♪ screen falling off the door door hanging off the hinges ♪ ♪ my feet are still sore my back is on the fringes ♪ this is "nightline." >> tonight -- from angelina jolie to christina applegait, some of hoply wood's brightest stars are battling back after undergoing mastectomies. and now, there's another option giving hope and shape to breast cancer survivors. plus drama queen. from scandal to grey's anatomy, she's behind your favorite shows and now, shonda rhymeimes has a new hit on her hands with "how to get away with murder." tonight, she takes us on set with all the leading ladies. >> she has the keys to the kingdom. >> well, the queen-dom. >> and reveals the real reason for her success. what's it got to do with her diary?
and, new york's iconic three-time governor, mario cuomo, has died. just hours after his son, andrew cuomo, was sworn in for a second term. tonight, a look at his life and legacy. but first, the "nightline" five. >> zantac heartburn alert. stop! nexium can take 24 hours to work. zantac's different. zantac rushing relief in as little as 30 minutes. for relief without the wait. try zantac. no pill releaves heartburn faster. take zzzquil and sleep like you haven't seen your bed in days. no. like you haven't seen a bed in weeks. zzzquil. it helps you sleep easily and wake refreshed. because sleep is a bea
good evening. tonight, we're taking a look at a complicated medical procedure that's changing women's bodies and lives after cancer. many survivors confront unexpected challenges after the battle, and for the women you're about to meet mastectomies brought their own host of problems, not just physical but emotional, too. they told abc's cecilia vega about restoring their breasts and their self-esteem. >> reporter: from answergelina jolie -- >> i didn't know how people would react. >> reporter: to giuliana rancic. >> i just wanted to get the cancer out. >> reporter: to christina applegate. >> i had a double mastectomy. >> reporter: some of hollywood's biggest stars are going public in the press about a very private matter. jolie shocking tinseltown in 2013 with her decision to undergo a double mastectomy after doctors told her she had an 87% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. >> i didn't expect there to be so much support. it's connected me so much to other families, other women.
>> reporter: other women like jennifer fisher. she knows what it's like to get that terrifying diagnoseis and joins the 100,000 women having mastectomies each year. that number rising significantly in the past decade. >> when i was first diagnosed and even to this day, sometimes you get discussion of well you're here. like, you're here, you're a surviveor survivor. like that should be enough. >> reporter: today, the wife and mother is a breast cancer survivor and much more. she's loving the results of a cutting edge transplant surgery that takes extra fat from the stomach and uses it to make new breasts. happy with what you see? >> oh, absolutely. i couldn't be happier. there's a part of me that wishes i would have done this sooner. i think i would have been able to put some of the feelings behind me sooner. >> reporter: implants are the surgery of choice for 80% of reconstructive patients. the alternative surgery, called the deep flap takes longer in
the operating room and comes with a longer recovery time but jennifer says it was all worth it. a lot only women who are going through recovery from breast cancer think they only have one option. you would tell them otherwise? >> absolutely. i would tell them to seek all options available. >> reporter: kim jordan is heading into the hospital for the same surgery that jennifer had. how she'll look when it's all done is the last thing on her mind. >> okay, you ready? >> i'm thinking get the cancer out. i didn't really care. just get the cancer out. because i need to be there, because nobody in my family beats it. >> reporter: the 50-year-old subway conductor can rattle off a long list of family members she's lost. >> this is my sister, she passed away. my oldest brother died of leukemia. >> reporter: that's why when she got the diagnosis, she decided to get a double mastectomy. >> ready for the adventure? >> yes.
>> reporter: michael newman is one of just a few hundred doctors around the country who perform this relatively unknown operation. >> i think some plastic surgeons out there decide that it's too complex for them to do. and i think some patients do better with a simpler surgery. >> you're going to wake up and see a lot of people and then you're going to go back to sleep. >> it is very detailed and probably one of the more complex surgeries that we do. >> i'm worried, i just want to wake up. promise me i'm going to wake up. >> reporter: the reconstruction will take all day. it's too complex for dr. newman to do alone. this is his partner, dr. lisa jewel. >> i love doing this surgery. it is very scary sometimes. but at the end of it this patient's going to look better after what can be a devastating experience. >> the amount of tissue we're going to remove off her abdomen is going to be five pounds. she's going to look thinner. >> reporter: eight hours into
surgery, it's time for the riskiest part of the operation. >> this is the part we lose sleep over. this is an organ transplant. and then you have to connect it to a reliable and steady blood supply. so, we can make a great breast and then one or two days later, the issue dies. in that case we would have to perform another type of breast reconstruction. >> reporter: if successful the transplants will grow with her body over a lifetime and will not require replacement like artificial implants do. the procedure is covered by insurance, because otherwise, the cost would be prohibitive. >> what else do you have? >> reporter: jennifer fisher's surgery was just three months ago, but her journey has been far longer. when jennifer's daughter katie was just a toddler, she got the diagnosis. >> really at that moment you change. you no longer are a mom and this and that you become a person fighting this for everybody
else. and yourself. >> reporter: she had her breasts removed and got an implant, but it never felt quite right. was always uncomfortable with the results. i had a lot of pain. even with tim plantimplant, i needed to wear a prosthesis. i would have never worn something like i'm wearing now. >> reporter: when she went in the to get her implant checked two years ago, doctors found more cancer. this time, jennifer decided on the deep flap. >> eliminated the implant. we gave her healthy tissue that's soft and gave her fantastic about doe min at the same time. >> immediately when i went to her, i felt that she understandood what i was looking for. >> it's a huge lifestylish she for her. she can't go with rest of her life with pain, not feeling like she was ever happy with her reconstruction for the rest of her life. >> reporter: the surgery motivated jennifer to make some changes. she lost 30 pounds through exercise as she prepared for surgery. >> she looks great.
she's gotten very very skinny. like, really really skinny. and i'm really happy for her. >> reporter: back in the o.r. during kim's surgery, the doctors are ready to shape the new breast. >> patients will often use this opportunity to change their breast size. so this patient specifically asked to be smaller. >> and she has breasts that are going to look and feel age and change like breasts. natural breasts. and she doesn't have cancer. >> reporter: 15 hours later, they are finally finished. >> all right. good job, team. >> you are going to feel really tired. >> reporter: the recovery long and painful. >> i want to walk a little bit now. but i'm getting there. but i'm cancer free. yay. >> hey, there. >> reporter: but for kim, no complaints. can you already see the difference? >> yes. >> reporter: what's the difference? >> i have nice knockers, dude. nice ones.
>> reporter: jennifer is happy, too. she's no longer afraid of wearing form-fitting clothes. she's more active than ever. >> dr. jewel kind of liberated me a little bit to say, you deserve to have the body you see yourself having. >> reporter: a survivor first, but also proud to feel good in her own skin. for "nightline," i'm cecilia vega in torrance, california. next who is the real voice of mcdreamy? the answer might surprise you, as shonda rhimes reveals her tv secrets. curling up in bed with a favorite book is nice. but i think women would rather curl up with their favorite man. but here's the thing: about half of men over 40 have some degree of erectile dysfunction. well, viagra helps guys with ed get and keep an erection. and remember, you only take it when you need it. ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take viagra if you take nitrates for chest pain; it may cause an unsafe drop in blood
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she's one of hollywood's most powerful women. shonda rhimes served up the mcdreamy sex lives of doctors in grey's anatomy and an illicit presidential affair in scandal, with signature cliff hangers that kept us hanging on season after season. now, she's created a whole new world. so, what's her secret? tonight, she's taking agbc's robin roberts behind the scenes. >> you dropped the president? >> she's the brilliant mind behind those explosive tv moments. iconic characters we fell in love with, amid triumph and tragedy. the cliff hangers that left millions begging for more. >> hello, olivia. >> dad? >> that woman? shonda rhimes. you're a little busy. >> i am a little busy. >> busy atop a tv empire that
includes abc's grey's anatomy, scandal and fall's runaway hit, how to get away with murder. she's the first creator since aaron spelling to oversee three back-to-back primetime shows, all on one network, all on thursday night. thursday night, shonda's night. >> i'm excited. >> how to get away with murder. >> shonda invited us behind the scenes at the mother ship here in hollywood. the studios for her production company called shondaland. >> just like i imagined. it's the place that holds all the secrets where so many of those complex characters and legendary lines have come to life. >> what did you do? >> you have a way of really connecting with people. >> you know sometimes i'm really amazed because a lot of the times, when i'm writing, it feels a little bit like i'm writing for myself or just for my friends, you know i remember my first experience with grey's i felt like i was writing in my
diary. it felt really surprising me to me. >> for last november's winter finales, a combined 28 million people watched the three shows. and when scandal first premiered two years ago, viewers witnessed a historic shattering of that glass ceiling. >> it's handled. >> as kerry washington became the first african-american actress in nearly 40 years to star in a leading role in a network primetime show. the last being teresa graves. >> in the short-lived 1974 tv series "get christy love." >> to know you are apart of a show that is doing that -- >> i want to pinch myself all the time. to be able to be apart of something like this, to be able to be something like shonda's history, to be able to be a small part of how she's transforming the world as we know it -- i feel really blessed to be of service to her. >> i love him.
>> it's about authenticity and that your shows and your characters just reflect what we see in america. >> the television landscape should look like the world we see outside. it's not that big a deal. the package that people come in is the package that they come in. what's inside is what's the most interesting thing. >> and this season shondaland is continuing to break the mold with their freshman legal thriller. >> how to get away with murder. >> starring oscar nominee viola davis. >> the new kid on the block, viola davis. >> that is a miracle to me, right? how is that happening? i still feel that way every single day. >> and viola can't believe it either. >> you never thought that you -- i can't believe you said this would get a role like this. >> yeah. >> that -- you said at your age. you are cast as someone who is sexy, hip. >> absolutely. i'm usually people who are none
of those things. >> how did you get this? >> it wasn't exactly legal. >> then we just have to get creative. i would describe this show as everything shonda rhimes, everything that's mysterious and tantalizing and salacious but also something that's very character-driven. it's very much about people being put in extraordinary circumstances and watching how they evolve. watching how they you know hold up under the pressure. we bury the evidence. >> you got to lie on the stand -- >> i did my job. >> can i ask you something? >> yeah. >> one of the shows breakout stars, jack, who plays law student connor walsh. critics have to praised the show's gay romance storyline, a rarity on network television. and everybody couldn't stop talking about unforgettable vile owe la davis moments like this.
talking about the leading women that you have thank you. it is redefining how we look at the leading lady so to speak, in these types of shows. >> i feel like i get asked the question a lot you know how do you write these smart, strong women, and i always say, is the alternative stupid weak women? like, i don't know any of those. and nobody asks how do you write smart, strong men? that's not a question that anybody's ever asked before. >> nine years ago, here in the drama-filled hospital shonda began her craft of bringing characters to life. >> seriously? seriously? >> i feel like i put myself -- a lot of myself into the characters. i joked, somebody said what does it feel like to write the voice of a black woman, somebody asked me that about scandal. i said mcdreamy's been speaking in the voice of a black woman for a long time to. >> you shouldn't ignore me. >> why not? >> i'm someone you need to get
to know to love. >> ellen pompeo has been shonda's leading lady. >> so pick me. choose me. love me. >> these characters are, in essence, that's how she thinks. >> shonda just doesn't see political orientation, sexual orientation, she really sees the soul. i think she finds the soul in the character and casts it that way, from the inside out, not the outside in. >> between three shows and three daughters, shonda is constantly trying to juggle it all. >> someone says how do you -- shonda, how do you do it? how do you balance it all? how do you have it all? >> when you see me succeeding in one area of my life i'm clearly failing in another area. my best example was, if i am going to my daughter's debut of herself in her school musical, i'm missing shann inging sandra oh's last night at grey's anatomy. it sounds awful to not be able to say good-bye to christina
yang, but it felt like there was no question where i was going to be that night. i'm sure it felt like a failure to them that i was not there, but i also did not spend time explaining myself because i am someone's mother. >> but beyond her gift for creating must-see tv shonda possesses boundless inner wisdom, which he gracefully imparted during her commencement speech last spring at her alma mater, dartmouth. >> just do. you think, i wish i could travel right. just go, right now. i'm serious. you want to be a writer start writing. you don't have a job, get one. any job. ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. >> explain what you mean by that. >> i think that hard work and being a doer whether or not it seems like the most amazing one, is the way to go. >> and all that doing has taken shonda to this monumental moment. three shows, one night, and plenty of scandals of course.
>> can we get any spoil earls? >> she has the keys to the kingdom on thursday night. >> well, the queen-dom, yes. she has the keys to the queen-dom. >> she does. yeah. >> wow. >> i know, it's amazing. to think that from 8:00 until 11:00, you are stepping into a land that is shonda's -- there's this beautiful balance in shondaland between escapism and presence of mind. you get to lose yourself and escape into these imaginary words and really leave your own life because the story lines are so compelling because you forget about yourself and jump into another world. >> our thanks to robin for that look at shondaland. next, we take a look at the life and legacy of former new york governor mario cuomo. mmm, progressive insurance here. ever since we launched snapshot, my life has been positively cray-cray.
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iconic former new york governor mario cuomo has died. the three-term governor who served new york between 1983 and 1994 was 82 years old. the iconic new york democrat was best nobody for his humble beginnings progressive views and soaring inging oratory. >> maybe, mr. president if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said, you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile, we couldn't afford it you. >> >> reporter: he resisted pressure to run for president in 1988 and 1992. he was born in queens new york the son of italian immigrants
in 1932 and grew up working in his father's grocery store. current governor of new york andrew cuomo, at his second term inauguration, remarked on his father's legacy just hours before he passed. >> his inspiration and his legacy and his experience is what has brought this state to this point. >> reporter: mario cuomo is survived by his wife son and daughters and 14 grandchildren. thank you for watching abc news. tune into "good morning america" bulldog: the red tags mean save up to 40% on clearance mattresses. get up to 48 months interest-free financing on tempur-pedic. pup: i found a red tag! [laughter] bulldog: mattress discounters' year end clearance sale ends soon!