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JOHN KING, USA
Dick Clark Dies; Resignations in Secret Service Scandal
Aired April 18, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm John King.
Two major breaking news stories this evening. The death of an entertainer industry icon, Dick Clark at age 82. He helped usher in new years after new year in Times Square and gave so many music acts their first big break.
And major just-breaking developments in the Secret Service prostitution scandal. I'm told tonight the agency has closed its investigative files on three of the 11 Secret Service personnel under investigation for soliciting prostitutes and other misconduct while in Colombia as part of a presidential delegation.
My sources say one supervisor, this man with 26 years' experience, abruptly filed for retirement after being told the agency was preparing to fire him. A relative newcomer to the Secret Service resigned today after being told he too would be fired otherwise. And the agency is initiating procedures now to fire a second supervisor, this an agent with 20 years' experience.
Reviews of the eight others are still pending, but the sources describe the pace of the investigation as aggressive and say expect more developments very soon. Also tonight I'm told the Secret Service will within days announce it is creating a new external panel of experts to review the agency's standards and ethics to determine whether the scandal in Colombia is a one-time humiliation or a symptom of a much deeper cultural and discipline breakdown.
Much more on that breaking news in a moment. But first, let's move on now, much more on the passing of industry icon Dick Clark.
The TV icon died earlier today of a massive heart attack. He was 82 years old. But his six-decade career during that period, he changed the way America danced and the way we listen to music. He helped put rock 'n' roll on the map while breaking down racial barriers.
And as Kareen Wynter reports here, that was just the beginning.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was known as the world's oldest teenager. Dick Clark began his career on the weekly dance party that would later be known as "American Bandstand" in Philadelphia in 1956. The show became a national and later an international sensation, after it was picked up by ABC one year later.
In spite of racial attitudes at the time, Clark was a pioneer in promoting African-American artists like Percy Sledge, the Silhouettes, the Supremes and Gladys Knight and the Pips. An appearance on "American Bandstand" launched many a musical career and from Jerry Lee Lewis to Janet Jackson, they all wanted Dick Clark to give their record a spin.
DICK CLARK, ENTERTAINER: If you look at the history of "American Bandstand" it covers everything from popular music back to the big band days. When we started in 1952, it was Perry Como and Eddie Fisher and the Four Aces and so forth, through the rock 'n' roll period, country music, rhythm and blues, rap music, heavy metal. It is everything.
WYNTER: But music wasn't his only beat. Clark proved to be a prolific businessman and television icon hosting the game show "The $25,000 Pyramid," "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and of course the annual "New Year's Rockin' Eve" broadcast.
He turned his Dick Clark Productions into a multimillion-dollar media empire.
CLARK: There will be some other surprises along the way.
WYNTER: Clark created the American Music Awards In 1997 as a rival to the Grammys. Clark also had a hand in the global fund- raising Live Aid and in the grassroots farm aid. He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll hall of Fame in 1993.
CLARK: It has a nice beat. See, you said the magic words.
WYNTER: From the early days of rock to the present, Dick Clark had a way of bringing us the tunes that had a good beat and memories of Saturday afternoon sock hops.
J. KING: And Kareen Wynter joins us now live from Los Angeles.
Kareen, what more can you tell us about how Dick Clark died and the health issues he'd had over the last few years?
WYNTER: He has had so many health issues in the past and he had type 2 diabetes, and he suffered a stroke back in 2004.
We received a statement from his family confirming that Dick Clark entered a hospital, St. John's Hospital here in Santa Monica, California, for an outpatient procedure. They weren't able to resuscitate him and he died as a result of a massive heart attack.
So it gives you an idea here of his medical condition toward the end. But I have to say quickly, John, when I watched Dick Clark for the last time on annual New Year's bash back in December, there was something about seeing him there with that whole crowd behind him. He alluded to that. He said it doesn't matter where you are on this planet, there's no place you would rather be than right here in New York. He said after all of these years and even after all of this time in the business, that it was still so amazing. He died with that fire and he died with that passion and that is what really made him one of the greatest.
J. KING: That is the defining point right there, he loved what he did and brought great passion to it every year for decades.
Kareen Wynter, thanks so much.
As Kareen mentioned, Times Square, what other place in America is so synonymous with Dick Clark?
That's where our Richard Roth is live for us tonight.
Richard, it was every New Year's Eve Dick Clark transformed it into "Rockin' New Year's Eve." Tell us about the mood where you are tonight and the place Dick Clark made so famous.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
Since 1972, John, Dick Clark as one man told me was the symbol of Times Square. Except for one or two years for various reasons, especially when he had his stroke, Dick Clark was here overseeing the millions and then counting down America to ring in a new year.
I'm sure everyone remembers various occasions and where they were listening to Dick Clark and that countdown. One man who did is impresario Donald Trump, who I asked about his memories of Mr. Clark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: I would watch "American Bandstand" and I would also watch every New Year's Eve. Dick Clark was the one. He was a unique guy. Again, a really quality person. I knew him very well because he lived in my buildings. He just is a spectacular man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: Dick Clark was born just north of here in Mt. Vernon. A lot of memories of people here of Dick Clark. They get very wistful when you think about it. Small rain falling here on a Wednesday, big Broadway night. New Year's Eve not that far away -- back to you.
J. KING: Richard Roth live for us tonight in iconic Times Square, Richard, thank you
Our Larry King is live on the phone now from Los Angeles.
My friend, you knew Dick Clark. He was your friend. He was also called American's oldest teenager. Let's listen here before we talk. This is a bit of a conversation you had with him back in 2004 where he talked about staying youthful. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": How do you stay so youthful? Really?
CLARK: I love what I do. I love the invigoration of doing things I haven't done before.
Larry, this I think now is my 56th or 57th year since I have drawn a check being paid to talk.
L. KING To broadcast, right?
L. KING: Radio where?
CLARK: I wanted to be in radio when I saw a radio broadcast done by Gary Moore and Jimmy Durante in an old theater in New York. I said, "That is what I want." I was 13. I got my first check in radio when I was seventeen, and I have been doing it ever since.
My father said to me at one time if you're still a disk jockey by the time you're 30, you better find another line of work. Little does he realize I'm in my 70s and I still do seven or eight hours of radio every day -- or every week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. KING: Larry King with us on the phone right now.
Larry, when you think of your friend and when you reminisce hearing that conversation, what goes through your mind?
L. KING: Well, he was an amazing person, John. It was really an honor to know him. He was a true generalist.
Dick Clark could do anything. You could put him in any spot and he would be a professional broadcaster. He was also a terrific businessman. He produced many shows. He produced a lot of shows people didn't know he produced. He produced the Golden Globe Awards every year. He owned radio networks.
I nearly went to work for him on the radio. When he was out to get you, he was very persistent. He was a true, true legend. You know, you can throw that around about a lot of people, but Dick Clark, he cut a special place.
Another thing he deserves great credit for, when he hosted "Bandstand," I think he was the first program to have a program where blacks danced with whites. That was unheard of on television until Dick Clark made it happen on his "Bandstand" show. So in that sense he was a revolutionary.
J. KING: And that was one of the barriers that he helped break, one of the new standards that he helped set. Larry, you know many of the legends and you have sat across and interviewed many good people in the entertainment industry over the years. What is it that Dick Clark had that helped him be one of the few who crossed from good to great?
L. KING: He had a talent for being himself. The hardest thing to be is -- Arthur Godfrey once said the only secret in the business is there's no secret.
Dick Clark knew that. The camera -- he and the camera had a magic together. He came -- it was once said about John Kennedy, about Dick Clark, he came easy into the room. You accepted him. He was your friend, whether he was on camera or walking in to meet you in the studio or guest at a dinner party.
He made things easier. That's not an easy thing to do. And he had it naturally. It was just easy to be around him. Dick Clark made you comfortable. He had a great, great talent for that. He was a superb generalist. I'm sure you would agree, John. You could throw him in any situation.
J. KING: It's an interesting point he was making in the conversation where he was talking about how his dad said if you're still a deejay by the time you're 30, you might think of another line of work.
He was able to survive. Many people have to change themselves and reinvent themselves to survive decade after decade. He did adapt to the changes in the music industry, to the changes in technology, but is it fair to say, Larry, and you knew him well, that one of his survivability skills was that he didn't change, he was always Dick Clark?
L. KING: You hit it on the nose. He never changed. But he understood the change in music. You could go over to him yesterday and he would tell you the top 40 on the Billboard charts.
Not many people reach that age and could do that. He knew technology. He understood everything that was going on. He understood the Internet. He knew what was happening. He was a pioneer in a sense, but as himself he was the same Dick Clark that he was when he hosted "Bandstand" all those many years ago. That is a remarkable talent in and of itself.
J. KING: And as someone who knows the business so well and how it has evolved, when did Dick Clark realize that, sure, he could get paid a lot of money to be a host, he could get paid a lot of money to be a game show host, but actually owning the production company and owning the product was the key, A., to financial success but also to a deeper, lasting legacy in the business?
L. KING: That's true. That's why Ryan Seacrest, who he picked to host the New Year's Eve thing, was the perfect follow-up to him.
Ryan Seacrest is as much a businessman as he is a host. Dick Clark as much liked running a radio network or producing the Golden Globes as he did hosting the top 40 every week. He was -- whatever situation he was in, he was perfect for. And he loved the business of the business.
J. KING: You mentioned he was a generalist, and perhaps one of the best, if not the best. In that regard is it harder then to in a sentence say Dick Clark's legacy is, because he did so many things?
L. KING: Correct. You can't do Dick Clark in a sentence. You hit it on the nose again, King, which is what makes you the exceptional broadcaster you are.
J. KING: When was the first time you met him, Larry, do you remember?
L. KING: The first time I met him was years and years ago when he was on my old radio show in Miami, when I was literally first starting.
He was down in Miami on some sort of tour for "Bandstand." I interviewed him then and got to know him over the years. Then when I was doing network radio, he had his own network and he was out to try to get me and we were in between contracts and it didn't happen. I would love to have worked for him. But he was on top of things. Dick Clark was -- we will never see his likes again.
J. KING: You just mentioned your experience in the radio. You're also a survivor, Larry.
Is there something about the radio experience, the conversational -- you can't see who you're talking to but you're having a conversation with the people who call in during the program, whether they are big-name guests or whether it's just the average Joe calling in. Is there something about the radio booth, the radio experience that gives you a special skill, a special connectivity, if you will, that maybe helps you understand when the business changes you can roll with it?
L. KING: I think that's a good way to put it. I never thought of it that way. I guess most performers don't think of it.
But Dick Clark adapted so well. I think I -- you know, I never approached Dick -- I talked to Dick about this. We never approached television any different than radio because we regarded television as radio with pictures. Radio -- it was conversational. You weren't in awe of the camera. It wasn't that big a deal to see the red light go on.
You were just as comfortable being in a radio studio as you were in a television studio. There was just a way of knowing to be yourself. The hardest thing in the business is to be yourself. And no one knew that better than Dick Clark.
J. KING: Amen to that.
My good friend Larry King, a legend, reflecting on the passing of a legend, Dick Clark. Larry, thank you so much.
L. KING: Thanks, John.
J. KING: Thank you, sir.
Throughout the hour ahead, we will be talking about Dick Clark's legacy.
Up next, how he brought African-American artists into the living rooms in white America in the 1950s and '60s.
Plus, breaking news in that Secret Service prostitution scandal. Tonight, we're learning some of the employees involved no longer have their jobs.
J. KING: The year was 1970. Dick Clark interviewing a now very famous face on "American Bandstand." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: I think this is probably the first time this record has been played on the air and it's about to be released, this thing called "ABC."
MICHAEL JACKSON, MUSICIAN: Yes.
CLARK: Ladies and gentlemen, would you greet the Jackson 5?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. KING: That was the Jackson 5's first appearance on "Bandstand." And 1970 became a huge year for Michael Jackson and his brothers, and knocked the Beatles out of the number one spot on the U.S. pop charts not just once, but twice.
Joining me now to talk about the racial and cultural impact of Dick Clark here in Washington, CNN contributor Roland Martin, in New York CNN's Jack Cafferty, a longtime news anchor in New York City, and in California Matthew Delmont, author of "The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock 'n' Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia."
Roland, let me start with you.
You hear some people say he was a pioneer by bringing white kids and black kids to dance together and for people to see that on television around the country, that he helped break down barriers. True or overstated?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I think that's a part of it, but also it was the acts, the ability to book the various artists on the show.
But also you have to add Alan Freed and Ed Sullivan as well because they allowed them to be able to showcase their music to the rest of the country. That was huge because for so long black artists frankly had to be pushed aside and could only really sell their wares in front of African-Americans as opposed to the broader audience.
J. KING: Jack, as someone who was on television at the time, as a white American who watched as the business and the industry changed, how much credit does Dick Clark get?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I think he gets a lot of credit.
If you remember this country in 1955, it was a heavily segregated nation. The segregation was even more insipid than it is today because it was below the radar, but it was even more powerful than it is now.
Black artists, people like Chuck Berry and Ray Charles and Little Richard and Big Mama Thornton and Muddy Waters and on and on and on were doing rock 'n' roll music and rhythm and blues music and nobody knew it.
They couldn't get it on the white radio stations. Dick Clark, if it had a beat and you could dance to it, said, book it, bring it on, and let's go. And he began to get exposure for artists who were unable to get on the white radio stations. Ergo, they couldn't get their music into the record stores because the white audience hadn't heard about them.
So, I think without maybe even realizing it at the time, Dick Clark was responsible for a pretty seismic change in the music business for sure and the exposure of black artists who weren't getting much and maybe even a softening of young people of some of the racial hatreds their parents squawked about all the time.
J. KING: Professor Delmont, in your book, you take a somewhat contrarian view, saying you thought that when you started the research that he was -- that Dick Clark himself was kicking down the barriers, but you came to the conclusion, and correct me if I'm wrong, that, yes, he helped break down the barriers, but that he did so because of maybe pressures from Don Cornelius and "Soul Train," for example, or that he wasn't such a leader, but a follower.
Is that fair?
MATTHEW DELMONT, AUTHOR, "THE NICEST KIDS IN TOWN": In terms of the timeline in which things happened, "American Bandstand" was on the air in the 1950s, well before "Soul Train."
The point which I would differentiate from Roland and Jack is that "American Bandstand" did help down to break down the doors with regards to African-American artists. It did have a number of African- American artists on the program and it helped them sell a lot of records. Where I would differentiate, though is that you didn't see that integration reflected in the studio audience. So "American Bandstand" actually discriminated against black teenagers for its years in Philadelphia. There wasn't racial integration in the studio audience, the same kind of racial integration you saw with the performers who were on stage.
MARTIN: John, I'm reading a book "Dream Boogie" on Sam Cooke and there was a story they were performing in Atlanta at a state fair, lots of racial tension, 6,000 mixed teenagers in the group.
And Dick Clark was very worried. So he went to Sam Cooke and said we can cancel this show. Sam said, look, I'm only going to be on two-and-a-half, three minutes, you're going to be on for an hour, I'm fine.
Dick Clark went ahead with the show. He said -- quote -- "It was one of the few ballsy things I ever did to go on with that show."
So he had to face that, but he faced the other side of race when Don Cornelius came out with "Soul Train." Dick Clark said you're taking some of my territory. He created another show to compete with him. He got a attacked for it. They came to the conclusion. "Soul Train" beat him in the ratings, he pulled his show off. So he felt the other side of race trying to target a black-owned show in Don Cornelius and "Soul Train."
J. KING: Jack, as a veteran of the business, when you see the survivability of Dick Clark, which is one of the things that strikes me, somebody who -- we see black and white TV from the '50s and we know he was on the radio before that, but what's the key to success that you can keep that?
CAFFERTY: I think Larry King talked about that. What you saw is what you got. He was vanilla ice cream, he was a big loaf of white bread, but he was good at being that. He was very, very good.
Dick Clark was cool. He was cool like Johnny Carson was cool. But he was very approachable, very amenable. I interviewed him several times here in New York City. He would walk into the studio and he would act like he knew me.
I knew who he was, but he acted like he knew me. And I think the kids picked that up that watched him on television, that he somehow knew them. He knew what they were about and what their lives consisted of. He was the real deal and he had that very rare chromosome that allowed him to go right through the lens of the camera and jump right out in the room with you.
J. KING: Professor Delmont, you talked about the discrimination in the studio audience in your view. What was the other most significant thing you learned about Dick Clark in your research?
DELMONT: I would echo the points that Jack just made and that Larry King made, that he was a tremendous businessperson. His role in terms of popularizing rock 'n' roll and bringing it to American living rooms was unprecedented and no one can match it in the 1950s.
Unfortunately, what it meant to be that kind of businessperson in the racial context in the 1950s is you could only push that racial envelope so far.
MARTIN: John, real quick, we almost did not get to see Dick Clark the TV star. Remember, with "American Bandstand" he owned publishing rights. ABC said you have got a choice after the Payola scandal. Sell it, sell your publishing rights or keep your show.
He sold the publishing rights and went the other way. That's where the money was. Had he stuck with publishing, we would not be talking about "American Bandstand" to the degree we are talking about it right now.
MARTIN: Made the right business choice right there, certainly.
J. KING: He worked it all out in the end. He did. He did.
MARTIN: There you go.
J. KING: Roland Martin, Professor Delmont, Jack Cafferty, thank you so much.
We will continue to talk about Dick Clark's legacy. We will talk to some of Dick Clark's celebrity friends, including musician Charlie Daniels and "American Bandstand" staple Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon.
But, first, new details on the Secret Service prostitution scandal. This hour we're learning the fate of three of the employees involved.
J. KING: We will have much more on Dick Clark's death and his legacy throughout the hour, but now let's turn back to our other breaking news story tonight, big fallout in the Secret Service prostitution scandal.
Two of the employees involved tonight no longer have their jobs. As we told you at the top of the hour, an experienced supervisor, I'm told he was at the agency for 26 years, has been allowed to retire after being told he would be fired.
Another employee, a relative newcomer, resigned and the agency is making moves to fire another officer, this an agent, excuse me, with 20 years experience, a supervisor.
CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend live with us in New York tonight.
Fran, 11 under investigation. Within days the files closed on three. Is the director, Mark Sullivan, and his team are they meeting the test when they promised a very aggressive and rigorous investigation?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, John, let's be clear.
Director Mark Sullivan is outraged by this and he is outraged not just because of the sort of humiliation the Secret Service is being put through but it's clear he's outraged for the really decent rule- abiding many tens of thousands of agents that he supervises who themselves have been humiliated.
So no question. We hear and we understand from sources that Mark Sullivan, the director, will appoint an external panel that includes former law enforcement and women on that panel to look not only at this case but at sort of the policies of the Secret Service and make sure that they have got sort of the structure in place to prevent this from ever happening again.
J. KING: Well, that is the key to his long-term survival, is it not in the sense that he is embarrassed here and he wants to be able to make the case that this is a one-time humiliation, not a deep cultural problem. But when you have got 11 of your personnel involved in something so embarrassing, you have to ask that deeper question, don't you?
I think you have to give Mark Sullivan credit. He's not shying away from what is the obvious question, is there something deeper here? Senator Susan Collins went out and said it perfectly. You have to start to wonder when you have got 11 agents, two of whom are supervisors, each with more than 20 years' experience, engaged in this kind of conduct.
He's right to be looking at that and to be asking that question. And he would be wrong to ignore it. Look, I think you have got to give him credit. He's acted decisively, he's been out front about this, he's been coordinating with Congress. I think they're doing the right thing, despite how horrible this is for the reputation of the service.
J. KING: Help me understand how the process works given your experience in the government.
I'm told that several of those agents under investigation have been subjected to polygraphs. I'm told Director Sullivan has put on the table the possibility of drug tests. There were some outside allegations there may have been drugs in one of the rooms. I'm told they have double- and triple-checked, and they have found no evidence of that.
But he has left out there, told his team use any means available in the investigation, including possibly drug testing. But I'm told there are some objections to that and there are, of course, lawyers involved.
TOWNSEND: Absolutely. You know, we have to remember the agents are civil -- career civil servants, and so they're covered by the Merit Protection Service Board, which means they have all these rights they're associating with their firing.
As outrageous as their conduct is, there is sort of an administrative process that the Secret Service is required to go through in order to separate, fire these folks.
I think you have to look at the polygraphs as a tool. Much has been said about the fact that they're not admissible in court. But you don't -- that's not really why you use them. You use them, John, as leverage. What you're looking to do is apply pressure to the agents who are under scrutiny and see if you can get any of them to cooperate and give details on one another and offer them some leniency in return for that.
And so, as is always the case in investigations, those who cooperate first get the best deals. And the others are left to deal with the facts.
KING: The president was not in Colombia yet. And I'm told these guys had not been briefed on the minute-by-minute tick tock. Some of them knew the rough schedules, they knew the rough motorcade movements. Every source I've talked to insists there were no classified documents that had been given to them. Therefore, they couldn't have been available in the rooms.
But that's what they're telling me. You have deeper sources inside the intelligence community. Are there any fears that there was any significant security breach here, or is this just an embarrassment?
TOWNSEND: No, I think it's largely embarrassment. Of course, you don't know. We know that this was a night of heavy drinking. What these guys said to these girls, you know, that's going to be part of this investigation.
But in terms of documents, John, the way this is set up, you'll remember from your time in the White House press corps, the agents stay on a -- mostly on a hallway. There's usually somebody standing a post. There's a control room where any sensitive documents, weapons are all put, and they're kept there and guarded 24/7.
So while they may have had loose lips and they may have said things, there shouldn't have been a compromise of weapons, documents or anything that would have really put the president in jeopardy.
KING: Special help with insights. Fran Townsend. Fran, thanks so much. We'll stay on top of this story. Expect more in the days ahead.
And up next, a special tribute to Dick Clark on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.
An later, the artist who appeared on "American Bandstand" more than any other guest, Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, joins us.
KING: This half hour, flowers are being laid on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the TV icon Dick Clark. He died today at the age of 82 after a massive heart attack.
He earned that star for helping us usher in new year after new year in Times Square and for giving so many music acts their first big break on "American Bandstand."
Paul Vercammen, live in Los Angeles, where Clark was living when he died.
And Paul -- (AUDIO GAP).
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, I think -- I lost you for a moment there, John. We're here on the Hollywood Walk of Fame around near Sunset and Vine, and they just put down this wreath honoring Dick Clark. And you can see another fan left a flower. Right here in the heart of Hollywood, some of them who have worked with Dick Clark or were behind the scenes for some of those productions talk about how detailed he was and how professional and how he paid attention to every little thing that was going on, on his myriad of productions that he got involved in over his career. So a lot of fond memories of Dick Clark here.
And I'm going to bring in Anna Martinez. She is with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce who helped put down this wreath. And to you, Dick Clark, what does he mean?
ANNA MARTINEZ, HOLLYWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Dick Clark was a piece of Americana. We all grew up watching him, and loved him and learned the newest dance moves and the newest performers that were out there. He helped a lot of careers get started on his show, and we're going to miss him quite a bit.
VERCAMMEN: Thank you, Anna. We appreciate your taking time out.
So there it is, a wreath remembering Dick Clark. Certainly an icon in Hollywood. And beloved in this town for another reason. He put a lot of people to work, John.
KING: Paul Vercammen for us on the Walk of Fame. Paul, thanks so much.
Let's get more perspective now on the death of Dick Clark from Jean Kasem. She's an actress who knows Clark and his family quite well; also and the wife of another legend in the music business, Casey Kasem.
Mrs. Kasem, thank you for your time tonight. You know Dick Clark not only as an entertainer but as a friend, and you know the family well. Your thoughts this afternoon?
JEAN KASEM, FRIEND OF DICK CLARK (via phone): Well, you're welcome, John. You know, we're just simply lost for words. We're just so devastated. You are never really prepared for this day. It's such a horrific loss for the industry, if not the world. There will just never be anyone ever again like Dick Clark.
Casey and he go way back 50-odd years. When Casey launched "American Top 40," he would have Dick sub-host. He was at our wedding when Casey and I were married. And we just feel that he was one of the most magnanimous human beings that we ever knew in the industry.
KING: And your husband's reaction to that? He doesn't want to speak with us, I was told, because he's so overwhelmed.
KASEM: He's just at a loss for words. He respected Dick so much. They shared only good and great times. And both of our love and respect go out to Kari and her children.
KING: So many of us for generations think we know Dick Clark, because he is such a presence on New Year's Eve. Maybe watched "American Bandstand." Maybe watched "The Pyramid" or other game shows, "Bloopers."
You know the man, the husband, the father. Tell us about the things we don't know about Dick Clark.
KASEM: Well, you know, everybody always jokingly said he was America's oldest teenager, but there was so much truth in that, because he just seemed to have had some of the fountain of youth in him. You know, there's a great word that is synonymous with Dick and that's loyal. Loyalty is a lost art form today. And it applies so much to Dick.
KING: I've tried to answer this question throughout the afternoon, maybe you can help me. What made him someone who could be so adaptable and such a survivor? Began on radio back in the '50s. And here we are more than a half century later, and Dick Clark was still active, still relevant, still present.
KASEM: Because he was passionate about what he did. He was a believer. He wasn't a hoper. He was a believer, and there's a distinct difference between the two.
KING: Jean Kasem, appreciate your time and perspective on this sad day.
KASEM: Thank you so much, John.
KING: Thank you.
Just into us at CNN, a statement from the president of the United States, Barack Obama, on the passing of Dick Clark. Quote, "Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Dick Clark. With 'American Bandstand' he introduced decades worth of viewers to the music of our times. He reshaped the television landscape forever as a creative and innovative producer. And, of course, for 40 years we welcomed him into our homes to ring in the new year.
"But more important than his ground-breaking achievements was the way he made us feel: as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was. As we say a final so long to Dick Clark, America's oldest teenager, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, which numbered far more than he knew." That statement just issued by the president of the United States from the White House.
Let's get some more now. A.J. Hammer is live in Los Angeles.
And A.J., you met Dick Clark. Tell us about the man. What was he like?
A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Dick was a good guy. Dick was the true professional. Dick has everything to do, John, with why I do what I do and how I hope to do it. He's the measure. He set the bar.
He set it, unfortunately, very, very high so I only aspire one day to get a little close to that. But as a young kid starting out in radio and then eventually moving into television, he was the true pioneer for having done that, where music was his first passion, and then television became his true love. And he combined them in a way that had really never been done before for all of those decades back on "American Bandstand."
Back in the 1990s I was working at VH-1 at the time, and this was at a moment in my career there where, by then I had interviewed probably every huge music superstar on the planet. It was routine for them to come through our studios. We would go out on shoots with them.
And then one day I get the news as I'm handed his latest book, all about "American Bandstand," that Dick Clark was coming in. And that's when the nerves started. I would never get nervous if I had, you know, Jon Bon Jovi or someone of that ilk coming in, but my idol, my hero was coming in.
And Dick came in, and he made it very easy. You know, a great host can be a great interview subject. And he sat down with me on the set, and we had a wonderful conversation.
And afterwards, we walked back into my dressing room together. He closed the door, and he asked me, "A.J., what do you want to do?" And he paid me some compliments I could never have imagined coming from Dick Clark at the time. But he took a very serious interest in me, John, and he told me he believed in me, which throughout my career has gone a long way into allowing me to believe in myself.
And as I said, the impact that he's had on me, as well as my colleagues in the business just sort of came up through the same schools, can't be underestimated.
I should point out, it was interesting, John, for me just hearing Jean Kasem speaking. Jean and Casey Kasem and Dick Clark and his family had known each other for many, many years. Dick had filled in on "American Top 40" at one time. He was a regular fill-in. But then he got the idea," Well, I should do my own show and his weekly countdown show, although it never quite caught Casey's, was the only show to sort of give "American Top 40" a run for its money. And I know it was always a very friendly competition.
But I tried to catch both countdown shows as often as I could and would listen to Dick on the radio every week. Just an inspiration, and I can't overstate that, John.
KING: Personal story. Quite a fascinating insight into Dick Clark, the man. A.J., thanks so much.
Let's get some perspective now on the passing of a legend from a music industry legends himself, Charlie Daniels of the Charlie Daniels Band.
Mr. Daniels, first just -- first and foremost, what did Dick Clark, what did he mean to you?
CHARLIE DANIELS, MUSICIAN (via phone): Well, you know, Dick was a pioneer in so many ways in television. Of course, the "Bandstand" concept. It was copied so many times after he came up with it. He was always a favorite of people in the music business, because he broke so many artists back in those days.
I've never seen anybody who could run a TV show like Dick did. If it was behind time, he would get up during commercial time and tell the audience, "We're going to speed this thing up. We're going to do shorter acceptance speeches," if it was an awards show or whatever, "but we're going to make it run on time." But he always did, if they needed some time, he would figure a way to fill it in. He was just totally -- when I think of Dick Clark, I think of somebody that was totally in charge.
KING: And we know him and you know him as a host. We know him as a producer. We know him as the owner of the properties, these programs he put on the air. Most of America and most of the world has seen Dick Clark on stage. What was he like backstage and offstage?
DANIELS: He was very conversational. Always knew you. Always -- you know, always had time to talk to you.
I was just talking to one of the guys that Dick had come to Nashville to do a show of ours. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) special. He was at the hotel getting ready to leave, and the guy that was in charge of transportation said, "Let me get you a car, Mr. Clark."
And he said, no, there was a big van sitting out front they were going to load with people. "I'll ride in the van. My wife and myself will ride in the van. You don't need a car for me."
Very down to earth fellow. Very, you know, ordinary. Just very streetwise. Very professional. He was just -- he was the consummate professional. And he -- I don't think he ever went into a situation where he felt like he didn't know what he was doing. At least, I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He had command of it and control of it from the time he started.
And he was a pleasure to work with because he was such a professional. I did quite a bit of things back in the day with Dick. We did a couple of TV specials together. One country (ph) and another series of shows that he did.
And I worked on what he called his super band a couple of times. He put together once in a while on his TV show. Just a whole bunch of stuff. And he was just a pleasure to work with. And whatever he told you, that's how it was.
KING: What is the key in your mind to his survival and his adaptability? Here's someone who started on the radio, got into television in the '50s. "Bandstand" was black and white in those days.
So much has changed about the music industry, about the television industry, about the broadcasting industry and about American and global culture. How did Dick Clark stay forever young and forever relevant?
DANIELS: As far as the forever young thing is concerned, I don't know. But as far as staying relevant is concerned, you just stay on top of things. He knew what was going on. He stayed current. He knew what the latest trends were, what the -- who the top artists were, what musical things were going on. He stayed on top of the situation.
And he was -- he made it his -- you know, his business to know what was happening. And he just stayed up with it.
KING: Charlie Daniels, appreciate your time and perspective on this important day, America and the world losing a legend, Dick Clark, at age 82. Thank you, sir.
DANIELS: Thank you, my friend.
KING: Coming up, singer Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, who appeared on "American Bandstand" over 100 times. He joins us live to remember the life and legacy of Dick Clark.
KING: Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon appeared on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" a record 110 times. Clark wrote the introduction to Cannon's latest book, "Where the Action Is." You see it right there.
Freddie Cannon joins me now live from Los Angeles.
Sir, you are among the many who owe so much to Dick Clark for giving you national, if not international recognition. First just your thoughts on this sad day.
FREDDIE "BOOM BOOM" CANNON, SINGER: Well, that's an understatement, John. My thoughts is that I'm shocked, first of all, that I got this call to say that he was gone.
But you're right about -- and I've listened to some of these other people calling in, paying tribute to him. And there's so many things you could say about Dick. I knew him -- once again, I'm going back before all these people who just paid all these tributes. I go back to 1959 when I had "Tallahassee Lassie," and I first met him at the WFIL studios doing "American Bandstand" the very first time.
And from then on, we became friends, not just -- not just because of music, became just family; became friends with the family, and his family became friends with my family. I mean, we're talking about -- I'm talking about 53 years ago here now. And, you know, there's so many things I could thank him for, and now he can't hear me, but he's up there -- I'm sure he's up there in heaven. Because if it wasn't for him, there would be no Freddie Cannon and a lot of -- thousands of other acts should feel the same way. Because he did help a lot of people, I mean a lot of people. You can underline that ten times if you want.
KING: In those five decades, what changed about Dick Clark? And I guess more importantly, what didn't?
CANNON: I think -- I think nothing -- nothing really changed as far as I could see. I mean, Dick -- I did every show that he ever did. I mean, "Where the Action is," like the title of my book, he wrote the introduction in my book two months ago. So you know, I think it was very nice. Here I'm talking about a book, and here the poor man is gone.
What it is, is I think he just -- he went with the times, he went with the music. He was into -- he was into rock 'n' roll music or whatever music was happening in the popular field; he was on top of it. Just like Charlie Daniels said, he knew -- he stayed on everything.
And the guy, he included me in a lot of things. I mean, no one knows how many live shows we did in Las Vegas. We played almost every casino in Las Vegas from the '70s into the '80s. Every casino that was there from way back to the Thunderbird when Red Foxx was there. We were playing there. So I -- what can I say. I did so many shows with this man, live and TV.
He's going to be missed. I mean, he -- right now it's hurting me to even mention these things and talk about him, because I don't think of him. I think of him as being right here living, you know. That's how I feel.
KING: You spoke about a month ago, if I'm right. What's the last thing he said to you?
CANNON: Yes -- well, I talked -- called over there to thank him for the book, for doing the introduction to the book. And he didn't stay on the line too long, because he slurred his words and he couldn't -- you know, but he was saying, "Freddie, you know, you're welcome. You know, you deserve that. And God bless you." And things like that.
You know, I know it was hurting him that he couldn't get up out of the chair or the wheelchair, wherever he was, to just move around and be mobile, you know, because he wasn't. But, you know, his senses were all there. He was making decisions and knowing what to say. And just to hear his voice, I was choked up. I couldn't really say too much, because he sounded like, you know, very slurry on the phone. But it was great to hear his voice at that time. I wish I could have talked to him again a couple of months after that. And all this has just happened.
KING: Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, appreciate your insights about your special friend on this sad day. Thanks so much for coming in. Take care, sir.
CANNON: My pleasure, thank you.
KING: Thank you.
When we come back, there's a new judge in the Trayvon Martin case. Who it is after this.
KING: Welcome back. Here's Alison Kosik with the latest news you need to know right now.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, George Zimmerman hasn't even been arraigned yet, but the judge is already off the case. Judge Jessica Recksiedler recused herself today at the defense's request. The reason: her husband works with Mark Nejame, the CNN legal analyst who was originally contacted about representing Zimmerman. So Judge Kenneth Lester will take over in time for Friday's bond hearing, which is still on schedule.
A dying mother desperate to try to stop her 3-day-old baby from being kidnapped. Police say Kala Golden attempted to chase after the suspect's car, even though she had been shot multiple times. Golden died at the scene outside a Houston area pediatrician's office. Investigators say this woman, registered nurse Verna McClain, killed Golden. Police say the only apparent motive is that McClain wanted Golden's baby.
All right. This video may make you cringe. A Toyota Camry plowing into a Florida supermarket. It smashes the sliding glass doors and speeds past the cash registers before finally coming to a stop in the center of the store. Ten people were hurt in the weekend crash -- John.
KING: Every time I see that video, I cringe, too.
KOSIK: Not the way to shop, or drive.
KING: Whoa, not the way to shop. Thank God the injuries hopefully aren't so bad.
Alison Kosik, thanks so much.
Normally we end the program with a "Moment You Missed." Tonight, how about a moment some of us tried to never miss, Dick Clark and the iconic countdown of the new year.
DICK CLARK, TV PERSONALITY/PRODUCER: Five, four, three, two, one. Happy new year!
KING: Dick Clark, passing away today at the age of 82 of a massive heart attack.
That's all for us. See you back here tomorrow. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.