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'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' for June 20

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Martha Bellisle, Clint Van Zandt, Dean Tong, Tamara Hoover, Jay Brim, Wendy Murphy, Kimberly Lerner, Mike Slabaugh, Laura Pollard, John Nazarian, Catt Sadler, Katrina Szish

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody. 

Tonight, are these pictures the reason a teacher is now having to keep her job that‘s she‘s fighting to do that?  Tonight we are bringing you the photos and the teacher herself.  Was her punishment fair? 

And our countdown to the “American Idol” summer tour.  We‘re getting you access to the tour and the finalists, who are about to take the stage.  We‘ve got amazing access that we‘re going to share you with you later in the week. 

But first, new details right now in the all-points bulletin for Darren Mack, the man suspected of killing his wife and wanted for questioning in the sniper shooting of a judge.  Police are now saying they found, get this, bomb-making materials in his bedroom.  And you‘ll never believe what else police found when they searched his home. 

Joining me now with the very latest is Martha Bellisle, with “The Reno Gazette Journal” newspaper.  Martha, what kind of bomb-making materials did they find in his house? 

MARTHA BELLISLE, REPORTER, RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL:  Well, it was a binary explosive, they said.  It was something that is often used for target practice, for long-range target practice, but it also could be combined together with—in a large quantity and produce a bomb.

COSBY:  And do they believe he might have been preparing a bomb or just had the materials there? 

BELLISLE:  No.  I talked to the lieutenant today, and they don‘t know what he was planning to do with it, whether he was using it for target practice or what his intentions were, whether he planned to create some sort of explosive device.  They don‘t know.  They are using—they are going through his computer.  A computer was there.  It has a lot of information on it.  And they are going through that.  And maybe that will give a clue to what he was doing with this material. 

COSBY:  How concerned are authorities, Martha? 

BELLISLE:  Well, they‘re concerned about him overall.  They found a lot of ammunition in his house. 

COSBY:  Also a laser sighting device.  A laser sighting device.

BELLISLE:  Right.  That was to be used on the Bushmaster rifle that they found.  They found the case but not the rifle.  And they found a lot of other ammunition, but they didn‘t find the weapons that go with this ammunition, so they are not—they want to know where the weapons are. 

COSBY:  Also, you talked about, you know, lots of people, documentation, things about the judge, of course, who he is now accused of shooting, with that sniper shot, several of them, through the window.  Do we believe that there were documents tied to Judge Weller in his apartment? 

BELLISLE:  Well, they did find a lot of printout material and handwritten material they believe was written by Darren Mack and had information about Judge Weller, who was handling his divorce with Charla Mack.  Darren Mack was very unhappy with the judge.  He had talked with friends about being at the end of his rope about how things were working out with the judge and with the divorce.  And there was a lot of material that talked about the judge. 

He also told a friend, who also told a detective that Darren had been talking with him about being hired to follow the judge, to try to prove that he was corrupt.  Darren was on a mission to prove that the judge was not handling his case fairly and had talked with friends about it, had been on blogs concerning that issue.  

COSBY:  Yes, Martha, when you talk about this friend, this person was not sort of hired as a hit man or to do any violence, just to follow the judge is what he is saying? 

BELLISLE:  Well, that‘s what the person said, that he or she and Darren had talked about working for Darren to follow the judge to try to catch him doing something improper or corrupt. 

COSBY:  You know, also cell phone records.  I understand in this sort of plethora of information, they found some key things with the cell phone records tying him to the judge, right? 

BELLISLE:  Well, they tied it to the downtown area.  They were able to determine that the cell phone that Darren Mack had at that time and may still have was in the downtown area at that time near the courthouse, near the downtown.  But the family‘s business is also in that downtown area.  So it‘s really hard to know what that means. 

They haven‘t charged him in the shooting at this point, because there is so much information that they are trying to pull together.  So that‘s still—he is still under investigation for that.  But he is charged in the murder of his wife, and her funeral was held today. 

COSBY:  And also real quick, Charla Mack‘s funeral, as you point out, was held today.  Who attended? 

BELLISLE:  Well, the Mack family attended.  Darren Mack‘s mother, Joan Mack, and brother Landon.  Their 8-year-old daughter was there.  And of course Charla‘s family and his mother—her mother, her brother.  And about 500 people came. 

It was closed to the media.  They asked that they be allowed to grieve in private.  And it was about an hour-long ceremony.  And then the hearse took her casket up the hill to the cemetery and she was laid to rest. 

COSBY:  What a very sad occasion.  Martha, thank you.  Please keep us posted with any more developments of what was found inside. 

Let‘s bring in now former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt, and also forensic trial consultant Dean Tong, whom Mack consulted on his divorce and also child custody case. 

You know, Clint, let‘s first go through what we just heard from Martha.  Bomb-making material, rifle ammunition, also this laser sighting device that we heard about, and also printed material about Judge Weller.  What do you make of all this information? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  You know, part of this suggests, Rita, this is someone who may well have planned this for a while.  This is a guy who is used to being in control.  You know, he estimated that he had upwards of $9.5 million perhaps in his name, and this is a guy who balked at paying the $10,000 a month support that Judge Weller said he had to pay his wife. 

COSBY:  What do you make of all this, Clint?  Ticking time bomb?  I mean, all these things sound like, you know, especially they don‘t know what these bomb-making materials were for. 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, yes, that‘s going to be the challenge.  But what concerns me more is the weapons that this guy is running around with.  And this cold, calculating ability to brutally stab his wife to death and then just hop in the car, drive across town, set up 300 yards away from the judge, take his time, and take this calculated shot, and hit the judge too. 

I mean, this guy appears to be capable of just about anything.  And I think that‘s why he was put on the FBI‘s top 10 most wanted just today. 

COSBY:  It‘s very scary.  And he has got a lot of money, a lot of access to be able to flee and do other things, unfortunately. 

Dean, before I get to you, let me play—this is of course—Charla Mack‘s boyfriend was on our show last night, and this is what he had to say when we talked about his own concerns for his life and also Charla‘s life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  On a couple of occasions, she, you know, she did confer to me that she was—she was scared of him.  She—I think she tended to downplay it, so myself and her friends didn‘t worry as much as we did.  But we absolutely worried about her. 

And I feared the worst.  Again, I never thought it would come to this, but she was scared.  She absolutely was. 


COSBY:  You know, Dean, when you hear that, did everybody miss the warning signs about this guy? 

DEAN TONG, FORENSIC TRIAL CONSULTANT:  Well, I don‘t know, Rita.  You know, the fact is, I met this guy.  We tested him.  There were no proclivities to violence.  He wasn‘t a danger to the community.  There were no homicidal ideations, no suicidal ideations.  I do have some evidence that, you know, she was scared of him as far as what she said to friends and family. 

COSBY:  You know, what is that?  What do you have? 

TONG:  Well, I mean, I can‘t reveal that.  I‘m working with the FBI and authorities.  Rita, that‘s—for now, this is under investigation.  It‘s a criminal investigation, so I can‘t compromise that. 

COSBY:  Dean, let‘s say this, because we know that the boyfriend was on last night, saying she was concerned for her safety.  He was concerned for his.  You have information that obviously she was worried as well.  Is that what—you support that?

TONG:  She was worried, Rita, but it was hearsay.  And that‘s why I had him tested.  So a year ago, this guy was a normal, upstanding, normal guy.  You know, apparently, he was a burning fuse.  And, you know, this overwhelming situation with the money and the business, and he wasn‘t having total custody of his daughter.  He had Disneyland dad visitation rights.  He just blew a head gasket. 

COSBY:  You know, Dean, you have some new information, too.  You have been going through some old emails because you handled obviously the child custody case.  What did you discover in the emails that could lead authorities to where he is now? 

TONG:  Well, if you look at Darren Mack‘s lifestyle, Rita, this is a guy who loved the glitz, the glamour, the lights, the money.  A lot of money.  The women, the swinging, and fun.  Too much fun.  And I mean, it‘s very possible this guy has fled America and he is out of the country and he is living in that type of paradise, that type of resort area.  I mean, this is all about Darren Mack.  That is what he was. 

So, I mean, you know, that stands to believe he may be in that type of area, that type of environment.  Whether that‘s Europe or South America, Central America, I have no clue. 

COSBY:  Do you believe he is overseas somewhere?  Knowing this guy, you know him, you know, better than a lot of folks that we have had on our air.  Do you believe that this is a guy who is fleeing and will continue to flee? 

TONG:  Yes, I do.  I mean, you know, he has got a student pilot license.  Apparently, he can fly a plane.  He has got money.  He has got munitions.  He‘s got resources.  He‘s got connections and contacts.  So he is dangerous.  But he didn‘t put the needs of his kid in front of his own.  I mean, today this child had to witness her mother‘s funeral.  June 12th, this child lost her mother and her father.  So I implore Mr. Mack to come back, face the music, and basically tell his daughter why he can‘t even see her in a supervised capacity now. 

COSBY:  You know, Clint, could they use the daughter, could authorities use the daughter as bait to lure him in?  Do you think he‘s trying to reach out to her somehow? 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, I think they could try to, Rita, but you have got to realize, this is a guy—he is the sun and we are the planets, and everything circles around him. 

And I agree with your current guest, that if I was looking for this guy, knowing that he has taken girlfriends down to Costa Rica and South America, Central America, I would be looking south of the border.  This guy ran a pawnshop.  He could have very easily had $100,000 worth of cash in his house.  So he could have the money, maybe even a new identity that would help him run.

COSBY:  You know, Clint, how complicated does it make it, somebody who can pay for plastic surgery, who seems crafty enough to maybe change his appearance, right?

VAN ZANDT:  It is.  But, again, this is the type of guy, he like the high life, he likes the women, he likes to swing, he likes to do a lot of different things.  He can lay low for a while, but that itch will need to be scratched.  He‘s going to have to surface.  He‘s going to have to be his old self again.  And at that time, somebody is going to see him and be at the FBI or the Mexican police.  Somebody is going to be there to put the cuffs on this guy.

COSBY:  And let‘s hope so.  Gentlemen, thank you.  And if anybody has any information about where Darren Mack may be or any information in this case at all, please be sure to call the number you see on your screen.  It‘s the Reno police department, 775-322-4900.  Or also call your local FBI office.  We‘re going to continue to keep following the story and give you any updates as they come in. 

And there‘s also a lot more on tap tonight.  Be sure to take a look and stay tuned. 


COSBY:  Still ahead, this woman was an A-list teacher until topless photos of her turned up on the Web.  She‘ll show us the pictures and explain why she should get her job back.  And another bizarre clue in the search for Olivia Newton John‘s ex-boyfriend.  Find out what piece of evidence some now say is proof he‘s really alive.  And “American Idol” finalists are ready for the summer tour.  We‘re bringing you all access “Idol.”  But things apparently aren‘t going well for “Idol” judge Paula Abdul on other side of the Atlantic.  Now who is picking on Paula?

PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE:  You are a star.  That was beautiful.

COSBY:  It‘s coming up on LIVE & DIRECT.



COSBY:  In tonight‘s hot topic, a Texas a teacher is in hot water after topless photos of herself were posted online.  Art teacher Tamara Hoover was suspended after the school discovered these pictures of her.  Now she is fighting to get her job back.  She insists she did nothing wrong.  And we‘re joined now by Tamara Hoover and on the phone with us is her attorney, Jay Brim.  Tamara, why did you allow these photos to be put on the Web to begin with?

TAMARA HOOVER, SUSPENDED FOR NUDE PHOTOS:  I happen to live with a documentary photographer and I didn‘t necessarily allow the pictures to be on the Web.  She chooses what she wants to put on the Web.  It‘s completely up to her discretion.

COSBY:  But didn‘t you voice concerns saying, “Oh, I‘m a teacher, or just no matter what, anybody, why would you want your pictures up there?  Why would wouldn‘t you say, wait, wait, wait, maybe don‘t put those ones up?”

HOOVER:  I don‘t feel as if I have a choice in what she puts up.  I trust Alesta (ph) and I feel like I was helping her hone her skills as a photographer. 

COSBY:  So this was about art, and not your...?

HOOVER:  Absolutely.  It was actually done in a private session, and, you know, she‘s—she takes pictures candidly sometimes and some of them are set up.  I feel like they‘re art.

COSBY:  But doesn‘t it bother you now?  Because when you realize the Internet is, you know, worldwide, it exposes you to everybody including your students and including obviously other faculty members.  Do you regret clearly making that decision to let her put these pictures up?

HOOVER:  No.  I don‘t regret—again, I don‘t—I didn‘t allow her to do anything.  She chooses what she wants to put in her portfolio.  The only thing I would regret is if any of my students had been adversary affected by any of the media attention or anything like that.

COSBY:  Now, how did the school discover that these pictures online?  Because I can tell you a lot of people would say don‘t put these pictures up, you‘re a teacher.  You should have different standards, if you will.  But how did it all come about that it was discovered?

HOOVER:  Another teacher had some issues and expressed them in a class, and a student had...

COSBY:  ... There was word that that teacher actually was angry at you over art equipment, and this was sort of payback, is that right?

HOOVER:  Well, that‘s hearsay.  But that‘s—I think that would be a good assumption.

COSBY:  And how angry were you when you found that out, and now to hear that your students were looking at that?  Aren‘t you embarrassed?

HOOVER:  I was disappointed that that action was taken and not addressed to me personally.

COSBY:  And are you embarrassed now that your students were looking at these pictures? 

HOOVER:  I‘m not embarrassed by anything that I‘ve done.  I feel like the photographer is an extremely talented photographer, and I believe that they were done in good taste.

COSBY:  And what was—you know, your sexual orientation, I know you have a partner, a female partner.  Do you believe you have been suspended because of the pictures or your sexual orientation or both?

HOOVER:  I don‘t feel like my sexual orientation has anything to do with my suspension.

COSBY:  And what was your reaction when they said they were suspending you?  Because this is what the school had to say, Tamara.  They said “the photos were inappropriate and violate the higher moral standard expended of public school teachers.”

You know, a lot of people would say, I don‘t want my teacher doing any naked photos online.

HOOVER:  I don‘t feel as if I have violated any moral standard.

COSBY:  You don‘t?

HOOVER:  Yes, I don‘t.

COSBY:  Why not?  Because don‘t you think a teacher should be held up to a higher value, a higher standard?  Don‘t you think you need to lead by example for your students?

HOOVER:  Of course.  I think that teachers should be examples.  But what we do in our private lives should be left alone.

COSBY:  Let me bring in your attorney, Jay.  Jay, how difficult do you think it is for her to get her job back, and do you understand why she doesn‘t even regret that they were on there, regret that students saw it?  Do you think the school is having a problem with her saying, look, it‘s just art?

JAY BRIM, REPRESENTING TAMARA HOOVER:  Rita, she hasn‘t lost her job yet.  She still is employed by the school district.

COSBY:  Right, but she is suspended temporarily.  I know she is trying to get back and get reinstated.  How frustrating is it?

BRIM:  No, she is not, Rita, she is not.  Remember the school year is over.  She was suspended for one week for the end of the school term.  And now we are in the midst of the due process under Texas law.

COSBY:  What do you think is going to happen?  And do you think look under free speech, you can put certain things up, you can do it?  There is an issue though she is a teacher.

BRIM:  Rita, the first thing you have to keep in front of you is that she didn‘t put these pictures up.  Someone else did.

HOOVER:  Right, but she allowed them, as you just said, and she didn‘t have a problem with them going up, .

BRIM:  Well no, she said that she thinks it‘s art, and she understands that the photographer made her own choice about that and she trusts the photographer.  But she never did give permission for those to go up.  They were done in the circumstance where they weren‘t intended for students to see them. 

COSBY:  What do you think is going to happen now, Jay?  What do you think the chances are?  Clearly students did see them, and this is someone who she is a partner with put the pictures up.  She looked at the pictures.  What do you think is going to happen now?  What‘s the chances that you think things will go back to normal?  Because one of the other issues is as as we know, the district is looking at revoking her teaching certificate.  Where do you think your chances stand?

BRIM:  That‘s not true, that the district is looking at revoking her teaching credentials, that‘s not the way it works in Texas.  The district doesn‘t have anything to do with that.

COSBY:  So who is looking at revoking it possibly?

BRIM:  Nobody.

COSBY:  Nobody is?  Because we were told that they were possibly looking at that action, which a lot of us were agreeing and in fact there were some published reports saying that.  Are those reports not true?

BRIM:  I‘m not sure what you‘re looking at.  But under the Texas system, if and when she actually got terminated by the school district, there would be a report made to the state commission of education‘s office.

COSBY:  And it hasn‘t gotten to that point yet?

BRIM:  They would do a separate investigation of whether or not there was something that happened that might actually impinge her certificate.  There is a difference between being employed by a school district and being qualified to teach.  And it‘s two different actions involved.

COSBY:  All right, well let me bring in if I could to the conversation, let‘s bring in defense attorney Kimberly Lerner and also former prosecutor Wendy Murphy.

Wendy, what‘s your reaction to this?  I mean, should—again, she is suspended.  As we‘re just hearing now, some new information different than a lot of the reports out there.  But suspended for one week.  Appropriate or not, Wendy?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  You know, I actually think she deserves a harsher punishment.  And one of the things I haven‘t heard yet, but I did read in a wire story, was that this was not sort of accidental, she didn‘t know it was going on.

COSBY:  Well you actually even heard Wendy, I mean she even said, look, this is her partner, she knew she was putting them up.  She was fine with it.  It‘s art.

MURPHY:  Right, but this is not her private life when it‘s on the Internet.  And I read a story that said she actually showed the pictures to her students on a school computer.  You have got to be kidding me.  And for her to be sitting here...

COSBY:  ... Let me bring her in.  Tamara, is that true?  Did you show them?

HOOVER:  That‘s absolutely not true.  These were never intended for the kids to see.  That‘s a false statement.

MURPHY:  OK, well that‘s what I read.

COSBY:  Were you ever showing them in any condition?

HOOVER:  I never showed the students.  I never advertised the Web site to the students.


COSBY:  Yes, go ahead, Kim.

LERNER:  I believe the story said that Gayle Andrews, the other teacher, when she was informed by one of the students that these pictures existed, she accessed a computer in the school with other students around and she showed the students the pictures.

COSBY:  Yes, and I have heard that, I have heard that.  And what do you say about that?  Because this is the other issue you hit on, Kim.  This other teacher, as we‘re hearing from Tamara, essentially sort of ratted her out, if you will, over art equipment.  Is that fair, Kim?

LERNER:  You know, this whole thing is extremely disturbing.  What she does in her personal life is none of anyone‘s business, except if she‘s committing a crime or if it interferes with her ability to teach.  By all accounts, she is an excellent teacher.  Now the school talks about this higher moral standard.  I think Ms. Andrews morals should be brought into question.

COSBY:  This is the teacher who ratted her out.

MURPHY:  Come on, come on, Rita?

LERNER:  Absolutely, are you kidding me?

COSBY:  Wendy?  What about comparing her to all of these other cases, like Debra Lafave, also Pamela Turner.  Is it fair?  You know, because there are different cases, these are folks who were involved in sexual activities with students.

MURPHY:  This is not her private life, this is a public matter.

COSBY:  But is it fair to say that she goes in the same realm?  Is that an unfair comparison?

MURPHY:  It is a very appropriate comparison, even though there is no evidence that she has sexual assaulted or done anything to exploit a child.  She knew the students knew about the pictures.

LERNER:  But she didn‘t come a crime.

MURPHY:  That is not the issue.

HOOVER:  I did know.

MURPHY:  And I‘ll tell you something, if she ever did sexually exploit a child, this would be exhibit one in the criminal prosecution.

COSBY:  Let me bring in Tamara.  Both of you—let me bring you Tamara.  I understand you‘re going to say obviously the students you didn‘t show the students, right?


COSBY:  That you didn‘t share them, you didn‘t want the students available.

HOOVER:  No.  I was never intending for the students to see it.  I never advertised it for the students to see.  I have never been sexually involved with a student.

LERNER:  Rita, if she had been on a nude beach and a student had seen him, would she be in the same predicament?

MURPHY:  She knew they were on the Internet.  She let her students see them because she knew that students use the Internet.  You have to stop saying she had a right to do this.

LERNER:  She had an absolute right.  This is her personal life.

MURPHY:  She also can‘t get drunk and walk down the middle of Main Street and say she has the right to do that as a teacher too even though it‘s not a crime.  She has a morals clause.  She knows she‘s held to a higher standard.  She did it anyway.  And to call it art is irrelevant.

LERNER:  But you‘re making a moral judgment.

COSBY:  Kimberly, go ahead.

MURPHY:  Her contract makes a moral judgment.

LERNER:  You are making a judgment call that these photos were not artistic.  It‘s your moral judgment call.

MURPHY:  You not showing the topless photos where the spikes and the whips and the chains.  Why aren‘t those being shown?  How does that affect your moral judgment?  You‘re just showing these soft pictures that don‘t at all look sexual.  The description of the photographs that she got in trouble for are highly sexual and erotic her sticking her tongue out with her partner, doing sexually erotic things.

HOOVER:  They are not sexual.

COSBY:  Tamara, go ahead.  But Tamara, is it fair to say that everybody‘s interpretation of art is different, Tamara.  Is that fair to say?

HOOVER:  Absolutely.  Art is open for interpretation.  The few pictures that are in question have been taken out of context.  And the body of work is an amazing body of work.  And it is art.

MURPHY:  It doesn‘t matter.

COSBY:  Let me bring in Kimberly and then I‘ll get to you, Wendy.  First of all, what do you think—should a teacher be held to a higher standard, and is it one of these things we say, just stay away from it?  Kimberly?

LERNER:  You know, it‘s a slippery slope.  I think that teachers should be held to a high standard.  But it reaches a point that what if you find out a teacher had an abortion and you don‘t like that and you think that‘s against your morals?  She should lose her job?  These are topless photos.

COSBY:  Let me bring in Wendy.  Wendy, where do you draw the line?

MURPHY:  This is very, very simple as line drawing goes.  Teachers, students, and sex do not go together, period, end of discussion.  There is not even a close question here.  There should not be a sexually erotic teacher on the Internet with students who she has a responsibility to, period. 

COSBY:  Let me bring in Tamara, Tamara, I‘m going to give you the last final word.

HOOVER:  I agree.

COSBY:  You get the last word, Tamara.

HOOVER:  Absolutely I agree.  Never should you ever say teachers, sex, and students in the same sentence.  And I have not participated in either of those.  I participated in...

MURPHY:  Naked bodies, whips and chains, are you kidding?

COSBY:  Let her answer, Tamara, go ahead.

HOOVER:  I‘m sorry that you feel that way.  But I have not participated in anything immoral or overtly sexual in nature, and I have not ever sent that to the students or included the students in that part of my life.

COSBY:  OK, that‘s going to have to be the last word.  And again, the students did get a glimpse of it and again, not your intent but certainly that is what happened.  Tamara, thank you very much.

HOOVER:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Still ahead everybody, another piece of evidence turns up suggesting that Olivia Newton John‘s ex-boyfriend is alive and well.  We‘re going to show you the evidence.  And next, all 11 members of one family who had their stomachs removed to ward off cancer join me for their first primetime interview all together.  They are here in our studio and they‘re coming up next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s about three percent of all gastric cancers, it is associated with a specific gene mutation, and it‘s very aggressive.  The chance of them being cured was very high, so we feel like we intervened at exactly the right time. 


COSBY:  Now to a really amazing story of one family that went to extraordinary lengths to protect themselves from a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. 

These 11 cousins all had their stomachs removed in an unprecedented medical attempt to reduce their risk of developing stomach cancer.  The cancer has already killed more than six members of their family, and all 11 cousins carry the gene that causes the fatal mutation. 

So, has this surgery changed their lives?  And how are they doing now? 

Joining me live for their first interview right here in prime-time are Mark, Linda—I like this next name—Rita, Kathy (ph), Connie, Diane, Jeanni, Ted, and Bill, as well as Laura Pollard, and also Mike Slabaugh, who will be speaking on behalf of the family. 

We also have a microphone, so I want you guys to feel free to pass it around. 

First of all, how did you all get together, Mike?  How did you organize this?  This is amazing. 


COSBY:  I can‘t organize two or three people in one room, and you have 11 of you here.

SLABAUGH:  This has come as a result of a reunion we had over Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas, where we planned to get together to celebrate being alive at this point, and to also celebrate with the doctors who discovered the test for this mutation that we have. 

COSBY:  How did you find out that there was a mutation?  I mean, obviously, some of your family members had passed.  But when did you discover that all of you have it? 

LAURA POLLARD, HAD STOMACH REMOVED:  We discovered in 2004, is when we began the testing for it, two years ago, after our cousin, David Allen, they found the mutation in him originally.  And he passed away. 

But because they found it in him, they could then identify it in each of us, test us for it and identify us.  So, over the last two years is when we found out, and then all have taken the action that we have taken. 

COSBY:  And how did you all sort of say, at this reunion, I‘m going to get together and plan this? 

SLABAUGH:  Well, it came—came as a result of, we wanted to get the word out to the other people that may have similar situations, that there is something that they can do about this.  There is all kind of testing going on because of genetic research, and we want to encourage those people that many have cancer in their family that, if they have the interest, that to go seek out a genetic counselor to advise what can be done. 

COSBY:  You know, it‘s pretty incredible, the surgery.  We have seen a lot of the pictures of that. 

And it actually—part of your stomach, most of it, actually, is removed, replaced with a pouch.  It‘s pretty brave.  All of you are real heroes for going through with it.  And, as we are looking at diagrams here, how complicated was the surgery for you? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It was fairly complicated.  It was a big decision on my part to have the surgery.  A lot of us here, it was a no-brainer, but, for myself, it was a fairly complex decision. 

COSBY:  And how did you get ahold of each other and say, OK, we have got to go through the family and organize this? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We—we got a hold of each other through e-mail, telephone calls, and realized that this is something we had to do for ourselves, proactive, to take care of ourselves. 

COSBY:  How long was the actual surgery, too?  And how concerned throughout?  It‘s—to have your whole stomach removed, that‘s a fairly...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s—it‘s pretty intense, of course.  I would say, the average surgery is five to eight hours.  And it—it takes almost a year at times at times to really heal completely, and get back to your normal, your new normal. 

COSBY:  What is the new normal for you guys? 


SLABAUGH:  Well, it can vary. 

COSBY:  You‘re all laughing again.  But you lost 600 pounds altogether, right? 

SLABAUGH:  Totally, yes. 

COSBY:  That‘s pretty amazing. 


The new normal is different, at least a little bit, for all us.  We eat differently, of course.  Our lifestyle has changed dramatically, at least from the very beginning.

COSBY:  Yes.  What can you eat?  What can you eat?  And what can‘t you eat?

SLABAUGH:  Well, I think, at this point, all of us can eat pretty much what we want.  There are some exceptions.  But the important thing is that we choose the correct amounts and we take the proper size and bites when we eat the food.  And that‘s really the major battle.  Once we accomplish that, then we can eat about anything that we would like. 

COSBY:  And how much did your lifestyles have to change right after the surgery, because it‘s obviously—it‘s been a year.  How much did you have to go through right afterward?  Were there big changes? 

POLLARD:  It was—it was dramatic, because, at first, it‘s very hard for your body to adjust to eating, how much to eat, what to eat.  But, slowly, but surely, you begin to figure out what the new normal is.  And it takes a good year.  But you find it. 

COSBY:  What are you doing?  And I‘m sure there is concern with your other family members now to spread the word, because, obviously, it‘s a genetic issue.  Have you talked to your other family members? 

SLABAUGH:  Sure.  There are other family members in a generation after us that know that they have this mutation.  Others have yet to be tested because of their age, but will be in the next few years. 

So, along with those folks, we—and one of the reasons that we are doing this, we want to spread the word that—that there are things that can be done.  And even though what we went through was what most people would consider a drastic measure, for us, it was really, the majority of us, it was a no-brainer, because we saw two generations of our family succumb to this, and we decided that we weren‘t going to do that. 

Once we knew that there was an alternative, we wanted to take advantage of it. 

COSBY:  And let me get you to pass the microphone back here.

What do you—what would you say to folks at home, too, who are afraid to get tested, afraid of doing something drastic like this? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would say that, for us, there wasn‘t a choice.  With 83 percent chance of getting the cancer, it was something that we did without thinking.  And I would say, do it.  There‘s—it—the life changes, but it‘s not a bad change.  It‘s very livable. 

COSBY:  And you know what the blessing is?  It looks like there‘s a great camaraderie about.  Has this sort of sealed your relationships permanently?  If you weren‘t close cousins before this, you sure are now, right?

SLABAUGH:  No, well—well, we‘re not only that, but we are—we have become fast friends as well now, yes. 

COSBY:  Well, all of you, thank you very much.  And we appreciate you all being here, real heroes.

And I hope folks who are watching at home get the word out and get tested, and do whatever they can, and hopefully are half as brave as any of you.  Thank you so much...

SLABAUGH:  Thank you. 


COSBY:  ... for being here today. 

And there‘s a lot more coming up right here on MSNBC tonight. 

Let‘s check in with Tucker Carlson now with a preview. 

Tucker, some amazing folks here in the studio.


Really, that—that‘s a fascinating story, Rita.

We have got more tonight on the valedictorian in Nevada who was cut off in mid-sentence, had her mike disconnected, for uttering the dreaded word “God.”  Horror of horrors.  We are talking to the superintendent, the general counsel of the school district. 

Plus, a mother suing because her 14-year-old daughter was molested by some creep she met online.  Is the Web site responsible?  That‘s the question.  We will debate it.

COSBY:  Thanks, Tuck.  We will be watching just a few minutes from now.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Rita.

COSBY:  And still ahead, everybody:  While everyone is totally excited about the “American Idol” summer tour, Paula Abdul is having a hard time in the U.K.  We will tell you who is picking on Paula this time. 

And, next, has a bizarre piece of evidence turned up that could prove that Olivia Newton-John‘s ex didn‘t fall off of a fishing boat, that he‘s alive; maybe he faked his disappearance?

That‘s coming up. 


ANNOUNCER:  If you have a story you want Rita to investigate, call our tip line, 1-877-TIP-RITA, or log on to our Web site,


COSBY:  New details tonight in the disappearance of Olivia Newton-John‘s ex-boyfriend, Patrick McDermott. 

We have been hearing about possible sightings down in Mexico.  And now there is some proof that he could be the key to tracking him down. 

Now , private investigator John Nazarian went there on assignment for the TV show “Extra.”  And he found a visor that he believes belongs to Patrick McDermott.  This is what he told me about that visor and his trip to Mexico.


JOHN NAZARIAN, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  The visor was found at a little restaurant just off the highway in a little town called Pescadero.  That‘s about an hour-and-a-half north of Cabo San Lucas. 

COSBY:  And you say that it was at a restaurant.  What was the significance of that restaurant?  Wasn‘t there a sighting there? 

NAZARIAN:  The witnesses say that is where he sat and had lunch.  He ate fish tacos.  And he was with a—a Caucasian woman that was described as a mixed race. 

COSBY:  You spoke to the owner of the restaurant, the woman and her son.  Did they seem credible that they actually may have seen Patrick McDermott? 

NAZARIAN:  They seemed credible on a couple of fronts, one being they didn‘t—they weren‘t looking for any kind of a big payoff, and, secondly, they were very concise and very clear in identifying the picture of Mr.  McDermott. 

COSBY:  What does this visor look like?  It‘s—what, it‘s a pink visor, right? 

NAZARIAN:  It‘s probably faded.  But, in that part of Mexico, this is not a part of a piece of headgear that is seen regularly. 

COSBY:  So, you believe it‘s from someone out of town.  There was also, what, some hair in it.  Tell us about the significance of that. 

NAZARIAN:  Well, the significance of that is that, once the Coast Guard or whoever they have investigating this officially—there is a great deal of DNA in that hat.  And I can visually, with my own eyes, see gray hair and other pieces of perhaps dander and what would reveal a great deal of DNA to someone doing the testing. 

COSBY:  And, of course, Patrick McDermott in the last pictures we saw, unless he has changed his appearance, you know, had gray hair.  Did he just leave the visor there, is that what they are saying, when he was having lunch? 

NAZARIAN:  Well, he got up from where he was sitting in the restaurant and moved to the outside patio, and that‘s where, in the course of making that movement, he left the—he just left the visor and didn‘t go back for it. 

COSBY:  Where is the hat now?  And where does it stand in terms of testing? 

NAZARIAN:  I was sent down to Mexico by Jeremy Spiegel with “Extra.”  And I had arranged with the individuals who had the hat to bring that hat back to Los Angeles.  And “Extra” now has that hat in their possession. 

COSBY:  And it may be turned over to the Coast Guard soon, who is investigating? 

NAZARIAN:  I understand that they are in active talks with the Coast Guard to provide that to them. 

COSBY:  You know, you also said this blonde, you say American mixed race.  What else do we know?  Because we were hearing earlier she might have been European.  What else do we know about who he was with? 

NAZARIAN:  I spoke to Marina (ph).  And she was very clear, the girl had—she said that, to her, she looked as if she was mixed race.  And that, in Mexico, meant that she appeared to be perhaps American and Mexican. 

COSBY:  Based on everything you saw, you know, you have seen this visor firsthand.  You have also, you know, been down there talking to this restaurant owner and her son.  Based on all of that, do you believe that Patrick McDermott was in Mexico? 

NAZARIAN:  Oh, I absolutely do believe it at this point.  I have no reason not to believe it. 

COSBY:  Where do you think he is now? 

NAZARIAN:  We were told that he was headed off to Monterey. 

COSBY:  Monterey, Mexico. 

So, you believe, if he indeed did stage his disappearance, you will be able to pin this down? 

NAZARIAN:  If he is out there, I believe we will pin it down, absolutely. 


COSBY:  Private investigator John Nazarian.  And let‘s see if he‘s right. 

Still ahead:  Paula Abdul has a big show going on right now in the United Kingdom.  But wait until you hear who is apparently giving her a hard time.  Why is everyone always picking on Paula Abdul?

That‘s coming up next.



PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE:  I love you, love you.  Love you!

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE:  The dancing was hideous. 

RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE:  It wasn‘t that bad. 


ABDUL:  It was great.

COWELL:  It was—shut up.

ABDUL:  You shut up. 



COSBY:  Paula Abdul‘s antics on “American Idol” may have generated some headlines here in the U.S., but it‘s nothing compared to the treatment she is receiving now in England. 

Paula is there filming a reality TV show with “Idol” co-host Simon Cowell.  But the British tabloids are already attacking the pint-sized pop star, claiming her diva-like behavior on the set is simply out of control. 

Joining us to talk about Paula‘s reception abroad is Catt Sadler.  She‘s the host of “The Daily 10” on E! Entertainment.  And we are also joined by Katrina Szish.  She‘s an entertainment reporter with “Us Weekly.”

Why are the tabloids, Katrina, being so tough on Paula? 

KATRINA SZISH, STYLE EDITOR, “US WEEKLY”:  Well, the London tabloids, the British tabloids are traditionally tough on everybody.  Look at what they are doing to Heather Mills right now. 

And Paula is coming off a lot of—kind of a bumpy ride in the states.  So, naturally, when she crosses the pond, the ride is going to only get bumpier, because those tabloids are nasty.

COSBY:  So, they go after Paul McCartney‘s wife?  They go after everybody?  Katrina, is that it? 

SZISH:  They go after everybody, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Jude Law. 

The list goes on.  If you‘re in the U.K., prepare to be pummeled. 

COSBY:  You know, Catt, is she being unfairly targeted just because it‘s Paula Abdul? 

CATT SADLER, HOST, “THE DAILY 10”:  You know what?  I think Paula is just traditionally an easy target.  Here she is, this kind of American cheerleader of sorts.  She‘s this eternal optimist.  She‘s rather sentimental.  She‘s crying on the show.  She is clapping.  She‘s out of her seat all the time.

So, yes, she has been accused here of being a little kooky.  It sounds to me like they are being awfully, brutally tough on her right now. 

COSBY:  Well, in fact, one of the report says that Paula seemed shock when the crew actually spoke to her, like the crew is not allowed to talk to her.  Does she have any reputation like that, Catt, or is this just inflating headlines? 

SADLER:  You know, possibly so.  I tend to agree with Katrina. 

I read a whole lot of things in those British tabloids that don‘t really pan out to be true all the time.  So, like I said, I just think she is probably an easy target.  And who knows?  I think Paula is probably pretty harmless.  That‘s—that‘s my guess. 

COSBY:  This is what one person from “X Factor” had to say.  This is quoted in one of the tabloids. 

It says: “On ‘American Idol,‘ the judges are treated like Gods.  But, on ‘X Factor,‘ everyone mucks in.”

You know, the premiere for this “X Factor” show isn‘t until August. 

Do you think it‘s only going to get worse, Katrina? 


SZISH:  I‘m sure that, while Paula is there, she will do her share of wacky things.  As—as Catt said, she is known for being kind of wacky.

And, you know, Paula, being Paula, will continue to be Paula.  And I am sure she will continue to make some negative headlines.  But the fact is, she is over there.  She‘s working like crazy.  She just renewed her contract with “American Idol.”  So, even if she is having a hard time, she surely is triumphing. 

COSBY:  Yes.  And, look, Simon said he likes her a lot.  He kind of looks at her wacky antics in this way.  We had Simon on the show.  And I want to play—this is what Simon told us a little bit ago. 


COWELL:  ... been like this for five years.  I mean, that‘s the way she is, you know?

KEN WARWICK, PRODUCER, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  You know, and we quite like the fact we never know what she‘s going to do. 

COWELL:  I agree.   I love it.

WARWICK:  You know, it‘s great.

COWELL:  I love it. 

WARWICK:  And the fact that you‘re bringing it up warrants it being there, you know? 

COSBY:  You‘re right, everybody‘s talking about it.   You‘re right.


COWELL:  And no one‘s spoken about Randy since he‘s been on the show. 

Randy, they never mention him.



COSBY:  Catt, real quick, will this help build up the ratings on the show?  Is this, you know, again another controversy? 

SADLER:  I don‘t really think it‘s a controversy, Rita. 

I think, if anything, this helps Paula Abdul‘s career, without a doubt.  Here she is, kind of resurfacing in the last couple of years because of “American Idol.”  She has reinvented herself.  It‘s recharged her career.  And I don‘t think any “American Idol”-related show needs any help with any kind of success. 

COSBY:  All right.  Guys, absolutely.  I agree. 

Stick with us, because, when we come back, we have got all the details about the “Idol” summer tour that is about to kick off.  What will “Idol” lovers find?  That is coming up next. 

And, for all you “Idol” fans out there, tune in on Thursday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern time.  We are going to be live in L.A. with all-access “Idol.”  We are going to be talking to the top finalists.  So, we hope that you join us.  We are going to give them equal time, but show a lot of them off to you guys—coming up.


COSBY:  And before we continue with our “Celebrity Dish,” I want to show all of you.  These are all the e-mails that we have gotten already, hundreds, literally hundreds upon hundreds, in just the last 24 hours or so.

We want to hear from you, because we want to get your questions for “American Idol” finalists.  We are going to be talking to the top 10 finalists, hopefully, on Thursday night.  We are going to have access to all the finalists.  And what we are asking is you folks at home to submit your questions to us.  We will try to ask as many as possible to all the key finalists on the show on Thursday night. 

And, again, the Web site is  Again, our Web site,  There is a link on there.  That way, you can send us all your questions, and we will try to ask as many as possible to the finalists.  And, again, really thrown at the response we have gotten.  Keep your e-mails coming. 

And, indeed, the “American Idol” tour is already one of the hottest tickets this summer.  It‘s selling out in almost every city that they are stopping in, due in large part to the popularity of “Idol” winner Taylor Hicks. 

Thursday, we are bringing you all-access “Idol,” visiting the “Idol”s this week as they get ready for this amazing concert. 

And joining us to talk more about it is Catt Sadler—she‘s the host of “The Daily 10” on E! Entertainment—and Katrina Szish, an entertainment reporter with “Us Weekly.”

You know, Catt, let me start with you.  Are you surprised how popular these guys are? 

SADLER:  Rita, first, I have to say that I am jealous that you get to talk to all the finalists. 


COSBY:  Can I tell you, I am so thrilled.  We have been talking about this all season.  And everybody is abuzz here, I will tell you, in the studio.  They‘re so excited. 


SADLER:  The fact that we are still talking about “American Idol,” and the show, you know, had its season finale about a month ago, is just—it just tells you, this—this show has become an absolute phenomenon. 

So, absolutely, I think this tour is going to do just like the show did, more viewers than it has ever had.  The C.D. has been selling more C.D.s than it‘s ever sold.  The people behind the scenes at “American Idol” clearly have this a well-oiled machine by now.  And people are going to show up in droves to see their—their favorite finalists on the stage, no doubt about it. 

COSBY:  And, in fact, one of the premium, like, ticket Web sites, was telling—this is no surprise to any of us, I think, and most folks at home—“American Idol” is not just the top-selling concert.  It‘s also outselling baseball games and Broadway shows, I mean, beating “Wicked,” the Broadway show, New York Yankees, top ticket sales.  It‘s beating it.

Here‘s some of the concerts that it‘s beating out, you know, Tim McGraw, Madonna, Kenny Chesney. 

I mean, what do you—how long is—until this “Idol” mania ends, do you think, Katrina? 

SZISH:  I think we are still going see “Idol” mania continue for quite a while.   It‘s still going strong.  And the fact that it has not petered off after several seasons and is only getting more powerful every time we watch it speaks volumes as to its staying power.  And I think the fact that...


COSBY:  Well, and, Katrina, what about some names, too, because they had said that they have already sold out a number of concerts.  Remember, they have not even gone on tour yet. 

SZISH:  Right.   

COSBY:  Just started being announced.  Is that in part to Taylor Hicks, his major popularity, Katrina? 

SZISH:  Hey, we have seen Taylor Hicks recently on the cover of “People” magazine. 

These “Idol” winners are becoming bigger than mega-stars.  They are becoming mega-mega-stars.  And they‘re also becoming a little bit more personable.  They are not just these people who are kind of wide-eyed and happy that they won the title.  These are people who are in it for the long haul, who really want to break into the music industry. 

Taylor has said:  You know what?  I am here to stay.  I‘m not part of this well-oiled machine.  I am Taylor Hicks.  


SZISH:  And I think that makes a big difference.

COSBY:  Let me bring—you know, Catt, he just did, in fact, a performance, I think it was over the weekend, with Snoop Dogg, the rapper. 

SADLER:  Yes. 

COSBY:  He is cute. He is smart.  Does this show diversity? 

SZISH:  Oh, absolutely. 


COSBY:  I mean, he‘s got the Ford commercial.  We can‘t forget that.


SADLER:  That‘s true.  That‘s true. 

Well, out of the gate, Taylor Hicks kind of marched to the beat of his own drum.  He had the great hair.  He was a little organic in the way that he danced, the way that he sang.  He ended up winning the whole thing, so, absolutely.

To kind of pair Taylor Hicks and Snoop Dogg in the same sentence, at first, you maybe scratch your head.  But, honestly, I think it was a brilliant move.  It shows that he‘s open to all artistry.

COSBY:  Absolutely.

SADLER:  He knows a smart businessman when he sees one as well.

COSBY:  Thank you, ladies.

And, again, everybody, this Thursday—you heard Catt is very jealous

we are going to be on the road with the “American Idol”s, as they get ready for their highly anticipated summer tour.  We are going to give you all-access pass, give them equal billing.  Log on to our Web site,

I cannot wait.  I will be live Thursday night in L.A.

And that does it for me.  Let‘s go to Tucker now with “THE SITUATION.” 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Rita.  See you there.

COSBY:  Thank you. 



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