Barbara Walters Talks to Paris Hilton
June 11, 2007 -- On Sunday at 3 p.m., Paris Hilton phoned me collect from jail. Prisoners must call collect.
The unusual conversation came about because Kathy Hilton, Paris' mother, had phoned me, and while we were talking, Paris called on the other line. When she heard I was talking to her mother, she said she'd like to talk to me herself.
She sounded tired but totally aware of what she was saying.
"How are you?" I asked.
Paris answered, "I'm hanging in there." But she declared, "I feel as if I'm a different person. I've dropped my appeal. I don't want to cause any more problems."
I asked what happened in the jail that led to her being released or reassigned to her home. She said she had not been wailing, sobbing or screaming as had been described.
"But," she said, "I was not eating or sleeping. I was severely depressed and felt as if I was in a cage. I was not myself. It was a horrible experience."
"How are you different?" I asked.
"I'm not the same person I was," she said. "I used to act dumb. It was an act. I am 26 years old, and that act is no longer cute. It is not who I am, nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me. I know now that I can make a difference, that I have the power to do that. I have been thinking that I want to do different things when I am out of here. I have become much more spiritual. God has given me this new chance."
I asked what kinds of things she might want to do.
She said she would like to help in the fields of breast cancer - her grandmother had breast cancer - or multiple sclerosis. Her father's mother suffers from that disease.
She thought she might get toy companies to build a kind of Paris Hilton playhouse, where sick children might come, and the toy companies could donate toys.
She has had a person whom she described as a spiritual adviser who said, "My spirit or soul did not like the way I was being seen and that is why I was sent to jail."
"God," she said, "has released me."
She is reading newspapers - The LA Times and the Wall Street Journal - and books like "The Secret," "The Power of Nine" and the Bible.
When she is not in her room, she can play ping pong.
She said the other women had all been friendly and the guards had been fair.
She wears the proscribed prison garb: an orange or brown jumpsuit.
She is not allowed makeup. She said that her skin was very dry and that she was not allowed cream.
"It doesn't matter," she said, "I'm not that superficial girl. I haven't looked in the mirror since I got here."
She said, "I feel that the purpose of my life is to be where I am. However, usually with a situation like mine, the person serves 10 percent of their time. I have already served 30 percent of my time. I hope if there is overcrowding in the jail, I would be let out before someone with a much more serious crime."
Her mother had earlier told me that Paris said, "I will never again have a drink and drive."
(Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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