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Profiles of Melissa Etheridge, Celine Dion

Aired November 2, 2002 - 11:00   ET



MELISSA ETHERIDGE, SINGER: I don't care what they think...


ANNOUNCER: She's a female rocker whose songs are as provocative as her life.


ETHERIDGE: I don't care what they say.

My personal life is probably larger than my music now.


ANNOUNCER: She grew up harboring secrets in small town Kansas.


ETHERIDGE: Realizing I was gay was a long, sort of, waking up.


ANNOUNCER: She came out of the closet with a very public relationship and later, a very painful breakup.


KATHY NAJIMY, FRIEND: It rocked our world, but my main concern for my sons is that they are happy.


ANNOUNCER: Now, she has regrouped with new music and a new love.


ETHERIDGE: What do they know about this love...

ANNOUNCER: An intimate look at Melissa Etheridge and she's the diva who disappeared at the pinnacle of her career. Now, after a two- year retirement, she is back with a brand new album and a whole new attitude.


CELINE DION, SINGER: I had to take those two years. I had met life for the first time.


ANNOUNCER: From humble beginnings to 140 million albums sold, all under the watchful eye of the manger she met when she was 12 years old.


MIA DUMONT, FRIEND: I suspected that she was in love with him.


ANNOUNCER: Now, she's balancing marriage, motherhood, and the rebirth of her career. A new day has come for Celine Dion. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAUL ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Melissa Etheridge gained fame and a reputation for her music, her leathery voice and her hard-driving and extremely personal love songs, but over the last decade, Etheridge's personal life has been at center stage as often as the star herself, perhaps even more so. Candid and unflinching, Etheridge now speaks and sings about heartbreak, sexuality and the dark secret she'd kept since childhood. Sharon Collins has our profile.


ETHERIDGE: Life happens and I write about it wherever I want. Actually, I'm writing right now.

Come to my window...

MIKE STRANGE, FRIEND: When you think of rockers, you think of maybe Springsteen. And when you think female rockers, you think of Melissa Etheridge.

NAJIMY: I would say, like, she's swept into our hearts and like taken our stories and written a song. Like, how did she know?

SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melissa Etheridge knows all too well. In just the last few years, the 41- year-old rocker's life has become an open book, from coming out of the closet to a 12-year relationship and painful breakup, to the dramatic revelation of her children's famous father, the world has gotten to know Melissa Etheridge inside and out.

ETHERIDGE: I'm the only one who...

ETHERIDGE: Sort of that lesbian-David Crosby breakup thing is probably larger than my music now. So I realize I have entered the American culture.

But I will not forget...

COLLINS: Whether it's stirring ballads of love and heartbreak or screaming rock songs about infidelity, Etheridge's music has always reflected her life. It's also what kept her going through the dark times.

ETHERIDGE: I learned very early on that I could write truth. I could write about sadness or anger, where I couldn't actually speak it.

I want to come over...

COLLINS: Putting honesty and raw emotion into words in songs like "I Want To Come Over" is something Etheridge began doing as a young girl in Kansas, an escape, she says, from childhood isolation.

STRANGE: Growing up IN Leavenworth is the typical Midwestern experience as a kid. There is really no crime that we knew of. We wandered the streets and we did everything we wanted to do. It was almost right out of TV.

COLLINS: But Etheridge's life was no Ozzie and Harriet. Born May 29, 1961, young Melissa, nicknamed Missy, lived at this house in Leavenworth, about 40 miles from Kansas City, Kansas. Etheridge says her family, mom, Elizabeth a computer consultant, dad, John, a high school teacher and older sister, Jennifer, were emotionally unavailable, which led to years of loneliness.

ETHERIDGE: Gloom and misery everywhere...

I came from that Midwestern family, repressed, everything's fine, we don't talk about anything.

COLLINS: Etheridge made music her outlet. At eight years old, she got her hands on her first guitar and took some lessons here near home. She would escape to the family basement and put her heartfelt emotion on paper. Her first songs were filled with sadness, a cry for love, a fear of abandonment.

ETHERIDGE: The sadness is that I would -- that I started funneling all my emotions into that. And so that maybe the sort of dysfunctional way I was raised actually nurtured my craft and my song writing.

COLLINS: She tested out her guitar and songs for childhood friends. She played in band and choir at Leavenworth High, but her ballad filled with emotion put her in a class all her own. She performed in local variety shows, won talent contests. Etheridge was realizing her dream.

ETHERIDGE: The more that I just played for family and friends, and then for strangers. And the first time I heard applause, forget it. I was hooked. COLLINS: She was just 12 years old when she started playing with mostly male, country western bands at local bars. The young musician's confidence grew onstage, but her parents were worried about her raspy voice. She was sent to a voice coach.

ETHERIDGE: Yes, she was like, "Go home, tell your parents that you're going to sing the way you do and I shouldn't try to stop you."

COLLINS: Etheridge did sing her own way. As teenager, she played in bars and restaurants all over Kansas City, but the husky voiced singer was restless, anxious to leave home, for more reasons than one.

ETHERIDGE: My experience of sort of realizing I was gay was a long sort of waking up. And because there wasn't a lot of gay things around, I didn't know what to call it at first. I just thought, oh, my gosh. I'm so different. I'm so -- but it's funny. The first initial reaction you have is -- if you live in a small town -- is oh, I'm gay. I have to get out of here and go to a big city. It's just like -- it's the call.

COLLINS: The 18-year-old left Kansas and headed to Boston to attend the Berkeley College of Music. While her heart was not in school, she did find success and her first paycheck singing solo at piano bars and back bay restaurants. After just a year in Boston, Etheridge knew she had to reach a bigger audience. With some money in her pocket, the 21-year-old packed her car and drove west to L.A. in search of fame and a hit song.

ETHERIDGE: "Around The World," that song, I start that beginning -- and it always has the same reaction, people up.

COLLINS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, that song and the woman who changes Melissa Etheridge's life forever.

ETHERIDGE: It was one of those situations like you're not gay? Who I definitely didn't assume she was married, but she was.



DION: I was waiting for so long.


ANNOUNCER: And coming up later, she's back with a new look at life and love.


DION: I know where I'm from. I know where I'm going. My baby's waiting for me. He's happy. And I'm looking forward to eating Cheerios with him tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: Singing sensation, Celine Dion, later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.




ETHERIDGE: We got nowhere to go...

COLLINS (voice-over): By 1982, Kansas native, Melissa Etheridge, was struggling with her home life, struggling with her sexuality. She was ready to escape and sing her heartfelt songs to a bigger audience.

ETHERIDGE: It just seemed that Los Angeles had the place where a girl with an acoustic guitar could go.

COLLINS: With dreams of becoming a rock star, the 21-year-old made a go of it in L.A. She played everywhere she could, restaurants, lounges and eventually gay bars. Although not publicly out of the closet, Etheridge soon had a loyal following among lesbian club-goers. Her songs were not an immediate hit, but her love life took off. She met a lot of women and became notorious for having one-night stands.

ETHERIDGE: I was just leaving the Midwest. I was just being comfortable in my sexuality and it was Southern California. There was beautiful people, you know.

And it's a fun time to be had by all tonight.

COLLINS: But it was in one of these women's bars that Melissa caught the attention of a man. Music manager, Bill Leopold, was there with his wife when he heard Etheridge perform.

BILL LEOPOLD, MANAGER: I thought I'd seen the reincarnation of Judy Garland. I was blown away.

COLLINS: Leopold signed Etheridge certain he could get her record contract, but record company after record company turned them down.

ETHERIDGE: They would say, you know, we love you. You're very good, but they just didn't, you know, hear that hit song.

COLLINS: Etheridge didn't have a record contract, but in 1984 was hired as a songwriter for A&M Records. She wrote soundtracks for some 80's B-movies like "Weeds" starring actor, Nick Nolte, but mostly took this time to work on her own material. She drew on her unfulfilled relationships for inspiration.

ETHERIDGE: A gal, you know, a gal, being with somebody else, these non-monogamous relationships I was in. It was fine if I did it, but if they it, forget it, I'd write about it.

COLLINS: Etheridge's passionate songs finally caught the attention of record exec, Chris Blackwell. Although the '80s music scene was rocking with male groups like Guns N Roses and Motley Crue, the Island Record exec put his money on the girl with the acoustic guitar. In 1986, 25-year-old Etheridge had a record contract.

ETHERIDGE: Somebody bring me some water...

COLLINS: Rock anthem, "Bring Me Some Water," an angry song about infidelity and lost love did not bring Etheridge a hit single, but it drew waves from the music industry.

In 1987, she had a Grammy nomination for "Best Female Rock Vocal." The song put Etheridge firmly on the road to stardom. But the music video would change her life even more. While shooting the video, she met filmmaker, Julie Cypher. Cypher was then married to actor, Lou Diamond Phillips, but found she was strangely attracted to this female rocker.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Was Melissa the first woman you were attracted to?


KING: What was that like?

CYPHER: A big surprise, like you said.

ETHERIDGE: I mean she had herself together and she was very attractive and was unavailable, which is very important in my attraction that I had for people then.

COLLINS: The two flirted, but began a friendship over the phone. Etheridge was on her first concert tour. Cypher at home alone. Her actor husband on a movie set. A romance soon developed. A year later in 1988, Cypher filed for divorce from Diamond Phillips. Etheridge and Cypher were now an item, but they weren't ready to share it with the world.

ETHERIDGE: It was a long building of a relationship and one of the reasons was I was on the road, constantly.

COLLINS: As Etheridge's love life intensified so did her music. In 1993, more honors from the Academy -- a Grammy for rock song, "Ain't It Heavy." But it was something else that catapulted Etheridge into the limelight.

Etheridge made a bold decision that could have ruined her career. Tired of only alluding to her homosexuality in songs and interviews, she publicly came out of the closet. The occasion, a President Clinton inaugural ball, the first time gays and lesbians were invited to such an event.

ETHERIDGE: I remember walking up and on the microphone with thousands of people going, well, I'm proud to have been a lesbian all my life. Oh, wow, I just came out.

LEOPOLD: From that point, her career exploded. ETHERIDGE: And I'm the only one who drowned in my desire for you.

COLLINS: Etheridge's relationship with Cypher was now also public, and the album, "Yes, I am" quickly rose to the top of the charts, each song clearly proclaiming her love for Cypher.

ETHERIDGE: Come to my window.

COLLINS: Etheridge was selling out arenas. And although being on the road caused tension at home, she was living the rock star life.

ETHERIDGE: The subject and the reality of having children came at the height of my career. I looked back not sure about the relationship, but willing to go along with it.

COLLINS: Two years after Etheridge came out, she and Cypher gave the world even more to talk about. In 1987, Cypher gave birth to a little girl, Bailey, but the couple kept quiet about the identity of the dad. The media frenzy intensified a year later when brother, Beckett, joined the family. For three long years, Etheridge and Cypher were asked the same question -- who is the biological father? The speculation led to rumors of possible fathers like celebrity friend, Brad Pitt.

ETHERIDGE: We joked about Brad. There's no way. He would want to be in his child's life. He just would.

COLLINS: Etheridge and Cypher grew tired of the rumors and worried the badgering could hurt their children. In January 2000, the couple came clean. Their secret revealed on the cover of "The Rolling Stone."

ETHERIDGE: He's in the children's life in exactly the way that we had hoped, in that he's -- you know, you ask any of our kids, "Who's your dad?" Oh, it's David, you know.

COLLINS: That's David Crosby, rock legend and Woodstock icon. It was the musician's wife, Jan, who volunteered her husband.

DAVID CROSBY, BIOLOGICAL FATHER: Being the genetic dad, I'm really happy when I get a chance to see them. I'm very proud of them, but their parents are Melissa and Julie.

COLLINS: But the seemingly happy parents were in deep trouble. When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Etheridge's personal life falls apart.

ETHERIDGE: One of the hardest phone calls we made was to David and Jan because we felt like we had let them down.

COLLINS: And the rocker reveals another secret. This one, from the darkest chapter of her life.

ETHERIDGE: My family doesn't deny anything that I put in the book because it is the truth. If I only wanted to. Hey, if I only wanted to...


ANNOUNCER: Melissa Etheridge's tell-all ahead, but first, this week's, "Where Are They Now?" In the mid 80's, Lou Diamond Phillips was a hot commodity in Hollywood. The Philippino born actor had big roles in movies like "Stand and Deliver," "Young Guns" and of course, the Ritchie Valens bio pic, "La Bamba." His personal life made headlines when his wife left him for another woman.

Where is Lou Diamond Phillips now? Phillips remarried in 1994 to model, Kelly Preston. The couple has twin daughters. He also stayed with the acting game. He has appeared in movies like 1996's "Courage Under Fire" and 2000's "Supernova." He also performed a lifelong dream of starring in a Broadway play, when he stepped into Yul Brynner's shoes for a revival of "The King and I."

A profile of Melissa Etheridge will continue after this.




ETHERIDGE: But I'm the only one...

COLLINS (voice-over): By the year 2000, Melissa Etheridge was a Grammy-winning, platinum-selling rock star with nothing to hide. She was out and proud, had two children with the help of rocker David Crosby and what appeared to be a perfect relationship.

KING: Is Julie the love of your life?

ETHERIDGE: Yes, yes.

KING: No doubt about it?

ETHERIDGE: No, doubt about it.

COLLINS: But by this time, there were doubts, and the relationship was in deep trouble. The problems were fueled by separation and confusion. Etheridge was constantly on tour and Cypher had begun to requestion her sexuality, not certain she was gay. The couple tried to salvage their deteriorating relationship. But at the end of 2000, just eight months after the birth of their son, Etheridge and Cypher were finished. Etheridge was devastated. The crushing blow made even bigger with the breakup of their family.

ETHERIDGE: It was tough being a single mom. It was tough being in a divorce with children, very, very hard.

COLLINS: The two women now share custody of kids, Bailey and Beckett.

ETHERIDGE: We do split weeks right now, a week on, a week off, which, you know, it works now. So...

COLLINS: The breakup saddened close friends.

NAJIMY: It rocked our world because when you hang out with two families, you just get in patterns. You get used to things.

COLLINS: And fans who considered the couple role models for gay parenting, were let down.

ETHERIDGE: Julie and I broke up, that disappointed. But I'm certainly not going to live my life for other people.

COLLINS: Etheridge poured all of her pain into her music. She recorded songs of vulnerability and betrayal.

ETHERIDGE: And you change your mind with an I love you, good.

It started with the album, "Skin" and sort of coming to an end of a part of my life in writing about it and singing about it, and then touring alone with it. And sort of -- it was a healing. It was a journey.

COLLINS: The music was just the beginning of her catharsis. Last year, Etheridge embarked on another journey. She wrote her first book, a frank autobiography detailing the romantic fallout with Cypher. The book also chronicled her painful upbringing in Kansas, years of childhood isolation and depression. But in this memoir, Etheridge also made shocking revelations. Etheridge alleged that when she was 6 years old, she was physically and sexually abused by her older sister, Jennifer. She says the abuse lasted for five years.

ETHERIDGE: I would never say I had a bad childhood at all. I just had a certain set of circumstances, and my sister definitely had a large influence on me.

COLLINS: Although Etheridge won't go into detail about the abuse; she says it was much more than a childhood game of doctor.

ETHERIDGE: There's definitely a point where another being is manipulating and hurting another human -- another being.

COLLINS: Her sister, Jennifer, now a homemaker in Arkansas, did not return our calls, but CNN did contact Etheridge's mother.

ETHERIDGE: My mom, she...

COLLINS: She refused an interview, but wanted to make the statement that the family is very proud of Melissa.

ETHERIDGE: My family, I communicate with some of them. My sister and I just have an agreement sort of not to talk about it.

COLLINS: Etheridge says speaking out about the abuse and about her painful breakup with Cypher has helped her move forward. This year, the 41-year-old put the painful ballads behind her and embarked on a tour filled with the upbeat music of her earlier albums. Etheridge's love life is rocking again too. She was at a Hollywood restaurant with pal, Kathy Najimy, when she met actress, Tammy Lynn Michaels. Michaels had starred on the now canceled WB show, "Popular."

TAMMY LYNN MICHAELS, ACTRESS: Well, you're just a total catch, aren't you?

NAJIMY: This woman came up, this little, cute, cute, tip of a woman, with this spiky blond hair and all this lip-gloss came up.

ETHERIDGE: And out of the blue, I swear this angel came down. And my attraction to her has been different than any other woman in my life in that it wasn't that dark, unavailable, crazy thing.

COLLINS: Twenty-seven-year-old Michaels appeared in the Etheridge video, "I Want To Be In Love." The couple now live together here in L.A.

ETHERIDGE: The age difference was probably the biggest obstacle for me. I was like what? She's at the age I was when I started my -- in my professional career, it has been 14 years. And so it's kind of on the other side of it looking at -- I kind of get that experience back again.

Because I like the way you look. I know you like me.

COLLINS: Etheridge certainly has a lot of experiences to share.

ETHERIDGE: I have been a woman with a desire for a career for 40 years and was building and going and it was always when I get there, when I get there. I'm here.

COLLINS: Melissa Etheridge, hit maker, risk taker and survivor. Having sung the blues, she now returns, ready to rock.


ZAHN: Melissa Etheridge has a new DVD coming out next week, performances taken from last year's "Live" and "Alone" solo career. Etheridge is also considering a career in television along the lines of the Osbournes, a reality show that would feature Etheridge at home.

ANNOUNCER: Up next...


DION: OK, I'm OK. It look goods. Yes, please let me know. That's my thing now. I got to look good.


ANNOUNCER: The diva gets down.


DION: We don't say double, double yes.


ANNOUNCER: The personal side of Celine Dion ahead on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


ZAHN: Hi, welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. As divas go, Celine Dion is one of the kind. She has all the trappings of a mega superstar to be sure, but seemingly, none of the baggage and that may be what allowed her to walk away from it all. Two years ago, Celine stepped out of the spotlight to focus in on her private life. It was supposed to be a quiet time. It was anything but. Now Celine is back in a new show in Las Vegas that's in the works and a new outlook reflecting everything she's come through. Here's Charles Molineaux.


CHARLES MOLINEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty years in the business, five Grammys, 120 million albums sold, an estimated 200 million in the bank, by 1999, Celine Dion was the queen of the world. So why at the height of her popularity, at pinnacle of her career, did she walk away?

DION: It was a must. I had to take those two years. I had met life for the first time.

MALVEAUX: Disappearing from the public eye on January 1, 2000, she would face two of the most challenging years of her life.

PETER CASTRO, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Taking time off to have a baby, start a family, take care of Rene, who was -- you know, was battling cancer, going through in vitro fertilization, and you know, the sort of like a soap opera, her last two years. It was sort of like, you know, "As Celine's World Turns."

MALVEAUX: And now she's back.

DION: I was waiting for so long.

MALVEAUX: This past March, Celine returned to the spotlight with a number one album and a brand new attitude.

DION: The first step, first tooth, nightmare, an earache, Mommy -- that's important. So if I can do both, making a difference in my son's life and my husband's life and sing a couple songs in between that, I can't be happier.

MALVEAUX: Celine Dion debuted on March 30, 1968 in the tiny village of Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada. Within minutes of leaving Le Gardeur Hospital, she was surrounded by her first audience, 13 brothers and sisters. Celine's father, Adehmar, worked as a butcher and supported the family of 16 on $165 a week.

DUMONT: And since they didn't have any money, he used to walk to work because he would save ten cents each day by not taking the bus.

CASTRO: Fourteen kids, five kids sharing one bed. The girls had to share, you know, small bedrooms as well. And dinnertime was always an adventure because they would have dinner and then, they would flip the plates over and have dessert on that side of the plate just to minimize all the -- you know, the dish washing chores.

MOLINEAUX: Despite circumstances, the family thrived on music and each other. By two, Celine was singing for her family on the dining room table. By five, brother Michel asked her to sing at his wedding.

DION: When I started to feel the love and the warmth of the audience it got me. I said to myself, really this is what I want to do all my life. I want to be a singer.

MOLINEAUX: That dream became a reality in 1980. Celine's mother wrote a song for her 12-year-old. The title, appropriately enough, "It Was Only a Dream."

CASTRO: They did a demo, and the brother sent it to Rene Angelil, who was at the time a fledgling producer in Canada. They called in Celine and it was -- she was really awkward. She was 12 years old, not a very attractive little girl. According to Rene himself, had these big teeth, this bad hair. And she auditioned in front of him.

RENE ANGELIL, MANAGER AND HUSBAND: So she says, "I need a microphone. You know, usually, I sing with a microphone." So I said, "Hey, take this pencil, and make like it's a microphone." So she said, "OK." And in this small office, she started singing. She was another person. It really shook me up. It's -- you hear a voice like that like every 10, 20 years, an artist comes out in the world.

MOLINEAUX: Her voice would take her to Tokyo in 1982, winning the gold medal at the Yamaha World Song Festival. And by the time she returned to Canada, she was a household name.

DION: Oh, Canada, glorious and free.

MOLINEAUX: With schoolwork falling to the wayside, Celine dropped out of St. Jude Middle School at the end of eighth grade. And with studies behind her, Rene and Celine headed to France. The manager had big dreams for his young protege -- an international career.

In the coming years, Celine would become a major name in France. And as her career blossomed, so would her feelings for the much older manager.

GEORGE-HERBERT GERMAIN, BIOGRAPHER: She fell in love with him long before he knew and maybe long before she knew she was in love with him.

DUMONT: I suspected that she was in love with him. CASTRO: Rene was everything for Celine at that time. He was a protector, her knight in shining armor, a father figure, a manger, a Svengali. It's no surprise that she fell in love with him.

DION: Where does my heart beat now?

MOLINEAUX: And America would soon fall in love with her breakthrough single. When our story continues, Celine sets her sights on the U.S. pop market and her recently divorced manager.

GERMAIN: When she worked with Mia and other friends on her new look, it was to have a new look as an artist, but I think it was to seduce Rene Angelil.





MOLINEAUX (voice-over): By 1985, 17-year-old Celine Dion was a major star in Canada and France, but manager, Rene Angelil, had even bigger ideas for his young protege -- the United States. Taking her off the market for 18 months, he would begin a full-scale transformation.

CASTRO: She had these enormous incisors, you know, like a saber tooth tiger.

GERMAIN: People here would laugh at her and call her Dracula.

CASTRO: It didn't stop at better hair and capping her teeth and better clothes; it was also "Celine take Berlitz English courses."

DION: I cut my hair. I had my hair cut, sorry. And I sing -- now, I can sing pop music. So it's different, but I'm the same person. I'm Celine Dion and I'm the same artist.

MOLINEAUX: Three years later in 1988 at the Eurovision Contest in Dublin, Celine would take home the top prize. Rene, now 45, and divorced from his second wife would share more than a congratulatory hug.

ANGELIL: At night, you know; when you kiss good night, always kiss on the cheek. And on that night, I made like a little stop right here and...

DION: A little stop.

ANGELIL: ... and everything changed.

MOLINEAUX: Within months, Rene would begin negotiations for Celine's first English album. THOMAS D. MOTTOLA, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT: She was brought down from Canada, by the head of our Canadian company at the time. You know, initially from what I heard, there were no limitations on what could happen.

DION: So much to believe in...

MOLINEAUX: For Celine Dion, the dream her mother had written

VITO LUPRANO, SENIOR V.P, A&R, SONY MUSIC CANADA: I remember introducing a song to them called "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" which was kind of a rock song. And when they first heard it, they said, "OK, Vito, are you OK?"

MOLINEAUX: "Unison," Celine's debut English album arrived in the U.S. September 1990.

DION: Where does my heart beat now?

MOLINEAUX: "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" became the breakthrough single.

DION: The first video I've done, I remember, I think it cost $25,000, "Where Does My Heart Beat Now?" It was in a theater. I was performing that night. I think there were two cameras.

LUPRANO: I actually helped direct, with this other guy, you know, but they don't even know this.

DION: If you asked me to...

MOLINEAUX: With a bigger music video budget, "If You Asked Me To" hit the top 40 just as the new album, "Celine Dion," hit the stores in 1992. It produced four chart toppers, including a Disney theme song that nearly got away.

While in the studio recording her sophomore title, Celine had been invited to sing the theme song to Steven Spielberg's animated film "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West."

LUPRANO: Then, all of a sudden, we get a phone call from the film company saying that, there's a problem. We love what she did, and everyone loves it, but the original singer wants to sing the song.

MOLINEAUX: Linda Ronstadt would take over, leaving Celine and Rene broken hearted.

LUPRANO: All of the sudden, he gets a phone call, there's a new movie being done by Disney, and the name is "Beauty and The Beast."

DION: Tale as old as time.

LUPRANO: And that was our key to America, at that point, "Beauty and The Beast" was the -- our first real hit in America.

DION: When I give my heart... MOLINEAUX: What followed was yet another string of hits -- 1993's "The Color of My Love" produced Celine's second movie theme song, "When I Fall in Love" from the motion picture "Sleepless in Seattle..."

DION: Because I'm your lady...

MALVEAUX: ... and her first number one single, "The Power of Love."

DAVID FOSTER, PRODUCER, "THE POWER OF LOVE": It's an extraordinary record and it holds up today. You play that record tonight, it sounds just as good as it did 10 years ago.

DION: Whenever you reach for me...

LURPANO: We all felt, you know, what, age -- God, this is a perfect song. Celine, it's what she's all about. She's in love with this man, you know.

MOLINEAUX: But her fans did not know. Having kept their relationship a secret for five years, the 51-year-old manager and the 25-year-old pop star made a decision, leaving a message within the liner notes for all to see.

DION: I wrote a note behind my album and I said, "Rene, I can't keep this secret inside of me anymore. It's getting too powerful. Let me paint the truth and show how I feel. Rene, you're the color of my love."

MOLINEAUX: Fans were anything but upset. And on December 17, 1994, they would line the streets of Montreal hoping for a glimpse of Celine and Rene as they arrived at the cathedral on their wedding day.

MOTTOLA: The wedding was like Charles and Diana getting married. It was regal. It was royal. It was like a fairyland. You know, it was a fairy tale.

MOLINEAUX: And at the helm of this event, Celine's friend and former publicist Mia Dumont.

DUMONT: I have no child and it's as if I married my girl. The mother told me that the night before the wedding, she said, "I had 14 kids, and you're marrying my princess.

MOLINEAUX: After the honeymoon, the hits just kept rolling in.

LUPRANO: When she did "All By Myself," oh, all of the sudden she decides to do a long note. I just went, what the hell happened there, you know.

MOLINEAUX: Two Grammies later and 27 million albums sold, Celine Dion was now a bona-fide superstar and while performing her hit, "Because You Loved Me" on tour, her fans let her know.

DION: Because you... MOLINEAUX: The spotlight, however, would take its toll. Coming up, two years of "Titanic" frenzy force Celine to take a break and take care of her husband as he battles for his life.

CASTRO: It was a terrifying time. They didn't know whether or not he was going to live or die.


ANNOUNCER: Celine Dion's terrifying ordeal next, but first, this week's "Passages."

Jam Master Jay of the pioneering rap group, Run-DMC was gunned down Wednesday at a Queens, New York music studio. The deejay whose real name was Jason Mizell, whooped the turntables for the group credited with first bringing rap to the mainstream. The group hit with songs like "Kings of Rock," "It's Tricky," and a remake of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." Police are still investigating the shooting. Jam Master Jay was 37.

The Rolling Stones are taking court with guys better known for a different kind of jamming. The NBA and the Stones have joined forces for a basketball promotional campaign. Don't think the English rockers are newbies to round ball. Mick Jagger was a prime basketball player in his youth and his father helped make the sport popular in the U.K. It is also rumored that Keith Richard has a pretty good sky hook.

After all that "Sex and The City," a new arrival. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick welcomed a new son into the world Monday. This is the first child for the celebrity couple. Parker will take as few months off before resuming her starring duties on the HBO hit.

For more celebrity news, check out the new arrival of "People" magazine this week. A profile of Celine Dion will continue when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.



LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: I'm the king of the world.

MOLINEAUX (voice-over): When the movie "Titanic" opened in December 1997, Celine Dion's ship would finally come in. Not only would Leo be on the lips of teens everywhere, so would Celine and her song.

MOTTOLA: And she just did one take. We sat there. We all had goose bumps and we were -- we had tears in our eyes. Everyone walked out of there knowing something really special had happened and you know, the rest is history.

MOLINEAUX: That one-take demo would be the version heard on the single. The "Titanic" soundtrack would become the biggest seller of all time. And Celine's fifth album, "Let's Talk About Love" would sell nearly 30 million albums; garner two Grammies, and one Academy Award for best song.

DION: I'm the lucky girl tonight. So I'm walking this red carpet. I'm going to party. I don't want to go to bed. I want to wear the necklace as long as I can.

MOLINEAUX: Celine not only wore the necklace, she would wear the crown as reining pop diva in the coming year. But by 1999, Celine began to tire of the schedule and spotlight.

DION: I don't want people to be tired of seeing me or hearing me. You want to be there for a long time and what do you want me to do after the "Titanic?"

MOLINEAUX: Celine and Rene began to plan a self-imposed two-year hiatus, an exit as the new millennium began -- travel, golf, a baby were on the ticket. But their plans would soon take a drastic turn. Just months after the announcement, in March, while on a plane to Texas, Celine noticed a lump on her husband's neck.

DION: And I said, "Let me press that." I said, "Does it hurt?" He said, "No." I said, "Let me touch the other side." And I was expecting a bump on the other side, like a sore throat or something. I said, "It doesn't hurt?" And I said, "Don't worry about it. Let's wait until tomorrow."

MOLINEAUX: The lump turned out to be cancer. Angelil would immediately begin radiation therapy and Celine, for the first time, would take care of the man who for so long had watched over her.

DION: It changed our lives. It changed his. It changed mine. We stopped planning the future. We live one day at a time. Everything is so intense. I never thought I could love him more. I don't think he could -- I don't think he thought he could love me more.

MOLINEAUX: And at the end of the year, on December 31, Celine would say goodbye to the spotlight. Her final concert the culmination of 20 years in the business, a bittersweet night dedicated to her husband.

MOTTOLA: This is a great love story. If anybody ever wanted to make a movie, forget the fact that she's a great singer -- if you just wanted to make a movie about a great love story, this is Rene and Celine.

MOLINEAUX: Five days later in Las Vegas, the couple renewed their marriage vows before family and friends in an over-the-top Arabian inspired ceremony.

DION: Thank you. Bye-bye.

LUPRANO: I don't think they took it serious. I don't think so, but if they did, well, hey, good for them. But no, I thought it was a fun moment.

MOLINEAUX: And six months later, on June 8, 2000, the couple would receive the most important phone call of their lives. CASTRO: That was the day that Rene Angelil found out that his neck cancer was in remission and hours later, they both found out that Celine was pregnant.

MOLINEAUX: Having tried in vein for five years, Celine had undergone in-vitro fertilization.

DION: Every day, I was afraid to loose that baby, so I didn't do any crazy things. I didn't even go out. I didn't play golf. I just stayed relaxed, drink lots of water and feed myself well, gaining 40 something pounds. I looked gorgeous.

MOTTOLA: I remember the first time seeing Celine after the birth of Rene Charles. I saw a different Celine, a completely different Celine.

MOLINEAUX: Celine would make a rare appearance in July at the baptism of Rene Charles. Hundreds of fans and paparazzi would line the streets, making it more of a red carpet event than a family affair. But sharing her life with fans could have its downside too, even while out of the spotlight.

In March 2002, Celine's husband Rene would be the subject of a nasty lawsuit in Las Vegas, alleging rape. The woman who filed the suit was later arrested for a $500,000 bad check debt to a Las Vegas casino.

GERMAIN: He is not a violent man, to rape a woman, and tell her, "I kill you if you tell my wife." It's -- that's crazy.

MOLINEAUX: As with every power couple, tabloids have followed them throughout the years. Neither has seemed concerned.

DION: A new day...

FOSTER: Here we are two and a half years later; she hasn't done a thing in two and a half years and sells a half a million records the first time out. I don't know any other career that could do that.

DION: I was waiting for so long.

MOTTOLA: Celine's voice is like a fine-tuned instrument, and if you let it rest, when you play it again, it'll sound even better.

MOLINEAUX: In March 2002, Celine Dion returned to the spotlight. "A New Day Has Come," her first studio album in nearly five years rocketed to number one upon release. And not only has her voice improved, so has her bottom line -- recently inking a $100 million dollar contract in Las Vegas starting in March 2003. Five nights a week, for three years, in a custom built coliseum fit for a queen, a spectacular coming attraction, capping off a spectacular career.

Beyond the glamour, the spotlight, the fortune, the music, a new day has come for Celine Dion.

DION: I know where I'm from; I know where I'm going. My baby is waiting for me. He's happy. I'm at the happiest of my life. The rest is, we'll see, you know?

Let it shatter the walls for a new...


ZAHN: Celine Dion is currently in Belgium rehearsing for an upcoming Las Vegas show, an ambitious one that is expected to include some 200 performances a year.

That is it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope to see you again next week.


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