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tv   Nightline  ABC  October 19, 2009 11:35pm-12:05am EDT

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lifestyle fueled in part by followers' donationses. it's a rare and revealing interview with evangelist benny hinn. is he for real. and reality bites. the balloon that crashed to earth. are they the latest to use a child in pursuit of stardom? tonight from jon and kate to the octomom, the extremes some parents take for 15 minutes of fame. plus, what goes around. they were glamorously huge in the '30s. back with an attitude in the '80s. so why are shoulder pads once again in vogue. it's tonight's "spot of the times." and and good evening, i'm cynthia mcfadden. we begin tonight with faith in a
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televangelist who's christian message reacs millions of followers but not without meeting many doubteders on the way. 56-year-old benny hinn is a faith healer. he says that god uses him to miraculously heal the sick. but now hinn is among six evangelists for an investigation on how his church uses million of us dollars. we sit down for a rare interview. faith matters. >> he was paralyzed. for three years. unable to walk. >> this is the cancer in the spine. there's no pain in her body. >> reporter: miraculous cures of cancer and aids. >> she can walk without the wheelchair, without the cane. >> reporter: people in wheelchairs getting up and dancing. >> no more, brother.
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>> reporter: it's business as usual for benny hinn. >> hallelujah! >> reporter: perhaps the world's most famous and successful and controversial televangelist. a faith healer who almost never grants interviews until now. so you got to explain this to me. how does it work? are you saying that the holy spirit enters you and you can heal people? >> i'll try to expla it to you. the anointing which is god's power comes on me, yes. i can actually feel it. and people start getting healed. >> reporter: he was born toukif benedictus. in his 20s he moved to florida, married a preacher's daughter and went into the family business. he said he realized early on that something extraordinary was happening. >> in fact, i was shocked, really, i was. when people came up to me
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claiming they were healed. back in the '70s. and the crowds were there and then the word spread. >> hallelujah! >> reporter: hinn's ministry exploded. within a few years, he was traveling the world, preaching to millions of people. in early '90s he started a television show which now airs in more than 200 countries. along the way, he has made a series of truly extraordinary claims. >> dead man began to move. while i am ministering to the lady with arthritis. he just gets up. >> reporter: i saw a clip of you saying the other day that you had seen a dead man resurrected. >> well, ghana. he was in akra, ghana. exactly, i had no proof that he was dead. that's what he told me. >> reporter: benny hinn now sits atop of empire, $100 million in
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donatis, convinced that god heals try him. people have called you con man. fraud. let me put the question bluntly are you taking advantage of people who are profoundly religious and also in pain for your own enrichment? >> i'm glad you're asking, let me tell you something, i would not do this for money. what you're asking is, am i using the so-called lie that healing's really happening so i can make money? >> reporter: correct. >> okay. first of all, you can not fool all the people all the time. rur don't need to fool all the time, you just need to fool some people sometimes. >> okay. i mean, i understand that. but i will tell you this, i think if i was fooling the people, over 35 years of it now,
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i would have been caught already fooling them. >> reporter: do you never have moments where people are writing out checks to you or filling out cards with their credit card information and you're thinking, these people just can't afford it. they're doing it because they're desperate, and i shouldn't take this money. >> well, what you're saying to me i should reject the money because i'm fake? >> reporter: i'm not saying that. i'm asking you. >> if i was fake, i would absolutely give the money. >> reporter: hinn admits he doesn't have medical verification of many of the heelings. in fact, some of the supposed healings have turned out to not be real at all. 9-year-old william vandenkolk had claimed that his eyesight was healed. >> as soon as god healed me, i can see better. >> reporter: william is now 17 and still legally blind. >> i'd say i was caught up in the moment, being as young as i
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was, thinking this could actually be possible, like i could actually be getting my vision back. i was really little and i guess it was just the moment. >> reporter: his name is william, and he still cannot see. >> these are things i cannot explain because i'm not the healer. i'm human like you. over the years, there's been some cases where people did come up who said they were healed. but really they were not healed. >> reporter: as i continued to press him, his publicist starts to interrupt angry. he just said i could ask him whatever i want. >> i'm fine with that. >> reporter: then the atmosphere gets even more charged. let me ask you, if i might, about, because i want to move on to some other subjects. >> anything, come on. >> in the interest of time -- >> reporter: as i turn to an
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ongoing investigation of him. >> saves a lot of money. >> reporter: u.s. senator cluck grassley. >> i'm really enjoying this and this is important. >> i'm just wonderful. >> reporter: two years ago, senator grassley launched an investigation into six major televangelists, including benny hinn. the question, are hinn and his colleagues using the tax-free donations from believers to fund lavish lifestyles? hinn, for example, flies on a private plane and has lived in beautiful homes like this one. the criticism is that you're leading a lavish lifestyle -- >> of course, it's always been that, by the way. that criticism is nothing knew. >> reporter: well, let's talk about that. >> okay, let's. >> reporter: as a follower of jesus, you fly in a private plane. >> you're staying in one of the fanciest hotels? >> yes, i am. >> reporter: so you not have
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any misgivings about that? >> no. you know, there's this idea supposedly that we preachers are suosed to walk about with sandals and ride bicycles. that's nonsense. every man of god that i know today has a nice house and they drive cars. and they have blackberries or iphones or whatever. it's what we need today to simply exist. >> reporter: but you don't need a private plane to simply exist. >> oh, absolutely, i need a private plane. for the ministry, it's a necessity. it's not a luxury. >> reporter: not a luxury? >> i mean, if i fly complergs, i would wear out. with my schedule, madness. >> reporter: senator grassley's office tells us that hinn was cooperated fully with the investigation into whether he's using the tax-free donations that his ministry collects appropriately. although the senator has not released the results of his
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investigation. >> the senator himself stated that we gave them more information even than they thought we would. >> reporter: he did. you're right. let me ask you, if you're so confident that this information proves that you're behaving appropriately, why don't you release it to me or the public? >> we have an agreement with the senator to keep things confidential. i have nothing to hide, by the way. >> reporter: you have nothing to hide? >> of course not. >> reporter: he promises to give us any information that is not bound by the confidentiality agreement. so i should be able to get whatever information i'm looking for? >> i hope you do. it depends on the agreement they made with the senator. >> reporter: but after the interview, the senator's office told us there is no confidentiality agreement. even so, hinn's ministry said it didn't have time to edit out personal information from its donors in time for our broadcast and thereafter, gave us nothing. as our interview winds down,
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another outburst from hinn's publicist. >> ron, ron -- can i please say something? the questions dan asked me i've been wanting someone to ask me for the last 20 years my li. i think what this man did is fantastic and thank you for doing it. no, really, i'm very pleased. >> reporter: why? >> because. it's time for me to tell it all. i don't want people talking for me. i want to talk for he's. >> reporter: for "nightline," this is dan harris in new york. >> so many questions of faith. dan harris reporting. when we come back, how falcon heene and the balloon boy's saga is apparently the latestxample of parents exploiting kids for reality tv fame. ♪ ♪
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weurn now to reality tv and it's unwliting child stars, law enfirstment believes thanks in part to little falcon heene's
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honesty that the balloon boy's story was all a hoax, all part of the parents' plan to pitch a reality tv show. after all, the family had already appeared on a reality show twice and they're not alone. countless kids are starring in reality shows. could it possibly be good for them? jeremy hubbard has tonight's report. >> reporter: just a couple hours before that shiny balloon came crashing down to earth last week, parental ambition may have reached a new low. a mom and dad on the phone to 911, apparently pretending their child's life was in peril. >> okay. it obviously has electronics where he can know how to work it and he gets it up off the air? off the ground? >> no, he does not hoe to operate. >> reporter: and all of it, we're now told, was just so they could score their own tv show? >> whoa! >> reporter: if what authorities are now saying is true, that this was a ruse for tv fame and fortune. >> hey!
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>> reporter: it can hardly come as a shock if little falcon had just stuck to the script. >> they did this for the show. >> reporter: the heenes likely would have made a mint. because the truth is kids are now the cash cows of reality tv. cable has cluttered on shows like "toddlers and tiaras." why are so many parents willing to trade in family normalcy for a shot of beak famous? >> i think we always wanted at some levels in front of other people and now the technology has caught up with us. >> reporter: we are more than willing to watch. we tuned in as jon and kate became professional parents right before our eyes. parents who actually make a living raising their kids. parlaying it into book deals, nightclub appearances, not to mention hundreds of thousands of
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dollars. even the kids can gerich when octomom signed a reality tv show earlier this year. her children was apparently paid $250 eh for production. not bad for babies. the truth is maybe babies should be making more mey some of our obsession with these shows, critics say, is rooted in our love of small children, especially small children. >> we know all about brad pitt and their kids. >> "toddlers and tiaras" it's dangerous. >> assuming a negative attitude toward a child can give limb a complex. >> reporter: this is him when he played jeff on "donna reed
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show." he now runs an advocacy group for children thrust into the spot light. >> what you're seeing is worse. that's why america is up in arms. these children on reality shows are not cats. they're not a display in the zoo. they're living, breathing children who very well know they're onv. and they need protections. you can't do this to kids to sacrifice their education and character development. for what? the enrichment of a network? this has to stop. >> reporter: and he hopes it will stop here and now with the balloon boy's saga. he hopes after this, there will be a backlash against what he calls exploitive reality tv show. it's hard to know long-term effects on a child reality star that's been overexposed to the media. >> go to 11. >> hello, i need your help. >> go to 11. >> would you come here? >> why. >> because you need to stop playing toys and help.
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>> reporter: we have seen what it can do to a miami as their marriage crumbled this season. surely, not all reality tv is bad for children, is it? this week, a family of storm chasers, the heenes from colorado. even "wifeswap" the show that gave the heene family their best national exposure for better or worse. >> you're my wife, you're a man's might mare. >> those families that audition for a show like "wifeswap" they think it will be fun. celebrity is a dangerous game. >> reporter: as for the heenes, the ambition might have deflated but for what they hoped for the t genre of balloon boy, watching that balloon, small children bring big ratings. >> people tune into drama. although we're reaching the saturation point now, i think
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we're going to see more of this. we're going to see more parents drag their kids on tv. i don't think there's any stopping it. i'm jeremy hubbard for "nightline" in new york. >> the heenes next we'll be showing in a courtroom. jeremy hubbard reporting. when we come back, a former fashion statement reappears for better or worse. it's tonight's "sign of the times." broadband. 31 are streaming a sales conference from the road. 154 are tracking shipments on a train. 33 are iming on a ferry. and 1300 are secretly checking email on a vacation. that's happening now. america's most dependable 3g network. bringing you the first and only wireless 4g network. right now get a free 3g/4g device for your laptop. sprint. the now network. deaf, hard-of-hearing and people with speech disabilities access www.sprintrelay.com no matter what life throws at you, you can take the heat.
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ask them to pass s.1776 to protect seniors' access to quality care. we turn now to fashion. and a look that's back on the runway after decades in the closet where maybe it should have stayed but, anyway, most recently it was a signature of 80 a so-called power dressing. well, this fall, shoulder pads aren't just for football players. and for miguel marquez, it's a sign of the times. >> reporter: what is it that made those '80s ladies so fabulously mean? inhe iconic '80s show "dynasty" the rich powerful were downright nasty and donned
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shoulder pads and a perpetual game face. the legendary queen of mean with shoulders attached have known what fashionistas have known. >> do you think shoulder pads are back in style? >> well, i know they are. you only are to look at the magazines. >> reporter: and you only have to look at the runways of london, new york, paris, those shoulder pads have gone mainstream. ladies with an attitude, tough girls for tough times. it's an extreme look. it's a tough look. >> it is a tough look. there's absolutely nothing girlie, nothing soft about this look. yeah, i think maybe it does, fashion absolutely reflects what's on in the culture. >> reporter: in the 1930s, depression years, shoulder pads were huge, thank foss joan crawford and the power of hollywood. '40s and '50s they got smaller. 1960s, the hippies and flower
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power killed it. the '70s and '80s started off with recession and quickly became about big money and big shoulders. but make no mistake, these are not your father's shoulder pads. >> here we have a d & g jacket. you can see going with that. they're rounded. >> reporter: it comes here all the way there? >> exactly. >> reporter: shoulder pads of the '80s might look okay in a linebacker, think shawn young in the 1982 film "bladerunner." >> is it artificial? >> of course, it is. >> reporter: this season, they come in just about every size and shape, razor sharp, billowy and big. different from the '80s, but still a trend that just a year ago would have made you say eew. >> it looks so fitted and really good on women, it really does, it suits the shape of a woman? >> reporter: this is a modern
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look. >> it's a very modern look. it's tailored, sharp and clean and put together. >> reporter: london designer emma griffin. >> it's a tuxedo jacket. >> reporter: she grew up in the '80s, her current collection borrows from that time, but more than anything, she wants women to feel tough. >> i like to create really strong pieces. i'm about the look. you know, like i said, that look is about being fierce. >> reporter: fierce what does that mean? >> yeah, i suppose it means kind of pretty, wicked, evil feminine. and it makes a little more punch. >> it definitely makes you feel stronger. it gives you a bit of an attitude. >> reporter: and who couldn't use a little attitude these days. i just hope we can avoid that '80s big hair. for "nightline," i'm miguel marquez in london. >> ooh, boy, miguel marquez reporting.
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