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Profiles of Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg

Aired December 28, 2002 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, two of the film industry's brightest stars...


STEVEN SPIELBERG, FILMMAKER: Right there. Stop, close on that?


ANNOUNCER: ... team up again for the holiday blockbuster "Catch Me If You Can".


SPIELBERG: I'm very lucky that I've had the chance to work three times with Tom.


ANNOUNCER: First, he may be Hollywood's Mr. Nice Guy, but in box office terms, he's Mr. Money in The Bank.


HANKS: I have $1.3 million.

PETER CASTRO, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: If that is not just sheer like presence and power, I don't know what is.


ANNOUNCER: His road to stardom started with a nomadic childhood.


HANKS: By the time I was 10 I had lived in 10 different households.


ANNOUNCER: He went from star of a TV sitcom to hitting it big in the movies.


LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He followed up "Big" with some sort of riskier choices and most of them didn't really pay off.


ANNOUNCER: But his serious roles as an AIDS patient...


HANKS: Want a chocolate?


ANNOUNCER: ... and a simple Southerner would earn him back-to- back Oscars. Now he takes on the role of a detective chasing after Leonardo DiCaprio, veteran actor, Tom Hanks.

Than, he kept beachgoers around the world, out of the water and in theaters with the box office bonanza, "Jaws."


RICHARD DREYFUSS, ACTOR: It was like the culture phenomenon of the early '70s.


ANNOUNCER: He got behind the camera at an early age.


SPIELBERG: My mom and my dad gave me a free rein at expressing myself.


ANNOUNCER: He brought us huge hits like "E.T.", "Indiana Jones" and "Private Ryan." Now, he brings us the true story of a conman's run from the law, acclaimed director, Steven Spielberg. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAUL ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. Tom Hanks is the nice guy who usually finishes first in everything. The two-time Oscar winner is arguably the most popular and powerful star in American cinema, definitely one of most bankable. And he is back on the big screen this holiday season in Steven Spielberg's, "Catch Me If You Can." Kyra Philips has our profile.



KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than 20 years, Tom Hanks has been a major force in America's movies.

HANKS: FBI! Come out of the bathroom.

PHILLIPS: His latest, the sting-like caper film, "Catch Me If You Can," pairs him with his old friend, director Steven Spielberg.

HANKS: Hey, Boss, thank you so much.


PHILLIPS: Based on real life, Hanks plays an FBI agent hot on the trail of a conman, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

SPIELBERG: Tommy plays very normal people. The audience is imprint on him and they say, "I could be this guy. He's not so far out of the reach that I couldn't be like him and I want to be like him. He's got great American values, great family values."

PHILLIPS: Hanks makes you believe. You could love a mermaid, be a child again, find love a second time, struggle against hate, be simple and honest, solve any problem, fight the good fight, and with hope in your heart, survive one more day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rita, Tom, right here!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn left, please.

PHILLIPS: At 46, Hanks is a hopeful man. Having learned at a young age not to be intimidated by circumstance. Tom was born July 1956, to Amus and Janet Hanks in the small town of Concord, California. Just 30 minutes outside of San Francisco. When Tom was five, his parents divorced. One night, Amus Hanks came home from work, put Tom and the two older kids were in the truck and drove away. Tom's father remarried twice more, his mother, three times.

HANKS: My dad worked in the restaurant business, which is, you know, can be itinerant to a degree. We simply moved around a lot. I think that by the time I was 10, I had lived in 10 different households with I guess three-and-a-half different sets of parents. So...

PHILLIPS: Hanks always refers to his nomadic childhood with humor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever want to runaway from home as a kid?

HANKS: No, my home kept running away from me, so I didn't have the same opportunity. I moved around so much I was never sure where my home was. The biggest goal I had to face every day was finding where we lived that day. That was a little tough. Are we in the apartment or the farmhouse today? I can't remember. Oh, no, there's buildings around, it must be the apartment.

PHILLIPS: Hanks says his roving boyhood was the perfect upbringing for an actor. HANKS: There was also a lot of flying by the seat of your pants and you know, not being intimidated by your circumstances.

PHILLIPS: By high school, Hanks was flying high. He was dubbed class cutup and won best actor for his revealing work in the musical "South Pacific." But it was a tragedy, Eugene O'Neill's bar room classic, "The Iceman Cometh," that was Hanks defining moment. He had gone to see the play at Berkley's Repertory Theater. He came out enthralled. He was hooked.

HANKS: It literally popped my eyes open. I said, "Wait, there's people that do this? This is what they do? Not just for a living, for their life? This is the way they spend their time?" This was like lightning for me.

PHILLIPS: A year later, Hanks was building sets as an intern for the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland. Three seasons playing minor roles gave Hanks his equity card and a desire to give New York a try. Headed east with him, was Samantha Lewis, his first wife.

CASTRO: A lot of people don't know Tom Hanks was married before and he met someone in the '70s and while he is struggling as an actor. And they moved to Hell's Kitchen in New York, with a walk-up tenement with roaches the size of little poodles and it was really, really tough going.

PHILLIPS: After a long year of auditions, Hanks got his first movie role in the slasher film, "He Knows You're Alone".

HANKS: Most people do actually. I mean life could be scared. It's something primal, something basic.

I'd read something off a piece of paper. The guy looks up from the desk and says, "You're going to be in a movie." And that was $800 but it was a big deal. From there, I got on the television show.

ROZEN: "Bosom Buddies" was sort of "Some Like It Hot" brought to television. But Hanks stood out right away. You could tell the guy was funny.

HANKS: To me, it's like looking at kinescope of "The Honeymooners."

Ha, ha, the woman is possessed.

You see me and Peter there. All we did was laugh through that whole thing.

PHILLIPS: The gender-bending sitcom with co-star Peter Scolari lasted two seasons. And then in 1982, the wigs came off for good. For a year, Hanks pulled in little work, just some guest bits on sitcoms. On "Family Ties," he was a bright but unlucky corporate wiz kid. Over on "Happy Days," Hanks played a former classmate of The Fonz. The "Happy Days" connection paid off. Director and former "Happy Days" star, Ron Howard remembered Hanks and invited him to read for a supporting role in "Splash." That role ended up going to John Candy.


PHILLIPS: Instead, Howard tapped Hanks for the lead.

HANKS: I have been waiting for someone and when I find her, she's -- she's a fish.

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR: He wasn't a movie star but he was -- you know, he was just so gifted. He came in, he auditioned and he won the role.

PHILLIPS: "Splash" cost $9 million to make and was a box office (UNINTELLIGIBLE), bringing in some $60 million. Tom Hanks had finally found himself a permanent home, Hollywood.

Coming up next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Hanks hits big with "Big" but later stumbles badly.

ROZEN: The poor man is starring with a dog and having to chase after the dog in his underwear.

HANKS: No, no, no. Hooch!


ANNOUNCER: Also ahead, his films are legendary -- "E.T.", "Indiana Jones," "Schindler's List." He first showed his films to a smaller audience.


SPIELBERG: If I could get them weak and terrified, it was kind of like having a hit.


ANNOUNCER: From little terror to big-time director, Steven Spielberg, that's later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Fredricka Whitfield out of world headquarters in Atlanta. This breaking news we're following for you out of Baghdad. According to a U.N. spokesperson, Iraq has handed over two U.N. arms inspectors a list of approximately 500 Iraqi scientists who have apparently participated in banned weapons programs in Iraq. This statement is coming from one of the spokespersons from the U.N.

And all that we are able to pass on to you is -- quote -- "Today, we have received from the Iraqi national monitoring directorate a list of names of personnel associated with Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic weapons program." Of course, we're going to continue to follow this story for you. Right now, we're going to continue our program with PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.



PHILLIPS (voice-over): In 1988, Tom Hanks was hitting all the right notes with his performance in "Big." Hanks was endearing as a young boy trapped in a man's body.

ROZEN: "Big" was Hanks' first blockbuster movie. It was the film that absolutely put him on the map as one of Hollywood's leading men.

PHILLIPS: For Hanks, "Big" was big. It garnered him his first Academy Award nomination.

HANKS: I had never been to the Oscars before, so this -- I mean this was like a senior prom on acid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom, where were you when you heard you were nominated? How'd you get the news?

HANKS: I was sitting on the couch with my wife.

I was essentially a nobody but you get out, and there's this kind of like -- there's like a riot -- is going on. This is the most glamorous, well-dressed riot you've ever seen.

Do you remember what the senior prom was like?


HANKS: Oh, that was a rough one, boy. And as soon as you put on a monkey seat, boy, all of the nerves start jangling.

PHILLIPS: After his Academy award nomination, Hanks seemed headed for superstardom but his career suddenly stalled. Falling flat, the now classic cable viewing, "Turner and Hooch," "Joe Versus The Volcano" and the box office flop, "Bonfire of The Vanity". Then Hanks managed to hit one out of the park with "A League of Their Own."

HANKS: All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. Time for song and dance.

PHILLIPS: Hanks a big Cleveland Indians fan played the washed- up, tobacco-chewing manager as if a pendant depended on it.

HANKS: Are you crying? There's no crying. There's no crying in baseball!

PHILLIPS: But the question remained -- could the comic actor do drama?

HANKS: You are worried we don't have very much time left, aren't you?

PHILLIPS: In the 1993 film, "Philadelphia," the deadly serious Hanks surprised both audiences and critics.

CASTRO: With "Philadelphia," it was the first hint of this is -- this guy's really special. We're working with something, you know, extremely rare.

PHILLIPS: "Philadelphia" gave Hanks his first Oscar win, but the victory was bittersweet.

HANKS: When I have to get up and really explain how I got here in the first place and why I'm standing up at that little Plexiglas podium with this cool trophy in my hand, I know that I'm standing there, honestly, because so many gay men have died of AIDS since 1976.

PHILLIPS: A year later, Hanks introduced America to a simple man...

HANKS: You want a chocolate?

PHILLIPS: ... Forrest Gump.

HANKS: There was no way to describe what the story was. And yet, as you read it, it read faster and faster and faster. And I just thought, we could bottle lightning here. Something's going on.

Mamma always says...

PHILLIPS: Something was going on. The movie turned into one of the biggest hits of 1994 and led to a nearly unprecedented honor. Hanks won his second Oscar for "Forrest Gump," becoming the first person in five decades to receive back-to-back Oscar awards for Best Actor.

HANKS: I think Forrest would say, "So I went to the Academy Awards again and they gave me an Academy Award again."

RITA WILSON, WIFE: I am a child of the Oscars. I grew up to Hollywood, California. I went to Hollywood High School. We grew up watching the Oscars almost like it was a national holiday or something. And so, to be married to this guy, who has won two back- to-back and has made history, is completely surreal.

PHILLIPS: Actor and producer, Rita Wilson, has been at Hanks' side for more than a decade. Wilson played Hanks' love interest in the film, "Volunteers."

WILSON: What do they say?

HANKS: Move this log and I'll sleep with each one of you.

PHILLIPS: Hanks' first marriage ended in 1987 and a year later he and Wilson married. Hanks says it's Wilson who made him the man and the star he is today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom! HANKS: She is a delight. She is a great lady and she's my best friend. I have found a level of contentment and peace with my wife that I wish everybody could have.

WILSON: This is my good luck charm. He's my good luck charm.

HANKS: I get the feeling that she just thinks I'm the greatest, smartest guy in the world.

WILSON: I think he looks like Ray Orbison.

HANKS: And I think you look like a pretty woman.

My wife is amazing, is she not?

PHILLIPS: By 1995, Hanks was a megastar, but still, very much the same Mr. Nice Guy.

ANNOUNCER: Mr. Tom Hanks!

PHILLIPS: Tom Terrific was on a role. After two Oscars, he leapt at chance to play different characters, but always with his trademark heart and soul.

HANKS: Fire!

PHILLIPS: In 2000, Hanks did the near impossible, co-starred with a volley ball and kept viewers riveted for two hours in the film, "Castaway."

HANKS: You're going to love crab.

CASTRO: If that is not aura, if that is not just sheer, like, presence and power, I don't know what is. And I can't think of one other actor that could have pulled that off so well.

PHILLIPS: And in 2002, Mr. Nice Guy finally played his version of the bad guy...

HANKS: Excuse me; I'm looking for a Mr. McDoodle.

PHILLIPS: ... a fundamentally decent hit man in the critically acclaimed "Road To Perdition".

HANKS: I'm making a withdrawal.

PHILLIPS: His performance has Hollywood buzzing about a possible third Oscar.

HANKS: If I win again, and by the way, I'm not saying I will, I swear to God, I'm not going to cry the next time. I mean it. I mean it.

PHILLIPS: When the story of Tom Hanks continues, Tom Hanks shoots for the moon and honors America's heroes. SPIELBERG: He's got great American values; great family values and the darn guy should run for president of the United States someday. He'd win.


ZAHN: Coming up, Hanks gets heroic. But first, a look at someone who is with Hanks when he took his first steps to superstardom in this week's "Where Are They now?"


PETER SCOLARI, ACTOR: Just watch me work.

ANNOUNCER: The title of the sitcom wouldn't have made sense if Tom Hanks didn't have a bosom buddy. Peter Scolari played the role of copywriter, Henry Desmond or Hildegard depending on what he was wearing. So where is Peter Scolari now?

While not reaching the megastar status of his co-star, Scolari has worked steadily in entertainment since "Buddies" was canceled. He received several Emmy nominations for his role on "Newhart," playing Michael Harris.

SCOLARI: Remember when I promised you the world? Well, here it is.

ANNOUNCER: And he's now currently directing, producing and starring in the Disney Channel's TV show, "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids." Scolari has also appeared in some films, including "That Thing You Do," which was directed by Tom Hanks.


ANNOUNCER: Our profile of the aforementioned Mr. Hanks will continue after this.




PHILLIPS (voice-over): By the mid '90s, Tom Hanks was deep into a new phase of his career, honoring America's history and the human spirit.

HANKS: You always hope that your movies are somehow going to be weighty, that you know they're going to make some sort of a difference in the national consciousness. And I think that "Saving Private Ryan" just was not only an important history lesson, but it was also, I think, an important emotional connection that an entire generation of people made with a previous generation.

PHILLIPS: In the grizzly and realistic war movie, "Saving Private Ryan", Hanks plays Captain Miller, the tormented lead over a battle weary squad. Steven Spielberg directed.

SPIELBERG: When I read the script, I only could see Tom playing Captain Miller. There was no -- I didn't have a second choice. I went right to Tom. Tom, you know, represents, you know, the best in all of us. Young people look at him as their father and older people look at him as their squad leader, their Captain Miller. And we would go into battle with him leading us.

PHILLIPS: Hanks' battles raged on with another World War II epic, "Band of Brothers," a tribute to an elite rifle company that parachuted into France on D-Day morning.

HANKS: Move it!

PHILLIPS: Hanks, who co-produced the HBO series with Steven Spielberg, had researched the project for years.

ROZEN: You just have a sense of a guy who has broader interest than how big is my trailer and are they giving me only yellow M&Ms?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liftoff. We have liftoff.

PHILLIPS: Another passion, the space race was fueled by a life- long interest. Hanks can name every Apollo astronaut, every mission, every glitch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, now, let's everybody keep cool.

PHILLIPS: As a boy growing up in the '60s, he wasn't the only kid in love with space travel and galaxies far away.

HANKS: Even if it was just having a cool Fireball XL5 lunch box, we all thought it was -- we'd be living there. I mean it was the national order of things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stand by for contact.

HANKS: What world history had told us was that you go to a place, you figure out how to get there, you figure out how to stay there, and then you live there.

CATRO: Astronauts were heroes to him. He would actually go home and -- in a four-foot pool tie a brick around his ankle just so that he could be weightless and pretend to have a wrench and pretend to fix something as if he were working on a spaceship. That's how much he loved astronauts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Apollo 13 spacecraft has had a serious power supply malfunction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The late report says the spacecraft now is operating on battery power alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston, we have a problem.

PHILLIPS: Hanks was 13 when his beloved astronauts faced tragedy aboard Apollo 13. He has never forgotten it.

HANKS: Milton Berle stopped a Cubs game.

MILTON BERLE, COMEDIAN: For a moment, a moment of prayer for the crewmen of the Apollo 13.

HANKS: And I remember seeing banner headlines in the "San Francisco Chronicle."

ANNOUNCER: Here is a bulletin from ABC News.

HANKS: I did run home from school to see (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bergman to tell me what was going to go on.

PHILLIPS: In 1995, the boy who loved space starred in "Apollo 13"...

HANKS: What did you do?

PHILLIPS: ... the retelling of the dramatic moon mission.

HANKS: Houston, I'm switching over Quad C to Main A.

ROZEN: It was tense.

KEVIN BACON, ACTOR: OK, Houston, fuel cell one.

ROZEN: And it was adventurous and it was exhilarating and Hanks held it altogether as the commander on board.

PHILLIPS: Hanks journeyed further into space as executive producer for HBO's greatly honored miniseries, "From The Earth To The Moon."

HANKS: That's one small step for man. This is John Melfi. This is Michael Bostick. This is Tony To. This is Brian Grazer. These men all worked very, very hard on "From The Earth to The Moon" and that's why we're standing here now.

PHILLIPS: With his chronicle of the U.S. space program, Hanks has once again grabbed onto a story with a moral center.

HANKS: The generation ahead of us did not shirk for a moment from hard work, from the concept of sacrifice. Miller time was not in their consciousness. They understood that if you wanted to get some things done, you put your head down and you worked on it every day until it was finished. And there's no better promise of America, in fact, than to be able to work on something you love until its conclusion.

PHILLIPS: Tom Hanks has made a career of working on something he loved, whether it's a story of AIDS discrimination or a simple southerner named Gump. For Hollywood's optimist, it is a love of heroics, heroes of space, heroes of war and a love of telling the great American stories. HANKS: You know, I've been able to do some work out there that I hope has been able to surprise folks, and at the same time it's been able to amuse them and perhaps enlighten them at the same time it's been able to entertain them. So it doesn't seem like hard work, even though it is. It always seems like fun, even though sometimes it's not. It's a nice gig.


ZAHN: Tom Hanks has two upcoming projects. He's been tapped to play a thief in the next Cohen brothers' film and he's about to begin work on an animated holiday movie called "Polar Express."

ANNOUNCER: When we return, who says work has to be boring?


SPIELBERG: I think I did "Catch Me If You Can," you know, just to see what it would feel like to, you know, to have some fun making a movie.


ANNOUNCER: Catch up with one of the generation's greater directors, Steven Spielberg next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. From "Jaws" to "Schindler's List," "E.T." to "Indiana Jones," Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's most successful director and producer. The popularity of Spielberg's body of work is unparalleled. His name carries the kind of brand recognition usually reserved for film stars like Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks. Hanks, by the way, is teaming up with him once again for "Catch Me If You Can." It is the latest from Spielberg and a departure of sorts for a filmmaker who has never ceased to amaze or entertain. Here's David Mattingly.


SPIELBERG: Cut! Print!

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steven Spielberg's latest film takes a dramatic departure from his epic steel filmmaking. Revoking the innocence of the 1960s, "Catch Me If You Can" follows the real life adventures of a teenage conman played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who scams take him around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The jump seat is open.

DICAPRIO: It's been a while since I've done this. Which one is the jump seat again?

MATTINGLY: Spielberg teams up yet again with actor and friend, Tom Hanks, who plays an FBI agent hot on the trail.


SPIELBERG: Our friendship makes the professional relationship easy and fun to look forward to. I'm very lucky that I've had the chance to work three times with Tom, you know, in a very creative capacity.

HANKS: You're going to get caught. One way other another, it's a mathematical fact. It's like Vegas.

DICAPRIO: The house always wins.

SPIELBERG: I think I did "Catch Me If You Can," you know, just to see what it would feel like to, you know, to have fun making a movie.

It was still fun even though we had so many locations. We shot the film in 55, 56 days. It was a lot of fun because there was so much energy. You know, the speed of production, you know, we were all kind of acting like the story was really happening in real-time and in real places. Sometimes we'd have three location moves in one day, but it got everybody energized.

MATTINGLY: That level of energy can be traced back to Spielberg's childhood.

ARNOLD SPIELBERG, FATHER: Steve was always a wired kid, if I can say it that way. He was nervous, energetic, curious, always interested in looking at things. But he could never sleep. Whenever we'd go for a little walk, he'd always stop and want to look at things.

MATTINGLY: Arnold Spielberg and his wife, Leah, welcomed their firstborn, Steven, into the world on December 18, 1946. Steven would be the only boy with three younger sisters. Even the dog was female, he'd joke. Like the families he would portray in his movies, they lived in comfortable middle-class homes in suburban New Jersey and Arizona.

SPIELBERG: You know, my dad was extremely obsessive about computers and the whole burgeoning computer industry in the early '50s, and my mom played concert piano and was just a terrific pal.

LEAH ADLER, MOTHER: I don't know what other houses are like. There was always something happening. You'd get up in the morning. You'd bolt out of bed, and wait to see the next thing about to happen. It was wild.

MATTINGLY: Young Steven was zany, but he was also very fearful.

SPIELBERG: I was afraid of small spaces, and I was afraid of the tree outside my window, and I had all these phobias, what was under the bed. I think many kids have those phobias, but I probably had more than most.

MATTINGLY: And Spielberg found an outlet for those many fears. SPIELBERG: My mom and my dad gave me a free rein at expressing myself, up to and including torturing all my sisters, you know, to the point that I did get in trouble for that. And they were my first audience.

ADLER: He cut off the doll's head of Nancy and served it to her one night on a platter, this doll's head on a bed of lettuce, an array of sliced tomatoes.

SPIELBERG: I could get them really terrified. It was kind of like having a hit. It was, like, wow, it was great affirmation, you know, that I had told a story that somehow succeeded.

MATTINGLY: But on one of those family camping trips, he would discover another way to get a hit.

A.SPIELBERG: He said, "Dad, you don't know how to take pictures. Let me have the camera." He says, "You're taking pictures out of the window while the car's going. It's a big blur." And so he fixed that.

SPIELBERG: So I kind of took it from him to sort of do a better job. At least he was doing -- photographing the summer camping trips that we'd all go on together. The movie camera gave me a tool that I could start to, you know, apply some of this more sadistic behavior into something that was a little bit more entertaining.

MATTINGLY: Once Steven picked up a movie camera, the Spielberg household was never the same. He started writing scripts complete with special effects. Everyone in the family was assigned a role or put on crew call.

ADLER: Steve became a director and a producer from the moment. We all worked for him.

MATTINGLY: As a teenager, Steven Spielberg began making movies about World War II, inspired by stories told to him by his veteran father. When the younger Spielberg was 16, he won an amateur film contest.

A. SPIELBERG: We dyed some shirts, one color for the Nazis and another color for the allies, and we had a Jeep. And I put on my fatigues and scrunched way down and drive the Jeep leading a column of troops, you know?

ADLER: And some of the mothers were very upset about it. One mother said, "I just don't like -- my child is always out in the desert, and he doesn't do his homework." And now I think they're very excited they were doing a Steven Spielberg film.

MATTINGLY: The Spielbergs had moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1957, where they were the only Jewish family in the neighborhood.

SPIELBERG: It's one of those things that I always hate to admit, but I was ashamed of being so different. And I was ashamed of my grandfather calling me by my Hebrew name, Shmuel, which is not the most romantic of Hebrew names I could have been called, you know.

Moses, I would have preferred, rather than Shmuel. My God, he would cry out -- you know, I'd be playing, you know, you know, touch football with friends in the -- out across the street, and he'd yell my name, dinner was ready, you know, and he would also speak in Yiddish. And I think I was just a very insecure kid, in a sense, and I kind of put a big magnifying glass up to myself and said, you know, I'm not as good as anybody else.

MATTINGLY: But he was good at making movies, and at age 16, Steven Spielberg traveled to Los Angeles and visited Universal Studios. When Steven returned to high school, he finished his first feature film, "Firelight," with his own script, actors, and close encounters with mysterious lights that abducted people.

"Firelight" played for just one night, but his family went all out. His father rented a local theater, his mother and sisters sold popcorn and soda and Steven Spielberg had his first box office success.

When we continue with the story of Steven Spielberg, the young director takes a huge bite out of the summer box office.




MATTINGLY (voice-over): By 1975, the boy who had loved terrifying his three sisters was an up-and-coming director with a chance to scare millions. When he was just 24, he directed "Duel," a critically acclaimed television movie about a killer truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take the girl.

MATTINGLY: Three years later, his feature film debut, "Sugarland Express," also dazzled critics. But nothing had prepared him for this giant leap into the water, a mainstream, big-budget movie based on a wildly successful novel about a very hungry shark, "Jaws."

DREYFUSS: It was like the culture phenomena of the early '70s, and everyone was saying, "Show me." And within five minutes of the film's beginning, he showed them.

MATTINGLY: Making "Jaws" tested Spielberg in every possible way. The shooting schedule went from 55 days to 155, the budget doubled. But all doubts faded upon "Jaws"' release. It became the first movie in history to gross more than $100 million. And it inspired a new phenomena, the summer blockbuster.

The next Spielberg blockbuster came in 1977. It reached into the galaxies with "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." It earned him his first Oscar nomination, and a close encounter of a more romantic kind. Actress, Amy Irving, auditioned for Spielberg but didn't make the cut. However, soon after, they began an on-again, off-again relationship that would last 13 years. In 1985, they married and had a son, Max. They divorced amicably in 1989.

Steven Spielberg's next big movie came at the suggestion of a close friend and fellow moviemaker, George Lucas.

GEORGE LUCAS, FILMMAKER: He was saying that he wanted to do a James Bond film, and I said, "Oh, well, I've got a project that's just like James Bond, only better, and you'll love it." And I told him the story there on the beach, and he said, "I'll do it."

MATTINGLY: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" hit theaters in 1981. Its James Bond was Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford. In all, Spielberg directed three Indiana Jones films and reinvented the old Saturday morning serials he loved so much as a child.

KATE CAPSHAW, ACTRESS: I mean to tell you, just when my career is starting to pay off, you come along.

MATTINGLY: In 1983, Kate Capshaw auditioned for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: You look beautiful.

CAPSHAW: I think the maharajah is swimming in loot. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea coming here after all.

MATTINGLY: Capshaw got the role, and several years later, the director. She and Spielberg were married in 1991. Their partnership became so important to Spielberg that when he pondered starting a major new business, Capshaw had a say.

JEFFREY KATZENBERG, PARTNER, DREAMWORKS SKG: She turned to me and she said, "So here are my ground rules. Assuming that everything else can get worked out in this, is, you can have him after he takes the kids to school, and you deliver him back here to have dinner with them at night."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe you just probably imagined it...

HENRY THOMAS, ACTOR: I couldn't have imagined it.

MATTINGLY: The dinners Spielberg remembered from his childhood were immortalized back in the 1982 classic, "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial."

SPIELBERG: I always felt alone for some reason, and my mom had her agenda, my dad had his, my sisters had theirs. And I think "E.T.," which certainly defines loneliness from my own perspective, is also about how I felt about my mom and dad when they finally got a divorce. And along comes this magical entity from who knows where, and makes Elliot's life, for a very small amount of time, complete.

MATTINGLY: Spielberg returned to fantasy with the fantastically successful "Jurassic Park," a 1993 summer blockbuster. Later that same year, he took an abrupt departure from the world of make-believe with the all-too-real "Schindler's List." BEN KINGSLEY, ACTOR: Off the screen of his films comes; you are in the right cinema at the right time for the right reasons. Watch this. And you remain utterly spellbound.

SPIELBERG: "Schindler's List" changed -- altered my life completely, my professional life completely, and certainly in many regards altered me completely, because, you know, it made me believe in something that wasn't a guess about outer space.

MATTINGLY: He says he threw away his director's toolbox and started from scratch. He filmed in black and white, used a handheld camera, and got rid of his storyboards. The film he hadn't expected to make any money grossed $321 million dollars worldwide and was hailed as a masterpiece. The original book had been given to him by his first mentor, Sid Sheinberg.

SID SHEINBERG, FORMER PRESIDENT, MCA/UNIVERSAL: There were many in the Hollywood community who were rooting against him. I think the subconscious reaction is, if a man has been so successful financially, and so successful becoming a pop hero, do the movie gods really need to also make him so successful as a creative genius in filmmaking? And people no longer raise that question. I don't hear anybody wondering today, you know, whether Steven can make any kind of a picture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel about people saying that this is the film that will probably win you an Oscar?

SPIELBERG: Oh, I don't know.


MATTINGLY: In the end, Spielberg won two, an Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture. He served as the film's producer as well.

SPIELBERG: These were lives that were spared from the Holocaust and lived to tell about it.

MATTINGLY: Spielberg took home Oscars but not his profits from "Schindler's List." Instead, he funneled them into projects like the Shoah Foundation. The foundation allows Holocaust survivors to take their place in history along with Oskar Schindler's 1,100.

SPIELBERG: The crime changed the world, and I'm simply, with my Shoah Foundation, trying to continue to remind people that it did change the world, and we have to now take responsibility for those changes and make our children remember why that was such an important time.

MATTINGLY: By 2001, the Shoah Foundation had taped over 50,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors and produced three documentaries. One, "The Last Days," was awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary feature in 1999.

When we continue with the story of Steven Spielberg...

ED BURNS, ACTOR: He told us, you know, from the time he was 12 years old, he's always wanted to make a war picture.

MATTINGLY: ... Hollywood storyteller captures World War II.




MATTINGLY (voice-over): In 1998, Steven Spielberg again took on the role of director and producer with the World War II epic, "Saving Private Ryan."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You want to explain the math of this to me? I mean, where's the sense in risking the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?

SPIELBERG: I was always looking for a World War II movie to make, but one day my agency in a meeting, out of 20 projects they were suggesting, this was one of 20 projects. And it was given no more or less spin than the other 19 projects that were pitched to me that day. But something struck a chord in me.

MATTINGLY: Arnold Spielberg, who had served as a radio man on a B-52 bomber, had filled his growing son's head with stories of World War II.

A. SPIELBERG: It makes me feel very, very proud of Steven, that he could take, with no war experience himself, and put together a story as powerful and strong and realistic as that movie is, a real credit to him.

MATTINGLY: And it was his father who Spielberg singled out when he won the Academy Award for Best Director.

ADLER: "Private Ryan" really is our -- Steve says, you know, "I've done this for Dad."

MATTINGLY: Now a devoted father himself, Spielberg and Capshaw brought along on Oscar night three of what had grown into a family of seven children.

SPIELBERG: I think the most important thing that I've gotten from the attention to my films, you know, is the fact that my kids respect me, and they're proud of me.

MATTINGLY: And when asked what his kids like the best, it's not the serious works, says Spielberg, but pure entertainment.

In 2001, DreamWorks, the entertainment studio led by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen let loose the computer-animated, "Shrek." A monster of a hit, it earned an estimated $42 million its first weekend.

And following quickly in the fairy tale's big footsteps comes another Spielberg hit, "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence." Spielberg developed the film with the late director, Stanley Kubrick. Spielberg, the consummate multitask champion, was editing "A.I." while shooting "Band of Brothers," a 10-part series on World War II for HBO.

Of course, in the middle of editing and taking meetings, real life can happen. Last spring Spielberg checked into a Los Angeles hospital and underwent surgery to remove one of his kidneys. An irregularity had been found during a routine physical examination. A spokesman for Spielberg said he was fine, and no follow-up treatment was needed.

Within weeks of his operation, he was once again receiving praise, this time the Vanguard Award from the NAACP.

Spielberg has said his most important agenda is to create tolerance. In April 2001, Spielberg announced he was leaving his post on the advisory board of the Boy Scouts of America. The filmmaker said he could no longer associate with a group that engages in discrimination, an apparent reference to Scouting's exclusion of gays.

Ironically, Spielberg's first film glory came when, at age 12, he showed his fellow Boy Scouts an 8-millimeter movie he had made.

SPIELBERG: My first real experience at some kind of, you know, you know, affirmation was, you know, 90 kids in a Boy Scout community screaming and yelling and clapping at something. And that feeling has not changed from the days I was in the Boy Scouts for that first little movie to, you know, to whatever I'm currently doing.

MATTINGLY: Steven Spielberg's own story has come full circle. The boy who felt like an alien growing up is now arguably the world's most successful filmmaker. But he's still not without worries.

SPIELBERG: I still have pretty much the same fears I had growing up. I've carried them with me right through my life, right until now. And I'm not sure I want to give those up, because I think a lot of those insecurities are fuel for the stories that I tell.

MATTINGLY: And as long as Steven Spielberg tells stories, the world will likely listen.


ZAHN: For his next project, Steven Spielberg returns to the small screen. He's developing an eight-part series for HBO about the life of King Arthur.

And that is it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us.


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