CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Dominick Dunne
Aired February 13, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, was this Canadian pair robbed of a gold medal? A judging controversy of Olympic proportions. In an exclusive interview from Salt Lake City, Jamie Sale and David Pelltier. Plus, another exclusive, Nancy Kerrigan will join us with her very personal perspective on skating, scandal and silver medals.
And then, a terrible personal tragedy made him a seeker of justice and truth; best-selling author Dominick Dunne who says the rich and famous are different from ordinary folks especially when it comes to crime. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with the most talked about story in the world today; the incredible occurrences at the Olympics in Salt Lake City involving figure skating. Our first two guests, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, the Canadian pairs, the figure skaters who won the silver medal while everyone within reason or who saw it or thinks about it thinks they deserved the gold.
I want you to comment on this story just in, guys: Canada's National Skating Federation said it is filing an appeal of the controversial decision in the Olympic figure skating pair's competition, an appeal by the skate Canada seeks an independent review of Monday's judging procedure.
What do you think, Jamie?
JAMIE SALE, CANADIAN OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER: Well, I have to be honest, we never expected this at all, and this is the first time it has happened to us personally and we're in big shock about this and how much chaos it's caused. And we're really kind of disappointed that it's come to that in our sport. And the good side of it is I hope it gets resolved. I know that we've got a lot of people working behind the scenes for us. We just skate. We love what we do and the rest of the people are looking after it.
KING: David, do you support the idea what the federation is doing?
DAVID PELLETIER, CANADIAN OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER: Yes, I do. I do because if there is an ugly story behind it, then the truth has to be spoken. But on the other hand, it just brings dirt on our sport and I do love my sport, that's why I do it. But at the same time do I trust it? That's another story today. KING: In the past have you ever had problems with judging? Do figure skaters often say, I disagree with that? Jamie, does that happen a lot?
SALE: Well, it's a judged sport. And that, you know, that causes some problems sometimes with a lot of skaters. But you know what, there's nothing we can do about it. We had it once before when we competed but sometimes in our sport, too, you need to prove yourself a few times before you can maybe be given what you deserve. It's unfortunate and it's a judged sport and that's the way it goes. This is the first time it's happened to us. What we're hearing is it's more of a shock than anything. It really does happen. It's disappointing.
KING: We'll see a clip in the moment. David, what was your first thought when the numbers went up?
SALE: PELLETIER: It was like a punch in the stomach, because maybe it was a bit of being naive or being Canadian, I thought I had the gold in my pocket. And when the marks came up, the first set of marks I said yes, that's it, that's good. Then the second set of marks came up and I saw No. 2.
It was like a punch in the stomach. My feelings are that I am disappointed but in 20 years from now what we did on that night, nobody can take this away from us. There is no bitterness because I'm not a bitter person. I don't want to be a bitter person but what we did nobody can take this away from us.
KING: Let's show a quick clip, Jamie and David. First let's show briefly a -- the Russian team, just a portion of their exhibit. Let's watch. Here they are. This is their performance and they spin twice. That second one was a flub, apparently, according to what they were supposed to do. That was the flub there, one landing before the other. That's obvious to the naked eye. That's a clear mistake in technique, right, Jamie?
SALE: Well, this is the situation. And this is where skating gets difficult. I mean, everyone can argue who their favorite -- artistically whose favorite team is but -- and that's fine. But technically at the Olympic games or at world championships, you know, it should be the best skater that wins. And David and I had a flawless performance and that is why everybody is saying, you know, we should have won because they could see we made absolutely no mistake. It has to be that picky when two skaters do skate well and they definitely did make a mistake.
KING: Now let's see a quick segment of your skate on technique. Watch this. Here are Jamie and David. According to experts...
PELLETIER: How do you like my outfit? (LAUGHTER)
KING: I like that look. Their performance was, the people I spoke to today, letter perfect. Whoa.
SALE: And, of course, it's a love story, an American love story. KING: That's great.
PELLETIER: Thank you.
KING: Is that fun or work, David?
PELLETIER: If it's fun?
KING: Is it fun?
SALE: Well, it depends when you're talking. When we got into the performance it was fun, but, you know, there's a lot of hard work that a lot of people don't see, obviously, day to day and I think even before we got here, I mean, we went through months and months of hell almost. I mean, everybody's been saying bring back the gold.
There's been a lot of pressure on us. I even got sick the week before we came here, we couldn't train. There was so much stress building on top of each other and it was unbelievable. When we actually get out there and skate, it's a blast. It's what we love to do.
KING: The president of the International Skating Union said today that they've begun an assessment of this controversy but that they cannot change the results of the competition.
Do you think, David, they should be able to change results?
PELLETIER: Well, I got one thing to say to the president of the ISU. I mean, he can do whatever he wants with it, that's fine. You know what, I don't want the gold medal, I won silver. I didn't win the gold, I won the silver and that's fine.
But like I said, if there is an ugly truth that has to be told, the truth needs to be heard from people. They can keep the gold, they deserve it, I won the silver, that's fine. But since we skated, we received about 300 messages, e-mails and faxes and 75 percent of them are telling me they will never watch figure skating again because of what happened.
SALE: Financially this is a huge thing for skating.
PELLETIER: It's hurting the sport. And Mr. Ciquinta (ph) can do whatever he wants with it.
KING: You don't want the gold, though.
PELLETIER: I'm not a marketing person.
SALE: Of course we wanted the gold.
KING: No, I mean, but you don't want it now, he said. Suppose they call tomorrow and say we made a mistake, here's the gold.
PELLETIER: Well, then, we'll take it. But the medal goes in the box in the basement, but the feeling we had that night, nobody can take this away from you. Even if they give me a gold medal now, it won't mean the same. Maybe I'll get the title, I'll be in the record book, but the feeling, this is why we do it. I just want the truth to come out if there's a truth there.
KING: Jamie, this may be perverse, but in a sense, you're more famous having won the silver since everyone thinks you were the best, you'll go down in history, you'll be the most famous thing that occurred in this Olympics. You're already the best known medalists in this Olympics without having won a gold. You'll be the most famous silver medals ever. You're going to go pro, you'll probably be in Disney on ice next year making a fortune, being billed as the couple that was robbed.
In a sense, Jamie, perversely, do you think this has worked P.R. to your benefit?
SALE: Who would have ever thought? Our agent is here with us, thank goodness, and he said, too, he said you got to be careful what you wish for because it just might come true. I mean, this is so big for him. His phone is ringing off the wall. I feel bad for him because it's crazy. But it's neat, too. We would have never thought. We didn't have any control over this. We just went out and skated a great performance and this is what we get.
KING: David, are you going to turn pro?
PELLETIER: That's a very tough question. Jamie and myself started skating in '98 and we had a plan to 2002 and obviously the plan is coming to an end after the world championships next and then after that we are going to have to sit and see what we are going to do. What are the opportunities and -- yes, we still will love to skate, that's for sure but for who, and do we still trust what ever we are doing? Then we are going to have to see and consider a lot of things.
KING: We will take a break and come back. We will take some phone calls. We will let him add to what he just said. And Nancy Kerrirgan will be joining us. By the way, Saturday night we have got a treat for you. You know we pretape our weekend shows. Don Rickles returns to the Larry King scene. Trust me on this one. We will be right back with Jamie and David right after this.
KING: We're back with the two most famous figure skaters in the world, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. And we'll take a call from Kennewick, Washington. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Jamie and David. You guys were awesome out there. Congratulations on a super performance.
SALE: Thank you.
CALLER: I just wanted to ask you, have you heard lately from Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz and about their reaction to all this, because they have to, of course, skate in the ice dancing portion later on in the event. I know they had some things to say about the judging in the past.
And do you think there's an anti-Canadian -- do you think there's an anti-Canadian bias built in because we've seen Brasseur/Eisler, Brian Orser, Liz Manley, Elvis Stojko.
KING: Do you believe that, Jamie?
SALE: You know what, I really hope that this doesn't interfere with the other skaters. When we finished the other night, I know that we got a lot of phone calls from a lot of skaters, Kurt Browning, Brian Boitano, and a lot of skaters that we skated with. And I hope it doesn't affect the ones that are still competing. That would be really sad.
But I know we haven't talked to Shae-Lynn and Victor. We're trying to leave them alone. They still have -- you know, they need a fair chance here. I mean, what's happened with us may have opened the situation up and maybe it might -- hopefully it doesn't happen in the dance event. I know there's always controversy in the dance event, but we're praying for them and we hope that they get a fair chance at a gold medal shot here.
KING: David, by the way, did you speak to the Russians, the gold medal winners at all?
PELLETIER: Well, chit chat a little bit, you know, about the birds and the bees.
I mean, it's not their fault, you know. It was up to those nine people as is are the nine people who saw it. And, I mean, Yelena and Anton, they're champions and -- but, I mean, what are they going to say, you know? Are they involved in it? I don't think so. I mean, they're only figure skaters like us.
KING: Yes. Winnipeg, Canada, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Jamie and David. I just want to say congratulations on your wonderful skate...
SALE: Thank you.
PELLETIER: Thank you.
CALLER: ... and how professional you two have been. What do you think is the answer here? Like, what do you think needs to change in order for this awful thing to stop happening year after year?
KING: Good question. What would you do to change the sport or the way it's judged?
PELLETIER: Everybody's got their idea on it. Everybody is thinking about making a panel of judges independent from the ISU, the International Skating Union, and making them fly, actually, to an event and pay them and decide an hour before the event who is going to judge and sit them in the same room so nothing happens.
But, you know what, everywhere there is money and power, there is also corruption. And, I mean, there is no perfect situation. And life sometimes isn't fair and so is sport and this is what we're learning. And we're making the best out of it. I mean, that's the idea that's going on right now in the skating world.
KING: Jamie, do you have some thoughts on change?
SALE: You know what, we wish we had that crystal ball to figure it out and have a solution but we don't. And we just sure hope that things do get sorted out. And who knows? I mean, this is the most bizarre situation that's gone on in sport and it's not new, but I'm glad that it's being talked about and it's being sorted out.
KING: You know, the two of you look so terrific together. You skated to love story. Are you a couple? Are you romantically involved, David?
SALE: What do you think?
PELLETIER: Don't tell anybody, but yes.
KING: Is it yes? Are you?
PELLETIER: We're supposedly -- we are supposedly a couple, yes, we are. She's all right. What do you think?
KING: I think, yes. I mean, you two -- are you serious, Jamie?
SALE: Well, I mean, we care a lot about each other and we've been together for a while now. So, you know what, we've never talked about our relationship because this isn't what's made our skating even better. We were as good as we are now from the beginning and I think obviously we've improved over the last three years, but that's not why we have that chemistry on the ice. We had that from day one. But obviously, we spend so much time together and we have a huge bond and good chemistry, so that's why.
KING: Is there still, in your opinion, David, any weak part of your game?
PELLETIER: You mean our skating?
KING: Yes. In other words, what do you think you need work on, if anything?
PELLETIER: Well, we do need a lot of work on a lot of things. You know, you always admire what you don't have. And obviously, the Russians always have a beautiful balletic style. Their lines are a little bit more...
SALE: Classical. PELLETIER: Classical, yes. I mean, I don't wish I would skate like them, but this is what I look and admire in them. And, I mean, I am Canadian. I'm North American. I got a North American style. I wouldn't change it for the world, obviously, but, you know, you try to improve those kind of stuff. And, obviously, we can always be faster, stronger and higher. And this is what the Olympics are all about. But, I mean, as far as going out there and doing it, I mean, I think we're doing a good job at it.
KING: Did the collision in -- pre- the event shake you up at all, Jamie?
SALE: It sure did. It was something -- again, another bizarre situation. I was skating around just to do one more element before I got off the ice. And I saw them coming but I thought they were going a different way. And no one yelled or anything, which they usually do. You hear a lot of screaming before someone collides. I heard nothing. And I had the wind knocked out of me, actually.
And, you know, thank goodness neither one of us was hurt because it would have been really unfortunate for them not to be able to skate or for us not to skate. And we both went out and had, you know, our best skates that night, so that was a good thing.
But I'm a little bit beat up today. Our Canadian women's hockey team said that they'd put a -- they wanted to suit me up for the Olympics for their hockey games because they thought it was a good hit.
KING: Let's get another call in. Phoenix, Arizona, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Dave. Hi, Jamie. I was going to ask you a question. You know, Jamie and Dave, the Americans, Ina and Zimmerman, skated and then the Russian couple that came out and skated after them was like novice skaters. And Ina and Zimmerman had a good chance for the bronze and nobody is even questioning that. I think that's something else that should be looked at. And, Jamie, you're absolutely beautiful.
KING: She is.
PELLETIER: She is.
KING: David ain't bad either.
PELLETIER: She makes me look good.
KING: What about the Americans?
PELLETIER: Well, thank you. Well, I -- John and Kyoko are great friends of ours. They are great people. But unfortunately, we skated at the last group, but we didn't see them skate, but we heard. And we, obviously, between skaters talk and, I mean, people that were in the rink too came to us and said, you know, the Americans might have been a little bit undermarked. And it's hard for me to say because I didn't watch it. That's all honestly. But I do like their style of skating. I think John and Kyoko are a great team and, I mean, it would be unfortunate if they didn't get what they deserved, too.
KING: Well, I thank you both very much for being with us. The continued good luck. And as we think, you got robbed, but you're more famous for it.
PELLETIER: That's right.
SALE: Thank you very much.
KING: Good skating. Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, the silver medal winners at Salt Lake City.
We are going to come back and talk with a lady who knows her way around ice, Nancy Kerrigan. And then, Dominic Dunne. Don't go away.
KING: Joining us now from the University of New Hampshire at Durham is Nancy Kerrigan, former champion figure skater, holder of a bronze and a silver in prior Olympics. And, of course, again, the victim of misfortune who gained fame through no fault of her own by having a rival having her beat up. But we'll get to that in a while. What, Nancy, do you make of this whole story?
NANCY KERRIGAN, U.S. SKATING CHAMPION: Well, Larry, it's figure skating, and as the "Boston Globe" pointed out today, they started it back as far as 1908, there has been controversies in the judging in figure skating. And so it's hard to say if they'll change it, since it has been going on for so long, but I think this seems like people are tired of it, and it's happened so much in the recent Olympics that it's like the last straw. People are really sick of seeing the winner not win and what the public thinks should happen.
KING: In your opinion, Nancy, was this open and shut?
KERRIGAN: It's so subjective, but you know, it's really hard. I personally would have given it to the Canadian, if I were a judge, but they just seemed more solid, more clean and, you know, if it's a truly flawless performance then it seems that that should be the winner. But it seems that the judging maybe they shouldn't at least see the practices all week long. That can taint the way they go into the judging and the outlook of what's going to happen, instead of just watching those four minutes and judging on those minutes alone.
KING: A similar thing happened to you. You lost by 0.1 of a point, right?
KING: Did you think you had won?
KERRIGAN: At the time I hadn't seen Oksana Baiul skate. So I didn't know -- I mean, I thought I had won and done the best that I can do, winning -- meaning that I did everything I can do. But whether I thought I should deserve the gold -- at the time, I didn't know. I hadn't see her skate in her performances. But I think now looking back at it, maybe. Actually, there isn't a week that goes by that people still don't mention, oh, I think you got robbed and you should have won the gold, eight years later, which is amazing.
But you know, it has led me to a great career. And I love what I do and I love skating. And for Jamie and Dave, they're so gracious and such great sportsmen that it's -- they should be very highly commended for their actions and how they are really going about this, because they are really great role models in that they're happy with what they've done, and you know, in a judged sport that's all they can go home with now.
I mean, obviously they won a silver medal, too, and that's exciting, but it's hard when you have people telling you all the time, you know, you should have won, you know, even eight years later. But you know, they're happy with it.
KING: Do you buy the fact that this, in effect, has made them more famous, hasn't it?
KERRIGAN: I don't know if it's made them more famous, but you know, it's hard, it's like 20 years from now if there's an event where you are inviting all the Olympic gold medalists, they don't get that chance to go, even though the majority of people think they won.
So even though they can look back and be really proud of themselves -- and they have every right to be proud of themselves, they were great -- they will miss out on some opportunities, which you watch and you feel bad that you're not involved in. But at the same time, you know, like they said, you can't take away what they've done, and take away how proud they should be, and rightfully so, you know, are of themselves.
KING: Can you sell the judges? I mean in the fact, can you smile, can you use a personality, do you think, to influence?
KERRIGAN: Obviously there is pre-judging in that they get to watch -- and it's political, because anything that's judged can be political. And so some people maybe get to know the judges a little better than others. Personally, I just like to skate. And so I never -- and I'm not good at remembering names, so I was never part of that so-called political scene in figure skating. I just skate. And I've heard of it, and other people sort of worked their way through it, it seems, and you see it from a distance -- but I don't know, I was never interested in that aspect.
KING: Does it bug you that how famous a skater you are and the tremendous career you've had that you're most famous for having been attacked?
KERRIGAN: I would hope that I'm not most famous for that.
KING: I mean, when people think Nancy Kerrigan, they think Tanya Harding. KERRIGAN: Yeah. I mean, that's really too bad, because I had already gone to an Olympics, and in fact, it seems sometimes people forget that I went to the '92 Olympic Games in Albertville, and I even came home with a medal there too.
KING: I know. That's what I mean. Does it bug you when that comes up?
KERRIGAN: It does bug me, because I was a victim there. And I really would rather be known and remembered for the hard work and -- that I put into the sport all those years, and especially the last six weeks and maybe after, because to come away from being attacked and the hard work that I had to do, I've never -- I never even knew I had in me, and I think we're all a lot stronger than we imagine. And when you're faced with something so difficult to come back and do that, I'd rather be known for that, in that I could come back and really skate the performance of my life, not just, oh, after being attacked, but the performance of my life, period, and over all the years I've skated.
KING: Do you think that our couple, Jamie and David, are going to have a good pro career?
KERRIGAN: Oh, I hope so. I think it's a lot harder for the pros to have a long career in ice dance and in pairs. It seems the singles have a little bit of a longer career. But they're well known and they're beautiful skaters, so I would imagine that they have a long road ahead of them. And a lot of opportunities I think they'll be faced with, because they're so gracious and such great sportsmen and also good looking. That can't hurt. So it's, you know, it will be interesting to see what they choose to do.
KING: Nancy Kerrigan, by the way, is still skating, in case you were wondering. She has just come back from -- in fact, you just completed a tour, right?
KERRIGAN: Yes. I do the Champions on Ice Winter Tour, which is shorter, because I'm a mom, and I just have a lot of other things going on in my life. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a theater in Myrtle Beach, and I actually now do a lot of skating on a stage, which is really fun. It's like doing Broadway shows, but with triple jumps and all that kind of exciting stuff. So it's different than just the exhibition, like what you see in the competitions.
KING: Back with more of Nancy Kerrigan. We'll include some phone calls. And then, Dominick Dunne, one of my favorite people. Bill Maher will be back with us on Friday night. Don Rickles on Saturday. Tomorrow night, we'll look at the never-ending saga of the royals. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with one of the great skaters, Nancy Kerrigan. We'll take some calls. Boulder, Colorado, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I do remember Nancy Kerrigan as a fine skater. What I'd like to ask Nancy is how do we, the American people, rectify the terrible judging that we've seen?
KING: Can people do anything?
KERRIGAN: I don't think the people can do anything. I was watching a press conference today about what can be done and apparently there is going to be an appeal. But it's never happened before that I know of. And when the appeal happens, it sounded like, watching the press conference, that they didn't know what they could do, even if they appeal and they agree that there should be an overturn or something, they just don't seem to have anything in place that that can actually happen.
KING: There's no allowance in the sport to appeal an event unless, I guess, if you found chicanery.
KERRIGAN: Yes, but even still it seems like they were talking on the press conference this afternoon saying that the -- there is an extra judge so if they take out one score and use the alternative judge, they're really there only if somebody gets sick. So I don't know why you wouldn't use that alternative judge if that were the case.
KING: Do you agree with David when they say they don't want the gold? I mean, they'd take it but they're not interested in it now?
KERRIGAN: I don't know. I think if they feel that there has been and there can be something proven, they said at the end they would take it and they feel like they deserve it, I think. And the public feels they deserve it so I think they would accept it. This must be awfully hard for Ilena and Anton as well because how can you feel like a great winner and a champion if all this controversy is surrounding what you've done. So really, I feel so bad for both couples, that -- it's really hard.
KING: That's a good point. They're not going to go home to a ticker-tape parade in Moscow.
KERRIGAN: They still might.
KING: Doubt it.
KERRIGAN: Their countrymen I'm sure are very proud of them, but it's really a shame for them as well. And for the sport it just really hard, as Dave said, that people don't want to watch now because it's so disappointing and it keeps happening. And you don't see any rectifying of the problem because year after year there is this kind of situation in the Olympics.
KING: Montreal, Canada. Hello.
CALLER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the year to you and everybody. Yes, it bothers me as a question: how come it has never been offered by the Russians to rescind the gold and take the silver seeing as the public know that the Canadians won the competition?
KING: Could they do that, Nancy? KERRIGAN: I have no idea. I have never heard of...
KING: Give up the medal?
KERRIGAN: ... that's possible. It was given to them and so -- by the judges. The judges did it and the judges aren't the public. So I don't know -- I mean, I suppose in their own right they could do that personally to them, but I don't know that it would go down in any kind of official record book or -- I don't know. I can't really answer that.
KING: By the way, you mentioned singles and pairing. Is it necessarily true that if you're a great single skater you might not be a great pair skater and vice versa?
KERRIGAN: Absolutely. I know a lot of skaters that are actually really, really well-trained skaters but not even very athletic. I had to teach a friend of mine how to throw a football so, you know, it's what you're so trained in and something you do all the time.
I personally did compete in pairs a long time ago and I had the opportunity with the theater and doing a lot of different kinds of events other than just specifically exhibition events. So I'm able to do that. And it's really fun to have the opportunity to try new things, but I don't think it's for everybody. Some people don't like being that high in the air or being thrown around, so it is difficult.
KING: Do you think that young Michelle Kwan can win one this year?
KERRIGAN: Oh, we'll see. It's so hard to know. I just hope she can keep her cool and really, like Jamie and Dave, go away feeling happy with herself. Because that's the most important thing can you do. You can't look back and nobody can take that from them.
KING: Dallas, Texas for Nancy Kerrigan, hello.
CALLER: Hello. How are you doing this evening?
CALLER: My question is, do you feel that this is possibly going to discourage young skaters, especially very young children from getting involved in the sport if they don't feel there's any hope of winning a gold, even though they might have earned it?
KING: Good question. A lot of young skaters are watching television. They see this happen. Do you think it could turn them off?
KERRIGAN: I don't know. If they're that young they might not realize what the controversy all about. But it may discourage their parents from helping them pursue their goals because it can be discouraging for a family.
For years I had family members saying to my parents not even just, what do you get from this, but figure skating is one of the very few sports that has a sort of aftermath of the Olympics. I don't know of a bobsled show. So we have a lot more opportunities after the Olympics as figure skaters. And not just in the Champions on Ice, but there are a lot of other shows out there and opportunities to teach and to be a part of the sport still.
And so if you really love it, you know, you have to do it for yourself because it is subjective and it is judged by people. Hopefully it doesn't discourage them.
KING: Do you keep up with the hard times that have fallen on Tanya Harding? Do you have any feelings on that at all?
KERRIGAN: Everyone always tells me what's going on, but my life has moved on so much since then. I've been married, I have a five- year-old boy Matthew. I'm so involved with creating new events and being in shows and I just got to skate in the Schubert Theater downtown Boston. So there's been so many opportunities for me that, you know, that's in the past. I'm glad it's there.
KING: You don't think about it. Does your son skate yet?
KERRIGAN: He does a little bit but not very much. I've been in the cold my whole life.
KING: Would you like him to be a skater?
KERRIGAN: No. But if he really loves it, I would be there to support him. But I've been in the cold, like I said my whole life. I'd rather him pick a warm sport.
KERRIGAN: We'll see. I don't know what he's going to do. He's only five, so we'll see.
KING: Nancy thanks so much. You look great.
KERRIGAN: Thank you.
KING: Continued good luck. Nancy Kerrigan, champion figure skater on the controversy and other things.
Dominick Dunne is no stranger to controversy. He's next. Don't go away.
KING: He's clearly one of our best writers. His most recent bestseller, "Justice," one of the best books I've read in years, will be published in paperback May 14. "Public Diary," which he has been writing for "Vanity Fair" will mark its first anniversary soon. He's also going to host a new Court TV series called Dominick Dunne's "Power, Privilege and Justice."
Always a great pleasure seeing him, he's no stranger, as we said, to injustice. What do you make about this story?
DOMINICK DUNNE, AUTHOR: This is an incredible story, I think. I'm so behind those two Canadian kids. I mean, I watched that, they were beautiful. Beautiful.
KING: When you see injustice of any kind, does it still rile you?
DUNNE: Of course it does.
KING: You rile more than anyone I know.
DUNNE: I know.
KING: You get riled. OK. Let's get into some areas. Taliban, American Taliban John Walker Lindh pled not guilty. Hearing is scheduled for Friday, set a trial date. Can he get a fair trial?
DUNNE: I think he can get a fair trial. I think you can always get a fair trial. I think he's going to have a hard time. I don't have the least bit of sympathy for the guy, I'm sorry. And it's going to be fascinating to watch that trial.
KING: Are you going to cover it?
KING: Why not?
DUNNE: Well, I'm just not because there's a couple of other trials I want to cover first.
KING: You like murder trials -- I mean like, that's the wrong word. But the tragedy that happened to your daughter --
DUNNE: Well, that's what got me started, Larry. I had never been in a courtroom until I went to the trial of John Sweeney, now called John Mora, who was the killer of my daughter, the strangler of my daughter. So, yes, I am interested in that and I'm interested in -- I'm going to cover the Skakel (ph) case in Stamford, Connecticut, which is coming up soon.
I'm probably going to go to Monte Carlo to cover the case of the nurse, Ted Maher who has now been in the Monte Carlo -- Monaco prison for two and a half years without a trial date being set yet. Of course, that was, you know, arson, not a murder. But -- Soffer (ph) died --
KING: Why do you -- why do you like the atmosphere -- why do you like writing about that situation? It's now taken to you Court TV, you're one of the most well known figures on television. We think of you, we think of trials. Why do you like that?
DUNNE: Well, I don't know if that I like it so much, but have I grown to understand it. I have grown -- I just don't report the judge said this, and the thing -- I like the drama of the courtroom. I like watching and getting to know the parents of the victim. I mean, I -- I -- and to watch the interplay of the prosecution and the defense. I mean, it's a big -- it's a drama every single day.
KING: Sure is. OK. We never got to ask you this, because the last time you were on this program was August 24. Where were you on September 11?
DUNNE: I was in New York, I was in my apartment in midtown Manhattan. I was watching Richard Hack, the author of the wonderful biography of Howard Hughes being interviewed on the Today show when the interview was interrupted by the first plane going into the tower.
KING: Do you remember your first thoughts?
DUNNE: Yes. Right away I thought terrorist. Right away.
KING: Never thought accident?
DUNNE: No, no, no. And, you know, I stayed glued, just glued. I couldn't move, I couldn't believe it. I have a big terrace in my apartment, I went outside, I stood out there for a while, see if I could see smoke, anything. And later in the day when all the buildings closed, it's a day I will absolutely never forget, Larry. The people wandering in the streets. You know, all the access to Brooklyn, to Queens and the tunnels, everything, bridges closed, the people wandering in the streets, everybody silent. It's a day I will never forget.
KING: You have written eloquently that since -- may be politically incorrect, you said, but you do look at who's sitting on an airplane, don't you?
DUNNE: I sure do. I know it's politically incorrect and guess what, under the circumstance I don't care. I mean, if I had gotten on a plane and been seated next to Robert Reid, I tell you I would have gotten off that plane.
KING: Just looking at him.
DUNNE: Just looking at him.
KING: All right. We know that we're involved in this, because I read your column, I read it every month, your comments about the missing Chandra Levy and Gary Condit. You made some thoughts on this program, a theory you had and then suddenly you heard from other people. We want to do longer time on this, but in a nutshell where are we with that now seemingly forgotten case?
DUNNE: Well, I'm not quite sure exactly where we are now. But, you know, the fact that I said on this very program, Larry which was done -- actually, I wasn't in the studio, I was at my house in Connecticut. And I was on with you and I gave this theory that I thought Chandra Levy had gone off on the motorcycle of one of Condit's motorcycle friends. And I remember on the show that Julian Epstein was another guest on the show and he got so angry with me. But then months passed -- not months but weeks passed and I had a call from a guy in Hamburg, Germany. And he was an American. And he was an animal behaviorist who traveled through the Middle East taking care of a lot of horses of sheikhs and so on and he ran into a man who said he had been brushing past in the Middle East for the last three years. The man was an Arab of upper class, he was a procurer of women for Middle Eastern men of high rank, and he claimed that he had brought women in for the Middle Eastern embassies in Washington. And --
KING: So he claimed that Chandra Levy had been taken?
DUNNE: Now, he had seen me on your show. He had a video of me on your show and he played it and he said he's wrong, meaning me, that's not what happened. He said he knew what happened, that he had been in Washington on that day and he said -- this was second hand to me from the guy in Hamburg who had just seen him. First he told me he saw him in Dubai, and then he changed his story later
I can't authenticate all of this. But he said that she was essentially kidnapped, that she was drugged, she was taken in a limousine -- she was put on a plane. And he said, let me put it this way, she wasn't walking.
KING: We're going to take a break and come back with more of Dominick Dunne. "Justice," a tremendous book will be out in paperback in May. And he's going to have his own Court TV series, "Dominick Dunne's Power Privilege and Justice." Don't go away.
KING: When you're next with us, Dominick, and we have more time, we'll explore this more, but are you still working the Condit-Levy matter?
DUNNE: Listen, I'm not going to forget Chandra Levy. I mean, you know, I feel so sorry for Dr. and Mrs. Levy, with whom I've spoken on several occasions, a wonderful couple. And yeah, I'm not going to let go of this. I mean, I don't think we should forget this. And you know, Condit is running again, and I think this should be brought up and brought up and brought up. And because I believe firmly that he knows more than what he has ever said.
KING: Let's take a call for Dominick Dunne. Cleveland, hello.
Cleveland, are you there? OK, I guess they're not listening to the television. Cleveland was not there. I guess they -- I don't know what happened.
What about this new show? What is "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice"?
DUNNE: Yeah, well, I am the host of it. I'm kiddingly calling myself Alistaire Hitchcock these days. I'm going to introduce it. They're not necessarily stories about cases that I have written about. Some of them may be. And -- but they're fascinating stories. I've already done the introductions to two of them. One involves the billionaire boys club, that fascinating group of kids in Beverly Hills who were misled, really, by a charismatic figure and got involved in two murders. And the other one involves a Palm Beach couple, where the husband had the wife killed.
And these are stories of people who, because of privilege and so forth, are dealt with differently than the average person is.
KING: Do the rich get a better deal in America's criminal courts?
DUNNE: Well, I certainly believe they do. I mean, if they've got the million bucks to get the good defense attorney and they're up against that overworked, underpaid prosecutor, I think nine times out of 10 the defense attorney is going to win the case.
KING: What do you make of the life and times of O.J. Simpson?
DUNNE: You know what, Larry, this is really incredible. You know, his episodes, as I call them, are becoming more frequent. I mean, you know, there was the road rage one, there was the girlfriend and the girlfriend's mother saying that he put her on drugs and so forth. And most recently, the girlfriend with whom he's broken up, Christina Prouty (ph) -- Christie Prouty (ph), vanished.
She was not seen for over a month in her apartment compound, and the neighbors complained because there was a terrible stench coming from the apartment. The firemen and the police broke it down. The stench was from her cat, who had died, and whom she claimed later was murdered. And the apartment was in total, total disarray. Everything smashed, ransacked.
I mean, these are not good episodes that he is finding himself in. And you know, and they're getting closer and closer. I mean, I think -- well, I don't know. I don't think we've heard the last of O.J. Simpson, let me tell you that.
KING: Crimes without closure bug you a lot, right?
DUNNE: They sure do.
KING: Do you think we're ever going to solve JonBenet Ramsey's death?
DUNNE: You know, I somehow don't think that we are going to. I also have a feeling that we're not going to solve the murder of Mrs. Robert Blake, you know, because they have -- even though everyone -- or everyone -- me -- suspects that Blake did it, I mean, there's nothing to tie him into it. The bullets in his gun and the bullets in his wife's body simply did not match. They were from two different guns, and there's nothing to connect him to it.
KING: So there have been perfect crimes?
DUNNE: Yeah, I guess. KING: Unsolved crimes.
DUNNE: Unsolved crimes. I don't know how perfect they are.
KING: But the people who got away with -- the old term, they got away with murder.
DUNNE: They got away with murder, you bet.
KING: What keeps you going, Dominick? I mean, your boundless energy. How do you explain it?
DUNNE: I don't know. This is all late life. You know, I didn't become a writer until I was 50 years old, Larry, and I've made up for lost time. I mean, I am fascinated with the subject of good and evil, and I am fascinated by people who simply get away with things. I mean, the fact remains that in the Skakel case, this is a 27-year-old case, and people were able to keep the law at bay for that many years.
And I feel a little pride in myself that I had a lot to do with the reopening of this Skakel case by writing the novel "A Season in Purgatory," which brought interest into it again, and ultimately bringing Mark Fuhrman into that case. And Mark Fuhrman wrote the book, for which I wrote the introduction, that literally brought about the grand jury after 25 years, and the grand jury indicted Michael Skakel.
KING: And when is that trial, by the way?
DUNNE: Well, it's going to start in April, the jury selection, so late April. So it will probably be May.
KING: And Dominick will be there, will he not?
DUNNE: I'll be there.
KING: We'll see you in New York soon.
KING: Dominick, best of luck.
DUNNE: Thank you, Larry.
KING: One of my favorite people. Dominick Dunne. The paperback of his most recent bestseller, "Justice, "will be out May 4, public diary celebrating a year anniversary in "Vanity Fair." He'll host the Court TV series "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice."
Don't forget Rickles Saturday night. Get ready for mirth. I'll tell you about tomorrow night when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Tomorrow night, a look at the royals. They never get dull, do they? Princess Margaret passing away, and that continuing saga. And on Friday night, Bill Maher returns with his always interesting observations on the passing scene, and Don Rickles will be aboard on Saturday night, along with film producer Mike Medavoy.
Thanks very much for joining us. And now, we turn it over to Gotham, New York City, the Big Apple. "NEWSNIGHT" and Aaron Brown.
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