updated 5/17/2004 10:02:26 AM ET 2004-05-17T14:02:26

Guest: Joan Lunden

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT. 

DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  The miracle mom. 

JOAN LUNDEN, TV PERSONALITY:  Good morning, America. 

NORVILLE:  Tonight how the woman America woke up to for nearly 20 years became a mother to twins at age 52. 

Joan Lunden‘s incredible baby adventure of a new marriage to a surrogate conception and birth to mid-life motherhood. 

Plus, why she‘s now giving parents a whole different wakeup call. 

LUNDEN:  We‘ve never had an epidemic such as we have now. 

NORVILLE:  Tonight, Joan Lunden sheds light on a serious problem that could be affecting your child. 

A look back at the career of a television pioneer and why, when it comes to dishing out parenting tips, Joan Lunden‘s got the right stuff. 

Tonight for the full hour, working mom Joan Lunden. 

LUNDEN:  What an opening!

ANNOUNCER:  From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NORVILLE:  And good evening. 

It‘s been more than five years since Joan Lunden said goodbye to early morning television, after 17 years as co-host of “Good Morning America.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  America‘s mornings won‘t be the same without you.  But we look forward to watching you on prime time.  Thanks for 20 great years on “G.M.A.,” and enjoy the extra sleep. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  A presidential sendoff, and Joan has been busy ever since, hosting a show on A&E that she developed, called “Behind Closed Doors with Joan Lunden.”  And she‘s been busy writing books on her favorite topic, parenting.  Her latest book is called “Growing Up Healthy.”

And Joan Lunden is a mom again, the mother of twins Max and Kate, who were born last June 10 with the help of a surrogate. 

Joining me tonight is Joan Lunden.  It‘s so good to see you. 

LUNDEN:  It‘s great to see you. 

NORVILLE:  Congratulations on everything...

LUNDEN:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  ... most especially those babies. 

LUNDEN:  They‘re just delicious.  Almost a year old, crawling, starting to walk. 

NORVILLE:  Is it different the second time around, when you‘ve had such a big space, because your youngest is, what 16?

LUNDEN:  Sixteen. 

NORVILLE:  Sixteen.

LUNDEN:  Sixteen, 21 and 24.

LUNDEN:  I‘ve got to tell you, I‘m much less daunted by it.  I think I‘m more patient, more secure.  And quite honestly, because I went on my own little journey to health and fitness, I‘m much more fit now than I was 20 years ago when I did the first round of children. 

NORVILLE:  I remember thinking last year when I heard that you and Jeff were going to have these babies through a surrogate, I was sort of reminded of the question of Jay Leno question to Hugh Grant, “What were you thinking?”

This is—it‘s not easy at any age, but you are 54 years old.  And—but you know, a big change.

LUNDEN:  Our life is all about the choices we make, and when I was looking for a mate for life, I really was looking for someone who wanted—who was a family man, somebody who would embrace my girls as much as they were going to embrace me and who—I guess I just wasn‘t finished having children yet. 

NORVILLE:  And...

LUNDEN:  We talked about it from the get-go. 

NORVILLE:  That was something that Jeff wanted in his life, as well?

LUNDEN:  Oh, sure.  Absolutely. 

NORVILLE:  And you told me before you guys even got married you went to the doctor to check, and just make sure that all the plumbing was still working, that the possibility of having babies was still there for you?

LUNDEN:  Yes.  Absolutely.  And we tried in vitro many times, but it wasn‘t working.  And I remember, my doctor said, “No, keep trying, because it‘s a numbers game.  We‘re going to get this done.”

But you know, when you‘re approaching 50, it‘s also a time game and is it really about me being pregnant, or is it about parenting and having babies?  So we decided to use a surrogate.  And admittedly in the beginning, it—you don‘t hear about it that much.  We didn‘t know that much about it. 

We‘re both very kind of controlling people.  And were we going to leave this to someone else?  Well, we met Deborah, our surrogate, and we knew we didn‘t have to worry about anything. 

NORVILLE:  How did do you that?  Because sadly, there are over nine women in this country...

LUNDEN:  Yes.  Yes.

NORVILLE:  ... who are dealing with some sort of a fertility issue or another.  And many of them do consider surrogacy, but it‘s not like you can go to the yellow pages and look up Rent-a-Mom. 

LUNDEN:  Well, that‘s the reason why I‘ve talked about it.  Because most people out there hear the horror stories.  They hear about the ones that end in the emotional heartache and the tug of war.  And I thought it was important these days that they hear a story that ended with a happy ending. 

And the reason why it‘s become such an option today for all those people struggling and going through in vitro—by the time they get to surrogacy, they‘ve spent years, usually.

NORVILLE:  And they‘re emotionally drained.

LUNDEN:  They‘re emotionally drained.  They‘re financially drained.  And surrogacy used to be difficult, because the woman that was carrying the child was biologically related to the child.  And sometimes you can still do it that way...

NORVILLE:  And that‘s not the case with you.

LUNDEN:  That‘s not the case, and it‘s probably the best way to do it.  Even if somebody, you know, needs to use a different sperm or egg, at least then get a different person that‘s going to be a gestational carrier. 

So she carried our embryos for us and was not biologically related, and she was great about it.

NORVILLE:  So let me get this straight.  It was Jeff‘s sperm...

LUNDEN:  You know something?  I never—Even if I thought that was an appropriate question to answer, which I don‘t, I think that that‘s a very personal question for each couple. 

I don‘t answer it because I don‘t ever want anyone out there to think, “Gee, I didn‘t live up to this.  I couldn‘t do that.”  And...

NORVILLE:  Knowing that you don‘t want to set standards for others, but the point being, the woman who carried the children has no...

LUNDEN:  No biological connection.

NORVILLE:  ... genetic relationship. 

LUNDEN:  No genetic relationship.  She has an embryo implanted in her.

And we actually went out to California to do our implantation because the laws in California are tried and true and tested and you‘re the parent of that baby before she has the baby. 

Whereas in other states you have to wait six months like an adoption and adopt the baby, you know, from the “birthing mother.”

NORVILLE:  So it eliminates any of that question mark later on?

LUNDEN:  Yes.  You don‘t have to worry about, you know, somebody trying to, you know, take a stake in your child. 

But the thing is that she would call and she would share every nuance of the pregnancy.  And—Some people said how did she give up that baby?  Well, she never looked at it as her baby.  She would always say, “Hey, your parents, Joan and Jeff, said you have to behave today, stop kicking.”  She had that attitude, and she did—I think she would have done it for no money. 

NORVILLE:  How did you select this woman?  I imagine that there are a number of people who, through the surrogacy agencies, say I want—I want to be there for a couple who wants to have a child. 

How do they match you and your husband up with the surrogate and her husband?  Because usually these are married women. 

LUNDEN:  It‘s quite frankly one of trickiest parts of the whole thing, because everybody has personalities.  And you need to match up the right personalities. 

If you have the intended parents—that‘s what we‘re called—who want to call every day, “Did you take your vitamins?  Did you do this?” and you have someone who doesn‘t want to have that kind of involvement, you‘ve set up a situation that‘s not going to be a happy, wonderful situation for the person who went into it for all the right reasons. 

And then you—you decide everything from the get-go.  You know, what happens if you have triplets?  Will you select—do selective reduction?  Or will you—is she willing to carry them.

NORVILLE:  Everybody has to be on the same page with the decisions?

LUNDEN:  Every has to be on the same page.  And you decide how much contact are going to have afterwards.  Do they want to see the babies?  Do they just want a card once a year?  Do they want to say, “I‘m glad I did that for you” and never see you again?

NORVILLE:  And you have a very, very connected relationship.

LUNDEN:  We talk to them a lot.  We—My husband calls Pete, her husband, the unsung hero to allow his wife to be pregnant with twins around the house. 

And we—we talk to them all the time.  Their daughters, their three daughters, have become close with my three daughters.  They‘re coming in for the twins‘ first birthday. 

I want Kate and Max to always know this woman who did such an extraordinary and selfless and loving thing as to give them life, to help give them life.  I don‘t think that they should grow up and not know her.  So that‘s an important part.  We said that‘s the way we wanted it. 

NORVILLE:  And obviously they were on board with that going forward. 

LUNDEN:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Because you‘ve been very public about who—who the surrogate and the family are.

It‘s also going to be different for your kids because they will be growing up in a society in which, for them, it‘s not the brave new world of childbirth. 

Surrogacy will be old hat.

LUNDEN:  Oh, yes.

NORVILLE:  None of these issues that seem kind of new and different to us today, 20 years from now won‘t seem like that big of a deal.

LUNDEN:  Believe me, they‘re going to get to kindergarten and there‘s going to be eight sets of twins because of all the other moms that did in vitro and had twins. 

My 16-year-old‘s best friend in school, her mom, also divorced, had three teenagers, married somebody eight years younger.  She did in vitro, and it took and had twins.  So already my 16-year-old daughter, this is standard and, you know, old hat to her. 

NORVILLE:  The flip side of it, you know, your kids are going to have one of the older moms when it comes time for junior high and high school and cheerleading tryouts and all that sort of stuff.

LUNDEN:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  But you predict that there will be other moms in the same age group as you?

LUNDEN:  Yes.  Absolutely.  I mean, I know so many people right now, even just within my own realm of friends and who I know, that are doing the same thing. 

It‘s part of our lifestyle.  You know, so many women waited until later to get married and then later even after they got married to have children.  And then they have problems, and it takes them five, six, seven years to have children. 

And that‘s why, you know, fertility specialists can barely take new patients.  And they‘re all women over 40 years old. 

NORVILLE:  It also takes an awful lot of money.  And you were blessed to have the financial resources...

LUNDEN:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  ... to go through the in vitro and then turn to surrogacy.  I read one report that it was around $100,000.  I don‘t ask you for price tags, but we‘re talking a not insignificant amount of money. 

LUNDEN:  And you know, you can do it for less.  You can do it all yourself on the Internet. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s kind of scary, don‘t you think?

LUNDEN:  Yes.  There are inherent problems in that. 

We went through the Center for Surrogate Parenting out in Los Angeles. 

They‘re probably the oldest and best known.  And they take care of everything for you.  Everything.  All the fertility specialists in California, where she lived in Cincinnati. 

We went to Cincinnati for the birth, and we were right there.  I cut the umbilical cord. 

NORVILLE:  How was it for her when you left the hospital with those two little babies?

LUNDEN:  That was the toughest part.  And you know, it‘s interesting. 

It‘s not so much the babies that are leaving.  That wasn‘t her connection. 

Her connection was us.  It was Jeff and me, the attention that she got from us, that kind of a bond and to know that we‘re going to walk out—I mean we all had tears in our eyes. 

NORVILLE:  And you‘ve got a new priority.  These two little babies to take care of. 

LUNDEN:  Fortunately for her, we‘re the kind of people that we kept, you know, in touch.  We‘ve always kept in touch with her.  But that‘s hard.

NORVILLE:  And because it‘s so expensive, particularly in vitro, because most people go the in vitro route before they start...

LUNDEN:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  ... looking at these other solution.  There are a lot of women who can‘t afford the $10,000 it sometimes can be per cycle. 

Do you think that insurance should cover that?  Is childbearing a right or a privilege?

LUNDEN:  Oh, I think that in our society we should do everything to encourage childbearing and family making.  And I think that—I mean, insurance will cover Viagra for men.  Shouldn‘t it be covering these kinds of methods to try to build families? 

And some will but usually only for one or two cycles and, you know, so often it takes five, six, many cycles for success to finally happen for a lot of these couples.  So it drains them. 

NORVILLE:  In many, many ways. 

LUNDEN:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  Well, it finally happened for Joan Lunden.  She‘s got these two darling little babies who a month from now will turn 1 year old, Max and Kate. 

We‘re going to take a break.  When we come back, more with Joan Lunden and the joys of parenting.  And looking back at the news business: what does she think of news today?  We‘ll out in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUNDEN:  I was empowering other moms with information to help them be better moms and to live their lives a little bit easier and feel a little better about themselves. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  That‘s Joan Lunden in an interview a few years ago on a topic she knows a great deal about, motherhood.  We‘re spending the hour with the author, television personality and new mom, Joan Lunden. 

You know, millions of Americans used to wake up and see you an “G.M.A.,” for 17 years.  Do you still hold the record for longest serving woman in morning television?

LUNDEN:  Yes.  And you know, it‘s interesting.  I feel fortunate I have this amazing relationship with so many people in America, because I was in their homes at a very private time of day.  You know, they probably might have still had their robe on and their slippers and haven‘t made the beds. 

And so when I go out, anywhere I go, they come up and they hug you and they know the names of your children.  They know so many intimate details about your life. 

It‘s very different from someone who‘s on in the evening on a prime time show, where they might look at them and talk to them, but they wouldn‘t come up and feel like their subject lives down the street. 

NORVILLE:  Because the evening news is much more scripted.  It‘s this happened in Bosnia today, this happened in Iraq.  And you don‘t get to say, my kids drive me crazy and I didn‘t get to sleep until 2 a.m. in the morning. 

You were a trailblazer in a lot of ways.  You did not hide your pregnancy. 

LUNDEN:  I couldn‘t.  We had a very low coffee table.  And so it was right out there, and I had a lot of women write me and say thank you for showing my husband, my boss, whatever, that our brains do not get smaller as our stomachs get bigger. 

NORVILLE:  Did you feel pressure, though, about that?  I mean, was there any sense of, gee, they should raise the coffee table...

LUNDEN:  No.

NORVILLE:  ... or do something to put you behind a desk?

LUNDEN:  You know, it‘s really interesting.  I didn‘t think of myself as a trailblazer at all.  I was just living my life.  And I happened to find out that I was pregnant with my first child the same day I got the call and found out I was the new co-host of “Good Morning America,” within an hour of each other. 

NORVILLE:  Wow.

LUNDEN:  And so, you know, I just set about trying to live my life. 

NORVILLE:  So you must have just hit the ground running and reeling at the same time? 

LUNDEN:  It was interesting, because I remember going out to do the press conference to say I‘m the new co-host of “Good Morning America,” and they said to me upstairs, “Don‘t say too much about having the baby, because, you know, we want people to take you seriously.” 

Everybody there, all of the reporters from “Newsweek” and “TIME” and everywhere, they only wanted to talk to me about bringing the baby to work because it was something new. 

It was the beginning of setting priorities that are important and sticking to them, the idea that I actually would want to breast-feed my child and bring the child to work every day and make sure that I took the child on the road with me when I went on the road.  

It started a ripple effect.  It really changed policies in—in corporations all across America.  I didn‘t have any sense of that going into it, but it did have that effect. 

NORVILLE:       By the same token, you as the anchor of a network news morning program had the latitude to do that.  Most women in America couldn‘t do that.  It was a long time from throwing the ball till the rest of America was able to connect it with the bat. 

LUNDEN:  Absolutely. 

NORVILLE:  You talked also about how they all wanted to talk about the baby and motherhood and the juggling act that you were about to embark on, but you also had to prove something because you came from the entertainment division and...

LUNDEN:  No, actually I didn‘t.  I came from news. 

NORVILLE:  But “G.M.A.” was in the entertainment division at that time, and there was this real sort of ABC News versus the entertainment division.  How did that play out in terms of just the way you thought you were being perceived within the entire network?

LUNDEN:  Well, I think the only thing that affected how I was perceived is that I came into a show where David Hartman was the host of the show.  And clearly, it was set out that way for him to be the host and for me to be the insignificant other. 

NORVILLE:  Don‘t up think you look like Princess Diana there?

LUNDEN:  You know, I used to have people say that to me all the time. 

Then I see this and I think, “What was I thinking?”

NORVILLE:  And remember, you thought your hair looked good that day.

LUNDEN:  Maybe it‘s because I got bigger.  As I got pregnant, I wanted the hair to be bigger to balance it out.  I don‘t know.

NORVILLE:  It was the ‘80s.  You know, we wore the big shoulder pads and the hair hats to kind of balance it out. 

LUNDEN:  Because it was all kind of balancing.   We see those and we...

NORVILLE:  But David was clearly first banana?

LUNDEN:  David was clearly—and I was told at the beginning, you are second banana.  You are the in-studio interviewer, but not a co-host.  You are not called the co-host. 

And it‘s kind of—and you know, people might look at that and be kind of enraged by it....

LUNDEN:  Didn‘t that bug you then?

LUNDEN:  No.  Because he came out of Hollywood.  He was star of “Lucas Tanner” and all these shows.  He was put into “Good Morning America” as the star.  It was set up that way.  But you know what?  It was a darn good job. 

It was second banana, but I knew it going in and therefore, you can be in that position and not be incensed by it and understand what a steppingstone it is. 

And it‘s kind of interesting.  Barbara Walters once said to me, very early on, she said, “Do not try to buck city hall here and fight with them for the big interviews, or you will end up where your predecessors ended up, out the door.  Take what they give you, make them shine, make them sparkle.  And you will—and get your own interviews and you will rise and your star will shine.” 

It is what I did, and I was kind of relegated, if you will, to the family, health issues instead of the celebrities and the big politicians. 

NORVILLE:  But you took it and embraced it.

LUNDEN:  But you know what?

NORVILLE?   Beautifully.

LUNDEN:  That‘s what people really care about.  You know, the celebrities come and go.  The movie opens and it closes.  But meanwhile, they‘re at the water cooler talking about the interview I did with somebody on a parenting issue or how to deal with their finances at home. 

NORVILLE:  Because that had more applicability to their own personal lives. 

LUNDEN:  Yes.  And in an interesting kind of way, it helped build my career.  It helped build my own little road that I went down.  I mean, look what I‘m doing now, all the parenting books. 

So it‘s kind of interesting sometimes that the ways that people might think they‘re holding you down turn out to be the ways that let you kind of blossom. 

NORVILLE:  I want to remind you of something that you said.  I think it was an interview you gave to “Dateline” at the time that you were leaving “Good Morning America” and embarking on that new chapter in your life.

So let‘s give a listen.  Joan Lunden in 1997. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUNDEN:  I wasn‘t one of them.  I wasn‘t one of their own that they had plucked and developed and made, and I don‘t really think that they ever -- I swear to God they never got it.  They never could figure out why Joan Lunden worked. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Why did Joan Lunden work?

LUNDEN:  You know, I think that part of it was—I mean, part is just certain people have certain personalities that work on the air and work in morning.  People can be great at night and not work in that morning time period.

Why?  Because we come into people‘s homes at this incredibly intimate time of day. 

I also shared part of my private life.  I think that a lot of women—an it‘s not even women, but a lot of, you know, people out there saw in me their life, you know, a normal person dealing with raising babies. 

And, you know, there‘s not that wall that‘s built up.  It‘s just this incredibly close relationship.  And that didn‘t really make sense to the news division. 

And I didn‘t come up through their ranks so you saw it right from the get-go when they came in and took over “Good Morning America,” that—that they didn‘t understand why—they didn‘t understand my popularity.  They didn‘t understand why I had such high Q scores.  They just didn‘t get it. 

NORVILLE:  Did you want to leave?

LUNDEN:  You know, I did want to leave, and I talked to them.  I talked to them before I was leaving about wanting to explore other things to do at nighttime.  So they knew that I was, you know, ready to kind of move off that morning show. 

But you know, I mean, let‘s face it, when somebody new takes something over—I remember when Michael Eisner came in and said to us, “You know the old saying, if it ain‘t broke, don‘t fix it, and nothing‘s going to change,” we all walked out and said, well, who do you think is the first one to leave? That‘s never going to happen! Even if it works and somebody new comes in, it‘s no fun if you didn‘t do it yourself.  You want to put your own thumb print on it.  It‘s human nature. 

NORVILLE:  But I went back and looked at your final broadcast.  And one of the things you said you were going to be doing was “20/20” and prime-time.  You didn‘t end up doing that. 

LUNDEN:  And there was a reason for that.  They wanted me to come in and do that and fold my “Behind Closed Doors” into that. 

And quite frankly, I had a career that was very, and I still do, very multifaceted.  It wasn‘t just “Good Morning America.”  I wrote books>  I gave speeches.  I did a lot of things that you can‘t do when you work for the news division. 

NORVILLE:  Because there are very strict limitations on the outside activities?

LUNDEN:  That‘s right.  And I had always worked for the entertainment division.  It was kind of an odd bird, “Good Morning America.”  But it allowed you to do other things.

So I knew that in order to do what they were offering me, I had to stop doing everything else.  And I was going to, what, put all my eggs in this basket with these people who didn‘t really get it about Joan Lunden, and stop doing everything else?  I didn‘t think that that was a wise decision for me to make.

NORVILLE:  Sort of a “we love you, baby,” but my fingers are crossed?

LUNDEN:  That‘s how I felt about it so I didn‘t take that offer, and I didn‘t go that route. 

NORVILLE:  Well, the end result has been many, many adventures in your life. 

LUNDEN:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  We‘re going to take a break.  We‘re going to talk more about some of the specials you‘ve been working on. 

And I know you‘re still a news junkie.  I want to hear what you think about what‘s going on in the news business today. 

More with Joan Lunden right after this time out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

NORVILLE:  We‘re back now, spending the hour with Joan Lunden, and we‘ve got her take on morning television today.  You‘ve had enough time and distance, to a, get your rest and be awake and conscious at 7 in the morning.  Do you watch in the mornings now?

LUNDEN:  I do watch but, you know, remembering of course I‘m also home with babies so for the last few months, it‘s been pretty intense baby time.  But I am a news junky.  No getting around it. 

My husband always says, “You‘ve got to turn off the television off and go to bed.  It‘s the same thing that happened last hour.”

I think that you get that when you start working in the business, when you‘re always one of those people who is telling everyone else what‘s happening in the world you get that bug.  And that‘s what kind of keeps you in the business, too.

NORVILLE:  What excites you about what you see in news coverage today, and what distresses you?

LUNDEN:  Well, what distresses me is that—war.  I mean, we—we‘re almost a part of it.  We see every nuance of it. 

It‘s got make it more difficult for a country to wage a war when it‘s being waged literally in front of the American public and the American public is picking it apart and second-guessing all the time.  That to me is probably one of the things that...

NORVILLE:  You think there should be less coverage? 

LUNDEN:  Oh, no, no. 

I‘m just saying that because of what‘s happened with the immediacy of television, that that has changed dramatically.  And I think that it probably creates problems, as well as informs everyone.  So that‘s always - - that becomes a delicate balance between the public‘s right to know and a country‘s ability to govern itself, to run itself, and try to put itself in its place in the world. 

You know, of course, what‘s changed so much is live television. 

NORVILLE:  Morning TV is just very different from when you and I both were doing morning television.  It was the news.  It was, yes, you would have a director come talk about the movie and maybe the star of the movie.  But nowadays, you flip on any of them, on Friday, there‘s a concert. 

LUNDEN:  That‘s right. 

NORVILLE:  And it‘s not just NBC.  ABC does it.  CBS does it. 

LUNDEN:  Well, it‘s a cookie-cutter industry, too.  So if one person finds that it‘s successful, all the sudden, you see the other shows starting to do the same thing. 

But it changes with the audience, too.  And there‘s also—it is more of a fractured audience.  When we were doing it, it was still pretty much the strong three networks.  Little by little, there are so many other networks that give the viewer a different opportunity to watch something else.  So it becomes more difficult to have success. 

NORVILLE:  I want to look at how the ratings have changed.  We‘ve got some of the ratings numbers from when I guess it was the final quarter after you left “Good Morning America” back in 1997. 

So let‘s just throw those numbers up on the screen.  The last quarter of ‘97, “Today Show” had almost six million.  “GMA” had about 3.8 and CBS had 2.8 million, almost 2.3 million.  Now fast forward to 2004, the first quarter of this year.  It really is a horse race between “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America.” 

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  Well, when I first went there, when I first went to “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” of course, had been it for years and years and years.  And what we‘ve really found is we created a new market.  People who had been listening to radio started watching television.  We gave more a homey kind of show and we got this whole new audience.

And it really didn‘t eat away at “The Today Show” audience as they building the “Good Morning America” audience. 

NORVILLE:  It brought more people in to morning TV.

LUNDEN:  It brought more people to watch TV in the morning.  And that‘s how “Good Morning America” built. 

Then, when I came on with David Hartman, for years, we were so far out in front that nobody even talked about the ratings.  Nobody even looked at them.  And then toward the end, David left and Charlie came in.  And nothing really much happened.  And I personally think that when the show started to change, you know, the news division took over and the show really started to change and become more of a news show in the morning and -- which is not a bad thing.  It‘s just a change for the audience. 

NORVILLE:  And they voted with their remote control.

LUNDEN:  An audience in the morning wants their slippers where they left them.  They want to find everything in the house exactly as it was.  They don‘t want us to be on vacation.  They want us to be right there in the seat where we‘re supposed to be.

NORVILLE:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  And if the weather happens 30 seconds later, you‘ve completely thrown off their day. 

LUNDEN:  That‘s right.  They even wants things—when we first did “Good Morning America,” everything had to be—it‘s called horizontal programming.  Every single segment had to come on at exactly the same time, so that the who were people at home, they knew that if they weren‘t tying their children‘s shoes at exactly...

NORVILLE:  They were late. 

LUNDEN:  They were late. 

LUNDEN:  And we were almost like a radio show in that sense. 

And it was only in the last few years when everybody started changing their game and changing the kind of show that you started seeing a fluctuation in the audience.  And part of it is that it‘s very difficult to change a program at that time of the morning and keep everybody loyal to you. 

NORVILLE:  Keep them all happy.

LUNDEN:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  How come you left and Charlie didn‘t?  I never understood that.  And I‘m not saying that you were the reason for the ratings change, but you were the one who left and they were rumoring that Charlie was going to go.  And then eventually, he left, too, briefly. 

LUNDEN:  Well, they were planning on, I think, putting two new co-hosts on from the time they came in and kind of took over the show, the news division.  And it just happened to be that I went before him.  You remember that he left, I don‘t know, six months later? 

NORVILLE:  He left after you.  And there was a team that was briefly in place, Lisa McRee, and Kevin Newman.      

LUNDEN:  Yes, OK.

NORVILLE:  Who were there for a brief period.  And then Charlie came back and they brought Diane in. 

LUNDEN:  Well, it didn‘t work.  They lost millions of viewers.  And so they didn‘t have anybody else kind of prepped and primed and ready to take the slots.

So they asked Charlie to come back and they pulled Diane off the—at that time “Primetime Live” and put them back in supposedly for six months.  Charlie now says to me, how do I get off morning TV? 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  He said the same thing to me recently.

LUNDEN:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  But speaking of coming back, in the current issue of “Ladies Home Journal,” which has a lovely cover photo of you and the babies, there is a little snippet where it says you are in negotiations about coming back on television with a daily program. 

LUNDEN:  I‘m not in negotiations.  I have been talked to.  But I‘ve been talked to many times about coming back to live daily television.

I‘ve chosen not to do it because it‘s been a nice break for me.  I am considering it, but I have not made any decisions at this point. 

NORVILLE:  So it‘s kind of like the, what are you thinking?  You‘ve got a lot of freedom, darling.

(LAUGHTER)

LUNDEN:  See, I‘m the one that‘s saying to myself, what are you thinking?  You would really do that?  I don‘t know if people understand that, for live daily television, unlike another job, where, if you‘re gone for a day, the whole world doesn‘t know you‘re gone for a day.

NORVILLE:  You can catch up, yes.

LUNDEN:  Here, really there is—you never stay at home unless you absolutely lose your voice.  Pretty much, that‘s the only thing that keeps you off television.  So your entire life, you become married to your program as much as you‘re married to your family.  And your family, everyone in your life pretty much has to schedule their life around you. 

NORVILLE:  How much more delicious is it this time around without having the morning grind as you are raising these little ones? 

LUNDEN:  You know, I think the hardest part of it was not the morning.  People say, how did you get up that early, at 3:15?  That wasn‘t the hard part. 

It was the evening.  It was being exhausted all the time.  And I can remember going in every night to lie down with my girls and read them books and I would fall asleep.  They were always waking me up.  And one night, Jamie (ph), when she was only like 7 or 8 years old, she would shake me and she would say, Mommy, I think you should go into your bed and lay down and let your brain rewind. 

NORVILLE:  Cute.  Because you hadn‘t turned the page in 20 minutes.

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  In 20 minutes.  So that‘s really what you struggled with. 

NORVILLE:  Yes. 

We‘re going to take a short break.  As we said, Joan has been busy.  And her latest project is a book called “Growing Up Healthy.”  And when we come back, we‘re going to talk about that and some of the advice she‘s got to help kids stay healthy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Joan Lunden‘s new book, “Growing Up Healthy,” is filled with information on what to feed your kids and how to keep them healthy. 

She‘ll share some of those tips when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  We‘ve been talking tonight with Joan Lunden, who has just finished writing her latest book.  It‘s called “Growing Up Healthy:

Protecting Your Child From Diseases Now Through Adulthood.”

When I first heard that you had written this book, I thought, why do we need another parenting book?  Our shelves are bulging with parenting books.  But you say there is some stuff that we don‘t know. 

LUNDEN:  This is different from other nutrition books because of the fact that it shows the link between the foods that we eat—our children and their increased risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, hypertension and osteoporosis. 

And I don‘t know—we all hear, feed your kids healthier foods.  That‘s so general.  But I don‘t think most parents realize the cause and effect, similar to the smoking.  You know, if you smoke, you‘ll probably get cancer and die.  I don‘t know if they understand the consequences of feeding a child a diet that is high in saturated fat, low in fiber, low in fruits and vegetables, high in sodium and high in sugar, that that will increase that child‘s risk of living with their life with a debilitating or deadly chronic disease.

NORVILLE:  Which is one of the leading killers in this country, heart disease.

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  Obesity is the biggest problem, the biggest cause of coronary artery disease.  And this country has over nine million children clinically obese. 

NORVILLE:  Some like 20 to 30 percent of kids in this country are classified as overweight, approaching obesity.

LUNDEN:  That‘s right. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s terrifying. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  It‘s because they‘re eating this.  It‘s because they‘re

putting that stuff

(CROSSTALK)  

LUNDEN:  They‘re eating packaged goods.  They‘re eating chips and cookies and crackers that are filled with trans fats, which clog your arteries, that are filled with sodium. 

Only two things lead to hypertension, elevated blood pressure, too many calories and too much sodium.  And we eat 10 times the sodium that we need, salt, in this country. 

NORVILLE:  And when you look at the packaged labels, it‘s real easy to see those.  It‘s really easy to see the calories.  It‘s really easy to see the sodium.  It‘s less easy to know which kind of a fat is a good fat or a bad fat. 

LUNDEN:  Right.  

NORVILLE:  I have to say, I‘m supposed to know this stuff.  My eyes glaze over.  So what‘s the answer for a parent who truly wants to feed their child well, but doesn‘t have the time, doesn‘t have the brainpower to sift through all of the fine print? 

LUNDEN:  That‘s not acceptable.  You have to take the time to learn and you have to educate yourself nutritionally, because this is the most important thing in your life.

You would protect your child from anything else.  Wouldn‘t you want to protect...

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  If somebody said, you can make sure your child is going to grow up and not have coronary artery disease or cancer in later life and maybe extend their life for 10, 15 years, wouldn‘t do you that? 

NORVILLE:  But wouldn‘t the easy answer be, instead of going and getting the chips that are in the bag or the cookies that are sealed and obviously processed foods, go to the fresh fruit section, give them a sack of those little baby carrots? 

LUNDEN:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  There are a lot of great options.  Kids will eat junk if it‘s put in front of them.

LUNDEN:  That‘s right. 

NORVILLE:  But if you put healthy options and nothing else, if they‘re hungry, they‘re going to go for the carrots. 

LUNDEN:  They will.

But most parents don‘t think that‘s true.  And a lot of parents just don‘t want to stand up to their kids.  And if you shop the perimeter of the store and you buy the fresh foods and you make nutritious meals, which is why I felt it was so important when I became involved in this book, because it‘s all based on Dr. Winick‘s findings, but I wanted recipes in the book.

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  I said, it‘s not enough to tell them, eat the fruits, the berries, the dark green leafy vegetables.  You‘ve got to give them some recipes, because moms have no time.  They‘re worn out.  And you‘ve got to make it easy for them at 5:00 in the afternoon.   

NORVILLE:  The recipes are here, but I‘ve got a bone to pick with you, Joan.  You don‘t have the calorie count.  You don‘t have the nutrition stuff.  I want to know how many calories in the enchilada.

LUNDEN:  Because it‘s not a low-fat book.  This is a book for children. 

They happen to be family friendly as well as kid friendly, but young children.  A lot of parents these days, with all the diets that are out there, are putting children on no-fat and low-fat diets.  Kids need fats in their diets. 

NORVILLE:  To develop their nervous system.

LUNDEN:  And their brain.  There‘s brain development going on in a child up to 5 years old.  And there‘s central nervous system development going on. 

If you take all the fat out of the diet, you seriously risk that.  So you don‘t want to take all the fats out of their diet.  You also can‘t put them on a low-carb diet just because it‘s so popular with all the adults these days.  Kids need carbohydrates for energy, to turn it into energy.  And they also need it for the central nervous system.  So that‘s why we wanted to be very careful that we didn‘t lead a parent to cooking something that might be great for them to go on a diet, but it‘s not OK for a child. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  Another point that you make in the book that I think is incredibly important to emphasize here is the link between soda and the inability to process or store up calcium. 

Osteoporosis we know is a problem for older women and men.  But you build your bones for a very long period of time.  Kids can‘t build the bones if they can‘t get the calcium in.  And soda blocks it.

LUNDEN:  Osteoporosis is probably the most—the best example we could give of a disease that we think of as an old-age disease.  It‘s an old-age disease if you didn‘t do it right when you‘re a child.  From the time you‘re born for a woman until you‘re in about your early to mid 20s, it‘s about the 30s for a guy, you have this window of opportunity, like a bank account that you can put enough money in that you‘ll always have enough money there for your lifetime. 

If you feed a child enough calcium and enough vitamin D, which has to be present, which is, this is not hard to do, to get enough calcium into a child.

NORVILLE:  Dark green leafy vegetables.

LUNDEN:  Well, mostly dairy products. 

NORVILLE:  And dairy products.

LUNDEN:  Dairy products is the one that you get the most calcium from. 

If you give a child enough, they can store enough bone to have enough bone stores for the rest of their life.  And for little girls, this is really important, because we suffer from osteoporosis 10 times as much as men.

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  But you have to know that—a lot of people know that smoking and caffeine blocks the absorption of calcium.  But the biggest—the biggest thing that blocks the absorption of calcium is phosphate. 

Well, look at the side of the soda that your child is drinking.  It says phosphorus.  And phosphorus, it‘s there in such a high percentage that you can think you‘re doing a good job as a parent and you feed them the milk and the yogurt and the cheese, but if they‘re drinking soda all day long, it‘s blocking the absorption of calcium. 

NORVILLE:  The was not that something I knew, and so I did a little research just, A, to make sure you were right, because we don‘t want you to say something that‘s not right.

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  I did the same kind of research, don‘t worry.

NORVILLE:  I know you did, because we‘re both doubting Thomases here. 

But one thing that I discovered was a survey that was done, small number, under 500 girls, but ninth and 10th grade girls, they found that the girls who drank soda were three times more likely to have bone fractures and active girls were five times more likely at risk for bone fractures.  So there‘s really a definite correlation. 

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  Oh, a definite correlation. 

And when it comes to eating fast foods, you can look at the surveys also; 30 percent of American children on any given day are eating fast food. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  And they‘re not choosing the salad when they‘re there. 

LUNDEN:  No, they‘re not. 

So they did a survey.  And they liked at the children and said, what‘s the difference in calorie intake on the days that they‘re eating the fast food and the days that they‘re not?  It was about 126 calories more on average.  Well, if you look at that over a one-year span, that child will gain 13 pounds just on the fast food. 

So if you look at a child who at 3, 4, 5 years old is running through the drive-in three, four times a week because mom doesn‘t have enough time to cook the nutritious meal, as long as the mom understand that they can be packing on 13, 15 pounds a year, by the time they‘re 10 years old, that‘s why we have 10-year-olds presenting with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. 

NORVILLE:  Well, I guess we can‘t really say that the answer is to let the kids follow the car and run all the way home.

(CROSSTALK)

LUNDEN:  No.

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  Joan Lunden, the book is called “Growing Up Healthy.”  It‘s lots of tips and good recipes.  And we‘ll figure out the calorie count.  But congratulations on the book and especially on those two little babies. 

Much happiness as you watch them grow up. 

LUNDEN:  Thank you.  Good to see you.

NORVILLE:  It‘s great to see you, too.

We‘ll be back in just a moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Charges were filed today against Specialist Charles Graner in connection with the Iraqi prison abuse scandal.  He is now the fourth military person to be facing court-martial in connection with they scandal. 

We‘ve gotten an awful lot of e-mail lately about what‘s going on at the Iraqi prison.

First of all, from Cheryl from Thomasville, Georgia.  She writes in:

“If our military police was ordered to do this to prisoners, they can‘t really win.  If they did not do what they were ordered to do, they would have gotten in trouble anyway.  The lesser of the two evils would be to disobey orders and take their chances.  I don‘t know how anyone with a conscience could do such a thing to another human being.”

Mark X. Falcone was Keyport, New Jersey, writes in: “All of you in the media should be ashamed of yourselves.  Only in America can a bunch of captured terrorists be portrayed as victims.”

And L. Leslie writes in about the idea of tearing down the Abu Ghraib prison because it was once one of Saddam Hussein‘s most notorious houses of torture.  And he says it should not be torn down.  He says: “The Germans didn‘t tear down the concentration camps.   And some day, the Iraqis may use it as a memorial to their strength and resolve and victory over oppressive regimes.”

And we‘ve also gotten a lot of e-mails in response to the program we did about fast food.  On the new movie called “Super Size Me,” Morgan Spurlock, as you saw, ate McDonald‘s food every meal for a month and then made a film about it.  Almost 25 pounds heavier, he claims that fast food isn‘t good for you. 

Well, McDonald‘s sent their nutritionist to our show to respond. 

And Steve Molinary from Ronkonkoma, New York, writes in: “America is getting fat because America does not go outside as much anymore.  For children, they don‘t go out and play like we used to when we were young.  Today‘s kids,” he says, “sit around the TV and the computer.  The same thing for adults.  With so many movie channels and cable services, people opt to stay in and watch more movies than take their kids or their spouses on walks on the beach.”

Maybe this weekend, you‘ll take your kids for a walk on the beach. 

Thanks a lot for writing.  Keep those e-mails coming to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.  And some of your e-mails are being posted on our Web page at NORVILLE.MSNBC.com.  And while you‘re there, you can sign up for our newsletter.

Coming up next, this week‘s “American Moment,” perfect attendance. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  In this week‘s “American Moment,” the story of 17-year-old Randa Allen (ph) from Mariposa, California. 

In a word, Randa‘s been perfect.  She hasn‘t missed a day of school since she started kindergarten 13 years ago.  And she‘s about to graduate from high school.  And if that‘s not enough, she‘s also on the cheerleading squad, the juvenile justice committee, and she works part-time.  And with that busy schedule, she is carrying a 3.6 grade-point average and she is now being rewarded for never missing a single day of school.

A truancy intervention program is giving her $25 for each year of perfect high school attendance.  That‘s $100.  And because she has never missed a day of school ever, they doubled the award to $200.  Woo-hoo.  Way to go, Randa.  You are this week‘s “American Moment.”

And that‘s our program for tonight.  Thanks so much to Joan Lunden for being with us.  And thanks to you for watching.  I‘m Deborah Norville.

Join us Monday.  We‘ve got former Defense Secretary William Cohen with us and his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen.  She will be here as well.  She has an incredible story to tell, a remarkable journey of growing up as a poor African-American girl, all of her encounters with racism.  Raised by her mother, she went on to become a model, a television journalist, and then the wife of a U.S. senator and defense secretary.

Janet and William Cohen my guests on Monday. 

And on Sunday night, an MSNBC special, “The Battle For America‘s Schools: How the Children Won and Lost.”  Lester Holt talks with students whose courage led to the Supreme Court ruling against segregation in America‘s schools.  It‘s an MSNBC special, “The Battle For America‘s Schools.”  And you can catch it Sunday night at 10:00. 

Coming up next, “NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC‘S ULTIMATE EXPLORER FRIDAY.”

Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend. 

END   

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