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CNN CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT

Interview With Mariel Hemingway; Mystery in Modesto Deepens

Aired January 17, 2003 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
Tonight: Was there a mistress and an insurance policy? Another twist in the disappearance of the missing woman who is pregnant.

ANNOUNCER: The husband under suspicion in the disappearance of his pregnant wife: new questions about his allege affair, insurance money, and a lie detector test. Tonight: What happened to Laci Peterson?

A newborn infant found alive in a freezing outhouse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we lifted it out of the solution, the baby was cold to the touch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Why is the father in jail?

Avalanche: a man trapped in a tidal wave of snow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we hadn't had probes, if he hadn't had a beacon, he wouldn't be alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: He lived to tell his story of survival.

Hemingway: the family name, the family tragedies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIEL HEMINGWAY, ACTRESS: The Hemingway curse and suicide and this, that, and the other thing, that's not my life. I know the genetic makeup of my family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Mariel Hemingway: stardom, tragedy, and triumph, "Beating the Odds."

And our "Person of the Day" caught in a disco inferno.

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.

CHUNG: Good evening.

Tonight, the focus is back on Modesto, California, and the story of a pregnant woman missing since last Christmas Eve. And the focus is on the husband of Laci Peterson. For the first time, he has spoken to the local media.

And, as CNN's Rusty Dornin reports, it's raising more questions than answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't long after Laci Peterson disappeared that there were questions about husband Scott. He said he went fishing the day his wife vanished, but police refused to eliminate him as a suspect.

Now sources close to the family say Modesto police showed them pictures of Scott Peterson with another woman with whom he was allegedly having an affair. They also told the family he took out a $250,000 life insurance policy on his wife. "The Modesto Bee" reported that police told the family the discovery was why they felt Scott Peterson might be involved in his wife's disappearance.

Meantime, Scott Peterson had planned to open another volunteer center for his wife in Los Angeles over the weekend. Those plans have been canceled. And in a phone interview with affiliate KTVU, Peterson said he's angry over the "Bee"'s reporting and plans to take matters into his own hands.

SCOTT PETERSON, HUSBAND OF LACI PETERSON: Well, it's a bunch of lies in the article. So, what are you going to do?

QUESTION: So, what is your plan now?

PETERSON: I'm going to come back to Modesto and open up my own volunteer center and find my wife and my kid.

DORNIN: When the headlines hit, the volunteer center in Modesto shut down. Modesto Police Chaplain Don Crooker was there every day and says many like him felt betrayed.

DON CROOKER, MODESTO POLICE CHAPLAIN: Devastated. Unbelievable. And, believe me, chaplains cry.

DORNIN: Modesto police have no official comment on the state of the investigation.

From the beginning, Laci Peterson's family stood behind her husband, always choosing to talk about the good times.

SHARON ROCHA, MOTHER OF LACI PETERSON: They were always happy together. I've never heard either of them say anything against the other. I've never heard them argue or even heard about an argument. They were a happy, happy couple.

DORNIN: Trust based on a belief that is now eroding.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Modesto, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: Just a short time ago, the family of Laci Peterson held a news conference. They had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM PETERSEN, FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: Approximately two weeks ago, Ron Grantski, Laci's stepfather, asked Scott if he had a girlfriend. Scott told him no and Ron believed him. Now, however, they believe that he has lied to them about this and possibly other things as well. The family is asking Scott to tell everything he knows and to fully cooperate with the Modesto Police Department.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: Joining me now is reporter Gloria Gomez of KOVR in Sacramento, who broke the new details of this story last night.

Gloria, thanks so much for being with us.

GLORIA GOMEZ, KOVR REPORTER: Thanks, Connie. Glad to be here.

CHUNG: I understand you were able to talk to Scott Peterson yesterday. What did he tell you?

GOMEZ: Well, I asked him, first of all, if the reports were true that he had a girlfriend.

His reaction right away to that was -- he kind of gave me a smirk about it, almost like he expected to be asked that question. And then he said, all I want to do is find Laci. And I said, well, do you want to confirm that you have a girlfriend? And he said, no. I said, do you want to deny that you have a girlfriend? And he said, no.

CHUNG: What was his demeanor? Was he nervous?

GOMEZ: No. As a matter of fact, he was very, very calm, almost like it was well rehearsed what he was going to say, very matter of fact with me.

He didn't have a problem at all rehearsing the same story over and over, which was: My point is to find Laci. And if people want to turn to this and think this is relevant, that's fine, as long as it keeps her picture out there -- but very calm throughout it all.

CHUNG: We were told that he refused to take a lie detector test. Do you know anything about that and were you able to ask him about a lie detector test? GOMEZ: Well, he made his comments very brief with me. In fact, he was telling me he had to go. So, I tried to get the most important information out there as soon as possible.

But, as far as the lie detector test is concerned, I know officials have asked him to take one. And I understand, from one point to another, he wavered back and forth on that.

CHUNG: Now, I know you have sources who have told you several bits of information. Were you able to talk to any members of the family to get their reaction to all of these developments?

GOMEZ: I can tell you that sources of mine have talked to the family. And they were able to confirm the life insurance information. But, as far as getting reaction from them, we have not been able to do that yet.

CHUNG: All right, the life insurance information, which is that Scott Peterson reportedly had taken out a life insurance policy on Laci for $250,000. Is that your understanding?

GOMEZ: That is correct. And that's what the family confirmed. Absolutely.

CHUNG: Were you able to talk to any of Laci's friends or Scott's friends?

GOMEZ: I was able to talk to someone who knows Scott pretty well last night. They were shocked when I told them the news that I was reporting. They said they had no idea this was going on. And they refused to comment any further other than saying they were stunned by it all.

CHUNG: What can you tell us about this woman who supposedly is a girlfriend, may very well have seen Scott as recently as mid-December?

GOMEZ: You know what? We have very limited information on that, other than to say that the family was notified about her yesterday. And they showed pictures of the family -- showing Scott and her together.

We know she lives in a surrounding city near Modesto. It's unclear, though, how long the relationship has been ongoing.

CHUNG: Is it your belief that the family did not know this woman at all?

GOMEZ: That is my understanding, that they had no idea about her until police brought her up yesterday.

CHUNG: Do you know where Scott is and whether or not he's talking any further?

GOMEZ: My understanding is, he remains at home. Every time we seem to go by there, he's there or at the volunteer center. I know he shows up at the volunteer center early in the morning. But since that shut down yesterday, after the news, he's spending a lot of time at home.

CHUNG: All right, Gloria Gomez, we thank you so much for being with us.

GOMEZ: Thank you, Connie.

CHUNG: And now a story that happens far too often, but is no less horrifying for that.

On the same day he was born, a baby boy was put in a canvas bag and dumped in the waste pit of a portable toilet outside in the middle of January in Wisconsin. And police say that the father of the baby was responsible. The 18-year-old father, Gabriel Estrada, was charged with attempted homicide yesterday. Police say he took the baby from the 17-year-old mother after rejecting her suggestion to leave the baby with police or at a church.

Estrada's brother asked for understanding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSE ESTRADA, BROTHER OF GABRIEL ESTRADA: I'm sure everybody's had their run-ins. Everybody makes mistakes. He's a young kid. He turned 18 four months ago. My mother just passed away a year ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good kid.

ESTRADA: He's a good kid. He's a straight-A student, got good grades in schools. He's just a kid who was put in a spot and made a mistake. I'm not saying that he should be let go free today, but they need to take into consideration that he was scared. It was a spur-of- the-moment thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: Joining us know is Kenosha County sheriff David Beth.

Thank you, sir, for being with us.

Now, I understand both the mother and the father of the baby went to school the next day, but your officers were able to question the mother. What did she tell you?

DAVID BETH, KENOSHA COUNTY SHERIFF: She basically said that she gave birth on the 13th, on Monday, shortly before noon, and she did this in the bathtub. And she took the scissors and clipped the umbilical cord herself and then proceeded, about three hours later, after calling the alleged father, and met him, gave him to -- I think it was the alleged father who actually took him from the car in a little tote bag and said he would take care of this.

CHUNG: Now, did Estrada explain why he didn't take the baby to either the police or a hospital and give it, as they call, safe haven, because, apparently, didn't the mother ask him to do that?

BETH: From the conversation and reports that I've read, it does appear that there was a conversation alluding to the fact that she wanted the baby taken to a safe place.

CHUNG: And did he explain why he didn't take the baby to a safe place?

BETH: The only thing that I've been able to pick up so far is that he didn't want a baby. So, he was -- I guess this was his way of dealing with what happened.

CHUNG: Well, sir, it's incredible, because the child was in a canvas bag. It was 20 degrees out there. And the baby was only four hours old. Did this young man express any remorse?

BETH: From what I know, there wasn't a lot of remorse. He is -- the man drove away -- or, as he walked away from the port-a-potty where they found the baby, he heard the baby crying or whimpering inside. And he drove away. And the mother called a little bit later that night. And he just said, don't worry about it, I took care of it, or something along that line. And, supposedly, he didn't sleep well that night, but he didn't go back.

CHUNG: Thank goodness a man and his son happened to be walking by that port-a-potty and could hearing the baby whimpering. I understand, as they tell us, that the baby might not have survived if the canvas bag had just been in a different position.

BETH: That's true.

My understanding, there was about 2 1/2 inches of fluid in the bottom of the port-a-potty where the baby was placed. And it is a small miracle that the park that was there -- that the Twin Lakes Police Department responded very quickly when they got -- when they were alerted to this. And the officer came, heard the noise, and he opened it up. So, it is a miracle in Kenosha that this baby's still alive and out in Twin Lakes.

CHUNG: Now how's the baby doing?

BETH: Last I heard yesterday, it's in stable condition. It is improving, but it is -- it does need assistance to breathe and it's having some other problems too. So, it's still -- it's not out of the woods yet.

CHUNG: Do you think that these parents had any idea that there was a safe haven process that they could have gone through?

BETH: That, I'm not sure. The fact that this girl talked to investigators and she mentioned something about taking it to a church or a hospital leads me to believe that, possibly, she did. But I don't know if she discussed that with her boyfriend. I don't know if it was just an accident, that she wanted the baby taken to those spots. I'm not completely sure on that.

CHUNG: I see. And the mother has not been charged with any crime?

BETH: At this time, that's correct. CHUNG: Are you still investigating?

BETH: It's still under investigation.

CHUNG: All right.

Sir, thank you so much, Sheriff Beth. We appreciate your being with us.

BETH: Thank you.

CHUNG: Now, nurses at the baby's hospital have been calling this little boy William Grant, a reference to the will to live and not taking life for granted. When you ask yourself, how could this happen, well, keep in mind, by some estimates, it actually happens about once a day -- can you believe it? -- despite so-called safe haven laws that allow new parents literally to abandon their babies in the hands of medical or law enforcement personnel.

Now, joining us: Jodi Brooks, reporter for WEWS, News Channel 5, in Cleveland, who has campaigned for such laws.

Jodi, can you explain to us how safe haven works?

JODI BROOKS, WEWS REPORTER: Safe haven allows for a woman who doesn't want her baby, who is pregnant, doesn't want her baby, she can take her unwanted newborn -- every state has a law right now -- well, actually, not every state -- 43 states have a law. And every law is just a little different.

But, basically, it says, if you don't want your baby, you can take it to a hospital, hand it to a doctor or a nurse, and walk away, no questions asked. Some laws include fire stations. Some laws also include police departments.

CHUNG: What happens if the child is injured or abused? What happens then?

BROOKS: Well, first of all, what we always say is, the most important place for a baby, especially if there is emergency medical care needed, is a hospital.

There's a lot of questions. When the baby is taken to the hospital, we know that it is in the right hands. The investigators will investigate if there's a crime that's taken place. But we encourage people who don't want their babies, like in this situation in Wisconsin, to take it to a safe place, where that baby can be can be cared for.

Jodi, I know you came up with this idea when you were a reporter in Alabama. What happened?

BROOKS: In Mobile, Alabama, I was a reporter working there for a station.

In June of 1998, I had covered a high-profile murder case where a woman was pregnant and she hid her pregnancy. And she told the court that she confused having a bowel movement with labor pains. She had the baby in the toilet, the baby drowned, and she was charged and convicted of murder. And I covered that case. I sat in the courtroom and I thought, there has to be an alternative.

And during the process of the trial, I approached our district -- our district prosecutor and asked him if he would prosecute a woman who took the baby to a hospital. And he said he wouldn't, because he didn't see that there would be a crime, but we had to get the hospitals to agree to accept the babies.

CHUNG: I see.

Do you have any idea how many babies have been saved this way in these 43 states?

BROOKS: Yes. We hear of the babies as they're saved. It's hard to keep track at this point. But I can tell you, here in Ohio, we've saved seven babies. In Alabama, we've saved 11 babies. I know New York and L.A., they're in double-digits. Wisconsin, in fact, has saved six babies. So, at this point, it's hard to keep up with all 43 states, but we do know that the program is working.

CHUNG: Now, I know that there have been lots of calls for that little baby in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And since I'm such a believer in adoption, is it true that these babies are ultimately adopted?

BROOKS: Yes, that's what happens.

Every state, again, has its own law. But, typically, what it is, is that 30 days -- there's 30 days for a parent to come forward. Whether the mother took the baby to the hospital and there's a father that wants that baby, or, in this situation, there's a father and then the mother wants the baby, they can come forward and claim that baby. Most laws say 30 days.

And, after 30 days, then those parental rights are terminated and the adoption process can begin. And the majority of the time, that is the case.

CHUNG: How does the mother or the father know that the baby is in a hospital or whatever?

BROOKS: Right.

Most state laws charge the social service agency of the state to publicly say, we've had a healthy baby, 6 pounds, whatever, brought to the hospital. If you know who this baby belongs to or this baby may be yours, you have 30 days to change your mind. So it's public.

CHUNG: And, Jodi, how many babies do you believe, based on your statistics, are actually found dead?

BROOKS: It's hard to say, but I can tell you, I've covered a number of those. I've covered babies in dumpsters, babies in the woods, babies in the canals. We've all heard those stories. We don't keep track of dead babies. There's no national statistic. But I'm sure that it still happens, as we know. And I'm sure there's many we just don't know about.

CHUNG: Some people would say -- in the last 15 seconds that we have -- that these people should not be able to walk away from the baby. What do you think?

BROOKS: We hear that all the time, that we're encouraging irresponsibility or encouraging sexual activity. And I say, that is certainly not the case.

We are trying to help a woman who is pregnant, who doesn't want her baby. We are in this crucial time period. What other alternatives does she have? We are open to other ideas. This is certainly a work in progress. But, right now, we know it's working and babies are being saved. Families are getting babies that they've waited a lifetime for. And a girl who is pregnant now doesn't have to live with a lifetime of guilt and face possible prosecution.

CHUNG: All right, Jodi Brooks, thank you so much for being with us.

BROOKS: You bet. You bet.

CHUNG: Coming up: She had it all, fame, acclaim, looks. But Mariel Hemingway's family was so haunted, the only way she could survive was by "Beating the Odds."

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Next: The mountain came down upon him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL HANSEN, SURVIVED AVALANCHE: It was like a wave. I just tried to keep on top.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: How one man survived an avalanche and what he had with him that made all the difference -- when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: For too brief a moment, Paul Hansen actually rode an avalanche. And if you've never seen one, this is what some other avalanches look like.

Wow.

Now imagine skiing for your life on top of one. That's what the 57-year-old skier did on a backcountry Utah slope, until the avalanche overtook him and buried him under 5 feet of snow. The air grew thin and he passed out. But, somehow, he made it. Was it luck? A miracle? Nope. He had prepared for this. And other smart wonderful people were also prepared and used their heads.

Now, Paul Hansen joins us, along with his wife, Patricia.

Thank you for being with us.

And we have two of those sharp folks who helped save Paul: Marla Bailey and Mark White, joining us from Salt Lake City.

Thank you, all of you, for being with us.

HANSEN: Well, it's nice to be here.

PATRICIA HANSEN, WIFE OF PAUL HANSEN: Thank you.

CHUNG: All right.

Paul, it's your second run of the day and you drop 800 feet in about 30 seconds.

PAUL HANSEN: Or maybe even less.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Oh, my gosh.

And how did it feel to ride that avalanche? You must have been terrified.

PAUL HANSEN: Well, actually, I was trying to react so quickly. You don't have much time to think of you're scared.

And so, what I was going through was that, initially, the hill started to move. And I could feel it give way. I tried to get to the side. My skis got knocked out from under me. I then tried to right myself back out, so I could get out of the path. But it was at that point the hill was going pretty -- quite fast. And so I was -- I was -- I wasn't terrified. I just knew that I was going to be in serious difficulty real soon.

But, fortunately, just down the hill, there was a knoll. And I could see the snow. It was starting to bunch up in front of me as if the snow had started to plow -- you know a snowplow, plow the snow in front.

CHUNG: Right. Right.

PAUL HANSEN: And I thought I was going to be OK. I was still on top of the snow. And then, all of a sudden, I could -- it started to move again. And I went over this hill. Snow enveloped me, whiteout all around, and I could feel the snow on me.

CHUNG: Could you breathe? Could you see any daylight?

PAUL HANSEN: I couldn't see any daylight at that point in time. And, of course, Marla and Mark had the best vantage point for the whole slide. CHUNG: They were watching.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL HANSEN: They were watching it all.

So, it wasn't long before I was -- at that point in time, I was saying, I just have to try to ride this slide out as if I were on a surfboard on a wave.

CHUNG: Right. So, you're buried under 5 feet of snow. They say you're supposed to do this, so you can get some air. But you couldn't, right?

PAUL HANSEN: Well, I could feel the slide start to come to a rest. I started to move my hands, and it was like concrete. I couldn't get my hands in front of me. And so, when it came to a rest, I was just kind of immobile.

CHUNG: Did you think the worst?

PAUL HANSEN: Oh, I thought the worst. I was literally -- I thought that it would be unlikely that somebody could rescue me in the time necessary to get me out of there.

CHUNG: And so, what did you think?

PAUL HANSEN: Well, I initially thought of Pat.

CHUNG: Your wife.

PAUL HANSEN: Yes. And I thought, well, I'm not going to see her again. And it's -- and I -- I know she's going to feel, well, aggravated that I would get myself in such a position, but then sad as well.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Well, Patricia, have you ever been worried about him when he's gone off skiing by himself?

PATRICIA HANSEN: Well, let's put it this way. I usually ask -- it's sort of like a little ritual -- you're not going where there's any avalanches and you will be safe? And he apparently lies every time.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: All right.

Marla and Mark, tell us, you could see this avalanche. You thought it was really quite spectacular. But you realized that someone was there. So you headed over there. And what did you do? How did you know where to go to try and save him?

Mark? MARK WHITE, HELPED RESCUE PAUL HANSEN: Oh, well, we went across to the slide. We had to put our skins back on. We were probably about a quarter of a mile away. And we walked up to the slide path.

And you basically start where the debris pile is. And you start at the top of it and you work your way down. And we basically -- we were lucky and we came into the side of the path. And right where we came into the side, he was about maybe 20 feet straight across from us.

CHUNG: But that's not because you could see him, right?

WHITE: No, we couldn't see him. We were using avalanche beacons.

CHUNG: Can you show us an avalanche beacon?

Because I know, Paul, you had one too.

PAUL HANSEN: Yes.

CHUNG: And then the two of you each had one? What did you do? Does it send a signal that picks up his signal?

MARLA BAILEY, HELPED RESCUE PAUL HANSEN: Yes. Yes, exactly. What you have to do is change the frequency. Like, you have it one way. And then as soon as -- if someone's underneath the snow, you're going to switch yours immediately. And so then you're receiving their signal.

CHUNG: I see.

BAILEY: And yes, really, they are such lifesavers, as we've now -- as we well know now for sure. But...

CHUNG: So, Marla, there were two other people there, too. And they were all shoveling, everybody was shoveling. And you came upon a leg, right?

BAILEY: Well, Aaron (ph) and I were the first ones kind of -- Aaron, Mark, and I kind of dove in with our shovels first. And then Aaron and I both -- our shovels hit something which we thought at that point was his pack. And both of us immediately saying, we've got him, we've got him. And a couple more shovels uncovered a ski. So then we actually then knew more of a position that he was in under the snow.

CHUNG: Yes?

BAILEY: So then you can shift your shovel to the upper part, where you're thinking his head would be, and immediately started shoveling. And then we had his head.

CHUNG: But then you were shoveling with your hands. I mean, you were digging through the snow with your hands.

BAILEY: That was once we had his head. And so, of course, we had his head. And we didn't want to be slamming our shovels into his head and his face.

(LAUGHTER)

BAILEY: So I got in there with my hands right around his face, and getting his mouth clear.

CHUNG: Was he blue?

BAILEY: Yes.

CHUNG: Oh, my gosh.

BAILEY: Yes.

Paul, you definitely did not look very well.

PAUL HANSEN: Do I look better tonight?

BAILEY: Yes. I'm sure you do.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: So, he was under for about 10 minutes. Was he able to breathe, finally?

BAILEY: Yes. We felt so lucky.

We were fully ready to go right in and start breathing for him, which we expected to have to do, is to just immediately give some CPR. But, luckily, right when we got to his mouth, his bottom lip quivered and he let just the teeniest little moan out. And it was just -- it was just awesome. And we knew just -- then we went more for his chest to get the snow away from his chest, so his chest could keep expanding and then he could get oxygen and oxygen.

CHUNG: Now, Patricia, you got a call from search-and-rescue. And all you knew was what?

PATRICIA HANSEN: They called and said that Paul Hansen has been in an avalanche.

CHUNG: What did you think?

PATRICIA HANSEN: At first, I'm trying to think, not my Paul. And I said, well, can he move his arms and legs? Because, when you fall a great distance, you don't know what debris is falling with you.

CHUNG: Right. And what did they say?

PATRICIA HANSEN: And he said he thought that he could move his arms and legs. And he says, but we do not know the extent of his injuries. So, he wasn't going to tell me he's fine. He just -- so, I immediately contacted a friend.

CHUNG: OK.

Paul, give me the list of all of your injuries.

PAUL HANSEN: None.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: What? No way.

PAUL HANSEN: Well, I guess the only injury I guess I could say is that hypothermia was starting to set in. When I first got out of the snow, believe it or not, I must have been in shock, but I wasn't cold.

CHUNG: Oh, no.

PAUL HANSEN: I didn't feel any cold. But I quickly started to feel cold, real cold. And when they finally got me to the hospital, my body temperature was 90, 92 degrees.

So, I was hypothermic at that point. But I probably was at the borderline. I wasn't critical. I wasn't delusional. I was able to communicate with people, because you go much below that and it's really quite serious.

CHUNG: So, after a few hours, you went home.

PAUL HANSEN: That's right.

CHUNG: Oh, my gosh. I think Pat's so happy to have you back. Don't you think?

PAUL HANSEN: I think so, yes.

CHUNG: OK, Paul, thank you.

PAUL HANSEN: Thank you, Connie.

PATRICIA HANSEN: Thank you.

CHUNG: Thank you, Pat.

And thank you, Marla.

And thank you, Mark.

This is the first time you've seen them, isn't it?

PAUL HANSEN: Yes, that's right.

CHUNG: Oh, that's great.

And still ahead: She was famous and talented. So why were the odds stacked against Mariel Hemingway? And how did she beat them?

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Still ahead: Mariel Hemingway on "Beating the Odds" by beating the family legacy of suicide and pain.

But, first, an update on attempts to avert war with Iraq caps our look at "The World in: 60."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): In Britain, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix held talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Earlier, Blix won France's support for his request for more time to complete inspections in Iraq.

The Bush administration says the discovery of empty chemical warheads outside Baghdad is evidence that Iraq is not disarming. White House officials dismissed warnings by President Saddam Hussein that any U.S.-led attack would be like committing suicide.

Thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza to support Iraq. A leader of the militant group Hamas said Muslims and Arabs would attack U.S. targets everywhere if America attacked Iraq.

There is a more benign superpower competition shaping up in Houston. For the first time tonight, the Lakers' 7 foot, 1 inches Shaquille O'Neal will face off against the Rockets' 7 foot, 5 inches rookie, Yao Ming from China.

All dressed up and nowhere to go: Penguins at the San Francisco Zoo are swimming in circles. It started last month, when six new birds, a species used to traveling thousands of miles annually, duped the rest into performing the mock migration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Next: She survived family tragedy, eating disorders, and the burden of fame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEMINGWAY: I don't think the old things are torturing me anymore. I really -- I keep looking, like, is it going to come up again? Because if it does, I'm ready for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Mariel Hemingway tells her story of "Beating the Odds" -- when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: One thing we've seen throughout this week's series, "Beating the Odds," is that triumph often comes after things seem to hit their worst.

For actress Mariel Hemingway, things hit their worst too many times during her 41 years. Her family pain started even before she was born, when her grandfather, the great Ernest Hemingway, took his own life. When I sat down and talked with her, I discovered that she had an incredible capacity to beat the odds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HEMINGWAY: The name Hemingway carries a tremendous amount of weight. It makes you think, oh, God, I'll never live up to it.

CHUNG (voice-over): For the Hemingways, the fear wasn't just living up to the name. It was living it down, the so-called Hemingway curse, a history of self-destruction, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.

Mariel's grandfather, Ernest Hemingway, committed suicide with a shotgun blast to his head. It was the fourth suicide in his immediate family.

(on camera): Do you become angry when you hear the word Hemingway curse?

HEMINGWAY: I don't become angry. I just think that it's an easy way for the media to go -- it's just such a hook, the Hemingway curse and suicide and this, that, and the other thing. That's not my life. I know the genetic makeup of my family. I know that.

CHUNG: What is the genetic component in the Hemingway family?

HEMINGWAY: Well, I would -- I think there is a tendency towards alcoholism, which causes depression.

CHUNG (voice-over): Mariel's father, Jack Hemingway, and Mariel's mother both drank too much and constantly argued. Mariel says her mother was never in love with her father. Her mother still held a torch for her first husband, who died in World War II.

When Mariel was 8, her father had a heart attack. Soon after, her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

HEMINGWAY: It was me who decided that I was going to be the healer of the family or I was going to heal my mother.

CHUNG (on camera): Was your mother a good patient? Did she appreciate you?

HEMINGWAY: No, she wasn't. She wasn't always appreciative, but she was -- she was trying her best. She blamed. She thought, poor me. How could this happen to me? I lose a husband. I suffer. I do all this. How come this happens to me?

CHUNG (voice-over): While Mariel was nursing her mother, her two sisters were rebelling. Oldest sister, Muffet, was experimenting with LSD and was later diagnosed as manic depressive. When Mariel was 10, she learned Muffet's imbalance could bring on bizarre and dangerous behavior. HEMINGWAY: She was holding scissors to my mother's throat and screaming at her. And my mother was just saying: Calm down. You're going to scare your little sister.

And, indeed, she turned to me and because we had this incredible connection, she dropped the scissors. It was all over. But it was things -- it was moments like that that were frightening.

CHUNG: Despite drinking as early as 14, middle sister Margaux climbed to the top of the fashion world.

HEMINGWAY: She was an incredibly successful model, one of the most successful, and so beautiful and so -- such a free spirit.

CHUNG: But Margaux really wanted to be an actress. And for the movie "Lipstick," Margaux unwittingly launched Mariel onto the big screen.

HEMINGWAY: I was 13 at the time, living in Idaho, little girl. And she suggests me to play her little sister. And I think, oh, great, I'm going to get school clothes. I mean, I was as naive as the day is long. I never thought I was going to be an actress. I just thought, this will be fun.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LIPSTICK")

HEMINGWAY: We should have done something, called the police.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG (on camera): And the critics really liked what you did.

HEMINGWAY: They did.

CHUNG: But they panned what Margaux did.

HEMINGWAY: Yes, they did. And that was very, very difficult on her and couldn't have been -- couldn't have been as far from what I wanted to have happen, because I really longed for her to -- that was her dream. To be an actress was her dream.

CHUNG (voice-over): Mariel's acting career took off when Woody Allen cast her as his young love interest in "Manhattan."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MANHATTAN")

WOODY ALLEN, ACTOR: She's got homework. I'm dating a girl who does homework.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: At only 17, Mariel was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress.

(on camera): Was that hard on Margaux, too?

HEMINGWAY: I'm sure that it was. There was an underlying tension that happened from that.

And going back to the sort of Hemingway thing, what she did was, she turned to alcohol and drugs to get out of her pain. And she was in this jet-set life. And it turned on her. And it started to pay its -- pay a heavy price.

CHUNG (voice-over): Like a bad dream, that pain and anger came out in the middle of one night, when Margaux returned to the Beverly Hills Hotel suite they were sharing.

HEMINGWAY: I was sort of groggy, but I could tell that she was not sober. And knowing that from my childhood, I pretended to stay sleeping. And, in the night, she actually put her hands around my neck and was -- she wasn't really like trying to kill me, but she was saying: You're not the big sister. You're the little sister.

And then she sort of came out of it. And it just showed me that there was this pain inside of her about that.

CHUNG: Mariel continued to thrive on the big screen. She was in demand. In "Personal Best," she played a jock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PERSONAL BEST")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: How you feeling?

HEMINGWAY: Ready to give it a try.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG (on camera): Then you went after this role "Star 80." And everyone thinks that you got breast implants for that role, but you said you didn't.

HEMINGWAY: No. I wouldn't have gotten the role had I not gotten them. I'll be honest about that. But I got them because I didn't want to be a little -- I didn't want to be thought of as a tomboy anymore, a boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "STAR 80")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I think there are very big things ahead for you.

HEMINGWAY: I don't know about that, but I'll certainly try for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG (voice-over): "Star 80" bombed at the box office. And Mariel eventually had her implants removed.

In 1984, Mariel met the man who became her husband, Stephen Crisman.

HEMINGWAY: And it was truly love at first sight. We met at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York, which he was running at the time. It was very, very hot to go there. I saw him across the room. And I actually said to a friend, that's the man I want to marry.

CHUNG: Eight months later, they did. Three years later, the first of their two daughters was born. But soon after, her mother lost her battle she had been fighting for 16 years. Mariel says her mother was angry, resentful, and bitter to the end.

HEMINGWAY: We expected my mother to die since she got cancer almost all the time. So, when she died, it was almost like, oh, oh, it's -- oh, it's finally happened. But what was great was, we made our peace, my mother and I.

CHUNG: But peace for Mariel didn't last: in 1996, another Hemingway tragedy. Thirty-five years to the day since grandfather Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, Mariel's sister Margaux's body was found in her California apartment.

(on camera): The coroner ruled it a suicide, but you don't think so.

HEMINGWAY: I know my sister. Had she committed suicide, she would have left a note. She was a flamboyant, outspoken, wonderful woman, who also would have wanted people to know. She wouldn't have just -- it just wouldn't have happened.

CHUNG (voice-over): Four years later, another tragedy: In October 2000, Mariel was at her father's bedside. He was hospitalized, recuperating from heart bypass surgery.

HEMINGWAY: He was just in this horrible breathing pattern. And I knew at that moment, as I sat there watching him -- not very long -- I mean, time had slowed down so incredibly before I went into the hallway screaming for doctors to help him. I knew that he was going and that he was dying. Even though he lived for several weeks later physically, he was gone emotion -- he had left his body. I know it. I know it. And I know that I was with him in those last moments of his life, truly.

CHUNG: But then the youngest Hemingway daughter, who tried so hard to be a rock in her troubled family, could no longer keep up a brave front.

HEMINGWAY: It really wasn't until my father died that I really mourned my mother and my sister and my father all at the same time.

CHUNG (on camera): Why?

HEMINGWAY: I don't know. I think grieving is this bizarre process. I was scared of it or something. I don't know what it is. But when my father died is when it -- it was like floodgates opening.

CHUNG (voice-over): Incredibly, five days after her father's death, devastating news.

(on camera): You blink your eyes and your husband is diagnosed with cancer.

HEMINGWAY: Daunting. It's daunting. I mean, I was like -- I really thought -- I had a moment where I didn't think all my stuff was going to work.

(LAUGHTER)

HEMINGWAY: I thought, oh, my God, I don't know how I can handle this.

CHUNG (voice-over): Her husband had level five melanoma, the most serious skin cancer.

(on camera): And the likely prognosis would be?

HEMINGWAY: Would be death, death. Stephen came home and he said, I could die very soon. And I was like -- the kids started crying. I mean, he was so emotionally -- I mean, he was scared, obviously. And I just said, honey, you're not going to die. We're going to deal with this. At least right now you're alive, so let's deal with this.

CHUNG (voice-over): Steve's melanoma was removed in emergency surgery. And now, after two years, he's still cancer-free. Her little family, her husband and two daughters, aren't just surviving. Together, they're healthy, mentally and physically.

HEMINGWAY: And my daughter said it. It was sweet one day. She said, when daddy has cancer, it wasn't just his cancer. We all got it.

I just looked at her. She was 12 at the time.

CHUNG: Oh, my goodness.

HEMINGWAY: And I just thought, you're right. It was all of our cancer. And we learned so much.

CHUNG: But you know what? What she said was so true about you. When your mother got cancer, you got cancer. When your father went through his alcoholism with your mother, you got it. When Margaux went through all of her drugs, and when Muffet went through all this...

HEMINGWAY: Yes.

CHUNG: ... you had it too, didn't you?

HEMINGWAY: Yes. Yes. It's a very good point. You don't realize it, but that's -- that was the battle.

That's what yoga brings to my life, is an openness and the whole idea of an open heart.

CHUNG (voice-over): She credits years of yoga and meditation with giving her the peace of mind to cope with the events in her life. The key, she says, is to stay balanced, centered, and present. It's working for her. And, most importantly, it's working for her family.

(on camera): Do you believe that the way you brought up your daughters and the environment you put them in successfully has kept them from the Hemingway curse?

HEMINGWAY: Absolutely. I don't think it's a part of our life at all.

I mean, there's stuff that's going to happen in my life, but I'm not -- I don't think the old things are torturing me anymore. I really -- I keep looking, like, is it going to come up again? Because, if it does, I'm ready for it. But it's not coming up. And so I have to say that I don't think that I'm battling it anymore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: She is amazing, isn't she?

In fact, Mariel Hemingway is using her family history in a positive way these days. She begins preproduction next month as director "A Moveable Feast" based on the book by her grandfather. And she talks about her own experiences in her new book, "Finding My Balance."

Up next: Sharks, will you miss them when they're gone?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: In tonight's "Snapshot," we learn that, if you're afraid of sharks, maybe you should be afraid for them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Researchers say the shark population is plunging, dropping 50 percent since 1986. And there's a wave of concern that reduction will hurt the Marine food chain for decades.

In California, a 6-year-old boy's show-and-tell got him suspended and landed his father in jail. Turns out what he brought from home to show his classmates was a small amount of marijuana and a pipe.

Pete Rose may be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after all, but in Canada, where he's on the ballot. He played with the Montreal Expos in 1984.

Welcome to the Cats and Dogs Hotel, a five-star spread in Hanoi for pampered pooches and finicky felines. It comes complete with massage parlor, hair salon, swimming pool, and special vet care.

China's city of Harbin is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Artists from around the world are there displaying their snow sculptures at the annual Ice and Snow Festival.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Who will be our "Person of the Day"? CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will continue in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: He took a stand to honor a fallen idol. He paid for it at work. But, if it's any consolation, he's also our "Person of the Day."

On Monday, KTUN radio deejay Dennis McGuire -- Dennis Mac on the air -- did the unthinkable, at least unthinkable for a classic rock station. He played "Jive Talking," "How Deep is Your Love," "Night Fever," and perhaps the ultimate disco song, "Staying Alive." And he did it, of course, in tribute to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, who died last weekend, and whose music, like it or not, rock fans, influenced the course of rock n' roll history. But his boss said it wasn't "Freebird" or "Layla."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE WODLINGER, KTUN GENERAL MANAGER: Absolutely not classic rock under any circumstance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: And he suspended McGuire, who joins us now from Vail, Colorado.

Hey, how you doing?

DENNIS MCGUIRE, KTUN DEEJAY: I'm doing great, Connie. How are you?

CHUNG: OK. All right.

So you decided that you were going to do this. And it must be sacrilegious to play something like this, disco. But, anyway, you asked your listeners and your listeners said, yes, do it. But then what happened?

MCGUIRE: Well, I did.

I asked my listeners what they wanted to hear, because I knew it was kind of out of the format. And I said, we'll take the first three callers. And if they decide on the Bee Gees, we'll go with the Bee Gees. If not, we'll do some normal classic rock stuff. And they wanted the Bee Gees completely. And so I played the four Bee Gees songs.

And then, when it was all over with, my boss called me up. And I was taking calls live on the air. And it happened to be him. And he was not happy about it at all. He thought it was way out of the format. And he just -- he didn't appreciate it. And in the past, we've had a few run-ins about what's classic rock and what's not. And so, he decided to suspend me right then and there on the air.

CHUNG: Oh, my gosh.

Now, but your program is "4 at 4:00." And that means that your whole program is four songs. And so you took up the whole program with the Bee Gees, right?

MCGUIRE: I took a good 20 minutes of the show. Instead of playing classic rock, like I'm supposed to play, I played the Bee Gees, because Maurice Gibb died. And I thought, well, disco is a big part of our past. It's not necessarily classic rock, but it's classic music. It's music that we grew up with.

And love it or hate it, you can't really deny the significance of the Bee Gees. And having Maurice Gibb pass away, I thought, it's appropriate.

CHUNG: All right, so your listeners actually...

MCGUIRE: My boss didn't agree.

CHUNG: Now, your listeners really did support you. They came to your rescue. Are you going to be back on the air? Is he going to bring you back?

MCGUIRE: They've really been -- the support's been great. People have been calling from all over the place. And they really -- the support has been about 95 percent in my favor or about 99 percent in my favor and in favor of the Bee Gees and in favor of expression of freedom on the radio.

So, I think there's a pretty good chance that I'll be back, I hope. I think he's going to reconsider and probably let me back on.

CHUNG: OK, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, Dennis.

MCGUIRE: Great, Connie.

CHUNG: In the meantime, you are our "Person of the Day." Good luck.

MCGUIRE: Thank you very much.

CHUNG: Good.

And can I make a request for "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix?

MCGUIRE: It's coming up next, Connie. We appreciate that.

CHUNG: OK, great. Thank you.

MCGUIRE: For Connie from New York. Thank you, Connie.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Thank you. All right.

On Monday: She was caught on tape running over her husband with her car three times after catching him with another woman. She says it was an accident. We'll have the inside story.

And coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE": What does CBS' Dan Rather think about the war with Iraq?

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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