Guests: John Miller, Walter Yetnikoff, Jeff Gordinier, Heidi Bressler, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth
DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT, HOST: It‘s Spain‘s equivalent of 9/11. Now what‘s being done in the United States to make sure it won‘t happen here again?
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
A massive show of solidarity and mourning in Spain. Millions turn out to remember the victims of a brutal massacre that sent a message and a harsh reminder to the world. Terror has struck again.
Was this the work of al Qaeda? And where will they strike next?
Springsteen, Jackson, Simon, Jagger, Dylan, Streisand, Taylor.
Superstars who once ruled the record charts, and this man once ruled their careers. Tonight, flamboyant record mogul Walter Yetnikoff recalls his wild years at the top. The drugs, the sex, and the legends of rock ‘n‘ roll.
Plus, he‘s been accused of molesting a child for the second time. But Michael Jackson‘s following is stronger than ever. Who are these frenzied fans, and why do they remain forever loyal to the King of Pop?
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I don‘t like excuses.
ANNOUNCER: She‘s the apprentice who left a lasting impression. Tonight, Omarosa reminisces about her downfall from reality TV‘s corporate ladder.
OMAROSA STALLWORTH: Thanks for the opportunity here.
ANNOUNCER: And another one bites the dust. Heidi, the latest “Apprentice” casualty, joins the ranks of this.
TRUMP: You‘re fired.
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT. From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
NORVILLE: And good evening, everybody.
It was a sight to behold. This is the scene tonight in Spain, a nation in mourning. Millions of people took to the streets, chanting and shouting, to pay tribute to the victims of yesterday‘s brutal terror attacks.
Across the country from Madrid to Barcelona, from Seville to Valencia, even in the Canary Islands, Spaniards stood together to show their solidarity.
All of this coming in the wake of the worst terror attack in Spain‘s history. It was a well-coordinated series of 10 explosions, which ripped through commuter trains in Madrid during rush hour.
Today a 7-month-old baby died, making it the 199th victim. More than 1,400 people were hurt.
Spanish officials initially blamed a Basque separatist group, but that group denies any responsibility. And so now attention has turned to al Qaeda.
Worth noting, these attacks come exactly two and a half years after the 9/11 attacks. Also, there were 911 days between 9/11 and yesterday.
Today President Bush paid tribute to those killed in Spain by laying a wreath at the Washington home of Spain‘s ambassador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bombings in Spain are a grim reminder that there are evil people in the world who are willing to kill innocent life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: The Department of Homeland Security says it has no specific evidence that terror groups are considering any similar attacks here in the United States, and so there‘s no plan to raise the terror threat level.
But it does acknowledge that United States railways are vulnerable.
Joining me tonight from Los Angeles is John Miller. He‘s the chief of critical incident management at the Los Angeles Police Department. He is also a former ABC News correspondent who interviewed Osama bin Laden back in 1998. He also extensively covered al Qaeda activities.
John, thanks for being with us.
Let me ask you, knowing al Qaeda as well as you do, does this attack in Spain bear the markings of the kind of actions they would take?
JOHN MILLER, CHIEF OF CRITICAL INCIDENT MANAGEMENT, LAPD: Well, no, it doesn‘t, Deborah. Al Qaeda has been the master of taking two or sometimes even three years to lead up to one big giant attack: a truck bomb at two U.S. embassies simultaneously, a boat laden with explosives into a U.S. battleship, an airplane into buildings on September 11 in several locations simultaneously.
Leaving backpacks on trains, even in multiple locations, seems to be a departure from the al Qaeda standard of kind of the big production number attack.
However, if it is al Qaeda, it shows a shift in paradigm and one we have to be quite worried about. It would suggest, if it was al Qaeda, that they‘re willing to go smaller, but in larger numbers, to achieve the same kind of casualties, and more importantly, the same level of fear. And that‘s a problem.
NORVILLE: And that‘s a big part of what terrorism is all about. It also comes, John, after a tape was made public last fall in which a specific threat was made against the country of Spain, which is another thing that lends credence to the al Qaeda theory.
MILLER: Well, I mean, you have to look at Spain in al Qaeda‘s view. They assisted us in Afghanistan; they‘ve assisted us in Iraq. Their intelligence people were killed in Iraq.
They have assisted us on the high seas with the Spanish version of the Navy SEAL‘s taking a shipload of arms that we suspended were headed for terrorists.
So Spain, along with Great Britain, has really been in the forefront with the United States in that arena, combating terrorism around the world. It would make them a large target.
It‘s one of the reasons that people in my jobs, in New York, in Chicago and Los Angeles are looking so closely at this, to see what meaning it may have for us.
NORVILLE: There‘s also—and I want to get to that in just a second.
There‘s also an al Qaeda connection that‘s definitive.
Mohamed Atta had spent sometime in Spain prior to the September 11 attacks. And even going back into the ‘90s there were confirmed al Qaeda operatives who were in Spain.
There‘s reason to suggest that there would be within the country of Spain some who would be sympathetic to the al Qaeda message.
MILLER: Well, al Qaeda has had a fairly, as you point out, high profile in Spain. There was a Spanish cell that‘s been operating at least since 1997, which has been involved in many operations.
With that, I would say, very much like the United States. Immediately after September 11, there were numerous arrests and prosecutions by Spanish authorities to tamp down any terrorist activity. So you have to account for that.
But as we learn, as I think every day, there‘s always somebody flying under your radar that you don‘t know about. It would not take an incredibly large cell to put together what was done yesterday with incredibly devastating results against what are essentially soft targets, not just in Europe, but also here in the United States.
NORVILLE: Which is what makes the job you do now so critical.
There was a claim of responsibility by a group purporting to have links to al Qaeda made to a London Arabic newspaper. One of the things the group said was, quote, “We announced the good news for the Muslims in the world that the strike of the black wind of death, the expected strike against America, is now at its final stage, 90 percent ready, and is coming soon by God‘s will.”
That certainly sounds like warning signal to the U.S. of A. What are people like you and your colleagues in other major cities around America doing to up the protection level?
MILLER: Well, I think we‘re already on yellow, which is high alert. I don‘t put an awful lot of credence in that particular claim, because the same group that was named in that claim speaking for al Qaeda had also claimed responsibility for the New York blackout, which we, of course, know was a problem with the power grid.
NORVILLE: So maybe they claim responsibility for everything just because it‘s good publicity for their group.
MILLER: I would say that‘s a possibility.
What I would want to look to is are we going to hear from bin Laden or
his aide, Ayman al Zawahiri, in a tape in the next few weeks where they
reference this as an al Qaeda job? That is usually where I put an awful
lot more credence.
Or are we going to learn from our brothers and sisters in the federal agencies of a much better foreign intelligence that they‘re able to vet that claim and give some credence to it?
We‘re waiting with great concern. If this is a Basque, ETA, Spanish home-grown matter, that‘s a matter of great concern because of the devastation and the death involved, but not so much for the...
NORVILLE: And they‘ve never done anything that extensive.
MILLER: But not so much for the United States.
MILLER: Well, they‘ve had some major attacks. But they‘ve generally focused their attacks on judges, on police officials, on the people that they consider the government, more than the populous. This would be a departure for them, too, to some extent.
NORVILLE: You know, John, I just wonder about the possibility, is it conceivable that the Basque group ETA would link forces with al Qaeda or al Qaeda sympathetic groups in Spain to obfuscate people like you, you know, figuring where the blame is, but still achieve their simultaneous goals?
MILLER: You know, al Qaeda has been, under bin Laden‘s direction, the master group of networking other groups.
MILLER: But again, networking only other Islamic fundamentalist groups. Frankly, and I don‘t know how to say this in a polite way, Al Qaeda, in terms of Islamic fundamentalism would look on the Basque separatists as just a different group of infidels. I would never see them working together.
NORVILLE: OK. Good. Well, we put that one to bed.
Now let‘s talk about what‘s going on here at home. Here in New York City there is a heightened sense of concern on subways, at rail stations. People are looking around a little bit more. We see the folks in the uniforms doing the patrols a bit more prominently than we have in recent weeks.
What is going on? What kinds of steps can you take? I mean, for heaven‘s sakes, how can we be more alert than we have been for the last two and a half years?
MILLER: Well, you know, it‘s interesting you point that out. You know, when you‘re on high alert all the time, you‘re never really on high alert. That‘s why when we go up to orange in the code system, people are a little more aware.
And that‘s why when something like this is in the forefront of the news and we ask people to pay closer attention, it works.
In screening today at a facility here that has to do with our railroads, a package was noticed. It was set aside. The sheriff‘s bomb squad responded, and it turned out to be one of those transponders that lets them know where buses are.
But the awareness is up. People are doing what they‘re supposed to do.
We‘ve been working with our bomb squad and the sheriff‘s bomb squad here in L.A. County to make sure that we‘re paying closer attention in and around the trains and the train stations.
NORVILLE: John, just finally in closing, the whole notion that this happened 911 days after September 11, people will always find a trend, some significance in just about anything.
Do you put any stock in that at all, or it‘s just a curious coincidence?
MILLER: I don‘t. I call that the almanac of terror. I have a team of people upstairs who track all the significant days and match them up to other events. And you can pretty much do that, given the amount of material out there, with anything. I wouldn‘t put a lot of stock in it, but it‘s always interesting.
NORVILLE: It is interesting. Well, John Miller from the Los Angeles Police Department, thanks so much for your insights. We do appreciate it.
MILLER: Thanks, Deb.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, sure, he may be the boss, but this guy was once his boss. Tonight, one-time record mogul Walter Yetnikoff reminisces about life in the fast lane with Springsteen, Streisand, Jagger, Taylor, Joel and more.
Plus, he‘s facing serious criminal charges. But Michael Jackson continues to enjoy a following unlike any other superstar. What‘s behind the Michael mystique?
DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT is coming right back.
NORVILLE: When it comes to living life in the fast lane, my next guest did it faster and wilder than just about anybody else.
Walter Yetnikoff is the self-described King of Records, and in the 1980‘ he was one of the most powerful men in the music business.
As president and CEO Of CBS Records, he cultivated a stable of music superstars: Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Barbra Streisand, all of them were under contract to CBS Records, making it the most successful label of the era. And Walter Yetnikoff was king.
And he did it all, fueled on an incredible cocaine and alcohol mixture, and when it came to sex and drugs and rock ‘n‘ roll, well, he wrote the book on it.
Unfortunately, it all came crashing down in 1990 when he was unceremoniously fired from CBS Records and wound up in rehab.
In his memoir called “Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Mogul in the Age of Success,” Yetnikoff tells the story of his spectacular rise and dramatic fall. And he joins me here tonight.
It‘s so neat to meet you.
WALTER YETNIKOFF, FORMER CEO, CBS RECORDS: You, too.
NORVILLE: Because you did all the records that I grew up listening to. It must have been an incredibly heady experience to just walk into a record store and say, “Mine, mine, mine, mine.”
YETNIKOFF: Yes, it was. It was very exciting, actually. You know, I was addicted to a lot of things, but excitement was also, you know, an addictive kind of thing. And I have to say I liked it. It was dangerous, but I liked it.
NORVILLE: I have to tell you, reading your book, which is one of the most fun, juicy reads. I stayed up way too late and tried to finish it. I kept coming back and asking myself, what would your mother say? What would your mother say?
What would your mother say? You did some amazing, terrible, scary, outrageous things.
YETNIKOFF: Actually, that‘s a very astute question, because part of the drive within me was actually the history with my mother. To her, money and power and stuff was very, very important. To me, money was less important. Power was sort of what I was after.
NORVILLE: Power was your aphrodisiac.
YETNIKOFF: Yes, power was my aphrodisiac. Some other people also.
Henry Kissinger I think said that.
But my mother was into money. So in some ways she would have been very proud of it, and I think she would have overlooked, you know, a lot of the more salacious parts, you know, of my life. And she wouldn‘t have believed it anyhow.
NORVILLE: She wouldn‘t have thought any of that was true?
NORVILLE: And what was true was that you were, virtually on a daily basis, stoned out of your mind on cocaine, starting the day with vodka and orange juice and continuing through the day with whatever was easily at hand.
YETNIKOFF: Or even difficult at hand.
NORVILLE: Or even difficult at hand. How did you function?
YETNIKOFF: You know, everyone asks me that question, and I don‘t have an answer. I don‘t know how I functioned. I was very good at business stuff. I could read a contract very easily. That part was very easy.
NORVILLE: Even when you‘ve just had three lines of cocaine and a solid glass of vodka?
YETNIKOFF: Yes. I don‘t understand why. I was also a very good administrator with people who didn‘t understand at that time. You know, I would review every raise over three percent, that kind of thing.
And I think I was very good with the artists. I understood the artistic temperament. Now that you could do drunk. But the business stuff was not so easy to do. I don‘t know how I did it.
NORVILLE: There aren‘t many record executives who have wilder lives than some of the people whose labels they represent. But you did. And you worked with some of the most incredible people.
First of all, let‘s start with Michael Jackson. He referred to you as Good Daddy.
YETNIKOFF: As Good Daddy, yes.
NORVILLE: Tell me about your relationship with him.
YETNIKOFF: Well, it was sort of that, actually. You know, they‘ve uncovered a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia. I‘m sure you‘re probably familiar with it.
NORVILLE: Yes, yes.
YETNIKOFF: And in some of the stuff he refers to me as “Big Pop.” That‘s got to be me. So my name was right there. Slightly misspelled, but close enough.
So that‘s what I was to him. I was Big Pop. I was his Good Daddy. And it was that kind of a relationship. I don‘t mean I was literally his father.
But he would come to me and say, you know, “Walter”—stop the mimicking—“my real father doesn‘t think—he doesn‘t tell me how proud he is, you know, how could that be?”
I said, “Michael, you‘ve accomplished what no other artist has accomplished, and he had at that period of time.” Among other things, he married music and dance, culminating in “Thriller,” which to me was “West Side Story.”
“Come here, Michael, I‘ll give you a hug.”
NORVILLE: And you did give him a hug?
YETNIKOFF: And I did give him a hug. Or he would come to me on a totally different basis, and this is in the book. It‘s true, that we went to a formal event, and I can‘t recall which one it is, it‘s in the book. And he had—it was me and him and Emanuel Lewis and the monkey.
NORVILLE: It was the Grammies. You were sitting in the front. He‘s got Brooke Shields, and he‘s got Emanuel Lewis, and Bubbles is around there somewhere.
YETNIKOFF: And Bubbles is in a diaper, and the rest of us are in tuxedos. So it‘s a little weird. “I can‘t get rid of the monkey.” Monkeys have rights, but...
NORVILLE: Give the monkey a hike.
YETNIKOFF: Not right here. And he turns to me in the middle of all of this and says, “Walter, I have to tinkle. Can you take me to the potty”? I know that sounds weird, but it‘s true.
NORVILLE: And he‘s—this is 1980. He‘s 31 years old?
YETNIKOFF: Thirty. Yes, he‘s whatever, in that range, not a baby anymore.
NORVILLE: Not a baby.
YETNIKOFF: “Walter, I have a tinkle.”
Now, I didn‘t take him up on this, actually. Had I done so, I might have had more interesting things to tell you. But I refrained.
NORVILLE: You didn‘t—That was a line even you, Big Pop, wasn‘t going to cross.
NORVILLE: What did you think, because in the book you talk about actually confronting Michael about the physical transformation.
When I look at the old pictures of Michael Jackson, I see a really cute, handsome young man. I don‘t know what he didn‘t like about that look. But you talked to him about it. What did he say?
YETNIKOFF: You know, the BBC runs a special, the British Broadcasting Company, on Michael Jackson every three months.
NORVILLE: He‘s good for ratings.
YETNIKOFF: Well, whatever it is.
And someone, one the announcers said that he has morphed from a pretty good looking black kid, just what you said, to a middle-aged white woman. And not very pretty at that.
NORVILLE: Not very nice looking.
YETNIKOFF: Something is bothering him. There was something he didn‘t like about himself.
Now, he would say, “I was a star at 6, and my life was totally different than anyone else,” which was true. My life may have been wacky or not wacky, but I wasn‘t a star at 6. I lived, compared to that, a relatively normal childhood.
He did not. There was something he didn‘t like, and he cut a song.
NORVILLE: But do you think he likes that look that we just saw? Do you think he likes...
YETNIKOFF: I can‘t imagine he does. I can‘t imagine it. As strange as he may be, I can‘t imagine he likes that.
But I think what he was trying to do—remember, there was a song he wrote, called “Man in the Mirror”? Change. And I think the only way he knew to change was physical change, which actually, if you talk to a lot of people, it‘s not what works. Otherwise we‘d all be in plastic surgery all the time.
NORVILLE: But it‘s interesting. Music and composing being such a creative outlet, that he wasn‘t able to find the release there that other artists are able to find.
YETNIKOFF: Yes, I don‘t understand the psychology. I really don‘t. And I tried to talk to him. I said, “Michael, you‘re actually a pretty good-looking kid. What are you doing? What are you doing?” Being sort of in the role of his father, so to speak, “What are you doing?”
But he would turn his head.
NORVILLE: He wouldn‘t go there?
YETNIKOFF: He wouldn‘t go there, and he wouldn‘t listen. Once I yelled at him, and that didn‘t have great results either. I can‘t yell because I‘ll break your camera.
YETNIKOFF: But he, like, went into shock almost, “Don‘t do that.
Don‘t do that.” So I didn‘t know how to reach him.
NORVILLE: He was one star you were afraid to yell at, because you knew it wouldn‘t go well.
YETNIKOFF: He was too fragile.
NORVILLE: He was too fragile.
YETNIKOFF: Too fragile.
NORVILLE: Barbra Streisand, I don‘t think know that fragile is a word that‘s been used to describe her.
YETNIKOFF: No. She‘s schizophrenic.
NORVILLE: Tell me what it was like to work with her.
YETNIKOFF: I don‘t mean psychotic. I mean schizophrenic in the sense that there are times—I don‘t know her now, and she seems to be very comfortable with life.
NORVILLE: She‘s happily married.
YETNIKOFF: And she‘s happily married, and she‘s embarking a new acting career, I believe—I think in television, actually, I‘m not sure. I just heard it today, and I wasn‘t really focused on it.
And she‘s matured, you know, quite nicely, actually. She looks great.
NORVILLE: She looks fabulous, yet.
YETNIKOFF: She‘s trim and whatever. But she has—There was part of her when I knew her that was a scared little Jewish girl from Brooklyn.
NORVILLE: And could you, the Polish Jew from New York, identify with that?
YETNIKOFF: Yes. That‘s one of the reasons we could yell at each other so, you know, effectively.
And do you remember “Guilty”?
YETNIKOFF: The album she did with Barry Gibbs?
NORVILLE: The song with Barry Gibbs? Yes.
YETNIKOFF: Right. I had lent them the CVSG-2 (ph), a fancy private airplane, and she, me and John Peters went to visit Barry Gibbs in Florida.
And it‘s time for her to leave, and time for all of us to leave. And she‘s packing her stuff.
NORVILLE: This is a great story. She‘s packing her own stuff.
YETNIKOFF: So I says, “Barbra, get a maid.”
“You know what a maid costs?”
I said, “No. Whatever it is I‘ll add it to your royalties.”
But when we get to the place where the airplane is, the pilots see who it is and they come running out, “Ms. Streisand, can we have your autograph?”
OK, now she‘s the super diva. And she says, “Can I touch your airplane?” Now she‘s a little girl from Brooklyn.
So she was sort of sweet.
YETNIKOFF: But mostly I got the diva, but you never knew exactly.
NORVILLE: Every now and then the sweet lady was going to be there.
YETNIKOFF: Yes. It‘s really underneath her. You know, I think basically she is a sweet lady.
NORVILLE: And when you were running CBS Records there was one star who was not in your stable in the beginning that you chased relentlessly.
And there‘s a story of you and Mick Jagger at a restaurant in Paris, when two incredibly strong personalities are literally nose to nose.
YETNIKOFF: Well, Jagger‘s a strong personality, but I don‘t he‘s, you know, physically Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he‘s sort of skinny.
And the incident you‘re referring to was in the basement of the Ritz Hotel. We were closing the deal finally after months of my chasing him, because he was on a tax holiday. So he wouldn‘t go back to Britain. So he kept meeting in Paris, generally.
And a lot of lawyers, a lot of accountants. It‘s 3 a.m. in the morning.
And Keith Richards comes out, and we‘re arguing about some silly point. I think it was a matter of machoness, rather than of substance. And Keith says, “Whatever makes sense is right. Whatever makes sense.”
And I said, “Shut up. You had your blood changed in Canada, haven‘t heard from you in 15 years, go away.”
And Jagger comes out of his chair and other lawyers and accountants, and says, “You, such and such, such and such record executive.”
It‘s late. I‘m tired, and I go over the edge. And I pull back, and I‘m going to hit him. And I actually was going to hit him.
NORVILLE: You can‘t hit Mick Jagger.
YETNIKOFF: Well, I could, but I didn‘t.
NORVILLE: But you‘ll do it once.
YETNIKOFF: Yes. And what stopped me, in addition to some degree of common sense, as wacked as I was, I saw the newspaper headlines in my mind‘s eye, which went “Record Executive Kills Mick Jagger, Held in French Prison.”
And I said, don‘t do it, don‘t do it. But I came really close.
NORVILLE: Yes. How could you have even written this book, being as coked up and drunk as you were?
YETNIKOFF: Well, when I wrote the book I‘m sober.
NORVILLE: I know. But even remembering it, how do you remember that stuff?
YETNIKOFF: I don‘t know. I don‘t know. I have a very, senior strange memory. What I remember, I remember it in nauseating detail. And then I might have blackouts for certain periods of time.
And what I would tell people—that same question in a more aggressive tone than you just asked it. You know, you have a selective memory. What I remember, I remember in great detail, and probably would put you in Leavenworth, I would say 10 to 20, so don‘t start with me.
What I remember, I remember, I think, very accurately.
NORVILLE: Well, what you remember is fascinating, and I just wonder, is it like that in the record business today?
YETNIKOFF: No, it‘s more corporate.
NORVILLE: You mean it‘s less fun?
YETNIKOFF: It‘s less fun. The characters don‘t seem—There are some, I guess. Aman Urdigan (ph) is still around. Clive Davis is still around.
But a lot of them seem to be—what word am I looking for? Homogeneous corporate types, something that was never really part of the record business.
NORVILLE: All you have to do is look at the face on the cover and know Walter Yetnikoff was one wild and crazy guy.
Great to see you.
YETNIKOFF: Thank you.
NORVILLE: Good luck with your book.
YETNIKOFF: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
NORVILLE: When we come back, remember this scene? Michael Jackson on top of the truck the day he was in court? Who were all those people down below cheering him on? We‘re going to find out in just a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Who could forget that, that bizarre scene as hundreds of Michael Jackson fans crowded around the self-proclaimed king of pop after his arraignment in January in Santa Maria, California?
With Jackson facing the greatest struggle of his life and the possibility of going to prison, it seems as though his fans‘ loyalty is only getting stronger. Those who attend his hearings say no singer is as devoted to his fans as Jackson or has done more for charity causes. Jackson‘s next court date is scheduled for April 2. And no doubt, his devoted fan base is already mobilizing their rally strategy.
So who are these uberfans and why are they so convinced of Jackson‘s innocence? In an article in the April issue of “Details” magazine entitled “Wacko Jacko Wackos,” looks into the bizarre phenomenon of Michael Jackson‘s fans.
And Jeff Gordinier is editor at large of “Details,” who wrote the report.
Thanks for being here, because you are one of the people who actually acted on the question I think a lot of us have asked looking at those gatherings. Who are those people?
JEFF GORDINIER, EDITOR AT LARGE, “DETAILS”: That‘s right. And I‘ve been among them.
NORVILLE: And you‘ve lived to tell the tale.
GORDINIER: I‘ve lived to tell the tale.
NORVILLE: Who are those people? What are they all about?
GORDINIER: Well, they‘re regular people.
They have jobs. They go to the store. They—you know, they‘re much more normal than you would think on the surface. They don‘t shriek. They don‘t gratuitously hug you. They‘re not like little kids. They act like adults, and that was one of the things that struck me about them. They‘re more sophisticated than you would imagine.
NORVILLE: If you had them away from Michael Jackson, you wouldn‘t
pick them out of a crowd? for a second
GORDINIER: Absolutely not. That‘s right.
NORVILLE: And yet they‘re incredibly devoted to this man. Why? Some of them weren‘t even around when his hits were really big.
GORDINIER: I think it all goes back to childhood. Every single fan I met talked about loving his music when they were a kid, and that stays with them for their entire life.
And, in a sense, what I found was that a childhood attachment to music becomes almost like this belief in innocence for them. The way they see it is, Michael Jackson is innocent of these charges because he represents innocence itself.
NORVILLE: You know, I liked “Bambi” a lot when I was a little kid, but I haven‘t excluded my movie-viewing habits to Disney cartoons. I don‘t get that. Did something happen in their childhoods when they were listening to the Michael Jackson music that made the connection even stronger?
GORDINIER: Very often, that‘s true. Almost every single fan I spoke with talked about some sort of trauma in childhood.
NORVILLE: Interesting. Like what?
GORDINIER: For instance, one fan named Fizel Molic (ph) said he had a very strict family. He was not allowed to listen to Western pop music. And so any chance he got, he would sneak away and listen to Michael Jackson music or he would go to Disneyland and watch Michael Jackson‘s “Captain Eo” movie like three or four times. And that stayed with him his whole life. He‘s now 29. He‘s a biotech engineer. He‘s a regular guy.
NORVILLE: But his bedroom is filled with Michael Jackson posters.
GORDINIER: Absolutely. It‘s plastered in them. And he has a teddy bear on his bed. And, in fact, he told me explicitly that he does not want to group. He can‘t imagine why you would want to grow up.
NORVILLE: Does he have a girlfriend?
GORDINIER: He doesn‘t, as far as I know.
NORVILLE: And these people are also intensely certain that Michael Jackson is being railroaded, and they are so well-versed in the law that they can speak the minutia of the legal code, if you could keep up with them.
NORVILLE: Absolutely. They know every single wrinkle of this legal case. That‘s another thing that surprised me in terms of their sophistication.
Anything you throw at them about the case, they throw something back. Anything you throw at them about his odd behavior, they have an answer for it.
NORVILLE: OK. So how do they explain baby-dangling in Germany?
GORDINIER: Well, that‘s a good point. They‘ll say the baby-dangling was a mistake that Michael made, but it wasn‘t as bad as the media made it out to be. The media exploited it by playing that footage over and over and over in super slow motion and gave it this gloss of menace. They‘re very savvy about the media. They‘re very sophisticated about what media is and what is done with imagery.
NORVILLE: If they‘re so sophisticated about the media, why don‘t they have a better image? Because most people do think they‘re a bunch of crazies out there.
GORDINIER: That‘s true. Well, part of what they do is, they mobilize. They‘ll send out e-mails to each other. They act. They see themselves as an army in Michael‘s defense. And they‘re not particularly concerned about what the rest of the world thinks.
NORVILLE: Baby-dangling is one thing, and that‘s scary enough. But when Michael Jackson went on national television, worldwide television and said, I see nothing wrong with having young children in my bed....
NORVILLE: That didn‘t cause some of them to pause?
GORDINIER: Absolutely not. Again, they have an answer for everything. It‘s really interesting. They‘ll say, well, in many cultures, having a child sleep in bed with an adult is not that unsavory or not that strange.
Every single thing you throw at them, where, to you and me, we think it‘s incredibly strange, they don‘t see it that way.
NORVILLE: And, finally, if Michael Jackson were found guilty, if this case goes to trial, will they still be behind him?
GORDINIER: I think so. I think even more so.
One fan told me, if that were to happen, if he were to go to prison, it would be the worst thing that ever happened in his life.
NORVILLE: It‘s a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing with us, Jeff Gordinier.
GORDINIER: Well, thanks for having me.
NORVILLE: Nice to see you.
ANNOUNCER: Up next, going face to face with the Donald is tough enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE APPRENTICE”)
DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN: You‘re fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: But what will happen when former “Apprentice” adversaries Heidi and Omarosa come back to talk about it?
When DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
NORVILLE: You‘re fired. Last night, Trump dumped Heidi Bressler. She may be out, but she‘s not down. She‘ll be here in the studio with me right after this.
NORVILLE: OK. Admit it. You‘re obsessed with reality TV. OK, don‘t admit it. But somebody‘s watching these shows. And “The Apprentice” has come on to the scene like gangbusters. It has had more than its share of controversial moments and characters. Last night featured the challenge of peddling rickshaw rides to raise cash.
And when it was all said and done, the team that had the bright idea of soliciting ads to be put on the back of the rickshaws won the challenge hands down; 30-year-old Heidi Bressler from Philadelphia found that her team was on the losing end. And if that wasn‘t bad enough, she found that she was then herself off the rickshaw and instead riding a cab home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
TRUMP: You haven‘t lost as much, but in this event, you wouldn‘t step up as a leader and you barely contributed as a follower.
Heidi, you‘re fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Well, it‘s not quite the Donald trump boardroom, but in my boardroom, we‘ve got Heidi Bressler right here.
It‘s good to see you.
HEIDI BRESSLER, FORMER CONTESTANT ON “THE APPRENTICE”: You didn‘t really look broken up when Donald Trump said, honey, you‘re out of here.
BRESSLER: I was like, thank you.
No, at that time, as I was saying, that day, I visited my mom in the hospital. So my mind wasn‘t there at that particular task, and I think Mr. Trump saw it.
NORVILLE: And the reason you visited your mom was, while the competition was going on, she was diagnosed with colon cancer.
NORVILLE: How did you deal with that?
BRESSLER: It was actually—everyone asks that. I guess I‘m very strong-willed and it wasn‘t difficult. It made me more focused. I had so much fun with it. And I was able to talk with her. And it made her stronger.
NORVILLE: Knowing that Heidi‘s off doing this and she‘s having a great time.
NORVILLE: It took her mind off her troubles.
BRESSLER: Exactly. She would have been devastated if I had not done the show.
NORVILLE: But you know what‘s funny? Donald Trump has this sort of image on the show, but he actually took you aside and had a little private conversation with you about this.
BRESSLER: Let me tell you something. My mom having cancer, I made Donald look really good. I have to tell you, I made him look really good.
NORVILLE: What did he say to you?
BRESSLER: He was just like, is your mom OK, you know? Is there anything that I can do for you? Do you want to stay? Should you stay? And are you OK? I have something in my ear.
NORVILLE: And he said it will be OK if you want to step away?
There‘s no loss of face.
BRESSLER: Oh, yes. Basically, he said that.
And he was talking to me. He wasn‘t just doing it for the cameras.
He was actually doing it because he cared, and I could see it. I‘m pretty
· I can read people pretty well.
NORVILLE: Now, you got kicked off last night, but really and truly, this all happened when, because we know the...
BRESSLER: Oh, it happened in October, actually. So...
NORVILLE: So you have had to keep quiet about all of this.
BRESSLER: Yes, I had to keep quiet, absolutely.
NORVILLE: How hard is that?
BRESSLER: It was not hard. And considering people thought I would be so difficult because I have the biggest mouth.
NORVILLE: You do look like you have got the gift of gab.
BRESSLER: I do. I could talk to anyone. I could talk to the wall. But I was not telling people. So, in fact, yesterday, I literally had to sneak out, come to New York and just stay in my hotel room.
NORVILLE: And what would have happened if you had accidentally spoken in your sleep and spilled the beans?
BRESSLER: Mark Burnett will sue you for a lot of money and it‘s not worth it.
NORVILLE: Like how much?
BRESSLER: Oh, about $5 million. Even if you don‘t have it, it‘s not worth it, he‘ll go after you for everything you‘ve got.
NORVILLE: Nobody on the show has $5 million. If you had $5 million, you wouldn‘t try to be “The Apprentice.”
BRESSLER: Exactly. But you know what? He‘d go after you anyway. And is it worth it? No, they put so much time and effort. We do. It‘s not worth it. And it‘s not even about the money I‘m scared of. It‘s about why I even bother? Why I would ruin it for everybody?
NORVILLE: What was interesting, in the beginning of the show, they had the girls against the guys. And in the beginning, the women were just knocking the guys‘ socks off. They were dropping like flies.
And then they mixed the teams up, and what has happened? The girls are falling apart. You were the sixth woman in a row to get the boot.
However, the women have been emotional in the boardroom and they did not stick up for themselves in the boardroom, and I think that is what‘s killing the women.
NORVILLE: But you didn‘t stick up for yourself either.
NORVILLE: You took what Donald said...
BRESSLER: No, not with Donald. Donald was never mean to me.
It was Carolyn. It was Carolyn. You‘re right. Oh, I definitely take the blame for part of that. Part of that was, I just was like, you know what? I don‘t feel like it anymore, you know? Because everyone that knows me keeps telling me, Heidi, that‘s not like you. What did we see up there?
NORVILLE: We know that the dynamic of individuals changes when you‘re in a closed environment and you‘ve got 28 cameras, I think, looking at you from every conceivable direction. And one of the things they caught was this real butting of heads—and you know what I‘m going to say—you and Omarosa. What went on between the two of you? Because there was one tiff that got caught on camera that was a little testy. What happened?
BRESSLER: Well, basically, you know, she was complaining that her head hurt and she got hit by the concrete, so—the cement. And, you know, we‘re just too different, and we worked together and we work very differently.
So, anyway, she wanted to sit down and take a lunch. Now, I know New York City, especially Felix Restaurant, you cannot eat in 25 minutes. It would take an hour to two hours, so that‘s I was getting really frustrated. And so that‘s the big argument. I don‘t sit for two hours for eat. It‘s not the way I work. And she wanted to sit down. And I wasn‘t going to tolerate it.
So you know what? Yes, I cursed at her, but...
NORVILLE: She accused you of having no class.
BRESSLER: Yes, that‘s really...
NORVILLE: Was that the lowest below?
BRESSLER: You know what? I have a lot of class. It wasn‘t the lowest blow, because I didn‘t cry and barge into a boardroom. I mean, come on, now.
NORVILLE: What happens to you now? You‘ve ended your time on “The Apprentice.” You worked in sales before. Have you gone back to that profession?
BRESSLER: I‘m currently still at my job.
Throughout all of this, though, I‘ve experienced—and I realized there‘s so much more out there. Whatever business I go into, I‘ll always be selling, whether myself or products. There‘s so many opportunities.
I‘ve gotten so many calls today, you know, either, Heidi, you‘re such a
natural on camera. Think about this. Think about this. Or, Heidi, we‘d
like you to look at this
NORVILLE: Does that mean you‘re thinking of a TV career like everybody else in reality television.
BRESSLER: No, I am not going to be that reality TV person that wants to be an actress. No, absolutely not.
NORVILLE: Well, whatever you are, we hope you have a lot of fun at it.
NORVILLE: Heidi Bressler, congratulations. It was fun to watch you on TV.
BRESSLER: Thank you so much. Fun being here.
BRESSLER: Thank you.
NORVILLE: And speaking of lightning roads, we‘ve got the other one coming up. Omarosa is waiting in the wings. You heard what Heidi had to say. We‘re going to hear Omarosa‘s side of the story in just a minute.
NORVILLE: Enter Omarosa. Without a doubt the most outspoken and controversial contestant on “The Apprentice” was Omarosa Stallworth. She was fired by Donald Trump last week when her team failed to sell the most paintings as part of that week‘s challenge. But she didn‘t go down without a fight, as she burst into Mr. Trump‘s office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH, FORMER CONTESTANT ON “THE APPRENTICE”:
Mr. Trump, I‘ve worked for the last two weeks.
TRUMP: Omarosa, I didn‘t call for you yet.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: I‘ve been running around for a week.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Whoa. Have problems. Life is full of problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: He was sympathetic. Her firing from the show hasn‘t silenced Omarosa one bit. She‘s hit the talk show circuit and says she is in discussions about having her own program and is developing, she says, her own line of clothing and she is here in the studio with us now.
What were you thinking walking uninvited into someone else‘s office?
If you weren‘t going to get fired, you definitely sealed the deal then.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Deborah, that was one of those classic reality television moments when you‘re told one thing and it turns out to be something else.
NORVILLE: So the producers told you to go into the office?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: They told me that I was going to have a one-on-one with Mr. Trump to talk about my injuries.
NORVILLE: This was from getting hit on the head from concrete.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: I walked back into the boardroom. George and Carolyn are still sitting there. The lights are full-blare and Trump is looking like, what‘s going on? So it was one of most Mark Burnett moments.
NORVILLE: But that‘s what makes the show good. They create good guys and they create bad guys.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: It‘s the drama. But you know what?
I knew what I was signing up for. I knew that I was going to go into a process that essentially took three days of filming and crunched it down into 42 minutes. So it‘s, in and of itself, a very interesting genre to present what we call reality.
NORVILLE: Why did you get into it? What was your ultimate objective? Because everything going on to any of these reality shows, whether it‘s “The Apprentice” or “Survivor,” or you name it, there‘s a reason. There‘s something they want.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: You‘re absolutely right.
And I have worked in academics. I have worked in politics. I have worked in government. I wanted to make sure that I was building my political and my business aspect just the same. And it was an opportunity to become a CEO of Mr. Trump‘s company and skips 20 steps in the business world.
NORVILLE: Do you really think for a minute that Donald Trump is going to let any of you guys have any real decision-making power, whoever ends up winning this thing?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: I am absolutely confident that whoever wins will become a CEO of one of Trump‘s companies, and he is going to tailor it to whoever the individual that he selects is.
NORVILLE: Well, time will tell. We will see. There‘s going to be another one, by the way.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: “Apprentice 2.” I‘m getting lots of calls from people, saying I want to apply and I‘m going to go on the show. But...
NORVILLE: You, I think, were cast as a bad guy on the show. You are opinionated and proud to be so and a lightning rod for a lot of the other characters, not just the women, but certainly the women. They played it up more on the program.
NORVILLE: Did it upset you to see the program unfold that way?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Deborah, as I watched it, I was just as entertained as anyone else, because I always say reality is very subjective. And it depends on whose perspective you‘re presenting.
So you have to ask, whose reality was Mark Burnett presenting on the show? Because that‘s not the reality that I experienced while I was taping the show.
NORVILLE: And when you‘ve talked with other contestants, have you had the sense of, man, that‘s not the way I saw it going down?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Well, sometimes, I have had to call. I will call Heidi and say, hey, Heidi, when did that happen? And she will say, oh, that was from week three or that‘s from week four. And I‘m like, oh, OK, now I get it.
NORVILLE: Now it makes sense to you.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: So, yes, I actually talk to a lot of the contestants. And they call me and say, do you remember when I said that? Oh, that was two weeks ago. So...
NORVILLE: One of the scuttlebutts has been your allegation made after you were kicked off last week that another contestant, Ereka, used the N-word.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Well, I want to clarify something, because I‘ve
never been one to
NORVILLE: But you did say that, didn‘t you?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: I really—I want to clarify this.
I have never waged any irresponsible accusations at anybody without substance. And so, as everyone else is kind of pushing this under the rug, I really want to stress the importance of diversity in corporate America. Everybody is acting like how could this happen on a reality show that is supposed to be reality?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: In reality, there are African-Americans who go into an office every day that‘s not conducive for their growth or for their working environment. So, for everyone to act like, how could this absolutely happen in a corporate American setting is just so appalling.
NORVILLE: What I asked you was, did it happen to you?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: It happened to me and it‘s most unfortunate.
But you know what, Deborah? I‘ve moved on. I‘m moving on to bigger and better things.
NORVILLE: But that‘s a serious allegation to make against someone.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: It‘s so serious. And you know what? It was a terrible thing to experienced.
NORVILLE: But Donald Trump says they looked at every single tape and it‘s not on the tape.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: You know what? I can‘t box with Donald Trump. He‘s a big billionaire. I‘m not going even to go toe-to-toe with him. He can say what he wants. I know in my heart what I experienced. And, like I said, I‘ve moved on.
NORVILLE: But it‘s not on tape.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Do you really think that they—you know.
NORVILLE: Do you think they would have erased it off the tape, because everything was being recorded, wasn‘t it?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Let me just tell you something. I know what I experienced, and I‘ve moved on.
NORVILLE: And the other woman says it didn‘t happen.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Of course she would want to deny something that is as nasty as repulsive as what she did.
NORVILLE: If you had it to do all over again, would you have signed up for “The Apprentice”?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: I‘d sign up 100 times over. I‘m a journalist like you. And I wanted to go into this so I could look at it from a participant observation point, so that I can observe the genre and present perspectives on reality that other people haven‘t seen.
NORVILLE: So where is your article going to come? Where we going to see the inside story of “The Apprentice” by Omarosa?
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: The first inside story is going to be in an academic journal, because I want it to have the credibility and the substance that we need, so that we can really, truly examine the genre the way it needs to be examined.
NORVILLE: It should be fun reading.
MANIGAULT-STALLWORTH: Thank you for having me, Deborah.
NORVILLE: Omarosa Stallworth, it‘s good to see you. Good luck to you.
When we come back, all week, everybody‘s been talking about watching your weight, watching your waistline and—watching your workouts? Why that last one may be just a little bit deceiving.
Stay with us.
NORVILLE: Finally tonight, if you were watching the show earlier this week, you heard Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson encourage Americans to work out and watch what they eat.
Good advice, because it turns out most Americans are watching their workouts. Yes, according to a new study by Thompson‘s department, 58 percent of all the exercise done in America is broadcast on television. For instance, of the 3.5 billion sit-ups done during 2003, two million, 30,000 of them were on exercise shows on Lifetime or one of the ESPN channels. Put it another way, according to the study, 99 percent of the time that someone is using one of those Soloflex machines, it‘s when it‘s being broadcast on one of those late-night commercials.
I guess the secretary knew what he was talking about when he recommended most of us begin an exercise program by walking. It might be all most of us are able to do.
We want to hear from you, so send us your e-mails and ideas to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.
Thanks for watching. I‘m Deborah Norville.
Tune in on Monday. She‘s the original diet guru, Jenny Craig. She‘s just about the most recognizable name in weight loss, with nearly 700 weight-loss centers around the world. But it was her mother‘s death at age 49 from an obesity-related stroke that drove Jenny Craig to help other people lose weight. Her incredible story on Monday night.
Coming up next, Joe Scarborough. The president of the Catholic League responds to Christopher Hitchens‘ scathing review of “The Passion of the Christ.”
“SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is coming up next.
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