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Interview With Jane Fonda; Gretchen Wilson on the Rise

Aired April 12, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us.
Tonight: It has happened to millions of Americans and it could happen to you, your personal information stolen with the click of a mouse.

And a hard life, a mountain of talent, and a young girl's dream come true.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the new...

ZAHN: She's the redneck Cinderella, who has gone from a double- wide to quadruple platinum, from tending bars to the top of the charts.

Tonight, Gretchen Wilson, country music's hottest star, staying true to her roots.

And you might already be a victim and not even know it. Who's stealing your most personal financial information? As the hackers get smarter, can anyone keep up? So, what can you do to protect yourself?


ZAHN: Also tonight, my interview with Jane Fonda, revealing more about herself than ever before.

But we begin with Gretchen Wilson. She's a phenomenon in country music. Her first C.D. has sold four million copies. And, last night, Wilson won twice at the Country Music Television Awards in Nashville, including one for her debut single "Redneck Woman," which she says describes -- or she describes as a high-five to all the women from small-town America. And how she made it from there to the top of the charts is an amazing tale.

Gretchen Wilson in the spotlight. Here is tonight's "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the new queen of country music.

GRETCHEN WILSON, MUSICIAN: You're making me nervous. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Gretchen Wilson.

ZAHN: Just last year, Gretchen Wilson was a national nobody. Now she's country music's hottest new artist. The 31-year-old's journey from obscurity to a hit record and sold-out concerts is rooted in her honest lyrics and her powerhouse voice.

WILSON: There was a lot of times in my life I think that music took me to a better place. Music is so powerful. And it can really change your life. It can change your mood. It can change your thought process.

ZAHN: Gretchen's record, "Here For the Party," was the number one seller of any new artist last year.

ROBERT K. OERMANN, COUNTRY MUSIC HISTORIAN: The moment I heard her sing, I was going like, she's got the stuff.

PETER COOPER, "THE TENNESSEAN": Gretchen's voice has a lot of traditional country in it, but it also has a whole lot of Janis Joplin. There's a whole lot of kind of soulful, rock 'n' roll edge there. And there are some real country songs on her album that sounds like something Loretta Lynn would be proud to cut.

ZAHN: Gretchen's songs, like many stars, are stories straight out of her own life.

WILSON: Those stories are mine. And they're observations from my life. And they're things that I've witnessed or felt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a whole group of country songs that I dearly love that are kind of in the poor, but proud category. She sang, I'm a redneck and I'm not ashamed of that. I'm not ashamed that I come from these roots. I'm "Pocahontas Proud."

ZAHN: Gretchen was born when her mom was just 16. At age two, her father left home and her family struggled to get by, avoiding rent by moving from trailer park to trailer park in Pocahontas, Illinois.

WILSON: My mom being such a young mother, she made a lot of mistakes. There were times -- we moved around so much from place to place. And I just always thought my mom was crazy and just couldn't stay in one place very long, you know? But it became apparent to me later on when I moved out.

ZAHN: Her mother's problems with alcohol and drugs forced Gretchen to drop out of school and move out on her own when she was just 15. To support herself, she tended bar and sang karaoke for tips at a tavern run by her friend Mark Obernaught (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her voice was always good. It wasn't as fine as it is now. And she had the determination. I would go over to their house and she would be practicing songs all the time. And she was strong-willed. She knew what she wanted from early on.

ZAHN: At age 23, Gretchen moved to Nashville, after singing in cover bands in nearby St. Louis. She was determined to make it big as a country singer.

WILSON: You know, I was completely shocked when I first moved to Nashville. I guess I was so green, you know I thought that you just moved down here and knocked on the doors and sang for people and they'd give you a record deal if you were good. You know, I had no idea what it was going to be like.

ZAHN: Gretchen Wilson became one of the thousands of Nashville wanna-bes playing for tips in downtown bars. Record company after record company slammed the door in her face, so she went back behind the bar.

WILSON: I was running out of money. I didn't come down here with very much money.

ZAHN: A little-known country duo was about to turn things around. Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich, known as Big and Rich, were founders of a carnival-like musical support group in Nashville called the Muzik Mafia. Their weekly jam sessions bent the conventions of country music.

JOHN RICH, COUNTRY MUSIC ARTIST: It's an array of talent. It's everything from R&B to rap to country to pop singers to dancers to artists to painters. It's everything.

ZAHN: Big and Rich discovered Gretchen when they saw her leave her bartending post to sing during last call.

RICH: It's like somebody had just sucked the oxygen out of the room and all you could look at was Gretchen Wilson, this bartender up there just killing this song. So, she finishes that song and I follow her up the stairs to her little bar upstairs. And I said, so, darling, when are you going to go get yourself a record deal?

WILSON: And I said, why, are you going to give me one?

RICH: For the next two months, I called down there every day or every other day leaving messages for her to call me back.

WILSON: I just didn't return his calls, because I thought he was just hitting on me.

RICH: Finally, one of her friends, who is a waitress down there, says, has a guy named John Rich been calling you? She goes...

WILSON: Yes. And he's wearing me out. And they were like, well, then, you need to call him back, because he's got some stuff going on.

RICH: She finally called me back. And, from that day, we starting writing with her and integrating her into our world.

ZAHN: When we return, Gretchen joins the Muzik Mafia, but nearly hangs it up when she doesn't fit the Nashville mold.

WILSON: It's heartbreaking to know that something like the way your hair is styled could lose you a record deal. It makes you feel a little bit smaller. Every time you walk out of that door, it makes you feel a little like your dream is slipping away from you.



ZAHN: And still ahead, the Jane Fonda you never knew, a starved- for-love actress whose life actually became a menage a trois. She'll explain.

But, first, it's just about nine minutes past the hour. Erica Hill joins us from HEADLINE NEWS with the top stories.

I'll bet you'll hang around for that interview, won't you?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I definitely will, Paula. You got me with that one.

We start off now with the headlines with an FDA's advisory panel which has voted to recommend continuing a ban on silicone breast implants. After two days of testimony, the panel voted 5-4 to continue the ban on the implants made by a company called Inamed. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation. Silicone breast implants were pulled off the market 13 years ago over health concerns. The panel says more data, though, is needed on just how much long they will last. One manufacturer argues implants are actually now safer and more durable.

Meantime, the nationwide hunt for an ex-convict suspected of killing two people and sexually assaulting a teen in South Carolina has now ended in Augusta, Georgia; 37-year-old Stephen Stanko was arrested without incident at an Augusta shopping mall after four days on the run. He has served time in the past for kidnapping and aggravated assault.

And I know we were all waiting for this news. Pop star Britney Spears has put an end to some speculation about her future, revealing today on her Web site she is pregnant. Now, this will be the first child for Spears, the third for her husband, Kevin Federline. He has two children with his former girlfriend Shar Jackson.

So, Paula, I know you've been wondering for some time, were the rumors true? Now we know Britney is indeed expecting.

ZAHN: Erica, the tabloids have had that story for six or seven weeks now, capturing all those pictures of her sitting poolside and focusing on her tummy.

HILL: That's right.

ZAHN: And speculating. And I guess she's finally confirmed it for us all.

HILL: I think so.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. See you in a little bit.

And just want to remind you all, because of this news, we're going to have a lot more about Britney Spears tomorrow night in our "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" segment.

Right now, it's time to pick the person of the day, tonight's nominees: former President Bill Clinton, whose foundation will donate $10 million to help children with AIDS in the developing world; students at Red Lake High School in Minnesota for going back to school today -- the first time since the deadly shootings there three weeks ago; and Cookie Monster -- you know this guy -- for changing his tune to benefit kids' health by combating childhood obesity. C is still for cookie, obviously, but now he preaches that cookies should only be a sometime treat.

You can vote at our Web site, We'll have the results for you at the end of the hour.

When Gretchen Wilson's story continues, how the self-proclaimed redneck woman conquered Nashville and headed straight to the top of the charts.






ZAHN: She kept on going up there last night, Gretchen Wilson's two big wins at last night's Country Music Television Awards, which came of course on the heels of a Grammy and a debut C.D. that has gone quadruple platinum, a remarkable achievement for a new artist, but all of it almost never happened.

Our "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" profile of Gretchen Wilson continues.


ZAHN (voice-over): After a rough childhood and years of bartending, Gretchen Wilson was in her late 20s, striving to make it as a country star in Nashville.

BIG KENNY ALPHIN, COUNTRY MUSIC ARTIST: And you're making bricks, man. You're stomping your bricks. You're down in the mud stomping your bricks, hoping that, one day, you're going to get to build a big house with them.

ZAHN: But the house Nashville built was full of singers with movie star looks like Faith Hill, Shania Twain. Gretchen Wilson didn't have that high-fashion, carefully coiffed appearance.

WILSON: You think, I can sing. You know, I don't look that bad. OERMANN: She wasn't fashion-model looking and, you know, and she was earthy and working-class and proud of it. And all of those things, the male executives on Music Row not understanding the audience, reject.

WILSON: It's heartbreaking to know that something like the way your hair is styled could lose you a record deal. And it does. It makes you feel a little bit smaller every time you walk out of that door.

ZAHN: Just when she felt like quitting, Muzik Mafia pal John Rich gave her some advice. Just be yourself.

RICH: Because, honestly, there's millions of people that have grown up like you and that are going to identify with what you're telling them. And, after all, Gretchen, it really is who you are.

WILSON: I grew up a redneck. I've always been a redneck. And I've always been proud of being a redneck.

RICH: I remember having that conversation with her. And she goes, all right, let's do it. That next morning, we wrote "Redneck Woman" together. It says, I'm a redneck woman. I ain't no high-class broad.

ZAHN: The song clicked with Sony Records. After eight years in Nashville and over a dozen years of bartending, Gretchen Wilson finally had her record deal. "Redneck Woman" skyrocketed up the country charts and spent six weeks at number one, the longest stay of a debut of a country female artist since 1964.

Gretchen's album, "Here For the Party," also topped the country charts, remaining at number one for nine consecutive weeks. The record went triple platinum, more than three million sold, the most of any debut artist in any musical genre last year. The night Gretchen landed her record deal, she and John Rich engineered a late-night break-in into the Ryman Auditorium, the mother church of country music

RICH: One of these days, I'm going to hit it.

You know that you're really on to something when things that you would do would normally be a felony conviction turn into a hit song.

ZAHN: In a music video for her album, Gretchen created the scene on the Ryman stage with her own song.

WILSON: The song itself, when I think about cheating, it sounds so hold to me. It sounds like a really classic traditional country song. And I just thought that the Ryman was -- it's the kind of place that you would hear a song like that.

OERMANN: And she sings the fire out of it, as if to say, I am country music. And that song says it loud and clear.

RICH: It was maybe one of the biggest moments in her life.

ZAHN: Until the Grammy awards this year, when Gretchen won best female country vocal performance for "Redneck Woman."

Folks back in Pocahontas, Illinois, haven't forgotten Gretchen. They are selling T-shirts and plan to award her with the keys to the city. And Gretchen hasn't forgotten Pocahontas.

DAVID CLARK, MAYOR OF POCAHONTAS, ILLINOIS: When I heard that song "Pocahontas Proud," it made me kind of teary-eyed, I guess. And, actually, I got goose bumps, to be honest with you.

ZAHN: Gretchen Wilson is not only making Pocahontas proud. She's taking pride in her own roots, her own life and the joy of singing her own songs.

WILSON: I'll tell you what I've learned a lot from doing these concerts and being out on stage in front of so many people, more people than I've ever been in front of. I have learned that music moves you. Fans of music come to these shows to be moved. And I think we're doing that. And that's the greatest part of being an artist, is looking out into the audience and feeling that they feel it.


ZAHN: And I guess none of us should be surprised that Gretchen is looking for another winner this year. She's putting the finishing touches on her second C.D., due out in the fall.

Coming up next, a report you can't afford to miss, identity theft. You won't believe how easy it is for people to get their hands on your private information.

And a little bit later on, Jane Fonda on her beauty, her 30-year battle with bulimia and a husband who invited other women into their bed.


ZAHN: Well, it has happened again, what looks like another case of massive identity theft.

Today, LexisNexis, which sells personal and financial data about consumers like you, admitted that information on as many as 310,000 people may have been stolen when hackers broke into its computer system 59 times. In February, ChoicePoint, another data company, admitted that thieves had accessed 145,000 consumer profiles.

Well, the government says more than 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft over the last five years. And a recent CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows that 90 percent of all of us are worried about having our identity stolen. We're going to tell you what you can do to protect yourself in just a moment.

But, first, with just three days to go before tax time, just imagine if anybody was able to get to see all the stuff that is on your W-2, Social Security number, salary, etcetera, etcetera.

Well, watch as we show you just how easy that is to do.


AARON GREENSPAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, THINK COMPUTER: You can call me a hacker. You can call me a security professional. You can call me whatever you want.

ZAHN (voice-over): Whatever you call him, this 22-year-old whiz kid is at the center of a growing storm over computer security and identity theft, mostly because of a flaw he discovered in the PayMaxx Corporation's online operations. PayMaxx specializes in payroll processing.

GREENSPAN: I just want to make sure that these systems work and that they're not broken into.

ZAHN: Hero or hacker? Aaron Greenspan's formal title is president and CEO of Think Computer, a company which writes business software.

Greenspan incorporated at the age of 15, went on to win the Junior Achievement ITE Entrepreneur Award in 1999. He studied at Harvard, got his business degree in three years. While his company's main business is writing software, Greenspan also checks Internet sites for security flaws, but he insists he's no hacker.

In fact, he was a PayMaxx customer downloading his own W-2 form from a payroll processor's Web site when he discovered just how easy it was to see a whole lot more.

GREENSPAN: I went to get my W-2 and the web address was like and then instantW2/2004w2.cfm. ID equals 84728. At the end of the web address, there was a number that represented your W-2. And just by changing that one number and adding one to it again and again, you could find anybody's salary, home address, Social Security number.

ZAHN: And for someone looking to steal another's identity...

GREENSPAN: Oh, it would take about a second, literally. It's very, very easy.

ZAHN: Greenspan claims that the private data of between 25,000 and 100,000 PayMaxx customers was accessible on the Internet and vulnerable to identity theft. He immediately shot off an e-mail to PayMaxx.

GREENSPAN: I said, look, you know, you have a serious problem here and you need to address it immediately.

ZAHN: He also let PayMaxx know that his company could fix the problem and that that's the kind of service we would charge for. PayMaxx didn't respond right away, but after Greenspan published a white paper, an online document notifying the public about the problem, the company shut down the insecure Web site. The Tennessee- based company also responded to Greenspan. "Mr. Greenspan has apparently attempted to hack into PayMaxx's instant W-2 Web site. It appears, rather than being concerned about any security problem with his the PayMaxx software, Mr. Greenspan was trying to obtain money from PayMaxx for services."

GREENSPAN: That's clearly false. I think it doesn't take much to understand that, when there's a whistle-blower, they usually get attacked for blowing the whistle.

ZAHN: PayMaxx disagrees, saying that what Greenspan did was unethical and probably illegal and that the company is considering legal action. While PayMaxx acknowledges there was a problem, they say no system in the world is 100 percent secure from a sophisticated and determined hacker.

GREENSPAN: I don't think you can trust these companies. Some of these flaws are very basic. And it really should not be this easy to just go and to find information that shouldn't even be available.


ZAHN: And unlike other recent security lapses, PayMaxx says there's no evidence that any data was actually stolen. PayMaxx says it has fixed the flaw and beefed up its security.

So, what can you do to make your personal information more secure? Well, don't give out personal information, like your Social Security number, on the phone or on the Internet, unless you know exactly who you're dealing with. And protect your mail, even your trash, from thieves. You should contact any of these credit reporting companies if you believe someone has stolen your confidential information.

And, by the end of this year, anyone will be able to get one free credit report per year. You can go to this site,, for information on that and other ways to protect your identity.

Coming up next, Jane Fonda's life of secrets and her desperate attempts to please the men she loved.


JANE FONDA, ACTRESS: One night, he brought someone into our bed. And I discovered that he liked to do that. So, hey, honey, whatever you want.


ZAHN: A shocking, revealing conversation when we come back.


ZAHN: So, just what is it about Jane Fonda? From Barbarella to Hanoi Jane to Mrs. Ted Turner, the daughter of Hollywood legend Henry Fonda is now a legend herself. And after years out of the spotlight, Jane Fonda has re-emerged, and she is as provocative as ever. With a new tell-all book about her mother's suicide, her sex life, and a whole lot more.


ZAHN (voice-over): Jane Fonda is back. Back on the book shelves. Back in the headlines, and back on the big screen after a 15-year absence.

FONDA: Please, help me be a better person.

ZAHN: You can't help but notice on screen and off, that Fonda is having the time of her life.

(on camera): Is this a good time of your life?

FONDA: It's the best.

ZAHN: Isn't that nice?

FONDA: It is nice.

ZAHN: At 67?

FONDA: Yeah.

ZAHN: You've got it all. You've got beauty. You've got grace. You've got talent. You've been tremendously successful financially. And yet at your core, you were a pretty empty vessel for many years, weren't you?

FONDA: Yeah. And I think that's really why I decided to write my book.

ZAHN (voice-over): "My Life So Far" is a no-holds-barred memoir. Her revelations are provocative. Her honesty is bold. Jane Fonda reveals 67 years of inner turmoil and family drama. A troubled suicidal mother, and a cold, distant father.

FONDA: I mean, he never beat us or -- you know, he never did any of the things that some fathers do. He just couldn't make himself emotionally accessible. You know, sometimes you can't be a hero to a nation and be a perfect family man. I mean, you can't always be all things to all people, and he did the best he could.


FONDA: I think that maybe you and I should have the kind of relationship that we're supposed to have.

HENRY FONDA, ACTOR: What kind of relationship is that?

FONDA: Well, you know, like a father and a daughter.

H. FONDA: Just in the nick of time, huh?

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN (on camera): When you made "On Golden Pond" with your father, the parts you were playing explored a very treacherous relationship between a father and daughter. Did that help the two of you grow together in any way?

FONDA: It was such a gift for me, to be able to produce a movie for my father that got him his Oscar five months before he died, and to be able to play his daughter in a movie in a relationship that's so closely paralleled our real-life relationship. The fact that he asked me to get his Oscar when he won it, because he was too sick, was very profound for me. There wasn't the complete closure in real life as there was in the movie, but, you know, we still made that movie together.

ZAHN: What did making that movie do to your soul?

FONDA: I was able to say to my father before he died, "I love you and I know that you did your best, and I forgive you for everything. And your wife, Shirley, who has taken such good care of you, will be in the family always." And then I had to get out quickly, because it made him cry, and I knew he didn't want me to see him cry. So I didn't want to stay around. And my stepmother came home shortly after, and he was still crying.

And I don't know whether it was because I touched something in him that he wasn't able to handle and he began to cry, or whether -- and whether nobody had ever said those kind of closure words to him. I don't know what it was that caused him to -- because he never cried.

ZAHN: Did he ever tell you that he loved you?

FONDA: I don't think so, no. No. He didn't know how. Isn't that sad?

ZAHN (voice-over): Fonda's need to hear those three precious words created a life-long affliction with what she calls a disease to please.

FONDA: I had to be perfect in order to be loved, and if I wasn't perfect, I would end up alone.

ZAHN (on camera): Who expected you to be perfect?

FONDA: I think my father did, and I don't think that he meant to or realized or -- you know, I just think that down through the generations of Fonda men, there was a tendency to not like women who weren't really thin.

ZAHN (voice-over): And that, she says, launched her 30-year battle with eating disorders. Beginning in prep school at age 15, Fonda says she alternated between long stretches of anorexic starvation and frequent bouts of bulimia, binging and purging as many as eight times a day.

FONDA: There were times where it was really bad, but nobody knew. And then a point came in my '40s, I now had a lot of people and projects dependent on me, and I had to opt for life and light. And I opted for life and light, and I went cold turkey. It was very hard.

ZAHN (on camera): Was that the impetus for your fitness empire?

FONDA: Yes. In a way, it was. It replaced the control that you feel binging and purging with compulsive exercise, and it was compulsive in the beginning, until I started to make peace with myself and my body. And, you know, we're not supposed to be perfect.

ZAHN: There's such an irony that you, as a woman who struggled with bulimia for some 30 years, would launch a fitness empire.

FONDA: You teach what you need to learn.

Here we go now. We're going to step apart together.

ZAHN (voice-over): But underneath those tight leotards and signature leg warmers, a woman still consumed with self-doubt and desperate to please, especially when it came to men.

Fonda's first husband was Roger Vadim, the avant-garde French film director who married and transformed Henry Fonda's 28-year-old American daughter into the on-screen sex kitten, Barbarella.

FONDA: He was a very, very fascinating, utterly charming human being, with whom I learned so much.

ZAHN: They had an unusual and, frankly, pretty shocking arrangement. They shared their bed with other women. Fonda not only allowed these women in, but, in many cases, soliciting them herself.

FONDA: This man was not a monster. This man didn't force me to do anything. I did whatever I did voluntarily, because I wanted him to love me and I didn't think I was good enough.

ZAHN (on camera): You felt in order to make him happy, you had to bring other women into your sex life to please him?

FONDA: Sometimes, yeah. Not -- I mean, it was not like it was all the time, but, yes. Yes, I did. I...

ZAHN: He didn't ask you to do that?

FONDA: No. No.

ZAHN: Well, what made you think of doing that?

FONDA: Well, he -- one night, he brought someone into our bed, and I discovered that he liked to do that. And so, hey, honey, whatever you want. You know, I'm an actress. I grew up turning myself into a pretzel to please my father, whatever he wanted me to be.

ZAHN: Did you ever like having other women in your bed?

FONDA: I don't know. I don't know. That's the weird thing, because I would numb myself. I would drink to numb what was basically anger, you know, anger. And I would deny it. And, of course, under the bell jar of denial, the only thing that blooms is rage. And so, there was a rage that I would stuff. And...

ZAHN: And yet in the book, you describe, after the end of an evening of sex with a complete stranger, invited into your home, you sometimes would sit and have coffee.

FONDA: The next day. And so I often would get to know them. And when we could sit, woman to woman, over coffee in the morning and talk on that level, a humanity was brought into it. And, often, we would become friends. And I remain friends with some.

ZAHN (voice-over): Her marriage to Vadim ended after seven-and- a-half years, but what didn't end, Fonda says, was her willingness to become whomever the man she was with wanted.

Political activist Tom Hayden would be the next man in her life, and it was during their relationship that the controversy of Fonda's life, the one that more than 30 years later still plagues here, happened.

FONDA: That image betrayed me and what was in my heart, because it looked like I was callous towards soldiers, and that wasn't the truth, and I'm -- I regret that more than, you know, than anything.

ZAHN: When we come back, what you haven't heard about Hanoi Jane, and Jane's marriage to one of the richest men in the world, Ted Turner.


ZAHN: Still to come tonight, Jane Fonda reflects on her years as "Hanoi Jane" and her marriage to Ted Turner. First, though, just about 20 minutes before the hour, here, time to check in again with Erica Hill at HEADLINE NEWS. Hi again.

HILL: Hi again.

Three British men are now facing terrorist charges in conjunction with an alleged plot to attack U.S. financial institutions. The indictment, unsealed today, charges them with scouting potential targets, including the Citigroup building and the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan. The men were arrested last August after computer evidence found in Pakistan proved evidence of the alleged plot.

In the Michael Jackson trial today, the stepfather of Jackson's accuser testified his family was both harassed and also bribed, including a free house and college education, to make a video defending the singer. He also says his stepson appeared to have been brainwashed after his last visit to Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

The man who caused a security scare at the U.S. Capitol on Monday will be sent back to Australia, but won't face any criminal charges. The man prompted authorities to send in the SWAT team after standing outside the capitol with two black suitcases and demanding to speak with President Bush. The man was tackled and nothing suspicious was found in the bags.

That's the latest from HEADLINE NEWS, Paula. Back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica. "LARRY KING LIVE" is straight ahead at 9:00 tonight. Hi, Larry, how're you doing tonight? Who's joining you?

LARRY KING, CNN HOST "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi, Paula. We got a good show tonight. The first lady of California, Maria Shriver, used to be one of us, remember?

ZAHN: Yeah, I think she misses those days from time to time, Larry.

KING: I bet she does. Maria will be with us, and then we'll have a major panel discussion on the extraordinary, ongoing events in the Michael Jackson trial.

And, Queen Noor tomorrow night, when we're back in California. Paula?

ZAHN: You hang out with all these beautiful women, Larry -- thanks, look forward to -- and smart women too.

KING: Somebody's got to do it.

ZAHN: I know. It's a tough job. And you do it well. Thanks, Larry. Have a good show.

KING: Thank you.

Still ahead, Jane Fonda on her nightmare years as "Hanoi Jane" and the surprising truth about her marriage to Ted Turner.


ZAHN: "Hanoi Jane," the label Jane Fonda says she'll take to the grave with her, haunts her more than 30 years after she was photographed on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun during the Vietnam War. Now she's telling it all in a new book that tries to set the record straight about a chapter of her life that won't fade away.


(voice-over): The year was 1972. The war in Vietnam into its ninth year. Fonda, and her boyfriend at the time, Tom Haden, had been protesting the war, going to U.S. military bases and meeting with Vietnam veterans. In July, Fonda took her protest to Hanoi, capital of North Vietnam, and visited an anti-aircraft gun site used to shoot down American planes. "Hanoi Jane" was born.

FONDA: It was a terrible lapse of judgment. And I wasn't posing. Someone led me there and I sat down and I had just finished singing a song and I was laughing and applauding, and many photographs were taken. And suddenly I realized -- I, who represented the GI movement and rallies and them "Coming Home" and opened the GI office in Washington to process complaints from active service duty men and women, that I was going to look like their enemy, which was the farthest thing from the truth, it just killed me.

ZAHN: Why the lapse in judgment?

FONDA: I don't know. I think it was my last day in Vietnam. I was overcome, frankly, with emotion. And, you know, there were a whole lot of journalists and I should have known that that was a signal, because I never saw a whole lot of journalists in one place. I got up to go back to the car and that's where I realized, please, destroy those pictures. And the rest is history and I'll carry it to my grave.

ZAHN: Did do you understand today why people viewed you as a traitor?

FONDA: I certainly understand why that image would look that way, which is why it's so painful, because it's so far from the truth. I think the -- I get a lot of letters from veterans who say that they understand now and they forgive me and they mean the world to me those letters. And I'm sorry that so many are stuck back then and that the hostility is directed to me instead of to the men who were responsible for their being there and who lied to us. I went to North Vietnam at a time when we were being lied to by President Nixon. And men were dying as a result.

ZAHN: So, if you were able to deliver an apology that you thought more encompassed what you felt were acknowledgements of the mistakes you made, what would you say?

FONDA: That image of me was not intentional. I was not intentionally sitting on a gun and aiming or, you know laughing because I was against American soldiers. That's what the image conveys. That's not what was in my heart.

ZAHN: Fonda won an Academy Award for her role in "Coming Home," the story of an army wife who worked at a veterans' hospital while her husband was fighting at Vietnam. It's there that she finds comfort and solace, Fonda's way of making a kind of peace with the trauma of Vietnam.

The subject of Vietnam is one that you can't help but talk about when you sit down with her. But her new book "My Life So Far" tackles much more, her battles with bulimia, her three failed marriages and one thing she's never talked about before publicly, her mother's suicide.

FONDA: I wasn't angry, but I -- you know, like children do, I kept wondering, well, was it my fault? Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I could have done something that might have made it different, the outcome for her. You know, you always think it's your fault. Then I discovered she had been a victim of sexual abuse and, you know, the minute I knew that, I knew everything that I needed to know.

ZAHN: That experience has informed her life. Fonda has spent the last 10 years studying sexual abuse. She's also become an outspoken campaigner about violence against women. And founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. Atlanta has become Fonda's home base. She lives near her daughter, Vanessa. An unlikely retreat for a Hollywood legend, but it's been home since 1991, when she retired from acting to devote herself full time to life with her third husband, Ted Turner.

ZAHN (on camera): In many ways, it was the most unlikely pairing of any of the adult relationships you had. Why did it work?

FONDA: Well, he was the only person that had apologized more than I had.

ZAHN (voice-over): Many were surprised when Jane Fonda married the outspoken, opinionated, flamboyant founder of CNN, billionaire Ted Turner. But Fonda calls him the man on the white horse who rescued her after the devastating end of her marriage to Tom Haden.

FONDA: He called me the day that my divorce from Tom was announced. The phone rang and it was him, booming, you know the way he is. Is it true? I was having a nervous breakdown, so I couldn't talk above a whisper. He asked me on a date, I couldn't believe it. I mean, I was no more ready -- couldn't even -- I said call me back in three months, and he did. We were a duo. You know, he's a great lover, and he's divinely handsome, and he's very funny, and he's totally fascinating and endlessly teaching me.

ZAHN (voice-over): And he was the first man who ever told you he needed you?

FONDA: Yes. Yes.

ZAHN (voice-over): But how much of yourself did you have to give up to make that relationship work?

By then, you weren't acting anymore. You had taken off -- you had taken on, of course, a lot of activists causes. But you were living a distinctively different life than you had led for many, many years.

FONDA: Yes. It was what I had wanted to do at that point. I wanted to see if I was capable of really giving myself to a relationship. And I was able to finally overcome my fear of intimacy, and really know what it meant to show up. The problem was that he couldn't. And I decided that I would rather be alone than to be in a relationship where we couldn't both show up. That was real scary for me, because I had never done anything like that in my life. And it was like unchartered territory, but I knew it was right. And the moment that I made that decision, I knew it was right. And the moment I made that decision, I sort of reinhabited myself.

ZAHN: When one thing ends, another begins. For Fonda, the end of her marriage led to a return to Hollywood. The 67-year-old actress calls this time in her life act III, time to enjoy her family, support her causes and renew her priorities.

FONDA: I want for there to be people who love me, and who I have said I love you. And who are going to remain behind after I go and will be stronger for my having been there.


ZAHN: In spite of some of that closure in her life, I want to give you a better idea now of how bitter people remain about Fonda's Vietnam trip.

We did a Web search for a phrase of Hanoi Jane and got 156,000 hits.

On to our "Person of the Day," who's your choice?

Well, Bill Clinton, whose foundation is donating $10 million to fight AIDS.

The students of Red Lake High School in Minnesota, back in class after last month's school shooting.

Or Cookie Monster, who's not quite swearing off cookies, but wants kids to cut down?


ZAHN: Time for "Person of the Day." Who was your choice?

Well, Former President Clinton was on the list for helping fight AIDS in the developing world.

And then there were those Red Lake High School students for going back to school for the first time since the shooting rampage three weeks ago there.

Or Cookie Monster for telling kids, cookies should be a sometimes treat.

Your choice, Cookie Monster.


COOKIE MONSTER: Cookie starts with "C."

ZAHN: It's one of the most popular songs on Sesame Street.

We'll bet, you can still sing along with the Cookie Monster

COOKIE MONSTER: "C" is for cookie, that's good enough for me

ZAHN: The big Muppet with the huge appetite, he's been on the Sesame Street since 1969. He'll eat everything.

But he's introduced millions of little cookie eaters to the third letter of the alphabet.

COOKIE MONSTER: Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C. Yes!

ZAHN: This year, however, Cookie Monster has changed his tune a little bit.

COOKIE MONSTER: Healthy food, boy it tastes so good.

ZAHN: Sesame Street has always tailored parts of its message to fit the changing times. Talking subjects from death, to prejudice. In this, its 35th season, the show is emphasizing healthy habits for life, reflecting medical concerns about, among other things, America's epidemic of childhood obesity.

HOOTS THE OWL: Hey Cookie Monster!

ZAHN: Today, a character called Hoots the Owl taught Cookie Monsters that there are some foods you can eat any time, but other foods, like cookies, that you should only eat sometimes.

COOKIE MONSTER: Me get it. Fruit any time food. Cookie, sometime food.

ZAHN: C is still for cookie, but C also stands for change. And those of you watching this think this change is healthy enough to make "Cookie Monster" our "Person of the Day."


ZAHN: You're excused, Cookie.

Of course, that didn't come from a vegetable, did it? It had to be from one of those double chocolate chip cookies.

That's it for all us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. We'll be back, same time, same place tomorrow.



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