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The Inaugural Cinderella Couple; Film Examines Hemingway "Curse"; Controversial New Book on Scientology; Shooting at Long Star College Campus in Texas.

Aired January 22, 2013 - 13:30   ET


CARRY WESTBY, ATTENDS INAUGURAL BALL: We were greeted at the airport. They gave us -- they knew our name. We were greeted at the hotel. It's just been amazing.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: It is a Cinderella story. You are Cinderella. Are you kidding me?

Dan, tell us what it was like. Your life is incredible. You served in Kosovo, and Iraq, twice. You have given and served this country. What did this mean just to get a break and to be treated well?

SGT. DAN WESTBY, ATTENDS INAUGURAL BALL: Oh, it's -- it's a dream. It's a chance of a lifetime. I came from a spot in my life where I never seen so much support at all for the military. And realized when my wife, she's the led or of the family readiness unit at my old unit. I got promoted into a new unit and she stayed behind to lead families there. The support, overwhelming support of my wife, my beautiful wife --


-- and families and community that just -- yellow ribbon cities, and all of the people that care, the whole Minnesota, it's really real. People are great and amazing. We blessed them all. We've been so blessed ourselves. It's absolutely amazing.

MALVEAUX: You guys are such a nice couple. So glad you had a great weekend. A great time to be here in Washington. And, yes, Carrie, you are special, to take care of seven kids.

SGT. DAN WESTBY: She's amazing.


MALVEAUX: Dan, Carrie, good to meet you both.


CARRIE WESTBY: The other soldier was able to come to the ball as well. Donations came in to cover his wife's air fare and expenses, too.

MALVEAUX: That's great. Overall, just a great, great story. You have a good community as well.

Thank you, guys. We really appreciate it.



SGT. DAN WESTBY: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Of course, all eyes last night on the dress. We're talking about the gorgeous red gown worn by the first lady at last night's inaugural ball. She chose to go with designer, Jason Wu, once again. You might remember back in 2009, her selection of Wu's white gown design made him a household name.

We asked him what he was thinking about when he set out to dress the first lady one more time for an inaugural ball.


JASON WU, DESIGNER: I just had Mrs. Obama in mind. You couldn't really think about everything that comes with it, being so nervous or start second-guessing yourself. My first image was red. I felt like red was so confident and it was -- you know, it's commanding and it's beautiful and passionate. And all of those things describe Michelle Obama.


MALVEAUX: And the stars have gathered in Park City, Utah, for the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival, including actress Mariel Hemingway. She's opening up about her family's illness, a history of mental illness and her new documentary, "Running from Crazy." We'll talk to her next coming up.

But first, I want to turn to finances. A lot of Americans don't pay off credit cards every month. But letting a balance build up over time can cost you thousands, cripple finances.

Ali Velshi and Christine Romans explain.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ali, I have two things to show you. First, the new study from Ohio State University that shows that kids in their 20s and 30s, about our age, they have more late 20s, early 30s, more credit card debt than older consumers and they're repaying it slowly. They have $6,000 more in credit card debt than their parents did at that age and $8,000 more than their grandparents did. It also found these younger card holders will die owing money.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Which means they should pay that off. If you still owe money by the time you're dying, you've paid a lot of interest in your life. ROMANS: You have. And I wanted to show you this little thing. Most people I think don't understand how much you're paying when paying cards off and letting them roll up. TransUnion, the average debt per borrowing is five grand.


ROMANS: Look at this map. If you're making minimum monthly payments $200 a month, 15 percent interest rate, it will take 10 years and five months to pay off five grand. In the end, you're paying off $2200 in interest. That $5,000 bill is really $7,000 in 10 years.

VELSHI: Another way to think about this. If you're paying 15 percent interest, you are doubling your debt every five years. So be careful about this. You can't pay the minimum when running that kind of interest. At the same time, Christine, while you're paying more than the minimum, bringing that debt down, you should be saving. If you're a young person working for a company that offers a 401K, particularly one that offers a match on the donations, the contribution you make, you should do that at the same time. It seems counterintuitive to still have debt you're paying interest on and savings but I think you should do both.

ROMANS: All right. Well said.



MALVEAUX: She's the granddaughter of the legendary author, Ernest Hemingway, but Mariel Hemingway gained fame in her own right as actress and activist. She explores her family's history of depression, mental illness and suicide. It is a way to help herself and others. I want you to see this. This is an excerpt from "Running from Crazy." Premiered at Sundance. Take a look.


MARIEL HEMINGWAY, ACTRESS, ACTIVIST & AUTHOR: There's no one outside of yourself that can help you or love you the way you need, except you. You know, this is what I talk about to people. I know a lot about how to -- how people can live a better life, how they can be happy, how they cannot fear stuff that I've feared my whole life. But sometimes it's such a misunderstanding of the being I really am. You know, and I get that. I often say it. I'll speak to people, yes, I know you think you know me. You know, yes, tall blond, no problems, what does she have to say to me? I say that, of course. I get it. I would think the same thing. Guess what? A bunch of funky (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in my family. You know, I'm scared, too.


MALVEAUX: Mariel Hemingway, she's joining us from Park City, Utah.

So nice to see you. Really such a pleasure here.

Let's talk a little bit about your film.

HEMINGWAY: Oh, thanks.

MALVEAUX: Congratulations on the documentary there.

It is -- it's very serious and you delve into some things that take a lot of courage. You talk about and acknowledge -- you say there have been at least seven suicides in your family that you know about, including your grandfather, the famous Ernest Hemingway, and your sister, Margo. Why talk about it? Why examine it? Why was that important to you?

HEMINGWAY: Well, you know, for me, I've been -- I've been on a search my whole life to -- you know, I actually jokingly said I've been running from crazy my whole life which ended up being the title of my movie. I was always on the search for things outside of myself to understand more about me. And I think part of this journey is really being able to look at -- look at my family and just be able to say, you know, this -- I have ways that are not outside of myself but within myself that have helped me get better and healthier and happier. So I'm really excited to share this. Also I don't think it's just my story. I think it's everybody's story. I think that everybody comes from a certain amount of dysfunction or craziness in their family or at least knows somebody. And this, if this does anything, I hope it inspires people to get help, talk about mental health and mental wellness and mental illness and get the message out there so we can all make a change in this environment.

MALVEAUX: How do you do that? I know there's so much in some ways stigma still, amazingly so, attached to mental illness. How do you make people understand if they don't -- if they haven't experienced that themselves?

HEMINGWAY: Well, you know, if you haven't experienced it yourself, it's like -- I think the film is really poignant at showing this journey of my sister, my grandfather, myself, trying to bring out the layers. But I mean, even if you don't suffer from mental illness or depression, everybody understands a family dynamic and I think you can understand that. And my honesty and my ability to share with you my real feelings about my sister, about my father, about my mother, all of these things, I think it just helps to give people an understanding of what it must be like to suffer from depression. I suffered from depression most of my life, until a few years ago, and it's been my lifestyle and the lifestyle I promote with my company, the Willing Way. I have a partner, Bobby Williams, and we sort of put themes together and call it the Willing Way. But it's about health and wellness. It's about making simple choices in your life so you can live the best life that you want to live.


HEMINGWAY: It's not about me. It's about inspiring others to find their best health and wellness in mind, body and spirit.


HEMINGWAY: You know I don't how to tell somebody who it must be like but this film will.

MALVEAUX: I want to play a clip, Mariel, to have our audience get a sense a little bit about whether you do and explore it. This is particularly talk about the only time that you feel really normal is when you're outdoors and you're celebrating nature.



HEMINGWAY: The only time I ever felt comfort was just out in the elements looking up at a mountain, listening to a river, all that time I felt sane. And in the House, everything felt dead. I spent a lot of time swimming in icy cold rivers. I would often crack ice to jump in cold water. I'd like anything that made me feel alive.


MALVEAUX: It's very touching portion of the documentary there. What do you think is the most important thing that's helped you to feel alive, to get over the sense of loss and the tragedy in your family?

HEMINGWAY: Well, throughout my childhood, I really -- I expressed it in that clip -- nature was my solace. It's where I found my -- kind of myself.

But you know, I mean there's so many things. I think the more we get this message out there, the more we talk about it, that's helpful. Being honest about it, honest about your feelings, that's hugely important. I believe that lifestyle choices that you make are hugely important -- the food you drink, the food you eat, water you drink, whether you get out in nature, things that are important to me. And they can help other people.

But also, just that that awareness. This is -- this movie brings awareness to the subject and I think it's been taboo for a long, long time. We need to speak more about it. I mean, years ago, you know, nobody wanted to talk about AIDS and nobody wanted to talk about alcohol addiction. Now, let's just talk about it so we can get it out there.

MALVEAUX: I wish we had more time to talk about it. It's a great documentary.

Mariel, thank you for bringing it to our attention and everyone.

HEMINGWAY: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: It's a very, very important topic there.

And congratulations, too, to you, your strength and your courage and your recovery.

Thank you, Mariel.

HEMINGWAY: Thank you. MALVEAUX: Stunning look at the Church of Scientology from one of the most famous defectors. The book, the names, and the details up next.


MALVEAUX: A new book claims to give an inside look at Scientology from the perspective of one of its most famous defectors, the Academy Award-winning director, Paul Hagas.

Our Miguel Marquez explains how.


ANNOUNCER: You are a being, an intelligence, a consciousness.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Going clear in Scientology is reaching a higher level of consciousness and clearing one's self of past subconscious event. Scientologists believe going cleared gives them access to life force, and they become what they call OTs, or operator things.

ANNOUNCER: You have a body, you have a mind. You are a thing.

MARQUEZ: Lawrence Wright, in his new book, "Going Clear, Scientology, Hollywood, the Prison of Belief," the author puts Scientology and its status as a religion under a microscope.

Among other thing, Wright focuses on Scientology's obsession with celebrities, through its most famous defector, writer/director, Paul Hagas.


MARQUEZ: He won two Oscars for his film "Crash."

Has says he left the church after his daughter's coming out as lesbian forced him to take a hard look at Scientology. He discovered accounts on anti-Scientologist web sites about children, working for hours on end.

This from NBC's "Rock Center."

PAUL HAGAS, DIRECTOR: This horrible treatment these kids had, terrible. Made to work so often and all day long and terrible conditions. (EXPLETIVE DELETED)-- them for that. Yes, they should be taken down for that.

MARQUEZ: In a statement, the church says it "diligently followed, and continues to follow, all child labor laws in every state or country in which it operates." The church says "complaints about children being forced to perform chores for long hours are unfounded."

In Wright's book, Hagas said he found himself in trouble with the church when he crossed its biggest celebrity, Tom Cruise, who worked for years to recruit director, Steven Spielberg, into the church. Hagas says Cruise blamed him for foiling his efforts. The book delves into the tight relationship between Cruise and David Miscavich, the leader. In 2004, Miscavich awarded the actor Scientology's Freedom Medal of Valor.

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: These are the times now, people, OK, these are the times we will all remember. Were you there? What did you do?

MARQUEZ: Karen Presley worked in Hollywood's Celebrity Center in 1980s, and was part of Scientology's vanguard, or C Org (ph).

KAREN PRESLEY, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: When David Misavich took over the leadership of the church, he decided to focus on celebrities because the name of Scientology had lost so much power. He felt that bringing big names into Scientology was the way to build credibility back.

MARQUEZ: before Cruise, John Travolta was Scientology's biggest star.


MARQUEZ: Joining the church before his breakout role as Vinny Barbarino --

JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: You made that up.

MARQUEZ: -- in the 1970s sitcom, "Welcome Back, Kotter."

Researching and writing the book over three years, Wright found Travolta had a troubled relationship with the church, threatening to be outted as gay if he didn't fall into line. In the book, Miscavich is quoted as using a gay slur when speaking privately of Travolta. The church calls that "a scurrilous lie from an unreliable source." Travolta has never publicly addressed his sexual orientation. He's been married to Kelly Preston since 1991.

The church's lawyer told CNN it "adamantly denies it has or would ever disclose or threaten to disclose a member's private information."

But Presley says she experienced the abuse herself. She left the church in 1998 after being deemed S.P., or suppressive person. She says she had been sent for punishment in 1990 at the church's sprawling Gold Base in the desert east of Los Angeles.

PRESLEY: We were made to do hard labor, half of every day, and then the other half of the day, we were spent on our rehabilitation program where we were to confront our treasonous actions to Scientology.

MARQUEZ: In its statement, the church said the rehabilitation workforce "is a completely voluntary program of spiritual rehabilitation, and the claims of abuse while participating in the program are false." It even included a waiver that Karen Presley, then Karen Schess, signed in in 1990 indicating she entered the program voluntarily. She told CNN she signed the document under duress.

Wright follows Miscavich's rise to Scientology's top spot after the death of its founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1986. Miscavich is portrayed as a ruthless and cruel leader, at times using physical violence to get his way and punish subordinates, claims, again, church leaders vigorous denies in the book and to CNN in 2009.

TOMMY DAVIS, SCIENTOLOGY SPOKESMAN: The allegations are untrue. There was nothing of the sort as they're describing by --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: David has never kicked somebody.

DAVIS: Absolutely not.

COOPER: Never punched somebody?

DAVIS: Absolutely not.

COOPER: Never strangled somebody?

DAVIS: Never, never, never, never.

MARQUEZ: The Church of Scientology say Wright's book is "full of many mistakes, unfounded statements and utterly false facts. It is infused with religious bigotry." The church says it is evaluating all its legal options. So far, publishers in the U.K. and Canada have shied away from publishing the book.

The church has launched this web site, a point-for-point rebuttal to each chapter. But still, sales are soaring. Today, "Going Clear" is in its second printing.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


MALVEAUX: Interesting stuff. Anderson Cooper will have more on Scientology tonight on "Anderson Cooper 360." He will be joined by the book's author, Lawrence Wright. That should be very interesting. It's at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN.

Following a breaking news story. Could be -- looks like, another shooting, at a college this time. What we're watching here, this is our affiliate, KPRC, which is now reporting that there were shots fired at the Lone Star College. This is in North Harris County. This is just north of Houston, Texas. The affiliate there reporting that they are hearing now that multiple people were shot, regarding this college campus, Lone Star College. We're looking at aerials. You see on the left side that there are people who are walking who are trying to sort things out, getting out of the vehicles, walking at that campus in the area. On the right-hand side, we're getting a sense of where this is located, not far from Houston. But, again, this is breaking news. Don't have a lot of information yet. But our affiliate is now reporting that this shooting has taken place on this college campus and that there were multiple people who have been shot.

We're going to try to get more information as this story develops. And we're going to take a quick break as we follow this news.


MALVEAUX: Freezing cold temperatures. We're talking about freezing. Creeping across northern and Midwest states. We're talking about dropping to 51 degrees below zero, with wind chill in North Dakota, yes, 51 below.

CNN NEWSROOM continues more with Brooke Baldwin after the break.