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Battle Over Terri Schiavo

Aired March 29, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Good evening, everyone. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us. Tonight, emotions running very high in Florida, as Terri Schiavo enters the 12th day off her feeding tube. We just heard a heartrending plea from her parents, her mother saying quote, "Michael and Jodi" -- referring to her ex-brother-in-law -- or excuse me, son-in-law, and his girlfriend, "you have your own child. Give my child back to me."
Tonight, we focus on their struggle to keep their daughter alive.


ZAHN (voice-over): One family's 15-year fight for their daughter's life.

MARY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S MOTHER: I'm begging him, please, give Terri a chance.

ZAHN: Winning armies of support and powerful allies. Tonight, just who are the Schindlers?

And the holier side of television. "Touched by an Angel," tuned into heaven. Even cartoons are feeling the spirit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evangelicals have adopted Ned Flanders, almost as a mascot.

ZAHN: As Hollywood struggles with faith, religion goes prime- time.


ZAHN: Tonight, we begin with the parents of Terri Schiavo. They still continue to try to stop her drift toward death. Reverend Jesse Jackson joined them at the hospice today. I'll be talking with him in just a few minutes.

But just moments ago, a plea from Terri Schiavo's mother, Mary Schindler.


M. SCHINDLER: Mary and Jodi, you have your own children. Please, please give my child back to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: By now, we all know about the long, painful ordeal of the Schindlers, but what is it that drives Bob and Mary Schindler day after day, year after year, against all odds?


BOB SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S FATHER: She's very capable of making a recovery.

MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S HUSBAND: Their heads are being filled with such false hope.

DAVID GIBBS, ATTORNEY FOR THE SCHINDLERS: Terri is in the process of being starved to death.

GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: I saw no evidence of any bodily discomfort.

ZAHN (voice-over): There wasn't always conflict. They were a family, and for Bob and Mary Schindler, life has always been about family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're a very close family, very fun, full of life, very funny family, always laughing, always having a good time.


ZAHN: Jennifer and Linda Blake know that first hand. They're Schindler cousins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bob and Mary Lee (ph) are an unbelievable couple and family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We always loved getting together for the holidays.

JOE SHANNON, SCHINDLER FAMILY FRIEND: They were the kind of family where we would be watching TV or hanging out in the house.

ZAHN: Childhood family friend Joe Shannon spent a lot of time in the Schindler home.

SHANNON: Mr. Schindler is very unique with kids, because he didn't just walk in and says, oh, kids and walk away; he would stay. And he would out of the blue -- be very quiet for a while, and then all of a sudden, start cracking jokes out of nowhere, and make fun of Bobby or Terri.

ZAHN: When the Schindlers' oldest daughter married in 1984, it was a joyous occasion. Terri had found the man of her dreams in Michael Schiavo. As parents Bob and Mary could not have been more proud. And they welcomed Michael with open arms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They lived with the Schindlers. He was a very big part of the family. ZAHN: In 1987, when the Schindlers moved to Florida, Michael and Terri soon followed. They were a family reuniting.

And the closeness remained even after Terri's collapse in 1990. In fact, they shared a home and a determination to see Terri get well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael said he wanted to go and be a nurse and get his degree, so he could take care of his wife the rest of his life, so they could spend it together. And for the first three or four years, it was wonderful. They all pitched in. They were dedicated, as dedicated as they still are to this day.

ZAHN: The turning point came in 1993. Soon after, a malpractice settlement awarded Michael $300,000, and placed $700,000 into an account for Terri's care.

That sparked a fight between Michael and the Schindlers over what kind of care Terri should receive and how the money should be spent.


ZAHN: Scott Schiavo argues his brother had no financial motive.

S. SCHIAVO: This was not about hurting anybody. This was about doctors told Mike there's nothing left to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terri, can you look at me?

ZAHN: But the Schindlers believed Michael was giving up on their daughter. In 1997, he said that Terri's wish was to not be kept alive artificially.

He had also found new love, in girlfriend Jodi Centonze, with whom he would have two children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, his goal was to buy a house, move in together, and then it was like he walked away and said, this is what I am going to do now.

S. SCHIAVO: They make it he wants to just -- he just wants to get remarried. He could have walked away from this years ago. He could have done many things, but he didn't. It's a promise between a husband and wife. And Mike is fighting to fulfill that promise, because that's the last thing that he can give Terri.

ZAHN: The ill will and mistrust intensified when in 1988, Michael sought to have Terri's feeding tube removed.

SHANNON: That's when Michael gave up on Terri and said that she's not going to do any better, she's just going to die. And that's when the fighting started between the family.

ZAHN: The fighting played out in court, with doctors from both sides. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, I know of no single treatment or combination of treatments that could result in any meaningful improvement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a significant probability that she would improve.

ZAHN: Taking the offensive, the Schindlers have become advocates for their daughter. Their resolve unflappable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're so strong, dedicated, loving parents. They stay strong throughout every meeting, every day, every minute.

ZAHN: But behind the scenes, there is great pain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure, they had times where not in front of the camera, does it really hurt them. And it still hurts them every day. But again, when it's your child, you put all that aside.

Many people will say, well, you know, why don't they just let her go the way it appears they want -- everyone wants her to go. But as a parent, you are going to do every waking thing, every waking moment, in order to ensure that your child is safe. And this is what they're doing. They believe -- they believe that she knows that they're there.

ZAHN: Once family, now legal adversaries, Bob and Mary Schindler can't understand why Michael has fought them so hard.

M. SCHINDLER: I don't have a clue, other than he keeps saying this is her wishes, alleged wishes, OK? He keeps saying this is Terri's alleged wishes. But how can you starve somebody to death? I mean, you know, I just don't understand. He just has no answer.

ZAHN: Even in this 11th hour, they hope and plead for Terri's life.

B. SCHINDLER: She's fighting like hell to live, and she's begging for help. She's still communicating, still responding. She's emaciated, but she's responsive. And she's responding to me. She's begging for help. We're begging for help.


ZAHN: And when the long challenge at the hospice finally ends, both the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo say that there will be an autopsy. Why? So the questions about Terri's medical condition can at long last be answered.

Diane Meyer has been friends with Terri Schiavo since they were 2 years old, and she joins me now from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where she's standing in front of Terri's old high school. Very good of you to join us during this very turbulent time for you, and friends of the family. Diane, no matter where any of us stand on this story, it was absolutely heartbreaking to hear Mary Schindler just moments ago to make this final plea to her son-in-law.


M. SCHINDLER: Michael and Jodi, you have your own children. Please, please give my child back to me.


ZAHN: It's brutal for any of us to hear that. What does it tell us about Mary Schindler's resolve, even when the family's attorneys say they've turned a corner here, the point of no return?

DIANE MEYER, FRIEND OF TERRI SCHIAVO: That encapsulates Mrs. Schindler, Paula. She is one of the strongest women you will know. That's where Terri gets it, from her mom and her dad, and the strength of their family. It breaks my heart to hear her have to plead for something as simple as the ability to care for one's child.

I think we all hoped, when Michael became a parent, that it would turn his heart and he would understand. I can't understand, as a parent, how it hasn't turned his heart.

ZAHN: How bitter are you, as one of Terri's closest friends, that it has come to this?

MEYER: I -- I don't think bitter explains it.

Am I angry? Yes, of course, I'm angry. I'm just flabbergasted. And I can't comprehend that our country is allowing this to occur, that we're allowing the murder of this innocent woman, who's never done anything wrong. She's -- she's a truly good person who deserves the chance to be all that she can be. And based on a judge's error and lies told in a courtroom, she's going to die of starvation.

ZAHN: Michael Schiavo has long argued in courtroom after courtroom venue that it was his wife's wish to never be sustained on life support. You don't buy that at all, do you?

MEYER: No, I don't.

ZAHN: Do you...

MEYER: I have known Terri my whole life, practically. And that's not her.

ZAHN: What do you think would she have wanted? What would she have wanted?

MEYER: She would have wanted the chance to be rehabilitated. Terri never strived to be anything other than ordinary, to be just a happy citizen. She never strived to change the world, like she is.

But she is because of who she is. She's one of the truly best people you could know. And this is not what she would want. She'd want the chance to be rehabilitated and to live her life in the loving embrace of her family.

ZAHN: Did she ever have a conversation with you over the many years of your friendship about what she would want if there was some sort of catastrophic accident?

MEYER: She didn't speak directly about what she would want.

But we did have a conversation in 1982 regarding Karen Ann Quinlan and how she objected to what was occurring, what had occurred regarding the removal of life support from Karen Ann Quinlan. Terri's not someone who would sit in judgment of anyone else, whether it be their quality of life or their life choices. And she -- her quote to me was, where there's life, there's hope.

She continues to show that us to and defy medical predictions every day. She's still fighting. She's still showing us there's hope. Somebody out there has to listen. Somebody out there has to help her in her fight.

ZAHN: And you haven't given up your hope, have you, Diane, either?

MEYER: Oh, no. As long as Terri is fighting, we'll keep fighting with her.

ZAHN: Well, what a wonderful friend she has in you.

Diane Meyer, thank you so much for sharing some of your thoughts with us tonight.

MEYER: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: And still ahead, more on the Terri Schiavo story. I'll be talking with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who joined the Schindlers at the hospice today. And the story of one father faced with the same dreadful choice, why he decided to let his daughter go.


ZAHN: In a moment, more on Terri Schiavo with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Also ahead, the story of a father faced with an impossible choice, why he decided to let his daughter die.

And he won the trial of a century. O.J. Simpson's defense attorney Johnnie Cochran has died.

But, first, we're moving up on about a quarter past the hour. Time to turn to Erica Hill at Headline News for the rest of the day's top stories -- hi, Erica.


Someone who knows too well the pain Terri Schiavo's family is going through is Pete Busalacchi. Nearly 20 years ago, doctors told him his daughter Chrissy (ph) was destined to remain in a persistent vegetative state after being injured in a car accident. But, for six years, he fought the state of Missouri to have her feeding tube removed, as they blocked his efforts. He says he has great sympathy for Schiavo's parents and says -- quote -- "There's no room at the bedside for strangers."

Attorney Johnnie Cochran, as you just mentioned, Paula, probably best known for his defense of O.J. Simpson, he has died. At 67 years old, he was suffering from a neurological disorder. Cochran's colorful defense in the Simpson murder trial included the memorable reference to a bloody glove: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Simpson says he loved Cochran as -- quote -- "a good Christian man and great lawyer." Johnny Cochran died with his family by his side.

And, Paula, that is the latest from Headline News -- back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica. See you in about a half-hour or so.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson spent much of today with Bob and Mary Schindler in Pinellas Park, Florida. He joins me now from CNN Center in Atlanta.

Reverend, always good to see you. What is the very latest you've been told about Terri's condition tonight?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: The very latest is that she is in great distress now, in the sense that she is being starved to death and dehydrated, for 12 days now, no food, no water, not even ice cubes for her parching lips. And so, it pains me. And, today, we -- we did have prayer and we prayed for a miracle.

ZAHN: Well, from listening to what Mary Schindler had to say earlier this evening, it at least sounded to me that maybe some of her hope has run out. Let's replay for our audience this heartrending plea she made just about 15 minutes ago.


MARY SCHINDLER, MOTHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO: Michael and Jodi, you have your own children. Please, please, give my child back to me.


ZAHN: Jesse, you spent a lot of time with the Schindlers today. I think that broke all of our hearts to hear that, no matter how we view this case. In your judgment, are they ready to accept what seems to be the inevitable here?

JACKSON: I've been in cases as a minister where people, someone had advanced stages of cancer. And they were taking Demerol to help ease the pain into a coma, a kind of deep unconsciousness.

And then you could see the pulse begin to fall down, and they were dying. The plug was pulled and they -- and they died. In this case, here's a woman who is brain-injured, not brain-dead. For 12 days, we have looked at her and we have simply starved her and dehydrated her. And that's the painful part.

I would hope that we would keep praying for her. But we should derive from this some policy for long-term health care. Let her be a symbol of the need to address America's national health care crisis and not just let her remain a kind of a trophy of our memory.

ZAHN: I think what you're saying makes sense to a lot of people. But you have to concede, Reverend, that Terri Schiavo is getting horribly used by both sides here, isn't she?

JACKSON: Well, to that extent, I mean, there are those -- her family has the passion, understandably. Her husband has the authority of custody.

And yet law not informed by mercy is crude. Law must be informed by mercy to get justice. And what the family is asking for tonight is mercy. They have no place really in the court, but in the hearts of the people, they're reaching out. And they've touched my heart. And I hope, somehow, that her life will be sustained and at least she will have the benefit.

You know, she needs food and water. We have food and water and we're not giving it to her. So, she dies as we look at her die, something about that, that is just not right.

ZAHN: Reverend, would you view this differently had there been a living will that explicitly stated her wishes?

MEYER: The living will may have impressed me a bit more, frankly.

But then, even when you make the living will, at this state, people can even change their minds. After all, she is fighting such a valiant fight. And because she is fighting that fight, I do not, in many ways negate the commitment of her husband. I do not think attacking him is a good thing. His -- his authority as a husband is real. The parents' pain and passion is real.

And so, we must somehow try to build that bridge. But she's caught in the crossfire of that disagreement. I can only say to you tonight that, for her to lie there and neither food and water and it be available and not give it to her 12 days later, there is no moral foundation for that.

ZAHN: Finally tonight, we know that you have lost a very dear friend in Johnnie Cochran. We mentioned just moments ago, he lost his fight with a brain tumor.

What would you like to share with us tonight about what you think he represented, what his legacy is?

JACKSON: Johnnie Cochran, before people knew him prominently because of the O.J. trial, had gained a reputation as an underdog champion, a champion for the little person.

He thought that that was the case that meant the most to him was the Geronimo Pratt case, when he had been freed after many years in jail. He won the O.J. case. It gave him a platform to display his excellence, his style, his substance. And then he became the kind of people's lawyer, whether for Michael Jackson or whether for Puffy Combs or whether the case in Oklahoma.

And I think what it did mostly for blacks was, we had labored under the stereotype of the down-home caricature out of "Amos 'n Andy."

When Johnnie Cochran came across on TV every day for the length of the O.J. trial with excellence and smarts and style and skill and victory, he lifted all of us to a higher level of excellence. And, therefore, his legacy really is one of excellence and greatness against the odds. I will miss him very much. I respect him and love him so much.

ZAHN: Yes. Yes. I know you've known him for over 25 years now. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us tonight.

And, Reverend, before I let you go, I guess the one thing that struck me today is a statement from the family where they basically said -- they made reference to his legal achievements, but also went on to say that he should be recognized for being a great humanitarian. So, thank you again.

JACKSON: A great humanitarian.

ZAHN: Appreciate your time so much, Reverend.

And Jesse Jackson is one of our choices for person of the day, part of a new feature here on our show. Before noon every day, we will give you three choices, which you can find on our Web site.

Along with Reverend Jackson, today's other nominees are Lana Eaton-Ochoa, a Colorado juror who ignited a controversy by bringing a Bible into deliberations in a death penalty case, and, finally, U2's Bono, the Irish humanitarian rocker who kicked off a new concert tour for the World Unity last night. Now, the rest is up to you. Log on to and tell us who your choice is for our person of the day. We will give you the results at the end of the hour, Bono the final choice.

And, as Terri Schiavo's parent continue their fight, we'll meet another father who faced the same dreadful choice.


PETE BUSALACCHI, FATHER: ... Chris, and I said, if that was me, would I want that for me?


ZAHN: How one father made his decision when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: We're going to take a deeper look now at a story you probably heard a few minutes ago from Erica Hill and Headline News on one man's tremendous fight to end a loved life. Terri Schiavo's situation is forcing many of us to consider, what if this were to happen to me? What if this happened to someone I love?

Well, if you believe those in favor of letting her go, it's a very peaceful way to die. But if you believe those against letting her die, she is suffering, but would survive if her feeding tube were reinserted. So, what would you do? Well, listen to the story of one man faced with the same challenge.


ZAHN (voice-over): It's said, you really can't judge a man unless you've walked in his shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's your daughter doing, sir?

ZAHN: And, sadly, Pete Busalacchi's own odyssey has been painfully close to that of Terri Schiavo's family. Nearly 20 years ago, he was forced to make a similar life-and-death decision about removing a feeding tube from his own daughter, Christine.

BUSALACCHI: It was a living hell. Basically, I termed it a lot many times as a six-year funeral, because Chris wasn't reacting to anybody. She wasn't alive. She was just there.

ZAHN: In 1987, Christine Busalacchi was critically injured as a passenger in a car crash. She was just 17 years old.

BUSALACCHI: Well, Chrissy (ph) was just really a lot of fun. And she liked to drive fast. She liked to smoke, which we didn't want her to do. She was very pretty, looked a little bit like her mom, but looked a little bit like me.

ZAHN: Her mother had died years earlier and her father, Pete, wanted the doctors to do everything they could to save their daughter.

BUSALACCHI: She was put into intensive care. A week later, another doctor tells me that she's going to die in 45 minutes. So, I mean, everything that came before me to sign, I signed. I don't care what it was. And sometimes I just -- they said, we need to do this. OK. I signed. It didn't make any difference. If it was going to help save my daughter, yes, I'm going to do that.

ZAHN: After a year of trying every possible procedure, Pete says the doctors told him his daughter Chrissy was destined to remain in a persistent vegetative state.

BUSALACCHI: I looked at Chris and I said, if that was me, would I want that for me? And the answer is no. I can't imagine anybody wanting to stay in that condition. If I don't want that for myself, why would I want it for somebody else that I love?

ZAHN: In an effort to protect Chrissy's best interests, the state of Missouri blocked his efforts to have her feeding tube removed. It took six years of bitter public and legal debate before he was finally allowed to have Christine's feeding tube removed. By then, she was 23 years old.

BUSALACCHI: Chrissy was seen by 25 to 30 different doctors. I went to see priests, like Kevin O'Rourke, Father Dennis Brodeur. They basically agreed that removing the feeding tube was the proper decision.

ZAHN: And like the Schiavo case today, Pete Busalacchi's private agony soon became a public spectacle. He allowed PBS to record video of her for a documentary and permitted "TIME" magazine to put Chrissy's picture on the cover, so long as they agreed to show her feeding tube.

BUSALACCHI: But I did kind of get angry at times when the opposition would say she's improving, because there wasn't any improvement.

ZAHN: In the heated political atmosphere surrounding Chrissy's case, a videotape was released to the media by the hospital, which seemed to show she was improving.

BUSALACCHI: I'd be criticized. They'd say, oh, your daughter looks like she's alive and well and responds. Well, that was false.

ZAHN: Busalacchi contends that she was given drugs to make her appear responsive, but CNN wasn't able to confirm that. The hospital had no comment, citing patient confidentiality laws.

Busalacchi has great empathy for Terri Schiavo's family.

BUSALACCHI: Here's the Schindlers trying to save their daughter. They're good people. That's what they want to do. They just want to hold on to their daughter, I believe selfishly. They want to feel the warmth of her body and they want to imagine that they're doing something that makes her feel better. And it's just not going to happen.


ZAHN: Pete Busalacchi also tells us that while everyone is entitled to their opinion in cases like these, only those who are close family members can ever really understand the very difficult decisions that have to be made along the way.

I think we just learned that quite powerfully from him.

When we come back, the man who defended O.J. Simpson, Johnnie Cochran, dead today at the age of 67.


ZAHN: He gained notoriety in a sensational murder trial that captivated the nation, the O.J. Simpson murder case. But Johnnie Cochran once said he was most proud of his work to help -- quote -- "the ones who nobody knows."

Eric Philips now with a look back at the life of Johnnie Cochran.


ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 1995 O.J. Simpson trial and acquittal made Johnnie Cochran a household name.

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, ATTORNEY: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.

PHILIPS: Cochran led the Simpson dream team of defense attorneys. And while his courtroom tactics were alternately praised and denounced, he not convinced the jury that race not only influenced the police case investigation of Simpson, but defined the case against him. Cochran served as counsel to many black celebrities, but his passion was taking on cases involving police misconduct, often aimed at the Los Angeles Police Department.

After the L.A. riots in 1992, he represented Reginald Denny, a white truck driver beaten by a black mob. Cochran argued that the LAPD was guilty for discrimination for failing to protect the neighborhood where his client was assaulted. He also represented Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant sodomized with a broken broomstick by two New York City policemen. And he defended Black Panther Party leader Geronimo Pratt in a 1972 murder trial. Cochran lost that case, but perseverance led to his client's release from prison 25 years later.

Cochran credited his family for his steadfastness. A Louisiana native and the great-grandson of a slave, he grew up in Los Angeles and served as a deputy city attorney before building his own practice and launching his own show on Court TV. Johnnie Cochran will be remembered as a brilliant attorney who knew how to make a point and how to make it stick.

I'm Eric Philips reporting.


ZAHN: And with me now, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who covered the Simpson trial. I think everybody's really sad about this, no matter how they felt about O.J. Simpson's guilt or innocence. What made Johnnie Cochran so great?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: He had a personal magnetism that was simply irresistible, whether you agreed with him or not. You know, when you walked into a room and Johnnie was there or when Johnnie walked into a room, you couldn't help but look at him. I mean, it wasn't just because of his pastel suits.

People just liked the guy. And that's the kind of a personality that juries really respond to.

ZAHN: Well, what was it about his makeup that enable him to connect so well with juries?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, he had very charismatic mother who was a powerful influence on him.

And Johnnie had bridged many different gaps, many different worlds. He was born in Louisiana, but he was raised in Los Angeles. He went to L.A. high school, I believe. And he was one of 20 black kids in a -- 2,000 students. So, he had -- he dealt with white people. He dealt with black people. And he just had a tremendous charisma that people responded to from a very early age.

ZAHN: And, clearly, that informed how he saw everything. And, of course, the criticism of him along the way, no matter who he represented, was that he was playing the race card. Is that part of his legacy, to be perfectly fair here?

TOOBIN: No, absolutely.

But the issue that really defined Johnnie Cochran was police abuse. When he was a 29-year-old lawyer, he became famous in Los Angeles, 1970, for leading a coroner's investigation of the murder by the police, as it turned out, of a man named Leonard Deadwyler. Case after case, from Deadwyler forward, whether it was Geronimo Pratt, the murder case he worked on for 29 years, Ron Settles, a football player who was killed by the cops, over and over again, he persuaded juries that the LAPD did wrong.

ZAHN: And that, of course, became the critical argument in the O.J. Simpson case, the tapping into that basic distrust of the justice system.


TOOBIN: And as I told Johnnie many times, I didn't buy it in the Simpson case. You know, we would have debates sometimes in the men's room right outside the courthouse. He used to hold court wherever he was.

And he'd argue with you, but always with a smile on his face. I mean, the guy -- he knew that I completely disagreed with him about the O.J. case, but he never took it personally. And it shaped how people saw him.

ZAHN: It's interesting, because we all associate P. Diddy, Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, these celebrity cases, with Johnnie Cochran, and yet Reverend Jackson just said at the top of the hour that this guy deserves an awful lot of credit for, as you've just said, representing people who often had no voice at all.

TOOBIN: That's right.

And he did well. He made a lot of money. He became involved later in life in personal injury cases. But he didn't just do well. He did good, too. And the LAPD is a very different institution now than it was when Johnnie Cochran started practicing law. And he is one of the people who really deserves credit for forcing it to change.

ZAHN: I will just never forgot that man's smile. There's something so electric about his personality. TOOBIN: He would walk around. He carried a little purse with him. I never saw a man carry a purse like that. And you would see him walk into a room. And you just had to smile, because he had this great big chest.

I will always remember, walking in chest first and with his little purse. And everybody loved the guy.

ZAHN: Well, that was the big briefcase there, not the little purse.


TOOBIN: Well, no, no, under his arm there. You can see...


ZAHN: Oh, there it is.


TOOBIN: Yes. He always had it with him.

ZAHN: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks for being with us tonight.

TOOBIN: Good to see you.

ZAHN: And still ahead, our series "Hollywood and Religion," finding faith in the most unlikely place, prime-time TV.

Stay with us.


ZAHN: And Larry King is coming up at the top of the hour. Time to check in with him now to find out who will be joining him tonight.

Hi, Larry.


We're going to do a tribute tonight to Johnnie Cochran. That will be the bulk of the show. We'll close with thoughts on Miss Schiavo. But we'll have Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and Nancy Grace, and Ben Brafman, William Ebbs (ph), Barry Scheck, Reverend Al Sharpton, Dr. Henry Lee and Chris Darden, all talking about the late -- it's hard to say that -- the late Johnnie Cochran, who died today at age 67. He was a good friend of this program. And whether you agreed or disagreed with the cases he took, a terrific barrister. Johnnie Cochran at 9.

ZAHN: Jeffrey Toobin just shared a great story about how self- deprecating he was. He visited him at his home and there was this New York cartoon strip on the wall, basically showed a man in a very fancy suit saying, "Is this too Johnnie Cochran?" He had a great sense of humor. KING: I know you knew him well.

ZAHN: Yes.

KING: He was one in a million.

ZAHN: Well, we look forward to seeing your tribute to him tonight.

KING: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much.

Moving up about 15 minutes before the hour. Time to turn to Erica Hill at Headline News for the rest of the day's top stories.

Hi, Erica.

HILL: Hello again, Paula.

We start in Indonesia, where people still trying to put their lives back together from December's tsunami in the region are once again searching for victims and survivors of a devastating earthquake there. The Indonesian government says about 330 people were killed in yesterday's massive quake, most on the island of Nias. Nearly 30 percent of the buildings in the island's largest city were destroyed. Officials say that death toll could reach 2,000.

First lady Laura Bush is on her way to Afghanistan for a quick visit. The White House says she will make a stop in Kabul to highlight advances made by women since the fall of the Taliban. She'll also meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and have dinner with U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base before returning to Washington on Thursday.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell is in critical condition at a Virginia hospital after having trouble breathing. A spokesman says the 71- year-old is suffering from respiratory arrest, but he's alert and responding to questions. There are no indications he suffered a heart attack. Falwell was treated for pneumonia at the same hospital last month.

And that is the latest at this hour from Headline News. Paula, we turn it back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica. Appreciate it.

And when we come back, taking a stand on faith on TV. Our series "Hollywood and Religion" next.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

President Bush was able to harness the tremendous power of the religious right, helping him win a second term in the White House. And Hollywood saw faith turn Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ," into a blockbuster hit.

Programs with religion themes have also made their way onto the small screen, fueled by the success of shows like "Joan of Arcadia." Our special PEOPLE IN THE NEWS series on Hollywood and religion continues now with a look at faith on TV.


ZAHN (voice-over): Every week, network television beams messages from God to a teenage girl, "Joan of Arcadia."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shouldn't you be smiling, Joan?

AMBER TAMBLIN, ACTRESS, "JOAN OF ARCADIA": It's not like God is telling Joan to learn the Ten Commandments and things like that. It's about factuality in life and reality and things like that, things that we, as human beings, can relate to on an everyday level.

MARY STEENBURGEN, ACTRESS, "JOAN OF ARCADIA": I think God, on our show, is someone that reminds people of what their true nature is or asks them to uncover their own true nature, and asks them to ask big questions about what life is and who we are to each other.


ZAHN: Religious theme shows are nothing new to the small screen. "Highway to Heaven" ran for five seasons in the mid-1980s with Michael Landon portraying an angel helping people on earth.

MARK PINSKY, RELIGION WRITER, "ORLANDO SENTINEL": I think "Highway to Heaven" was a precursor, maybe the way that John the Baptist was a precursor for Jesus, religious in a generic, general sense but not in an overtly Christian or evangelical sense.

ZAHN: "Touched by an Angel was an even bigger hit, spending four of its nine seasons as top five hit.

ROBERT JOHNSTON, FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: "Touched by an Angel," for a large group of religious or quasi-religious persons, to have that as an regular Sunday night fare, in which they saw an hour story of inspiration and hope, and God, fit with their beliefs, fit with their dreams, their hopes, their aspirations.

PINSKY: More to the point, it was a hit for many years. And Hollywood understands a hit. And there must be something there. And I think if you can compare, for example, "Touched by an Angel" to Mel Gibson's "The Passion," these were overtly religious productions that made money and reached an audience. Hollywood understands that lesson.

ZAHN: Today, "Joan of Arcadia" is just one of many places religion can be found on TV. The WB show "7th Heaven" is now in its ninth season, focusing on the lives of a reverend and his wife as they care for their seven children.

And Jesus can even be found living in "South Park." UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, caller, you're on the air.

PINSKY: He's not a character that's mocked. He's just Jesus that lives in "South Park." And it showed that people will accept that. And I think we'll see more of that, in more mainstream shows and in more mainstream films that are not specifically about religion.

ZAHN: Mark Pinsky, author of the book "The Gospel According to 'The Simpsons'," even finds religion on that long running irreverent cartoon.

PINSKY: They say grace at meals. They go to church on Sunday. They have no doubt God exists. If you lived in France, for example, and all you knew about America was what you watched on television, if you watched a show like "Friends" or other situation comedies, you wouldn't know what a religious people we are, but if you watched "The Simpsons," you would know very close to how religious a people we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbor, I heard about your heresy, and we've made it our mission to win you back to the flock.

ZAHN: In fact, "The Simpsons" has a break-out religious character, Homer Simpson's evangelical neighbor, Ned Flanders, who even made the cover of "Christianity Today."


PINSKY: At first Christians were very suspicious. They said, "Is Hollywood mocking us again?" But what they figured out over five or 10 years, that Ned Flanders is a wonderful, endearing character. And he's not a hypocrite. He's a genuine Christian. And they really -- I find evangelicals have adopted Ned Flanders almost as a mascot of how to live a Christian life.

CRAIG DETWEILER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, BIOLA UNIVERSITY: I think Christians actually love Ned, because they see themselves and their own absurdities portrayed in this lovable, goofy but well meaning "Simpsons" character.

ZAHN: So why has TV seemed to embrace religion while movies seemed to shy away from it before "The Passion"?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think probably because of the intimacy of the medium. It's something that comes into your home, into your family and -- and has a discussion with you. And I think that people can welcome that idea into their homes.


PINSKY: The problem with film is that it's such a front-end loaded investment. If it's not good, your investment is gone in a weekend. Whereas TV, you might have a chance to build your audience. With movie, if people don't like it the first weekend, you can pack up and go home.

ZAHN: But no matter what the medium, religion often invites controversy, something the creator and cast of "Joan of Arcadia" welcome.

TAMBLIN: I hope we offend, because I think when you offend someone you're just making them think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've always said the most controversial thing that my show says is that God is available to everyone all the time. And that's, believe it or not, a very controversial thing to say. It's a very controversial belief.

ZAHN: A belief that Hall has made one of the foundations of her show.


ZAHN: And the networks are getting ready to roll out even more shows with a religious focus. NBC is set to air "Revelations," a six part miniseries, next month. Then ABC is looking at "Red and Blue," a show about a conservative grandfather.

Our series, "Hollywood and Religion" continues tomorrow when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS sits down with the authors of the wildly successful "Left Behind" series, Jerry Jenkins and the Rev. Tim LaHaye.

And you can find more of these stories on the people shaping our world in "People" magazine.

When we come back, your choice for our person of the day. The candidates, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Colorado juror Lana Eaton-Ochoa and -- yes, I'm going to get his name right this time -- U2's Bono.


ZAHN: And now it's your choice for our person of the day. Today's nominees, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Colorado juror Lana Eaton-Ochoa, who actually brought a Bible into the jury deliberations in a death penalty case.

But Web viewers picked U2's Bono. Here's why.


ZAHN (voice-over): Whether he's commanding an audience of fans or an audience of world leaders...

BONO, MUSICIAN: My name is Bono and I am a rock star.

ZAHN: ... U2 front man and lead singer Bono is unique among rock stars.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, MUSICIAN: Thank you, Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry, please welcome U2 to the Rock Hall of Fame.

ZAHN: Yes. He and his U2 band mates recently received the honor of being inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame. But Bono also recently received the honor of being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work around the world. BONO: When I'm on these trips, you know, I don't feel I'm an entertainer. I'm an activist.

ZAHN: He's constantly campaigning for world causes: AIDS prevention in Africa, debt relief for impoverished third world countries. He and his wife, Ally, have even started a clothing line to benefit developing countries.

And some believe his counting skills would have been especially handy to head up the World Bank, as the "Los Angeles Times" recently proposed.

So whether it's global politics or singing to sold out crowds, Bono continues to be recognized for his talent to entertain, to inform, and to inspire.


ZAHN: That is your choice for our person of the day, U2's Bono, a rock star who's been using his celebrity to call attention to suffering around the world.

And that wraps it up for all of us here this evening. Tomorrow night, more news on the Terri Schiavo story. Reverend Jackson, who has been with the family all day long, told me at the top of the hour, while he is praying for a miracle, he fears that Terri doesn't have a lot of time left. We will talk with members of her family tomorrow.

And all week long, we will continue our look at Hollywood and religion. Tomorrow night, you will meet the authors of the "Left Behind" series, a wildly successful book series.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Thanks again for stopping by here first. Good night.


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