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tv   Nightline  ABC  October 21, 2014 12:37am-1:08am EDT

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this is "nightline." tonight, off the rails. could something that's supposed to protect you actually cost you your life? >> oh, my god. i'm going to die. >> our brian ross investigates allegations that some highway guardrails could be deadly. and their makers may have known it. and tonight, a big verdict is in. ♪ how am i >> plus, from how am i supposed to live without you, to jingle king. >> more level. >> michael bolton, the latest ad man of the ages. >> until the end of time. ♪ but is he embarrassed? >> they gave it all to starburst. >> no way. >> from mcconaughey so shatner, celebrities are making themselves a little less seriously. >> oh, good. >> and laughing all the way to the bank.
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>> he seemed nice. and, monica who? >> some of you might be asking, who the hell is she, this monica? >> she was publicly shamed after her affair with bill clinton. >> i did not have sexual relations with that woman. >> but now, she's speaking out, revealing her true feelings for the former president. >> i fell in love. >> but first -- >> with my boss. >> the "nightline" five. >> come on! >> let's hide in the attic. >> no, in the basement. >> why can't we just get in the running car? >> are you crazy? let's hide behind the chain saws. >> smart. >> yeah, okay. >> if you're in a horror movie, you make poor decisions. that's what you do. >> i'm being quiet. >> you're breathing on me. >> if you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. >> head to the cemetery! >> number one in just 60 second
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good evening and thanks for joining us. tonight, a landmark legal decision over a hidden hazard in common highway guardrails. it's a major case with victims alleging a design flaw that maims and kills. our chief investigative correspondent brian ross brings us the details for our series, "nightline investigating. k >> today's verdict comes after a growing number of cases in which highway guardrails meant to protect, instead kill or almost kill. >> all right, sir, i'm trying to locate you. >> reporter: it was just after midnight when jay trailer of north carolina hit a guardrail head-on after nodding off. >> i'm going to die. >> we're trying to get you some help. >> reporter: the long steel rail seen in this foe foe from the
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back of the vehicle sliced through trailer's suv like a thick, sharp spear and cut off both of his legs. >> i lost my legs in a wreck. >> are you saying you've lost both your legs, sir? >> yeah. >> reporter: 36-year-old trailer survived, able to save his life with a makeshift tourniquet, but not his legs. >> in the wreck this was one god. i head to make the choice to lose that one, too. >> reporter: it wasn't supposed to happen. this test film from 15 years ago shows how a guardrail is supposed to absorb the impact, even in a head-on crash at 62 miles per hour. the truck hits what is called the end terminal, which, like a sled, moves along the guardrail, curling the rail awful to the side. but that's not what happened with jay trailer. >> i had the guardrail, done their job, i probably would have walked away, just going, damn, i'm an idiot. >> reporter: it's not the only case, and now trailer and accident victims across the country are suing the
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manufacturer, trin ty industries of texas. at issue in today's verdict was whether the company hit a known defect in the guardrails. >> a half of million of these on our highways today. >> reporter: the lawsuit was brought by a competitor of trinity, josh harman, who says that the company tried to save a few dollars by quietly making a small change of just an inch from five inches down to four inches, in the original design of its end terminal which, he testified, created a significant flaw. >> they made all the differences to safety. essentially, it's a complete different product. >> reporter: this animation spokes what harmon says what happens with the original design. curling off to the side. and then, what he says can hall with the modified version. the guardrail jams up, breaks off, and the rail drives through the vehicle. >> this is one of the identifications mark of where it bulged. that should never happen.
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>> reporter: with real life examples on highways across america. >> this failed. this is a classic failure. >> reporter: trinity's turned over two sets of safety crash sets to defend itself with federal highway officials and prove its modified version performs just as well as the original. and despite the growing evidence of gruesome accidents, federal officials accepted trin tip's defense, saying its new version meets federal safety standards. brian ross from abc news. the official who made that decision declined to talk with us until we showed up as an industry conference. why did you make that decision? >> based on the evidence that was presented to us. >> reporter: and you think they're safe now on the highways? >> as i said, please talk to our public affairs. >> reporter: you can't answer that question? >> no, sir. >> reporter: whether they're safe? >> safety is the ultimate matter. >> reporter: a jury has been hearing the evidence
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harmon's lawyering. a trinity e-mail shows engineers said shaving off an inch would shave off millions. quote, i'm feeling we can make this change with no announcement. so, even that one-inch change should have been reported to the federal highway administration? >> absolutely. you have to ask the question, why would you change it? what's the motivation for changing the one inch? >> reporter: even more damning for trinity, says harmon, five safety crash tests in which a version of the guardrail failed, one after another. the company conceded in court that these videos were never turned over to the federal regulators and were seen for the first time during the trial. mr. mitchell, brian ross from abc news. outside court, the company president, greg mitchell, refused to talk about it. is there anything you can say at all? >> excuse me. >> reporter: anything you can say, mr. mitchell, as all? >> excuse me.
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>> reporter: company officials later testified the tests were for an experimental use on a curved, rather than a straight guardrail so there was no need to reveal them. >> my car was completely demolished. >> reporter: among those in court as the videos were played was diana allen of webster, massachusetts. who lost her leg in a guardrail accident three years ago. >> if they had done what they were supposed to do, i'd have two legs and i'd be walking normal and have my life back. >> reporter: the jury verdict came back late today after just three hours of deliberations. an award of $175 million and a finding that the company made false statements to the government. harmon and his lawyers said the $2 e-mail and the new videos were the key to the case. >> i think it's a great thing for drivers on the american highways, because for seven years, trinity has refused to tell the american public about the changes they made and about the fact that the changes were killing people. >> the jury sent the message and
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it's loud and clear. they committed fraud. do something about it. that's why we have regulatory agencies. to protect us all. >> reporter: in a statement, the company said it will appeal and the verdict will not withstand legal strut scrutiny. but the decision raises the question whether the tens of thousands of trinity guardrails currently on american highways should be recalled. three states, nevada, massachusetts and missouri, have, for the moment, stopped their use and a fourth state, virginia, is threatening to do so this week. >> my main goal has always been to get a product recall. this is not the end of it. they're still out there, they'll kill tomorrow. if we don't do nothing, they will fail, they'll continue to fail. how many more people's got to die? >> reporter: under the law, for cases of this type, the $175 million verdict will be tripled and then more damages could be amended on top of that. ultimately, it could reach a billion dollars and that's before the law suits now pending
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by the families of victims of those who were killed and injured in guardrail accidents, dan. >> a billion dollars. >> reporter: that's right. >> thanks, brian. next, michael bolton has been everywhere and schilled for everything. but these days, there's no shame for big-name celebs to cash in. plus, beyonce made fun of monica lewinsky in her song "partition," but tonight, the white house's most infamous intern is finally firing back. guys -- it's just you and your honey. the setting is perfect. you know what? plenty of guys have this issue, not just getting an erection, but keeping it. well, viagra helps guys with ed get and keep an erection. and you only take it when you need it. good to know, right? if ed is stopping what you started... ask you doctor about viagra. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex.
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celebrity advertisers used to consider their deals a
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shameful secret. something a-listers might only do abroad where most americans would never see them. well, not anymore. tonight, major stars are embracing the endorsement and sometimes for a surprising reason. here's abc's david wright. ♪ to fly again ♪ maybe hard >> reporter: the man they call the american tom jones is back on his feet again. >> i can use a little more level. >> reporter: michael bolton, back in the studio. laying down tracks for a new line of greeting cards. ♪ today is your birthday >> reporter: all this, the birthday session. ♪ this is the very best day of the year ♪ >> american greetings. >> reporter: record every name in the phone book. >> what happened to michael? >> reporter: he's up to rhonda now. >> help me, rhonda.
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♪ celebrate >> reporter: the mullet is long gone. the music career still thriving. >> everything but the last line. >> reporter: even so, the '90s r & b icon has launched a second career as a celebrity pitch man, selling starbursts. ♪ baby you and me ♪ until the end of time >> reporter: and hondas. ♪ spread some cheer ♪ the holidays are here ♪ oh i love this time of year >> reporter: and internet service from optimum, whose number is almost the same as michael bolton. always playing a version of himself. >> don't call michael bolton. >> don't call michael bolton. >> please don't call michael bolton. >> so far, they all want me to be michael bolton. >> reporter: he probably doesn't need the money. you sold more than 50 million alb albums, right? >> closing in on 55. >> reporter: you don't need to make commercials. money-wise. unless you've squandered it all.
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why do this? >> um -- >> reporter: he has a very good answer to that question, but back to that in a moment. first, it's worth noting that with these new ads, bolton's career has come full circle. he started off in commercials, back when he was a starving singer/songwriter paying his dues. ♪ be all that you can be ♪ get an edge on life in the army ♪ >> reporter: that was you? >> that was me plus 20 great singers. >> reporter: singing jingles to pay the rent. bolton likes to joke, he's done a jingle for every drink in the picnic cooler. ♪ red white and you >> reporter: i did pepsi, as well. 7-up, dr. pepper was huge. ♪ dr. pepper ♪ give me the news ♪ i got a bad case of loving you ♪ >> reporter: then, somewhere along the way, the music career took over. >> i called my manager from the car and said, we have to stop doing the jingles. i don't want people at radio
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trying to guess whether i'm a real singer or whether i'm a jingle guy. >> reporter: what brought bolton back was a music video parody that first aired on "saturday night live." and went viral. how much did they have to twist your arm to get you in that costume? >> they didn't twist my arm at all. we melt at the beverly wilshire hotel and i said, okay, first of all, my daughters are flipping up that i'm meeting you with guys right now. and andy says to me, my mother is going insane that i'm meeting with you. >> reporter: indeed, part of the schtick of that is, he's michael bolton. i hope you don't take offense to this, i love it, william shatner. he plays himself. >> who doesn't love him? >> reporter: plays himself, has an ironic sense of how he's
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perceived by others. >> of how. >> reporter: of how. >> he's a genius. i love him. >> ah! >> he seemed nice. >> reporter: like bolton, shatner, whom ill interviewed for "nightline" three years ago, is in on the joke. and willing to poke fun at himself. >> work from a sense of humor. and i know that this is not going to change the world, that i'm hereamuse and amaze you. >> reporter: the companies get to trade on these celebrities an their aging fan base. the celebrity pitchmen get something, too. >> he has made money tons of mof those commercials and he's kind of revived his career with a younger audience who associates him with the ads. >> reporter: celebrity endorsements are big business. stars show up in an estimated 15% of advertisements. they can command hefty fees for allows companies to cash in on
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their brand. and promote their brand, too. >> starting to get the picture? >> reporter: think of anchorman ron burgundy hawking dodge cars. think of matthew mcconaughey's ad for lincoln. >> i think that's old cyrus. >> reporter: where he stares down a bull. >> 1,800 pounds, do whatever the heck i want. >> reporter: it's paid off for lincoln. sales up 13% this year. >> i can respect that. >> reporter: he sort of is playing up the whole crazy matthew mcconaughey thing and people have responded by saying this is super weird, but also kind of amusing. ♪ this is the very best day of the year ♪ >> reporter: michael bolton says his ads have helped his career as a rock star, too. >> am i a rock star now? um -- you are now stepping in front of an audience that record companies can't even hope to get in front of. >> reporter: more people are
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watching commercials than are buying records. >> there's no even -- there's no comparison. >> reporter: through these crazy ads, he can connect with all those fans who weathered a breakup with a michael bolton tune. and he can reach their kids, too. that's why this makes sense for michael bolton. ♪ baby you and me >> reporter: in fact, it makes dollars and cents. i'm david wright for "nightline" in hollywood. next, monica lewinsky reveals her true feelings for former president bill clinton. why she's speaking out now. you, my friend are a master of diversification. who would have thought three cheese lasagna would go with chocolate cake and ceviche? the same guy who thought that small caps and bond funds would go with a merging markets. it's a masterpiece. thanks. clearly you are type e. you made it phil. welcome home. now what's our strategy with the fondue?
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in the 16 years since monica lewinsky's name became synonymous with scandal, a lot of people have said a lot of things about her. well, now it's her turn to talk. in a rare public address, she reveals her true feelings about former president clinton and even calls out those who included her in rap songs. >> i fell in love with my boss. but my boss was the president of the united states. >> reporter: monica lewinsky is back in the news and the spotlight. speaking at a forbes conference for young entrepreneurs. >> i was patient zero. the first person to have their reputation completely destroyed world wide via the internet. >> reporter: she's calling herself the first victim of social media. >> people referring to me as
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tramp, slut, whoe owhore. that was every day in 1998. >> reporter: today, monica finally joined twitter and already has more than 40,000 followers. her inaugural tweet, #herewego as she kicked off an initiative to end cyber bullying. >> we are all vulnerable to humiliation. i'm sure jennifer lawrence would agree with that. >> reporter: the former white house intern, whose affair with president clinton made her a notorious household name. >> i did not have sexual relations with that woman. >> reporter: and made her the butt of jokes on shows like "saturday night live." >> here's your bloody mary and here is your bartles and james. >>[w÷6 thanks. i love bjs. >> reporter: now, she's laughing along. >> what is she doing in all of those rap lyrics. ♪ in office with monica lewinsky ♪ ♪ monica lewinsky all on my
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gown ♪ >> thank you, beyonce and eminem. >> reporter: this is all part of a comeback year. in july, she opened up about that difficult time. >> i was the most humiliated woman in the world. >> reporter: in a national geographic series. >> i looked out the window and thought, i'll just jump. >> reporter: but today, a more mature monica seems to have found a way to use her story for good. >> what i want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive, too. finally tonight, the passing of a fashion legend. oscar de la renta has died at the age of 82. he became an international icon dressing jacqueline kennedy. and through the years, many other leading ladies from princess diana to michelle obama. on becoming hollywood's go-to designer. just weeks ago, he created the wedding dress for amal clooney. a man who won numerous awards,
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made fashion history and became a familiar name to so many. thanks for watching abc news. tune into "good morning america" tomorrow and as always, we're online at good night. [dramatic music] ♪ >> yeah! yo! whoa! whoa, whoa. hello and welcome to millionaire. i'm terry crews. i'll be your host, and you can also check me out on brooklyn nine-nine. [cheers and applause]
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our first contestant is the oldest child of seven, and with an extended family of over 100 people, i have a feeling our ratings will spike today. from brooklyn, new york, please welcome nick ackerman. what's up, nick? how you doing, man? >> doing good. doing good. >> dude, what a huge family. what is this? >> big family. a big irish-catholic family. my mom's one of eight. my dad's one of six. everybody's got at least two kids except for the priest. >> no wonder you're so skinny. >> yeah. >> you had to fight for food in your family, didn't you? >> absolutely, yeah. if you didn't eat fast, you didn't get seconds. >> well, listen. let you be the one to get a million dollars. that's what i'm trying to give you. >> that's why i'm playing. >> all right, are you ready? >> i am ready. >> all right. well, say hello to our millionaire money tree, 14 questions spread over 2 rounds with money values growing from $100 all the way up to $1 million.