Gayle King Gave Stephen Colbert the Bizarre Background Story to Her R. Kelly Interview

It involves a Christmas tree kept since 1993 and a rogue makeup artist that captured the photo of a decade.

by Taylor Hosking
Mar 8 2019, 6:44pm

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Days after Gayle King’s explosive interview with R. Kelly on CBS This Morning to discuss the multiple allegations of sexual abuse against him—where he threw a temper tantrum in the middle of their conversation, earning him a crying meme fit to replace Michael Jordan’s—King shared the backstory Thursday night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And apparently the Kelly interview was as off the rails behind the scenes as it was on screen. Four anecdotes from King’s interview with the singer stand out:

He Keeps A Christmas Tree Year Round Since 1993

Having only met Kelly once at a birthday party five years ago, King decided to go to the singer’s apartment at Chicago’s Trump Tower to introduce herself 15 minutes before the interview was set to go down. When she arrived, she said he was sitting in sweatpants “resting his voice” next to a Christmas tree that he’s had up since 1993. Whether it's the same tree since 1993 is unknown but King did explain to Colbert that Kelly keeps the tree up “as a tribute to his mother, he loves his mother, it was her favorite holiday.” I mean, that’s fine, but have you ever tried to keep a Christmas tree even a few weeks passed its prime? The amount of bristles that must be on his floor! This begs me to ask, were they sitting next to a depressingly bare stick of a tree or is this some kind of magical tree kept alive by rich people water? Or does he buy a new Christmas tree every week? I just want to know more about the tree, and I don't exactly know why.

That Viral Interview Photo Was Taken By a Rogue Makeup Artist

King casually dropped the tidbit that the now-infamous photo of Kelly flailing his fist up while towering over her calm professional majesty was taken by her makeup artist, Lazarus, that she didn’t even know was in the room. And Lazarus, who she says just happens to be a really great photographer, somehow took over 800 pictures that night, she told Colbert. Lazarus is stealthy!

Having a Yelling R. Kelly In Your Face Doesn’t Scare You If You’re Gayle Motherfucking King

When it came to the actual outburst heard ‘round the internet, King wasn’t so much worried for her safety, or even pissed off at this alleged abuser for disrespectfully yelling over her attempts to reign him in. When Colbert asked what she was really thinking behind that poker face, apparently she was most concerned about finishing the interview. Professionalism!

“My initial thought was, ‘Please don’t leave. Please don’t leave. Please don’t leave,’ because I thought ‘I’m not done with my questions,’” she told Colbert. She explained that she never thought he would hurt her intentionally and only worried for a moment that she could get hit by accident, but agreed the picture does look “menacing.” So, with her eye on the prize, King pressed on. “I thought I’ll just be calm, say his name. Because you know if someone says your name it is calming,” she shared. That’s how we got that incredible moment in the interview where she interrupts his tantrum by saying his name with all the authority of a disappointed mother.

In the Aftermath King Had to Check Fox News For Thinking She Was Robin Roberts

On Fox News’s show The Five on Wednesday, commentator Jesse Watters tried to give King her props for her composure during the interview with a backhanded compliment, saying it was better than when she interviewed Jussie Smollett. But his co-panelist Dana Perino embarrassingly let him know he was confusing King with black journalist Robin Roberts who interviewed Smollett on ABC. King told Colbert she emailed Perino to thank her for that. She told Colbert that the email read, “Thank you for letting [Watters] know we’re two different people. And could you let the rest of your colleagues know that all black people do not look alike.” Yes, Gayle!

“It’s good to remind ‘em every so often,” Colbert said laughing.

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R. Kelly
stephen colbert
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
robin roberts
gayle king