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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Clementi Case Verdict; Interview with Magic Johnson and Cookie Johnson

Aired March 16, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ARSENIO HALL, GUEST HOST: Hi, America. I'm Arsenio Hall, in for Piers Morgan.

Remember this moment from my show, "The Arsenio Hall Show" back in 1992?

That was the moment that changed the way we elect our president. And tonight, I want to talk to a man who cover that presidential race and everyone since. CNN's amazing John King.

Also, a verdict in the hate crimes trial that shocked America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did commit the offense of invasion of privacy, knowing the conduct would cause T.C. to be intimidated because of sexual orientation -- not guilty or guilty?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: I'll ask Lisa Bloom and Dr. Drew if justice is served.

And I'm talking to a sports legend who's also a good friend of mine, a star so great -- he could only be called "Magic". The great Magic Johnson, he's here with his wife Cookie, and we're going to talk about how this changed both of their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGIC JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Because of -- the HIV virus that I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: Plus, tonight's "Only in America". Presidential bracketology explained.

This is Arsenio Hall tonight.

(MUSIC)

HALL: Good evening. I'm Arsenio Hall, in for Piers Morgan. Our big story tonight is the verdict in the Tyler Clementi case. He's the Rutgers University freshman who killed himself in 2010 after he learned that his roommate had used a hidden webcam to spy on his sexual encounter with another man.

And today, that roommate, Dharun Ravi, was convicted on most of the charges.

Joining me to talk about the case that shocked the nation, Attorney Lisa Bloom, author of "Think," and Dr. Drew Pinsky host of HLN's "Dr. Drew."

Let's start legally. Take the nation through this decision.

LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: It's a fairly complicated decision. There were 15 counts alleged. He was found guilty of most of the 15.

What the jury had to do was look at a set of facts that were pretty clear. We know from all of the technological evidence, about the tweets, about the e-mails, about where the computer and webcam was, we know the defendant put a webcam unbeknownst to the victim, in the dorm room and videotaped him having sex with another man, that he tweeted about it, he e-mailed about it, and a lot of negative language about gay men. So, that was all very clear.

But the hard thing for the jury was to get inside the mind of Mr. Ravi, the defendant, and get inside the mind of the victim, Mr. Clementi. You know, they have to do that in criminal law all the time and it's very difficult.

And what the jury ultimately said was, we can't say that Mr. Ravi, the defendant, intended a hate crime, but we can say that Mr. Clementi received it as a hate crime. And so, he was found guilty on a number of biased crimes and, of course, of invasion of privacy. He's looking at 10 years behind bars now.

HALL: I keep hearing about him being sent back to India. How does that work now with this decision?

BLOOM: Yes, that can happen. He can be deported. He was offered a plea deal several months ago where he would only have to do community service, get counseling and the state would try to prevent him from being deported. That was denied. And now as he's been convicted of felonies, he is facing deportation.

HALL: OK. Dr. Drew, let's look at the dad. I have a clip I want you to see. Check out this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE CLEMENTI, TYLER CLEMENTI'S FATHER: To our college, high school and even middle school youngsters, I would say this -- you're not necessarily going to -- you're going to meet a lot of people in your lifetime. Some of these people you may not like. But just because you don't like them, does not mean you have to work against them. When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell them: that's not right. Stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: That's Tyler Clementi's dad. Do you think he will feel justice was served?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Oh, I do. I mean, the fact is that he was really found guilty of just about everything.

BLOOM: Yes.

PINSKY: I mean, it's just sort of legal nuance there was aspects where he was found -- where he was acquitted. But the reality is the jury spoke and it's pretty clear they held him accountable for what he did. What I like about what Mr. Clementi saying here, though, is that -- hey, it's no longer OK in this country to be a screwball in college.

You know, there's a lot of screwballs out there. There are a lot of screwball on things. I hope I'm clear enough using this language.

But you know what? When we hurt other people, it's not OK. And you, everyone else, who's around the screwball -- no other word to use tonight -- but have to speak up as well, because commission will be held accountable here as well. So, you got to speak up when you see something doing something wrong.

And, by the way, let me say something sympathetic towards Mr. Ravi, which is if one of his friends had spoken up, he wouldn't be in this position. It might have made him think twice about what he was doing.

Sometimes -- listen, these are kids. Sometimes, somebody needs to shake them and get them to think about what they're doing. No one did that. Most felt uncomfortable. They participated in one degree or another. And as a result, we have this verdict.

HALL: Did Ravi's tweets nail him?

BLOOM: I think they did. You know, when he says, "This is my roommate with a dude. Yay" --

PINSKY: Yes.

BLOOM: That indicates he's anti-gay animus. And let's keep in mind that LGBT hate crimes, crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people are at six times the rate of other hate crimes in this country. I mean, we have a real epidemic. We have an epidemic of teen suicides from gay and lesbian people.

So, we all have to be sensitive to this. Somebody might like at this, this was a kid being a screwball just fooling around online. But the real world consequences of this case speaks very loudly.

PINSKY: In my world, that is the message tonight, which is that this is not something that can be taken casually, can sit back and wait on these issues, because it's literally costing people's lives. The bullying that is going on, particularly in social media and through the Internet these days is not something that's just unpleasant. It is something that has real world consequences, and you know, I think a loud of messages has been sent today.

BLOOM: Yes.

HALL: So, when we look back one day at this like it was Brown versus Board of Education for social media, will this be a precedent, Lisa?

BLOOM: This is only a trial decision. It's not a Supreme Court decision, like Brown versus Board, which I agree. It's one of the most important court cases in our country's history.

But I hope everyone will see this as a wake-up call. That online bullying is not OK. That we have a far, long way to go in terms of education, for tolerance, for LGBT folks, a very long way to go.

And what a tragedy, what a loss. Roberto Clementi in this case, you know, a top student in high school, a top violinist, I mean, a very promising future, and he took his own life because he was so humiliated by his roommate.

HALL: And I think we said his name wrong. It's Tyler Clementi.

BLOOM: Oh, sorry.

PINSKY: Did you say Roberto Clementi?

(LAUGHTER)

PINSKY: I like him, too, though.

But I want to paraphrase what Lisa just said, Arsenio -- no. Because I think that we are going to have to go through this and through this and through this unfortunately. This is not the first time, it's not the last time.

It's just a nice and clear message, and something I've been dealing with this on my show regularly, which is the online bullying issue. And this is not the first -- it's not the first guilty finding of guilt in this regard. But it's an important one and I think one we will point as part of the turning at the top.

HALL: OK. I know Jersey Law is different than law in most states regarding this. You want to explain?

BLOOM: Most states do have hate crime laws. Jersey is a little bit complicated, because of what I just talked about. You have to get inside the mind of the defendant. You have to get inside the mind ever of the victim. There are a lot of elements.

But I want everybody be clear, that hate crimes are illegal everywhere whether based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or gender. I mean, those -- this is a very important issue for the country, and I urge parents who are concerned about this case to talk to your kids. What kind of language are you using about your schoolmates? You know, what do you think is a joke? It's something can be very harmful to somebody.

PINSKY: By the way, this leaked over into how people speak about women these days. I mean, those stories have been in the press constantly, what people are -- how people are referring to women, whether it's the right or the left, there's been some awful language directed at women these days.

BLOOM: Rush Limbaugh.

PINSKY: Well, that's the latest version of it. But there's a lot of horrible, horrible language.

HALL: And Bill Maher on the other side.

BLOOM: That's true.

PINSKY: That's right. And women I don't think speak up loudly enough about it.

BLOOM: I'm pretty loud.

PINSKY: Well, but you're here talking about the LGBT issues. But I think --

BLOOM: Nobody accuses me of not being loud.

PINSKY: You're right. When you get right down to it, Lisa, you're right.

HALL: I'm the father of a 12-year-old. Kids who are bullied, kids who are bullies, what should we as parents be telling their children?

PINSKY: The most importance thing I tell parents, not what they tell themselves. Don't ever tell yourself, not my kid. No matter what the issue is. It can be your kid, right?

We can't imagine it's our kid. We don't want to believe it's our kid. It can be our kid. And we have to be vigilant.

We have to do the job of parenting. Whether it's shaping their value system, how they relate to substances, or how they talk about other people. It is really important.

And keep in mind, by the way, the ones that aren't bullied sometimes become the bullier and vice versa. And so, you know, if you at one time are defending your kid against bullying, keep an eye on that kid, because tables might turn one day.

BLOOM: And just a very specific example for parents, actually wrote a book called "Swagger," which is coming out in two months.

PINSKY: Very good. I read it. It's really good. HALL: And the current book is "Think."

BLOOM: Yes, it is.

HALL: OK.

BLOOM: I implore parents to get the username and password for every account that your kid has, whether it's --

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: If your kid is under the age of 18, you have the right to do that.

PINSKY: She's right. Because, listen, the Internet becomes, then, your friend, you can be a source of information, it's a way to monitor kids while if they're out there on their own, it's like putting them out in the world at a younger age.

BLOOM: Let me tell you, as an attorney, I know that the state can't go on people's private Facebook pages or Twitter page, but parents can. Parents have the right and the obligation to go on. You might find out, for example, God forbid, that your child is suicidal. Better you find that out now.

You might find out that your child is bullying. You can have a conversation with your kid.

PINSKY: And a little note for parents out there. A lot of parents don't want to hear this, is that you go downstream and hear how other kids are talking about your kid. You can keep going. Look at tons of information on the Internet but you must be Internet savvy. You must educate yourself.

BLOOM: You know, you don't sneak around. You're going to tell your kid -- yes, you can have a Facebook account, but I'm going to go there whenever I want, I'm gong to look at what's happening. And if you don't like it, you don't have to have a Facebook account.

I mean, you would not allow your child to wonder around the globe at the age of 16 or 17 on their own. They should not be allowed to roam around the World Wide Web on their own.

PINSKY: And I would point this case, any opportunity parents have to talk about how serious this matter is, look what's going to happen to Mr. Ravi. He's going to be in prison, potentially, deported, both -- and this is not a trivial or casual matter.

This is -- somebody's dead. Somebody's going to prison. It needs to be addressed accordingly by parents.

BLOOM: This will follow Mr. Ravi the rest of his life. Even if he stays in the U.S., he may not be able to vote. He's going to check the box on every job application that he's a convicted felon. You know, he may be ineligible for student loans, ineligible for a lot of jobs. I mean, this is going to have consequences, literally, for the rest of his life.

HALL: Is this a rumor? Did Ravi try to apologize but we think the message never got to Clementi?

PINSKY: He -- there's some conversation he had with him that still is unknown.

BLOOM: There was an e-mail.

PINSKY: Yes.

BLOOM: But we don't think that Tyler Clementi received it.

PINSKY: Well, and he intended -- there's all this information about him feeling remorse or at least alleging remorse, but never -- never really getting it to Mr. Clementi.

BLOOM: Yes. Tyler Clementi's e-mail that he was going to jump of the George Washington Bridge was before that.

HALL: Thank you both. This is what I needed to get to me focused. I hope --

BLOOM: Thank you, Arsenio. And so good to have you here at CNN. Come back.

PINSKY: Yes. Come back and get a show here.

HALL: I'll do cue cards even if they don't give me a job to come back to this position.

When I come back here with you, one-on-one with Magic Johnson and his lovely wife Cookie Johnson. It's their first interview together outside their home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HALL: I'm Arsenio Hall, filling in for Piers.

Now, my exclusive interview with the man, the legend, NBA superstar Magic Johnson. Everybody knows he's a good friend of mine and he's here with his better half -- the lovely, the talented, the denim queen, Cookie Johnson.

How you guys doing?

MAGIC JOHNSON: Doing great.

COOKIE JOHNSON, MAGIC JOHNSON'S WIFE: Doing good.

HALL: Doesn't she look wonderful, man?

M. JOHNSON: She's beautiful. I'm so happy she's here. This is really our first time -- HALL: Together doing an interview?

M. JOHNSON: Doing an interview like this. So, it's really great. And for you, just for you.

HALL: Thank you.

M. JOHNSON: It's great, you're back in the saddle. I love this.

HALL: Well, let's start at the beginning, with you two. How did you meet?

M. JOHNSON: Well, I saw -- you know, we were at a party, at a club, and we had just finished final exams. So we were both, wanted to just have a good time before we went -- before the Christmas break, and you know, I was standing on the wall. She -- and there was a young lady she was with, who had a class with me. And she introduced both of us.

And I sort of watched her in those jeans. You know, looking all good, and she was on the dance floor, Arsenio, tearing the dance floor up.

HALL: What was the dance back then?

M. JOHNSON: Back then, you go to the freak or you go down to the floor, and she could really do it.

HALL: Really? She could drop it like it was hot before you were dropping it like it was hot?

M. JOHNSON: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

M. JOHNSON: And so, I watched her the whole night. You want to take it from there, baby?

C. JOHNSON: Well, you know, after we met, we went on our separate ways.

HALL: Did he have a specific reputation as a ladies' man?

C. JOHNSON: Not yet.

(LAUGHTER)

C. JOHNSON: It was freshman year. He had just got there. So, no, not yet.

M. JOHNSON: But that night -- she was just awesome, and --

HALL: What was it about her specifically? Was it the conversation? Obviously, she was fine, and you've mentioned the jeans.

M. JOHNSON: Yes.

HALL: But what was it about, that conversation?

M. JOHNSON: I think, Arsenio it was just the way she carried herself.

HALL: Right?

M. JOHNSON: And, yes. Well, she was definitely that. And I found that out quickly, but as we were -- she was leaving, I asked her for her phone number, and she gave it to me, and then as soon as the first day we got back at school, because she kept saying, you're not going to call me.

C. JOHNSON: Right. That's the thing he's leaving out. We never spoke again that night.

HALL: OK.

C. JOHNSON: OK? Except for at the very end. He never asked me to dance. He never said anything else to me. He never even came near me.

So, I was with my other friends. I had a good time, because I'm from Detroit. I love to dance. You know? So that was my thing. I like to dance.

So I was out with my friends dancing and at the end of the evening, the lights come on, you know, the club is closing, I was about to leave and there he was behind me sitting there. And as I walked by, I said, you know, nice meeting you. And that's when he said, well, hey, can I get your phone number?

And I laughed at him, because, I thought, you haven't said one word to me all night. You know?

M. JOHNSON: But I watched you.

HALL: What kind of game was that? Why did you play it that way?

M. JOHNSON: Come on, man. You know --

HALL: I know. But I want to hear you tell her and the world.

M. JOHNSON: I had to be cool. I had to just lay back. Not sure that I really was watching her all night. I had to just -- lay back. Let all the other guys thought that -- I should say think that they had a shot at her, when I knew this is going to be my girl. You know? And oh -- sure enough, first day, and -- Arsenio, I had one suit in my closet and I pulled it out.

C. JOHNSON: With a reversible jacket.

HALL: Oh, really? They made a reversible blazer?

(LAUGHTER) C. JOHNSON: Plaid on one side and solid on the other.

M. JOHNSON: And I pulled it out, dusted it off and put that suit on to take her out for that date that night.

C. JOHNSON: We had a real date, and you know, you don't normally do that in college, you know? A real date is like going to Arby's or Burger King or something. But he actually took me to a real restaurant.

M. JOHNSON: (INAUDIBLE)

C. JOHNSON: Yes, he did. It was great.

HALL: Was there a magical moment? Was there a moment where you looked at him, and felt -- I could go the distance with this man?

C. JOHNSON: Well, you know what it was, it was comfort, there was a comfort level. You know, I was very nervous about it, because, of course, he was the big man on campus, and I really didn't know much about him.

But when we met, we would -- we would talk. It was very easy conversation. And it was, like, we knew each other for a long time. You know?

And so it was very comfortable. It was nothing to be nervous about. It was, like, you know, old friends. And that's when I knew -- I mean, this is good. This could be really good.

HALL: Yes.

C. JOHNSON: Because, sometimes you meet people and they're really hard to get the conversation started. You're like, pulling teeth to -- you know? And you just don't have that comfort level.

HALL: I've seen millionaire matchmaker. It's brutal sometimes. It's work apparently.

M. JOHNSON: It definitely was.

C. JOHNSON: Yes, it was very comfortable.

M. JOHNSON: It was great, because, you know, we became really good friends as well as, you know, we were dating as boyfriend and girlfriend. So --

HALL: So there's a point when he leaves the Midwest and comes to Hollywood. Was there ever a conversation where you thought about going to Hollywood? I know you were into sales, at a department store. Correct? Back then?

C. JOHNSON: Yes. I was an intern, because my path was to be a buyer. That's when I was studying in Michigan State, is to be a buyer. So after I graduated, he left two years into college. So I stayed to finish. And when he left, we had broke up when he left anyway. When he left, there was a lot of breaking up in between there. So it was not this -- fairy tale love story. It wasn't that. It was real. It was real.

HALL: And at one point engaged and you called it off.

C. JOHNSON: Yes.

M. JOHNSON: Twice.

HALL: Twice?

C. JOHNSON: Twice, yes.

HALL: Do you remember either of the reasons for calling the engagement off?

C. JOHNSON: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

HALL: He was going with the publicist answer and said, yes. Yes.

C. JOHNSON: Yes, I do.

M. JOHNSON: A woman always remembers. Remember that.

HALL: What did he do -- wrong? What did he do wrong?

C. JOHNSON: What did he do wrong?

HALL: What did he do wrong?

C. JOHNSON: No, he didn't do anything wrong. He got scared.

M. JOHNSON: I was married to basketball.

C. JOHNSON: He got scared, and, you know, he was such an intense player, it just -- he had these rituals. He had to be alone before the game. He had to do this, and he was worried if I moved there, I would move into his world, and I would disrupt, you know, what, the concentration he has for basketball.

And even though he loved me and wanted me there, it was something about that that scared him. That he wouldn't be able to be the player that he was, and be married at the same time.

HALL: I'll tell you something else. I always feel that L.A. ruins good women. You're the only woman I know that's been out here for 20 years, and still, we love her.

M. JOHNSON: Yes.

HALL: We're going to take a quick commercial break, and come back and talk about how this city and many things that went on in this city changed your lives forever -- but helped us as a nation, and as a world.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. JOHNSON: Because of -- the HIV virus that I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers. I plan on going on, living for a long time, bugging you guys like I always have. So you'll see me around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: That was the moment in 1991 when Magic Johnson's life changed forever, but nobody could have predicted then that he'd still be sitting with us today, and at the top of his business game.

Magic is with me, along with his lovely wife Cookie.

You all are the only people I've ever interviewed that use nicknames all the time. I've never heard you call her your Irleitha (ph). Am I saying it right?

C. JOHNSON: Yes.

HALL: Magic came from a journalist. Cookie came from your mom.

C. JOHNSON: Yes.

HALL: Irleitha named after Earl the Pearl Monroe.

C. JOHNSON: My dad.

HALL: No, your dad, and -- so I use nicknames. Cookie and Magic.

Where were you when he first told you that he was HIV positive?

C. JOHNSON: We were at home in our office, in our den area, yes.

HALL: So he didn't call you and warn you? He just came home to make the announcement?

C. JOHNSON: He called me and said that I'm on my way home, which I was like, what? I just sat down to watch him on the TV. The game was about to start.

HALL: He was supposed to be playing and you get a call from a guy who should be in the warm-up doing layups?

C. JOHNSON: Yes, he was like in Denver or somewhere, yes.

And I had a girlfriend over, and other player's wife. We watched the game together. So, she'd come over and we sat down, got our food together and we were about to watch the game. And he called and he said, "I'm on my way home." And I said, "What? What do you mean? You know? And, of course, that scared me. He said, "I'll tell you when I get home."

HALL: What was that ride like to her, to give her this news?

M. JOHNSON: Arsenio, the worst ride of my life, because when you make a mistake, it actually hurts other people. You know? And I was about to hurt the woman that I loved, my best friend. A person who had been in my corner through everything, thick and thin. And so to deliver this devastating news, and, also, I was worried about her own health and then our son E.J., she was pregnant with our son at that time.

HALL: Now, you had just found out like two days ago?

C. JOHNSON: Yes. Literally days before.

M. JOHNSON: Yes. So I was scared to death of both our own health and the baby's health. So it was -- it was the toughest ride to come, drive that far, to tell her some terrible news, and not knowing, also, how she's going to react to the news. And so -- I give her a lot of credit, you know. You know, I sat her down and I told her that I had HIV, and it was a tough moment there for both of us.

HALL: Now, that moment, you'll never forget that moment. Right, Cookie?

C. JOHNSON: No.

HALL: That exact moment. Do you remember how you reacted? The gossip and the grapevine was that you slapped him? Somebody said you put a suplex on him. I've heard - a sleeper hold.

What did you do in that moment when he said it to you?

C. JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I was like, devastated. I had to pick myself up off the floor, because I was like, what? Really? People joked about it, but nobody really you knew really had it, you know?

HALL: In the movie -- ESPN 33's announcement, I think there's a moment where you joked and said, I thought maybe he wanted a divorce. I didn't know what he was coming to tell me.

C. JOHNSON: Right. I had no idea.

HALL: You had no idea?

C. JOHNSON: No, we had such a hard time, back and forth, engagement, getting married. I was like, oh, my God? What had se coming to tell me this time, you know?

But, no, it was scary. It was very scary, but, no. He said to me, if you don't want to stay, totally understand. You know? Because of, you know, what happened, and I'm totally to blame for this. And that's when I just kind of tapped him on his face. I call it a love tap. It wasn't a knockout punch.

HALL: Like a "Days of Our Lives" soap opera tap?

M. JOHNSON: A little harder than that.

HALL: Did you even feel it?

M. JOHNSON: Oh, yes. I felt it. Well, I felt her emotions, and we both started to cry at that time, you know, and understanding that we didn't know what was going to happen. The fear. But, you know, Cookie's a Christian woman. So, she said, let's pray about it, and --

HALL: Did you really --

C. JOHNSON: Yes. We got on our knees at that moment, and we prayed, yes.

M. JOHNSON: Yes. And so -- and then we had to then -- I told her, we had tomorrow, the next day, to go get the tests. So we could see if she had it.

HALL: And find out if E.J. --

M. JOHNSON: That's right, if the baby had it.

So, that was the longest seven, eight days of our lives, and once Dr. Ho (ph), they delivered the good news that she was OK, the baby was OK, and, Arsenio, that she felt the love in her heart to stay with me. Then I knew I had --

HALL: Dr. Ho, he's the acclaimed researcher of AIDS in this country?

M. JOHNSON: Right. Exactly. Exactly. Because Dr. Melman (ph) was the one who ran the test and delivered the news to me. And then Dr. Ho, we turned to him. And he was the one who really made me feel comfortable and helped me understand what I had to go through to live for the next 20 years.

HALL: And by the way, all of this happened because of an insurance medical test?

M. JOHNSON: Yeah. We had changed my -- made an adjustment to my contract. So because of that, the insurance company wanted to make sure I was healthy. So thank God they did.

HALL: Absolutely.

M. JOHNSON: Early detection actually saved my life, I think. And they got me on the meds right away. And it's been great.

HALL: By the way, I hope that didn't slide in one ear and out of the other ear in America right now, because early detection is the reason you are here right now. It's the reason you and I can tell people that these days, you can live with AIDS and not die from AIDS. Live with an HIV positive status and not die from it.

M. JOHNSON: That's right, exactly. So that's why we urge people to go get tested, so that they can know their status. And then if that status is HIV, then you can go get on a regimen, and your doctor can put you on something that can prolong your life.

So we've -- we've had a long and great life, you know, for 20 years after that. But, Arsenio, it was tough times in the beginning, because we had to make a lot of big decisions. So once we found out Cookie and the baby was OK, the next step was to find somebody who was living with it. And Lon Roland (ph), my agent at that time, hooked me up with Elizabeth Glazier. And we owe her a lot.

HALL: She was married to the gentleman from "Starsky & Hutch," if I remember my TV trivia well.

M. JOHNSON: Exactly, exactly. And she was dying at that time. And so she told me I was going to be OK. I was going to be here for a long time, because there was great drugs coming down the pipeline. But she also said, look, we need a face. And you need to become the face of this disease now.

And I told her that I would. And then she talked to Cookie, which was really good, you know, had a conversation, helped her in terms of how to deal with --

C. JOHNSON: In terms of living with a person with HIV and AIDS and being that caretaker of that person. You know, basically she was just saying, you know, they need you more than you think. You know? Just -- just your, you know -- you taking care of them and knowing that you're there and that you still love them and that -- you know, you're not leaving them means a lot, because, you know, you feel like everyone deserts at this point in time.

HALL: I was going to ask, I know he's had conflict with friends who are no longer friends now. Did you lose friends?

C. JOHNSON: No, not really. I didn't. I didn't.

HALL: Never an argument?

C. JOHNSON: But there were problems. You know, like one time it was a very good friend of mine, the kids were little. E.J. was probably two. And he bit another child, and that friend reacted like oh, my God. Do we need to go to a doctor.

I'm like, no, no, no. He doesn't have it. It's OK. I went through a little bit of that, but I didn't lose a friend over that, because I kind of understood that people are going to react a little like that. So it didn't -- it didn't hurt my feelings that much. You know what I mean?

HALL: It's amazing. Education is so important. Ignorance seems to be at the root of every problem you all had. Magic is here with Cookie Johnson. When I come back, we'll talk sports. We'll talk business, Lin-sanity. We'll talk rumors. We'll talk baseball, buying TV stations, the whole nine yards.

I got my friends here, y'all, sitting in for Piers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- go about the Bird. Bird, a three-pointer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bird fires it. Got it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three points in for Larry Bird. He puts them ahead with 12 seconds to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got it. Five seconds left. Magic down the middle, just what I shot. A hook shot at 12, good. Two seconds left, the Lakers take the lead on Magic Johnson's --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: That was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, game four of the 1987 playoffs. Magic and Cookie sitting with me. Still to this day, you smile and you do things like this when you watch that clip. Huh?

M. JOHNSON: Yeah. I hate the Celtics. You know? I don't want them to win, man. And Larry and I have a great relationship, but anytime you play against the Celtics -- and you were around all of those times. And you were with me when I hit the shot so that I could go crazy that we won the championship. And you were around when I lost and I was crying in the locker room.

So -- but those were great moments. And actually Larry made me a better player and I hope that I made him a better player. I was blessed to play with the Lakers. We were blessed to win five championships. It was really a great run for the Lakers back then, went to the finals, what, nine out of 12 years.

It was truly amazing.

HALL: Truly insanity.

M. JOHNSON: Yes.

HALL: Bird, a funny guy. I saw him in that documentary "A Courtship of Rivals." And now there's going to be a Broadway play? I can't even imagine a Magic/Bird play? Is it a musical? Will there be, I'm going to throw a no-look pass that way. Tell me about this play?

M. JOHNSON: Well, it's going to be a play about Larry and I, our life on the basketball court and away from the court as well. Nobody really knows that story, away from the court. And it's going to be, you know, a character with Red Auerbach in it. It's going to be different guys, Pat Riley, on and on and on.

So it's going to be really a great play. It's going to open April 11th. And we both still can't believe it. Like we both pinch each other, like can you believe I'm a kid from Lansing, Michigan -- black kid from Lansing, Michigan, and you're a white kid from French Lake, and they're going to bring us together on Broadway? This is truly amazing.

HALL: I'd like a still shot of you and Larry pinching each other. Get me one of those for the next interview.

M. JOHNSON: You used to seeing us elbow each other.

HALL: Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. OK. We got the play coming along. You're into everything. Into -- I mean, I go in restaurants, and when my food ain't right, I'm always happy because I know Magic owns most restaurants. It's cool to be your friend.

Lately in the news, we've talked baseball, which surprised me even, because you're a basketball legend. What would make you look in the opposite direction from that sport and say, I want that now?

M. JOHNSON: I think I'm -- Arsenio, I'm a big baseball fan. So I always have been back watching the Detroit Tigers, back at home in Lansing, Michigan. And all the way to now, a big Dodger fan. So baseball is a game that I love. I love to be in the ballpark. I love to just go in and enjoy a great baseball game, a great pitchers' duel.

So with the Dodgers being up for sale, we put a great group together, and we're just going to see what happens. You know? There's not a lot I can say right now. But at least we're in the final four. And I'm hoping that I get that opportunity to not only now be a fan but also be an owner.

HALL: They say your group is in the lead as far as those eligible. I want to get to Cookie being an entrepreneur. You had this incredible C.J. By Cookie denim business. I read something on the Internet, "premium denim woven with self-esteem."

Where did that come from?

C. JOHNSON: I created this jean for a women with curves. And women out there with curves have had a hard time in the premium denim world trying to find a jean to fit. And that was my problem. And that was the main reason I created these jeans, because I couldn't find a pair of jeans that fit me, that were, you know, the "it" pair of jeans, you know, the 7s, the J Brands, all of those jeans out there.

I tried all of those styles on and I could never -- you know, they never fit my body. So I thought why not create a jean with that style, with those styling, with the premium qualities, that fit a woman with a curve?

M. JOHNSON: When a woman is frustrated and it's your wife, you as the husband get that frustration. I can't find a pair of jeans. I can't -- they don't fit me. Either they don't fit me in my rear or my thighs or whatever. And I kept saying do something about it.

C. JOHNSON: Yes.

HALL: Keep in mind, if traditional jeans at Macy's had fit you, you wouldn't have been attracted to her in the first place.

M. JOHNSON: Thank you.

HALL: It was her curves that brought you over.

M. JOHNSON: Yes, sir.

HALL: -- at that party. And now we'll worry about what to put on.

M. JOHNSON: Yes.

HALL: Go online, you have a website?

C. JOHNSON: Yes, CJByCookieJohnson.com.

HALL: Right on. Right. Thanks for being leer. I'll see y'all probably later.

M. JOHNSON: We're happy you're back on TV, man.

HALL: Thank you, man. Even if it's one night keeping the chair warm for Piers, it feels real good.

Coming up, a moment I'll never forget. Bill Clinton played the sax on my old show. And it's a moment that kind of changed politics. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HALL: Now I want to go way back to 1992, the year of Nirvana's "Never mind" went number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts. Sinead O'Connor stirred up controversy by ripping a picture of the Pope on "Saturday Night Live." You remember that.

And Bill Clinton defeated George Bush in the presidential election. But before all this happened, this happened on my show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: That was then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton belting out a soulful rendition of "Heartbreak Hotel" on my show, "The Arsenio Hall Show," that changed presidential campaigning forever.

Now he played the sax, and people say it changed things forever, but I don't want to be the one saying that. So I got Mr. John King, CNN's John King here. We're going to talk about that memorable time. And John, if you're there, let's discuss how it changed things.

Do you think it changed politics forever?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Without a doubt it changed politics forever. Remember, Clinton was in a lot of trouble that year. There were a lot of character questions. It was also a fascinating, unusual presidential race. Ross Perot was a factor in that race as well.

So what was the challenge? Number one for Bill Clinton to expand the definition of his personality when there were a lot of character questions and other questions about whether this guy from Arkansas was ready to do this. Number two, the challenge was reach out to try to get new voters. Perot was bringing new voters into the process. Clinton wanted to bring new voters into the process.

So we always talk about, you know, Howard Dean campaigning on the Internet, Barack Obama reaching out to younger voters. Well, that is the seed of it right there in the new television age of getting outside the traditional news programs, taking a risk, taking a risk, Arsenio.

Good politicians take a risk. Clinton took one there. You remember, I was a print reporter at the time covering that campaign. A lot of people criticized him. A lot of people said this is not presidential.

He won the election. So by definition, it worked.

HALL: Yeah. I took a lot of criticism. People said that it wasn't a dignified move for a president. I almost look back at it and think that Clinton's people. Ahead of the curve. Don't you think so?

KING: Well, let me answer the question, then I have one for you. Were they ahead of the curve? They were willing to take risks. He was a guy who was very comfortable with himself. If you look at any successful politician, there's a fine line between confident and cocky. But Bill Clinton was confident.

Remember how many times he was knocked down in that campaign? Most of my bosses thought he was done; he had to get out. He just kept staying in. He kept fighting. And he was willing to try different things. And he also had a team. and was part of a group politically that understood our culture was changing. People were getting their information in different ways, that you could think outside the box.

Piers, my question to you is how did you pull it off?

HALL: Well, at that time, because he was a governor, I didn't really see the magnitude of what could happen. I tried to book a governor. When he said yes, I asked him to wear my tie. When he said yes, I asked him to wear my sunglasses. When he said yes, I said, would you play saxophone?

I just kept asking for things. And I've learned to never assume there will be a no, because it might be a yes. Back to you again, we're interviewing each other, buddy. Let's talk about specific things that the public can see right now that that affected. The first thing I think about is Al Green, the Al Green song that Obama sang.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm so in love with you.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For amber waves of grain for purple mountain's majesty above the fruited plains.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: John, we have gone crazy. People playing bass and --

KING: I take it back, get them to stop. No, look, I think that we -- if we see a Romney/Obama match up, the choice in November will be who do voters trust most on the economy and things like that. But I think we can say right now as the judges on Arsenio Hall Idol, the president has a better voice than Governor Romney.

And part of this is, if you have the talent, use it, and don't be afraid to think outside of the box. Don't be afraid, again, to have some fun. The president is a confident man, whether you like him or not politically.

To run for the presidency requires a lot. It's humbling, sometimes humiliating process. When a guy is comfortable, you sing a little bit, maybe you dance a little bit.

When people pick a president, yes, they want to know, are you going to raise or cut my taxes. How do I think he feel about the war in Afghanistan. What is his education policy? Everyone has their own personal list of the policy issues.

But you also -- the old joke is you invite this person into your living room every night - every night. So you want to know about them. What do they listen to on their iPad -- on their iPod? What do they like outside? What sports do they like?

It's part of the process. Is it the most important thing, whether the president can sing, whether he dances with his wife? No, but people want to know these things.

HALL: Hey, John, I tried to bring fun into politics for my audience. But even though we have come that route, it seems to be getting mean now with the GOP situation. Why is politics so mean this year?

KING: The country is fractured and the Republican party, at the moment, is fractured into a number of different groups. The Republican party really hasn't had a national leader since George W. Bush. And would say halfway through his second term, a lot of the party gave up on him. So the party is struggling. It's in an identity crisis. It has an identity crisis beyond these candidates. It is very personal. Part of that is because of the splintering of our business. One of the good things is that people aren't afraid to go on "The Arsenio Hall Show" or other entertainment shows.

But one of the bad things is you have a -- sometimes it's valuable in some ways. But some of the blogosphere, some of the Twitter-verse gets nasty sometimes. And some of the candidates in these close, competitive elections, they get tired and they get nasty and personal.

HALL: Hey, man, I could talk to you forever. I was a fan back then. I'm a fan now. I watch CNN all the time.

Thank you for being here and helping me out, Mr. King.

KING: My pleasure, my friend. Take care.

HALL: Up next, Only in America, March Madness and the politics of those brackets.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PUSHPA BASNET, CNN HERO: In Nepal, when parents have been arrested by the police, and the children don't have a local guardian, some children go to prison with the parents. The first time when I visited the jail, I was starting my bachelors in social work. I saw a small girl who just grabbed my shawl, and she just gave me a smile.

It was really hard for me to forget that.

My name is Pushpa Basnet, and my mission is to make sure that no child grows up behind prison walls. In 2005, I started a daycare where the children can come out of the jail in the morning and they can go back to the jail in the afternoon. We have children who are from two to four. They have coloring, reading, studying, five days a week.

We started a residential home in 2007. Currently, we have 40 children living here, mostly over six years old. I don't get a day off, but I never get tired.

The children all call me mommy. It's a big family with lots and lots of love. When I started this organization, I was 21 years old. People thought I was crazy, but this is what I wanted in my life.

I'm giving them what a normal child should have. I want to fulfill all their dreams.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK HALL: Piers ends each night with his Only in America segment. It's his take on life in the U.S. Right now, life in the U.S. is all about March Madness, the NCAA insanity. It's on and it's cracking and there's nothing you can do about it.

The games, the noise, the nerves, who are calculating the percentage of every missed jump shot. Piers, the U.K. goes crazy over soccer, but this time of year, nothing comes close to B-Ball in the states.

With the tournament comes the brackets, the predictions. Bracketology it's called. And everyone has their picks from that sheet of paper. The weird guy who sweats in your office, the grandmas at the book club, even folks who think Orangemen is the latest self tanning product. They're in on it too.

President Obama is also feeling bracket fever. And maybe something more; 11 of his Sweet 16 teams are from swing states. And his final four choices, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Missouri, are key battleground contests, too.

Obama thinks Carolina will win it all. But when you're the president and playing brackets in politics, the game, my friend, ends in November.

Piers Morgan will be back Monday interviewing Rick Santorum's secret weapon, his wife Karen. He also has Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

That's all for us tonight. I thank Piers for letting me sit in. "AC 360" starts right now.

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