IN HER FIRST NETWORK PRIMETIME INTERVIEW, TARA CONNER COMES CLEAN AND ADMITS TO COCAINE USE DURING HER REIGN AS MISS USA TO NBC NEWS' MATT LAUER � SATURDAY, FEB. 3 ON 'DATELINE'
Conner Also to Appear Live on "Today," Thursday, Feb. 1
NEW YORK � January 31, 2007 � In an upcoming "Dateline" interview, Miss USA, Tara Conner, comes clean to NBC News' Matt Lauer about her bad-girl lifestyle that made headlines across the country and landed her in a highly publicized trip to rehab. In an effort to redefine what America expects "Miss USA" to be, Conner speaks out on her alcoholism, her lifestyle in the big city, and her sometimes-contentious relationship with the Miss Universe organization. She shares with Lauer that her addiction to alcohol began at an early age, but maintains that she was never drunk while participating in any pageants or Miss USA events. Conner will appear live on "Today," Thursday, Feb. 1 (7:00 AM, ET) and her first primetime network interview will air on "Dateline NBC" Saturday, Feb.3 (8:00 PM, ET).
Below are excerpts from the interview:
RE: Admitting to her cocaine use for the first time:
CONNER: I have done cocaine, yeah.
LAUER: So, how does it feel to say it?
CONNER: It gets it off my chest. And to be honest with you, at first, I kind of held back on it a little bit, but there's no sense in it, because luckily, the great thing about getting everything out and being completely open and honest about things, it frees me from it. So the more that I get it off my chest, the better I feel about myself. It's not healthy for my recovery to�sit here and hold things back.
RE: The development of her addiction to alcohol:
CONNER: Things started unraveling for me very early, at a very young age. Probably about around 14. I have the disease of alcoholism and addiction. And when you put chemicals in your body and you have this disease, you're literally feeding this disease, which can distort your thinking, can make you very manipulative�you literally wear a mask. So my entire life, I learned how to protect myself and how to wear a mask because I had all these insecurities within me�and today you have an honest girl. You know, six months ago, before I went to rehab, it was a completely different�
RE: Her relationship with the Miss Universe Organization:
CONNER: The friction was between me and the organization that I worked for. Especially my boss, Miss Paula, she is an amazing woman, by the way. But it wasn't their fault that there was friction. It was completely on me. The thing about an addict or an alcoholic, again, is we are manipulative. We feel like we always have to have control. And we feel like we're in control, which is what confuses us�but she always called me out. And I could not stand it because no one -- no one, for some reason, had enough gumption to sit me down and say, "Look, take a look at yourself. Look at the things that are around you"�I would never listen to anything that she said. And then one day she got to me so much that I broke. And the real Tara started to come out just a little bit, because I was vulnerable for a second. But I never felt anything. I never felt anything at all.
David Corvo is the executive producer of "Dateline NBC, " (Saturday, 8:00-9:00 PM, ET) and Jim Bell is the executive producer of "Today," (Monday-Friday, 7:00-10:00 AM, ET).