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16-Year-Old Charged as Adult in California Homicide; Hurricane Wilma Pounds Paradise; Some NBA Players Unhappy With New Dress Code

Aired October 21, 2005 - 20:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Paula has the night off.
Tonight, Wilma makes landfall in what might be a deadly dress rehearsal.


O'BRIEN (voice-over): The vacation from hell, sheltering from howling winds and pouring rain. Hurricane Wilma batters a tropical paradise. Is this what is in store for Florida?

What you didn't know about Johnny Carson and the dark side of celebrity, tormented by death threats and extortion demands -- surprising new revelations from the FBI's secret files.

And the NBA makeover. Off with the jewelry, on with the suits and, oh, drop the hip-hop.

ALLEN IVERSON, NBA PLAYER: I feel like if they -- if they want us to dress a certain way, they should pay for, you know, our clothes.

O'BRIEN: Role models or million-dollar crybabies?


O'BRIEN: Good evening.

Let's start with Hurricane Wilma. At this moment, it is a howling machine of destruction, delivering a prolonged beating as it moves across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The eye edged over the tourist island of Cozumel a few hours ago, creeping at a snail's pace, really, toward Cancun. But Wilma should also lose strength as it drags across land and also offer the folks in South Florida a little bit extra time to get out of the way.

But here's what the Yucatan is getting right now, sustained winds of up to 140 miles per hour, gusts even stronger than that. The center is crawling along at only five miles an hour. Beaches are being pummeled by waves as high as 20 feet.

Take a look at this. From our control room, we're watching our team of correspondents covering this storm, Jeanne Meserve live on the preparations from Florida. Severe weather expert Chad Myers is tracking the storm for us.

And we start with Susan Candiotti. She is in the thick of things in Cancun.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, if you're talking to me now, I can barely hear you.

You know, you hear all the comparisons, when a tornado swings through a town, that it reminds people of a freight train. That is what this sounds like. It has been a relentless roar for at least five hours. It has been just simply amazing. We ourselves used a wind meter and clock the wind of at least -- at although 150 miles per hour.

Let's show you what you saw, not only around here. We are at a beachside hotel. And, also, as we looked around (INAUDIBLE) not quite as bad. Take a look.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): A relentless pounding from Wilma, as it pummeled the coastline of evacuated seaside hotels, about 20,000 tourists put out of harm's way, residents holed up at schools and motel ballrooms in the center of town.

Not since Emily hit in July have conditions been so bad. CNN clocked winds of nearly 130 miles per hour. At one hotel about 40 straw tiki huts on the beach were swallowed into the surf, looking like toothpicks in the waves.

(on camera): There is debris in the roadway. Look at this pole over here on the left, this traffic light just bent over and is sitting on the highway, with the wind and the rain whipping around it.

(voice-over): The force of winds strong enough to blow out one of these windows on a hotel balcony.

(on camera): The post from this fence ripped out of the ground. And this thing is just ripping back and forth and back and forth, relentless pounding from wind gusts doing a number on what used to be a nightclub.

You can see that the covering has sheered off. All that's left is the frame. Listen to that canopy at Pat O'Brien's (ph). It almost sounds like gunfire.

(voice-over): Back at a hotel, chandeliers swayed precariously from the ceilings. A glass-walled foyer burst under the pressure. Pieces of sky roof wobbled, cracked and eventually crashed to the floor, one right after the other. And the word is, the conditions could last another day.



CANDIOTTI: Hey, Soledad, again I don't know if you can make out anything other than those palm trees behind me, but they are whipping every which way. Beyond that is a hotel swimming pool and the beach. You will have to trust me on that because you certainly can't see it. I can -- we are 27 feet above sea level, this platform about 20 feet up.

The structure of this hotel appears to be sound, although I have got to tell you, as indicated in that -- in that story that you saw earlier, you saw some of the ceiling crashing down. But, other than that, we appear to be in pretty good stead.

Right in front of me, some sliding glass doors. And our crew, Dominic Swan (ph), Doug Thomas (ph), Patrick Lautman (ph), they are all here. We have -- we are safe. We think we are, anyway, and we have not heard of any injuries, of any deaths in the area.

But , then again, Soledad, it has been extremely difficult to try to get ahold of anybody here -- back to you.

O'BRIEN: Also, Susan Candiotti.

Susan and everybody there, please be careful.

For a look now at what Wilma is doing right now and also where it might be heading, let's go right to our severe weather expert, Chad Myers.

Hey, Chad. Good evening.


The entire area here, anywhere from Playa del Carmen, with an offshore wind, actually coming on the backside, because they're on the bottom of the eye, to the north side of the eye, what is right now right over Cancun, right over that live shot. Susan couldn't be in any worse conditions. What is going to be ironic, though, if we wait three or four more hours, is that the eyewall may be right on top of her. Susan's location right there, on the seven, the hotel zone of Cancun, picking up wind speeds, according to the hurricane hunter aircraft, somewhere around 140 miles per hour.

And she said she measured a gust to 150. And that's amazing, with one of those little handheld anemometers, to get a wind speed that high, to even be able to hold your arm out. You just basically pout it behind -- you stand behind the building and you kind of set it out there and see what it reads.

But here is the rain coming in. This is the Cancun radar from a few hours ago. In fact, the radar actually stopped working. And you can figure out why. But the storm blowing that water, the wind and the waves and the storm surge right into Cancun, and then offshore here, from Tulum right into Cozumel, and right into downtown Cozumel, right here through the channel, where the ferry goes back and forth, just making all kinds of damage.

Just total destruction is what I'm afraid now in the hotel zone and even possibly into parts of old town Cancun, with sustained winds that just aren't stopping, because the storm isn't really moving. There's tomorrow afternoon. It is still over land. Finally, by Sunday, it comes off. And then, by Monday, it does make a run for the Florida coast as a Category 1 hurricane so far. But, if the storm doesn't linger over the Yucatan for very long, it could be stronger than that. We have to see.

The longer it stays over land, Soledad, the less likely it is to be strong as it hits the United States, because water makes a hurricane bigger. Land makes it die -- back to you.

O'BRIEN: So, bad news for the folks in Yucatan.

MYERS: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: And better news, though, for the folks in Florida.

MYERS: Right.

O'BRIEN: So to say.

All right, Chad, thanks.

MYERS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: If Wilma sticks to the projections -- and it's a pretty big if -- Florida communities like Marco Island and Naples could feel the brunt of the storm.

National security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is in Naples tonight. She just filed the report.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was up, up and away and out of harm's way for a beach cabana and just about everything else on Naples' beaches, except the sand and the surf.

But that is enough for this Ivo Krizek. He isn't ready to surrender his vacation to Wilma, not yet, anyway.

IVO KRIZEK, TOURIST: So, so far, it's still 600 miles away. So, I don't see any reason to be panicking yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you cold, Danny (ph)?

MESERVE: Karen Straub (ph) lives here and has absolutely no intention of leaving, no matter what the forecast, no matter what she saw in the aftermath of Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I -- I don't think Naples is built the way New Orleans was built. I think Naples will hold up much stronger, hopefully.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will keep our fingers crossed.

MESERVE: In fact, Naples and most of the surrounding area is about 10 feet above sea level.

Still, farther south, on Marco Island, where the hurricane warning flags were hoisted this morning, many tourists were packing up and heading out, heeding a mandatory evacuation order. Dale Martin, visiting here from Birmingham, England, was off for Orlando.

DALE MARTIN, RESIDENT OF BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND: Yes. It's my wife's 40th on Monday. So, we was planning to celebrate down here. But we will celebrate up there now, I suppose.


MESERVE: Prime coastal real estate, Marco Island is it. The hotels, posh condos and homes are assessed at $9 billion.

BILL MOSS, CITY MANAGER, MARCO ISLAND, FLORIDA: Fortunately, for us, most of these homes have been built to the latest standards of the Florida building code. So, they can with -- withstand substantial winds. On the other hand, storm surge will cause problems for us.

MESERVE: And it is not just property on the beachfront that is threatened.

CHIEF ROGER REINKE, MARCO ISLAND, FLORIDA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's -- about 70 percent of our single-family homes are on canals that are -- they're tile canals. So, they're -- you know, it's tidal water that is directly -- would be directly influenced by the tidal surge.

MESERVE: Officials estimate, if the surge reaches 16 feet, 30 percent of the structures in Collier County be badly damaged, a bit hard to imagine on a day like today.


MESERVE: Officials here are concerned -- are concerned that the long lag in Wilma's arrival means that people here will be left frustrated, maybe even jaded. They are talking about something called hurricane -- hurricane fatigue. But there is an upside. It gives more people here, everybody here, more time to either get ready or get out -- Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Yes, a really -- really big upside.

All right, Jeanne Meserve for us tonight -- thanks, Jeanne.

We want to remind you to keep it right here on CNN. We are your hurricane headquarters for the very latest on this very dangerous storm.

Still ahead tonight, we are learning new details about that 16- year-old suspect in the brutal killing of the wife of famed defense attorney Daniel Horowitz.

That's ahead. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: A major development to tell you about tonight in the case involving the murder of Pamela Vitale, the wife of defense attorney and TV legal analyst Daniel Horowitz. The 16-year-old suspect in the case is being charged as an adult with murder. He faced arraignment just a few minutes ago. His bail was set at $1 million.

Ted Rowlands has been covering the story for us.

Ted, good evening to you. What's the very latest on this?


Scott Dyleski, a 16-year-old boy, is being treated as an adult by Contra Costa County in Northern California. And today, as you mentioned, he made his first court appearance. He is being accused of murder. He was arraigned today, but he did not enter a plea. His lawyer was not available. He'll be back in court next Thursday, presumably to enter a plea.

Scott Dyleski is accused killing 52-year-old Pamela Vitale at her home on the estate where she and Daniel Horowitz lived for many years in the city of Lafayette. This young man, Scott Dyleski, according to a source familiar with the case, is accused of beating Ms. Vitale to death with a piece of crown molding. He then, they -- they say, etched in her back a cross-like symbol -- a truly gruesome crime. And, for that reason, he is being treated as an adult tonight and remains in jail.

O'BRIEN: So, he's being charged as an adult. Does that mean definitively, Ted, that he is actually going to go to trial as an adult? Or is there room for appeals?

ROWLANDS: There is room for appeal, if his defense attorney wants to contest it. They can -- they can ask the judge for a hearing in juvenile court to see that if -- to see if he is fit under the guise of the juvenile court system.

But the bar there is, do you think a young man at the age of 16 can be rehabilitated by the age of 25, no matter what he did? The prosecution is going to say, no. Given the horrendous nature of the crime, he -- he remained -- he should remain in adult court. And, quite frankly, odds are he will be in adult court and then in the adult system.

O'BRIEN: You know, you talked about the horrendous nature of the crime. I mean, some of the details are just brutal. Do -- do the police have any better sense of a motive now?

ROWLANDS: They believe that he was on the property and that, at some point, he and Pamela Vitale had some sort of interaction, according to our source. He was involved in a credit card scheme, which -- which involved stealing credit card numbers. And they believe that there could be a chance that he was involved in that and either -- and -- going to the mailbox or going up to the house for some reason as part of that and -- and had an interaction with this woman. But they are not sure how he got into the house and what the exact relationship between the families were.

O'BRIEN: Any more information about this young man?

ROWLANDS: Well, talking to his friends, they say, over the last few years, he has changed dramatically, the last four or five years. They say he used to be a clean-cut young man, played baseball, was a Boy Scout at one point.

If you look at his photograph, you can see, he made some obvious changes to his wardrobe and his appearance. The say he was withdrawn, dressed all in black and -- and was into the Gothic lifestyle and -- in the past few years. One friend also mentioned that he sort of went downhill after he lost his sister, who died in a traffic accident about three years ago in the Bay area here.

O'BRIEN: Is he going to face the death penalty in this?

ROWLANDS: No. He can't face the death penalty, because he's only 16 years old.

But, because there could be a special circumstance added on to this, he could spend his entire life in jail, despite his young age of just 16.

O'BRIEN: All right. Ted Rowlands has been covering the story for us from the very beginning.

Thanks, Ted.

Coming up next, a call to strengthen the warning labels on drugs like Viagra. Can that drug really cause blindness? We're going to meet a man who says the impotence cure cost him his sight.

Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Tonight, there's a call to strengthen the warning labels on drugs like Viagra, because some people have gone blind after taking the anti-impotence drugs. The recommendation comes from the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Between 1998 and 2004, there have been about 100 complaints of vision problems out of 89 million prescriptions for Viagra. Well, Public Citizen says that's enough to justify putting the strongest possible warning in a black box on the drug.

Tom Foreman spoke with one man who says he lost most of his sight after he took Viagra. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a house on the outskirts of Houston, every minute, every day, Jim Thompson remembers his loss.

JIM THOMPSON, VIAGRA USER: When it first happened, it was dreadful.

FOREMAN: Remembers the morning he looked in the morning, after months of minor eye troubles...

THOMPSON: Fuzzy vision. Seeing flashing lights and things like that.

FOREMAN: ... and found he was going blind.

THOMPSON: I had the impression I was standing in fog up to my chest, because I couldn't see anything below that level.

FOREMAN (on camera): This through here is just a blank? This area?

THOMPSON: From this side, over and from here, down to here and over to here: This is all blacked out.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Jim's doctor told him he had suffered a rare type of mini-stroke that cuts off the blood supply to part of the eye, killing it. And the damage was irreversible.

(on camera): You even have difficulty now, walking through your own garden.

THOMPSON: Yes. I have to be careful so that I don't trip over, because -- when I look -- I did it now -- when I look straight ahead, I don't see the ground with both eyes.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Jim was devastated. He was in generally good health. The only medication he was taking, after successful treatment for early-stage prostate cancer, was Viagra. He says his doctors told him, although the impotence affects blood flow, it could not cause blindness.

But now Jim wants something astonishing from Pfizer, the maker of Viagra...

THOMPSON: I want them to admit that their drug is dangerous. That there's a problem with -- that some people are going to take this drug and they're going to end up blind.

FOREMAN: Can this be true? Can this highly successful drug be making people lose vision?

Ronnie Penton says: Yes. He's the lawyer who helped Jim file the first suit ever against Pfizer over this and he says, he's collected more than a hundred complaints. RONNIE PENTON, ATTORNEY FOR JIM THOMPSON: The majority of the men complain of vision and blindness ranging from everything from blurred vision to loss of visual acuity in certain planes; to total blindness in certain planes.

FOREMAN: The Food and Drug Administration has heard 43 complaints like that about Viagra and other impotence drugs. And although the FDA says there's no proof of a connection, Pfizer has agreed to include information about the complaints on Viagra's label.

But Pfizer is also making it clear: Out of 13,000 clinical tests, not one Viagra user suffered any permanent vision loss. Pfizer has long said Viagra can cause temporary, minor vision problems, but Dr. Michael Berelowitz says those have nothing to do with serious, permanent loss and nearly 30 million men have used Viagra.

DR. MICHAEL BERELOWITZ, VICE PRESIDENT, PFIZER: We should stay with what we know right now and that is that this very, very rare condition seems not to occur with people who take Viagra any more than the same people who do not.

FOREMAN: And Pfizer points out: Older men, the most likely to use Viagra, are also the most likely to suffer from other conditions that can lead these blinding mini-strokes.

(on camera): You're a man in his 60s. You've had some high blood pressure. You've had some high cholesterol. All of these could cause the problem you had.

THOMPSON: No. I have ruled that out in my mind, because it just was too tightly connected to the timing of taking the drug.

FOREMAN: How many of these do you have?

THOMPSON: I've got 27 boxes.

FOREMAN: Just like this one?

(voice-over): Jim Thompson is no doctor, but he knows once he loved reading, now his books are packed away.

(on camera): You just can't read well enough to enjoy them anymore?

THOMPSON: No. It's no fun anymore.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Once he loved gardening. Now he hires the work out. And once he thought he was taking a drug that was perfectly safe. He doesn't think that anymore.


O'BRIEN: That was Tom foreman reporting.

Much more ahead tonight -- as if things in New Orleans aren't bad enough, now there's talk that the city's beloved NFL team might move to Texas. Well, you can imagine how that's going over with the fans.

First, though, the other -- hour's other top stories from Christi Paul at Headline News. Christi?


More indications tonight of how fast the bird flu is spreading. Tests on wild birds in Bulgaria and Croatia have turned up the virus. And the British government says a parrot imported from South America tested positive for avian flu.

The production of the antiviral drug Tamiflu is speeding up, as more drug companies are licensed to produce it -- the latest, India's top drugmaker Ranbaxy.

In Austin, Texas, Republican Congressman Tom DeLay says he was happy to have his day in court. He was there to answer charges of money-laundering and conspiracy.

Washington police blew up suspicious packages in a car parked near the U.S. Capitol today -- no explosives, but the driver was taken into custody.

And, in a story we continue to follow, there may be more arrests coming in the deaths of at least 140 patients in New Orleans hospitals and nursing homes. A husband and wife, owners of a nursing home, already face negligent homicide charges in the deaths of nursing home residents who were not evacuated.

That's it from Atlanta -- Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right, thanks, Christi.

Still ahead tonight, why are so many millionaire NBA stars upset over a little thing like a dress code?


IVERSON: I feel like if they -- if they want us to dress a certain way, they should pay for, you know, our clothes.


O'BRIEN: How the NBA is cracking down on the bling-bling.

Also, could things get worse for New Orleans? How about this, talk their NFL team could be moving to Texas?


O'BRIEN: Is somebody taking the bling out of the NBA? The league wants to make over its image, so it is imposing an off-the- court dress code. Some players complain, though, the move doesn't just crimp their style; it also might have some hidden racial motives.

Keith Oppenheim has our story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a practice for the Chicago Bulls, the chatter wasn't just about what players were doing on the court. It was also about what they will be wearing off it.

Chicago Bulls' Ben Gordon:

BEN GORDON, NBA PLAYER: I actually scheduled some time today to go pick up some more, you know, like dressy clothes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now Artest has jumped over the scorer's table!


OPPENHEIM: After an ugly brawl last season between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers NBA Commissioner David Stern decided the league needed to clean up its image and part of that is a new dress code.

That means when players are on league business no t-shirts, chains, doo-rags or sideways caps. Instead sports coats and slacks. Starting in November, business casual is the order of the day and the emphasis is on order.

ALLEN IVERSON, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: I feel like if they want us to dress a certain way they should pay for, you know, our clothes.

OPPENHEIM: The Philadelphia 76ers Allen Iverson, who makes millions of dollars a year by the way, was one of the players who said the new rules go too far.

The Indiana Pacer's Stephen Jackson was even more outspoken, saying the ban on chains was a racist statement attacking young black males and their culture.

STEPHEN JACKSON, INDIANA PACERS: I love wearing my jewelry, but, you know, I love my job more.

OPPENHEIM: Other players like Cleveland's LeBron James said the demand to look professional is a good thing.

LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: You know, we should look, you know, like we're going to work.

OPPENHEIM: And if there are wardrobe malfunctions the consequences could be tough.

(on camera): Commissioner Stern says players who violate the code could be fined. Repeat offenders could be kicked out of the league. However, players may be reacting to all this, the question becomes what will the new clothes really do to dress up the image of the NBA?

(voice-over): Sports Marketing Analyst, Mark Ganis, doesn't believe the rules will turn off the hip-hop generation, but he does think the big money ticket buying crowd will appreciate the players new look.

MARK GANIS, SPORTSCORP: They are going to work. Even if they are sitting at the end of the bench because they have an injury, they are still going to work. And the NBA wants to have that impression given.

OPPENHEIM: Still, players are divided and some see this change in appearance as a cultural shift for black and white players.

TYSON CHANDLER, CHICAGO BULLS: You see a lot of Caucasian young men out there wearing jewelry and hats and the Eminems and things like that. So, I wouldn't necessarily say it is racist but it is definitely against the hip-hop culture.

OPPENHEIM: Unless, of course, as some players suspect hip-hop culture is becoming more formal and might actually make business casual the look of the next generation.


O'BRIEN: That was Keith Oppenheim reporting. Mark Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He's been pretty vocal about this issue on his blog. He joins us this evening, nice to see you, Mark. Thanks for talking with us.


O'BRIEN: So, what do you think? Dress code, good idea or bad idea?

CUBAN: You know, I understand why we did it. I actually think it's not a bad idea. I just think the timing of it was awful. I think we could have done it right after the season ended when it wouldn't have been an issue and it wouldn't have distracted anybody from the start of the season. So, good idea, bad implementation.

O'BRIEN: You know, when you hear someone like Allen Iverson, say, well, who makes, what? Sixteen plus million dollars say, well, I'm going to need a wardrobe allowance, if I'm going to change, what do you make of that?

CUBAN: Well, you know, it's like any other change in the workplace. Your first response probably always isn't your smartest or your best response. And so when the camera is rolling sometimes it's easy to get carried away.

But, you know, Allen, I know he's going to follow the dress code and Marcus Camby's going to follow the dress code. And, you know, it will be forgotten and it will be a non issue in just a little bit.

O'BRIEN: You think? Because there are pretty severe penalties. I mean, players could get fined if they don't follow the dress code. And then if there are repeated violations they actually could be kicked off the team. Do you that think we're going to see any of that?

CUBAN: Yes, I don't think that's going to happen. Though the reality is, Soledad, that most teams already have an informal dress code.

I mean, we had a kid last year wear the nastiest ugliest velour sweat suit you could ever possibly imagine. And we educated him very quickly. I mean, there are some teams that require suits wherever you go.

It was just unfortunate that there are some owners and there some people across the league that don't have relationships with their players and felt the need to get the league to do an edict across the entire league and it made a bigger issue than it was.

O'BRIEN: You know, there are some players as you heard just a moment ago in that piece, and as you know, who think that this is really a race issue. That it's not even a subtle race issue. That this is a race issue being disguised as sort of a clothing issue.

CUBAN: Yes, I mean, I sit in these owner meetings. It's not a racial issue, it's purely a generational issue. I mean, if we had a bunch of guys who looked like they were in DZ Top with long beards they would have the same problems, they wouldn't be able to understand them.

You know, these are the kids or the people -- these are probably the same guys that wanted to prevent Elvis Presley from being on the Ed Sullivan Show because, you know, he was the Devil incarnate. It's just a lack of understanding. It's not -- there's not any racism behind it.

O'BRIEN: But, a generational issue, I mean, you have someone like LeBron James who is, what, 20 years old, he's fine with the policy. And Allen Iverson is no spring chicken. The guy is 30 years old, right?

CUBAN: Right, right, and, you know, Allen came along. And he's fine with it, too.

It's just, you know, whenever there's a change in the workplace, I don't care where you work, you might even work at the Dairy Queen, and when they dictate things and there's a change, then, you know, people don't always respond positively at the beginning, but then like anything else you get used to it or you lose your job. And that's exactly what is going to happen here. That's just part of the business in the NBA.

O'BRIEN: Think dress code is going to make any kind of difference, Mark?

CUBAN: A dress code -- no, certainly not going to make a difference in my life. And like I said, most guys it's not going to change them.

The more important thing is character. And I think that's the thing that's being missed here. Everybody thinks there is some underlying issue that this is trying to resolve. And that kind of makes people think that there's a character issue.

And the reality is, I mean, I have managed companies and large and small with a very young work force, and I have a whole lot fewer problems with NBA work force than I do with anybody else. I mean it's crazy.

O'BRIEN: Mark Cuban, nice to see you dressed up for our interview by the way. Appreciate that.

CUBAN: At least there's no holes.

O'BRIEN: It's all relative, right. Mark, thanks.

CUBAN: Yeah, exactly. Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Coming up next, a devastated city, hundreds of thousands of people homeless and out of work. So, what else could go wrong in New Orleans? Well, now there's talk, their beloved NFL team might move out permanently.

Then later, surprising new revelations tonight about Johnny Carson, the secrets he kept and the dark side of his fame only coming to light in FBI files. That's ahead.


O'BRIEN: A lot of people from New Orleans feel tonight like they are getting kicked while they are down. They are seething over reports that the owner of the New Orleans Saints, the city's NFL franchise, is thinking about moving the team to San Antonio.

That owner, Tom Benson, said today he won't make a decision until the season is over. But the mayor of San Antonio makes no bones about it, he's wooing the team and hard. Ed Lavandera has our report.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tom Benson owns the New Orleans Saints football team but these days a lot of people here think he's a lot closer to the Devil.

LEE ZURIK, NEW ORLEANS SPORTSCASTER: If you would go in the history of the state right now, he would rank number one on the list of most despised by Louisianians, no doubt, no doubts.

LAVANDERA: Benson wants to move the Saints from New Orleans to San Antonio. Lee Zurik is a lifelong Saints fan, now he covers the team for his hometown television station WWL. He says you have to live in New Orleans to understand why so many people cherish the Saints even if the team is usually pretty mediocre. ZURIK: They are not only a big part economically, but just as far as to people's hearts and they love the saints and it would be like losing a family member to a lot of people.

LAVANDERA: For a city already worried about how it's cultural landscape will change after Hurricane Katrina, that kind of news is just depressing for fans like street musician Nick Molina.

NICK MOLINA, MUSICIAN: It's a horrible thing, a horrible thing for the city. And for Benson to kick us when we're down, he's really a horrible person, probably.

LAVANDERA: Refrigerators on the streets have become billboards for people's anger. They say "mail your maggots to Texas," and don't open because Tom Benson is inside. Even politicians are less than diplomatic in their disgust for the Saints owner.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: And I will tell you this, and this is probably going to be very controversial but I'm going to say it anyway. We want our Saints. We may not want the owner back.

LAVANDERA (on camera): If the Saints football team and the city of New Orleans do divorce, the fight will be over this: the team name and the team logo, two things that have come not only to symbolize a football team but an entire city.

(voice-over): Saints officials say they have made no decisions about the team's future. Fans say that this is crunch time when Benson's loyalty and friendship to this city will be truly tested.

MOLINA: If he loves this city, he'll stay in New Orleans. If he loves money he'll leave. I guess he loves money more than he loves this city, and he has plenty of that.

LAVANDERA: Nick Molina is back on Bourbon Street, but all he wants is a chance to strum the favorite tune on the day his favorite team comes back home, even if they are lovable losers.


O'BRIEN: Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco is working to keep the Saints in New Orleans. She says she -- that NFL president, rather, Paul Tagliabue assured her he supports the city's recovery. Blanco and the NFL chief are going to meet on Sunday, which is when the Saints play in Baton Rouge.

When we come back, millions of us adore Johnny Carson, but only now after his death are we learning about the dark side of his fame.

Also, we are tracking Hurricane Wilma and we'll meet a stormchaser who knows exactly what it is like to ride out a killer hurricane.


O'BRIEN: For 30 years on TV Johnny Carson was the friendly, funny and reassuring presence for all of us. Well now, nine months after his death, FBI files are revealing what he never wanted any of us to see, the personal torment he kept hidden during the height of his fame. Here is Brooke Anderson.


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Johnny Carson ruled late night TV with a light touch. He kept generations of Americans laughing with his skits, monologues and witty repartee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't know that all these fans are so interested in film personalities they would like to come, you know, and even just look at your house and your shrubs, that sometimes it's rather embarrassing, but ...

JOHNNY CARSON, HOST, "TONIGHT SHOW": I would love to see your shrubs.

ANDERSON: The public adored him.


CARSON: Thank you, I love you, too.

ANDERSON: But success had a dark side, darker than anyone realized. Until now.

BILL ZEHME, AUTHOR: There were threats and reasons for him to be cautious very early on.

ANDERSON: Johnny Carson, America's king of comedy, a man beloved by millions endured a series of death threats and extortion plots in the 1970s and '80s. It's all here in an FBI file three inches thick, hundreds of pages obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Among the documents, a 1976 letter sent to NBC Studios that read, "if Johnny Carson don't send me $6,000, I will kill him." A grainy facsimile shows artwork that accompanied a letter, a picture of Johnny and an unidentified woman with bullet holes drawn on their foreheads.

A 1977 letter from someone else warned Carson, it is "time for our OK Corral." One person sent a mail-gram to Carson's sidekick Ed McMahon warning him his boss would soon be killed. Bomb threats, grenade attacks -- the FBI quietly investigated dozens of extravagant plots against the entertainer from 1973 to 1990.

Carson's easy on air demeanor gave no hints what was going on behind the scenes, and he didn't let the threats alter his routine.

ZEHME: I suspect this goes directly to his Midwestern roots. He did not want to live any kind of a compromised life. He wanted to just come and go as he pleased, and he was a guy who was unfettered by security thugs.

ANDERSON: "Tonight Show" band leader Doc Severinsen told CNN in a statement, "Johnny never talked about the death threats. He drove himself to work and he didn't have security guards around to protect him. There was not any extra security or precautions taken at the NBC lot. After you entered the gates, you could roam freely on the grounds and Johnny did."

Author Bill Zehme, who became a Carson confidant, says the late night host helped authorities pursue one would-be extortionist.

ZEHME: He was wired and left his office in Burbank with a sack full of money, thousands and thousands. Johnny stopped and made the drop-off at I think a trash bin. I believe they caught the culprit.

ANDERSON: That Carson was the object of death threats and extortion demands comes as no surprise to security expert John Lane of the Omega Threat Management Group.

JOHN LANE JR. OMEGA THREAT MGMT. GROUP: There's volumes of material that is sent to a number of celebrities. It's not uncommon at all. So the reality is it's part of the negative side of the business.

ANDERSON: He says celebrities of Carson's magnitude inevitably attract that kind of unwanted attention.

LANE: The irony always is that people in the industry go out of their way to make themselves known, to make themselves recognizable and the downside is that people do attach themselves in a negative way to these individuals ultimately.

ANDERSON: Most of the threats against Carson have never been disclosed until now, but a few incidents were made public earlier. In 1989 a woman pleaded guilty to carrying a knife outside NBC Studios, where the "Tonight Show" was taped. That same year, Carson testified against a man who was arrested for allegedly stalking him.

Whether the threat was publicized or hidden away in FBI files, Carson seemed to take it in stride. Just as he was smooth on the air, Zehme says Carson kept a step ahead of anyone who might harm him.

ZEHME: It worked out for him, you know? He was a moving target and nobody ever got close.

ANDERSON: Johnny Carson died of natural causes last January at the age of 79.


O'BRIEN: That was Brooke Anderson reporting.

Still ahead tonight, as we track Hurricane Wilma, we'll meet a man who's faced down monster storms. First, though, time for HEADLINE NEWS business break with Christi Paul.


O'BRIEN: Coming up next, back to the hurricane watch, and we're going to meet somebody who will jump right in when a storm is bearing down. We'll meet a storm chaser who toughs it out through the most dangerous weather. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: While thousands in Florida scramble tonight to get out of the way of Wilma, there are some people who head straight into the heart of a hurricane. In just a moment, we're going to meet a man who can't stay away from a powerful storm. He and his partner put themselves in harm's way, literally, to capture nature at its most furious.

First, though, here's a little bit of what they brought back from Katrina.


JIM REED, STORM CHASER: Hurricane Katrina. Category 4. (INAUDIBLE) Mississippi. August 29th, 2005. It has gutted the hotel.


O'BRIEN: Jim Reed is one of the men who shot that videotape. His colleague, Mike Theiss, is in Florida tonight. He is stalking Wilma. The two have a book out now. It's called "Hurricane Katrina Through the Eyes of the Storm Watchers." Thanks for coming in to talk to us.

REED: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: What was it really like? Describe for me as best you can what it's like the moment the hurricane literally passes right over your head.

REED: It's a ferocious sensation of wind. The salt in the air, it's stinging your eyes. We try to stay out of the direct path of the flying rain, and certainly the flying debris.

O'BRIEN: You talk a lot about how it sounds.

REED: For me personally, it's the sounds that I remember the most. Now, Mike Theiss, my partner in Katrina, might tell you otherwise. But it's the sound as well as the visuals.

O'BRIEN: When we were covering Hurricane Katrina, the reports about how quickly the storm surge came up. I mean, 12 feet in some places, in really half an hour, 30, 45 minutes.

REED: That's it. That's it exactly. And what we did was we were inside the ground floor of the hotel where we had shelter. Documented the surge coming in, I should say, as long as we could, and then we were forced into the stairwell. Because the water pushes in, and then eventually it's just too unsafe to stay there.

And by the time it was over, as you mentioned, like 30 to 40 minutes, the water was up to the second floor. And we did measure a 27-foot storm surge.

O'BRIEN: You have to be obviously incredibly brave to do this, but are you afraid?

REED: I think you're brave to admit that you're afraid. And if we didn't admit we aren't at least sometimes afraid, that wouldn't inspire us to pack very carefully. We pack helmets, rope, portable radar, first aid, you name it, we've got it.

O'BRIEN: You're pretty careful.

REED: Oh, yes.

O'BRIEN: You talk about Hurricane Charley -- and we have pictures of this -- where you really were afraid. I mean, you were fearing for your life. I want to listen to just a little bit of what you said.


REED: This is Hurricane Charley. For the past five minutes or so, we have been experiencing winds in excess of 100 miles an hour. It is tearing off roofs.


O'BRIEN: What was going through your mind then?

REED: Charley was a very special storm. It caught a lot of us by surprise. It intensified very quickly at the last minute. And it also changed its direction. So we were still doing what we call reconnaissance work, and got caught in the middle of a neighborhood and could not get back to our original shelter.

And consequently, we had to take a shelter of last resort. And it's one of the few times -- in fact, it's the only time where I felt like -- and I think my chase partner, Greg Zamaripa (ph) at the time, who was a meteorologist, also thought this was it, we're not getting out of this one.

O'BRIEN: How about Katrina? I know that was a very scary storm for you, too. That was a brutal storm.

REED: It wasn't as scary as you might think, because we had rehearsed it, we had practiced, we've been at that hotel four times. I knew the architectural work of the hotel.

The only surprise were very minor ones, that were actually interesting scientifically. Like for example, while shooting the storm, I was amazed at how warm the water actually felt. Because you're standing in it. And it's something you might take for granted until it is actually wrapping around you. And it's as warm as bathwater.

Well, you can't stay, obviously. It's very dangerous. But that, and then also, how fast the surge moved out. We saw pictures of Louisiana, with a lot of flooding that stayed for days, but in Gulfport, not only, as you pointed out earlier, did the storm surge come in very quickly, but once the eye passed just to our west, it moved out very quickly, as well.

O'BRIEN: Why do you do this?

REED: I think to discover and also to learn what's next. There's a compulsion, if you will, to learn as much scientifically -- this is a fascinating period. I had great science teachers growing up as a kid that always inspired us to ask why. And this is a great period to ask why.

O'BRIEN: For your colleagues who are covering Wilma. How do they know exactly where to go, when you have forecasters who are saying big cone of uncertainty, we don't really know what's going to happen...

REED: Very big.

O'BRIEN: How do you know where to go?

REED: It's largely due -- it's largely based on what you know, how you can read the what we call the track models, the forecast model. It's your experience, and quite frankly I think it has a lot to do with gut instinct.

O'BRIEN: And you got a lot of that. Jim Reed, nice to have you. Thanks for talking with us.

REED: Likewise. Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: We sure appreciate it.

Well, thanks for joining us tonight, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien. Paula is back on Monday, and "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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