CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN PRESENTS

CNN Presents, Death of a Diva; Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant, a Troubled Nuclear Facility at the Center of A Debate; A Story of Al Qaeda's Bomb Plot

Aired February 18, 2012 - 20:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight on CNN presents, "Death of a Diva."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whitney Houston was pronounced dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was born to sing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But lived in a troubled life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I arrived in that room on that floor, you could feel that something was terribly wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What led to her death? Were there any warning signs? Whitney Houston's final hours.

Nuclear standoff. It happened in Japan. Could it happen here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thought it was fatally flouted. Unfortunately Fukushima proved me rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Safety concerns over an ageing nuclear facility.

Deadly cargo, would you believe this laser printer is a weapon of terror? We'll show you how Al Qaeda got these printer bombs through security and onto planes. Revealing investigations, fascinating characters, stories with impact.

This is CNN presents with your host tonight Randi Kaye and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Good evening. Whitney Houston will be remembered as one of the greatest voices of her generation and many of her closest friends say the troubled star was poised to make a comeback. That was tragically cut short with her untimely death.

RANDI KAYE, CNN HOST: Whitney Houston's soaring talent was shadowed we her troubles with addiction and her marriage.

Don Lemon looks at her rise to tame fame, her fall from superstardom and the final hours in her troubled life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That legendary ballad, that blinding beauty, that breathtaking voice.

Whitney Houston, the shy Jersey girl who belted her way to superstardom, six Grammys, and a record seven consecutive number one singles. For a time she was pop's greatest love of all.

KELLY PRICE, SINGER: To hear her voice was a miracle because for anybody to be able to do with a voice what she did with her speaks to a divine order.

LEMON: Whitney Houston, the icon, unimaginably talented, but also fatally flawed.

ALEXIS CHIU, SENIOR WRITER, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: There were many different sides to Whitney. There was the performer, the professional, there was the addict, and you never knew which Whitney you were going to get.

LEMON: If Houston was blessed by the heavens, she was most certainly cursed with her own demons. A contradiction right up to her final days.

PRICE: This was not a woman who was depressed, upset, high, drunk.

GERRICK KENNEDY, MUSIC REPORTER, LAS ANGELES TIMES: It was immediate. You could smell the stench of cigarettes and liquor. And I am just like, oh, my God, she is a mess right now.

LEMON: Whitney Houston died here at the Beverly Hilton on February 11th, the voice of a generation silenced forever. A tragic ending to a life filled with promise that was almost preordained.

With a gospel legend for a mother, and a cousin named Dionne Warwick, Houston was born to sing.

CLARENCE WALDRON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, JET MAGAZINE: When we first saw Whitney, when you first heard Whitney, you knew there was something special happening here.

LEMON: Legendary music producer Clyde Davis certainly knew. He discovered Houston and changed her life forever. He packaged and polished the 19-year-old sensation into a pure pop princess, at least on the surface.

CHIU: One source who worked with Whitney told us she definitely was not a goody two-shoes in any sense of the word.

LEMON: Houston's bad girl side may have ultimately drawn her to R&B bad boy, Bobby Brown.

CHIU: She was a girl from the streets of Newark and fell in love with a bad boy with a good voice, so, you know, her fans, yes, very shocked. Those who knew her best really weren't surprised. LEMON: Houston and Brown traded rings in 1992, a personal high matched only by a professional one that very same year. The "body guard" gross more that $400 million and launched the top selling sound track of all time.

But even as the crossover superstar commanded millions for movies like "the preacher's wife," she increasingly struggled with her fame.

Did she ever talk to you about the stress of fame?

GARY CATONA, WHITNEY HOUSTON'S VOCAL COACH: She said to me, you don't know what it is like being me. I am stressed out all the time.

LEMON: That stress was only compounded by Houston's often rocky marriage.

CHIU: They were really happy at first but pretty soon the relationship turned pretty volatile, and when she was under pressure, she tended to turn to drugs and alcohol.

LEMON: When Houston began a string of missed appearances and cancelations, many pointed their finger at Bobby Brown for his wife's mounting troubles with drugs.

JENNIFER HOLLIDAY, SINGER, ACTRESS: I hate to say that she had started before. She had met Bobby Brown.

LEMON: Houston's increasingly erratic behavior even played out before the cameras in the short-lived reality show "being Bobby Brown," but when Brown spoke to CNN in 2005, he insisted he and his famous wife were finally sober.

BOBBY BROWN, WHITNEY HOUSTON'S EX-HUSBAND: I am working on a year- and-a-half much sobriety, and my wife, she is working on her year, so we're really doing good, and I am proud of her.

LEMON: Yet her attempts at recovery only ended in relapse for Houston and the years of drug abuse had taken their toll.

CATONA: I was shocked at her condition. Her, the whole condition.

LEMON: What happened to Whitney Houston's voice?

CATONA: I think that the psychological impact of being who she was drove her into lifestyle habits that ultimately were destructive.

LEMON: By May 2011 Whitney Houston was divorced. Her attempt at a comeback a year earlier was in shambles. With all of these crushing personal setbacks, she entered into a voluntary outpatient program for drug and alcohol treatment. Friends say she just needed a break.

KIM BURRELL, FRIEND: I know that she was pacing herself because she was preparing for the movie. I don't know exactly what she went through to do that.

LEMON: That movie was "sparkle," and by the time Whitney Houston began doing press for the film, she did seem like a different woman. Access Hollywood Shaun Robinson did the last one-on-one interview with her.

SHAUN ROBINSON, ANCHOR, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: When I look Whitney Houston in her eyes, I thought that this woman is coming back.

LEMON: But looks can be deceiving, especially when you are talking about Whitney Houston. Her final days when we return.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: With a new movie and a new sparkle of her own, a seemingly healthy Whitney Houston started the new year poised to perhaps make that long awaited comeback. But behind the scenes, some now all too familiar and alarming behavior.

CHIU: Her friends told us that even though she had successfully gone to rehab last year and had this great experience filming "sparkle," there are always temptations and, you know, unfortunately she started partying again and spending time with perhaps the wrong people and just fell right back into that sad spiral.

LEMON: Three days before the annual Grammy awards show Whitney Houston was staying here at the Beverly Hilton. It is here where over several days sources say the pop superstar was seen consuming considerable amounts of alcohol and acting erratically.

Derek Kennedy of the L.A. Times was covering a pre-Grammy president at Beverly Hilton when the singer raised eyebrows at the hotel pool.

DEREK KENNEDY, L.A. TIMES: One of the conversations I had with a Grammy staffer was that security was getting calls from guests that she was doing handstands by the pool. Oh, that's bizarre.

LEMON: And then there was this.

Kennedy says Houston smelled of cigarettes and alcohol when she burst in on her mentor Clyde Davis.

WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: Come. Say hi to your godfather. Come say hi to your God dad.

KENNEDY: I am like, oh, my God, like you are a mess right now and you are embarrassing yourself. I am embarrassed for you.

LEMON: But the pop star appeared anything but disheveled or disoriented later that night.

Whitney Houston attended a pre-Grammy party at this Hollywood night club. As she walked the red carpet witnesses say she had it together and was on her best behavior.

Adam Ambrose is a publicist for "True Hollywood".

ADAM AMBROSE, PUBLICIST, TRUE HOLLYWOOD: She walked here holding hands at the back with Bobbi Kristina and they both looked radiant. When they arrived they were, you know, looking fantastic.

LEMON: Houston was even up for little impromptu entertaining. She surprised everyone when she joined her friend, R&B Grammy nominee, Kelly Price on stage.

AMBROSE: The place erupted. It was very sweet. It was really touching.

LEMON: Fun times, but too much of a good time? Not so says Kelly Price. While she says that Houston had champagne at the party, she denies reports that things got out of hand with her friend.

PRICE: This was not a woman who was depressed, upset, high, drunk. She was clearly in her right mind. She was not acting erratic.

LEMON: But Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson says the pictures sane that Thursday night tell a whole different story.

ROBINSON: I said who is that? What the hell happened? What happened in three months that took her from this person who seemed to really have it altogether to this person who looked very disheveled and just kind of not there?