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Jason Patric Custody Battle; S.E. Cupp's Body Image Battle; S.E. Cupp's Body Image Battle; Michaela's Story

Aired February 10, 2014 - 08:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Actor Jason Patric is taking his custody for his four-year-old son, Gus, to the next level with "Stand Up for Gus," a campaign he says is not just for himself but for other dads suffering parental alienation.

JASON PATRIC, ACTOR: I just want you to know that I'm going to win this.

CUOMO: Now, Gus' mother and Patric's ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, has filed a restraining order that would ban Patric him saying Gus' name or showing his face anywhere in public or in private without Schreiber's permission, effectively killing "Stand Up for Gus."

Patric says he and Schreiber tried to have a baby together for years before eventually getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization using Patric's sperm. California law says a man whose sperm is used by a fertility clinic must have a signed agreement clearly stating plans to co-parent, otherwise he doesn't have parental rights. Schreiber says she was always supposed to be the sole parent.

DANIELLE SCHREIBER: Jason never did anything to raise Gus. He never changed a single diaper.

CUOMO: As proof, she points to this letter Patric wrote saying he wasn't ready to be a father.

SCHREIBER: Where's dada. That's right.

CUOMO: But Patric points to home videos and photos of them together as a happy family, as well as documents showing financial support and listing him as Gus' dad.


CUOMO: Jason Patric joins us now.

I watch -- you know, it's hard for me to watch you watch that. I know that you are literally counting the days and weeks it's been since you've seen your son. You said to me it's been 51 weeks.

PATRIC: Today, yes. CUOMO: And what is it doing to you?

PATRIC: Well, I mean, it destroys you. But you have a choice. You can lay on the couch or you can get up, you know. I mean - and then I'm going (ph) to get up.

CUOMO: And people started supporting you when they started hearing about your story. And what struck you wasn't the sympathy, but the empathy, that they were saying, I know what you're dealing with. I've dealt with it myself. What have you learned about parental alienation?

PATRIC: Well, I didn't know anything about it, you know. But, look, six out of 10 families are going to get divorced. That's a lot of kids that are going to be out there. And so - look, my ex and her family used this ridiculous, arcane law, an incredible amount of money and tons of lawyers to pervert justice. But it was only a mechanism to alienate my child, to take my child away. So though mine's extreme, I found all these other people that were going through horrible things, whose kids were gone just as long and kids were being poisoned in the same way, this kind of child abuse that, you know, the Schreibers are doing to my son.

CUOMO: And you started to get thousands of people coming forward about this. You recognize it. You started "Stand Up for Gus." Celebrities hearing about it, not just through friendship, but also just feeling the awareness of the issue wanted to get involved?

PATRIC: Well, I had an event called "Stand Up for Gus" because I wanted to bring awareness to this parental alienation and raise a lot of money. And then a foundation started. And within a couple of months, "Stand Up for Gus" became the sort of leading organization, this parental alienation, because no one's ever talked about it.

And I didn't realize that thousands and thousands - I mean millions of people out there that don't have a voice are liked (ph) to this. I mean I really think it's akin to domestic violence forty years ago. Forty years ago no one talked about if you heard someone whacking someone, you know, next door in the apartment. That was their business, until it wasn't - it wasn't OK anymore. And that's really what this is. I mean this idea - it is not OK to remove a parent and for another parent to poison a child. It's not fair to that child.

CUOMO: Look, I know it's very painful for you, but you are now in a court battle and the law is, once again, your enemy. They use this California law -

PATRIC: Right.

CUOMO: Which until they change it says you didn't have a signed contract saying that you were going to be the parent. It's in vitro. You lose. So now constructively what your son's mother is saying is, it's not his kid, it's mine. He can't use my kid in whatever activity he wants to do. That's going to be a tough legal fight.

PATRIC: Well, you know, we have to look at what's actually right. I'm not the first person to get a horrible judgment against me. I mean I have a woman who wrote my name as father on our fertility forms. I mean I went into a clinic and I gave my sperm and she gave her egg. Why am I a donor? Why am I a donor? In this case purely because I'm a man, which is gender discrimination, so that law is going to be changed because it's unconstitutional.

However, as you saw in those videos and I've -- voice mails and pictures from every day of my son's life, just because some court made a horrible decision, it's not going to stop me from being a father. And if I can't be with my son every day, I want to leave a path of a noble fight, not only for him, but in his name for all these other people that have been caught up in this same terrible epidemic. So I'm going to father him from a distance until I have him back in my arms. And I'm going to get him back.

CUOMO: What's the fight in court? What are you going to put forward as an argument as to why you should be able to use it?

PATRIC: Well, I mean, I'm in appeal right now and I think these, you know, people are - these appeal judges are going to have to see the absurdity of this verdict. You know, also, it was not in the best interest of the child, I mean, in my case. And this whole parental alienation thing is never in the best interest of a child.

It's not just me, you know, I mean it's - it's Joe Baro (ph) and his daughter Megan (ph). It's David Gershaw (ph), Will Tedrick (ph). It's little Julia grace (ph), who hasn't been with her paternal family for seven years. Brook Barronne (ph). That's just a handful of people that have come to me. So as I said, I can sit there and deal with my pain. It's not going anywhere until I have Gus back, or I can take it and say, we're going to end this. we're going to end this phenomenon, this ugly thing.

CUOMO: And yet for the last year, you know, you wearing black is somewhat metaphorical of what you've been dealing with. I know that this has been very hard for you personally. How do you live your life when it had been, you know, family life? You guys were a family. You know, a new family, right?

PATRIC: Right.

CUOMO: I mean it's not just about having the rings and things anymore these days. There are all kinds of families. What is it like for you to now be marking 51 weeks and still not have your boy?

PATRIC: You know, every day is a struggle. Every day. The only thing I could do, maybe in this Buddhist (ph) way, is if you have pain or struggle, it connects you to people who also have it and so you're not alone. And that's what "Stand Up for Gus" is.

But this new -- this new lawsuit that the Schreiber's are trying to do, they're trying to stop me from ever mentioning my son's name in a commercial, charitable or private way, meaning they want to stop "Stand Up for Gus, "which has raised money that's going to go to lawyers to completely represent people fighting for their families for free, people trying to have custody. But if Danielle Schreiber gets her way and her father, Jim Schreiber, if I am having lunch with you and I mention Gus, my son, and someone hears it and I don't have her permission, she wants me to go to jail. She wants to take away my constitutional First Amendment rights. And if they get it, it's not just mine, it's going to be everybody's.

CUOMO: And to be clear, you're still willing to put all the lawyers and all the courts aside and meet and talk and just get to see your son, right?

PATRIC: I have - I have - I heave e-mailed, called and everything for 10 months until she went to court to make me stop e-mailing, her asking just to see my son because -

CUOMO: You were asking so much that she felt it was harassment and got a TRO against you?

PATRIC: She tried to get a physical restraining order and trumped up all these fake threats, which the judge threw out and didn't find them credible and just said, don't e-mail her any more, don't text her because she doesn't want to hear from you.

Now, luckily, I had the means to be able to go defend myself from that or I would have been restrained from being anywhere near my son for three years. But other people don't have those means. And this kind of practice just goes on and on and on. Now, if you're Jim Schreiber, Danielle's father, who's playing for all this, you just keep doing it and hiding behind your lawyers. But that's not fair to any of these other people who have no way to fight for themselves.

So, you know, to answer in a long way your question, yes, every day is horrible. But I sort of put my foot forward and know that if at least I do this, there's going to be a thousand people out there who say, thank God, at least someone is putting this light for a second, someone is there. We can go to "Stand Up for Gus." We can give money to this. There's forums there. There's support. I mean I don't know what else to do, you know, other than to try for other people.

CUOMO: And I know there's a four-year-old boy out there that you want to see very much.


CUOMO: And I know that that's fueling all of this.

PATRIC: Who doesn't know what happened to his dada. Yes.

CUOMO: Jason, thank you. It is an ugly process, but thank you for letting us follow it along.

PATRIC: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, Chris, thanks so much. Coming up next on NEW DAY, the newest winner of "The Biggest Loser." We've talked about this. Well, she shocked millions with her weight loss reveal and many folks are now worried about her health. But we're going to discuss with "Crossfire" co-host S.E. Cupp who says she can relate. Her very personal story coming up next.



A story that we first brought you last week has really struck a nerve with millions of you on the recent finale of "The Biggest Loser." Winner Rachel Frederickson dropped to 105 pounds, leaving many to criticize the show for promoting an unhealthy body image. One person who can really relate to the body image battle is CNN "Crossfire" host S.E. Cupp, and she is speaking out about her very own journey in a really moving piece on

S.E. joins us from Washington.

Hello, fabulous.

S.E. CUPP, HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": Hi, how are you?

PEREIRA: I'm very well, S.E. Why did you feel moved to write this piece?

CUPP: Well, it's not something I talk about often or at all in public. But when I saw the footage of Rachel on "The Biggest Loser," you know, I had the same reaction that a lot of people had, wow, she looks really thin. And then I was just immediately brought back to the times in my life where I have struggled with eating disorders and thought, gosh, this next year ahead for her is going to be really challenging.

There's a euphoria, an addiction, an intoxication that comes along with losing that much weight, the attention you get, watching the numbers click down on the scale, watching your clothes change sizes. I mean it all becomes addictive. And unless you're emotionally and mentally prepared to stop when you get to a dangerous point, that can very easily spiral out of control.

PEREIRA: I want to talk about society's sort of obsession right now with thin. It's been going on for a while. But I want to specifically talk about your story. You were a ballet dancer. I think a lot of us didn't know this. And you write in this really moving piece about really going to startling lengths, S.E. You talk about your struggle with bulimia and starvation and the diet pills, et cetera. It was around you too in the culture that you were immersed in.

CUPP: Yes, it was -- it was a dark time and I was, you know, at the worst possible age of being a young woman, totally ill-equipped and insecure, not able to really deal with those kinds of pressures. I mean I was 13, 14, 15 coming into my, you know, teenage years and just not equipped to be in that kind of environment where you're being scrutinized for your weight so much. Girls are insecure at that age anyway. So I had to really go through a lot to pull myself out of that and did successfully. And then later, as I talk about in the piece, some of that came flooding back in my early 20s. And, luckily, I had - I had the skills and I was equipped to not get to a dangerous point the second time. But I'm hoping that in some of the training that Rachel got on "The Biggest Loser," and I hope she continues to get training, they're helping her avoid some of the bad habits and the addictive behaviors that so many people pick up when they get dangerously body conscious and thin.

PEREIRA: Well, when you talk about it, it's really interesting to see the parallel about the fact that it's a life-long battle, too, right?

CUPP: Yes.

PEREIRA: I want to talk about this notion of thin and skinny and weight loss. We're obsessed with it in America. You look at all the products, the ads, et cetera. Women's magazines. And lately I think that a bit of that has been bolstered by the fact that we see these rising obesity rates in America and there's great concern, a very real concern about that. I wonder how we've manage to strike a balance between those two. What are your thoughts on that?

CUPP: Yes, you're right, it's tricky because everyone should want to be healthy and I'm proud of Rachel for getting healthy. But, you know, a show like "The Biggest Loser" really put it in perspective. It is not a show about who can get the healthiest; it's a show about who can lose the most weight.

And she won that show by losing the most weight. And that's really -- that's not the focus because at some point you have to stop losing weight -- right. You can't continue to lose weight. You have to bottom out and become a healthy, happy person with healthy habits that you can take forward for the rest of your life.

So at some point Rachel's got to hit a plateau where she is just healthy. But you get so addicted to the losing of the weight.

PEREIRA: Yes. That euphoria you talk about.

CUPP: It really is. It is like a drug. And if you keep chasing that high and you keep trying to lose weight even though you probably don't need to anymore there is really nowhere to go but a very, very dangerous place.

PEREIRA: In a word do you think weight loss competitions are the right way to do it? Should it be made a competition?

CUPP: I mean -- I think competitions, you know, you in at an office I'm sure you have seen people in your office pool together and say let's lose weight this month. I mean competition to get healthy is great. The focus shouldn't be on the numbers. The focus shouldn't be on the weight loss but should be on getting healthy, learning healthy habits over time.

And I know that show tries to strive for that. But I'm just -- I'm hoping that Rachel gets the strength and the skills she needs to make it through what is going to be a very pressure-filled year with a lot of people watching her and watching to see if she gains the weight back or if she continues to lose. It is really tough to deal with.

PEREIRA: Yes. It is a tough thing. (inaudible) -- you chose TV instead.

S.E. Cupp wrote a really, really personal piece. I want you to check it out. It is on It is obviously a really personal voyage for her.

And of course, you can watch "CROSSFIRE" week nights, 6:30 Eastern. Thank you so much S.E.

CUPP: Thanks, Michaela.

PEREIRA: Chris --

CUOMO: Important stuff. Coming up on new day our own Mickey -- Michaela Pereira-- has a beautiful piece in "Essence" magazine that you must read. It's about how being adopted let her know she was especially chosen to be loved and how the emotional search for her birth parents led her to know who she really is.

We're going to talk to that beautiful woman right there about her incredible discovery after the break. Come over here and give me a kiss.

PEREIRA: Don't make me. Stay away from me.


CUOMO: All right. If this doesn't qualify as "The Good Stuff" --

BOLDUAN: Nothing does.

CUOMO: I don't know what does. It is very personal, of course. It is personal to you. Easy to see that our friend and colleague Michaela Pereira is genuine, full of heart, gorgeous but she is sharing a very personal journey. Beautiful insight into the blessing of being adopted and the risk, rejection and unexpected reward of searching for her birth parents.

Michaela wrote about it in the March issue of "Essence" magazine. Where? The March issue.

BOLDUAN: "Essence" magazine.

PEREIRA: You know you made it.

CUOMO: Let me pull one quote before I get into your head about why you did it. Here is one part of it. It's really great piece.

"So much of who I am on the outside, my skin color, eye color and hair is because of my father, my identity inextricably tied to a man I do not know." What did that mean to you? PEREIRA: You know, it was really interesting. I have known from the jump that I am adopted. When you look like this and when you see my birth family you kind of figure out that one of these things is not like the other right. And all of us -- all of us in my family, adoption was always such a part of the fabric of our family. And I always knew who I was.

But there was something about my birth father because I know, the one thing I do know that my birth father is Jamaican Canadian. And I get the woman of color that you see today from him. And it is always the first thing people know about me. And it's such interesting thing to know that your identity has no context. And that is what I was looking for in this search to find my birth father.

Back up because you know the bigger parts to the story too is that I found and hopefully we can bring up a picture of --



BOLDUAN: This is the most exceptional part about this. Not only along your search which is already many years in the making -- you come across something you probably couldn't imagine. You found another sister.

PEREIRA: She looks like she should be out of Baldwin clan. Like take a look at her.

There's -- a 5'2 blond school teacher and I are going to look anything alike. That was -- that's a picture of me --

CUOMO: That's Mickey.

PEREIRA: -- when I was about six months old. I was adopted. There is my two sisters. All five of us, my grandmother made us matching pajamas for Christmas.

CUOMO: So to give them a little bit of a lead on it you wound up saying, all right let me see. Let me find where my birth parents are. What did you learn about your mom?

PEREIRA: I was led to my birth mother a year and a week after she had passed away from a six-year battle with colon cancer. It was devastating. My mom and dad were so fantastically supportive of me and have been in this entire search. I know they are watching -- hi mommy; hi daddy.

And that helped me because this was a real struggle. But in that and I have also learned that often there is a silver lining in very, very dark clouds I found my birth sister -- Marnie. I have a half sister who we look nothing alike yet we do. There she is. There's my girl.

And she -- you know, I found out that I had a piece of me, I found a piece of me that I didn't realize was missing. I am blessed beyond abundance with sisters and family. CUOMO: And hair.

BOLDUAN: We know your awesome story. You love telling your story.


BOLDUAN: You are very open about it. Why did you want to write about it in a magazine?

PEREIRA: I have dedicated -- OK, I can do it. I dedicated my life to this because I was one of the lucky ones. I know that there are many kids out there. I know you. I know that you are struggling with this. I know that there has been a shadow of sort of secrecy surrounding adoption and not knowing where you come from.

And I want to help the kids that I call the sometimes forgotten kids. And I've dedicated my life to doing that, at risk youth, kids in foster care, kids that are in new homes because I know how lucky I was and how lucky we were.

And I wanted to write this because I think it is time. We talk about the fact that families now have a completely different -- there is a different definition of families. My parents were doing it before it was cool. That was before Brad and Angelina, you know.

BOLDUAN: You were struggling the same questions and wonders and struggles that any child of adoption wonders.

PEREIRA: Sure. You wonder.

BOLDUAN: And you handle it better than anybody.

PEREIRA: Well, I don't know -- Kate. You know, I'm doing it on purpose because this is how I'm handling it. I'm living with my heart on my sleeve because I want to stare it right in the face.

CUOMO: Given the line at the end of the piece about the common expression that when God closes one door they open a window. But listen to this part -- I love it.

PEREIRA: Yes. I said that you know, sometimes some doors aren't meant to be open. That refers to my birth father because I haven't had success. And I'm OK with that because I hit the lottery finding Marnie. And I'm blessed beyond measure with my parents and my sisters that I already have.

I think of it as a house. I found another room in my house. You know, you don't just suddenly move into that house. You throw the door open and make it a bigger house. And that's how my heart is.

BOLDUAN: We love you.

CUOMO: Not a hand --


BOLDUAN: You're never getting in. We're never getting in.

CUOMO: No one is home.


CUOMO: The dog came out and tried to bite me.

BOLDUAN: But the way Michaela writes you will want to read it -- "Essence" magazine this month.


BOLDUAN: Today be sure to check out -- there's just a lot of awesome going on.

CUOMO: They're so nice, they are on twice.

BOLDUAN: Michaela's new show with John Berman "@THIS HOUR" with Berman and Michaela debuting 11:00 Eastern only on CNN.

PEREIRA: I better go polish my shoes. I love you guys.

BOLDUAN: The news continues with Carol Costello and the "NEWSROOM". Hey Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Kate Bolduan -- thanks so much.