tv John Mc Laughlins One on One PBS October 20, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
out and get out of my way. if i'm going to be in a wheelchair, i'm going faster than you, guaranteed, unquote. so says our guest and author and actor and a television talk show host, living with multiple sclerosis. on his program, he interviews the dysfunctional and the bizarre and the aberrant. question: are the life-styles and the values of his guests more the national norm than the exception? what explains the rise of dysfunctional families and dysfunctional relationships in america today? we'll have this impresario of
if she says yes. we believe if should never hold you back. if should be managed with a plan that builds on what you already have. together we can create a personal safety net, a launching pad, for all those brilliant ifs in the middle of life. you can call on our expertise and get guarantees for the if in life. after all, we're metlife. >> montel williams, welcome. >> thank you, sir. >> you have an anecdote about a broken television set in your family room, living room, and your father said he was going to repair some day. tell us about that television set. >> this was probably when i was -- a lot of people think i'm crazy when i can remember things this far back but i was maybe no more than 18 months or two years old living in public housing in baltimore, maryland and cherry hill and we had a big television set, on a big table.
and i think that tv probably work the day my father got it and broke, stopped working. back then they had the frosted glass in the front. and so that box is set in the house. and i remember on occasions when there would be some sort of turmoil in the house that was my place to go and hide, i would run and jump inside the back of the tv and you could kind of look through the glass, if you rubbed on it a little bit, take the silver dust off of it and i looked out at my family, it was kind of interesting, i don't think our family was dysfunctional at the time but whatever antics were going on i looked at it and now it's my job you sitting inside that box looking at and observing and talking about what goes on in people's homes and their living rooms. >> that's kind of a metaphor of your current life namely that you look at the world through your television, through your television show? >> through my television shows, i don't really do that completely but, you know, in the last -- in the last 11 years, i
had the fortunate opportunity to complete my 2200th show, i had over 15,000 people sitting the stage beside me, 16,000 that close, as close as we are so it's been the opportunity for me to observe the human spirit up close. >> that's a terrific metaphor for the television box and you jumping inside, that's the closing sentence on the sequence. this strikes me now as an odd metaphor for what i have gone on to do for a living. examining dysfunctional families on a television talk show. so we'll get a little bit more into dysfunctional at in a little bit. tell me about your military background. >> marine core in '73, '74, boot camp in paris island. during boot camp, after boot camp. and was accepted to go with the prep school in newport, rhode island. when there i was selected to go to the naval academy in
annapolis, graduated in the class of '80 and served until 1989 in full active duty 1991 on a temporary active duty status and talk show i stayed in the reserves for another three years and got out really officially in 1996. >> cryptological officer in guam, does that mean you did the coding on guam? >> i was a special duty intelligence officer, 16 penn was my designator was i did it not only on guam but on aircraft carriers, submarines, nasa security agent, fort mead, you name it, i had a pretty solid career. >> russian, defense language institute in monterrey. >> studied russian there, chinese at the naval academy in annapolis. >> can you handle russia? >> yeah, i can [speaking in a foreign language], i've forgotten a lot of words but i still remember. >> do you ever talk russian with any russian people you have on your show? >> every now and then i have
russians that show up in my audience. >> have you been to russia? >> never been. ofel can't go because i'm still off duty. >> you can't go to russia? >> not another year but i have to notify thetate department before i go. >> i think you'd love moscow have i think so. it's very funny, tell you about a funny story about being in new york. when i first got into new york to go to the show i got in a taxi, and i was reading his name on the taxicab, he has a file and his picture there and his name's up there and i said [speaking in a foreign language] he looked back at me [speaking in a foreign language] he looked at me after stopped the cab and set get out. get out. i got out of the cab and later i asked somebody, right now in new york, this was back in 1991, they were going around checking a lot of people to see if they had legal papers, this guy probably thought i was some guy -- a black guy get in the back of hisses quarterback talking russian, obviously this dude may be questioning me about something and threw me out of his cab. >> in the light of your 15 years
in military service do you have many thoughts on t out terrorise sure we have their backs on this wall. i'm a little taken aback right now by the news media, our own industry, and this attack right now against the intelligence community, where people are now trying to sit back and second-guess what has taken place. mistakes may have been made but unfortunately the intelligence community and intelligence is not a hard science where you can have one plus two equal three. i've seen recently in the newspaper everybody now is all upset about the fact that there were two intercepts that possibly took place before september~11th, blah, blah, blah, but all we do by reporting this is give up sources, give up our ability to glean that information at a later day. right now what we need to do is back off the intelligence agent, of lethem to do a job, though organizations know where they have made some miss takes but this is not for pointing a finger and saying you did this wrong so therefore we need to prosecute you forget that. it's a job that we know has gone unthanked by by american public.
>> if you leave the military in a happy frame of mind? >> i left the military extremely happy. >> you did? >> yes, sir. >> did you not run up a debt while you were in the military? >> i certainly did. >> through your motivational speaking. >> by speaking around the country. before i came off active duty i started speaking to schools across america. i probably smoke, in the last year of my service, 400 schools. >> you find that an enriching, productive experience, did you not? >> without a doubt. >> you also felt, how shall i describe it, you almost felt that you were empowering your he have is and your audience, almost mesmerizing, was it not? >> if you remember back in the day, this was in 19 really '87, '88, '88, there was only one person who was speaking to schools across the area, a police officer from new york city. he was putting on motivational presentations for kids and
trying to strike a chord to to them to stay away from drugs. i went into schools speaking about empowering yourself. >> you're still in the u.s. military? i had to do this on leave. >> on leave. >> my leave time, picked up all the expenses myself and traveled around to schools. >> talking about the three r's. >> restraint, responsibility and respect. >> and you covered the very phases of a typical adolescent life, correct. >> and also the negative things in time that were impediments to dropping out, peer pressuring out, pregnancy out, all those outs. >> you were in the military, you ran up a debt of $40,000 because you were flying to these different places, you were doing four lectures a day is i i was giving away 100 to $200 dollars a day to students. >> and you asked the government to do something for you and the government refused. >> back at the time. >> that's why you split the military. >> that's why i split. >> and you were five years removed from the pension, were you not? >> yes, sir. >> went to the fight in memphis,
lennox beat tyson, it wasn't a fight, was it? >> it wasn't. boxing afficionados, a lot of people thought it would be more fight, but tyson was older than we thought he was. >> were you able to in the crowded hall that took place on microphone with the two of them. >> i missed it. >> it was the best part of the fight. >> that's what i hear. the two fightersersly came to some sort of understanding and the understanding is lewis is the best boxer. >> you know mike asked him two or three times whether or not he could fight him again and lewis said let's take it a step at a time but he didn't rule it out. >> i think lewis is sitting back right now and should be and that's reevaluating whether he needs to be in this game anymore. he's beating everybody out there. >> you started in television in 1989, about 13 years. >> he 9, '89 was really when i started bouncing around the country and i was -- at that
time, i was running an organization out of denver, colorado, called reach the american dream. >> reach the american dream. >> reach the american dream out of denver, colorado, speaking to schools and everywhere i went became a media event. everywhere i went i was asked to start politicians. >> you started are show in 1991 but you had previously responded to a pepsi request to do what? >> peps peps was juan -- one of my sponsors in speaking but asked me to do an tree to a motion picture that they were doing for black history month back in 1990 so i did an introduction on the front of that, that movie and went across high schools across the country and got contacted by freddy fields who was the executive producer saying, what are you doing in my movie? who are you? >> now you've got a very succes rebated $123 so to it's . >> 11 years. >> a lot of shows. >> a lot of shows. since, however, since 9/11, talk shows have tended to recede in their popularity. are you experiencing that?
and do you trace it to the general, what, atmosphere of sobriety in the country? balancing one's life better? perhaps reducing television viewing more, what do you trace it to and are you seeing it? >> we're not seeing the same complete drain in our viewership, though, it's down across the board, not only in daytime talk shows but across the board so we're seeing some downturn in the ratings but i tell you with the montel williams show we've kept our core all the way through and people still tune in. we've never been in the business -- i shouldn't say that that of two years i started in the air i was definitely in the same business as my peers. >> who owns the show? >> i do along with paramount. >> where do you produce it, do it in new york. >> what kind of a location? >> i'm in the studio off of 53rd street. >> who owns the studio? >> owned by unitel but it's in my lease so i'm leasing it. >> you run effectively your leased building. >> i have my own production company, it opens the show, we
license it to viacom and paramount to distribute it. >> are we talking about a amusement floor building. >> yes. we have a lot of space that's our studios. >> so you have quite an operation. >> i have quite an operation. >> you also write your books in that environment? >> i have an office space that i have a publishing company with that i'm just now kind of made a deal with another company that's going to buy that from me. i run a fitness corporation. i have a music business, i'm trying my best, see i'm -- trying to put away some money. >> just trying to make a living. >> trying to make a living. >> are you kind of the martha stewart of talk television meaning you have multiple streams of income and entrepreneurship. >> john, i like to think of myself as of renaissance man ina true sense. i just got diagnosed three years ago with what is one of the most insidious, chronic diseases that i think affects people in america and around the world today and rather than lose an
opportunity of taking advantage of one second that i have, i vacant advantage of -- take advantage of every second and try to do as many jobs as i can and my father told me recently in his book, i'm of jamaican heritage and one of the jokes is we like to have multiple jobs so i've got a whole bunch of jobs. >> you've got multiple sclerosis. i still have multiple sclerosis and multiple scars too. >> when did you learn that you had multiple sclerosis. >> very strange. i really got the diagnosis back in february of 1999. when i was doing an episode of touched by an angel. i was on an airplane from new york to utah going to go to the suit to talk about wardrobe and literally in the four-hour flight i went from feeling normal to having the most excruciating pain i've ever had in my life. >> where was the pain? >> feet, ankles, shins need, i had a patch on my side, weird, nothing in between, just a patch
of pain. and the first day, it progressively got worse, let's just say that if 10000 of is the worst the first day it went to 50, second day to about 70, third day i could barely put my feet on the floor and i had a friend who was a doctor in utah and he said i want you to go see somebody. and when i walked out the door he turned to my ex-wife and said i think he has ms. i went to a neurologist and that neurologist. >> that was harvard and 1990. >> no, utah. harvard confirmed it. i confirmed it with mri and other tests and evaluations and it was confirmed. since then, i mean, for the first couple months, it was probably the -- like a lot of us that get this news it was the most devastating -- >> there are five different types of news. >> there is benign, remitting relapse, progressing remitting
relapse -- there's progressing and now no longer spoken of, a fifth category, it is being redefined and put into three, we're starting to find more people fall into the remitting relapsing category so that's a broader category than we've thought about. >> tell me what you do in stockholm, you visit there in connection with ms. >> i've been traveling the world trying to make sure i can glean as much information as i can to make available through a website on my own, i go to stockholm, sweden to see specialists there because they have a different way of imaging the brain with an michigan there that can take a look at the plaques and scars on our brain and if they get it down to the -- to what they -- >> you mean extreme refinement degree. >> if they get it down there. >> that's never been done. >> it's now being done in the united states at harvard, uc san francisco but stockholm and the institute. >> what's the name of the institute.
>> carolinski institute. >> you had to have the mri and remain motionless for how long? >> i did one last year as a guinea pig for 11 years. >> total motionless. >> four hours, off five minutes, hour and a half, off five minutes, three minutes, off five minutes, got back in it and it was one of those days where you felt like you're going to explode because -- >> did you see any pictures of your brain? >> i got to see them and the pictures of the scars of my brain and to be able to look and see ones that are active and inactive and probably inactive for a long period of time. >> we're talking about a neurological progressive disorder, is that right? >> that's right. that can be degenerative. can run a course -- some people are lucky, they have the disease and it's in a benign form and they have one episode or bout which is exacerbation, inflammation of the nerves because this is considered an autoimmune disease where our immune system is turning on ourselves and attacking the myelin, the coating around the
nerve. >> are you, first of all, are you interested in -- you're obviously interested in it but are you appalled at the fact that the territory of the brain is almost entirely unchartered? i take that back, maybe about what 5%, 10% of the brain is charted today? >> i'm appalled by that but also appalled by the fact but here's a disease probably 20 years, mostly affected women 20 or 30 years ago and doctors used to say it's in your mind. it's all psychological, go home, don't worry. five years ago doctors told people they had ms when they were diagnosed don't exercise, go home, lay in bed, be still, calm yourself, you can't have any stress and now we're starting to find out there are a lot of misconceptions, people can exercises. >> do you take injections? >> i take a medication and proudly on it after two years to be able to evaluate myself and know how it's done to me, to share it. one injection every day. >> what's it called.
>> copaxil. >> one injection a day. >> and a series of other things, holistic approach vitamins, herbs and hormones. >> lift weights. >> lift weights. >> snowboard. >> every day. snowboarding is something i took on that's been therapeutic for me because i haven't disconnected to my brain and feet. there are times that i really in face i don't know where my toes are. if i go to step off this little platform to the floor below i may misjudge it by .50-inch and step harder or lighter and trip. snowboarding put me back in touch with my feet where because it's an exercise that you have to use your ankles and your toes appear you have to position that board, when i'm out snowboarding i walked better than i of walked. there's there's 2 snow. i'm going to chile next month so i can continue my rehab. >> is that your favorite snowboarding place? >> well, you know, i've got to tell you -- >> chile, very seldom chile. >> i go to a place north of santa yack go in the mountains 10,500 feet, 13,000 feet is the resort. but i really love utah, back and
forth to utah, wrong before they found out about it in the olympics, i i go to utah, only place in north america that has nine or 10 different mountains, different terrain. pharmaceuticals your chemical therapy cost? >> that's also one of the abomb i nations of the day. anywhere from 1200 to $1,400 a month, depending on what your insurance is and who you are. i mean, all four of right now the approved drugs which are all injectable, there are -- there are abc-r. stion is beings run between 800 explored in congress even as we that. but that's a different one. >> that's a different -- >> $250 -- not a lump sum but it's a basic deposit. and then there is a $35 a month premium. and then there is a 20% payment of the medication that you get, it adds up to, for the first
$1,000.877. so your rebated $123 so to speak, between 1,000 and $2,000, they pay 50%, the government does, and you pay 50%. 3,000, and $5,000, you pay the whole thing. beyond $3,800, is a better way of putting it, the government pays everything. but i want to ask you this question, and that is the pharmaceutical industry, throughout this whole wholing pretty much takes a beating. you think the pharmaceutical industries should be beat on. >> i was one of the biggest and loudest and angriest mouths around the world when it comes to pharmaceutical companies because there are some things that i don't like like the use of certain drugs with children. i'm very vocal about this. i'm going to tell you something, you take a look now athat i've done the research myself and started looking into the cost of what it brings the drugs to the marketplace to put it in the hands of people who suffer, i think part of the problem is not the pharmaceutical company part of the restrictions as a
government. >> the fda? >> fda. the restrictions are ridiculous were unlike in europe and other places. >> have you found that to be true in sweden. >> yes. >> namely that sweden has a more enlightened drug admissibility procedure. >> they have a more enlightened drug add missbility procedure, they're more enlightened in at least giving drugs and opportunity before they have full approval. in the test phase if they see things that are working they'll expand -- interduring the protocol phase. >> in the protocol phase they'll expand their test groups. that's something we should do here. and make these drugs available period. good thing about pharmaceutical companies, almost every one of them that creates the drugs will make it available to people. >> is the ultracompetitive winner take all mentality in our culture today in any way responsible for our social decay? as we have seen -- in enron? we'll put that question to our
guest who deals closely with our dysfunctional society elements but first here is his distinguis >> born, baltimore. 45 years of age. divorced. four children children * politics, independent. religion, christian. united states marine corps one year. u.s. naval academy four years. u.s. naval assignments, cryptological officer deciphering secret codes, guam one year. defense language institute. monterrey, california, one year. degree in russian. national security agency fort mead, maryland one year. direct support officer. three fast attack marines, four surface ships including surface -- service above the sample during the grenada invasion. montel, tv talk show most, daytime emmy award-winner 11 years and currently. awards, navy commendation and
navy achievement medals, service awards, other decorations. also esquire * man of the year '88 the montel williams ms foundation to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis, founder and overseer. television acting, touched by an angel *, jag , all my children *, author five books including most recently "a dozen ways to sunday." hobbies, fitness fanatic, quote, unquote,. >> yes, sir. >> and you're divorced twice. >> divorced twice. >> this is what you write "i truly leave that what goes wrong in most relationships can be traced in some way to neglect or forgetfulness. there are no mountains here but the ones we create for ourselves. we neck neck sy each other's needs in favor of our own and eventuallily 2 forget what it was that brought us together in the first place. think about this too, when we're falling in love we're swept up
in an enchanted do no wrong kind of feeling. then we get beyond all the lust and infatuation and lose sight of what bonded us together. we become selfish." >> you know, i think if people really stop for a second and own and take responsibility for what they have done wrong in their relationships they'll probably find out that's what ends up breaking most relationships. there's an old saying, you know, if you water your own grass, the grass on the other side is not that much greener. don't worry about that grass over there, water grass, you can make it as green as you want to make it. >> you spend a lot of time thinking about character. and you talk about goals. you talk about dedication. you talk about hard work. and so does, as a matter of fact, tony robbins. but you go beyond tony robbins and you add a dimension called faith. so it's goals, it's dedication, it's hard work and it's faith. what's the faith component? >> for me and -- and in the last
couple years because i've been disenchanted in some ways by what i think is organized religion i still very strongly about the message of the bible. >> you believe that without faith there can be morality? >> i don't think there can be morality without faith? and i've said it in this book and stand by it today i think part of the reason why we see the social decay we see among the young people is we've not given them anything bigger than themselves to believe in. >> you want to see prayer in the schools? >> you know what, the only place we acknowledge god in america right now is right here and it's on this thing where it says "in god we trust," and why do we think our children are running around all the time trying to get in it. we won't let them say i believe in god in school. >> we're almost out of time. what do you want to say. >> it's incredible for me to do the talk shows we do because we >> it's incredible for me to do the talk shows we do because we do issues in ways peo if. for such a small word it packs a wallop.
if i live to a hundred. if social security isn't enough. if my heart gets broken. if she says yes. we believe if should never hold you back. if should be managed with a plan that builds on what you already have. together we can create a personal safety net, a launching pad, for all those brilliant ifs in the middle of life. you can call on our expertise and get guarantees for the if in life. after all, we're metlife.