November 24, 2009
Posted: 08:42 PM ET
Seattle, Washington (CNN) - When Amanda Knox's parents head to Italy for closing arguments in their daughter's murder trial they'll be carrying a present they hope desperately she can use soon: a plane ticket home.
In that purchase lies one family's entire hope.
Curt Knox and Edda Mellas say their daughter is nothing like the person they've seen depicted before and during her trial.
They grimace at the description prosecutors have used in court: that Amanda Knox was a resentful American so angry with her British roommate Meredith Kercher that she exacted revenge during a twisted sex misadventure at their home two years ago.
Prosecutors say Knox directed then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and another man infatuated with her, Rudy Guede, to hold Kercher down as Knox played with a knife before slashing Kercher's throat.
"She is totally nonviolent, almost a passive person," Mellas told CNN in a joint interview with her former husband.
So passive was Knox, the parents said, that she couldn't even continue a kickboxing class because she felt it was too violent. She was so caring, they said, that she would make her friends stop a car to let a spider out rather than kill it.
Posted: 06:10 PM ET
Potatoes & Politics:
Watch Larry King Live for a night of pomp and circumstance as President and Mrs. Obama host their first state dinner. The guests of honor: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife. We'll talk to Jennifer Hudson, who will perform at the very exclusive event. Plus, celebrity chefs Paula Deen and Wolfgang Puck join the conversation (Paula will also dish about her little run-in with a ham)! And don't miss former White House chefs reminiscing about their favorite state dinners.
President Obama's decision about troop levels in Afghanistan could come as early as next week. What is the President's strategy in the war? Has he taken too long to make a decision? We'll talk to Matthew Hoh, the former State Department staffer who quit in protest of the war in Afghanistan, and retired Gen. Wesley Clark.
That's all tonight at 9ET/6PT!
And we want to hear from you:
If you were hosting a state dinner, what would be on your menu?
Posted: 05:51 PM ET
Barack Obama does not have Angelina Jolie's seal of approval.
"She hates him," a source close to the U.N. goodwill ambassador, 34, tells the new issue of Us Weekly.
"She's into education and rehabilitation and thinks Obama is all about welfare and handouts. She thinks Obama is really a socialist in disguise," adds the source.
But don't expect to see the Salt actress rally against Democrats on Fox News like her staunch Republican father, Jon Voight.
"Angie isn't Republican, but she thinks Obama is all smoke and mirrors," the source says.
And those political views are putting her at odds with Brad Pitt, 45, who is a big fan of the president and even went solo to the 2008 election party in Chicago.
"They get in nasty arguments all the time about it," says the source. "She doesn't respect Brad when it comes to politics, but, in the end, this won't tear them apart."
Posted: 05:40 PM ET
"I'm not a babysitter, I'm a performer," Lambert, 27, tells Ryan Seacrest in an interview on the latter's Web site, adding, "The spirit of rock and roll is alive and well."
Not on ABC, which apparently didn't approve of Lambert's stage show in which he French-kissed a band member and simulated oral sex. The network has made it clear that Lambert won't be performing on its morning program. It cancelled an appearance on Good Morning America slated for Wednesday after receiving over 1,500 complaints about the Sunday broadcast.
The network says it doesn't feel he'd be appropriate for a morning audience. After the GMA cancellation, CBS asked Lambert to perform on its Early Show on Wednesday instead.
"I think the adrenaline kind of took me over," Lambert tells Seacrest. "I admit and I'm kind of proud of the fact that I did get a little carried away. I had a good time and I was merely interpreting the lyrics of my song. It wasn't meant to piss anyone off, it wasn't meant to hurt anyone or cause any problems."
But the reaction, he says, is far out of proportion to the offense.
"I don't feel like I owe anyone an apology," he says. "I did something female performers have been doing for years. All of a sudden a guy does it, and it's crazy. I do think there's a slight double standard."
His fans seem to agree. On Twitter, the topic #shameonYouABC has been a hot topic since the GMA cancellation was announced, with many fans accusing the network of homophobia and discrimination.
Though he doesn't hold any grudges against the network, Lambert says that at least people have more realistic expectations since his days on a reality-show competition.
"I'm sexual person, and maybe people didn't see that on American Idol," he says. "But now ... they do."
Posted: 05:25 PM ET
Note: Paula Deen, former White House chefs and Sally Quinn of the Washington Post join Larry tonight to dish about all the dinner details.
The menu? No meat. Instead, a selection that includes roasted potato dumplings or green curry prawns. Preceded by potato and eggplant salad and white house arugula with onion seed vinaigrette. Dessert features pumpkin pie tart and pear tatin.
Wines are from California, Oregon and Virginia. The entertainers? There's Jennifer Hudson, who won an Oscar for her turn in the film Dreamgirls. Also A.R. Rahman, who won two music Oscars this year for his work on Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire.
Expect a special version of that film's bouncy theme song, Jai Ho! Kurt Elling, a Grammy-winning jazz singer and composer, will perform, as will the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. About 400 guests will be in a big tent pitched on the South Side of the White House for the formal state dinner honoring India. The tent allows for nearly three times the crowd that could squeeze into the state dining room.
The guest list includes at least one Indian-American Republican: Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Also Hollywood types such as Steven Spielberg and super agent Ari Emanuel. And CBS anchor Katie Couric and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
First lady Michelle Obama has brought in a celebrity chef, award-winning Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit, a Scandinavian restaurant in New York City. "These state visits and dinners are a really important part of our nation's diplomacy," Michelle Obama said today. "Throughout history, they've given U.S. presidents - and the American people - the opportunity to make important milestones in foreign relations."
State dinners are a long-standing White House tradition. Since the time of George Washington himself, presidents have conduced business over meals with lawmakers and the occasional foreign diplomat. Tonight's state dinner closes a circle of sorts. The first formal state dinner that we know today was held Dec. 12, 1874, when President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife hosted King David Kalakaua of the Sandwich Islands - also known as Hawaii, the future state that in 1961 became the birthplace of one Barack Obama.
Posted: 11:40 AM ET
Christian music singer Steven Curtis Chapman’s 5-year-old daughter, Maria, was killed in an accident involving the family car 18 months ago. Cutris sits down with us to answer “5 Questions” about his faith, family and new album, “Beauty Will Rise,” a collection of songs that helped him cope with the tragedy.
Chapman will be one of Larry's guests on a special "Heroes" themed show at 8pm ET on Thanksgiving night.
LKL Blog: When you write, you draw on your faith, your experiences and your struggles - but how difficult was it to do this one in light of what you've been through in the past year and a half?
Chapman: Emotionally, it was the most difficult songs to ever write. But at the same time, they were - because I wasn't writing songs, really - all of the rules, all of the normal processes that I think through when I’m writing a song, I'm always thinking about the listener, I’m always thinking about the general rule – is this going to connect to someone who's driving down the road, will it connect to their life? What are the commonalities in all of that? But honestly, these songs were me literally just sitting down, writing in my journal, pouring my heart out. I’m not trying to think about how is anybody going to hear this. In that way, they were some of the easiest songs that I’ve ever written. But emotionally, the hardest for sure, because what it cost for these songs to come to be. But in terms of just pouring out my heart – they just kind of happened. They just came out.
LKL Blog: Was this the first time you were writing for yourself instead of for your audience?
Chapman: You know, that's a great way to put it. I haven't really thought of it in those terms but probably so. Definitely the first time I've ever written a collection of songs this way. I'd say there have been songs over the years that I've written that have been pretty selfish - like I'm just going to write this, probably nobody will ever hear it. I'm a terrible journaler. I've probably got 20 or 30 journals I've started just laying around the house somewhere. Every Christmas I get another one and say, "Ok, this is the year I'm going to be a good journaler." I'm just not good at that. I think these are – as I say – my musical journals. So definitely these are the ones just written the most for myself in this journey, and my family.
Posted: 08:44 AM ET
President Obama will announce within days whether he will send more troops to Afghanistan.
The U.S. commander on the ground has asked for more troops and Republicans have criticized Obama for the drawn-out consideration process. The White House has defended its timetable, saying the president wants to get the decision right, not fast.
Monday's meeting, which ended at 10 p.m., included Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, Afghanistan commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and other senior officials.
At the last war council meeting - on November 11, Veterans Day - Obama pushed for revisions in proposed plans for troop increases to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government.
Gibbs said before Monday's meeting that Obama would seek answers to the questions he posed on November 11 about "not just how we get people there, but what's the strategy for getting them out."
Sources said one option that has been presented to Obama calls for sending about 34,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, in addition to the 68,000 already committed to the country, with other options involving variations on that plan.
November 23, 2009
Posted: 07:07 PM ET
Editor's note: Personal finance expert, Suze Orman, is a frequent guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and writes a regular column for “O” magazine. We asked her to answer “5 Questions” about Oprah’s announcement on ending her popular talk show in 2011.
Programming note: Suze Orman will be one of Larry’s guests tonight, along with Oprah’s friend, Gayle King, and Oprah’s 4th grade teacher, Mary Alice Duncan, to talk about how Oprah is doing after her big announcement last week. Tune in at 9pm ET / 6pm PT to hear what they have to say!
LKL Blog: Tell me about your first experience meeting Oprah?
Suze Orman: It was at the start of 1998. I could not have been more nervous if I tried. Oh my god I was going to meet Oprah Winfrey and be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was like a little kid with nervousness, excitement and butterflies overtaking every part of my mind and body. This particular show was to be about a woman by the name of Lorna Wendt who was gong through a divorce with her husband Gary Wendt, who was CEO of GE Capital at the time. She wanted half of their joint estate in the divorce settlement, totaling about 50 million dollars for her, but was slated to get only 10 million dollars. She was not pleased with that amount and was voicing her opinion about it nationally. Obviously my segment was about divorce and the ramifications and emotional stress that one goes through in regards to money.
The producer in charge of my segment, Katie Davis, called me on the stage to take my place and get ready for the segment I was there to do. As I was brought on to the stage, Oprah came over and stood right there next to me. Obviously Oprah could feel and see how nervous I was; and before I knew it she reached out and held my hand in hers.
There I was, shaking and sweating all over Oprah Winfrey’s hand. All I could think was oh my God, I can’t sweat in Oprah’s hand like this. So I very gently removed my sweaty little palm from hers. As soon as I did that she looked at me and grabbed my hand back again this time holding it with a far firmer grasp. She held my clammy little hand in hers till she was ready to sit down and start our segment. There was not much time left in the show, maybe three minutes in total, but enough for Oprah to ask me a question that went something like this: “What is the key to life?” Okay now! As I sat there thinking, “Hey that was not a question I was told she was going to ask now what am I going to do,” I thought for a second and without missing a beat, I found myself saying something like this: “When you can be as happy in your sadness as you are in your happiness, then you know the key to life.”
With that Oprah looked at me and said, “We are gong to have to do an entire hour show on you.” She said goodbye to everyone and then she got up and was gone. I sat there all by myself in shock as I kept saying, “Did I just hear Oprah say she was gong to do an entire show with me?” Did that really just happen? Sure enough March of 1998 we did our first hour show together and the rest is history.
Posted: 05:38 PM ET
Ann vs. Al
It's a showdown between conservative commentator Ann Coulter and the Rev. Al Sharpton! They'll debate health care reform, the war in Afghanistan, Sarah Palin's viability as a 2012 presidential candidate and much more! Plus, why is Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a lifelong Catholic, barred from taking communion? Ann and Al never hold back - and tonight's no exception!
Murder for Hire Plot?
Michael Dippolito tells Larry how he became the alleged target of a murder for hire plot - devised by his own wife! Dippolito's wife, Dalia, allegedly hired a hit man to kill her husband. Only catch - the hitman turned out to be an undercover cop. Hear the just-released tapes between Dalia and the police officer - tonight ONLY on Larry King Live!
Oprah's Friends Speak Out
Oprah Winfrey tearfully told her audience that her show will come to an end in 2011 after 25 years of being on the air. Tonight, hear from her best friend Gayle King and Suze Orman, who regularly contributes to The Oprah Winfrey Show. Why did Oprah make the surprise announcement? What's next for the Queen of Talk? And don't miss a very special guest - Oprah's fourth grade teacher, Mary Alice Duncan. Oprah said the years she spent as a student in Mrs. Duncan's class were "defining moments" for her!
That's all tonight on Larry King Live at 9ET/6PT!
And we want to hear from you:
Who do you tend to agree with on political issues - Ann Coulter or Al Sharpton?
Posted: 01:50 PM ET
Hello, I'm the Frog you've been seeing all summer long. I'm the one in all those Prince's Rainforest Project videos on YouTube. Yes I've been on Pele's famous foot, I've been caressed by Harrison Ford, I've been held aloft by the Dalai Lama, I've even been cuddled by Robin Williams. Sir Richard Branson even tried to turn me into one of his beautiful red suited stewardesses. That didn't turn out so well.
Why all the fuss hey? Well I'm in trouble. Yep, me and whole load of other species out here in the Rainforest.
You know everyone now seems to be aware of the impact cars, power stations and planes have on climate-changing pollution, but not so many know we have to keep our remaining rainforests alive- standing up- not being cut down.
This viral video created by the Prince's Rainforest Project (click here to watch it and you'll see me at the end) aims to fill the gap and mobilize public support for action. It does a good job in delivering a powerful message while also allows the chance for everyone to make a positive difference.
Yes you too.
If enough people see the video and go to the website (rainforestsos.org) to signal their support for action, then perhaps world leaders will in the weeks ahead of Copenhagen be more persuaded to put in place some properly funded response to help the developing countries value their forests as worth more alive than dead.
Almost 15 million acres are cleared each year- causing billions of tons of carbon dioxide to be released. That's not good news. So please help a Frog in Need- Lend a Hand- well a click I guess- and watch this video, encourage others to watch it (all my frog friends have) and wait until the very end. The more people who see this, and act on it, the more likely it is that we'll get the response the world needs.
NOTE: OK, a Frog didn't really write this, but Kieran Baker did. He's Executive Producer of the Viral Video Campaign for the Prince's Rainforests Project.
Go Behind The Scenes
LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.
With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.