tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC November 18, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
investigation. the case reopened. what really happened to natalie wood and what police are now saying about her actor husband robert wagner. a massive wildfire tears through a big western city. 10,000 evacuated. 25 homes already burned to the ground. why mcdonalds is now dumping the company that puts the eggs in the egg mcmuffin. brian ross on the case tonight. the unsung hero. so many of you wrote in telling diane you were moved by the angels at gabby giffords side. tonight, the hugs and those heroes honored. good evening on this friday night. we begin with late word coming in today that penn state's legendary football coach joe paterno forced to resign after that sex scandal is now battling lung cancer.
his son revealing the news today, saying his father's condition is treatable. more on that in a moment. also involving penn state, the ncaa tonight says it is unleashing its own investigation which could put the entire penn state program in jeopardy. abc's jim avila leads us off on both fronts tonight. >> reporter: he is 84 years old. and never seen smoking in public. even on the night he was fired, the last time he was seen, joe paterno was still giving out fatherly advice. >> get a good night's sleep, all right. study. his son saying today, "my father was diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer." his friend todd black ledge visited him and found a paterno still concerned about penn state but not mentioning the scandal or the cancer revealed today. >> the stuff going on affecting
the university, i think he cares very deeply about it. >> reporter: there was other bad news for penn state football today. the ncaa announced it is launching an investigation into how the university monitors its sports programs and "new york times" reported tonight the second mile charity prosecutors say was used to funnel kids to jerry sandusky is closing. the man at the center of the controversy, sandusky, he was seen today driving back into his state college house which was hit by another brick last night, breaking a window. >> you got anything to say? how are you holding up? >> reporter: the note he handed over said "i have nothing to say." i spoke to that attorney this morning for more than an hour. he said he thinks sandusky is innocent but if proven guilty he deserves to spend rest of his life in prison. david. >> jim avila back from penn state tonight. jim, thank you. we move to another blockbuster case making headlines all day today. the hollywood mystery that
captivated the nation 30 years ago back in the news tonight. actress natalie wood who decades ago famously spoke about her fear of water drowned in a boating accident off the coast of california. abc's abbie boudreau. >> reporter: we fell in love with her as the wide-eyed girl in "miracle on 34th street." >> go ahead, pull it. >> reporter: as maria in "west side story." but, natalie wood's glamorous life would be overshadowed by her mysterious death. wood drowned in the chilly waters off catalina island boating with her husband robert wagner and fellow actor christopher walken. her death, ruled an accident, but the questions began almost immediately. and today, 30 years later, los angeles sheriff's detectives announced they are re-opening the investigation. >> recently, we have received information which we felt was substantial, enough to make us
take another look at this case. >> we're all -- all intoxicated. >> reporter: dennis davern was the captain of the yacht. he says he lied to investigators about what really happened. >> if i could take that lie back -- it wasn't lying, it was just merely not telling them everything. >> reporter: in a book he co-authored two years ago, davern says wood and wagner d a fierce argument. >> robert wagner had taken a bottle of wine and smashed it on the coffee table. >> reporter: he says moments later, wagner told him natalie was missing, but he would not allow him to start a search. >> i said to robert wagner, let's turn on the search light, we'll see maybe if we can't see her out there. and he said, no, we're not going to do that at this time. >> reporter: in 2008, wagner told diane sawyer his version of that night. >> what we think is, that she went outside and slipped on the swim step, and hit her head. >> reporter: police found wood's body floating the next morning.
the autopsy would show numerous bruises on her legs and arms. but, investigators insist wagner is not a suspect. his spokesperson tells abc news that he is fully supportive of this new investigation. like you said, david, what's so interesting about this is natalie wood was absolutely terrified of the water. in fact, her sister says she was so afraid of the water, he wouldn't even go into her own swimming pool. >> so many questions 30 years ago about this. let's bring in dan abrams, our senior analyst. saying today, we received information which we felt was substantial enough in their words, to reopen this thing. >> stunning development. 30 years later and they're opening the investigation. but, look, to reopen this investigation, the standard is pretty low. they need some new information. they need something that says to them, it's time. but it's a much higher standard to say we're going to actually take legal action. the courts or someone prosecuted -- >> the next higher bar.
that's the big question. >> that's right, would someone, could someone be prosecuted? remember, at this point, it's been deemed an accident. so the authorities would have to decide to take some sort of action this wasn't an accident, it was a crime. now to another breaking story. out west, a massive wildfire tearing through parts of reno, nevada. more than 10,000 people already evacuated. winds whipping up to 60 miles per hour. abc's cecilia vega is on the scene there tonight. cecilia. >> reporter: the fire continues to burn unabated at this hour. so far, 2,000 acres scorched and 5,000 reno homes at risk. more than 450 firefighters are battling the blaze from the ground on multiple fronts. those firefighting planes unable to take off, high winds grounding them. >> let's hope our homes don't get burned down. >> reporter: the fire started overnight in a neighborhood to the southwest of reno. a fiery curtain of flames lit up the rocky hillside overpowering the neon lights of reno's casino
hotels. so far, more than 20 homes have been destroyed. >> it's very scary, very unsettling. this morning about 2:00, i smelled smoke. >> reporter: police went house to house forcing residents to flee. a 74-year-old man went into cardiac arrest and died. 16 people were injured as the rushed to escape the flames. >> i know it's hard to leave your home and everything, especially right before thanksgiving, but if they don't, we might not be able to get back and save them or help them. >> reporter: the city's schools were closed and turned into shelters. nevada's governor has declared a state of emergency. >> we're going to do everything we can to protect the homes and lives of people in this county. >> reporter: and tonight 60-mile-per-hour gusts are allowing the fire to quickly jump, starting new fronts. >> it is hit and miss which houses it hits. like, it jumped over there to that -- to those bushes and that house. >> translator: the key tonight, according to reno firefighters is beating down this wind so
they can try to tackle these flames. if that happens, then they say they will reduce the evacuation size and hopefully have residents back in their homes within the next 24 hours. >> we know you'll watch this all weekend. medical news tonight. a major medical development regarding the single most popular cancer drug in the world, avastin. the fda revoked its approval as a treatment for breast cancer saying there's no evidence it helps patients live longer or better and citing dangerous side effect, despite the pleas of some patients who say the drug saved their lives. it is still approved for other types of cancer. many breast cancer patients say they'll still use it but will now have to pay for it out of pocket because insurance will no longer cover it. it cost cost up to $8,000 a month now for them. a startling tape surfaced of a man who allegedly tried to shoot president obama. in this new video, he delivers a
plea to oprah to be on one of her shows, making troubling claims. >> there's still so much more that god needs me to express to the world. it's not just a coincidence i look like jesus. i am the modern day jesus christ. >> of course now in custody. if convicted, he could face life in prison. now to your voice, your vote tonight in the race for president. the newest republican to skyrocket in the polls, newt gingrich. under increasing fire tonight, facing questions about the money he's earned and who he earned it from. whether he's changed certain positions to run for president. here's abc's john karl. >> reporter: newt gingrich has been rolling in the cash since he left congress and he isn't afraid to tell you about it. >> i'm happy to tell you i've been a very successful business man, not as good as mitt. i've been a very hardworking businessperson. i represent the wing of america that believes that hard work is good, not bad. >> reporter: call it newt inc.,
a sprawling political and media empire built around its founder, newt gingrich. there are books, 26 of them, movies and consulting for big corporations. lots of money and baggage. for days, gingrich has been hounded by questions about the nearly $2 million he made working for freddie mac, the failed mortgage company at the center of the financial crisis. >> i offered strategic advice over a long period of time. >> reporter: but his campaign now tells abc news that freddie mac paid gingrich $30,000 a month right up until september 2008, the very month freddie mac began receiving a $54 billion taxpayer bailout, a bailout bigger than any of the banks. gingrich also set up the center for health transformation, which he called a for-profit think tank. "the washington post" calculates it raked in $37 million from health care companies. the group advocated most americans buy health insurance, the type of mandate at the
center of obama's health plan. gingrich said his job is to report the facts till the reporters go away. now to syria, tough words from secretary of state hillary clinton. the president of syria facing mounting pressure. in a one-on-one interview, our jake tapper asked the secretary about president bashar's future. she said his days are numbered. >> you at one point had optimism assad was a reformer. >> we hoped so. we heard what assad said about what he wanted to do for reform but when it came to it, re he responded as we have seen, very violently, but he's not going to be able to sustain what is an, unfortunately, growing armed opposition, apparently fueled and maybe led by defectors from his army. >> the secretary on syria tonight. by the way, you'll likely remember that moment we showed you earlier this week when a man
in a loincloth streaked past secretary clinton in hawaii, running behind her. gets a big laugh from her and from us what we saw it. jake asked about that as well. take a look. >> what was going through your head the other day when that end jud gentleman without any clothes showed up in that photograph? >> i thought it was hilarious. i mean, it happened so quickly and when i turned my head, i just saw this, you know, very big man with a -- holding a torch with a blue loincloth running by. it was a moment of levity. >> our thanks to jake tapper. still ahead here on "world news" this evening, what's changing in your breakfast first thing tomorrow. why mcdonald's is now dumping a major food supplier after our investigation. brian ross on the case next here. so much history this morning. regis philbin's final show and kelly ripa's offer to him on that final walk to the studio.
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and not compromise on taste? try smart balance fat free milk. it's what you'd expect from the folks at smart balance. back now. tonight, a major development from mcdonald's. it is now dumping one of the companies that puts the egg in the egg mcmuffin. it all following an undercover investigation by our brian ross. >> reporter: to hear mcdonald's tell it, the source of eggs for their hugely popular egg mcmuffin is a pleasant barnyard where hens roam freely. the reality is much different. until today, all of mcdonald's eggs for its restaurants west of the mississipi came from the huge, closely guarded operation in iowa, run by sparboe farms, the fifth largest in the country. a so-called factory farm where chickens are stacked six to a cage -- barely able to turn around, long defended as a process that turns out billions of cost efficient, safe eggs.
so you don't think these are cruel? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: but now, in the wake of an abc news investigation, mcdonald's has fired sparboe farms. citing undercover video made by an animal rights group, mercy for animals, showing mindless, animal cruelty, most of which is too graphic to broadcast. and a highly critical inspection report from the food and drug admiinistration, a companywide warning about unsanitary conditions, including insects, rodents and large numbers of dead birds that could lead to the spread of salmonella. >> that's a public health threat based on what we've seen here. they're not in compliance with the law. they're breaking the law. >> reporter: sparboe produces hundreds of millions of eggs in its facilities in three states and claims it has never discovered salmonella in a single one of them. >> i've been at barns all around the world. this is state-of-the-art when it comes to egg production. >> reporter: the company provided abc news with a guided one-hour tour, requiring all of
us to wear protective gear. >> sanitation is a high priority. >> reporter: but the company's claims were undercut by both the fda inspection at five different sparboe locations and the dramatic undercover video capturing scenes the company called aberrations and the work of rogue employees who were fired. but neither the fda nor mcdonald's bought that excuse, and late today another retailer, target, announced it will discontinue of use of their products. target said it was telling all its stores to remove sparboe eggs from its shelves as soon as possible. >> you were tell meg about the undercover operatives almost caught and brian's going to have video of that in a special "20/20" later tonight right here on abc. and still ahead here on "world news" this evening, kelly ripa's offer to regis on his final morning. what we overheard. his week. so i took my heartburn pill and some antacids. we're having mexican tonight, so another pill then? unless we eat later, then pill later?
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the somberness of it all. and where's regis going? we just don't know. stop asking me. >> reporter: there was a farewell from his co-host. >> i've had the privilege of walking 43 steps with you from my dressing room to the studio for five days a week for the past 11 years except for when you have off on fridays and -- >> reporter: the cast of "rent" with a slightly tailored song. >> 995,600 minutes ♪ ♪ how do you measure ♪ measure a career >> god bless you all and i hope i see you again. thanks, everybody. >> absolutely, rege. when we come back, late word from gabby gifford. she's weighing in on our "persons of the week." sometimes life can be well, a little uncomfortable.
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possible without the angels at her side from the start. tonight, our "persons of the week." we all remember that first image from inside her hospital room, gabby giffords hand held by her husband, astronaut mark kelly. as we would see in that remarkable video diary kept by her husband, mark was not the only one by gabby's side. there was that small team of therapists who day in, day out, never gave up. just 20 days after the shooting, they had gabby sitting up in a wheelchair again, teaching her how to nod. >> there you go. that's a nod. >> reporter: how to pucker up for a kiss. >> you do it. good. >> reporter: and they began the slow and determined journey to help gabby unlock her words. >> now you try it with me. i love you. >> you. >> good. >> reporter: gabby giffords and mark kelly told diane one of the reasons they decided to let the world see these tapes was to
show what's possible. the kind of therapy that can pull you through and the extraordinary team that does the pulling. >> what's the matter? >> reporter: in this moment, the extraordinary therapist angie glen. the congresswoman knows the feeling but can't find the word for "anguish." >> gabby, are you frustrated? can i tell you something? it is going to get better. okay? it's frustrating right now but it is going to get better. you have come a long way in five weeks. you want a hug? >> reporter: the therapist there for the tears. and the laughter that followed. >> are you laughing? >> reporter: another of gabby's therapists, megan morrow, with her guitar, helping gabby step by step, with the rhythm to
steady her. >> this one's easy. i've done it with you before. >> music is accessed in many different areas the brain that aren't designated for language. ♪ good morning gabby and they can retrieve the lyrics through another side of the brain to get words back. ♪ well good morning gabby ♪ how do you do ♪ girls wanna have fun >> reporter: and watching that special this week, our own bob woodruff and his wife lee. lee told us she was immediately reminded of the therapists, the angels, who helped bring her husband back. >> it's doing it over and over and over again. bringing that person out. and to be able to do that to really make that person come back to themselves, that requires somebody as special as that young woman that you see in the video with gabby. this is the unsung hero, there