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Profiles of Alanis Morrisette, Howard Stern

Aired May 15, 2004 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next, on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the self proclaimed king of all media.


HOWARD STERN, RADIO DJ: I am the king of all media.


ANNOUNCER: People love him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody has more loyal fans than Howard Stern.


ANNOUNCER: People hate him.


L. BRENT BOZELL III, PRESIDENT, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL: He has scraped the bottom of the barrel and he just kind of sits there.


ANNOUNCER: Now, he's the man in the middle of the debate over indecency.


PROF. ROBERT THOMPSON, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF POPULAR TELEVISION, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: The reason Howard Stern is so popular is the very reason why he's in so much trouble.


ANNOUNCER: The always outspoken Howard Stern. Then -- she's the voice of scorned women around the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every word, every line, every phrase, this kind of fire to her, out of her soul. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Before going platinum, she hit teen stardom in her native Canada. But don't make any comparisons to a certain American pop star.


PETER CASTRO, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: She would kill you if you ever compared her to Debbie Gibson.


ANNOUNCER: Her U.S. debut was one of the best-selling albums of all time, but stardom came with a price.


ALANIS MORRISETTE, SINGER: I didn't laugh for about two years.


ANNOUNCER: Now, she's back with a new album, a new look, and an eye-opening protest against the FCC's crackdown on indecency. The soul-searching journey of Alanis Morissette. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. He's America's no. 1 shock jock and public enemy no. 1 at the FCC. Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed king of all media, is in a battle over indecency. He has certainly felt the brunt of the FCC's new crackdown on broadcasters and he has certainty done his share to fight back. Mike Mokler has more on Stern and the fire storm of controversy surrounding him. A warning, however: before we begin, some of the following material is graphic.



STERN: Hey, G-man, you're on the air.

MOKLER: This is Howard Stern...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what's going on, Howard? They're cutting off your show.

MOKLER: ...speaking on his radio show.

STERN: Are they bleeping?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're cutting it all up.

STERN: I don't know why. I didn't do anything wrong.

MOKLER: Listen closer. What do you hear? Do you hear one of the most influential voices in the history of radio?

RICHARD ROEPER, COLUMNIST, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": He's funny. He's smart and he says a lot of things on the radio that most people just think but don't have guts to say.

STERN: Maybe you're mad at me.

MOKLER: Do you hear a so-called shock jock, outrageous and offensive?

STERN: Breast implants, girls?


STERN: No. Well, hello!

BOZELL: He has scraped the bottom of the barrel and he just kind of sits there. It's pathetic.

MOKLER: Or can you hear something else, something below the surface, the growing debate over indecency and questions of free speech?

KEN PAULSON, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FIRST AMENDMENT CENTER: Howard Stern is not a hero of the First Amendment. He's a very savvy user of the First Amendment.

MOKLER: Ever since Janet Jackson flashed the world at the Super Bowl, there has been a growing movement to clean up broadcast television and radio. Congress is racing to increase fines for indecency, while the FCC has seemingly stepped up its enforcement of indecency rules...

STERN: There's something going on with the FCC.

MOKLER: ...and standing squarely in the crossfire of this movement, Howard Stern.

THOMPSON: The reason Howard Stern is so popular is the very reason why he's in so much trouble. He does things that are outrageous, that shock people, that make people mad. And that's funny.

STERN: I know that some people find this hard to believe, but we've actually come up with cash this time.

MOKLER: Howard Stern says he's wanted to be on the radio since he was five and stuck in traffic with his father

CASTRO: He remembers seeing how sad and how bored his father looked listening to the news, sitting in that car in traffic, and it dawned on him, "what if somebody had a radio show that made people laugh?"

MOKLER: Stern grew up on Long Island in a household where no- holds-barred conversation was the norm. "People" magazine's Peter Castro interviewed Stern and his family in 1993. CASTRO: Within the first 30 seconds, the father was already telling me about the terrible gas problem that little Howard had. And I thought are these people putting me on? And then I realized, you know what, they're not acting. This is what these people are really like, which explains why he turned out the way he did.

MOKLER: Stern attended Boston University, where he met his future wife, Alison. He also got his first future radio show, which lasted one day.

STERN: And I started to do an outrageous radio show with three other guys and I got fired on my college radio station. And at some point, my father said to me, "Why don't you go and try to be a straight disc jockey? You've got to learn how to do it straight before you get on and start doing some nutty things." It was good advice. I mean for a year or so I played it very straight. It was very stifling.

MOKLER: Stern soon discovered playing it straight wasn't the right path for him.

STERN: I wasn't going out there and really letting loose. I was worried about image and I was worried about pleasing my boss. And I even had program directors telling me, "Don't talk to women because you sound weak when you talk to women on the phone. Talk to" -- and I was listening to everybody and I said that's it. I'm not listening to anybody. I know what I got to do and I'm going all the way.

By the end of 1993, I will be in over 200 cities in the United States of America.

MOKLER: A different Stern emerged.

STERN: There's a lot of beautiful women here.

MOKLER: He was funny, bawdy and offensive.

MOKLER: We love you, Jessie, because you are almost nude today.

MOKLER: He spoke whatever was on his mind.

STERN: I'll tell you the truth. I said what I said and nobody else has to apologize for me.

MOKLER: He even joked about a miscarriage his wife had. An event dramatized in "Private Parts," the movie based on Sterns' autobiographical book.

STERN: Howie Jr., no bigger than the size of an aspirin.


STERN: It was a boy. Yes.

MOKLER: Stern became known as a so-called shock jock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He put (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and... STERN: Tell her to shut up already.

MOKLER: A label he rejected.

STERN: I'm a comedian. These guys, I don't know, they get on and they just -- you know, they go, "You're a Communist egg-sucking pig" and that's their style of radio. I'm not into that. So I don't attack people. I make fun of people.

What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Poundser (ph).

STERN: Jeff Pansy?

MOKLER: Stern's brand of comedy caught on. In 1982, he reached the top of the radio world. He was hired by WNBC in New York.

STERN: Mr. Show Business with you, Howard Stern.

MICAHEL HARRISON, EDITOR, "TALKER'S" MAGAZINE: And a 50,000-watt signal that cover the whole northeast and it had the NBC call letters.

STERN: Three-twenty-two at WNBC.

HARRISON: WNBC was a giant, prestigious radio station. And it was also the establishment.

STERN: The point is that I am the star of the radio station. I have the highest ratings on the station. I own this station.

MOKLER: But Stern's brand of radio didn't mesh with his corporate management's. Despite being no. 1 in the ratings, Stern was fired.

STERN: It was the best thing that ever happened to me, getting fired from there. And to be honest with you, I really don't even care what happened at NBC. I'm proud to be away from them. And it's just great to be out of there. The place is a loony bin.

MOKLER: Stern was hired by a rival station and soon beat WNBC in the ratings. His crown was secure. He was the king of New York radio.

STERN: Now the ratings are bigger than ever. The station I used to work for, we just buried in the ratings. We held a big funeral for them and they're finished.

MOKLER: When Howard Stern's story continues...

STERN: Well, my career is over.

MOKLER: ...Stern battles the FCC and shows off his "Private Parts."



MOKLER (voice-over): Howard Stern's fans love him.

CROWD: Howard! Howard! Howard!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Howard rules! He takes the cake of all media!

STERN: The audience never gets tired of me. They love me, don't you? Let me hear the audience.

Those are my people.

MOKLER: They flock to his personal appearances.

ROEPER: And we're talking about people who listen to him not just day in and day out but for two or three hours every single day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Howard's the greatest!

MOKLER: They make phony calls to media outlets proclaiming his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is believed now that the earthquake was started because Benji fell on his fat ass when he was going in "The Howard Stern Show" studio.

STERN: OK. I love phony phone calls. I think it's an art form.

MOKLER: An estimated 8 million listeners tune into Howard Stern's morning show every week, which is syndicated across the country on 36 radio stations and also aired on cable TV.

HARRISON: Howard Stern can actually get people to stop what they're doing and go and buy something.

STERN: Well, these diamonds are big...

HARRISON: That's really how we measure radio power. So Stern, from that regard, is probably the most powerful person on the radio today.

STERN: I've been on New York radio for the past 10 -- is it 10 years?

QUIVERS: No, it's 11.

STERN: It's 11 years. I've maintained the no. 1 status in New York for 11 years.

The premise of the show is to crack open your head and let every thought out. And if that's the case, then why should you be embarrassed by anything you say or think it was wrong what you said.

MOKLER: Stern's show features a mix of topical humor, social commentary and celebrities. ROEPER: His celebrity interviews are fantastic because he asks the questions most people are too polite to ask. They ask the usual suck-up questions.

STERN: You were on heroin?


STERN: What would you do? You cook it up in the spoon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I didn't do that.

STERN: You snorted it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The boys did that.

STERN: And what did you do?


ROEPER: I mean who would you rather see interview Michael Jackson other than Howard Stern? Would you not tune in for an hour of Howard Stern with Michael Jackson.

STERN: Here he is, Will the farter or Will the fart man.

MOKLER: The program also features plenty of talk of bodily functions, sex...

STERN: Whoa! Hey, now.

MOKLER: ...lots of sex.

STERN: That's what 18 looks like?

Burping and farting still turn me on. I still think it's funny. In fact, I have a porno movie at the hotel that I'm going to watch tonight. And I'm going to be by myself and I'm going to have sex by myself tonight. I'm still a child and I am still excited by those things. And that is probably why I'm still successful.

THOMPSON: Let's face it, morning radio people are hired to do things that will come this close to getting them fired. It's the job description. They're supposed to do things so outrageous that every day they are dancing the line between keeping their jobs.

MOKLER: However, the FCC has fined stations that carry Stern's show multiple times, saying he stepped over the line of outrageousness into indecency.

STERN: Screw everybody.

JAMES DUELLO, FORMER FCC COMMISSIONER: They were warned in '87, fined in '89 and fined again now. So there gets to be a repetition of indecent broadcasting. THOMPSON: If there were no traditions and rules on radio, there would be no show. Howard Stern would cease to exist as a program in some ways because it's dependent on the fact that he's breaking the rules.

MOKLER: In fact, since 1990 the FCC has handed out more than 4.5 million dollars in indecency fines, more than half have involved Stern.

HARRISON: He's the kind of person that means millions of dollars for the companies that have him. Whenever he gets in trouble, when they have to pay fines, it's worth it, because he brings in so much more money than it costs to have him.

MOKLER: Stern has said he doesn't let his three daughters listen to his program. But he also says what he does is not indecent and believes he's been persecuted by the FCC.

STERN: I now turn on network news and I see people talking about fondling the president's penis.

QUIVERS: The president has broken more barriers than we have at this point.

STERN: And what is so odd about is if I say "fondle the president's penis" on the radio, I will be fined.

MOKLER: Stern found an audience beyond radio.

STERN: I am the king of all media.

QUIVERS: That is a fact.

STERN: That is a fact.

MOKLER: He's written two best selling books, "Private Parts," and "Miss America."

STERN: They heard about some guy who keeps getting fined by the United States government for being a dirty, filthy disc jockey and that's all they know about me. And I think that they'll read this book and they'll learn something that I think is true, that I am a dirty, little, filthy disc jockey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The story of a dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a moron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up and sit still.

MOKLER: Stern also went Hollywood with the well received film adaptation of "Private Parts."

ROEPER: I think what took people by surprise is that it was a love story and at the time it was a very honest love story about Howard Stern and his wife. And it was just -- it was funny and it was actually, I think, surprisingly sweet.

STERN: Ooh, look at that bra. Where did you get that?


STERN: OK, that's it. That's it. I am making a baby. It's baby time!

The biggest question is what kind of woman would marry Howard Stern? There are issues involved with being with Howard Stern. I mean some see it as betrayal when I talk about her miscarriage or I'm running around on the floor with a bunch of strippers or something, and I wanted to show that in the movie.

ALISON STERN, EX-WIFE: He's a wonderful husband. He's a great father to our children and I have a great life with him, so I can handle it.

MOKLER: However, in 1999, after 21 years of marriage, Stern shocked listeners when he announced he and his wife were divorcing. Forever speaking what's on his mind, Stern discussed it on the radio.

STERN: It's the saddest time in our lives. It's awful, just the most awful thing. I don't want to be going through this. I don't want my kids going through it and I don't want Alison going through it.

ROEPER: When I first read the news that Howard was getting divorced, I thought well, how is he going to pull this off because he always had that great, kind of built-in excuse. He could flirt and he could talk to these movie stars and these actresses and say, "Oh, boy, what I'd do with you if only I weren't married." Yet, he somehow managed to pull it off partially because he's been honest about it. I mean it just became part of the show like the rest of his life.

MOKLER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Stern's career is threatened. Are his days on the radio about to end?

BOZELL: If the man cannot behave, then he doesn't have a right to be on the air. It's quite simple.



MOKLER (voice-over): Sunday, February 1, 2004, Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction sets off a firestorm of controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was outrageous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, Leonard, they should have slapped cuffs on both of them.

MOKLER: Congress leapt into action, holding hearings on broadcast indecency but what began with Janet Jackson quickly turned to focus on Howard Stern. Clear Channel, the largest radio company in America, announced it was suspending Stern from six of its stations.

CASTRO: Howard Stern was like a pit bull on rabies. He was uncontrollable.

MOKLER: Stern accused Clear Channel of having a political agenda, saying it took him off the air because he had been critical of the Bush administration. Clear Channel denied the accusations. Stern remained furious.

STERN: These Fascist right-wing a-holes are getting so much freakin' power, you got to take back the country. That's my words to you. And I don't know how many more days I have on the air.

MOKLER: Stern would soon have more to complain about. In two separate rulings, the FCC announced indecency fines totaling over half a million dollars for several stations that broadcast Stern's radio show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is The Howard Stern Show.

STERN: I'm thrilled because I had a solid bowel movement.

BOZELL: What you've got is some people in the entertainment industry like Howard Stern, who have made a bloody fortune of money kicking America in the teeth and saying, "We will not abide by it." So guess what, they're getting fined now.

MOKLER: Stern released a written response to the fines saying he was the victim of a McCarthy-type witch hunt and adding -- quote -- "It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's now nine minutes after nine.

MOKLER: However, there are laws on what can and can't be said over broadcast air waves.

PAULSON: What the Supreme Court has decided is there can be limits in the public interest.

MOKLER: Ken Paulson, recently named editor of "USA Today" spent seven years as the director of the First Amendment Center.

PAULSON: In effect, broadcasters have a contract with the American people and they agree that from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. they won't put indecent content over the air.

MOKLER: The FCC definition of indecency focuses on language deemed patently offensive by community broadcast standards. However, it leaves plenty of room for interpretation.

THOMPSON: What is patently offensive to contemporary community standards? Big city, no way are you going to get any consensus on what contemporary standards are. A small town, probably not. Under the same roof? Probably not.

STERN: Oh, and listen, she wants to give me a proctological exam.

BOZELL: If you look at some of the raunch that's on Howard Stern's radio show and I challenge you to find me a single community anywhere in America, including the 90210 zip code that finds it acceptable to have that material.

MOKLER: However, Stern points to other shows, most notably Oprah Winfrey's saying the same content he deals with can be found there.

ROEPER: It's the ultimate ironies when you have Howard Stern's general manager telling him you can't play the transcript -- you can't play the tape of Oprah's show because it's too racy for your show.

THOMPSON: Who gets to decide that radio parody, which is essentially what Howard Stern is doing is somehow an legitimate form, whereas, as sincere, confessional, self-help, which is what Oprah is doing, is an OK form? And that's when this whole thing gets a lot, lot more complicated.

MOKLER: Right now, those decisions are made by the FCC.

ROEPER: My problem with that is whether you like Howard Stern or not, it's today they decide Howard Stern has crossed that line, tomorrow maybe it's Rush Limbaugh, then the day after that, it's another form of programming and you've got all this power in this governing body.

PAULSON: You know sometimes the First Amendment debate is not really about the content. It's about holding government to the rules, making sure the government continues to maintain its promise of keeping hands-off free expression. It's not about Howard Stern. It's about James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

MOKLER: FCC Chairman Michael Powell has suggested broadcasters adopt a new voluntary code on indecency saying -- quote -- "Heavier government entanglement through a dirty conduct code will not only chill speech. It may deep freeze it." Meanwhile, Congress is debating raising indecency fines to $500,000, up from $27,000 now. And it would allow the FCC to begin fining individuals and not just the companies they work for.

BOZELL: You start fining $500,000 -- up to $500,000 per utterance of indecency, per station uttering that indecency and soon you're talking real guacamole. And that's got their attention.

HARRISON: The $500,000 fines is a draconian, bone-crunchingly powerful display of restraint on the part of the federal government that is going to chill creativity in radio. It's going to set radio back 30, 40 years.

MOKLER: There's another solution to avoiding questionable material in broadcasting, turn it off. PAULSON: The First Amendment is all about the right to speak. And there's really not a constitutional right to -- not to have to hear what you disagree with. Now, you don't need the Constitution to turn off your radio or to change the channel. That's an option every American has.

BOZELL: People say that all the time, change the channel. Adults can change the channel. We're not talking about adults. We're talking about impressionable youngsters who not only don't change the channels but they gravitate towards this.

THOMPSON: We have to ask ourselves if we're being so careful to protect the 7-year-old that there's now this tyranny of the 7-year- old, that 7-year-olds are now essentially determining what we will all hear on broadcast radio and television.

MOKLER: Stern himself remains defiant and says his show shouldn't be censored with a bleep button.

STERN: I think we should do exactly what we've been doing for 10 years. Every time you hit the button, you're saying the FCC is right. Every time we hit the button, we are saying we're doing something wrong. And I suggest to you there is nothing wrong about this show. We're in a war. It's a cultural war.

MOKLER: So listen again to Stern and the voices around him.

STERN: Maybe they're right. Spontaneity, creativity, honesty are dangerous things and the public should never be exposed to them.

BOZELL: Shape up or ship out, it's the simple message.

PAULSON: This battle is not about Howard Stern's radio career. It's about how far do we let government go in restricting the free speech of any American.

MOKLER: Listen closely because underneath the controversy there may be a lot more to hear.


ZAHN: Despite all his trouble with federal regulators, Howard Stern's ratings continued to soar. According to the latest numbers, Stern scored major gains in listenership during the first three months of this year.

ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, she was queen of pop in Canada, but her life and her music would take a dramatic turn.


MORISSETTE: There was a part of me that is like sick of walking on egg shells and being perfect.


ANNOUNCER: How Alanis Morissette found her voice and a new audience, just ahead.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Howard Stern isn't the only one firing back in the battle over indecency. Alanis Morissette recently staged a very public protest in what she considers to be the latest fight over free speech. The singer/songwriter, of course, is no stranger to controversy, to explicit lyrics, to speaking her mind. But rock's angry young girl isn't quite as angry as she used to be. Her new album, "So Called Chaos," shows a mellower side to an artist famous for her angst and heartbreak. Here's Kyra Phillips.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When she exploded on the music scene in 1995, Alanis Morissette was dubbed a prophet, the voice of a generation. Her "Jagged Little Pill," anything but hard to swallow.

GUY OSEARY, CEO, MAVERICK RECORDS: I didn't grow up on Carole King but to me, this was mine; "Jagged Little Pill."

PHILLIPS: Generation X couldn't agree more, taking ownership in the blisteringly honest, sometimes X-rated album to the tune of 30 million sales. At the age of just 21, Alanis Morissette had the biggest selling female debut of all time.

MORISSETTE: Very overwhelming. Very exciting. Hugely defining. Literally, every two seconds I was being given an opportunity to really define who I was. And I wasn't entirely sure who I was; so, therein lay some of the struggle during those years.

PHILLIPS: And now, with her latest album, "So Called Chaos," a different side of Morissette emerges with a fresh perspective and new look. It's a departure from the angry ballads of the past. She's more upbeat, more optimistic.

But one thing hasn't changed the singer's refusal to shy away from controversy.

MORISSETTE: At least we live in a land where we can still think about the human body as being beautiful. And we're not afraid of the female breast.

PHILLIPS: While hosting the 2004 Juno Awards in Canada, she beared all in an on-stage disrobe that revealed an anatomically correct body suit. Though she was not actually naked, the act was a satirical protest of the FCC's response to Janet Jackson's Super Bowl debacle. It is just the latest chapter in an introspective journey through self-reinvention, disappointment, and brutal honesty.

Alanis Nadine Morissette was born on June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Canada, three years after brother, Chad, and just 12 minutes after her twin, Wade.

MORISSETTE: I grew up in a very masculine environment. So I was around a lot of men, my brothers and their friends. There was just a lot of guys around.

PHILLIPS: Georgia and Alan Morissette were teachers, and raised the three children in a seemingly idyllic, Canadian home.

MORISSETTE: It was somewhat patriarchal, very communicative. We didn't really watch television. We had to read half an hour a day, and we were only allowed to watch half an hour's worth of television.

PHILLIPS: But movies were allowed. By four, Alanis developed an obsession with the 1978 film, "Grease." Two years later, she took up the piano.

MORISSETTE: I started playing piano when I was 6. And I knew that I wanted to be involved in that form of expression, whether it was through music, or acting, or dancing, or painting, or writing. You know, I was always writing all the time.

PHILLIPS: Opportunity came in the form of a local folk singer, Lindsay Morgan; a friend of the family who made a living making music.

MORISSETTE: And I used to peak my head in through the emergency exit door, and just watch them, because obviously, I wasn't allowed in.

LINSEY MORGAN, FRIEND: So, the twins stood there. And especially to this day, I can still see Alanis standing there. And I see her eyes.

MORISSETTE: So I thought, OK, so you can love what you do. This is exciting. So, I just started writing, and I didn't think it was unusual or odd at all.

PHILLIPS: Two years later in 1984, an audiocassette, this audiocassette, landed in Morgan's mailbox. On the tape, the rough beginnings of a song.

MORGAN: There was a line that came out, "Fate Stay With Me." I remember thinking; this is not just a little girl singing words. There's something there. It was unstructured. It was like words after another. But it was there. I talked to Alanis and I said, "Write some more."

PHILLIPS: Months later, Morgan was shocked by his protege's progress.

MORGAN: And she came down with her book, this notebook. And she hesitated. She said, "You promise you won't laugh?" And I remember saying, "Alanis, I'm not going to laugh."

MORISSETTE: One, two, three. Your father ain't man in the right place. Once in a while you meet him face to face... MORGAN: I remember sitting there and I remember feeling the hair come up on the back of my neck. And she just went right through the song. I knew right then that there was something incredible here.

PHILLIPS: Her first big break came in the spring of 1985. Ten- year-old Alanis landed a role on the Canadian children's show, "You Can't Do That On Television."

MORISSETTE: Because one thing I know is how to get attention at a party.

PHILLIPS: Using money earned from the show, Alanis and 42-year- old Morgan formed a label. Her first single, a recorded mastered version of the song left in his mailbox.

MORISSETTE: I think we printed up 2,000 copies of it, and pretty much gave all of them away. I think I sold three of them.

PHILLIPS: Although the single received little airplay, it did provide exposure. And at 13, Alanis took home the top prize at a local TV station talent search.

But finally, in 1988 fate stepped in. The single "Too Hot" debuted in spring of 1991. Her debut album, "Alanis," quickly went Platinum. There were tours and sexy videos like "Feel Your Love."

Coming up, from pop tart to queen of angst, Alanis Morissette is radically transformed by a "Jagged Little Pill." It's an about face that many people will question.

DAVID WILD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "ROLLING STONE": Anytime you sell that many records, you're going to have naysayers. And from the beginning there were people who thought she's a fraud.



PHILLIPS: With big hair, shoulder pads, and hits like "Feel Your Love," by 1991, Alanis Morissette was Canada's queen of pop. But with that label came a nickname she despised.

CASTRO: She would kill you if you ever compared her to Debbie Gibson.

WILD: And I think she came out the other side of it, wanting to be real, wanting to be herself, not some sort of Canadian Debbie Gibson.

PHILLIPS: Her second album, "Now Is The Time," hit the stores in October of 1992. Audiences were in for a surprise. With ballads like "No Apologies," the album was less glitz and much more thoughtful. The result, a flop.

MORISSETTE: I knew that I wouldn't stop in terms of looking for someone to collaborate with until I felt like I was being myself, whatever that was.

PHILLIPS: The wait wouldn't be long. In the winter of 1994, she headed to Los Angeles. There, she was introduced to producer, Glen Ballard.

GLEN BALLARD, PRODUCER: We were laughing and having a cup of tea, within five minutes. And then, ten minutes later, kind of diving into a creative no man's land, really.

MORISSETTE: I thought, wow, here's someone I can delve into some subject matters that may offend or trigger or bother some other collaborators. Glen was embracing it. And he was saying, "Keep on, let's do it."

PHILLIPS: And with that creative pairing, barriers collapsed. Hidden anger and frustration from the past poured out. And the music flowed freely.

MORISSETTE: It took a minute or two for me to come out of my shell. And then once I did, I thought, OK. This is -- this is who I am.

BALLARD: We were in the middle of writing another song. And for whatever reason, I think we got bored or frustrated with a particular passage. And I just went to an E -- and then resolved it. And she said, "Sometimes." And then I went up to the next sharp, Minor 9. It's never quite enough.

MORISSETTE: There's a part of me that's like I'm sick of walking on eggshells and being...

BALLARD: Perfect. And then you're in my life. And so she jumps the melody up a whole step there, which is really brilliant.

MORISSETTE: And it was still just this inner conflict of, you know, wanting to be a people pleasing, perfect girl.

BALLARD: Don't forget to win first place. It was like, OK. I don't know what's going on here but this is great. I mean because she was coming up with it on the spot.

MORISSETTE: And part of me that just wanted to be authentic and raw, you know, not lie.

BALLARD: And that whole overwhelming sense of childhood sort of pulling down on you, I think she had encapsulated in four bars. So, it was a beautiful moment.

PHILLIPS: In the coming weeks, the album seemed to write itself; locking themselves in the studio, 12 songs emerged, in some cases, a song a day. And when "Jagged Little Pill" was released in June of 1995, it immediately caused a stir.

KEVIN SMITH, FRIEND: Anytime somebody mentioned oral sex in a movie, their ears prick up and listen. No pun intended. But who is this? Who the hell -- the heck is this chick? PHILLIPS: The song was "You Ought To Know," taken directly from Alanis' journal, a scathing ode to an ex-boyfriend.

MORISSETTE: I was worried about some of the subject matter in it. And I remember Glen turning to me and saying, "Is this how you feel?" And I said, "Yes." He said, "Well then don't change a damn thing."

PHILLIPS: But there were detractors, especially, when her Canadian, pop tart past was discovered by the press.

JOHN ALEXANDER, FMR. MCA RECORDING A & R EXE., CANADA: I was blindsided by someone from the "L.A. Times." He started asking questions like, how come those first two albums that you made aren't available anymore, and are you embarrassed by them?

WILD: People assumed that Glen Ballard had created this persona for her, and created this music for her.

BALLARD: The idea that I did anything other than just empower what was already there ignores the fact that she's just an enormously talented singer, gifted lyricist, powerful personality, and a very spiritual and strong person.

PHILLIPS: Naysayers aside, there was no denying the momentum. Four Grammy's later, "Jagged Little Pill," was on its way to selling 30 million copies, the biggest female artist debut of all time.

MORISSETTE: And it was so scary and so great and I was humbled and blown away. It was just a catapulting into who are you-ness. Who are you in the face of this mayhem?

PHILLIPS: Coming up, after two years on the road, the enormity of "Jagged Little Pill" blindsides Alanis, forcing her to take a break.

WILD: The rest of the world around her was going crazy. People were expecting her to save a generation and that was just not going to happen.



PHILLIPS: By the winter of 1996, the world, it seemed, had fallen head over feet for 22-year-old Alanis Morissette. The "Jagged Little Pill" tour had taken her around the world twice. And with 30 million albums sold, six top 40 hits, and four Grammys, the Canadian transplant was being called the most successful new female artist in pop music history.

WILD: She sold 30 million records with a very intense, psychological, artful, non-pandering, piece of work. That's really unprecedented.

PHILLIPS: But with newfound icon status bearing down upon her, pressure was building. Fame, it seemed, was not everything she thought it would be.

MORISSETTE: I didn't laugh for about two years. One has to almost experience it to be able to truly see that it doesn't offer what it's touted as being able to offer.





PHILLIPS: The wild ride had to stop and as the "Jagged Little Pill" juggernaut approached its second year with no sign of slowing down, a decision was made. The tour would end. And on December 14, 1996, a visibly drained Alanis said good-bye to her fans, hugged her bandmates, and set off to find herself.

In the coming months, friends and family were met by an altogether different Alanis: closed off and distant.

ALEXANDER: I think she started to maybe isolate herself a little bit from some of the people she was very close to. I could sense that something was amiss. Something was wrong.

PHILLIPS: Adding to the pressure, the industry was pushing for another album. Paralyzed by expectations, those closest to her say, she nearly walked away.

MORGAN: We went to see her down in Los Angeles. I remember her saying, I thought of walking away from it many times. It's that brutal.

PHILLIPS: With the help of yoga and eastern spirituality, Alanis turned inward. And following a life-altering trek to India in January of 1998, she began to write again. When she returned to Glen Ballard's studio months later, the angst was behind her and a peaceful Alanis Morissette walked in.

BALLARD: When she walked in the door that day, we went right to it. And within an hour, there it was. It was the song that had the easiest time being created. And that certainly was, I think, a gift to me from her, through India.

PHILLIPS: The album "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" was released on November 3, 1998. Like "Jagged Little Pill," autobiographical but something was different. The anger was gone and fans didn't know what to think.

WILD: On "Jagged Little Pill," it was all about everybody in the world related to this record particularly young women. On the second record, her experiences were things that no one else could relate to.

PHILLIPS: The 17-track album sold 10 million copies; just one third of what "Jagged" had taken in. CASTRO: Immediately, they talked about the sophomore jinx, which was rubbish. I mean this was -- you know, if any other person had that album out at the time, they would have been deliriously happy.

PHILLIPS: By the spring of 2002, Alanis, the singer-songwriter returned. This time, however, there was a hitch. No collaborations, no producers. Her third album was all her own and aptly titled "Under Rug Swept."

WILD: A lot of people were expecting her to fall on her face and come up with something inferior. I think it's one of the best things she's ever done.

PHILLIPS: Rocketing to No. 1 the first week in release, its debut single "Hands Clean," immediately sparked controversy.

CASTRO: Beginning at age 14, she started dating a much older man who she hasn't named and it bothered her for years. It's really a no- holds barred song. The lyrics are pretty intense and they're pretty incriminating.

MORISSETTE: It's a song about a relationship that I was not emotionally prepared to kind of deal with at the time. So I wanted to speak the truth about it, without seeking revenge of any sort, but seeking a liberation that comes from my speaking the truth.

PHILLIPS: And now after a two-year hiatus, Alanis Morissette is back with her fifth album, "So Called Chaos." With upbeat songs like "Everything," the CD marks the latest stage of Morissette's continuing evolution as a musician and a person.

She has moved beyond being the reckless and explosive lyricist that made her famous to become a cooler, more confident voice. For Alanis Morissette, it's a journey that is far from over.

BALLARD: Alanis has a lot to say. Her voice is clearly one of the great instruments for expressing just about anything that she may be thinking about.

WILD: This is a woman who has a story she wants to tell. And I think she'll spend a lifetime telling the story.

MORISSETTE: I'll be writing songs till I die. There's just no question.


ZAHN: Alanis Morissette's new CD, "So Called Chaos," debuts On Monday.

And that's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard and the phenomenon of "American Idol."

I'm Paula Zahn. Be sure to stay with CNN for the very latest on what's happening in your world today. ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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