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Pills That Chill; From Sexy Starlet to 'Fat Actress'

Aired July 20, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Appreciate your dropping by.
Tonight, some very important information for all of you parents out there about a prescription drug your kids may be taking.


ZAHN (voice-over): Pills that chill, Ritalin and other drugs given to millions of overactive kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It helps me be a better, more -- nicer, calmer.

ZAHN: But is there another side some parents don't know?

MARY BETH BURROW, MOTHER: He's just standing there like a zombie. It's just not normal.

ZAHN: She's gone from sexy starlet to "Fat Actress." And you won't believe the latest twist in the life of Kirstie Alley.

And what if someone took pictures of you in your most intimate moments and put them on sale? If celebrities can't seem to stop it, what you should know to protect your privacy.


ZAHN: We begin tonight with what you need to know about some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. Ritalin and other drugs like it are the standard treatment for children with a condition commonly known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control says nearly four million American children were diagnosed with ADHD in 2002. But those drugs are extremely controversial. Just a couple of weeks ago, Tom Cruise took a lot of heat for what he said about Ritalin.


TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: You don't Even know what Ritalin is. If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, OK? That's what I've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: Well, what Cruise said was based on the teachings of Scientology, his controversial religion. But he's not the only one concerned about medicating kids.

The Food and Drug Administration is now looking at strengthening the warnings about the side-effects of Ritalin and other drugs like it. And some parents have decided no more Ritalin for their children.


MARY BETH BURROW, MOTHER: He was active in my womb, always kicking and moving. And he sat up at six months old. So, he was just busy into everything.

ZAHN (voice-over): Mary Beth and Tommy Burrow's first son, Thomas, was a handful from day one. But when Thomas when to preschool, teachers thought there might be an even bigger problem.

M. BURROW: He's walking out of the classroom. He's doing this. He's taking away from the other children learning. And so, they were suggesting that I go see somebody about Thomas to find out kind of what's going on.

ZAHN: A doctor delivered the news. Thomas had attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and was given a prescription for Ritalin. Thomas did well during the school day. But at night, when his dose wore off, his behavior was shocking.

M. BURROW: It is off the wall. It's like you've thrown a rubber -- a bunch of rubber balls in your room and it's over -- all over the place, just jumping on furniture, jumping on the table, making weird sounds, not caring if he breaks things or falls -- pushes somebody down.

ZAHN: Thomas was given a different ADHD drug to try, Concerta. This time, Mary Beth and Tommy noticed an even more disturbing change in their son. He seemed to be a totally different child. Mary Beth remembers watching her son on the playground.

M. BURROW: Everyone's picking teams or whatever and Thomas doesn't get picked or doesn't, you know, raise his hand to be picked. He's just standing there like a zombie. And it was awful. I mean, it was so sad. And my mother went up one day. And she's like, it makes me want to just cry to watch him.

DR. PETER BREGGIN, CHILD PSYCHIATRIST: You have a young child whose brain is being bathed in a toxin that's disrupting multiple neurotransmitter systems. And the brain's trying to adapt to that while it's growing.

ZAHN: Dr. Peter Breggin, a child psychiatrist and author of the book "Talking Back to Ritalin," thinks that drugs like Ritalin can alter a child's brain chemistry, stunting their growth and suppressing their personalities and their creativity, even possibly leading to depression. And the FDA has been taking notice, recently tracking reports of possible side-effects, like suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and violent behavior, trying to determine whether Ritalin and other drugs in its class should carry stronger warning labels.

Dr. Breggin also worries that there may be a link between use of the drugs and addiction later on in life.

BREGGIN: Ritalin and amphetamines that we give our kids are gateway drugs, because the adverse effects of these drugs lead to additional drugs and then to more drugs, so that the child becomes a lifelong mental patient.

ZAHN: Dr. Harold Koplewicz, founder and director of the New York University Child Studies Center, disagrees.

DR. HAROLD KOPLEWICZ, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY CHILD STUDIES CENTER: Ritalin and Ritalin-like medicines are the only effective treatment for children who suffer with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or with ADD.

ZAHN: He thinks that, used wisely, drugs like Ritalin can be transforming for struggling children and their families.

KOPLEWICZ: The reports that are coming out of the FDA deserve our attention and should be investigated carefully. And, if there is -- if there is concern, then, there should be a warning label.

But, if there -- turns out that this is not significant, then, there shouldn't be a warning label, because the one thing we don't want to do is, we don't want to prevent children who really have this disorder from getting treated.

ZAHN: Eleven-year-old Allison Stoll (ph) is an energetic big sister.

SUSANNAH BUDINGTON, MOTHER: She's outgoing. She's personable and she's just a great kid to be around.

ZAHN: But five years ago, this family's story was quite different.

BUDINGTON: And we were just watching her struggle so much and always running around, couldn't stay still ever, restaurants, home, always climbing on things always talking, talking, talking, which was great, but, you know, interrupting, a lot more oppositional, a lot more temper tantrums.

ZAHN: At the age of 6, Allison was put on Ritalin.

BUDINGTON: And within the first day at school and at home, we saw a remarkable difference in her, without changing her personality, which was important to us, too.

I like to say, on a scale of one to 10 on normal activity level, Allison was about 11. And this probably brings her to a nine. I don't think anybody would ever meet her and say, oh, she's drugged, you know? It's something -- it's just one tool that we use to help her.

ZAHN: Allison is still on medication. Even so, the daily struggles go on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sitting here right now is really hard, because I want to get up and, like, I don't know, walk around my room or something. just sitting still in general is just -- because I want to be able to do something. Like, it's really hard to explain.

ZAHN: But Allison believes that the medication is helping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The medicine just helps me be a better -- better person, because, I'm not really being me, because me would be hyper, not paying attention, bouncing off the walls. But it helps me be a better -- more -- nicer, calmer, a little more on-task person, yes. That's what I want to be. And that is who I am.

ZAHN: Thomas Burrow's parents recently took him off his ADHD medication. Mary Beth and Tommy are experimenting with diet changes and testing Thomas for allergies that they think may be contributing to his ADHD. A very active Thomas will start first grade in the fall.

THOMAS BURROW, ADHD SUFFERER: I like being at recess. I like playing with my friends. And I like writing. I really like art. I want to be an artist one day.

ZAHN: Mary Beth and Tommy know the road forward won't be easy. But one thing is certain. They think that getting Thomas off the drugs gave them their son back.

M. BURROW: Thomas is smiling. And it's a true smile, like, a happy, happy, happy. And, you know, that's what matters.


ZAHN: And joining me now, medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

You know, Elizabeth, you listen to the choices that both of these families have made, and you have got millions of other parents that have to face a similar crossroad. What is the bottom line here, to medicate or not medicate?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, the bottom line is that this has to be a very individual decision between a family and a doctor.

As these two families illustrate so beautifully, you can make two different decisions. These families decided to go two different paths. They each chose the path that was right for them. Some families may decide, you know what? This situation is so bad that we really need to consider medicating our child.

He or she is not doing well in school. Maybe she's having trouble with friends. She's really acting out. The school is having trouble handling the child. The parents are having trouble with the child. The child is having trouble in her own life. Then maybe it is time to consider drugs.

Those families need to know that the long-term effects of this medication has not thoroughly been studied. There's not a lot of good studies out there that tell you what happens long-term. They also need to know the dosages are going to have to be tinkered with, very likely. The child may have to change drugs. The first one they try may not work well. So, they have to be aware that it is not as simple as just taking a drug. It's not quite that simple.

Other families may decide, you know what? The issue isn't quite that bad yet. We feel that we can contain it using other measures. Each family will make their own decision.

ZAHN: But, in Tommy's case, his parents felt that there was no way they wanted their child on this medication any longer. It completely changed his personality. And we heard them talking about experimenting with allergies. What are some of the other options a parent could explore if they don't want to medicate?

COHEN: We asked some child psychiatrists that. And they gave us some suggestions. If you don't want to medicate, or even if you do want to medicate, here are some things you can think about to help your child handle his or her illness.

For example, therapy, and that is so important, to sit down with a therapist, the whole family, and try to figure out what's behind some of this. Another thing you want to think about is the right school. That sounds so obvious. But, frankly, some schools are better than others at handling kids with ADD. Some schools, for example, if there's a child in the classroom with ADHD, they will put an aide in that classroom to help out. And that is so crucial.

Another thing, enough sleep, that's so important. There have actually been studies that show that some kids who are diagnosed with ADHD just were wildly sleep deprived. And once they got enough sleep, they really felt considerable better. Another thing to experiment with is diet changes. We talked a little bit about that, but some parents have had success at limiting sugar and certainly limiting caffeine.

And exercise. When a child who is hyperactive gets enough exercise, that can sometimes help some of their symptoms.

ZAHN: Now, in Allison's case, her parents are absolutely convinced this is the right way to go. Is it conceivable she is going to be on this medication for a long time?

COHEN: That is a tough decision for parents to make when the medicine is working well. You had a child who had a lot of problems. They went on the medicine, like we just saw in our story. And everything's great.

Well, then what do you do? Five years go by, six, seven, maybe 10 years. What do you do? Well, the doctors that we talked to had this suggestion. They said, if you don't feel comfortable with your child being on medication, conceivably, for the rest of his or her life, trying taking them off for a trial period and be very watchful during that trial period to see how they are doing.

And if it looks like they're not doing well, the doctor might advise putting them back on. But you have to -- you have to just sort of do it. You have to just kind of take them off of the drugs. There's no way to predict how they are going to do. You just have to do it and be very watchful of your child.

ZAHN: I guess I view the bottom line is, it's just not easy being a parent today, is it?

COHEN: It's not easy. In some ways, these drugs have made things easier but in some ways they've really made things more difficult. They make for very difficult decisions for parents.

ZAHN: I guess we know a little bit about that, five kids between the two of us.

COHEN: That's right.

ZAHN: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for your excellent guidance tonight.

When Tom Cruise took on Ritalin in a very public way, he also put Scientology in the spotlight. Coming up, the story of another famous star who credits Scientology for helping her kick a serious drug problem.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was Scientology that picked her up off the ground, shook her up. It saved her life.


ZAHN: You might be surprised what else you don't know about actress Kirstie Alley.

Plus, we can't tell you how to be like a Hollywood movie star, but we can show you how to end up with some of their more embarrassing problems. All it takes is an active camera.


ZAHN: On the "Security Watch" tonight, there may be a connection between the London terror bombings and a terror investigation right here in the U.S.

America bureau correspondent Kelli Arena joins me now.

Always good to see you, Kelli.

So, what is the American connection we're talking about here tonight? KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, sources with knowledge of the London investigation tell us that British officials are searching for a man named Haroon Rashid Aswad.

Now, according to those officials, he arrived in the United States in November of 1999 and eventually ended up in Bly, Oregon. Officials say that it was there that he allegedly scouted a ranch for use as a jihad training camp. And they also allege that he met with potential recruits and conducted firearms training there.

Government officials say that he was working with an American named James Ujaama. Now, Ujaama reached a plea deal with the government in 2003 and he is cooperating with investigators. The original indictment against Ujaama also links Aswad to the radical British cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.

Now, he has openly praised both the 9/11 attacks and Osama bin Laden. Now, the cleric is currently in custody in Britain. He's facing charges both there and here in the United States. Now, investigators believe that Aswad left Britain shortly before the London attacks and travelled to Pakistan. And British officials have asked Pakistan to help find him.

So far, we're told no luck.

ZAHN: Have they been successful in contacting any members of his family? Do they have any idea where he might be?

ARENA: Well, his family lives in a town called Batley in Yorkshire. That's about seven miles form Leeds.

They actually issued a statement today saying that, Aswad has not lived at this house. We have not had contact with him for many years. They even say that they asked the police to make sure that their privacy was not invaded any further, so, it doesn't look like there are any leads there, Paula.

ZAHN: But is there a concern tonight there might be an active cell remaining in the United States from that investigation that was done several years ago?

ARENA: Well, Paula, as you know, investigators will tell you to never say never. But sources that I spoke today are pretty confident that they pursued all of the leads back then, and, of course, they did have the cooperate of James Ujaama to wrap up any of those loose ends. As part of his plea deal, he continues to work with investigators. So, it doesn't look like that, Paula, at all.

ZAHN: Kelli Arena, appreciate the update. Thanks.

ARENA: You're welcome.

ZAHN: Right now, it's moving up on just about 18 minutes past the hour. Time for Erica Hill at Headline News to check the rest of the day's top stories.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Paula. Nice to see you.

Well, it is smiles so far in the Senate on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. The judge made the rounds today, meeting senators who will soon be grilling him. Many Democrats say they are anxious to ask him about hot-button issues like abortion rights. In the meantime, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says the president's choice is first-rate, but she's sorry to see the female presence on the court reduced by half.

In Canada, a new law that legalizes same-sex marriage is now official. Canada is the fourth country to give gay couples equal marriage rights.

And NASA will try again to launch the shuttle Discovery. They're shooting for next Tuesday at just around 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. It will be the first mission in two-and-a-half years. But it was of course scrubbed last week because of a wiring problem.

And investigators took DNA samples from three young men linked to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. The FBI is still testing blonde hairs found on a piece of duct tape there.

And the hot-selling "Grand Theft Auto" is too hot for kids. The video game industry upgraded the game to adults only after a secret code surfaced on the Web. That code gives players a little something extra, graphic sex scenes, definitely not what you want your kids playing, Paula.

ZAHN: No. That's why we try to get them to read books.

HILL: I think that's a fine idea.

ZAHN: Erica Hill, thanks. We'll see you a little bit later on in the hour.

Unwanted sex scenes aren't just cropping up in video games with special little codes. Coming up, keeping your private moments private.


ROBERT SCHWARTZ, CELEBRITY ATTORNEY: What used to be an .8- millimeter camera or, you know, your own VCR stayed within your house. And now it is so easy to digitize things and they're over the Internet instantly.


ZAHN: Well, some things are better remembered than recorded, but what if it's already too late?

Stay with us.


ZAHN: Freeze-frame, all right. Fair warning now. What we are about to get into, you may not want your kids to see.

So, when people break up, there's always the inevitable tug of war over stuff, house, furniture, cars, little things like C.D.s and home videos. But what if you and your ex videotaped yourself in bed? Who gets that tape?

Well, actor Colin Farrell and his ex are facing that dilemma in court.

Here's entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas.



COLIN FARRELL, ACTOR: Conquer your fear.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colin Farrell, he starred in "Alexander," "Phone Booth" and "Minority Report." But there's one performance he'd rather you not see in a sex tape he made with his former girlfriend, Playboy model Nicole Narain.

DEVON GORDON, "NEWSWEEK": Now that the relationship is long since over, she wants to sell it to the public. And Colin Farrell isn't very, very happy about that.

VARGAS: Farrell got a temporary restraining order, preventing Narain from distributing the tape. Adult entertainment producer Kevin Blatt (ph) says he was approached about marketing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The asking price for this tape was $1.2 million.

VARGAS: Figures like -- we mean money, not the physiques -- underscore the growing market for celebrity sex tapes. Paris Hilton tried to prevent a sex video she made with a former boyfriend from getting around. Eventually, she relented, accepting $400,000, plus a cut of the sales.

Pamela Anderson and former husband Tommy Lee fought to keep their sex tape under wraps, but later agreed to sell it on the Internet. Advancing technology has changed the whole marketing potential.

SCHWARTZ: What used to be an .8-millimeter camera or, you know, your own VCR stayed within your house. And now it is so easy to digitize things and they're over the Internet instantly.

VARGAS: Some Hollywood observers say up-and-coming stars may get a career boost from the release of sexually explicit material. But established stars like Farrell and Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst usually don't want any part of it. Durst is currently suing to keep a sex tape of his out of the public eye. According to attorney Robert Schwartz, the key is to act quickly.

SCHWARTZ: Certainly, the faster the celebrity goes after their rights and seeks a court order to prevent further copying and distribution of a tape like this, the better off they are.

VARGAS: The other solution, of course, is not to make a tape in the first place.

GORDON: I think the lesson is pretty simple. Turn off the video camera when you are going to have sex with your girlfriend, for crying out loud.

VARGAS: But it's not just videotapes of sex acts that come back to haunt celebs. Still pictures from long-ago modeling sessions can prove problematic, too, as Cameron Diaz knows well. She's right now in the midst of a court battle against a photographer she accuses of trying to peddle topless photos of her taken before she became famous.

Does she have the right to keep these sexy pictures out of the hands of her adoring public? That's for a jury to decide.

Sibila Vargas, CNN, Hollywood.


ZAHN: And joining me now, Court TV anchor and former prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom.

Always good to see you. Welcome.


ZAHN: So, let's start off with Colin Farrell's case. So, he claims he had a verbal agreement with his ex-girlfriend that they would never share this with the public. These were pictures taken for the two of them, as he said, to enjoy. So, what kind of a case does he have?

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Well, it's interesting, because this isn't a tape that was stolen or anything like that. So, he doesn't have those criminal prosecutions available to him. There was mutual consent involved. He said he had a verbal agreement.

What I say to Colin Farrell is, show me the paper, because without a written agreement, it is basically going to be open to the court to interpret it. They each have a right to this tape. He is seeking to get the tape back and any copies of it before it is exploited.

What he has in his favor is the fact that he is a celebrity and he has a high status in terms of being this film star, an A-lister, and he's worth a lot of money. So, there's commercial exploitation. Whether or not she's going to try and profit from it, that is where the courts will help you. ZAHN: But is this really going to damage his career if most of America sees this tape? Can he really make that argument?

ARENA: It is hard to say with a straight face.


ZAHN: In America, usually, these controversies end up increasing someone's audience by 30 percent or it makes them much more popular.

ARENA: Absolutely. You look at Paris Hilton. You look at Pamela Anderson, all the people that have been caught on tape. Show me an A-lister without a sex tape these days. It almost seems to further your career.

And when you look at irreparable harm, which, by the way, is what he is saying in this case, he is known as being a womanizer and a playboy and a darling of all the women.


ZAHN: And he's single. Hello?


GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: He's single. It is going to enhance his reputation maybe even more.

ZAHN: Let's talk about Cameron Diaz for a moment, because her situation is a little bit different. So, she was an undiscovered starlet at that point. John Rutter took his pictures. Does he have ownership of these pictures?

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: If he had an agreement that she signed, a release, stating that those photographs are his, because he did take them.

Now, what's going on in this court case right now, they've had experts testify to say that the signature that he claimed where she released those photos is bogus, that it is a forgery. I think she is going to prevail in this case, because he is trying to misappropriate them, sell them for money. And he tried to essentially bribe her and her agents in order to prevent the release of these. That's a criminal case. She's got a lot of legs to stand on in this one.

ZAHN: So, what is the lesson out there for folks who are watching who might have taken -- videotaped each other in what might be perceived as a compromised position to others?

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: In the world of romance, dating, and sex, lies and videotape, just say no. Try and pump the breaks, so to speak. Hold back and think about, would you want your mom or dad to see these in the morning?

ZAHN: Yes, but that's logical.

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Besides that, try and get a copy of the tape.

If you are going to do something like that, how about erasing it afterwards or securing it? That's what you have got to do. Common sense, maybe, because, other than that, you are kind of at the mercy of whoever you were with and you hope that you bedded down with somebody that had some class and good qualities and morals.

ZAHN: And if they don't, whoever has the camera really has the ownership of the....


GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Whoever has the camera, you go to the old adage, finders keepers, losers weepers, and possession is nine-tenths of the law. So, get it back or don't do it at all.

ZAHN: It sounds like you want to get involved with one of these cases from a prosecutor's point of view.



ZAHN: Keep us all entertained.

Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, always good to see you. Thanks.

We know that Kirstie Alley was on "Cheers." We know her from "Veronica's Closet" and "Fat Actress," But did you know about the hard times, the drug problems, and her incredible determination?


KIRSTIE ALLEY, ACTRESS: I gave myself a year. I said, I want the lead in a major motion picture within a year. And everyone said, you're nuts.


ZAHN: So, stay with us and see why Kirstie Alley is having the last laugh for a lot more reasons than you might realize.


ZAHN: So how's this for success. Kirstie Alley makes a hit out of a TV show about a fat actress, then she loses 40 pounds, and may actually be too thin for the role. We've been following the Emmy winning actresses ups and downs, and she's the focus of tonight's "People in the News."


KIRSTIE ALLEY, ACTRESS: America's fat. We're fat.

ZAHN: Kirstie alley is fat, funny, and feeling fabulous.

ALLEY: I'm having a ball. I'm having the best time of my life.

ZAHN: Alley's dramatic weight gain made her a constant tabloid cover girl. The 54-year-old comedian admits to tipping the scales at more than 200 pounds. But now she's flaunting her full figure and getting the last laugh.

ALLEY: People say to me, well what do you think about the tabloids? They either crush you, or you create something new for yourself that you think is funny, and you go with what you have.


ZAHN: Kirstie decided to poke fun at herself and the tabloids with her show "Fat Actress."

ALLEY: I mean look, John Goodman's got his own show. And Jason Alexander looks like a frickin bowling ball. How about James Gandolfino, he's like the size of a whale, he's way, way, way fatter than I am.

ZAHN: The outrageous Showtime series is loosely based on Alley's's life.

ALLEY: I need my fat pants.

ZAHN: It's the story of a portly out of work actress who's trying to lose weight and keep her career.

ALLEY: God! I'm shooting angles of my butt from the ground up, which would make Paris Hilton look like a cow. I'm doing everything I can to self-deprecate, make fun of myself and make myself look like a jerk. So, everybody's fair game, as far as I'm concerned.

BRENDA HAMPTON, EXEC. PRODUCER, "FAT ACTRESS": She can find the humor in the darkest situations, and maybe some of our situations are too dark for people. But she's just very funny.

ALLEY: Thank you.

ZAHN: In fact, some critics say the show has gone too far. Kelly Preston plays an anorexic diet coach.

KELLY PRESTON, ACTRESS: You are a novice, so start off easy. Start with the obvious. Barfing.


PRESTON: Use something beautiful. A Montblanc pen, a Cosinay (ph) chop stick. Point is, get creative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People do crazy solutions for things, and it is just sort of pointing it out in a humorous, light way. It doesn't make fun of people who have that as a real problem.

HAMPTON: I'm sure we've offended people, I've heard we've offended people. But the show is just for fun. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have an offer for you.

ALLEY: A job offer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's from Jenny Craig.

ZAHN: But don't shed any tears for Kirstie. Three months after she shot this scene, Alley really did become the spokesperson for Jenny Craig. Now, she's laughing all the way to the bank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The joke's on the show came first. It's a kind of funny story.

ALLEY: I'm dying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had Kirstie on our radar for a long time. Once we got serious in terms of our negotiations, she let us know about it. We thought it was in good humor.

ZAHN: Although Kirstie's gimmick is her girth, Alley wasn't always heavy. In fact, just the opposite. She originally earned her Hollywood reputation as a sexy starlet. In her book, "How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life," Kirstie writes about her naturally slim figure and willingness to flaunt it. Just one look at the photos in her book and it's easy to see the Kirstie's been a show off ever since childhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is complete completely eccentric. Truly, creatively, emotionally, in her personal life, in her career, she is literally one of a kind.

ZAHN: Kirstie Alley was born January 12, 1951 in Wichita, Kansas. The middle child of Robert and Lillian Alley. Kirstie's father owned a lumber company. Her mother took care of the family. Kirstie was outgoing and rebellious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She used to sneak out of the house, you know, with no makeup on when she was a teenager in high school in very plain clothes, and then, change into a vamp in the back of her friends car before they'd go out to -- using fake IDs to get into bars and ride on the back of motorcycles with guys.

ZAHN: In 1969 Kirstie graduated from high school, and began studying drama at Kansas State University. She dropped out after her sophomore year and married high school sweet heart Bob Alley.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They lived in Kansas City, and after they divorced a couple years later, she moved back to Wichita where she grew up.

ZAHN: Kirstie stopped pursuing acting and became an interior designer. She was also developing an addiction to cocaine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day at a wedding, a friend of a guy she was dating took her into the bathroom at the wedding and just rolled up a $100 bill, and said here snort this line. She did, and, it started a pretty bad habit that lasted about two or three years.

ZAHN: In her book, Kirstie writes that she felt out of control and needed help. A friend visiting from California said Scientology could cure her. She gave Kirstie a copy of the book "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard. After reading the controversial guide to mental health, Alley decided to give it a try. In 1980 she literally packed up all her possessions, moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in the Scientology rehab program.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was Scientology that picked her up off the ground, shook her up, the whole Narconon program, which isn't Scientology per say, but it was based on a few of the principles that Hubbard did, that he wrote about, it saved her life.

ZAHN: Kirstie claims she's never used cocaine again. She also credits Scientology with giving her the strength to pursue a career in acting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kirstie was taking acting lessons, and one of the student in her class recommended her to another student who was directing a film called "One More Chance." She only made a few hundred dollars, not much, but she was on her way.

ALLEY: I said I want the lead in a major motion picture within a year. And everyone said your nuts,

ZAHN: But in 1981, producers at Paramount saw the student film and asked Kirstie to audition for "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn." Alley's career was taking off, but then tragedy nearly destroyed her chance at fame. When we come back, the phone call that changed Kirstie's future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This may have been the toughest time in her life.


ZAHN: Kirstie Alley was a teenage rebel, college drop-out, and in her 20's, a cocaine addict. But after moving to Los Angeles, and beating that, she was on the verge of movie stardom in 1980. But what was shaping up as the best time in her life was about to become the worst. Here's more of our "People in the News" profile.


ZAHN (voice-over): In 1980, Kirstie Alley vowed she would be a celebrity within a year. In October 1981, she got her chance. Kirstie auditioned three times for a role in the second Star Trek movie. While waiting to hear about the part, Alley's sister called with devastating news, Kirstie's mom was killed and her dad seriously injured when a drunk driver hit their car.

TOM CUNNEFF, PEOPLE: This may have been the toughest time in her life. She was supposed to go back for a fourth audition and said she had to attend the funeral. That's OK. We will postpone it. Come back. She got back, auditioned. They gave her the role. She was playing Lieutenant Saavik.

ALLEY: Project parabolic course to avoid entering neutral zone.

ZAHN: Playing the role of the Vulcan vixen gave 30-year-old Alley her first taste of the Hollywood limelight. Several months later, Kirstie was introduced to former "Hardy Boy" Parker Stephenson. On December 22, 1983, Kirstie married the handsome actor.

ALLEY: And it gets you through the rough times. Because when you are not having such a good time, you can look over, oh, God, oh, you look good.

ZAHN: Kirstie starred in a number of mostly forgettable television and film roles. But in '87, her career took off. The brunette beauty got her break when she replaced Shelley Long on "Cheers."

The Thursday night comedy was one of TV's top rated and most loved shows.

ALLEY: Are you a man?

ZAHN: NBC's new bar hostess had a lot to live up to.

JAMES BURROWS, DIRECTOR, "CHEERS": When we show up at the table for the first read of the first show that Rebecca Howe was in, she came dressed as Shelley Long with a blond wig and a little, kind of -- I don't remember if it was a sweater, or something that Diane wore. And, it cut the tension -- I'm sure it cut the tension for her too.

ALLEY: Here you go.

ZAHN: Kirstie impressed the cast and critics, as well. In 1991, she won an Emmy for her performance as the neurotic and hapless Rebecca Howe. But more memorable than her award was Alley's racey acceptance speech.

ALLEY: I would like to thank my husband Parker, the man who has given me the big one for the last eight years.

It just came to me as I saw my husband out there, and his big blue eyes, and I thought I should give him a tribute.

ZAHN: Kirstie and Parker seemed to be living the perfect life.

ALLEY: Hey, slow down!

ZAHN: Alley landed a starring role in the "Look Who's Talking" films. And earned multimillion dollar pay checks. The pair adopted two children and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle.

They lived in a 9,000 square foot home in Encino. They had live- in security, full-time chefs, homes in Oregon and Maine. $15,000 shopping sprees at FAU Schwartz. They were the ultimate Hollywood couple when you think about extravagant excess.

ZAHN: In 1997, Alley returned to series television.

ALLEY: I found a bra in the cushion of the coach.

ZAHN: In "Veronica's Closet," Kirstie played the owner of a lingerie company going through a messy divorce.

ALLEY: I left him.

ZAHN: Alley's life was imitating her art. By the time the show premiered, Kirstie and Parker separated. Alley was broken up, but tried to hide her emotions.

KATHY NAJIMY, ACTRESS: I worked for three years, and the fun far overweighed the sadness.

ZAHN: Yet off camera, the divorce made headlines.

CUNNEFF: Kirstie and Parker's divorce is one of the nastiest in Hollywood. In the court papers, he documents how he helped nurture career, so, he was asking alimony and child support.

When they first met, he was the bread winner and she was a struggling actress. But by the end, she was the bread winner, and made $150,000 a week on Cheers. Eventually, they reached a settlement. And now have joint custody of their two children.

ZAHN: But even after their split, Kirstie remained a target for the paparazzi. She was dating "Melrose Place" hunk James Wilder, who was 13 years her junior. And even back then, any weight gain made tabloid headlines.

ALLEY: For 20 years of my career, I've been on the cover of the tabloids for being fat. I don't think most people know that. If I weighed 140, I was on the cover, 150, I was on the cover. So, it sells lot of magazines for them.

ZAHN: As Kirstie became larger, the job offers got slimmer.

ALLEY: Of course you become more and more limited because, well, let's face it, you know, love interest in movies aren't fat.

ZAHN: That's why Kirstie created "Fat Actress."


KELLY PRESTON, FRIEND: She wasn't getting another series, I guess. And so she wrote her own. She's like, girlfriend, you know, and gets out there and turns it around. And throws it on its face, which is so Kirstie.

ZAHN: While Alley is betting that America will find fat fascinating, both Kirstie and her character have reason to shed the extra pounds.

ALLEY: I'm not going to have sex with any man. No man will want me when I look like this. ZAHN: Alley says she hasn't had sex in four years. In an interview with "People" magazine, Alley insists she's not going to have sex while she's fat.

CUNNEFF: She's going to wait until she gets down to a weight she feels comfortable with -- about 145 pounds -- before she gets back in the sack.

ZAHN: And she hopes the weight won't be too long.

ALLEY: I've lost 30 pounds! Holla!


ZAHN: And for those of how are counting, since that interview, she's lost another 10 pounds. Watch out. Meanwhile, Showtime reportedly is decided whether to continue with "Fat Actress" or come up with another show for her.

Still ahead, why did a White House visit bring out the fashion police?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think these people just are slobs.


ZAHN: Ouch. Well, now, they are doing damage control from the ground up. And you can help. We'll explain when we come back. Please stay with us.


ZAHN: Still ahead: If you were invited to the White House, would you dress up or come as you are? But first, time for another update of the top stories with Erica Hill at "HEADLINE NEWS."

HILL: Thanks, Paula.

Relentless heat and a rising death toll in the Southwest. Record temperatures are causing dozens of heat-related deaths in Phoenix. The heat has now killed at least 13 people. Above-average temperatures extend all the way across the country, even as far north as Canada.

Parents of autistic children marched in Washington today. they say a mercury preservative in vaccines caused the autism and that the government should compensate them, but there's no hard proof the preservative is responsible. We should mention though, it has now been banned.

Everyone's favorite engineer has passed away. Actor James Doohan, Engineer Scott of "Star Trek" fame, was 85. He had been in poor health, suffering from the effect of Alzheimer's. And check out this monster the deep: An 1100 pound tiger shark hooked of Martha's Vineyard in a fishing competition. And you would think this guy would first prize, right? But unfortunately, he got to the dock six minutes late. Six minutes late for the deadline and so, a good story, but no trophy.

Paula, that's the latest from "HEADLINE NEWS." I'll hand it back over to you in New York.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. I'm not going swimming anywhere near there.

So, have you been thinking about what you would wear to meet the president?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's terrible that they wore those shoes. Terrible. I saw it on the plane.


ZAHN: Coming up: How can you get ahold of an historical footnote that offended the fashion police.


ZAHN: Beautiful night in New York City; a hot one, but we're not complaining.

Heads of state and Supreme Court nominees aren't President Bush's only guests at the White House, of course, but when he met with the members of Baylor's national championship women's basketball team this morning, a lot of people had only one question and the answer is: No. None of the women that you see in this picture chose to wear flip-flops. Well, that wasn't the case with another team recently. As Jeanne Moos shows us, some damage control is now afoot.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Going once, going twice, going all week: Now you can bid on the only flip-flops ever involved in a White House scandal. But first, let's retrace our steps.

(on camera): You wouldn't get caught dead in flip-flops at the White House?


MOOS: But some of these women did. The Northwestern University Championship Lacrosse Team posed with the president.

(on camera): And four of the girls in the front row wore flip- flops.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my. MOOS: "Oh, my," is nothing. One girl's brother sent her an e- mail: You wore flip-flops to the White House? That ended up on the front page of the "Chicago Tribune."

KATE DARMODY, NCAA LACROSSE CHAMPION: I wanted to make sure it was proper and appropriate, which is funny because apparently it wasn't.

MOOS: The recipient the brotherly e-mail bought her sun dress and matching flip-flops at Ann Taylor, but if you want really expensive flip-flops...


MOOS (on camera): And?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's on sale.

MOOS (on camera): So what?

MOOS (voice-over): The annual Manolo Blancs sale is the chicest (sic) shoe sale in New York. Salespeople carry shoe boxes as if they're carrying silver trays in a mobbed restaurant and here, the flip-flop took a beating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not OK to go anywhere dressed. I think they're horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are ugly. They're unattractive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's terrible that they wore those shoes. You wouldn't go to the White House like that.

MOOS (on camera): I wouldn't?


MOOS: Would you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think these people just are slobs.

MOOS (voice-over): Ouch. That's meaner than calling someone a flip-flopper.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No matter how many times my opponent flip-flops.

MOOS: Remember when the flip-flop was merely a political attack symbol?

(on camera): You wouldn't wear these to the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Are you kidding me? No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they make your feet look kind of stubby.

MOOS: A few folks came to the defense of wearing flip-flops to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it's hot, yes. They're young and they're athletic and they're -- it looks appropriate on them.

MOOS (on camera): The real scandal would be if George Bush had been wearing the flip-flops.


(voice-over): The team is auctioning off their now-famous flip- flops on E-bay to raise money for a faithful fan with a brain tumor. Maybe some of the shoppers at Manolo Blanc sale might want to bid on them, even if they wouldn't wear them to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're presenting yourself in front of the president. Flip-flops? No. Manolo Blancs, yes.

MATT LAUER, "TODAY" SHOW: At any point when you got to the White House, did you look around and say: Maybe this is a little inappropriate.

GROUP: Not at all.

MOOS: What the flip-floppers deemed inappropriate was what the softball team from the University of Michigan wore. Khaki shorts and sneakers make flip-flops look like the epitome of formal wear.


ZAHN: Oh, yeah? Well, four pairs of the lacrosse team's flip- flops are being auction off. The highest bid came in at $81. The auction ends next Tuesday.

And, speaking of White House visitors, if you were with us last night, most of the cameras were focused on President Bush and his Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, last night, but there was one camera that caught the Judge's son Jack. Check him out, crawling on the floor behind mom and sis, acting like a very bored four-year-old trying to keep himself amused.

And then, you know, wouldn't you feel that way if you were four years old? Well, all of us couldn't help but wound what it must have been like for his mother Jane at probably one of the most important professional moments of her husband's life. I think any of us that are parents could well understand that four-year-olds do have a way of telling us they're the boss from time to time and Jack clearly was when it came to the cameras.

We appreciate you all joining us tonight. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now. Good night, everyone.


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