Paris Hilton vows to prove jail has changed her

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hotel heiress Paris Hilton has launched a media make-over days after her release from a three-week jail stint, vowing to shed her party-girl image and prove she is a changed person.

“I’m a good person. I’m a compassionate person. I have a big heart. I’m sincere, and they’ll see,” Hilton told People magazine in excerpts published on Wednesday from her first interview since getting out of jail Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Appearing later on CNN’s “Larry King Live” show, the 26-year-old socialite said she felt bad that many of her former fellow inmates would end up back on the streets, and back in trouble, because they lack family or support systems.

“I want to help set up a place where these women can get themselves back on their feet ... kind of a transitional home,” she said. “I know I can make a difference.”

Hilton, who was punished for violating probation in a drunken-driving case, acknowledged she has long enjoyed the Hollywood party scene but added, “it’s not going to be the mainstay of my life anymore.”

“I’ve definitely matured and grown a lot from this experience,” she told King. “I could be a more responsible role model.”

Critics did not buy a word of it, and they faulted King for not asking any probing questions.

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“It was such an obviously scripted performance and so at odds with everything that has ever been reported about Hilton,” the Hollywood Reporter said in its Thursday edition.

Rival trade paper Daily Variety said the interview merely reinforced a puzzling media infatuation with Hilton. “She isn’t particularly interesting -- a pretty girl in a town loaded with them, who looks OK through a night-vision lens but doesn’t really have anything to say,” it said.

Hilton’s fame skyrocketed after an amateur sex video of her filmed in night vision hit the Internet.


Hilton spoke in both interviews about why she was briefly released to home detention after just three days in jail -- a move swiftly overruled by a judge after a public outcry over whether she was given special treatment.

“I was basically in the fetal position, basically in hysterics ... and having severe anxiety and panic attacks,” Hilton said in the People interview.

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She told King she has suffered from claustrophobia since childhood, and in jail was forced to just “deal with it.”

“I read letters, I wrote in my journal, and I would just close my eyes and pretend I was somewhere else.”

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca raised the issue of suicide -- but stopped short of saying Hilton had been in danger of harming herself -- when he explained why he had placed Hilton under house detention.

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Hilton told People she spent time in jail reading the Bible and praying for strength.

“There was a nun who works at the jail for all the ladies, and she would come every day and we would pray,” she said. “There were girls next to me. ... We could talk through the vents and they were just really sweet.”