updated 6/25/2004 2:04:18 PM ET 2004-06-25T18:04:18

Guests: Laura Morgan, Carolyn Costin, Carre Otis, Nicole Richie


DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  A cry for help.  She‘s half of one of the top-earning acts in showbiz, a family franchise worth nearly a billion dollars.  She‘s 18, rich and beautiful.  But has Mary Kate Olsen been keeping a dark secret?

Tonight, the truth behind teenage eating disorders.  What would prompt a young woman to destroy herself?  Are images like this and this somehow to blame?  Former swimsuit model Carre Otis recalls her own grueling struggle to overcome the deadly disease.

Plus, the real life of Nicole Richie.  She grew up a child of privilege, the daughter of one of music‘s most successful artists and the goddaughter of Michael Jackson.  Now Nicole Richie is making a name for herself as a TV star.  But life hasn‘t always been simple for Nicole.  There was a bout with drugs and an act of betrayal that nearly shattered her family.  Tonight Nicole Richie on the reality of fame.

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

NORVILLE:  Good evening, everybody.  We‘ll begin first off with the story of teen sensation Mary Kate Olsen.  Along with her twin sister, Ashley, Mary Kate is at the helm of a movie, video, book and fashion empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars, close to a billion.  And the twins, who‘ve spent their lives in front of the camera, are idolized by millions of teenage girls.

And then came word this week that Mary Kate, who has appeared shockingly thin in recent months, has entered a treatment facility for a, quote, “personal health problem.”  “US” magazine is reporting that she‘s suffering from anorexia.

America fell in love with the Olsen twins back when they were 9 months old, when they starred in the sitcom “Full House.”  Their latest  movie, “New York Minute” opened last month, and there is word today that Ashley has canceled her trip next week to Australia for the movie‘s premiere there in order to be with her twin sister.

Millions of American girls do suffer from eating disorders.  And now, with this news that a star that so many of them looked up to is in her own personal struggle, the question is, what is the effect it could have on teenage girls around the country?  I‘m joined now by Carolyn Costin.  She‘s the executive director of the Eating Disorder Center of California.  She once suffered herself from anorexia.  And one of her books is called “Your Dieting Daughter: Is She Starving for Attention?”  Also joining us tonight is Laura Morgan, the entertainment director for “Teen People” magazine.  And Ashley and Mary Kate are featured on the cover of “Teen People‘s” “Hottest 25 stars under 25” issue.  We thank you both for being here.

Laura, let me start with you first.  You were at the photo shoot when the cover of the magazine was shot.  And that was in late February.  Was there anything that seemed amiss about either of the girls, particularly Mary Kate, to you?

LAURA MORGAN, ENTERTAINMENT DIR., “TEEN PEOPLE” MAGAZINE:  At the time, everything seemed normal.  But now, looking back in hindsight, knowing that this is the case and she does have an eating-related disorder, we can see that there were maybe signs of problems.  Before we agreed to shoot them, she did make a specification that her arms not show in the photos we took.  At the time, we didn‘t think much of it.

NORVILLE:  And this is the photo shoot itself, from behind-the-scenes footage, isn‘t it.

MORGAN:  Right.  Right.  Mary Kate...


MORGAN:  Mary Kate didn‘t want her arms to show.  Ashley actually didn‘t want her stomach to show.  But we deal with celebrities all the time, and so many of them have issues—they don‘t want to be shot in green or they only want to be shot from the left—that at the time, we just thought it was sort of standard procedure.

NORVILLE:  Looking back in 20/20 hindsight, does it seem odd that these requests would have been made, or does it still seem like standard procedure?

MORGAN:  It‘s somewhat normal, but now I think there‘s a little more to it.  Already at the time we were shooting them, fans were buzzing that Mary Kate was looking too skinny.  There was a lot of chatter about it on teen message boards.


MORGAN:  And I think she was becoming aware that people were starting to speculate about her, and I think they wanted to make sure that the photo looked very healthy.

NORVILLE:  Now let‘s fast-forward to late April, when “New York Minute” premiered.  And take a look at this picture.  This was taken from the red carpet arrivals at the premiere of their movie.  And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) put it up there.  It‘s just—it‘s frightening.  This is Mary Kate‘s back, and she‘s clearly skin and bones.  And I‘m sure that got the message boards really rocking and rolling.

MORGAN:  Right.  I mean, this really started their fan base talking.  And it‘s funny, sometimes fans really are the first to know because our readers just watch every single thing they do, and they can evaluate what she looks like from one minute to the next.  But as anybody could see, that picture was fairly shocking, and I think that started to be when people kind of tried to wake her up and say, like, Look, you know, maybe something needs to be done about this.

NORVILLE:  Carolyn, you run a facility where girls who are acutely suffering from eating disorders come for residential treatment.  And I gather it was some of your clients that first brought your attention to the possibility this young lady might have a problem.

CAROLYN COSTIN, EXEC. DIR., EATING DISORDER CENTER OF CALIFORNIA:  Did you—I‘m sorry.  Say that again?  You said that—I first heard from my clients?

NORVILLE:  Yes.  I heard that some of the girls at your center had actually said to you, Have you taken a look at one of the Olsens?  She looks awfully thin.

COSTIN:  That‘s what happened.  And actually, it happened a few months ago, and then it started increasing.  And then just recently, about three weeks ago, the staff and people in the field started talking about it.  So it‘s really no surprise—it was no surprise to hear that she‘s checked into someplace for treatment.

NORVILLE:  I guess it is a surprise to a lot of people who don‘t understand the dynamics of eating disorders.  And you work so intimately with this.  Help us understand what it is that pushes a young person, usually a girl, to the point that she literally is starving herself to death.

COSTIN:  Well, you know, it happens slowly.  It‘s not something that happens all of a sudden.  Therefore, that‘s why you saw this sort of slow weight loss, really thin, and then all of a sudden, it gets to the point where people are sort of shocked.  And actually, this is a case that‘s similar.  People try to hide it when they have it.

There‘s so many things that cause this.  I mean, we all know—I think we all kind of agree that our culture is very focused on external appearance and on thinness, and over the years, the fashion models have gotten thinner.  I mean, that‘s part of it.  But the reason why someone would take it all the way to an extreme form, say anorexia nervosa, is much more complicated.  We‘re looking at there‘s some genetic predisposition research going on, and then there‘s also some other psychological factors or stressors, so that it‘s not just a diet gone bad.

NORVILLE:  Would it be the pressure of a career, too?  I mean, look, teens have enough pressure as it is.  These two young ladies have been working their entire lives, and there‘s the pressure with comes with just the schedule they have to keep, much less the fact that they are role models for millions of girls out there.  Is that a possible contributing factor?

COSTIN:  Sure.  It‘s a possible factor.  There are people who have a lot of pressure like that that don‘t end up with eating disorders.  But when you look at all the things in a row, it kind of adds up.  From early, early on, a focus on external appearance, and perhaps they have that kind of temperament, and perhaps Mary Kate has more of it, where—you know, perfectionistic and hard-driving.  And that‘s the people that might really get it to the—take it to the extreme.

NORVILLE:  You mentioned a genetic component.  They are not identical twins, they‘re fraternal twins.  But does that mean Mary Kate‘s sister, Ashley, is at greater risk of contracting this illness?

COSTIN:  Actually, what the research is showing, the reason that they do twin research is to see the difference between identical twins and fraternal twins.  And identical twins get it at a higher rate, which makes us think that there might be some aspect of genetic influence—not necessarily a cause, but an influence.

NORVILLE:  Laura, what about the girls that look up to these two young women?  I understand there are actually Web sites out there that tell kids how to become anorexic.  How is this as a role model thing, Laura, going to -- going to affect them?

MORGAN:  Yes, I‘ve seen that.  It‘s very shocking.  But I want to say that this is not their fans.  Their fans right now are really supporting what she‘s going through and want her to get well.  They don‘t see this as a positive thing.  But yes, a lot of these Web sites are very scary.  I was looking at one the other day where a girl was saying she ate two pickles all day long and still wasn‘t losing weight and wanted support about what else she could do to get thin.  So it‘s just very scary that now the culture has sort of turned upside down, and there are support groups actually encouraging this kind of unhealthy behavior.

NORVILLE:  The statement was released by the Olsens saying that she was going into a facility for a health issue.  They specifically did not say an eating disorder.  Do you think, Laura, that that‘s a disservice, in a sense?

MORGAN:  Well, I think when Mary Kate is feeling better, and hopefully, healthier, she‘ll be ready to talk about it because, really, it‘s not something she should be ashamed of and it‘s not something teen girls or any normal person who has this problem should be ashamed of.  You know, it‘s a medical problem.  And I think she‘s being brave and really dealing with it now before it gets worse.

NORVILLE:  And Carolyn, because it‘s a medical problem and it‘s one that requires careful treatment that takes time, give us a sense of what a young lady going through this might expect in terms of treatment and the timeframe we‘re talking about.

COSTIN:  Well, in terms of treatment—I mean, usually, treatment is pretty long-term.  And there might be an initial period of treatment where you have an inpatient stay or a residential stay, where you just are really feeding your body again.  Nutritional rehabilitation is the very first thing to do.  And then there‘s body image work, and as I said, there‘s other underlying stressors, helping a person to deal with them so when they leave treatment, you know, they have to have better coping skills to deal with it.  But usually, we‘re talking about a long term, you know, not just a 30-day, you know, program.


COSTIN:  It‘s going to take a few years to really sort it all out.

NORVILLE:  Carolyn Costin and Laura Morgan, thank you very much.

Before we go to the break, I just want to show what some of the warning signs of anorexia can be: dramatic weight loss, preoccupation with weight, food, calories, dieting, frequent comments about feeling fat or overweight, denying hunger and excessive, rigid exercise regimens .

When we come back, a very high-profile personal story about a battle with anorexia.


NORVILLE:  Our next guest knows first-hand what it‘s like to battle an eating disorder.  top fashion model Carre Otis, made her living looking beautiful and thin.  At one point, she became dangerously thin, just 100 pounds, and Carre is 5-foot 10.  She says she was on an insane diet for almost 17 years.  But four years ago, it took its toll.  Carre had multiple seizures and had to undergo heart surgery.  Because of her experience, she is now passionate about helping others with eating disorders.  Carre Otis joins me now from California.

It‘s nice to see you.  Welcome.

CARRE OTIS, MODEL:  Thank you so much.

NORVILLE:  Tell me about the pressure that you felt during your career to be impossibly thin as you turned out to be.

OTIS:  I think that there‘s pressures in just about any career.  If you‘re a woman, if you‘re living in the West in the 20th century, there‘s a lot of pressures, certainly, in the entertainment industry and being a model, that there is even more pressure, just that, you know, you‘re making a living off your physical body.  And in this day and age, it‘s so much about youth and being thin.  And sometimes the standards are just impossible to meet.

NORVILLE:  When did you realize that you had a problem with eating?

OTIS:  Oh, years ago!  Years before I did anything about it, I realized that there was something going on.  And it was sort of systemically, I began to clear up areas of my life.  And really, the last thing for me was taking a look at the way I was eating, the way that I was making choices to feed my body or to not feed my body.

NORVILLE:  We had a picture just a moment ago, and I‘d like to put it back on the screen.

OTIS:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  When you looked at yourself, as thin as we see you—and this is a nude shot that we‘ve covered up the things that we can‘t show on TV.  You‘re incredibly thin, but when you looked at yourself at that stage of your career, did you see an incredibly thin woman or did you see a woman who looked amazing for her career?

OTIS:  I think that it‘s kind of standard for women with eating disorders, you know, to constantly—my sister was actually just saying to me, “I remember way back when, you used to eat, like, a stem of grapes, and then drop your pants and lift your shirt and go, Do I look fat?  And really, I look back at photographs of myself that are shockingly thin.  And I remember on that specific day just being convinced, you know, that I was really large.  So I was very fortunate, in the sense that when I turned 30, my body just stopped, you know?  I was face to face with some very serious physical problems...

NORVILLE:  Tell me what happened.

OTIS:  ... and I had to have heart surgery.

NORVILLE:  Yes, what happened?  You had seizures and...

OTIS:  Yes.  I had my first seizure just after that “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit edition.  And that was really the last time I had fasted and sort of starved myself down for a date for a photo shoot, which had been my method for years.  And I went in—what happened is, I had a seizure, and I hit my head and kind of came to and went to the hospital and went through a whole slew of tests and found out that I had three holes in my heart.

NORVILLE:  Oh, my gosh!

OTIS:  And they had to go in—non-invasive.  They went in through a vein in my leg, and they went in and they cauterized them.  And for me, it was really a wake-up call.  I had to look at what I was doing to myself at that point and how I needed to make changes.

NORVILLE:  And what did you do to make changes?  Did you go into a treatment program?

OTIS:  I actually didn‘t go into treatment.  In you know, looking back, I wish that I had gone into a treatment facility.  I went into treatment in a different way.  I employed a nutritionist, a psychiatrist and a sort of a team of experts that, you know, I still work with to this day, just in terms of—and it‘s like Carolyn said.  I do work with Carolyn Costin.  You know, it takes years of really focused work.  And it‘s not a horrible experience.  The beginning is very specific, and then it‘s a matter of maintenance and checking up and checking in and keeping a really good support group around you.

NORVILLE:  In that way, is it kind of like being an alcoholic?  You‘re never really cured?  The elephant‘s always in the corner at some point, and he might raise his trunk and come after you again?

OTIS:  Oh, I think it‘s sort of, you know, in dispute with different

people.  Some people feel that you‘re cured.  And I certainly notice that -

·         you know, I think that there‘s a big difference.  Probably, if I wasn‘t still in this industry, there wouldn‘t be some of the triggers that still exist for me, which is why I still work with a nutritionist.  There will always be that pressure for me because I‘m in the public eye, you know, to look a certain way.  So there‘s an added pressure, I think, to me, as opposed to somebody who‘s not in this industry.

NORVILLE:  I wonder if the industry ought to maybe have its own wake-up call.  The statistic I‘m going to share with you is frightening, and it‘s just about how unrealistic the standards is that you have to hold up to.  The average American woman is only 5-foot-4 and weighs 140 pounds.  The average model in this country is 5-11 and weighs 117 pounds.  And if you—if you extrapolate it out, that means models are thinner than 98 percent of the rest of the women in this country.

That‘s an impossible level for you to be able to maintain, all of you guys, as models.

OTIS:  It is absolutely impossible.  But I also have to say, you know, I had an eating disorder before I got involved in modeling.  And I think everyone needs to look at—even though there is this added pressure with whatever, you know, if we‘re in the industry, this is happening to women all over the world, especially in the West.  But definitely, we‘re seeing eating disorders in other countries and not just in this industry.  So you know, it‘s a huge national—it‘s a crisis.

NORVILLE:  Yes.  And moms...

OTIS:  It‘s an epidemic.  It‘s very serious.

NORVILLE:  And moms that are out there concerned about this epidemic, what should they be saying to their daughters, and in the rare instance, their sons, to encourage them to eat healthy and not worry about some of the things a person with an eating disorder begins to fixate on?

OTIS:  I think for me, I really had to shift my focus from a sort of vanity approach and a physical body approach.  Really, I had to shift the focus into what‘s going to feed me so that I am performing in an optimum way, you know, so that my body is actually able to go on a run, go on a hike, and to really realize I‘m not my size.  I am so much more than that as a woman, and to really begin to cultivate aspects of yourself as a human being, not just this physical body, keeping in mind, we‘re all going to age.  Our bodies are going to change.  And we‘re not our size, you know?

NORVILLE:  Yes.  That‘s a great...

OTIS:  We‘re so much more than that.

NORVILLE:  ... motto, I am not my size.  Carre, I want to thank you so much for your words of wisdom.

OTIS:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  We appreciate you being with us tonight.

OTIS:  Thanks.

NORVILLE:  And if anybody watching is concerned that someone you know might have an eating disorder, we‘ve got an interactive guide to eating disorder warning signs on our Web page.  All you have to do is go to to find it.

ANNOUNCER:  Coming up: She grew up surrounded by fame and fortune. 

Now Nicole Richie is enjoying the simpler things in life.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Could you lend us $5, please?


ANNOUNCER:  But wait‘ll you hear the story about Nicole‘s sometimes bumpy road to TV stardom.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If you call me dumb one more time, I will beat your face in.  So watch [DELETED] now.





NORVILLE:  Look out, heartland, socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are out back on the loose, out there in America, and they could be spilling out of that pink pick-up truck in a town near you.  The two jet-setting princesses are back for a second season of the Fox reality series “The Simple Life,” but this time, they‘ve packed up their designer bags and are making their way from Florida across the country to Beverly Hills.

If you haven‘t seen “The Simple Life,” well, it‘s sort of a 21st century of “Green Acres” or “The Beverly Hillbillies” in reverse.  Paris Hilton, heiress of the Hilton Hotel chain, and her best friend, Nicole Richie, daughter of pop superstar Lionel Richie, leave behind their luxurious lives as they embark on a modern-day “Thelma and Louise” adventure with no money, no credit cards, no cell phones.  There you see them, working as chamber maids at, of all places, a nudist colony.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Housekeeping.  Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Don‘t let me stop you.  Just do what you got to do.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m going to throw up!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure it‘s not just water from the shower?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You guys, you get this work done!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m not cleaning this room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m so hungry.  Let‘s just order food.


NORVILLE:  The housekeepers order room service.  Usually they‘re together, but today we‘ve separated Paris and Nicole.  It‘s nice to see you.  Congressional.

NICOLE RICHIE, “THE SIMPLE LIFE”:  Nice to see you.  Thank you so much.

NORVILLE:  Is it true that you really lost your luggage trying to get to New York?

RICHIE:  I really did.  I took a connecting flight.  I had to stop in Reno before, and I took a connecting flight through Phoenix.  And all of my other bags came through, except for the ones with the good stuff in it.  So I was so worried.  And after announcing it, like, so many times, they called about a day and a half later, and I finally got my things back.

NORVILLE:  So being a famous person...

RICHIE:  Late yesterday.

NORVILLE:  ... can help.

RICHIE:  Exactly!

NORVILLE:  You can talk about your problems on TV, and boom, they‘re solved.

RICHIE:  I‘m yelling, Please help me.  And I was just—I just prayed

so hard.  I was, like, I really, really want my stuff back.  And even when

·         even when they called and they said, We have it, I didn‘t even get excited.  I couldn‘t even think about it because I was scared that they were going to send back my bag with nothing in it.  And so I was just—I was just, like, OK, I‘m not even going to pay attention until the bag gets here.

NORVILLE:  And all your stuff was there.

RICHIE:  All my stuff was there.  Very thankful.

NORVILLE:  How much of a gift is “The Simple Life” for you?

RICHIE:  It‘s been so amazing.  I mean, we didn‘t even think that it was going to be that big of a deal.  It was supposed to come out last summer, and we were just supposed to do it for one season.  I literally thought it would take up 30 days of my life, and it turned out to be a hit show, and we‘ve just been kind of going with it.  We had no idea.  So it was a really nice surprise.

NORVILLE:  What was different from the pitch that the producers made to you and the way it turned out when you guys actually started filming?

RICHIE:  For the first season or second season?

NORVILLE:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes, when—you know, they describe it one way, and then you get out there and you go, That‘s not what I thought was going to happen.

RICHIE:  Well, first season, they didn‘t describe anything, so we had no expectations whatsoever.  They just said, Would you like to go somewhere?  And that‘s it.  They said absolutely nothing.  So we didn‘t know what to expect.  Second season, they said, You‘ll be traveling, and you‘ll be stopping at these little towns.  And we thought that we‘d be able to just maybe sneak off and go to cities or—you know what I mean, just maybe, like, sneak off and drive away and do that stuff.  But we were just busy the whole entire time.  And we had all these jobs that I really did not think that we would have, just very challenging jobs.

NORVILLE:  What is it that you guys are doing?  Are you just being yourselves?  Are you acting?  Are you hamming up for the camera?

RICHIE:  Well, first season, we were—we were more ourselves.  And you know, they‘re cut into 30-minute segments, so—and not even that with commercials.


RICHIE:  So they kind of portray a character on you.  And we know what works and we know what doesn‘t.  And I look at it from a professional point of view.  And I know that I have to be overly funny and I have to do a job, and that‘s my job and it works, so I just kind of go with that.

NORVILLE:  Now, I had heard that in the beginning they actually wanted Paris and her sister Nicky to do it? 

RICHIE:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And Nicky said, are you insane? 


RICHIE:  She‘s very reserved.  She‘s a very private person.  She was in school at the time as well.  And she has her bag line and she‘s—she‘s not one to go and have her life out to the world. 

NORVILLE:  Your dad‘s reaction to this when you went to him and said, dad, I‘ve got this great opportunity, let me tell you about it, when you finished telling the story, what did he do? 

RICHIE:  Well, he—I didn‘t even say it was a great opportunity, because I literally didn‘t think it was going to be that big of a deal.  I just said, Paris and I are going to go away, Fox is going to tape it, and we‘re just going to do this reality show, and they‘re taking away our money and our cell phones. 

And my dad was—he definitely wasn‘t too thrilled about it.  He was just—I don‘t even think he really took me seriously until I actually got on the plane to leave.  And he just had no idea.  He had no idea what to expect.  And after he saw it, though, he‘s been really proud.  And he loves the show.  And he thinks it‘s really funny. 

NORVILLE:  Is there anything they‘ve asked you to do that you just—

I guess you‘re obligated to do it.  Can you say no, I refuse, I won‘t do it? 

RICHIE:  Well, Paris said no a lot during the first season.  And everything in the second season, we both did, except the one thing I didn‘t do was, I didn‘t brand cows, because I just felt the process in which you do it, you have to like strangle them and throw them to the ground and burn them.  And I just—I didn‘t want to do that. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, we saw it.

RICHIE:  It literally brought tears to my eyes.  I was like, I‘m not doing it.

So, instead, I just put—I got lipstick from my purse.  I had red lipstick.  And I just drew on them.  Like, I had other people hold them down and then I drew on them.  And then I put eye shadow on them and blush. 

NORVILLE:  Yes.  But, in the clip we saw in the open—we had a little smidge of that, and you said, I‘ve got nine tattoos and this is more painful than anything I went through. 

RICHIE:  I know.  I couldn‘t imagine it.  And they were like, they

don‘t feel it.  I‘m like, yes, they do.  And I do not want to


NORVILLE:  Then why are they screaming like that? 


RICHIE:  Exactly.  They were screaming  And I just—I didn‘t want to be part of it at all. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, it was fun.  Before you came up tonight, I went on the Internet and I Googled you.  And I came up with 164,000 entries.  And then I Googled your dad and Lionel Richie came up with 300,000 entries.  Well, that‘s pretty good.  He‘s been at it a lot longer than you. 

RICHIE:  Yes.  Yes, he has. 

NORVILLE:  How are you dealing with the fame part of this? 

RICHIE:  You know what is so weird?  I honestly don‘t pay attention to it.  I truly, truly don‘t realize it.  And, plus, I live in L.A. and it‘s not really—if I walk down the street, so many people that live in L.A.  are celebrities.  And so that‘s really not that big of a deal. 


RICHIE:  It‘s not until I go out of town or, you know, sometimes I‘ll see a little girl.  And a few times, they have started crying.  And it feels so good, but I‘m so confused.  I‘m like, wait, why are you crying?  I don‘t understand. 

And one time, I saw these people, and they were like screaming.  And I turned around, because I thought Britney Spears was behind me or something, but they ended up screaming for me.  And I honestly—I forget.  I really forget, because I‘m just so focused on my small social circle and my family, and I just—I don‘t even think about that. 

NORVILLE:  Do you like it when they do that? 

RICHIE:  It‘s nice.  It‘s nice. 

NORVILLE:  There was—I guess it was the first episode of “Simple Life 2,” when you and Paris are galloping into the sunset on your horses, and she fell off.  I wondered if you didn‘t spook the horse, because I heard that the next job you had to do was at the Florida Gatorland. 

RICHIE:  No, no, no, no.  Well, we didn‘t know that we were supposed to go to the Gatorland.  I had no clue.  But, to be honest, I think that the horse just got freaked out because there were cameras around and everything.  And he just totally took off. 

NORVILLE:  Do you know about the jobs before they give them to you? 

RICHIE:  No.  And I actually didn‘t know about the—the only reason I knew about the Gatorland was because I snuck and saw some of the director‘s pictures.  And I saw the crew with all of these alligators around them.  And I said, wait, we were never there.  And he finally told me.  And this is after the show had already ended. 

He said, well, you were supposed to go there, but because Paris fell off the horse, we had to stay an extra few days in Florida, so we missed that.  But I would have loved to go.  I love animals and I would have loved to see all the alligators. 

NORVILLE:  We‘re going to talk more about Nicole Richie‘s adventures when we come back.  As fun as the show has been, her life has not always been simple.  We‘ll talk about from drugs to growing up with a famous father in a moment. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Just say, what do you like about their body? 

RICHIE:  What do you like about your body? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I like my stomach. 

RICHIE:  You do? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you like about your body? 

RICHIE:  Everything. 




NORVILLE:  Nicole Richie may be a star on “The Simple Life,” but being the daughter of legendary singer Lionel Richie has been anything but simple.

More of her story next.



NORVILLE:  That was Lionel Richie‘s 1985 hit “Ballerina Girl,” which he wrote for his daughter Nicole.  She stars, along with Paris Hilton, in “The Simple Life 2,” which is on Fox. 

When your dad did that song, did you know he did it for you? 

RICHIE:  I was young. 

NORVILLE:  How old were you? 

RICHIE:  Four.  I was young.  I did know that he wrote it for me, but I didn‘t know that everybody else in the world heard it.  I just thought he wrote a song for me and that was it.  So I definitely didn‘t appreciate it as much as I do now. 

NORVILLE:  When you grow older and you realize, oh, my gosh, that was part of dad‘s catalog, everybody knew the story, did that just kind of knock your socks off? 

RICHIE:  It really did.  It really did.  My dad—we have such a special relationship, and to know that he just would like—to know that anyone would just write a song about you is just—it‘s absolutely amazing. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s funny, because when I asked him what his favorite song was—he was here a few weeks ago—without hesitation, he said “Ballerina Girl.”

RICHIE:  Did he?

NORVILLE:  He absolutely did.  And he said, it‘s because I wrote it for Nicole. 

RICHIE:  That‘s so nice. 

NORVILLE:  No, he‘s head over heels with you. 

RICHIE:  Sometimes, he‘ll just be staring at me and he‘ll just start getting tears in his eyes.  He‘s so cute.  He‘s so cute. 

NORVILLE:  Now, explain to me your dad, Lionel, and your mom, Brenda, are your parents, but not your biological parents.  You were adopted when you were really little. 

RICHIE:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes. 

My biological parents knew Brenda and Lionel.  And when I started staying in L.A.  with them, we just had all decided—and I actually decided that I was happier there and it was a better life for me. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

RICHIE:  And so it was just—it was really friendly.  And I was totally involved in the decision and just got adopted. 

NORVILLE:  Yes.  And it came at a time in your dad‘s career when, you know, he had left the Commodores.  He was going just like a rocket ship.  That must have been hard for you as a little girl, just that your mom and dad, you love them so much, and all of a sudden, dad‘s out touring again.  Was that tough? 


RICHIE:  No, only honestly because I was so young, I really didn‘t know any better.  And I just—I thought that everybody‘s dad just left for months at a time or whatever. 

And I was also—I‘m also friends with other musicians‘ kids and their dad‘s gone for months at a time as well.  So I honestly never thought that anything was wrong for that. 

NORVILLE:  So, for any other kid growing up in the Midwest, it would be really unusual.  But you had such a different upbringing.  Quincy Jones lived down the street.

RICHIE:  Right.  And I completely thought it was normal.

And when I wasn‘t in school, I was on tour.  So I spent a lot of my childhood on tour.  It wasn‘t like my dad wasn‘t there.  We were all on tour. 

NORVILLE:  As a kid growing up, was it weird having a famous dad, or because there were so many famous people up and down the street, it was just the way life was? 

RICHIE:  Honestly, I seriously did not realize that it was a big deal at all until I went to college, because I grew up in L.A.  And people in L.A.  and people in New York, that‘s really not a big deal.  And when I went to college, that‘s when people started—they were like, oh, my God, that‘s Nicole Richie.  That‘s Lionel Richie‘s daughter.

And that bothered me a little bit.  But up until then, I never thought it was a big deal.  I never thought I was any different from anybody. 

NORVILLE:  Is there a certain kind of, I don‘t know, deliciousness, that, yes, you‘re always going to be Lionel Richie‘s daughter, but now you‘re Nicole Richie? 

RICHIE:  Definitely.  Definitely.

I‘m actually—when people said, she‘s Lionel Richie‘s daughter, the only reason I was bothered by that in college was because I didn‘t know those people and I wasn‘t sure if they were only friends with me because I had a famous father or because of me. 


RICHIE:  My friends—so many of my friends I‘ve had since I was 2 years old, like Paris and so many of my other friends.  So that was never an issue.  And I am Lionel Richie‘s daughter, and he is my dad and I love him and I‘m not ashamed of it.  So I‘m not really bothered by it anymore. 

NORVILLE:  How did you deal with when your mom and dad split up? 

RICHIE:  That was—it was difficult for me, but I was 9, so I was at that age where I‘m so involved in my social circle that I just escaped through that.  And I just talked to my friends all the time and only cared about my friends.  You know, when you‘re that age, you don‘t even...

NORVILLE:  You sort of distanced yourself from the whole thing. 

RICHIE:  Yes, exactly, exactly.  And I definitely used it to my advantage.  I mean, they did not speak for a very, very long time.  And so I would always tell my mom that I was going to my dad‘s and my dad that I was going to my mom‘s, just like any... 

NORVILLE:  So you played them off each other. 

RICHIE:  Exactly.  But any teenager would if they were in that situation.

NORVILLE:  Does it make you a little, I don‘t know, maybe more hesitant about relationships?  Many children of divorce—my parents split up when I was a kid—feel a certain reserve about falling in love and getting involved because they saw the pain in their own family when they split up. 

RICHIE:  Well, I don‘t know that I am concerned with it.  But I actually, up until like a few years ago, I just—I thought it was normal that everybody got divorced.  I was like, oh, well, everyone gets divorced, and everyone gets married a few tiles. 

And someone was talking to me about marriage and how they‘re really scared.  And I actually caught myself saying to them, I‘m like, it‘s not even that big of a deal.  You get married.  If you don‘t like it, you just get divorced.  Like, what‘s the big deal?  And I didn‘t even think that that‘s so not the right way of thinking.  But it‘s reality and it happens all the time. 

NORVILLE:  It does, yes. 

You hit a big speed bump on the way to “The Simple Life.” 

RICHIE:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And when your dad was here, he talked about it.  How frightening was it for you when you got pulled over by the cops and they found the drugs in your car and you‘re standing there in court?  I can‘t even imagine what that would be like. 

RICHIE:  Well, here‘s how it happened.  I think a lot of people think that I got arrested; therefore, I went to rehab.  That‘s not what happened.

NORVILLE:  No, no, no, I know.  You were already planning to go. 

RICHIE:  I was already planning on going.  And the thing was, is that we had decided—I had gone to my parents and I said, I want help.  I want to go. 

And it was a perfect time, because I had signed on to do “The Simple Life,” and I wasn‘t doing it for six weeks.  And I was going go to rehab for four weeks, come back, go do the show, and that was going to be that.

And I had a week.  Usually, when you decide you want to go to rehab, you can go that day.  Well, I had a week of between, because I had certain things that I had to take care of before I could go.  And...

NORVILLE:  And it was during that week that the cops stopped you for a


RICHIE:  Exactly.  And I didn‘t even want to tell Fox that I was going.  I really wanted to keep it quiet and just go and come back and they wouldn‘t know and nobody was going to know. 

And it was, I think, like two days before I was about to go.  And I

was not driving my car.  And I get pulled over, and—first of all, if I

had known—and I‘m just going to be completely honest.  If I had known

heroin was in the car, I would have hid it, because it‘s not like I get

searched or anything.  And I seriously didn‘t know it was in the car.  It

really, really was


NORVILLE:  Well, if you had known there was heroin in the car, you wouldn‘t have driven the car, probably, don‘t you think?

RICHIE:  Exactly.  Exactly.  Exactly. 

But—or, if I had gotten pulled over I would have like hid it or something.  I wouldn‘t have just left it out there.  And I got pulled over, and I was like pleading to the cops, I‘m like, this is not mine.  You don‘t understand.  I‘m already going to rehab.  I swear.

NORVILLE:  Yes, lady, right.

RICHIE:  Yes.  And they‘re like, OK, whatever.  And it‘s sad, because it was the one time I really wasn‘t doing anything.  So many times, I‘ve driven with drugs in the car or whatever.  And I‘ve never got caught.  And the one time I truly wasn‘t doing anything, I got caught.  But I actually believe that everything happens for a reason. 

NORVILLE:  But you had done drugs. 

RICHIE:  Oh, yes.


NORVILLE:  You were planning to go into rehab.  And did you really start doing heroin, snorting, when you were 13? 

RICHIE:  No, no, no, no.


NORVILLE:  That could not be.

RICHIE:  I didn‘t start doing heroin until I was about like late 20 or 21.  It wasn‘t that long that I was doing that. 

NORVILLE:  You must have been really feeling low to be doing all that. 

RICHIE:  I was.  I was.  But you don‘t realize how bad things are getting until you get yourself out of that situation, and you can look back at your life and say, oh, my God, I can‘t believe that I was living life this way. 

NORVILLE:  When your dad was here, he talked about that.  And I just want you to listen to what he said.  He‘s really proud of you, Lionel Richie.


NORVILLE:  What was this day like when Nicole was appearing in court?  

LIONEL RICHIE, MUSICIAN:  To me, it was actually a great wakeup call for her.  I know this may sound terrible, but I was glad it happened.   Because I could no longer buffer her anymore.  And I wanted her to have a real life experience.

NORVILLE:   What did she say to you? 

L. RICHIE:  She said, I don‘t ever want to do that again.  And I said, so what are you going to do about it?  And she said, I need some help.  And I said, I‘m very happy to hear that.  Then, here are the great words, can you help me, dad? 


NORVILLE:  It brought you all closer to together, I gather. 

RICHIE:  It did.  It did.  And not only was he glad it happened.  I was glad it happened also, because I really hadn‘t suffered any consequences.  I just knew that I wanted help. 

And you never know.  I‘m still suffering consequences right now from doing what I did.  And you never know.  I could have gone to rehab and gotten out of it and truly never truly, truly suffered and been back at that place right now.  But it was a true, true wakeup call for me, because I was such the queen of, it will never happen to me and it happens to everybody else. 

And all the time—I still sometimes think like that.  Like, when I found out my luggage wasn‘t here, I‘m like, no, it‘s here, like it doesn‘t really happen. 


RICHIE:  Yes.  And I work on it every day.  But I definitely—I‘m glad it happened, because it was definitely a wakeup call. 

NORVILLE:  We‘re in a good place right now.  We‘re going to talk more about all the good things in Nicole Richie‘s life in just a moment, including her thoughts on her godfather and her future musical efforts. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All the big piles out there, like little turtles. 

Put your back into it.  Bend over.

RICHIE:  Don‘t hold it in my face.  Stop it.  Where are some more turtles.

PARIS HILTON, MODEL:  This is a juicy one. 

RICHIE:  Just smush it.

HILTON:  Cover it. 




RICHIE:  Put on your tightest ones. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Working J.O. was pretty simple. 

I‘ll do a quick glimpse now. 


RICHIE:  That was the sexiest thing I‘ve ever seen. 


NORVILLE:  The sexiest thing Nicole Richie has ever seen, the star of “The Simple Life 2,” along with her pal, Paris Hilton.

How much fun would the show be if Paris weren‘t there? 

RICHIE:  I couldn‘t imagine doing the show without her, because I would kill somebody, first of all, being with them that much.  And her and I have known each other for so long and we have that chemistry.  And I can look at her and she knows what I‘m thinking and I know what she‘s thinking.  We didn‘t even have to speak.  So it‘s so much fun to just do it with my best friend.

NORVILLE:  Real quick, Michael Jackson is your godfather.  How upsetting is it to see what he‘s going through? 

RICHIE:  It‘s so sad.  And the saddest part about it is that, even if this whole thing‘s dropped tomorrow, he‘ll never be able to be the person that he was.  And he‘s just so talented and such an amazing person and he has such a big heart.  And it‘s just—it‘s a shame. 

NORVILLE:  Do you think his career is toast? 

RICHIE:  Yes, I do. 

NORVILLE:  And what about your career?  I‘ve heard that you are working on a C.D. 

RICHIE:  Yes.  I‘m working on an album.  I actually just finished a movie.  I‘m working on an album that will be out next year, and I‘m writing a book that will be out next September. 

NORVILLE:  What kind of a book? 

RICHIE:  It‘s not an autobiography.  It‘s more of an advice book that stems towards 13- to 20-year-olds going through that identity crisis and things like that, because that‘s really all it comes down to.  I know that when I was going through my things, the reason why I did anything is because I was just trying to fit in.  And it‘s all about finding that certain place in life.

NORVILLE:  Do you think kids are also trying to find attention, too, a lot of the stuff you do when you act out? 

RICHIE:  Totally.  Totally. 

But when you‘re 13 and 14, you want to be older and you want to be cooler and you want to be accepted.  And even it‘s not drugs, it will be boys.  It will be eating.  It will be anything.  And unless these problems are addressed, then it‘s not going to get fixed.  And I had no one to relate to, because my parents told me, don‘t do this, don‘t do that, but they‘re my parents, so why would I listen to them?


RICHIE:  So I‘m hoping to be the voice of reason for the next up-and-coming generation. 

NORVILLE:  Right now, Nicole Richie, frankly, is famous for being famous.

RICHIE:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  What would you like to be famous for? 

RICHIE:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t even know that I want to be famous my whole life.  I just want to do my thing and I want to sing and I want to act.  And I want to do everything. 

NORVILLE:  In the perfect world, 15 years from now, will we still be inviting you on to TV shows and talking to you? 

RICHIE:  I hope so. 

NORVILLE:  I hope so, too.

RICHIE:  And my family also.  I want a big family. 

NORVILLE:  Absolutely.  Well, Nicole, it‘s great to meet you.

RICHIE:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  Congratulations on all the success. 

RICHIE:  Thank you so much.

NORVILLE:  Come back and visit sometime. 

RICHIE:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  When we come back, talking about reality television, how real is it really? 


NORVILLE:  Send us your ideas and comments to us at  And you can also send your comments to our Web page at 

That, by the way, is the same that has just been awarded an Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding achievements in electronic journalism.  Congratulations to the folks over on the dot-com side. 

That‘s our program for tonight.  Thanks for watching.        

And if you like reality television, if you like “The Simple Life” Paris and Nicole style, you ain‘t seen nothing yet.  From “Fear Factor” to “Survivor,” “The Osbournes” to “The Real World,” reality television is now the most popular TV genre going.  But how real is it?  What‘s spontaneous and what‘s being manipulated?  Tomorrow night, I‘ll be joined by reality television producers for the answers and by three reality show contestants to find out what were they thinking when they signed up.  All that is coming up tomorrow night. 

Coming up next, though, Joe Scarborough with more on the United Nations‘ oil-for-scandal and also a look at that alleged L.A. police brutality that you‘ve probably seen on videotape.  “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is coming up next. 

That‘s it for us.  We‘ll see you tomorrow. 


Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Discussion comments