Minutes before Gayle King stepped on the Late Show stage to talk to Stephen Colbert about her interview with R. Kelly, she got a call from an unlikely viewer: Elton John. “He goes, ‘Gayle? It’s Elton here.’ He was calling to talk about the R. Kelly interview,” King told Colbert. It’s the R. Kelly interview heard round the world: King has earned praise for her poise as R. Kelly cried, snotted, screamed, and flailed during their sit-down for CBS. King said she introduced herself to Kelly in his Trump Tower (in Chicago) apartment about 15 minutes before the interview started, but had no idea that his responses during the interview would amount to a series of outbursts.
“We’ve seen him storm out of interviews before, so I thought he was going to do that. I was thinking, I’m not done with my questions. What can I do to save this interview?” King said. “I decided that if I sat there quietly, make eye contact with him, he would know I’m not going anywhere, that I’m just waiting for him to finish whatever this is.” King says she was never afraid he would get violent with her, only that he would accidentally hit her. Kelly eventually did finish his tantrum, but not before King settled him with a few terse Roberts.
After she spoke to R. Kelly, King sat down with his two girlfriends, both in their early 20s. “The girls were so angry, Stephen. They’re so angry, the way they spoke,” she said. “As a matter of fact, Azriel’s dad called me to apologize. He said, ‘For the behavior of my daughter. That is not the girl I raised, I am so sorry.’” Both sets of parents believe their daughters have been brainwashed by the singer. In a clip from tonight’s installment of King’s R. Kelly interview, the singer says that he does not have a particular affinity for young or underage women.