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Profiles of Condoleezza Rice, Kevin Spacey

Aired February 22, 2003 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: She graduated from high school at the age of 15.


PROF. COLT BLACKER, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: She's been a prodigy all her life.


ANNOUNCER: Music was her first calling, until she got pulled in another direction. From piano to politics, this tough college professor tutored a presidential pupil, and ended up in the White House as national security adviser.


IVO DAALDER, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: She lives and breathes that job.


ANNOUNCER: Now she's leading the charge against Saddam Hussein.


RICE: We can't afford to get back into cat-and-mouse games with the Iraqis.


ANNOUNCER: The story of President Bush's security policy guru, Condoleezza Rice, then...


KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: I'm running out of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: He's one of Hollywood's leading men who got to the top with unconventional style.


LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Kevin Spacey had to prove himself based on being just one hell of a good actor.


ANNOUNCER: A rambunctious youth who found his calling on stage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His parents wound up putting me in a military academy to help straighten him out.


ANNOUNCER: He made a name for himself on Broadway after tough times in the big city.


BRAD KOPENICK, FRIEND: I, one time, saw on the streets of New York with his dog and I don't think he could the dog a hamburger.

SPACEY: I quit!


ANNOUNCER: He opened himself up on screen with movies like "American Beauty." He wanted to keep his personal life closed.


SPACEY: The less that you, as an audience, know about me, the better I can do my job.


ANNOUNCER: Now, he's an enigmatic leading man in "The Life of David Gale," Oscar-winning actor, Kevin Spacey. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAUL ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. She's arguably the most powerful woman in the world and certainly, the most influential when it comes to the showdown with Iraq. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is one of President Bush's closest advisors. And she's now at the forefront of the president's charge to convince skeptical allies and anti-war demonstrators that Saddam Hussein must be disarmed soon and by force, if necessary. Here's Sharon Collins.


SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The name Condoleezza is derived from an Italian musical term that means "with sweetness." But when it comes to protecting the United States and its interests, there's nothing sugary about Condoleezza Rice.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm.

COLLINS: Leading the charge in the Bush Administration's case against Iraq, the national security advisor is characteristically direct and to the point.

RICE: This is a regime that cuts people's tongues out who protest. This is a regime that rapes and tortures, that has used chemical weapons against its own people and against its neighbors, that defies the United Nations and who's defied the United Nations for 12 years.

COLLINS: She was among the first to advocate pre-emptive strikes against Saddam Hussein.

RICE: I don't think anyone wants to wait for the 100 percent surety that he has a weapon of mass destruction that could reach the United States because the only time you may be 100 percent sure is when something lands on our territory. We can't afford to wait that way.

Good afternoon.

COLLINS: She is the first woman and second African-American to hold this critical job. The talk of her gender and race seems to be a distant memory.

DAALDER: She has shown that she can do the job of national security advisor. She is the national security adviser first. She's a woman and an African-American second and third.

COLLINS: In the early days of the administration, pundits wondered if she would be able to hold her own.

RICE: Thank you very much and I'm happy to take questions.

JULIA REED, "VOGUE" MAGAZINE: Well, she's going to be caught between Colin Powell and Rumsfeld and then you got Cheney, a pilot that, you know, was sort of a superhero from the last administration. You got these, like, you know, two tough white guys.

COLLINS: With two years under her belt, President Bush's 48- year-old foreign policy guru and confidante is proving she does not play second fiddle to anyone.

DAALDER: There will be issues discussed, from education to race policy and others, that normally would not be discussed between national security adviser and the president.

COLLINS: She is also a close personal friend, sharing a love of sports and similar sense of humor.

BUSH: Another member of my team who is here, who helps us have a strong and certain foreign policy is Senorita Condoleezza Rice. That means Rice.

REED: When she walks in a room, it's second only to when Laura walks in the room, because his body language is so relaxed with Condoleezza.

COLLINS: In 1954, when Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, it was difficult for anyone to imagine a young Black child growing up to be a confidant and adviser to the president of the United States of America, difficult for anyone except perhaps John and Angelina Rice.

CONNIE RICE, COUSIN: They wanted the world. They wanted Condoleezza to be free of any kind of shackles, mentally or physically, and they wanted her to own the world.

COLLINS: Both college educated, the Rice's did not want the mentality of the segregated south to seep into the psyche of their only child or any of the children in their neighborhood.

CONNIE RICE: John Rice was very involved with the children of Birmingham. He was like -- he created an entire village wherever he went. He was a wonderful man, just warm and caring and just determined that everybody around him would thrive.

COLLINS: Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, the president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, grew up in the Rice's neighborhood.

DR. FREEMAN HRABOWSKI, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALITMORE COUNTY: They were clearly working to protect us from all of the negative forces and perceptions from the outside world, from the world that was not Black.

CONNIE RICE: And they simply ignored, ignored, the larger culture that said you're second-class, you're Black, you don't count, you have no power.

COLLINS: But sometimes it was hard not to feel powerless, like in 1963 when four little girls from the neighborhood, including a kindergarten classmate of Condoleezza's, were killed in the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

CONNIE RICE: And that day, they had to figure out how to mute, how to do an end run around, how to blunt a really vicious system, and they did it through education.

COLLINS: Thanks to her mother, a music teacher, Condoleezza began playing the piano at age 3. From her father, also an educator, Condoleezza developed a passion for sports, and a love of learning. She even became a champion-level ice skater.

CONNIE RICE: And we had fun. It wasn't joyless, but there was -- it was just an unspoken edict, you succeeded and you did well in school, and once you start out that way, you don't know any different.

HRABOWSKI: People continued to say, you need to be twice as good as anybody else who doesn't look like you, because the world is not fair and you don't have time to be a victim, and you have to be the best.

BUSH: Ladies and gentleman, please welcome my dear friend, Dr. Condi Rice.

COLLINS: At the 2000 Republican National Convention, Condoleezza Rice talked about her family's long tradition of education and how it began with her grandfather.

RICE: He was the son of a farmer in rural Alabama, but he recognized the importance of education. Around 1918, he decided he was going to get book learning, and so he asked in the language of the day, where a colored man could go to college. He was told about Little Stillman College, a school about 50 miles away. So granddaddy saved up his cotton for tuition and he went off to Tuscaloosa.

COLLINS: In her own quest for book learning, Condoleezza Rice, after graduation from high school at the age of 15 enrolled at the University of Denver as a freshman. This was a major step. It was the first time she had attended an integrated school.

CONNIE RICE: Once you got out into the larger world and you were hit with the first messages from the dominant culture, which believe that you could not fly, and that in fact you were stupid and you shouldn't be able to achieve. By that time it's too late, because you've got a 14-year-old who believes that she can anything she wants to be, and it's too late to destroy her self-esteem.

COLLINS: In 1969, the 15-year-old, self-esteem intact, decided to major in music with dreams of becoming a concert pianist. She followed that plan right up until her junior year, when she took a class that dramatically changed the direction of her life.

When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Condoleezza Rice finds a new passion.





COLLINS (voice-over): On the rare occasion that she has free time, Condoleezza Rice challenges herself with Brahms and Beethoven. But as a music major at the University of Denver, she thought performing would be her life's work, not just a hobby.

Speaking at the Kennedy Center Honors last December, Rice admitted how the change of plans came about. RICE: I lacked virtuoso talent and I hated to practice. And I realized that if I continued with music, I was destined for a career not at Carnegie Hall, but in piano bars, or perhaps teaching 13-year- olds to murder Beethoven. So instead of studying Russian composers, I decided to study Russian generals.

COLLINS: In her junior year of college, Rice took a class taught by the father of future Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and discovered a new passion.

DAALDER: He instilled in her a love for international relations and a particular interest in then Soviet affairs.

COLLINS: Dr. Joseph Corbell was a Czechoslovakian immigrant who dedicated his life to studying Soviet and Eastern European politics. His enthusiasm for the subject rubbed off on Rice immediately. She changed her major to Political Science and immersed herself in the language, history, and culture of the Soviet Empire.

Upon graduating in 1973, Phi Beta Kappa, at the age of 19, Rice headed to Notre Dame to get her Master's. In 1981, Dr. Condoleezza Rice was scooped up by Stanford University as an assistant professor, teaching the politics of eastern and central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

BLACKER: Since Condi skipped a couple of grades and actually, I think the Ph.D. was conferred when she was either 25 or 26. She was like two or three years ahead of the pack. So she was very close in age even to the undergraduates.


COLLINS: Professor Rice was a hit. She even captured the Walter J. Gores Award, one of the highest teaching honors at Stanford. But it wasn't just the students and faculty who were impressed with Rice. One night, at a university dinner, she met Brent Scocroft, President Ford's national security adviser.

Rice made such an impression that years later, when he was again named national security adviser, this time for President George Bush, Scocroft appointed Rice as his Deputy Director of Soviet Affairs. She was 34 years old.

It was the beginning of Condoleezza Rice's Washington career, and the beginning of a lasting relationship with the Bush family. During her first stint at the White House, she grew close to the president and the First Lady.

The elder George Bush once told reporters that Rice was responsible for teaching him everything he knew about the Soviet Union.

DAALDER: Russian has been her passion for a very long time and you see her fingerprints on U.S. policy towards Russia, more than I would say on almost everything else. COLLINS: The two worked so well together that they maintained their friendship when Bush left office. After her first round in Washington, Rice went back to Stanford to resume teaching.

At 38, she was named second in command to the university president, making here the youngest, first female and first African provost in the university's history.

In 1998, her loyalty to the Republican Party would once again provide a curve in the winding road of her career. Her old boss, President Bush, invited her to the family ranch to talk with his son, then Governor of Texas.

This would be the first of many meetings, as well as the foundation of a great working relationship and a friendship. The brilliant young professor, former National Security Council staff member and university provost left her post at Stanford to join the presidential campaign of George W. Bush.

Officially, she was the coordinator of his foreign policy team. Unofficially, she was the candidate's personal tutor. Rice stuck with Bush in his quest to reach the White House, even through missteps like when he failed the infamous current events pop quiz sprung on him by a local news reporter.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you name the president of Chechnya?

BUSH: No, can you?

REED: It could have been kind of a tense situation. He could have been sort of embarrassed. It's a testament, I think, to the way she handled that and their resulting closeness after an experience like that, of what her -- you know, this sort of amazing capacity that she has to make everybody sort of feel at ease.

COLLINS: It was no surprise when the newly appointed president appointed 46-year-old Rice to a key position in his cabinet. But Washington insiders wondered if she was in over her head.

DAALDER: Early on, there was a sense that she was not necessarily the giant among giants. There were true foreign policy giants in the room, and she was not of the same caliber in the sense that she didn't share the kind of experiences that a Colin Powell, a Donald Rumsfeld, or a Dick Cheney had had.

COLLINS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, they young gun goes head-to-head with the big guns.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear...

BUSH: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear...

COLLINS (voice-over): The interminable 2000 election was finally settled and George W. Bush became the 43rd president of the Unites States.

BUSH: help me God.

COLLINS: The new president surrounded himself with familiar faces from his campaign, and veterans of past administrations, including his father's. Condoleezza Rice fell into both categories.

DAALDER: The president trusted her. The president relied on her. The president knew that what he knew on foreign policy he had been taught by Condoleezza Rice.

COLLINS: Earning her the title of national security advisor.

BUSH: Dr. Rice is not only a brilliant person. She is an experienced person. She is a good manager. I trust her judgment. America will find that she is a wise person.

COLLINS: The first woman to hold this powerful position, and one of the youngest at age 47, there was a different kind of spotlight on Rice from the very beginning.

DAALDER: She is a novel commodity. Here is a highly accomplished African-American woman being part of what is and has always been the Boy's Club.

COLLINS: She's been featured in a high fashion spread in "Vogue." "Glamour" Magazine wanted to know five things about her, and "Essence" Magazine dubbed her the most powerful woman in the world.

REED: And it's refreshing to see a woman with that kind of power, also care about how she looks.

COLLINS: But Rice has made sure she's out front on issues as well as appearances.

DAALDER: She's been on the Sunday morning talk shows. She has given major speeches.

COLLINS: Rice's fingerprints are all over the president's policy moves. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, she was the cabinet member seen at the president's side every day during briefings. And she stepped forward to help reassure the wounded country.

RICE: While there's no doubt that Americans need to be vigilant. They need to be patient about the security measures that are there at airports, at borders. We are in a very active campaign. The FBI has thousands of agents out hunting down the perpetrators of this crime.

COLLINS: And now, despite vocal opposition from the public and several key U.S. allies on the U.N. Security Council, she continues to back the president's stand on disarming Iraq.

RICE: It has aggressively tried to assassinate a former American president. It sits in the Middle East with a homicidal dictator there who has used weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons against his own people and against his neighbors.

COLLINS: Stationed just down the hall from the Oval Office, Rice's close proximity to the president, both literally and figuratively, has fueled speculation about infighting within the administration.

REED: She's got the president's ear. She's got the president's trust. I mean not to say that Rumsfeld and Powell don't. You've just got this direct line. It's just, you know, between Bush and Rice that they're the same generation, you know, and I think it really makes a difference. So, yes, of course, everybody at one point or another is going to sort of be jealous of her, I would think.

COLLINS: But she has taken it upon herself to dispel any notion that she's edging out Colin Powell.

RICE: Nobody should, by any means, be confused here. I'm not the secretary of state. The president doesn't need two secretaries of state. He's got a very fine one.

COLLINS: People close to Rice say her colleagues have nothing to worry about.

GERHARD CASPER, FORMER PRESIDENT, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Those who work with her can trust her completely. Condi will never stab anybody in the back.

CONNIE RICE: There's not a lot of self-aggrandizement, although there's a lot of a very strong sense of individuality, and there's a very strong will. She's a team player, and that's probably why President Bush has her on his team.

COLLINS: One thing that is not questioned is Rice's dedication to her job, and that's led some outsiders to wonder if the unmarried 47-year-old is all work and no play.

BLACKER: If Condi were a man, these questions would not be posed over and over and over again.

REED: I think people should be careful about giving the impression that she has just put everything on hold in her life to get where she is, because she has a rich, full life, full of very close friends and family.

BLACKER: I don't know too many people of Condi's stature politically in the policy world who find time to practice Chopin on Sunday afternoon, who find time to work out, who find time to call their friends and their family, go to sporting events, shop for shoes. I don't know anyone any better rounded than Condi Rice.

RICE: Thank you. Got to go. COLLINS: Her dream, when she leaves the service of her country, to become Commissioner of the National Football League. And if her track record is any indication, this child prodigy turned concert pianist and figure skater, turned university provost, turned national security advisor, will probably do it.


ZAHN: Despite opposition at the U.N. and worldwide protests to a war with Iraq, Condoleezza Rice says the Security Council will have to act sooner or later. And if it doesn't, Rice maintains that the U.S. coalition of what she calls the willing against Saddam Hussein.

ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, he's one of the top actors in Hollywood who was once upstaged by the unknown comic.


SPACEY: I actually auditioned for "The Gong Show" and I didn't get on the show. I was kind of pre-Gong.


ANNOUNCER: How Kevin Spacey became known to America, that's next.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Kevin Spacey likes to be mysterious...



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Tony and a resume that includes over 50 films. This leading man has proven he can wow audiences without a pretty face. Kevin Spacey has become one of Hollywood's hottest actors.

SPACEY: There's a lot of tension going on a lot of the time.

I'm running out of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, Spacey will try to make movie magic again, this time, a new genre. He leaves behind the disturbing and ventures into the political. He plays a death penalty opponent accused of rape and murder in the newly released, "The Life of David Gale."

SPACEY: I'm a murderer four days shy of his execution.

SIR ALAN PARKER, DIRECTOR: It's a more normal character than perhaps some of the more quirky characters that he's played. SPACEY: Miss Bloom, I used to be the state's leading death penalty abolitionist and now, I'm on death row. Doesn't that strike you as a little odd?

PARKER: Within that character, there is incredible complexity.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Active listening. I hate active listeners.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actress, Laura Linney, plays Spacey's alleged murder victim.

LAURA LINNEY, CO-STAR: It's always sort of fun when you're working with someone who is very famous because it takes a while for the ghost of who you think they are to sort of go away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the actor, who has become so famous for his on-screen roles, is barely known off screen. Spacey has fought to keep details of his personal life a secret.

SPACEY: Because I haven't been someone who's offered a great deal about my personal life, because then you sort of become open to speculation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he would become even more passionate about keeping his private life private after a painful experience with the press. The enigmatic Spacey says he was a shy guy from the beginning. He was born Kevin Spacey Fowler in New Jersey on July 26, 1959. One of three kids to mom, a secretary, and dad, a mostly out of work writer. When Kevin was three, they moved to Southern California in search of a better life.

LARRY SUTTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He dad did manual -- sort of aviation manuals. He was a technical writer. And the aviation industry was very big in California.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once in California, they moved constantly, to mostly lower income homes and apartments all over the San Fernando Valley, an area about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles.

KOPENICK: And his dad had, I think, some health problems and it was hard. Kevin definitely didn't come from much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The upheavals were difficult for Spacey. He became a troubled teenager.

SUTTON: At one point, as most brothers and sisters do, they got into a fight, an argument. And he decided to set fire to her tree house.

SPACEY: I went through like a really brief period of time where I was a bit rambunctious. And my dad just me and my brother to military school. I mean just, bang, he wouldn't have it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He attended Northridge Military Academy. But the strict school in the valley didn't help. Spacey got into more mischief.

SUTTON: It was during a boxing match that he was there, his temper got the better of him and they say he picked up a tire and threw it at a fellow student. And for that, he was expelled from the military academy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That expulsion turned into a mixed blessing for the 16-year-old. He transferred to Chatsworth High, a public school known for its good drama department.

SPACEY: I found sort of a theater class in school because the guidance counselor suggested that maybe I had a little excessive energy and maybe I could channel it into some more productive path.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That path led him to Chatsworth High drama teacher and mentor, Bob Carrelli.

BOB CARRELLI, FRIEND: He had teenage problems. He was able to transcend those problems by getting into other characters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spacey funneled his frustration and anger into acting. He soon took the lead in all his high school plays.

CARRELLI: There was a quality about Kevin that was unique. And there was something -- he had a maturity. He had a sensitivity. He had intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He perfected the role of Captain von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" and proved hilarious in "Unhealthy To Be Unpleasant." He never cracked under pressure.

CARRELLI: At the end of the play, he opens the desk drawer and the bomb goes off and it singed his hair, his eyebrows and his fake mustache. And we thought for a while that it may have killed him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spacey became obsessed with acting. By his junior year, he was diving into all facets of entertainment.

KOPENICK: He'd go straight home from school and write plays and set up his little manual typewriter. And he was writing scripts for a television show. We thought he was crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spacey was determined. The 17-year-old even took a stab at standup comedy.

ANNOUNCER: It's The Gong Show.

SPACEY: There was -- yes, there was. I actually auditioned for "The Gong Show" and I didn't get on the show. I was kind of pre-Gong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the gong didn't toll on Kevin's career. When we return, Spacey takes a chance of a lifetime, leaving home in search of fame. KOPENICK: He literally didn't have two cents together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And later, with fame comes controversy. Spacey's private life on the cover of a magazine.

SPACEY: My first response when I saw it was that it was high time to cancel my subscription.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the late 70's, Spacey had become a star in L.A. area high school theaters. But the city was full of teen idols, teens who's become breakfast club favorites like Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez.

KOPENICK: When our friends hit it around here in L.A., it was brat pack time and everybody was famous by the time they were 17.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spacey wanted to stand out of the pack. After graduating from high school, he headed east in search of a different audience. Before he hit Broadway, Spacey attended Manhattan's prestigious Julliard School, a suggestion from a high school friend, who later became a movie star himself.

SUTTON: Val Kilmer said, "You know, if you really want to be serious as an actor, you should go to Julliard." Kevin Spacey took that advice and went to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impatient to get on stage, Spacey dropped out of Julliard early but roles did not come quickly. He struggled for years.

KOPENICK: I, one time, saw him on the streets of New York with his dog. And I don't think he could buy the dog hamburger. He literally didn't have two cents to rub together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spacey even tried standup. He realized he had a gift for impressions. Later, he'd try some on prime time TV, Christopher Walken...

SPACEY: Yes, I saw the little thing you did on Saturday night. It was funny, you know, ha, ha.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and Marlon Brando.

SPACEY: Now, like Marlon, I should kiss you on the lips. It's like this wonderful experience that I've had with you tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Spacey's takeoffs of his celebrity friends didn't gel on stage. He realized he wasn't going to make it as a standup comic.

SPACEY: It's the hardest job in the world. And I just remember back at some incredible times and some of the worst times, you know, when you think it's going well, but then you realize that it's not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-two-year-old Spacey didn't give up though. He got a break when he hit off with a New York public theater producer.

SUTTON: He basically worked as the Xerox guy, the copy machine operator for Joe Papp. He also got him coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But those mundane tasks eventually led to small roles in New York Shakespeare Festival productions.

SPACEY: The first play I did out of Julliard was a production of Henry IV Part I in Central Park and I played like a spear carrier and a messenger.

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