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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Peter Manso

Aired August 29, 2003 - 20:42   ET

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

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It is 39 days and counting until the California recall. Arnold Schwarzenegger has given a couple of different answers to questions about his 1977 interview with the adult magazine "Oui." An interview which quoted him as saying he took part in group sex and used marijuana and hashish. Joining us from Hyannis, Massachusetts tonight is the man who asked the questions, author and journalist Peter Manso. Good evening. It's nice to see you, Peter, thanks for joining us.
PETER MANSO, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: Sure thing.

O'BRIEN: As you well know, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was first asked about the article, this is what he replied. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I never lived my life to be a politician. I never lived my life to be the governor of California. Obviously ,I've made statements that are ludicrous, and crazy, and outrageous and all those things, because that's the way I always was. I was always outrageous. Otherwise I wouldn't have done the things that I did in my career, with the body building and the show business and all the things. I was always out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: A little bit of a change in tune when last night he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: I have no memory of any of the articles I did 20 or 30 years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You have said this is the classic nondenial denial. I'm curious to know, did Arnold Schwarzenegger ever specifically say to you that he had plans to run for office one day?

MANSO: Well, it was pretty clearly intimated. In fact, what sort of impressed me most about spending the two or three days interviewing him, albeit 25 years ago, was the fact that Arnold was a guy at that point, what was he, 29 years old, who had figured out the rest of his life. He was going on to a Hollywood movie career. And then he very carefully, very articulately pointed out that he was aware that all stars had a kind of in-built half-life and that he envisioned a business career, and possibly even a political career later on in life. And he was talking this way 25 years ago.

But I think it's kind of interesting, the kind of switch that's gone on in his two responses to this piece. He says that he never lived his life as a governor or candidate. Well, I don't think that's really true. And I think most political correspondents, people who follow the scene in California, will agree with me on that.

O'BRIEN: The interview, as you pointed out, was in-depth, it was over several days. You got to know him very well. Do you feel like the Arnold Schwarzenegger that we see today shaking hands, meeting the potential voters, does he bear similarities to the Arnold Schwarzenegger that you got to know over a fairly long time?

MANSO: Well, I would be dishonest or disingenuous if I didn't say that I found him to be utterly charming, beguiling in fact. This is a guy filled with energy. Socially very adept. And clearly Arnold possesses those skills in his very fingertips.

I think the question, the real question here is does the Arnold reflected -- or is the Arnold reflected in the interview the same Arnold of today. I think it's a very legitimate question.

Ultimately, I can't answer that. I can point out, however, that there have been in the past several years several in-depth pieces in completely responsible magazines, "Premiere" magazine, "Esquire" magazine, which have fairly clearly and accurately and in detail spoken of Arnold's what we'll call the woman, or female factor in Arnold's life. So it's not merely -- the question is not created merely by this interview, which is no masterpiece. It was a fun thing to do, which was done 25 years ago.

O'BRIEN: The interview was done, in fact, 25 years ago as the movie "Pumping Iron" was being released. And several years later, Arnold Schwarzenegger actually bought all the rights to that film, and he also bought the rights to the outtake. Do you know why he did that?

MANSO: Well, I've heard the same thing, and I've gotten it from the most reliable of sources, and he paid a huge amount of money for this, as well. It's my understanding that this transaction took place, oh, I don't know, seven or eight years ago. And smart money is on the -- well, the answer to the question simply is that he was buying up the potential embarrassment when and if he ran for public office. Supposedly the outtakes, outtakes being the stuff filmed that was not used in the final film, included the very orgies and sex play that he speaks of in the interview that I conducted with him.

O'BRIEN: You told Paula yesterday...

MANSO: "Pumping Iron..."

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, go ahead. MANSO: Well, all I was going to add is that "Pumping Iron" was a marvelous movie. It was shot in cinema verite, meaning simply that the camera was always going in Gold's Gym where these guys worked out. And the logical interpretation of Arnold's buying up this material is that he was basically trying to bury it, knowing full well that someday he was going to be running for public office some day. It's potentially embarrassing material.

O'BRIEN: Author Peter Manso, thanks for joining us this evening, appreciate it.

MANSO: Thank you.

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