict.  As to the cloud, Rita, absolutely, you‘re correct.  You are absolutely correct. 

COSBY:  And maybe unfairly because the jury did let him free.  Why was Marc Schaffel let go?  Brian, you‘re the one who fired the business associate at the heart of this case now. 

OXMAN:  When Randy Jackson came in to literally save his brother and I‘ve got to put credit where credit is due because Randy was really the hero of this entire situation.  He took command.  He steadied the ship of Michael Jackson and one of the things that happened with this regime change is that Marc Schaffel was let go.  And that simply is coming out in court, and we‘re going to let the jury make that determination as to the reasons why. 

COSBY:  Was there anything with the adult entertainment business?  A lot of people said get rid of this guy, does not look good for you Michael Jackson.  Was that the case, Brian? 

OXMAN:  I think that the prosecution in our case, in Santa Maria, was heavy on that particular subject matter.  And as a result, Mr. Schaffel‘s time simply was not—he was not a long-termer.  And he did not stay around very long once the new regime change came in. 

COSBY:  Leo, do you think Marc Schaffel has something on Michael Jackson? 

TERRELL:  No.  But he has a lot of gossip to sell.  He wants to go on the TV circuit.  He wants to sell books.  He wants to make money.  He wants to hustle Michael Jackson.  He is enjoying 15 seconds of fame right now.  When this trial is over, he‘s over. 

COSBY:  Both of you guys, thank you so much.  You‘re my favorites, Brian and Leo.  Thank you so much guys.

TERRELL:  Thank you very much, Rita.  Good luck. 

COSBY:  Thank you. 

OXMAN:  Rita, you are a charm and we love you. 

COSBY:  Thank you very much.  I love you guys.  I‘m going to see you guys very soon.  And still ahead it looks like authorities‘ worst fears are coming true in the middle of a manhunt.  That and more coming up, everybody. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And some new developments tonight in the massive three-state manhunt for two inmates who brazenly escaped from an Oklahoma prison.  These two men, Truman Gross and Benjamin Beck have been on the run since escaping from the Lexington Correctional Center on Sunday.  Police believe the men have robbed two homes in two states since their escape, and are now in somewhere, possibly in northwest Arkansas.  Joining me live on the phone is Keith Ferguson.  He is the sheriff of Benton County, Arkansas, where the inmates were last seen.  What happened in your county with these two escaped inmates? 

KEITH FERGUSON, BENTON COUNTY SHERIFF:  Well these two inmates came into our county on the third, if I‘m not mistaken, of this month.  And they took a man and woman, I want to say they took them hostage because they tied them up and kept their movement from, or they took their freedom away from them and they bound and tied them to the chair.  They stole several items from their home.  They stole their vehicle.  They actually changed clothes and took the clothes from the young man that was there.  And left.  And we think that they are possibly or did possibly go to Wichita, Kansas.  We got pretty good information that they headed in that direction or was in that area.  

COSBY:  Why are they heading there?  What‘s the tip leading them there? 

FERGUSON:  Well, one of the men has got a ex-girlfriend that lives there, and I think she has children by him. 

COSBY:  Which one is that?  Is that—

FERGUSON:  That is Gross.  Is that right? 

COSBY:  Yes.  There‘s two of them.  There‘s Beck and Gross. 

FERGUSON:  Yes.  That was Gross.  The reason we know that, Gross was being, had been interviewed back in 2004, or actually this year.  He was interviewed this year by one of my detectives.  And during the interview, he talked about his children that was living in Wichita, Kansas. 

COSBY:  You know, sheriff, these guys have pretty distinguishable tattoos.  I was reading about one of them is 10 and one of them is 15, and one of them we‘re told has a black tribal tattoo with stars.  The other one has a tattoo on his right bicep.  So folks could recognize them fairly easily if they saw them.  Lots of tattoos. 

FERGUSON:  Yes, ma‘am.  That‘s true.  And also this one man that you‘re talking about, I believe his name is Beck, he has escaped four different times, I believe, from different departments or different jails. 

COSBY:  That‘s Beck, right? 

FERGUSON:  Yes, ma‘am. 

COSBY:  All right.  Sheriff, please keep us posted.  We‘re hearing tonight that they are armed and dangerous.  Again, tied up a couple of people in several different states now.  Let‘s move on if we could.  We were just talking about Beck, who may have also broken out of prison a number of times. 

Joining me live in her first live national interview is Beverly Kaufman, the mother of Benjamin Heath Beck.  Beverly, has he broken out of prison a couple of times? 

BEVERLY COFFMAN, MOTHER OF ESCAPED CONVICT:  Yes, he has.  He has a history of breaking out.  He just can‘t take, you know, being tied down, I guess. 

COSBY:  And how dangerous is your son?  We‘re hearing now that he and the other man are both armed and dangerous.  They were in for non-violent offenses.  But are you concerned? 

COFFMAN:  No.  Now I don‘t know Truman, but my son is, you know, this is not true.  He is not dangerous.  He is so kind.  All his life he‘s been kind.  And this is just hard for me to believe.  He wouldn‘t hurt anybody.  He never has.  And this is just not true. 

COSBY:  What do you make of the fact that they tied up some people, took some money?  You know, obviously that sounds like they are desperate, on the run. 

COFFMAN:  Yes.  When he broke out, he gets scared.  And he‘ll, you know, do anything, you know, to, not harm anybody, but he was, from what I heard, he even offered the man, he told him that they weren‘t there to hurt him, and he tries to be just as nice as he can, you know.  And this is, this is just not right. 

COSBY:  When was the last time you spoke to your son? 

COFFMAN:  I spoke to him just about a couple weeks ago and I saw him about four weeks ago.

COSBY:  And how was he acting?

COFFMAN:  He was so happy.  And just—we enjoyed his visit, our visit with him.  And just so happy.  And he‘s been—he just—I just can‘t believe that he‘s doing this. 

COSBY:  I heard he—

COFFMAN:  He acts on impulse. 

COSBY:  I have also heard he has some mental problems, right?  He has been in and out of some trouble? 

COFFMAN:  Well, he‘s had a rough past.  And he‘s adopted.  And so he‘s just had a rough childhood.  And so all of this, you know, has got some bearing on it.  But I would not be afraid of him at all.  He‘s not going to hurt anybody. 

COSBY:  Are you worried that authorities are looking for him? 

COFFMAN:  Yes. 

COSBY:  And they view him as armed and dangerous.  Are you worried this could end tragically? 

COFFMAN:  That‘s what I‘m worried about, and that‘s why I‘m here to plead with him if he‘s listening to this.  This is a mother‘s cry.  That he knows better.  He has a relationship with the lord.  And I want him to remember that.  I want him to know that his family loves him.  And I love him.  Our prayers are with him.  And I want him to get aside and get his thoughts together because he is caught up in this and he‘s not thinking right.  So just to get away and think.  And come to his senses.  And give himself up.  Because the more time that goes, the more people are involved, and it‘s going to escalate into something very ugly and I just want him and Truman both to give themselves up.  It‘s going to go easier on them, and for everybody concerned. 

COSBY:  Well, we hope he is listening tonight and we do hope all of this ends peacefully.  Thank you for being with us.  We appreciate it. 

COFFMAN:  Thank you. 

COSBY:  And I do hope he is listening.  And of course everybody if you have any information on the whereabouts of Benjamin Beck or Truman Gross, please call the Oklahoma Department of Corrections fugitive apprehension units.  So this can end peacefully.  The number is 405-425-2570.  Again, 405-425-2570. 

And it was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, and now newly released documents are painting a clearer picture of what went wrong at Colorado‘s Columbine High School.  The local sheriff hopes this information, locked up for seven years now, could prevent other tragedies in the future.  Reporter Nelson Garcia from NBC affiliate KUSA has more. 

NELSON GARCIA, KUSA—DENVER, CO:  Hello, Rita.  Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Minks says he wants these documents to help mental health professionals identify the warning signs of other troubled teens, signs that some say looking back now seem obvious. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARCIA:  Nine hundred and forty six pages.  Delving into the minds of two teens who changed Colorado forever.  Most of the material was taken from Eric Harris, his essays obsessed with Nazism, his drawings of acts of violence and his journals filled with words of hate for the world. 

BARBARA MCCOMBS, UNIV. OF DENVER:  And I think these boys are a tragic example of kids that got lost. 

GARCIA:  Denver University research psychologist Barbara McCombs studies school violence.  She wonders if reading all of this really provides any insight into what happened on April 20, 1999. 

MCCOMBS:  Was there something that trigger that?  Was there an incident in school?  Was there something that happened at home?  I didn‘t see that. 

GARCIA:  What she did see were signs of general anger without specific reason, and numerous indicators of the pending school attack.  Diagrams of how to arm themselves with various weapons.  Plans, including the date and best time for the shootings.  When the most people would be in the lunch room.  But Mccombs says these are obvious signs, and nothing new that mental health professionals can build on. 

MCCOMBS:  Frankly, I didn‘t see anything that would make it that helpful. 

GARCIA:  But, she says, one thing to learn can be seen in an essay written by Dylan Klebold, a story about killing people outside a bar.  He turned it in for a grade.  Klebold‘s teacher says it was well written, but was concerned about the theme. 

MCCOMBS:  And I think that is one solid piece for educators that they don‘t let it go, that they do take strong steps, contact the parents. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GARCIA:  McCombs says parents can learn a lot from these dark documents by looking at these examples of alarming red flags if they happen to come across them with their own children.  Rita? 

COSBY:  And thanks so much.  Still ahead, her ex-boyfriend turned out to be a lying, cheating killer.  But is Scott Peterson‘s mistress, Amber Frey, finally found Mr. Right?  And guess who he is.  And the case of the cola con.  How much is the secret recipe worth for the world‘s most powerful soft drink?  That‘s coming up.  Plus some of our best and greatest moments here on LIVE & DIRECT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Are you hitting on me? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m just trying to find out what‘s going on. 

COSBY:  You want to be my sugar daddy? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I would like to be your sugar daddy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  It looks like Amber Frey may have finally found wedded bliss.  Scott Peterson‘s former mistress and the key witness in his murder trial has just gotten hitched during a ceremony in California.  I spoke to “People Magazine‘s” senior editor who has the inside scoop. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY SUTTON, SENIOR EDITOR, “PEOPLE MAGAZINE”:  She met him in the nicest of all possible ways, I think.  She moved into a new neighborhood.  She has two kids.  She likes to take them for strolls during the day.  He‘s got two kids, lives down the block from here.  They met out on the street while they were walking their kids together.  Sparks flew.  And here we are just a few months later, and they got married last night. 

COSBY:  You know, tell us about the chiropractor.  Last I heard she was with a chiropractor who is the father of one her kids. 

SUTTON:  She was with a chiropractor.  He is the father of one of her children, and things fizzled there about September or October of last year.  They just didn‘t get along.  I can‘t say for sure, but it looks like he didn‘t want to get married so that relationship just fizzled. 

COSBY:  So now she‘s married, tell us about the wedding.

SUTTON:  Well, the wedding was a nice, intimate affair.  Very small.  Just immediate family members.  That was it.  They had it at Lake Tahoe at a resort right on the beach.  As a matter of fact, they wanted it as romantic as possible, so it was a sunset ceremony.  Didn‘t go on too long because they were planning on a bigger reception a little later.  But the ceremony itself, nice, sweet, short, immediate family members.  That‘s it. 

COSBY:  Her new husband.  Works in law enforcement.  Did he have any connection at all to the Scott Peterson case? 

SUTTON:  No he has no connection at all to the Scott Peterson case.  He is actually a corrections officer, though.  A prison guard.  But he is a prison guard in Corcoran California and has nothing to do with Scott Peterson. 

COSBY:  He won‘t be able to visit Scott Peterson in San Quentin? 

SUTTON:  I don‘t think there will be any connection between the two of them. 

COSBY:  Do you think she‘s finally found happiness, one of the things I always thought when I saw Amber throughout the whole Scott Peterson ordeal, she seemed to be always looking for someone, looking for love, which is why she fell for Scott Peterson. 

SUTTON:  I think perhaps she might have.  Our reporters out in California tell me that it seems like she finally has found love.  She has a lot in common with this guy.  They both have two children.  They both enjoy things like Disney World, which is where they went on their first date.  And they both have time to spend with each other.  Perhaps this is a very good match for Amber Frey. 

COSBY:  Why do you think people are so fascinated with this case?  It seems every detail.  For a year, almost two, it has consumed our lives, and yet we are still so fascinated today. 

SUTTON:  These cases became everyday dramas.  I think in some way they were more of an entertainment value than the sitcoms or soap operas that you saw on TV.  They were stories, and the characters were so fascinating.  Here we have a guy accused of killing his wife, and Amber, his mistress, comes forward to testify against him.  That‘s pretty dramatic stuff. 

COSBY:  Do you think she‘ll always sort of be the other woman?  Viewed as the person who sort of symbolized the lies and the deceit that was Scott Peterson? 

SUTTON:  Well, a little bit I think, because that‘s where she gained her fame.  However, she is going out and striking out in life on her own.  She is a massage therapist, and hopefully, she says, in a couple of months she‘ll have her own shop.  That‘s what she wants to do and that‘s what she wants to dedicate her life to. 

COSBY:  Is this then sort of the beginning of life back to normal?  Or do you think people will always recognize Amber Frey walking down the street? 

SUTTON:  I think it will be life back to normal with the exception of every now and then someone will snap their head and say, hey, weren‘t you the woman who, and they just say yes or maybe she‘ll say no and just let it pass by.  I don‘t think she wants it to be the focus of her life.  But people will not forget. 

COSBY:  Larry Sutton, thank you so much.  We appreciate it. 

SUTTON:  You‘re welcome. 

COSBY:  And tonight, there is a huge shake-up in the world of Coca-Cola.  An insider tried to leak a secret recipe to Coke‘s rival Pepsi.  NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla has the latest on the cola wars. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  As secrets go, it could have been the real thing.  Classified documents, a sample of a never-before-seen Coke product, secrets allegedly stolen by a Coke secretary and two others and as sensitive, police say, as government data. 

DAVID NAHMILAS, U.S. ATTORNEY:  This information by definition in the statute is worth a great deal of money. 

QUINTANILLA:  Just how much money is hard to say.  The Coca-Cola Company has more than 400 brands and Coke‘s original recipe has been locked up in an Atlanta bank ever since a Georgia pharmacist invented the stuff in 1886.  Other companies guard their secrets too.  K.F.C. mixes its 11 herbs and spices at two locations.  Mrs. Fields says you can count the number of people who know that recipe on one hand.  But in the $100 billion beverage wars where one ad can be a cultural touchstone, secret recipes may actually be more illusion than treasure. 

JOHN SICHER, “BEVERAGE DIGEST”:  Anybody with a small amount of money and access to a high-tech chemistry lab could go in and do an analysis of Coke or Pepsi, break it down, and replicate it.  The real power of Coke is the trademark and the brand. 

QUINTANILLA:  And there‘s no denying the power of that brand.  For many of us deciding whether to drink Pepsi or Coke is the easiest and most passionate decision of our day.  Warren Buffett is never without his can of Cherry Coke.  Tony Stewart may have won the Pepsi 400, but we know what he drinks.  In the end, experts say the Coke episode may help both companies, even as the alleged perpetrators miscalculated.  A soda spy case where the fizz ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now before I lockup the secret farm formula, I would like to share it with you. 

QUINTANILLA:  Went flat.  Carl Quintanilla, NBC News, New York. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Thanks so much, Carl.  Still ahead, everybody, from the border to Aruba to Afghanistan, LIVE & DIRECT has taken you to the scene of the story.  And sometimes to the scene of the crime.  Some of the most amazing places we have been to are coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Tonight is our last broadcast of LIVE & DIRECT.  Although I will be back here soon at the very same time for “MSNBC INVESTIGATES.”  But we wanted to share with you some of the most interesting people that we have met and the incredible places that we have traveled as we went on the scene of some of the biggest stories this past year.  Take a look where we have taken you LIVE & DIRECT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  I‘m Rita Cosby reporting LIVE AND DIRECT from Afghanistan.  In L.A.  From Yardly, Pennsylvania.  I am LIVE & DIRECT from the falls.  Coming to you LIVE & DIRECT from Kingston, Tennessee.  Here live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  From the Durham County Courthouse.  I‘m here in West Virginia in front of the Sago mine.  LIVE & DIRECT here from New Orleans. 

When you see what you‘re seeing like today, do you think there‘s going to be a few people left alive? 

CHIEF TOM HENDERSON, USS TORTUGA:  In this, yes.  Yes, I do.  It‘s harder.  There‘s no one, the water came over these houses, these single story houses.  When they go through these houses, after the water recedes all the way, we‘re going to probably find families, people that were trapped and could not get to the roof.

COSBY:  This is incredible.  How high was the water at one point when you were told? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Twelve feet deep.  I passed this house with a boat.

COSBY:  In your home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In my home.

COSBY:  So this is the good news? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is the good news.  The good news is my house is still standing and all of the houses around me have collapsed. 

PAUL LICCIARDI, HOME DAMAGED IN KATRINA:  I had four graduation pictures.  And now I have none. 

COSBY:  You can‘t replace those.  No insurance replaces those. 

LICCIARDI:  No. 

COSBY:  What happened to you? 

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER:  I was involved in an I.E.D. attack. 

COSBY:  And that was the attack on December 1st where 10 marines lost their lives? 

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER:  Yes. 

COSBY:  Ninety percent of Afghanistan still found to have some mines. 

These men and women have their work cut out for them. 

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER:  How dangerous is it out there?  Every time we leave the wire, you know, we are always on alert for everything.  For everything that we need to be alert for. 

COSBY:  Two men portraying well-armed Mexican terrorists threw a hood over my head and forced me into an interrogation room. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get that hood off her head.  Get it off right now!

COSBY:  That‘s where I was grilled and screamed at and even though we were role playing, it was still terrifying. 

Now 2:00 in the morning, and at this hour it‘s easy to see why this border is so porous.  Where those lights are right over my shoulder is Mexico.  Less than half a mile away.  It‘s believed that on any given week, about 20,000 people enter the United States through Mexico illegally. 

VICENTE FOX, MEXICAN PRESIDENT:  It‘s clear to us that we need modern technological mechanisms to control the border and to control people transiting illegally, to control terrorism. 

COSBY:  Why do did you think it was critical to be here today? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Because I want to fight for my people, I want to fight for the injustice of the people that they have at their jobs. 

COSBY:  Are you here legally or illegally? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not yet.  I‘m illegal. 

COSBY:  You‘re here illegal.  Are you worried about being seen here today and losing your job? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, ma‘am. 

COSBY:  Why not? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I‘m proud to be here because I want to help my people. 

COSBY:  Aside from this big, blinking red arrow, the outside of the Bunny Ranch looks quite sedate.  It‘s just a single-story building surround by this chain link fence.  But, once a customer rings this bell, he is sure to have a memorable time inside with the working girls. 

Hi.  I‘m Rita Cosby with MSNBC. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Welcome to the world famous Bunny Ranch, I‘m Madame Suzette. 

COSBY:  How does it feel to celebrate Christmas at the Playboy mansion? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Wonderful, everything is so beautiful.  The food on Christmas.  Everything is just so cool. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Be very, very quiet.  He‘s hunting cheeseburgers. 

COSBY:  How many seats does he have? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can‘t really tell.  He is actually taking up four seats. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  The famous wrestler Rick Flair when we were there in Afghanistan there with the troops.  I will never forget that.  And when we come back, we have done a lot more than take you to the big stories.  We have also brought you the big guest.  And that‘s coming up next. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVIE WONDER, SINGER:  Called to say I love you I just called to say how much I care I just called to say, Rita, I love you and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  On LIVE & DIRECT, we have had the chance to sit down with some of the biggest news makers and entertainers out there, starting with our very first interview, two Michael Jackson jurors who told me that they think they let a guilty man walk free. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Are you saying that Michael Jackson is a serial child molester? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I think he is. 

COSBY:  So, why didn‘t you come up with a compromise verdict?  Push them to find him guilty on the alcohol or the conspiracy but not on the molestation? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We tried. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You couldn‘t get them to compromise on anything. 

Not one thing. 

COSBY:  I see you, and I think this is a woman that feels guilty, who is at home at night.  You probably cry about what you did. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Sure.  I sure do.  But God has forgiven me, and now I‘m going to have to forgive myself. 

COSBY:  Is there a point where you say, look, I have done it all, that‘s it? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You know, from that point, Rita, I guess we‘ll just regroup and don‘t know where we‘ll go from there.  You know, we just hate to cross that bridge yet.  Since we‘re not there.  When we look at the date coming, a year coming up, it‘s no more difficult than ever day to live and see what all Natalie is missing and has missed and will continue to miss. 

COSBY:  Do you believe that there are several others involved beyond your father and Timothy McVeigh? 

JOSH NICHOLS, SON OF TERRY NICHOLS:  Yes.  There was more people involved. 

COSBY:  More than just one? 

NICHOLS:  More than just McVeigh and him. 

COSBY:  How many others do you believe are involved? 

NICHOLS:  I couldn‘t put a number on it.  It could be five, it could be 10.  It could be more. 

COSBY:  Was this about publicity?  Did you want all of the attention, 15 minutes of fame? 

FARRIS HASSAN, TEEN WHO TRAVELED TO IRAQ:  No.  I felt so guilty when I was returning to the United States and I saw on the news two soldiers had been killed in Iraq.  And they were sidelined.  And my story was in the headlines in the center.  The 16-year-old, this rich 16-year-old, comes to Iraq, nothing happens to him.  We go through a lot of trouble to get him back to the United States, and he is getting all of the press coverage. 

COSBY:  Are you afraid of dying?

STANLEY “TOOKIE” WILLIAMS, EXECUTED DEATH ROW INMATE:  No, akin to any sensible human being, I want to live. 

COSBY:  Tookie Williams died the same way that he lived.  He was belligerent.  He seemed steadfast to the bitter end. 

Why did you kill your parents? 

ERIK MENENDEZ, CONVICTED OF MURDERING PARENTS:  I was terrified.  I thought I was going to die.  It wasn‘t a little bit of fear.  I have never been so scared in my life.  And it may sound nuts now, even 15 years later, but I remember the horror I felt at that moment, and I‘ll never forget it.  The sense of dread that I was about to die. 

COSBY:  Do you have any regrets was it worth going to prison for all of this? 

JACK KEVORKIAN, CONVICTED FOR ASSISTED SUICIDE:  Well, I do a little. 

It was disappointing because what I did turned out to be in vain. 

COSBY:  The new indictment against you has charges of money laundering.  Also conspiracy.  Did you violate the code? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I did not violate the code.  First of all, I wasn‘t involved. 

COSBY:  Do you ever say, look what a great player I am, but imagine what I could have been if I had taken care of myself? 

JOHN DALY, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER:  No. 

COSBY:  I heard you, is it 20 diet cokes and smoke two packs of cigarettes still a day? 

DALY:  Pretty much, yes. 

COSBY:  And that‘s the training for one of the top golfers in the world? 

DALY:  My motto is nicotine and caffeine equal protein. 

COSBY:  Are we going to see an even bigger and better Martha Stewart? 

MARTHA STEWART:  Certainly.  Absolutely.  That‘s what we‘re working for. 

JON VOIGHT, ACTOR:  Do you know what‘s the greatest thing is when you say being the grandfather of Shiloh.  I mean, it‘s hysterical, isn‘t it.  Here is this little tiny thing that‘s come, and all of a sudden she has this big presence and identification and nobody has even seen her. 

COSBY:  You look like a kid in the candy store.  You look so happy. 

HUGH HEFNER, PLAYBOY:  I am a kid in the candy store.  I dreamed impossible dreams, and they turned out beyond anything I can possibly imagine. 

DENNIS RODMAN, PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER:  I‘m a good bath, not a bad bath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m a friend of yours.  I like your delivery, I like the way you talk, I like the whole thing. 

COSBY:  What is it about me that you like the most? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I like your voice.  I like the way you talk.  You sounded like you just came out of the smoky bar and you‘re with twenty guys. 

COSBY:  Who do you think is going to win?  What‘s your prediction on who‘s going to win, who‘s going to take it all?

SIMON COWL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  I have a horrible feeling the public are going to vote for Taylor. 

TAYLOR HICKS, “AMERICAN IDOL” WINNER:  Just an old sweet song keeps Rita on my mind.

COSBY:  Keeps Taylor on my mind.  What do you think? 

HICKS:  I think it‘s good. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Some awesome memories.  We‘ll be right back with more LIVE & DIRECT.  After the break, and all of those folks behind the scenes who make this show happen.  You have to stick it.  There‘s our control room, there they are working hard.  We‘ll be back with them and everybody else after the break. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, it has been an amazing year hosting shows LIVE & DIRECT as you saw from various locations throughout the world.  I have had a great time bringing the latest breaking news, and hopefully some interesting interviews to all of you.  You will soon see me at 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.  during some of the top rated “MSNBC Investigates” and doing some Rita Cosby specials, bringing you some of the top news makers and most fascinating people out there. 

I am really looking forward to this next move, and I am also so proud of the great work that we have done right here on LIVE & DIRECT. I am thankful for having a top notch staff that made it all possible.  Tonight I want to share them with all of you.  First we have our executive producer, Angie Door (ph) at the helm of it all.  She has been with me, there she is in the control room, from day one, and has worked so hard and has literally run the show, even from some remote places like Afghanistan with a bunch of super human wrestlers.  Also, our director, Ken.  You see him there, there he is waving.  He has been the voice in my ear, always calm, cool, collected under pressure even when I am literally in the midst of a hurricane.  There‘s close up guys.

Eric Spinato, our senior program producer is the most energetic and enthusiastic man I have ever met, oversaw the staff with style, no one was more excited about our great scoops.  Nina Bradley right there has been the rock for this show, making sure everything fell in place.  She also endured no sleep, no showers and sometimes no sense of safety as she literally lived with me for weeks in New Orleans during our coverage of Hurricane Katrina.  That‘s a time that we will never forget. 

John Nichols has the best humor on the staff.  He has saved us on breaking news, written some of the best and most clever lines that made us all laugh. 

Neil O‘Brien has put together some of the best pieces that you‘ve seen on our show, from interviews with Mexican President Vicente Fox to golfer John Daly.  He is a kind and steady force and a real gem. 

Steve Forrest put together probably some of the most memorable stories.  Our inside look at the famous Bunny Ranch which we showed you, and also Michael Jackson jurors.  This man has everybody‘s personal cell phone and does great impersonations of everyone, including me. 

Andy Dallas is famous for his Andy cam, bringing a small camera to stories like the Duke rape case, also hurricanes, and he often got the best shot of the day with that little camera, or the best interview of the day, putting the competition to shame.  

Darren Mackoff, our west coast producer has patrolled that part of the U.S., brought you those incredible pictures of smugglers on the U.S.—

Mexican border, and probably one of the bravest guys that I know. 

Next to him, Jen Weill, who does all of the breaking news, including the Natalie Holloway case, which our super producer Dave Foster has been a resident pro on that case.  Also Olga, who has been with me in two prisons, for work of course.  She‘s covered all those stories, including the Duke rape case. 

Nanda, our double hitter, getting our great video together every night, producing segments with ease and grace.  Isabel has made our graphics, including the ones that you see here, some of the very best in the business. 

And Kristy, my right hand, has been a true pro, as we threw her out in the field and under extreme deadlines, she kept me saying she‘s been a superstar like everybody else.  Jim Moseley was with us in Katrina in the middle of it all, smiling.  Adrienne, our season pro, getting some of our top interviews like Angelina‘s father and actor Matt Damon.  And tonight a huge thanks to our editor Meridith and Brian.  At the show, we like to keep it fast and fun, we make those guys work.  Also, our graphic artists, Claudia and Kara, we have a top notch team in every way. 

And our chyron operator Amy, and also everybody, a huge thanks to our great interns who make it possible every night.  And again, a final look at the control room.  I think the best control room in this business, hands down, I love you guys, and thank you all so much.  Everybody, that does it for us tonight.  Thank you so much for joining.  As always, I‘m Rita Cosby.  We‘re going to see you very soon, same time, same channel with hopefully some great interviews on “MSNBC Reports” and also “Rita Cosby Specials.”  I‘ll see you soon everybody.  The Tucker show starts right now, Tucker.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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