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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Interview with Rose Allyn, No Death Penalty for Convicted Philadelphia Doctor; Couple Allegedly Finds Coca-Cola Recipe; Cyndi Lauper on "Kinky Boots"; Prom King & Queen Controversy

Aired May 15, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


ALLYN ROSE, MISS DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 2012: Sure. My dad sat me down when I was 18 and broke the idea of having the surgery. At first I was very averse to it. I thought it was very radical. But the more I did my research and I found out my mom was diagnosed with this disease at 27. I'm turning 25 this month. That's pretty soon for me. This disease took my grandmother. It took my great aunt and so many women in my family, and I didn't want to, you know, run the risk of having that happen to me, too. I'm a carrier of a Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome which hasn't been directly linked to breast cancer, but just the sort of rare shift in my genes, I think, having that coupled with having a really strong hereditary link to breast cancer was something where I thought this might be a good decision for me.

ZORAIDE, SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: What about your dad weighing in? Because we don't often hear that, dad saying, hey, this is something I really want you to have.

ROSE: Right.

SAMBOLIN: How much did that influence you?

ROSE: Well, I mean, my dad was absolutely my, you know, my guiding light and my confidante growing up after the loss of my mom, and so to have him come, I really respect my dad's opinion and it was something where I knew to make the decision for myself, but I think it was great to have the support and encouragement of my father.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. And you are so young, 24 years old. Do you feel ready for this? Are you having any doubts?

ROSE: There are some days I have doubts especially when you have people who want to attack you for the decision you're making, but, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Tell me about that. Tell me about people attacking you for the decision that you're making.

ROSE: I think a lot of it is not necessarily that I'm making the decision, it's whether or not people think I'm making the decision for the right reasons. A lot of people in the pageant community said that I came out with this right before the Miss America pageant as a way to garner publicity and press and, you know, I made this decision years ago.

I just was lucky that I was afforded the opportunity to share this message on a national stage through the Miss America program. But, you know, there's always going to be nay sayers when you put yourself in the public eye so you have to take it with a grain of salt. At the end of the day it is my body and my decision whether I choose to have the surgery or if I decide at sometime I didn't want to have the surgery it is my body and my decision.

SAMBOLIN: No, and at the end of the day I think that is very wise you're saying that because it is a very personal choice and I think our responsibility is to support whatever decision it is that's made. I want to know how you felt about reading Angelina's piece on Tuesday morning.

ROSE: It was a very poignant piece for me and something that I think really inspired me to be confident in my decision. The thing that really was the catalyst for me was when I read my mom's journals and she spoke to me about what it was like to, you know, to know and fear that you might have to lose your children or you leave your children. And I think Angelina spoke so perfectly about that. She wants to be around for her children some day. At the end of the day it is not about her looks, it's not about her vanity. It's about life, being here for her family. And I think it's nice to have somebody in Hollywood say that's what's important.

SAMBOLIN: Have you got any struggles with your look, your feminity, the whole issue of vanity?

ROSE: Obviously I'm full-time model. You know, I work in the beauty industry as some would say competing in the pageant world, but, you know, my mom had one breast my entire life. She lost her right breast at 27. That didn't stop my mom from living a fruitful life and so I think it was, she was a really great example for me that, you know, breasts or no breasts you live your life according to your own prerogative. And so, you know, it's scary sometimes but I think having her as an example has been empowering for me.

SAMBOLIN: You look like your mom so much. We just had your pictures side to side, pictures of her when she was younger. Beautiful woman.

ROSE: I think so.

SAMBOLIN: Now, we agree. So Angelina kept her decision really private until after the surgery. You've chosen to go through this personal process in a very public way as have I. Any regrets?

ROSE: Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have this be a little more private, but I think when you're given the opportunity to share a message, you do it. And it's not always going to be easy and it might not always be a decision that you're totally onboard with, but, you know, I think that we've had the opportunity to save a lot of lives and to tell women they can take charge in their health care. And that's such an important message. And I think somebody like Angelina coming out and being so empowered, so strong, I think it inspires women everywhere in all aspects of their health care. SAMBOLIN: Can I tell you, you, too, at 24 years of age you are so strong and, you know, just incredible. Your story is amazing and the way you tell it is really special as well. So thank you for sharing it with us. I really appreciate that.

ROSE: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: I could learn a thing or two from a 24-year-old, huh?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: She also talks about how her mother was diagnosed at 27, had one breast removed and then later died from breast cancer that came up in the other breast and her father had wanted her mother to have both breasts removed originally. You can see now why her father would be such an important role model for her.

SAMBOLIN: Why she would listen and pay attention.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: She had to go through it, too. Unbelievable.

ROMANS: Thanks, Zoraida. It's 35 minutes after the hour. Let's get to some of the other news we're following this morning.

A Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of first-degree murder will not face the death penalty. Dr. Kermit Gosnell waived his right to appeal the three convictions for the deaths of three babies who were born alive in his abortion clinic. He'll be sentenced today to life in prison without chance of parole.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Navy is preparing for the next generation of U.S. military drones, one that can take off and land on U.S. aircraft carriers. The x 47 b is the newest drone in the Pentagon's arsenal. CNN was there for the aircraft's first test launch or the deck of the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. The real test will come in a few weeks when the drone will attempt to land on a moving aircraft carrier at sea. That is the most difficult maneuver in military aviation.

ROMANS: Prince Harry ends his U.S. visit today with the charity polo match in Greenwich, Connecticut. There is little doubt Prince Harry's U.S. tour has been a big hit. The British royal stepped up to the plate in Harlem yesterday going three for three, hitting everything Yankee slugger Mark Teixeira -- is that how you say is last name?

BERMAN: Teixeira, indeed.

ROMANS: -- threw at him yesterday. Impressive given that baseball isn't his game.

BERMAN: Yeah, plays cricket, he plays polo, all those sports. The British royal also impressed Hurricane Sandy - ravaged New Jersey. CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster has been following his every move.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: There have been precious few opportunities for Americans to come close to British royalty. Prince Harry on this tour. But this was one of them. It was an upbeat atmosphere for the serious message. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie introducing Harry to first responders who coped heroically during and after Hurricane Sandy.

TAYLOR CIRIGLIANO, HURRICANE SANDY SURVIVOR: It puts smiles on people's faces to know they're going to get to meet the prince, so it was really cool that he came and helped support what happened in Hurricane Sandy.

PRINCE HARRY, UNITED KINGDOM: You know, it's the American spirit -- everyone getting together and making things right. It's fantastic.

FOSTER: Then a quick drop-in on his prime minister who was at an event to promote British industry. Then on to a baseball field in Harlem. His pitcher was no less than Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees.

Turned out to be quite a nifty player in the end. He is a bit of a cricket player so maybe it was that. This is really about promoting a cause and getting young kids from deprived areas into sports coaching and give them all the confidence that comes with that.

Harry's causes also need money so he closed out Tuesday with a fundraiser with specially invited Manhattan donors.

WILL. I. AM, MUSICIAN: He's a party guy, he's a technology guy. He comes from royalty. But he is a real person. The similarities between Iron Man and Prince Harry are similar.

FOSTER: And today another fundraiser. This time in the form of a polo match in Greenwich, Connecticut. It is the final event in what's been dubbed Harry's rehab tour. Max Foster, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: You saw the prince in New Jersey yesterday. A powerful symbol of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy there has now been torn down. The Jet Star rollercoaster in Seaside Heights fell into the Atlantic ocean during the storm last October. Yesterday a crane was used to finish the demolition. Crews are scrambling to get the Seaside Heights amusement area ready for visitors by memorial day weekend marking the unofficial start of course to the summer tourist season.

ROMANS: Man finishing what mother nature started there.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, did a Georgia man accidentally stumble upon the secret recipe for Coca-Cola? We're talking with him live to find out about his big find, next.

BERMAN: It has received an impressive 13 Tony nominations including best lead actor and score. We'll speak with actor Billy Porter and composer Cyndi Lauper. Have you heard of her? -- about the hit show. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. So, earlier we told you about a book claiming wealthy New York parents are hiring disabled tour guides to help them jump to the front of the line at Disney World. One parent claimed they used a company called Dream Tours Florida for this service. We're now hearing from Dream Tours in a statement on their website. They say, quote, "due to inaccurate press and slander, Dream Tours is not offering V.I.P. tours at this time. Our focus has primarily always been providing magical vacations for adults with special needs and helping their dreams to come true." And we reached out to Disney. They have not given us a comment.

ROMANS: All right. A Georgia couple who purchased a box full of letters at an estate sale now believes one of those letters contains a recipe from 1943, a recipe that has been kept secret since the 19th century. The secret formula for Coca-Cola. The couple is attempting to sell this recipe on Ebay with a starting price of $5 million. Or you can buy it now for $15 million.

Cliff and Arlene Kluge join us now from their home in Georgia. Good morning. Nice to see both of you. Please, tell me. How do you think this is the real recipe? Where did you get it? Why do you think it's real?

CLIFF KLUGE, BELIEVES HE FOUND COCA-COLA RECIPE: Arlene found it. She collects paperwork and was digging through massive piles of paper and this fell out. There is a lot of reference to Coca-Cola and original recipe. If you go to the second page on Ebay where I have it listed, it shows that they talk about on page 83 of the extractor there is an original formula for Coca-Cola and they use it as a preparation document. The person who typed this letter saw the original document.

BERMAN: So Coke released a statement and they said, "through the years many have tried to crack the secret formula but no one has been able to produce the real thing. The real formula is safely tucked away in a vault at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta." I have to say actually to me that seems like a non-denial denial to quote Woodward and Bernsetin right there, but what has Coke told you about your discovery?

C. KLUGE: Coke hasn't talked to us. I called them before I listed it on Ebay just to talk to them about it. They told me they would call me back in seven to ten business days. They don't gain anything. They don't gain anything by acknowledging my presence. If this is the correct formula and it is a real formula, then they would never acknowledge it. Supposedly there's only two people in the world that know the recipe and I don't think they're going to be willing to come forward with it.

ROMANS: That is certainly for collecting paperwork and documents, that certainly is an exciting find. The CNN cameras went to that vault we were telling you about with the World of Coca-Cola and met with Ted Ryan, he's the archivist for the Coca-Cola company. This is what he told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TED RYAN, ARCHIVIST, COCA-COLA COMPANY: The formula for Coca-Cola has such power and -- over the imagination of the American public, there's been numerous times people have shown up with things that they are claiming to be the formula for Coke. I know they're not but the only formula for Coke is in the vault.

However, what intrigues me is that the power that the formula, the power of the mystery, you know, it's the hopeful wish that oh maybe this is the formula. It's a discovery story. It's a story of wanting to find something that's going to be their treasure. Because Coca- Cola is a treasure, you know, the formula and the fact that people associate it with the treasure --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So we can pull that sound down. And let me ask you. Do you think it's a -- do you think that someone is going to want to buy, really want to buy, spend millions of dollars for the real thing?

C. KLUGE: Well, I -- you were broken up there. I -- I believe that his job is to dilute whatever we say. That's fine. I can certainly understand that. My job is not to break down, to bring down Coca-Cola or its recipe. I just -- I just think it's a historical document and I think it's interesting.

BERMAN: Can I ask you this? How did you come up with $5 million bucks? Why charge $5 million bucks for it? How do you come up with that number?

C. KLUGE: Well, when I put it on I wanted to put it for 20 million initially with a hundred million by now and it was more to draw attention to it than anything. And no I haven't had any offers yet but you're more than welcome to make one.

BERMAN: Christine is going to loan with some money here.

C. KLUGE: Yes no problem but if eBay wouldn't allow me to do it. They have a cap of $21 million. So I had to go through an interview process to list it and they, we agreed I'll put it out for $5 million and then buy it now for $15 million.

BERMAN: Have you tried to make the recipe by the way?

C. KLUGE: No. It's extremely complicated and there's -- there's things that you just can't get and or at least we don't know the resource for them. No. And I have no intention of ever -- ever making it.

ROMANS: Well, Arlene, we love your -- we love your passion for finding cool stuff at estate sales. Certainly is a really great story. Cliff, nice to meet you.

BERMAN: Yes good luck with that $5 million bucks. We'll go out drinking on you if someone buys it.

ARLENE KLUGE, BELIEVES HE FOUND COCA-COLA RECIPE: Thank you. C. KLUGE: Yes, yes. I take checks just send it ok.

ROMANS: Thank you.

C. KLUGE: Thanks a lot.

ROMANS: Thanks, Cliff.

C. KLUGE: Bye-bye.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT Cyndi Lauper taking Broadway by storm. We will talk with her about her Tony nomination for the hit "Kinky Boots". Also we're going to speak to the lead actor in that show.

ROMANS: Yes we had a lot of fun with him.

Plus wait until you see how Zoraida looks in one of those red boots. You're not going to believe it.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: That's a scene from the new Broadway hit "Kinky Boots" nominated for 13 Tony Awards more than any other show this year. Grammy winner Cyndi Lauper wrote the show's music and lyrics.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And she is here with the star of the show Billy Porter who is nominated for best actor in a musical. Cyndi and Billy thank you for being here.

Cyndi I'm going to start with you. Congratulations 13 nominations. You could make history also by being the first woman to win best original score. So tell us what it felt like that moment when you knew when you got the call.

CYNDI LAUPER, SINGER & COMPOSER: I didn't get the call. I was watching. They told me to watch so I, you know, walked the dog and I was watching. To have Broadway acknowledge me is such a big thing.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh.

LAUPER: It's a big thing.

ROMANS: And 13 must be your lucky number, 13 nominations. 2013; 30 years ago this year, this is the anniversary of the album that launched you to superstardom.

LAUPER: And the record company at the time was on the 13th floor.

ROMANS: No way.

LAUPER: Yes.

BILLY PORTER, TONY-NOMINATED ACTOR, "KINKY BOOTS": Lucky 13. LAUPER: That's what I'm saying.

SAMBOLIN: Did you know when you got involved in this that this was something special, something unique that could really have this kind of a -- of a reaction from people?

LAUPER: When I read this and I saw what it was, it, you know, the sad thing is -- the drag queen has really -- is inconsequential to the real part of this story which is about two men who are completely different from each other who actually are kind of wounded and they have like wounded birds. They have relationships with their fathers where they could never live up to their father's expectations, the unspoken expectations that you know haunt us all.

And that's what made me want to get involved, because the common denominator of everyone, you know, is family. And that, to me, was a big attraction.

Besides it was Harvey Forestein and Jerry Mitchell. Those are my friends and I could have fun doing it you know.

ROMANS: It must feel good to have your peers recognize you for this role.

PORTER: Yes well the last time I actually stepped foot on a Broadway stage was 13 years ago. And so --

(CROSSTALK)

LAUPER: 13.

PORTER: Lucky 13.

LAUPER: 13.

PORTER: 13 years ago.

LAUPER: Oh my God.

PORTER: I didn't even think about that.

LAUPER: It means something, Billy.

ROMANS: Tell me about the boots.

LAUPER: The shoes alone.

PORTER: What do you want to know?

SAMBOLIN: How does it feel to wear them? How do you get around in them so well? Because you truly own those boots.

PORTER: Yes well, I have to say they're very comfortable. They're designed and they're made by, you know, professional Broadway shoe makers so they fit your feet specifically and they're very cushioned.

SAMBOLIN: You know I wanted to try them on.

PORTER: Why don't you?

SAMBOLIN: Can I?

PORTER: Of course.

SAMBOLIN: Do you mind. Ok.

ROMANS: Oh my God, Zoraida loves beautiful, big, tall shoes.

SAMBOLIN: I can try it. You know what? I have a big foot and I was looking at yours and I thought well maybe I could fit in these.

PORTER: Let me help you.

SAMBOLIN: Although we may have to -- I may have to turn, you're going to help me fabulous.

PORTER: Of course.

LAUPER: We don't have a shoe horn. Do we?

SAMBOLIN: Oh you know what I thought that I actually -- I got the shoe on, I thought that I actually had to here, I got it, I thought that I actually had try to get them -- love it.

Oh wow, check that out.

PORTER: Ha ah. Yes.

SAMBOLIN: Woo hoo.

LAUPER: Look at that, Billy.

SAMBOLIN: I think your legs are bigger than my legs. Ok.

PORTER: I'm not going to arrested.

SAMBOLIN: I'm not going to get x-rated. Oh, ok.

(CROSSTALK)

LAUPER: Yes. But if you're going to wear them you have to have this.

PORTER: It's a morning show.

ROMANS: Good for the ratings.

SAMBOLIN: You do a lot of dancing in these.

PORTER: Yes. (inaudible) and popping and dancing and twirling and swishing and bopping.

SAMBOLIN: I love them.

It gets a little hot in there.

LAUPER: You know, you use them to let you lose weight -- aerobic exercise, you know.

ROMANS: There we go.

LAUPER: You know what; I love that, too. From London to Milan stilettos are an ism, now we know stilettos are an ism. Women know this. Now you know this.

PORTER: I always knew that.

LAUPER: He knew this.

ROMANS: We wish you all the luck in the world.

Billy Porter, Cyndi Lauper -- so nice to meet both of you. Best of luck to you.

PORTER: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Can I keep them?

PORTER: You got to talk to --

SAMBOLIN: Just kidding.

ROMANS: Thank you very much.

PORTER: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Check out this video from the top of the Washington monument. A worker wearing a helmet cam capturing a bird's eye view of workers topping off the scaffoldings surrounding the landmark.

BERMAN: Oh my goodness.

ROMANS: I know. The monument has been closed since it was heavily damaged by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake back in August of 2011.

A prom king and queen controversy brewing at a Virginia high school after a male student nominated for prom queen and a female student nominated for prom king were named finalists. Students at T.C. Williams high in Alexandria say the male student lobbied for queen and the female student ran for king to support him and some of the kids are OK with it. Others not so much.

KAYLA LEWIS, STUDENT: People think that if a guy is running he should be running for prom king and not queen.

CELENA GONZALEZ, STUDENT: I want her to be a queen but then again she gets replaced by a guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I personally know both people the girl running for king and the guy running for queen. They're great people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: CNN affiliate WJLA spoke to the male student vying for prom queen. He's reportedly now uncomfortable with all the attention. He's considering dropping out. The king and queen will be named during prom which is on June 1st.

ROMANS: All right. That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans for this Wednesday.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello. What did they know and when did they know it? 40 years later that simple, iconic question from the Watergate era once again hangs over the White House.