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Reality TV Star Tells Story of Abuse; MJ Fan Conspiracy Theories

Aired September 22, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong is everywhere. She`s telling "E.T." the story of the abuse she claims to have suffered at the hands of her husband, Russell Armstrong. But he just committed suicide.

And could America`s next reality TV stars be a 16-year-old bride and her 51-year-old groom? Courtney Stodden and her actor husband of "Lost" fame are America`s newest reality TV spectacle. But is it really love, or just a stunt to get on TV?

Plus, Michael Jackson conspiracy theories. Tonight, we`ll talk to a fan who says she was outside the King of Pop`s home the day he died. You won`t believe her jaw-dropping theories about a Michael Jackson cover-up. It rivals anything you`ve ever heard about Elvis.

ISSUES starts now.



TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, REALITY TV STAR: I asked the emergency workers if I could go in and hug him before they took him away. I mean, every night when I go to bed, it`s all I think about.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong, she`s released photos of her face badly bruised.

T. ARMSTRONG: You have to let me get my little girl out of here. Please don`t bring her daddy`s body out while she`s here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Taylor says she was beaten by her husband, who later committed suicide.

T. ARMSTRONG: Her screaming, Daddy, stop," and crying and my crying and just begging him to please not do it in front of her.

A lot of the issues in my marriage are definitely addressed this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her daughter, who is young right now, is going to grow up and look at this on the Internet, is going to watch a clip of this and say, "So, wait a minute. After daddy died, you went, took a bunch of money to go on a television show?"


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, escalating outrage, controversy, even an uproar over allegations of violent abuse by a reality TV star. Why? Because the man accused cannot defend himself. He committed suicide.

Hello, everyone. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from Los Angeles, the home of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

Now, ever since Russell Armstrong, a "Real Housewife" husband -- you see him here, with a real housewife, and I mean a "Real Housewife," of Beverly Hills, that is -- was found the dead last month. His wife, Taylor, has told the world that he beat her up repeatedly, that he hit her.

Well, now she`s on a media blitz. Today she told Dr. Phil the only reason she is still alive is because she was on a reality show.


T. ARMSTRONG: I can`t say what he was thinking at the time. What I can say is, I believed that, if it weren`t for the cameras, there`s a chance that I wouldn`t be sitting here with you today.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Supporters of Taylor Armstrong say she`s finally standing up for herself, and good for her.

But on the other side, there is a dead man who cannot defend himself. And we`re left wondering, why didn`t Taylor say something about this abuse? She`s had an opportunity. She has a reality show, after all. Why has she really not come out and said this on a reality show when he was still alive? That would have been the perfect opportunity.

Now, I have to say, I`m the last one to ever, ever, ever, under any circumstances, condone spousal abuse. There is a war on women that we talk about here on ISSUES. It`s happening in this country. When a man beats up his wife or his girlfriend, I consider it a hate crime.

But the timing of this is very strange. Taylor waits until Russell kills himself, commits suicide, and then she sells photos of herself, all bloodied and bruised? And apparently, there`s money -- there`s money issues in this marriage.

Some say, hey, that`s a reason to be suspicious. I happen to agree. What do you think? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Joining me now is Russell Armstrong`s friend, Randy Edwards.

Randy, I know you`ve been sticking up for your buddy, who can`t be here to speak for himself, because, tragically, he killed himself. What`s your reaction to Taylor`s media blitz in which she`s essentially going around in front of the entire nation, saying that your friend beat her?

RANDY EDWARDS, RUSSELL ARMSTRONG`S FRIEND (via phone): It infuriates me. And I haven`t seen -- I try not to watch all the clips and the news, but me and Russ` sister actually shot an episode with Dr. Phil yesterday, so I got to see some of it.

And it really infuriates me, some of the accusations that he got mad because she fed his kids a pizza without vegetables. That`s so out of character for Russ. I knew every one of Russ`s girlfriends his whole life. I was a roommate of him and another one of his girlfriends for a few months, and I never witnessed anything like that. Ever.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s more from Taylor on E.T. Now, Taylor Armstrong is telling Nancy O`Dell about the first time Russell allegedly hit her. Listen to this.


T. ARMSTRONG: I was pregnant with Kennedy, and he grabbed me by the throat and held me up against a wall. Nothing had really happened to set him off, so I saw his ability to go from just zero to 60 that quickly.

NANCY O`DELL, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": You have no idea what set him off?

T. ARMSTRONG: Oh, I do know what had set him off, but it`s almost embarrassing to say. I had made pizza for his children before he got home from work. And he came into the master bedroom and grabbed me by the neck and shoved me up against the wall and he said, "If you ever make my children a pizza without a vegetable again, I`ll kill you."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, this was allegedly when she was pregnant with her child, who is now 5 years old. So this was a long time ago.

I want to bring in my guest here, Dylan Howard, senior executive editor of Radar Online as well as Cheryl Arutt, a forensic psychologist.

What do you make of the fact that she`s saying that it was at least five years ago that he was hitting her, and she waits until this juncture, after he has committed suicide, to bring all this out into the open, even though she had a reality show -- has a reality show?

CHERYL ARUTT, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, it seems like a long time to wait, and it`s difficult because, as you said, he can`t defend himself.

However, what we do know about domestic violence cases is that they do very frequently start when the woman is pregnant. They start around the area of the pregnancy. And it is very common to hide and to bury that and to have shame around it, and also, for some time, for that only to be demonstrated when nobody else is around. So it is possible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, that`s one side of it.

Now, let`s play another clip, and then we`re going to get the other side, or at least another perspective.

According to Taylor, Russell`s abuse of her had gotten so bad that he did it in front of their young daughter, Kennedy. Watch this from E.T.


T. ARMSTRONG: She and I were sleeping, and he came home. And she was sleeping with me in my bed. And she started to yell and scream and call me names, and so there was a lot of volume and heavy cursing and name calling and referring Kennedy, `Your mom is a, `b`" -- you know, things I would never want her to hear or think.

And her screaming, "Daddy, stop," and crying, and my crying, and just begging him to please not do it in front of her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Dylan Howard, this is not a wilting flower, this Taylor Armstrong. You have to be a brassy, really extroverted person to go on a reality TV show. She`s saying this went on for five years. Why would she stay? And why wouldn`t she reveal it on her perfect forum, a national reality show?

And then, if she was concerned about her daughter, why would she allow this to go on as her daughter`s growing up?

DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RADAR ONLINE: I don`t think we can sit here in judgment of Taylor Armstrong, or sit in judgment of Russell Armstrong. There is no ideal circumstance to deal with what has occurred with "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

Today I went on the Internet and I tried to research domestic violence victims. One in two women, according to the Department of Justice, do not report to law-enforcement authorities when they are assaulted.

So you have to consider that this is not an isolated incident in Hollywood. There have been a number of Hollywood celebrities that have not gone to law enforcement and reported such crimes. The most recent, Oksana Grigorieva, until she ultimately decided to stand up.

So criticism of Taylor Armstrong is unfair, but at the same time, it seems to me so disingenuous that you have people defending Russell Armstrong when he has a demonstrable history of assault against women. There are court documents that state that. And then, of course, you have these allegations that, on the surface, seem very legitimate from Taylor Armstrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, Randy Edwards, you`re a childhood friend of Russell. You just heard what Dylan Howard of Radar Online said. I want to give you the opportunity to respond in defense of your friend.

EDWARDS: He`s talking about demonstrative, I mean, how many allegations? His ex-wife, Barbara, she will tell you that...

HOWARD: There are three. Three women. His ex-wife, an ex- girlfriend, and Taylor Armstrong. Three women.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, so two other women. But Randy, your point?

EDWARDS: My point is, you can talk to his ex-wife, Barbara, today, and she`ll say she was just as much at fault for what went on between them, and she`s outraged by the accusations that Taylor`s making. So why is Barbara outraged by it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. The thing that concerns me most of all, Holly Hughes, criminal defense attorney, is the money angle. The fact that -- or at least the allegation that she sold the photo of herself battered, after he died.

And let`s get Dylan in first.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How much was the money figure?

HOWARD: Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, we`re hearing. That was the interview from "Entertainment Tonight." She`s appeared on "Dr. Phil." I don`t know what she was paid for that. I assume she was paid.


HOWARD: I assume she was.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The photo, photo.

HOWARD: I`ve got to say, we`re talking about reality television. The word "reality," real. And we didn`t say it on the show. And that is what concerns me. That we`ve got a sugarcoated version of her life on this television program, and she could have dealt with a very serious issue so much better than what she is now. But we can`t sit in judgment, because we`ve never been there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Holly Hughes, the money issue, the fact that she sold, allegedly, the photos of herself battered. Does that raise a red flag for you?

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Not in light of the fact that it actually exists. That it appears that this domestic violence really did occur.

I can`t sit in judgment of her for accepting the money, because, quite frankly, if somebody offered any one of us $250,000 for one photograph of ourselves, can we really sit here and say we wouldn`t take the money if we`re going to put the story out there anyway?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just say this -- let me just jump in for a second.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dylan, wasn`t there talk that this might be a photograph that perhaps, allegedly, could have occurred when she had a facelift or she had some other kind of procedure?

HOWARD: Well, we can only take Taylor on face value. And in that interview with Nancy O`Dell, she said that a doctor said to her, she -- when she said that Taylor -- sorry, the daughter, Kennedy, had actually inflicted the injury, she said the daughter must have been wearing steel- capped boots to cause that kind of injury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And as always, we are discussing this important issue. We want to be fair. We are leaders here in the war against women. We want to stop, we want to see the end of domestic violence.

This is a unique situation of a woman who has had a reality TV show and does not come out and say this for the longest time. And then, after her husband commits suicide, is coming out with waves and waves of this, a campaign going on show after show. So it`s a very nuanced issue, and we are diving into it.

We`re going to have more on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star, Taylor Armstrong`s, allegations that she was beaten by her husband, who then committed suicide. And we`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. More with Russell Armstrong`s best friend.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re so vocal when it comes to speaking out about domestic violence, and you know, with the allegations, is that going to be addressed on the show?

T. ARMSTRONG: You`ll have to tune in and see, but a lot of the issues in my marriage are definitely addressed this year.




T. ARMSTRONG: A lot of the issues in my marriage are definitely addressed this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The show characterized him as someone that abused his spouse.

GLADYS ARMSTRONG, RUSSELL`S MOTHER: I never knew him to be unkind to a lady. He was always the nicest person in the world. I never knew him to be abusive to anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reality TV can camouflage a lot of thing, and they can sensationalize a lot of things. But physical abuse and debt, those aren`t things that be made up by a producer.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What sent Russell Armstrong over the edge? Why did he can kill himself? Could it have been that he was aware that these allegations of domestic violence against him, allegations that he allegedly beat the woman that he is seen here on camera with, his wife, did that drive him over the edge? Listen to his widow, Taylor Armstrong, on "E.T."


T. ARMSTRONG: I don`t think he saw himself as an abuser until the last time that he hurt me, when I finally ended our relationship.

There being such specific radiographic evidence of the injury, that he finally really had to look it in the face. I had never seen my husband cry in all the years that we were together. And when I finally showed him the MRI, he just put it down and started to cry.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cheryl Arutt, you`re a forensic psychologist. Is it possible that he was in denial? I mean, if you hit somebody, how can you be in denial about that? That`s a physical fact. That`s not even like verbal or psychological or emotional abuse.

ARUTT: There`s a very easy answer for that, and you heard it with even the man you were speaking to before. Abusers do not take responsibility for their own violence. "She made me do it. She -- it was because of something she did or didn`t do. I had to do it." And what they`re not really taking in is that a person can make you angry, but a person cannot make you hit. And abusers will always blame external kinds of issues for their behavior. So they don`t take responsibility, typically.


Debbie, Tennessee, your question or thought, Debbie?

CALLER: Hello. Is this Jane?


CALLER: Hi. I was an abused woman 40 years ago, and my abuse only lasted for a couple of years, but Taylor`s actions, her face, her demeanor is very indicative of an abused woman. And it`s something is that it`s humiliating...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why? Why is it -- why is it -- why is it indicative of an abused woman? Tell me that.

CALLER: Just the -- oh, the sallowness in her face, her eyes, the pain, the -- it just makes me tremble to see that. I`ve dealt with abused women before, after getting out of my relationship. And I`ve also been in therapy for years and years, and suffered PTSD because of trying to repress those memories.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, Debbie. I want to thank you for sharing your story. And I`m very grateful and thankful for that you got out of that abusive relationship.

I want to go back to Randy Edwards, a childhood friend of Russell Armstrong, and give you an opportunity. I mean, we have a panel of experts. These people are chosen randomly. I have no idea how they feel before they sit down. It seems like they`re giving credence to Taylor.

EDWARDS: Well, I have a question. Taylor was a spokesperson for -- or she is, and was before Russell`s death -- a battered women`s shelter, and they preach to be proactive. So was she going against everything she was supposedly preaching? I mean, that doesn`t make sense.

And she did not get paid for the "Dr. Phil" show, but she has made over $600,000 in the last week.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just say this. I find the fact that she is on reality TV, first of all, indicative of a certain type of person. And that, I think, is what bothers me, Holly Hughes. And I`m trying to put a -- define what it is that disturbs me about the manner in which she has revealed these accusations.

I am completely sympathetic to any woman who says that they`ve been abused. And I think they should have the benefit of the doubt. But it`s the combination of waiting until after her husband commits suicide, having been on a reality show, which would have been the perfect vehicle to talk about this, and then having made money off photos of her battered face. And having done all of this with her daughter, knowing she`s going to grow up and hear about all of this. That gives me pause, and makes me say maybe we need to examine this more closely.

So on the other side, I want to get everybody`s reactions to those points that I`ve made. We`ve got more on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" abuse.



G. ARMSTRONG: I asked, "Russell, can`t you stop the bashing? You know, can`t you talk to the producer?"

And you know, he said, "Well, with this is the way reality TV is."

I said, "Russell, this is brutal."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong says Russell just didn`t abuse her. He also made sure nobody found out about it. Here is Taylor Armstrong on "E.T."


O`DELL: What did you tell the doctor?

T. ARMSTRONG: I told him that Kennedy had kicked me.

O`DELL: Why?

T. ARMSTRONG: Because Russell told me to tell him that. And Russell went with me to the appointment, and sat in the chair with me the whole time. He immediately came into the recovery room with me and stayed there until I left. And I didn`t want him to go to jail, so I guess that was all right.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, Dylan Howard, of Radar Online, the show had to have known about it, and did they have a responsibility to do something about it?

HOWARD: Well, I think they did. Did they fail in this instance, in hindsight, with the benefit of that? Yes, they did. And so, probably, did the other cast mates. Because it was an open secret, as we understand now, amongst those other cast mates, that they knew that there were deep-seated problems in this relationship.

What`s more, they serialized the marriage drama by going to a counselor for season two. We`re going to see portions of that coming up. Not only is that morbid, it`s probably perverse too, but we are going to see it. So everyone must have known about the situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Were they shooting around, allegedly shooting around her when she was -- her face was battered?

HOWARD: No. No. As we understand it, she kept that from the cast mates. She kept that from producers. She kept that from everyone associated with her life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Randy Edwards, you`re a childhood friend of Russell`s. Do you think the show bears some responsibility here?

EDWARDS: For his death? I know it does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does the show bear some -- yes. Why? How?

EDWARDS: Part of it. I mean, I talked to him. He said, 90 percent of the people he thought were his friends just stabbed him in the back. Meaning the people on the show.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you know, you`ve got to know that reality TV friends aren`t real friends. I mean, how come he got involved in this, Randy?

EDWARDS: He got involved just for Taylor.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, he did just for Taylor.

EDWARDS: Just for Taylor. I point blank said that to him: "You did this just for Taylor, right?" And this was in January when they were here for the Super Bowl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got to go back to Dylan Howard. In terms of this show and what he was involved in, you said that there was a time where he spent $50,000 on a child -- on his daughter, Kennedy`s, party, when he didn`t even have any money.

HOWARD: I`ve got to agree with Randy on that point, that yes, Russell Armstrong was living a life to cater to the demands of his wife, which included at one point in season one, spending $50,000 for Bravo`s cameras to have this grand birthday party for young Kennedy. And it made for great viewing.

But at the time, he was financially stretched, living beyond his means, but doing this to try and stay as a key character, as part of the show. And ultimately, that show must bear some responsibility.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the show is invited, their reps, any time. We want to have their side of the story. But I have to say, in general, I think reality TV is, to some degree, a pact with the devil. Is it reality? No.



COURTNEY STODDEN, TEEN BRIDE: Our reality show is going to be about how we connect, you know, our personal life. I`m very mature, obviously, on the outside as well as on the inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is your relationship with Doug a publicity stunt? Do you get a question like that a lot?

STODDEN: Yes, yes, a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it a publicity stunt?

STODDEN: No. No, it`s not. I didn`t even feel the need to say no. It`s not a publicity stunt. We never expected this. It just happened but we fell in love with one another. Because I was under age and he was 51, half of his life`s over and I`m just venturing out on mine.

DOUG HUTCHINSON, MARRIED TO 16-YEAR-OLD: Hi, world, we love you and we`ll see you around, obviously.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they`re dyeing the dog`s fur. They got married when she was 16, he was 51. And now this couple is all over Hollywood, pitching a reality show. And of course, we`re coming from Los Angeles today, near Hollywood. This is greater Hollywood.

Was their marriage a total sham? I mean are they married because they want to get a reality show? They hotly deny that, of course. But a lot of people are saying that could be the case. And they`re also asking, what kind of message does this send to teen girls if they get a reality show, basically glorifying a 16-year-old marrying a 51-year-old.

Attention seekers, Courtney Stodden and actor Doug Hutchinson got hitched last May. Her parents had to ok the marriage, since she is underage. You might recognize the groom from the ABC show "Lost".



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing out here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Building a place -- a little getaway for me and the Mrs.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, now, take a look at the bride. The 17- year-old, that`s what she is now, looks more like a 30-year-old sex bomb, a sex kitten than an innocent little flower of a teenager. She talked to RadarOnline today and brought her husband along. Listen to this.


STODDEN: Thank you, sweetie. That`s Doug right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to say hi?

HUTCHINSON: Hi, everybody.

STODDEN: Give me a kiss, Doug.

HUTCHINSON: No tongue. PG kiss.

STODDEN: He`s a prude.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Courtney swears their marriage is not a publicity stunt and that they simply fell in love. What do you think? Give me a holler, 1-877-Jvm-Says.

Straight out to RadarOnline senior reporter, Alexis Teresczuk; Alexis, you actually did this interview, you spoke with Doug and Courtney and Courtney`s mom. And that`s another story, but do you think these people are for real, or is this just another one of these we want to get on television and if we have to get married, we will.

ALEXIS TERESCZUK, SENIOR EDITOR, RADARONLINE: You know, I can see how you would say that, I absolutely do. But after having spent so much time with all of them in person, I really think they`re sincere. They are just excited to have a reality show. You know, they got married long before they had a reality show.

They seem to really be in love. To me, it`s just not what I would have done. It maybe isn`t what you would do. It`s not what a lot of people would do. But these two seem really happy with the decisions they`ve made.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But they just got married in May.

TERESCZUK: And they`re still newlyweds and they`re really happy, they have a good time, they`re not struggling financially. They`re not -- you know, they`re making money the only way that they know how, that they want to do.

Sure, Courtney does want to be famous. She is a pop singer, she`d love to be an actress. Doug is an actor. They definitely want to stay famous and relevant in Hollywood. But to me, they honestly seem really nice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so why do they need the reality show?

TERESCZUK: I think that that is the number one way that people stay famous now. They want to be the Kardashians. They want to be -- you know, hopefully they don`t go the way of Nick and Jessica.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But they wouldn`t have a reality show -- there`s no - - you have to have a unique selling proposition. You have to have something going on that nobody else has going on, and what they have chosen to have going on is a 16-year-old got married to a 51-year-old.

Now Courtney was asked if she`d let her daughter, her daughter, marry a 51-year-old man. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you let your 16-year-old daughter marry a much older man.

STODDEN: Yes. Of course. I mean, if it was somebody like Doug, of course. But I think someone like Doug comes around maybe once in a blue moon, so. I don`t know, if she stumbled across a beautiful man like Doug, so be it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I have to ask, like mother, like daughter? Because her mom encourages all of this; she loves the relationship -- yada, yada, yada -- and in fact the mother of the then-16-year-old, now-17-year- old who is married to a 51-year-old says, "They are going to be very, very open about their lives on their reality show. They want everybody to see their life. Nothing is off-limits."

Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor, I`ll tell you something, you change the age just a little bit and this would be something that would be against the law. Would it not?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Yes, in Florida, it is against the law. She`s 16 and he`s 51. It`s unlawful sex with certain minors. And these are the kind of cases that I prosecute.

And I think you`re right, unless you had a hook like this, you wouldn`t be able to get a reality show. And so while I`m not the sex police, certainly I don`t think this sends out a good message.

I mean listen, I don`t know if they`re in love, I`ve never met them and I`m not real personally concerned if they are in love. But certainly, these are the kind of things we see on television. We see the older man with the younger girl. We see teen pregnancies.

And these are all things that kids emulate. They like this stuff. They think it`s fabulous to be on TV. They want to be on TV. They want reality shows and I have these girls that come in my office and that`s what they`re striving for. They don`t think it`s wrong to get pregnant at 13, because these girls got reality shows. And I`m certainly sure that after something like this, somebody would say, I wouldn`t mind having sex with an older man, if no one`s going to disapprove of it, especially the mother, then what`s the problem?

But, yes, Jane, it is against the law in the state of Florida with these ages if there`s no parental consent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, I`m not going to point the finger if people want to be TV. I`m on TV. I`ve been on TV for decades, so who am I to say that? I think it`s the question of intention. What is your intention in getting married? What is your intention on wanting to be on television?

So that`s what it boils down to. And if your intention is simply fame for the sake of fame and nothings, there`s nothing bigger than that happening, that`s when I think it sort of crosses a line into something that`s unhealthy.

Now, apparently, Courtney Stodden is what you call in Hollywood a slash. Usually like actor/singer/dancer/composer slash -- that`s why we call them slashes. She believes in her ability to sing.

Listen to this music video of her, from her song "Don`t Put it on me" from Courtney Stodden.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Is that singing or rapping? I`m not sure.

All right, Diane, Pennsylvania, weigh in on this, please. Your question or thought, Diane?

DIANE, PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): Ok. First of all, that is an attempt at singing with rap. And it`s absolutely ridiculous. It does not even sound good at all, and I have a musician`s ear. Also, this is woman, girl, teen, really, teen does not look like a teen whatsoever. She`s obviously had a breast job, so she keeps shoving her boobs forward --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, allegedly.

DIANE: Allegedly, ok.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, hold on, Alexis Teresczuk says no.

TERESCZUK: She told me no. In fact, I called a plastic surgeon that actually performed a breast exam on her and he gave me his opinion and he says, no, she has not had plastic surgery. They are her real breasts.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some women are just well endowed. It happens in nature. I don`t know what your question was, but we`re out of time. You made a good and we had a good debate it.

I have to say, yes, love comes in unexpected packages. That`s one thing I`ve learned about it. It never hits me the way I think it`s going to hit me. So who knows maybe they are in love. But I do think it sends a dangerous message, if it`s anything but the love of the century.

Ok, up next, a Michael Jackson fan outside his house the day he died. We`re going to talk to her next. She has an absolutely amazing conspiracy theory. And we`re going to check her conspiracy theory against the facts to see if it adds up.

We`re taking your calls, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Right now we have also a dance interpretation.



ROBIN MEADE, HLN HOST, "MORNING EXPRESS": I`m Robin Meade. All year we`ve been introducing you to everyday people who are changing the world. We call them CNN Heroes. Well, today we announce the Top Ten CNN Heroes for 2011.

The honorees are, in alphabetical order by first name: Amy Stokes uses the Internet to match teens lacking role models with adults around the world. Bruno Serato is serving up a solution so that motel kids don`t go to bed hungry. Derreck Kayongo collects discarded hotel soaps and reprocesses them to save lives. Diane Latiker, in a violent neighborhood, she opened her door, inviting the gang members in. Eddie Canales helps young football players sidelined by spinal cord injuries. Elena Duron Miranda offers poor children a way out of the trash dump and into school. Patrice Millet, diagnosed with incurable cancer, he started feeding and coaching children from Haiti`s slums. Robin Lim helps poor women have healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. Sal Dimiceli pays for rent, food, and basic necessities to keep the working poor afloat. And Taryn Davis, who built a sisterhood of healing for a new generation of American war widows.

All right, there you go. Congratulations to the Top Ten CNN Heroes of 2011. Now, which one inspires you the most? Go to online or on your mobile device, to vote for "CNN Hero of the Year".


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All ten will be honored live at "CNN HEROES: AN ALL- STAR TRIBUTE" hosted by CNN`s Anderson Cooper on Sunday, December 11th, but only one will be named "CNN Hero of the Year". We`ll be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to have the people who are, of course, very much to the idea of talking about Michael Jackson and his legacy and the question of a man that they believe was responsible for his death. You`re going to have some tempers here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes, there was a stare down, and apparently it was enough to get them booted.

ERIN JACOBS, MICHAEL JACKSON FAN: We were in court and Conrad Murray was staring at the fans, and we were staring back, and it got rather heated.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m out there with the Michael Jackson fans here in Los Angeles, where the trial of the century is getting set to start in the courthouse right behind me. We`ve all heard about the conspiracy theories, you know, conspiracy theories about everybody, Elvis, Tupac Shakur.

As we get to the final stages of jury selection in this case, get ready for the Michael Jackson death trial starting Tuesday. The tension is ramping up, the fans are out there. Last night, I spoke to a woman who was thrown out of court for staring down the suspect, Dr. Conrad Murray. Check it out.


JACOBS: Conrad Murray, on June 25th, 2009, killed Michael Jackson. We were in court and Conrad Murray was staring at the fans and we were staring back, and it got rather heated between the two parties, and we were basically asked to leave.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Medical examiners say the king of pop died from an overdose of a surgical anesthetic, but there is one thing there is no shortage of -- Michael Jackson conspiracy theories. What do you think happened to Michael Jackson? Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. And what do you think about the conspiracy theory we`re going to discuss tonight?

Straight out to a very special guest; joining me exclusively now is a woman who says she was outside the house when Michael Jackson died. And she actually says she followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Sharon Sidney, when you saw that ambulance tear out of there, you were outside in a car with your friend. What went through you emotionally and what did you do?

SHARON SIDNEY, WAS OUTSIDE MICHAEL JACKSON`S HOUSE THE DAY HE DIED: I was very upset, because they backed out slowly, there were paparazzi that seemed to be hindering their movement, and I was very concerned. I was panicked. I didn`t know if it was Michael or the kids. And I just didn`t know what was going on at that moment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you went to the hospital?

SIDNEY: We followed them to the hospital. I was with a friend of mine.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you are a, what they call a die-hard fan. To be out there, outside the gates, at this moment in time, that must mean you`re there quite often. And I know you`re in the trial, in the courtroom, quite often.

Now, we`ve heard the whole gamut of conspiracy theories about what really happened to Michael Jackson. Now, remember the video of him supposedly hopping out of the ambulance? Check this out from YouTube. Watch carefully.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I don`t know exactly what`s going on there, but I do know that Sharon Sidney, who has been a long-time fan of Michael Jackson`s, who followed the ambulance, you say, to the hospital that day, what do you think really happened to Michael Jackson?

SIDNEY: I think it`s possible that Michael Jackson was kidnapped. I`m aware that there were people who were around him that were keeping him from his fans. I`m aware that at certain points, his family members had no contact with him. And I even spoke to Michael at one point, and he didn`t even know his own assistant`s telephone number.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying to me that you think Michael Jackson might still alive?

SIDNEY: I think he`s still alive and I have a lot of reasons to believe that and I`m not alone in that opinion.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And why? Who kidnapped him and why?

SIDNEY: Well, I don`t know who kidnapped him and I don`t specifically know why, but I have a lot of legitimate reasons to think he`s still alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, somebody told me that you believe that he`s being kept as some sort of music slave, churning out music?

SIDNEY: Well, one of the things that I think is possible is Michael Jackson, he had a loan against a catalogue that was negotiated with Sony.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I want to -- you know, let`s keep Sony out of it, but suffice it to say, do you believe -- is that what your belief is, that he`s alive somewhere churning out music?

SIDNEY: I think it`s possible, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Alan Duke, your thoughts on this. You`ve covered this trial from the very beginning.

ALAN DUKE, CNN PRODUCER: And I`ve known Sharon for a while because she shows up in court at every hearing. And we`ve talked about this before. And I`ve talked to members of the family about this. And they don`t believe that it can be true, because they saw a body. They saw Michael Jackson there in the coffin. They saw him as he was being entombed. They saw him at the emergency room, and they believe that he is dead.

I know Sharon has some theories about how that could be explained, but the family doesn`t believe it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we have about ten seconds, but briefly.

SIDNEY: Well, there`s a drug that people call the zombie drug and it makes a person seem as if they`re dead. There`s a case on it that was done many years back, where a man was actually buried alive. He came back some time later. He was kept, enslaved, where they were giving him a series of drugs for a long period of time. I don`t recall if it was a reporter or psychiatrist, but it`s documented.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. All right. Do you realize this could be hurtful to the kids?

SIDNEY: I realize it could be hurtful, but I also know it`s very important for the family to do a DNA test, because he`s alive. I`m convinced of that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, ok. Conspiracy theory number one and we`re going to bring you all of them here on ISSUES. Stay with ISSUES for the most complete coverage of the Conrad Murray trial. On Monday, Michael Jackson`s voice coach, a guy who spent hours and hours with Michael, joins me here on issues exclusively.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a monumental victory. This is a victory that`s going around all over the world. I mean people have been hearing about this stuff. First city every to go fur-free

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely agree that we shouldn`t wear fur. I wouldn`t wear fur ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a brutal, ugly industry and it really needs to be exposed. And I think this is one way of exposing it. And I am so appreciative and I know every one of these animals that have to suffer and die for pure vanity reasons -- I know they would appreciate it very much too.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, West Hollywood, for having the courage to say no to fur. That`s right. West Hollywood City council has voted unanimously to ban the sale of fur apparel; it is the first ban of its kinds in the entire country. I say bravo.

Everybody knows I`m an animal rights activist. And let me tell you, this is about time. Every year millions of innocent animals are killed in the fur trade. It`s a brutal, brutal process that often starts with the animals getting caught in steel traps hidden in our forests.


ELLEN LAVINTHAL, ANIMAL ACTIVIST: They are just so brutally slaughtered that I don`t think that anybody actually viewed the footage as I have that they would be comfortable wearing a fur.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to my special guest movie star and animal advocate, Elaine Hendrix. She has a new movie coming out called, "Fetching". It features her and some adorable dogs -- oh, that looks wonderful. And of course, you all recognize her from movies like the remake of "Parent Trap" and numerous TV shows.

Elaine, you attended some of the anti-fur rallies. You`re reaction to the passage of this ban on fur in West Hollywood?

ELAINE HENDRIX, ANIMAL ADVOCATE: I`m thrilled. And I think like you say it`s about time because animals need all the help that they can get. This is a symbolic law and it`s going to help set the trend for the rest of the country.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, when I see -- I`m in midtown Manhattan. We`re in L.A. right now. But usually I`m in midtown Manhattan. I see these women wearing full length furs walking their dogs. And I go up to them and I say you know, you`re wearing almost 100 dead animals and yet you think you love animals because you`re walking your dog.

But what about those animals? Those are sentient beings that have just as much feeling as your dog.

HENDRIX: Well absolutely. And most people don`t realize that they could actually very well be wearing dog on them because a lot of the fur gets imported from other countries and they go through horrific, horrific processes oftentimes skinned alive so you very well could be wearing a dog or cat because they`re not always labeled properly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In China, in fact, dog fur is huge. And there you see some of the fur farms. You see these animals they just turn around and they turn around and they turn around and they turn around and then sometimes they`re -- go ahead.

HENDRIX: Well, no, I was going to say these are animals that are going crazy because they`re not meant to be kept in metal cages. And the fur industry kills almost 50 million animals every single year just for their fur. And this is something that we don`t need in modern society anymore.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at this animal. It looks just like our dogs.

HENDRIX: I know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: These are just like our dogs. So we have this sort of double standard, don`t we?

HENDRIX: Very much so, you know. An animal is an animal is an animal and humans, we`re all sentient beings and everyone deserves compassion.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so what are we going to do to spread this around the country? Look at this poor animal in a leg-hold trap. That`s just like your dog or cat. These animals when they get caught in these traps they die a slow death. That animal is stuck to a trap. Its leg stuck to a trap and can`t move. How different is that from your cat and why do you need to wear that when there are synthetics that do the job.

You know, when somebody is climbing Mt. Everest they don`t wear fur. They wear synthetics.

And on the other side of the break, I`m going to ask you to tell American women why they shouldn`t wear fur.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The West Hollywood City Council voting unanimously to ban fur. The final vote in October. I`m here with actress Elaine Hendrix who is going to tell us you have actually refused to wear fur for a movie part.

HENDRIX: I have. I had a show that asked me to wear fur. I said no. They asked me to wear faux fur, I said no. It`s just not needed, you know. It`s a barbaric industry. It`s a modern society. We have so many other choices. We just need to follow suit like West Hollywood who`s at the forefront of human rights issues and now we`re at the forefront of animal rights issues.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. West Hollywood is often a first: first to ban declawing of cats; first to ban the sale of dogs and cats. Let`s hear it for West Hollywood.

HENDRIX: West Hollywood. The rest of the country needs to follow suit, one movement at the time. One law at the time and we`ll get it done.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And look how beautiful you are. You don`t need fur to look gorgeous and glamorous.

HENDRIX: Thank you Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t work that way, ladies.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just be yourself.

"NANCY GRACE" is next.