tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 18, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, hollywood mystery. was natalie wood's death really an accident? tonight why the drowning of a hollywood star is being re-opened 30 years later. fighting breast cancer. a highly charged decision today. why the government went against a breast cancer drug some women believe saved their lives. going to extremes. heat, rainstorms, floods. a new report says we are in for more changes in our weather. and the first ladies. one of the most popular exhibits in this country re-opening tomorrow. tonight we'll take you inside for a preview. tonight we'll take you inside for a preview. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening. for those who were around and remember when they heard the news it was shocking. natalie wood was a three-time academy award nominee. she was 43 years old and she was beautiful. over the thanksgiving holiday back in 1981, she drowned during an alcohol-fuelled night on board a boat off the coast of california with two well-known actors who played different roles in her life. after the mourning for her there was always a mystery about her death. now there are enough questions and apparently enough new information to lead the l.a. county sheriff to take a new look at this case. it's where we begin tonight with nbc's george lewis. >> reporter: 30 years ago natalie wood's death by drowning at age 43 was big news. >> natalie wood, the actress, was buried today in los angeles. >> reporter: and a mystery. her funeral attended by a who's
who of hollywood. natalie wood had three oscar nominations to her credit, married actor robert wagner twice. >> we were considered the princess and the prince of hollywood. we had a lot of pressure on us. >> you see, my mother is -- >> reporter: she started off as a child actress notably in "miracle on 34th street." grew up to play james dean's sweetheart in "rebel without a cause." ♪ i feel pretty ♪ oh, so pretty >> reporter: moved audiences as maria in "west side story" and starred opposite warren beatty in "splendour in the grass." because of that movie, the boat she and wagner owned was named "splendour." wagner in 2008. >> we came to the conclusion that she had slipped on the swim step on the aft end of the boat and had hit her head and rolled into the water. a tragic, tragic night. >> reporter: christopher walken, wood's costar in "brainstorm" was a guest on the boat prompting gossip about a love triangle.
wagner admits he argued with walken, smashing a bottle of wine on a table. the coroner theorized that to escape the argument, the actress may have tried to board a rubber dinghy but critics said that didn't add up because of a phobia natalie wood had. >> i have always been terrified, still am, of water -- dark water, sea water. >> reporter: despite lingering suspicions it was ruled an accident, case closed. but today, this. >> we have received information which we felt was substantial enough to make us take another look at this case. >> reporter: based on new information from the boat's captain, dennis davern. he spoke to david gregory on the "today" show and was asked about robert wagner. >> was he responsible for her death in some way? >> yes, i would say so, yes. >> reporter: in a book published two years ago davern said after natalie wood went missing, wagner ordered him not to search for her or alert authorities immediately. the sheriff's department said wagner is not a suspect.
the actor's publicist said the wagner family welcomes the investigation as does natalie's sister. >> the truth for natalie. that's all that matters. nothing else matters. >> reporter: her life was the stuff of legend. now her death will be the subject of a new investigation to separate fact from fiction. george lewis, nbc news, los angeles. there is a big decision to report tonight about a drug for breast cancer that some women contend saved their lives. tonight though the government says the science tells a different story. so the fda is revoking the approval of the drug avastin as a breast cancer treatment. our chief science correspondent robert bazell has more on this highly charged decision. >> reporter: shannon morgan, who has advanced breast cancer, is devastated by the fda
commissioner's decision that avastin can no longer be marketed as a treatment for her disease. >> it's heartbreaking. i cried. my first thought was she just gave me a death sentence. >> reporter: at three fda hearings on whether avastin should be approved for breast cancer, experts repeatedly testified that despite emotional appeals. >> i owe the last seven and a half years to avastin. >> avastin gives us hope. >> reporter: the evidence did not prove the drug was effective. still, fda commissioner margaret hamburg said her decision to follow the advisory panel's recommendation was a difficult one. >> sometimes despite the hopes of investigators, patients, industry and even the fda itself, the results of rigorous testing can be disappointing. >> reporter: avastin remains on the market as a treatment for several other cancers. so doctors can prescribe it for so-called off label use for breast cancer. the big question is whether medicare and private insurance companies will pay the steep
cost. $88,000 a year. so far medicare has said it will pay. avastin was approved for breast cancer in 2008 under an accelerated approval program with one stipulation -- that the manufacture ever manufacturer provide better data that it works. most cancer doctors agree that so far the company has not offered that proof. >> i don't think the decision is surprising given the data that the fda had. but there may be a group of women who could definitely benefit from this drug and have benefitted. >> people who have cancer, they just want some hope. >> reporter: in today's decision the fda says it would be open to further studies of women like shannon morgan to determine how much it helps them and if there is some genetic marker to determine which patients will benefit. this decision is getting a lot of attention because it pits such powerful emotions against the best science available. it is all in the context, brian, of these very expensive cancer drugs that we have talked about so often. >> interesting decision today.
robert bazell here with us as always. bob, thanks. news tonight from penn state of another major setback for joe paterno. we learned today he is being treated for lung cancer. there is big news tonight about the second mile charity. nbc's peter alexander has more on all of that and the investigation tonight from the penn state campus. peter, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening to you. a really busy evening at penn state. in a statement, the family of joe paterno said that the 84-year-old former coach is undergoing treatment for lung cancer and the doctors are optimistic he will make a full recovery. joe paterno, one of the most recognizable faces in all of college sports had been spotted publically just once in the last week leaving a medical building near the penn state campus wednesday night. his diagnosis had remained private until now. late today the man whose alleged child sexual abuse led to paterno's firing less than two weeks ago, jerry sandusky, returned to his state college home, dropping a note out the window that said, we have nothing more to say at this
time. you may contact our attorney if you wish. hours earlier vandals smashed a window of the sandusky home. the second mile where he met his alleged victims, is preparing to fold and is trying to transfer its programs to other nonprofit organizations. law enforcement sources tell nbc news that federal prosecutors and fbi agents are now looking hard at whether to open up their own investigation because of allegations that sandusky crossed state lines to commit child abuse. on campus, the new leader of the university's athletic program, david joiner, a former board member, made his first public comments, promising to bring change. >> i am just here to tell you that whatever has or has not gone on in the past, we're going forward in the athletic department with my view that this is an academic unit. >> reporter: with a new wave of heightened awareness on college campuses.
>> you go here and you don't think something like that can happen. >> reporter: syracuse placed bernie fine on administrative leave after a former ball boy told the media that fine molested him for almost 15 years beginning in the 1980s. fine denies the allegations. the university says it investigated the complaint in 2005 and immediately alerted police who found no evidence to support the claims and no charges were ever filed. and back here at penn state the university today made it official naming interim president rodney erickson to the post permanently. it is an in-house promotion without any nationwide search. brian? >> peter alexander in state college, p.a. tonight. peter, thanks. terribly sad story out of the midwest tonight. the coach and assistant coach of oklahoma state's women's basketball team were killed last night when the small plane they were in crashed 50 miles outside little rock. head coach kurt budke and assistant miranda serna were on a recruiting trip. the plane's pilot and his wife also died in the crash. this tragedy comes ten years after two oklahoma state men's basketball players and eight
others died in a plane crash outside denver. overseas tonight, president obama made big news today on his tour of the asian pacific region with an announcement about secretary of state hillary clinton. our chief white house correspondent chuck todd had a chance to speak with secretary clinton earlier today. tonight he is traveling with the president. >> reporter: the president showed up in the vivid colors of a traditional balinese shirt for the official photo with asian leaders. mr. obama has tried to keep the focus on the jobs crisis back home. today meeting with boeing to discuss the sale of aircraft to an indonesian airline. >> our workers back home are going to be able to have job security and be able to produce an outstanding product made in america. >> reporter: in a major foreign policy announcement the president said his administration will renew diplomatic conversations with the isolated government of myanmar, formerly burma. >> after years of darkness we
have seen flickers of progress in the last several weeks. >> reporter: hillary clinton will visit the country next month. the first secretary of state to go there in more than 50 years. in an interview with nbc news, she says the country must do more for a full restoration of relations. >> they have to release all political prisoners. i mean, that just is a condition. they have to have a real electoral system with an open door to political parties and free expression. >> reporter: on syria, another country with a fledgling democratic movement, clinton was blunt in her assessment of the growing violence. >> yes, i think there could be a civil war with a very determined and well-armed and eventually well-financed opposition. >> reporter: she all but ruled out a libya-like solution with a western coalition to help out in the fight. >> there is no appetite for that kind of action vis-a-vis syria. libya was a unique situation. >> reporter: as for her daughter's new career here at nbc news. i have to ask about my new colleague.
>> yes. >> reporter: what did you think when she said i want to become a member of the fourth estate, this side of the line here. >> i was a little surprised. but, you know, she decided to go for it. i'm very excited for her. >> reporter: the president heads to guam after the summit and returns to washington on sunday. chuck todd, nbc news, bali. when our broadcast continues on a friday night, why there may be a big change in the weather around here for good. also ahead, a new home for the glamour and style of this nation's first ladies. and why mornings may never be the same.
and we may be in for some adventure. here is our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson. >> reporter: if you think the weather is whacky now, just wait. today's report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change confirms what many already suspect. our weather will only get more extreme as greenhouse gases continue to be pumped into the air by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal. >> the frequency of hottest days will increase by a factor of four within the next 30 to 40 years. >> reporter: and by the end of the century, a once in 20-year hot day has a very good chance of happening every two years. along with more frequent and longer heat waves, the panel says we can also expect an increase in heavier rainstorms. and though the number of hurricanes is likely to remain the same or decrease, the panel says the hurricanes that do form
will have higher wind speeds. but it's not all doom and gloom. this report is aimed at the world's policy makers to show them what can be done to reduce the devastating impact of extreme weather and save lives. in the first eight months of this year, the u.s. recorded ten weather events costing $1 billion or more, a new record. from the groundhog day blizzard to the destruction in joplin, missouri, to hurricane irene. the damage topping $45 million. scientists say it doesn't have to be that way. >> we can build more safely. we can climate-proof our infrastructures such that when there are extreme impacts, our buildings are safe. >> reporter: cities can plant more trees and green space to reduce the heat island effect. development can be limited in coastal areas at risk of sea level rise. >> extreme weather events don't have to have extreme consequences. >> reporter: a warning from which people and the planet can benefit. anne thompson, nbc news, new york.
over 450 firefighters are tonight battling a dramatic 2,000-acre wildfire outside reno, nevada. one man died of a heart attack while trying to escape last night. 25 homes have been damaged or destroyed. 10,000 people have been moved out of the way. high winds are making the firefighting effort difficult, gusting up to 60 miles per hour. up next here tonight, a big change on the campaign trail and a big name in entertainment signs off.
there is still so much more that god needs me to express to the world. it's not just a coincidence that i look like jesus. i am the modern day jesus christ that you all have been waiting for. >> reporter: he was arrested for firing a rifle at the white house last week. at least two shots that we know of hit the building. he's the first person charged with the attempted assassination of the president in close to 20 years. you can link to the entire video tonight on our website. herman cain has become the first republican primary candidate to receive secret service protection. it is early in the process for a primary candidate to get a secret service detail. it's usually in response to an increase in verified threats and in florida today, cain talked about his new heavily armed traveling companions. >> we had private security for a while before we asked for secret service protection. but we wanted to move to that next level because of my ranking
in the polls and the additional scrutiny that i have been getting. >> cain spoke in orlando and already just behind the camera he was surrounded by secret service and local police. one of the most enduring and beloved entertainers of our time said good-bye at least for the time being. regis philbin signed off after 28 years on television and 17,000 hours on television, meaning he lasted longer than some televisions. a star-studded final studio audience showed up to send him off along with costar kelly ripa and of course, gelman, the producer without a first name. reg is 80 years old and in signing off, he kept us guessing. >> thank you very much for these great years together. god bless you all and i hope i see you again real soon. thanks, everybody. [ cheers and applause ] >> we hope so, too, regis. we'll miss you and good luck. when we come back, our fascination with first ladies, past and present.
it tells the story of us through the story of some notable women and we get to tour it tonight, thanks to nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: there is no description for the job, but for michelle obama to hillary clinton to jacqueline kennedy and martha washington. while no one votes for the women who have held it, americans are fascinated by first ladies. >> it is rather hard with children. there is so little privacy. >> reporter: that's why one of the most popular places in washington is right here, the smithsonian first ladies exhibit. now newly expanded for the first time in nearly a century with additions including grace coolidge's flapper-style gown which was given to her maid. how to define the first lady's role through history? >> she's the first mother. she's the first wife. she's the first help mate. we expect her to be the first independent woman.
we are never sure where to draw the line on how independent that is or how involved in politics that is. so much of that depends on her own relationship with her husband. >> reporter: the collection includes inaugural gowns including michelle obama's designed by jason woo and nancy reagan's famous red bordered china. why is the exhibit so popular? some say while people want glamour and style in the white house they want a connection to the first family to know how they live their everyday lives. >> reporter: seeing the gowns and china helps people feel as though they are time travellers, transported into the white house themselves. while most presidents trip over politics from time to time, first ladies are usually immune. >> we want to feel good about those characters. somehow the first lady is able to retain her popularity over time and in the time in a way that a president, i think gets involved in politics cannot. >> reporter: who knows? some day soon the first ladies exhibit could include the attire of the first man. andrea mitchell, nbc news,
washington. >> there you go. that's our broadcast for a friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you back here on monday night. in the meantime have a great weekend. in the meantime have a great weekend. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com right now at 6:00, is it a ticking time bomb? people in one bay area city are questioning pg&e's refusal to test a gas pipeline. good evening and thanks for joining us. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. in the wake of the san bruno disaster, gas pipelines have become a big concern in the bay area. but would you rather have pg&e stress test your pipeline now or wait more than a year when it's sched