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Whitney Houston's Funeral on Saturday; Interview with Ricky Gervais

Aired February 16, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, breaking news on Whitney Houston's investigation, her final days of partying and new details on her funeral. The stars who will be there for her final farewell. Larry Simpson was a close friend. He's shocked and grieving for a woman he says was like family.

VALERIE SIMPSON, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Some things really just knocked you off your feet. And this really did that for me. It's just not real.

MORGAN: Plus a primetime exclusive of the most dangerous man in comedy, Ricky Gervais, and the one thing that matters more to him than anything.

RICHARD GERVAIS, HOST, COMEDIAN: There's nothing I cherish more than my friends. But for that I'm allowed to squeeze their head, annoy them 24/7. Say awful things to them, torture them, send them around the world.

MORGAN: And tonight only in America. How do you put a price on Linsanity? One super Knicks fan wants to find out.


Good evening. Our big story tonight, new details on the Whitney Houston investigation and the latest on her funeral. Her ex-husband Bobby Brown will attend despite previous reports of fiction with Whitney's family. Kevin Costner, her co-star in "The Bodyguard," will break his silence at the funeral Saturday. The ceremony will also feature performances by Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, Whitney's godmother.

We'll have more on that in just a moment. And later, my primetime exclusive with the comedic scourge of Hollywood. Ricky Gervais on the price of fame.


GERVAIS: I think it was Oprah who said if you don't know who you are by the time you become famous, it will define you. And I think, you know, these things, these things don't command me. I'm in for the work. I love the work.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: We begin tonight with the latest on Whitney Houston investigation. Don Lemon has been all over this story from the very start.

Don, what's the latest tonight?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: We're learning the latest from a source that's close to the death investigation, Piers. And they are saying that investigators are aware that Whitney Houston was partying even the night before she died at venues in the hotel room, in the hotel, rather, and at other venues throughout the area.

Hotel personnel also confirmed, according to the source, that Whitney Houston was partying the night before she died. And investigators are saying they are looking at television video, footage of Whitney Houston to see what her behavior was like. They are also saying that they are looking for and have asked for surveillance video from the hotel. They won't confirm that that surveillance video exists. But they're saying they are looking at that as well because they want to know all of her activities and how she was acting the night before she died.

Also, the same source says that or confirms that Xanax was among the prescriptions found in Whitney Houston's hotel room -- Piers.

MORGAN: So she's apparently taking Xanax. We now know that according to the various reports you've been giving me, Don, over the last few nights, she was drinking on Wednesday morning, Thursday morning, Thursday night, we know she went to the club. Friday night now we hear she was drinking.

Whitney Houston has been on a -- virtually a weeklong bender here while taking these prescription drugs which say, don't mix with alcohol.

LEMON: Yes. It would appear, if you look at the video and according to the source reports and also to other guests who were in the hotel room, and even from her own friends, some of whom you've interviewed on your very show who say she was drinking and she was at that club. True.

Now what we do know is that she had a prescription for Xanax and her family members and her staff members confirmed she had the prescription. But they don't know, Piers, if she took it the day she died.

MORGAN: Yes. Yes, Don, it is always important to say, until we see the official reports here, this is speculation. But certainly, it's beginning to add up to a pretty grim picture of the last week of this radiant superstar's life and very sad as we hear it.

Let's move on to the funeral, Don, because you and I will be co- anchoring with Soledad O'Brien on Saturday. And big reports that Bobby Brown wasn't going to be invited by Whitney's family, now hearing that he is going to be invited. Is that right? LEMON: Yes. CNN Entertainment here at CNN has confirmed that Bobby Brown will be at the memorial service. You know, Piers, he was on tour, the reunion tour from his old group, New Edition. He's going to perform with them, then he's going to go away, go to the funeral, and then go back to them and perform that very night after the memorial service. So yes, he is going to the funeral.

MORGAN: And also reports, Don, that Whitney will be buried in Fairview Cemetery. Now the significance of that, it's the New Jersey cemetery where her own father was buried.

LEMON: Absolutely. And that is what's on the death certificate. We haven't confirmed with the family. The family won't say. But if you look at the official death certificate for Whitney Houston, it says she's going to be buried in that cemetery where her father is buried. And most likely, that's where the family plot is and that's where she will be laid to rest.

MORGAN: And the family, Don, have also slightly opened up the occasion. They're now going to allow live streaming from the funeral service on the Internet. Television cameras are also being allowed in. So it is becoming slowly more public possibly as a result of so many fans wanting to share in this -- what will obviously be a hugely emotional occasion.

LEMON: Absolutely. And you know many fans, as you know from social media, they have been upset because they felt that they were in some way being deprived of being able to say good-bye to Whitney Houston. But it's going to be a star-studded affair. As you know a lot of Whitney's friends, who happen to be big stars in the entertainment business will be there and taking part in that memorial and saying good-bye to Whitney Houston, Piers.

MORGAN: Yes, it will be a remarkable event.

Don, as always, thank you very much. You've done some terrific reporting on this. And I'm sure it will carry on with lots of twists and turns yet. Thank you.

LEMON: All right.

MORGAN: I want to bring in a woman who knew Whitney Houston so well she called her family. Singer, songwriter Valerie Simpson. Take a look at this video of her singing the Ashford-Simpson hit, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" with Whitney, Al Jarreau, and the late Nick Ashford in 1986.


MORGAN: And there were times great records. And joining me now is Valerie Simpson.

You've had a rough time, Valerie. And I was a huge fan of yours and Nick's obviously. And he died a few months ago. Now Whitney, another great long-time friend of yours. How did you feel when you heard that Whitney had died, I mean, given everything we know about her lifestyle in the last few years?

SIMPSON: Well, I was in California. This was my first weekend. I was there. Actually on an ice cap weekend to someone aboard, but I was -- I told myself, I'm going to enjoy this weekend and go to the parties. This will be like a coming-out for me, put myself back in the music business again. And so I was going to go to Clive's party. And I went to Music Cares and I was going to go to the Grammys. And I was sitting in my hotel room when I got the call and they said turn on CNN.

And I -- I was just dumbfounded. I could not believe what I was seeing. Some things really just knock you off your feet. And this really did that for me. It's just not real.

MORGAN: Were you shocked? And the reason I ask that is that people close to Whitney clearly were aware that she's had a lot of issues in her life in the last decade.

SIMPSON: As we all have.

MORGAN: Of course. As many people have rightly pointed out. I just wonder how shocking it was to people that ho knew her well?

SIMPSON: Very. Totally. I mean, we felt like she was in a pretty good place right now. And I was -- so looking forward to seeing her because I hadn't seen her since my husband died. And I really wanted to touch bases and to hear this, it was just, no, it can't be. You know. Just completely threw me. Completely.

MORGAN: Of all the things that you've heard this week about Whitney, it's just been wall-to-wall coverage. Of everything you've heard, what do you think are the biggest misconceptions about her from what you knew about her?

SIMPSON: Well, you know, the thing that bothers me the most, I feel, is that where is the grace? Where is the waiting to find out exactly what happened? Why are we in such a rush to print things before we know? The coroners haven't spoken yet.

Out of respect to her mom and her daughter, I just don't understand why this shouldn't be a hush. You know, is it just -- you tell me. Do they just have to fill papers? What is it?

MORGAN: Look, I think it's not just papers, it's magazines, it's television networks, I mean CNN like everybody else has been doing a lot of coverage of this. And there's no doubt that there's a huge public and interest and appetite for information about what happened. Because Whitney in the end --

SIMPSON: But we don't need falsities. We don't --

MORGAN: No falsities, I agree. I think -- I think I suppose what it is is some people feel there wasn't an inevitability about what happened to Whitney because she had been battling these demons with drugs and alcohol and prescription drugs for so long. Prescription drugs and alcohol can be a lethal cocktail. And I think that is a valid part of this. But I -- you know, I take your point. I think if I was a friend of Whitney Houston's or a member of her family grieving for my loss, it must be unbearable, the scrutiny that's now going on. Have you spoken to any of the family?

SIMPSON: I have. I -- you know, I choose to -- I spoke to her mom.

MORGAN: How is she? Obviously grief stricken.

SIMPSON: There are no -- there are now words, you know, and we will come together as parents who know something about something. You know, later on, after the services, but I mean -- I mean I don't feel like she -- if she had a glass of champagne or something, I don't think that she thought that this is going to hurt me, you know? Because earlier I might have taken some -- a pill.

MORGAN: Do you think it's as simple as that?

SIMPSON: Well, I'm -- all I'm saying is we don't know.

MORGAN: No, it's a fair point. We don't know the facts.

SIMPSON: We don't know. We really don't know. So I just feel like it wouldn't hurt for people just to give it a little bit of time. There's no need to just come up and make up some stuff, you know, until you hear what the coroner has to say.

MORGAN: The family obviously have opted to not have a public memorial like Michael Jackson's family chose to do. What did you feel about that decision? Do the fans have a right to be part of this or do you think it was the sensible thing to do?

SIMPSON: Well, I think Whitney Houston came from the church. Her mother has every right to want to do this in a way that will give her a closure, some dignity to it. You know when things are huge like that, they -- can become almost circusy. So I think that's what she was afraid of. And she wanted to have her time.

I mean they gave us, you know, Whitney Houston for a long time. So I respect whatever her wish is, whatever will make it a little easier for her to bear, I'm in complete accordance with because, you know, it's a hard, hard thing. She's got a daughter almost 18 years old. I mean this is devastating.

MORGAN: Valerie, when we come back, we're going to talk about one of Whitney's biggest hits, a song that you wrote, "I'm Every Woman."


MORGAN: Whitney Houston's 1992 iconic hit, "I'm Every Woman." And Valerie Simpson, you wrote that song.

SIMPSON: With my husband.

MORGAN: With your late husband, Nick Ashford. SIMPSON: Yes.

MORGAN: Very sadly died last -- six months ago?


MORGAN: And 46 years, I think, I've read that you wrote together, is that right?

SIMPSON: No. No. Well, we were married 36, 36 and nine is --

MORGAN: Not far off, 45. I'm on year out.



MORGAN: An amazing union that you had though.


MORGAN: Both personally and professionally.

SIMPSON: Absolutely. Great guy.

MORGAN: You were saying that Cissy Houston, Whitney's mother came to Nick's funeral.


MORGAN: And you are going to -- obviously going to her daughter's funeral.


MORGAN: Very, very tough time for all of you.

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

MORGAN: To be involved with this.

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

MORGAN: How much does the power of prayer help the Houstons? Because it's going to be back at the gospel church where she first sang. But I'd imagine it right now (INAUDIBLE) to them.

SIMPSON: There are people around this country right now praying for Cissy Houston. And that's what's holding her up because she really, literally, if she's anything feeling like I was feeling, you feel like you want to fall down. And it's only the prayers that are holding you together, making you go forward. You know you do what you have to do. But it's really the collective prayer of all of her friends and all of the fans even who will keep her going, keep her sane. You know, you really want to concentrate on what you have to do. And that's what we're are doing for her right now. We are holding her in our thoughts, prayers and arms, as I told her. In our thoughts, in our prayers, in our arms, as I told her. She's all in my arms right now. And that's what's going to carry her through.

MORGAN: It will be a very emotional day.

SIMPSON: Oh, yes.

MORGAN: On Saturday. I'm part of the CNN team that will be co- anchoring it. And you know, when you see that Kevin Costner is going to be speaking for the first time. You're going to have Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder singing apparently. I mean it's going to be an extraordinary occasion.

And I think it reflects accurately Whitney's status as a singer. I mean Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, very keen to say, I'm going to lower the flags. I'm going to salute her genius as a musician. And he put her up there with (INAUDIBLE) Macy, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen.

SIMPSON: How cool is that.

MORGAN: As one of the four great musicians come out of there. Do you think it's the right thing to do?

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

MORGAN: You think that's --

SIMPSON: Some people, you know, might find fault with that idea, you know, and want to bring in her personal trials and tribulations which have nothing to do with her artistry and her gift to the world. That is -- that is her record, not her personal trials. Her record is her music, that incredible voice.

MORGAN: When you -- when you wrote, "I'm Every Woman," and then you heard her sing it, has there ever been any singer that you've ever heard who could have sung it better than Whitney Houston?

SIMPSON: You're in dangerous territory now because the song was actually written for Chaka Khan.

MORGAN: I know.

SIMPSON: So therefore Chaka was my buddy and she sang it very -- she sang it heavenly. You know it's like a writer's dream to go from a Chaka Khan to Whitney Houston.

MORGAN: Here's what I'm getting at, a lot of people like Tony Bennett, Tom Jones and others, have come out and said definitively to them, Whitney at her best was the best voice they've ever heard.

SIMPSON: Well, Whitney's voice is a voice that you almost ask any good and great singer, you know, if you could have another voice, what voice would it be? And I would certainly pick hers. Because it would -- it had everything. It was elastic. It had meaning. It had range. It had soul. It had pop sensibility.

An ability to interpret a lyric in a way that made you feel it, you know? A lot of singers can sing and have a lot of stuff going on and do a lot of tricks. She did flat-footed singing. She could stand flat foot and sing.

MORGAN: I love that. Flat-footed singing.

SIMPSON: Yes. Put -- cause the hairs on your arms to raise up because you could feel it. You know? It was emotional, yes.

MORGAN: Obviously when people look back at her singing, they see this incredible range of songs. How would you think that she would like her legacy to be in terms of the music?

SIMPSON: I think she will be -- you know, it's interesting. During this time, we get to hear so much Whitney coming at us at once.

MORGAN: Yes. Yes.

SIMPSON: And then we say, ahh. Now I remember the greatness. Now I see it. Now I hear it. And again, it's like it's happening all over again. And hundreds of years from now, that will still sound the same because it's great.

MORGAN: Does any part of you, as someone that knew her well, do you feel -- not angry is not the right word, but do you feel very frustrated that everyone is celebrating Whitney now and yet for the last 10 years of her life, you know, they didn't really care that much. If they had done it, it may have made a difference to her life.

SIMPSON: Well, that's the musical sensibility of our world. But I will give credit to Clive Davis who always held her at the -- at the forefront. She was always number one with him whether she had a number one hit or not. And because he is such a musical icon himself, his recognition of her made others recognize that, you know, he still felt there was something that she would be able to do musically. And I applaud -- in fact, I'm going to write him a letter because I really --

MORGAN: I had him on the show the other night before.

SIMPSON: Really?

MORGAN: By pure chance.

SIMPSON: My goodness.

MORGAN: First time I'd ever interviewed him, literally hours before Whitney died. And he's with Jennifer Hudson, we talked about Whitney at length and you could tell the devotion that he had to her.

SIMPSON: There's nobody I can think of that has -- you know, stayed with a career artist through everything. MORGAN: You went to Clive's party, obviously hugely difficult decision you had to take within an hour of Whitney dying, whether to go ahead with this event or not, Chaka, when she came on, was pretty scathing about it. She didn't go. She's like it's inappropriate. Whitney's body was on the fourth floor upstairs as people were partying below. You did go.


MORGAN: Was it a hard decision and when you got there what was it actually like in the room?

SIMPSON: Well, it was a very -- I can appreciate Chaka's feelings and I respect that. But for me, it was the right thing to do because I was alone in a hotel room and I just heard about Whitney's passing. And it was either stay there, I mean, cry all night, or try to get amongst a community of musicians and friends who loved her and share a collective grief and that's what we did.

We told Whitney Houston stories. I mean he was very -- Clive was very -- very much, how do you say? I don't know how he got through it. Because I know what she meant. But he was moved but he felt the need to carry on. And he celebrated her in a very dignified way. And I was pleased that the people who celebrate, everybody that got up said something about Whitney Houston.

Because it -- you know, it felt like that was why we were all there. The party had become something else.

MORGAN: How will you remember?

SIMPSON: I will remember a young woman who always had a bright smile, brought joy to my life. Through personal times, you know, of us being together. I mean, Quincy Jones always says, that, you know, I told him he should sign her when she was 16. He let her get away. And we always had that chuckle. And she's just someone who was a light in my life.

And I'm grateful for the time I had with her and the fun. I mean because we had some good fun. You know, we went, we went together up to Barbra Streisand's house and watched her sing. And with Quincy and my husband, and she'd come to Connecticut and -- for my husband's birthday. She'd sit at the piano and I'd play. And she sang "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing." And that's -- you know what, you're living good times and you don't even know it sometimes.

These were the times of our lives. And so I've had some of the greatest times of my life with Whitney Houston.

MORGAN: Valerie Simpson, thank you very much for coming.

SIMPSON: Thank you.

MORGAN: And a pleasure to meet you.

SIMPSON: Thank you. MORGAN: Coming up, my primetime exclusive with Ricky Gervais. Look out, Hollywood, he's back and he's taking, as usual, no prisoners.



GERVAIS: Sorry. Have I done something to offend you?

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: What do you mean, like trashing me in front of, like, 200 million people at the Golden Globes?

GERVAIS: That was a while ago. They were jokes, Johnny. I didn't --

DEPP: They were jokes? Yes. You like jokes?


DEPP: Good. Because I actually got together with a few pals after the awards and we wrote some jokes about you. And I want you to know this. I want you to carry this with you for the rest of your days. No one makes fun of Tim Allen on my watch.


MORGAN: That was a clip from "Life's Too Short." Ricky Gervais' third sitcom.

You're starring, writing, directing, it's been called the love child of "The Office" and "Extras."

Welcome back, Ricky. And congratulations.

GERVAIS: Yes. I thought I've nailed the two things I have done.


MORGAN: And the common theme is discomfort. Isn't it?

GERVAIS: That's followed me around. The comedy of discomfort. I do -- I sort of do deal in excruciating social faux pas. And my new show I have human behavior, because that's -- because I think that affects anyone. You know, if you're in a society where, you know, your first-born isn't dying, you're not being shot at, what's the worst thing that happens to us? A bit of bad service or embarrassment.

I think John Cleese said that an Englishman tries to get to his grave having never been embarrassed. And it's fundamental. So, yes, I do deal with that, yes. Because, you know, you write about what you know, you know? And that's it -- and I love the tiny things in life, you know, those little things that affect everyone.

MORGAN: What do you feel about the whole Whitney Houston story? The reason I ask you is I can imagine that --

GERVAIS: I was going to ask why you ask me?

MORGAN: Well, because for a very long time you would never have imagined being in Hollywood. And now you are a bona fide A superstar who comes to Hollywood, does movies and so on and so on.

What is the reality of Hollywood excess, the type that we've seen that caused the death of Whitney Houston?

GERVAIS: Well, I don't know about that. You know, I'm in my pajamas by 6:00, after I've worked out and --

MORGAN: I'm going to come to this.

GERVAIS: I like a glass of wine. But I don't really mix in those circles. The people I know in Hollywood are usually sort of writers and directors and showrunners and producers. You know, I'm not -- I came to this business when I was nearly 40. You know, I'm 50 now, and I'm not --

MORGAN: Is that -- is that the trick? Is it to not be famous too early?

GERVAIS: Well, I think so. And that wasn't intentional, neither way I didn't hold back, saying, hold it, I'm going to be famous when I'm 38, hold on. And I was never trying to be famous. And I feared it. I feared it.

MORGAN: Is it a lot easier, is my point, to be older and become famous?

GERVAIS: Well, I think so. I think yes, because I think it was Oprah who said if you don't know who you are by the time you become famous, it will define you. And I think, you know, these things -- these things don't -- I mean I'm in it for the work. I love the work. You know I -- everyone knows that we get paid very well. You know, nice reviews are good, awards are great. But it's the work. It's the I can't believe my luck that I get up in the morning, have an idea, and I can start writing that idea and it will get made at the moment, you know?

MORGAN: What I can't believe is the way you look, because we all fell in love back in Britain with fat, chubby Ricky. The guy --

GERVAIS: I wasn't that fat.

MORGAN: You were pretty fat.


MORGAN: And you drink a lot of beer.

GERVAIS: You didn't tell me then, though, did you?

MORGAN: No, I didn't. GERVAIS: People come up to me and say, you look fantastic. You just mean I looked terrible before, but you wouldn't -- you should've said then, I'd have worked out faster.


GERVAIS: I had to find out for myself. I keep throwing these trousers away, another pair of shrunk jeans, right? And then I --

MORGAN: You were the standard-bearer for the beer-swilling, fish n' chip-eating bigger guy.

GERVAIS: Well, I still do that. But I --

MORGAN: But look at you, you --

GERVAIS: But I discovered working out.

MORGAN: How much weight have you lost?

GERVAIS: Not much at all. I think about 25 pounds. But --

MORGAN: But that's quite a lot.

GERVAIS: -- I've done it by working out. I -- I still eat too much. I still drink too much. But the next day, I punish myself in the gym. I work out like Rocky. And then I feel great. You know, it makes you feel better, genuinely, you know, that's --

MORGAN: Even you teeth look gleaming.

GERVAIS: I haven't had them done.

MORGAN: Anything to them? Hollywood smiling?

GERVAIS: I got some free -- those things in a luxury lounge once, those -- I thought those made me gag. But I brush them.

MORGAN: What made you --

GERVAIS: I've always been clean.

MORGAN: Hold on.


GERVAIS: Suddenly I'm fat and disgusting who didn't clean my teeth. You're re-writing history here. I had a few pounds, yes. And the beard helps. That gives an illusion of -- I wear black, I still do that.

MORGAN: What made you go on this vanity kick?

GERVAIS: It wasn't a vanity kick. It was a health kick. I'll tell you, the truth was it was Christmas. I was 48 a couple of Christmases ago. And I had 11 sausages. And I sat there feeling ill. The number of times I've said, Jane, I'm having a heart attack"


GERVAIS: I'm having a heart attack. And I thought, you know what? Life is good. And I don't want to blow it. I don't want to go, "Hold on. Just -- what?" So --

MORGAN: And by the way, it wasn't just me, because the -- this dashing feature in "Men's Health" magazine, the feature we never thought we'd see of you, as this immaculate kickboxing Gervais --


MORGAN: -- it says, "How Ricky Gervais totally lost it," which is an encouraging headline, until I read on. "He went from barely employed chubby loser to bad-ass comedic auteur. His next act, losing the gut and gaining respect."


GERVAIS: Yes. That's good, isn't it?


GERVAIS: I -- I'm glad I lived this long to get to "comedic auteur," because otherwise, it would just be --

MORGAN: Where would you be without that?

GERVAIS: -- "The death of a fight-useless chubby loser with -- who never cleans his teeth and stinks. Ricky Gervais died today at the age of 48 through sausages. Death by sausage."

That's a prison term. What? Cut that.

MORGAN: Do get more --


MORGAN: Do you get more groupies now?

GERVAIS: I don't -- never got groupies.

MORGAN: Really?

GERVAIS: No. Well, I've been with my girlfriend for 30 years.

MORGAN: That doesn't stop groupies.

GERVAIS: The ones I say, "I'm having a heart attack," OK?


MORGAN: Does she prefer you as a -- as a -- what was it? A svelte comedic auteur or as a chubby loser? GERVAIS: I --

MORGAN: She's been with both.

GERVAIS: I think she loves me for both. Don't forget, when she met me, I wasn't a chubby loser. I was about ten stone. And also, I used to do judo, karate, boxing -- you know, every day, I was so fit. And then I hit 30 and got a job.


GERVAIS: And went to the bar afterwards. And that's what does it. And it's so easy, it's so gradual. I just got heavier and heavier, I'd say, through my 30s and 40s, until you go, "When did that happen?" Because I used to -- you say, "Well, that'll never happen to me" when you're --

MORGAN: It's perfectly true.

GERVAIS: I know, yes. And it does, it's so easy. But it's easy to lose it, as well. I found it remarkably -- I haven't given anything up, which I'd prefer to do. I couldn't diet. I couldn't do that. I can't give up my cheese and wine. But I can, luckily, because I'm self-employed and I've got my own gym -- I've got no excuse.


GERVAIS: I've got no excuse. I hear you've got trainers as well. Your producer just told me.

MORGAN: Yes, yes.


MORGAN: He doesn't like me advertising it, because he doesn't think that I'm --



MORGAN: -- I'm good for his brand.



MORGAN: Let's take another break, then come back and talk about Twitter. Because you love Twitter as much as I do.


MORGAN: And I like your work.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The funniest show in the history of television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was funny --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love this show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't call it the funniest show in the history of television.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would. I would laugh. This show was hilarious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt about it, funny show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, hilarious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: History of television?

GERVAIS: "Seinfeld," lovely show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, thank you. It was good. There was good, yes --

GERVAIS: I love -- oh, no, I love broad comedy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will treasure this, Ricky.

GERVAIS: I love the laugh track on it, it's to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So happy he's here.

GERVAIS: -- remind you when to laugh.



GERVAIS: We didn't do one.


MORGAN: Ricky Gervais on the HBO hit, "Curb Your Enthusiasm." A classic, classic, comedy.

GERVAIS: Highlight of my career. That's a --

MORGAN: Had to be.

GERVAIS: Honestly. I've had a few. I've been very lucky with the things I've been asked to do, from "The Simpsons" and -- but that was an absolute joy.

And it made me realize why people come and do "Extras" and "Life's Too Short" with me, because when you play a twisted version of yourself, you suddenly find out that the worse you make yourself, people go, "Well, he can't be that bad."


GERVAIS: So you really go for it, really to make it obvious. Yes.

MORGAN: Let's talk about Twitter, because you came late to the game. Even later than me.

GERVAIS: At everything.

MORGAN: And you've become equally obsessive. You love Twitter, don't you?


MORGAN: Why do you like it so much?

GERVAIS: I like it for lots of reasons. I like it because it's the whole of humanity in your pocket. You know, it's the best and worst of the world on Twitter. There are some brilliant people out there, and there are some people that shouldn't be allowed sharp objects.


GERVAIS: OK? And I treasure them both.

MORGAN: Well, you -- you talking of sharp objects -- you Tweeted this picture of yourself to say "On my way to Piers Morgan at CNN, I think I'll fit in well." What were you getting at?

GERVAIS: Well, you know, as a comedian --

MORGAN: And you'd better think quickly, here --

GERVAIS: Well, no, no --

MORGAN: -- what were you getting at? What do you mean --

GERVAIS: I -- I --

MORGAN: -- you'd fit in well looking like that?

GERVAIS: Well, I thought I looked intellectual there --


GERVAIS: -- and CNN is obviously the home of intellectuals. And so, I was hoping that I'd have a go. But yes --

MORGAN: You get very intense on Twitter. I mean, you get into proper battles with people.

GERVAIS: Yes. Yes, I do.

MORGAN: Why do you take it so --

GERVAIS: But -- but -- it looks like that, but at home, I'm smiling.

MORGAN: Are you? Always?

GERVAIS: Of course. Well, when someone's arguing with me that the Earth is 5,000 years old --


GERVAIS: -- yes, I'm smiling. Yes. Of course I'm smiling. The fundamentalist view of the -- the creation of the Earth is rather like an episode of "The Flintstones." So I have to laugh at those sorts of things.

MORGAN: How does your -- how does your atheism, which you're passionate about -- how does that play with your American audience, given that so many people in America are God-fearing people, and probably take exception to it?

GERVAIS: Well, but they shouldn't. We talked about this last time. Why should they take offense that I don't believe in their God or any other God? And I'd say to them, "Tell me the reasons why you don't believe in all the other gods, and that's the reason I don't believe in yours."

And I've got nothing against people believing in God at all. In fact, if it did make you a kinder person, if you only did good things in his name, then great. But there's the rub.

It's when I see some of these religious fundamentalists saying that they've told their five-year-old children that if they turn out gay, they will burn in hell. That to me is child abuse. That's nothing to do with religion or spirituality. That's child abuse.

So that's why I'm passionate when it comes to that.

MORGAN: What do you think of the Republican nomination race, given that some of the candidates clearly position themselves quite deliberately to say anti-gay marriage, all that kind of thing, based on their religious beliefs.

GERVAIS: Well, with this, we're back to offense, aren't we? Just because they're offended by someone being gay, it doesn't mean they're right. It's a strange thing that -- that gay -- being gay is a choice. No, being gay isn't a choice, you know?

I want to go, "Look, you try it, then. If it's a choice, have a go."

(LAUGHTER) GERVAIS: "See how much you like it."

MORGAN: As someone who's come to America and been the personification of the kind of classic old American dream of -- you know, they take anybody from anywhere --


MORGAN: -- and anyone can make it big here.


MORGAN: They don't really care what else you've done anywhere else, it's like --

GERVAIS: I came fat with terrible teeth --

MORGAN: You were the chubby loser --


MORGAN: And now look at you.

GERVAIS: Bring us your huddled masses.

MORGAN: Exactly.


GERVAIS: Yes. Yes. "Look at him, he's huddled."


GERVAIS: But no, no. It -- America's fantastic. It is the land of opportunity. And there's bits of both cultures that I love and hate. And -- and the wonderful thing about being between England and America, they are both land of freedom.

And criticize them all you want, but know that you're in a place that allows you to criticize it. And that's -- and that's lucky. And that's great. And that should be cherished.

And freedom of speech for me is one of the most important things that -- discovered. And I would fight for the right of it.

And even though I don't believe in God and I don't believe -- unlike most religions, I treat all religions the same. I think they're all wrong, not morally wrong, but I don't think there is or could be a God.

But if someone said "We're banning religion," I'd march to not have it banned. Because it's your right to believe what you want. And it's your right to be wrong. And I'll fight for that right.

MORGAN: Let's take another break, and come back, and I want to play you what Steve Carell said about you in an interview that hasn't aired yet. Just because it might unsettle you for the next couple of minutes.

GERVAIS: Can I have it cut? Can I have it censored if I don't like it? I'm that powerful.

MORGAN: I just want to unsettle you.

GERVAIS: I own that man.

MORGAN: He has strong views.





TARAN KILLAM AS PIERS MORGAN, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: What do you mean? I'm Piers Morgan, and do be fooled by my British accent, because it's all I've got.


KILLAM: Tonight, we examine the controversy surrounding this year's Super Bowl halftime show. Joining me first is the woman at the center of that controversy, Sri Lankan hip hop artist, MIA.




MORGAN: That was my eagerly-awaited debut on "Saturday Night Live" last week. I mean, Ricky, I don't know about you, but I just thought that accent was shocking.

GERVAIS: I'm glad he said he was doing.

MORGAN: As they said. Everyone said to me, "Well done, mate. Badge of honor that you've been humiliated on America's -- "

GERVAIS: Well, exactly.

MORGAN: " -- number one comedy."

GERVAIS: No, I know. It is -- it's very flattering, and I think you're probably fine. Because we're British, we might see the differences. But to America, that probably does sound pretty spot on.


MORGAN: He had me going, "Wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit, wit."

GERVAIS: They just do that, now.

MORGAN: I don't do that.


MORGAN: Do I do that?

GERVAIS: I don't think so. I think -- at least -- at least they took the Mickey out of things that aren't that bad.

MORGAN: Should we play you what Steve Carell said about you?

GERVAIS: Yes, please.

MORGAN: Because I rather enjoy the fact that you're slight uncomfortable, because you have no idea what he said.

GERVAIS: He's a lovely man. I can't believe he'd say anything bad about me.

MORGAN: Interesting. He didn't feel the same way. Let's play this.


MORGAN: Could you do what Ricky does?

STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: Oh, not in a million years, no.


CARELL: I think I would just get too skittish. I -- I'm --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you could play a Ricky Gervais character?

CARELL: Perhaps, but to actually go in front of people and --

MORGAN: And offend them to their faces.

CARELL: I don't think I -- I necessarily -- it doesn't mean that I'm a better person, it just means that I certainly don't have that kind of guts.

He -- it's funny. He always makes fun of me. Always. And he -- he's also -- in a personal way very sweet to me. Like, before one of these awards shows, he pulled me aside and said, "Hey, I've got a few things that I wanted to go after you with, is that OK?"

And I'm like, "Of course." And so, he's -- there is a side -- there is a gentler side to him that people don't necessarily see.


MORGAN: So you're --

GERVAIS: Wow! MORGAN: -- you're all heart, aren't you?

GERVAIS: That's right. No, that's lovely. He's such a lovely man, though.

MORGAN: But he thinks you're sweet because -- just to clarify -- you go up to him before an awards ceremony and say, I'm going to call you a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in a minute, just to warn you.

GERVAIS: I told him what I was going to say. You know, if I have access to them, I'd warn everyone. You know, as I said, I don't want you to have a bad day. You know, it's not --


GERVAIS: -- it's not -- I've got nothing against people.

MORGAN: Do you like Steve Carrell?

GERVAIS: He's great. He's fantastic. He's not only brilliant, but he's one of the loveliest people in Hollywood, untouched by it, family man, nice, honest, hardest working guy. I mean, I don't know how he does it.

Yes, I've got nothing but good to say about him.

MORGAN: He's got -- as I said to him, he's got one of -- it's a great interview and we're going to run it very soon. But he's got one of those heads that's just funny.

GERVAIS: He's good, because you know why?

He's got -- he's nearly handsome.


GERVAIS: He's got that -- he's -- he's got --


GERVAIS: -- he's -- he's like Bob Hope. If you look at him, he's chiseled, he's great. But he's got something -- he's got beady eyes. He's good. I like him. I like --

And that was a compliment, by the way.


GERVAIS: He's very handsome. I mean, he's comedically handsome. He's not imposing. He's not -- he's not bland. He's -- why are we going on about how good-looking Steve Carrell is?


GERVAIS: What -- what am I, chopped liver?


MORGAN: Let's talk about love.


MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love in your life?

GERVAIS: What, with -- romantic love?

MORGAN: I'm assuming women.

GERVAIS: Yes. I meant as opposed to family and kittens.

MORGAN: Yes. Yes. Proper romantic love.

GERVAIS: Yes, well, I'd say this one.


GERVAIS: Once. Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: And you've been with the same woman 30 years.


MORGAN: She's a lovely, smart, attractive --

GERVAIS: Here we go --

MORGAN: -- long-suffering woman.

GERVAIS: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: Why haven't you married her yet?

GERVAIS: Well, we are, really. We are.

MORGAN: And yet you're not.

GERVAIS: Well, I mean we've -- we've -- you know, we share everything.

MORGAN: Do you think you ever will?

GERVAIS: Oh, I'd never say never. There's no reason we're not getting married other than there's no point at the moment. There might be one day, but it's not -- it's not a -- I'm not digging my heels in going we can never get married for any reason. We just -- there's -- there's no point.

You know, we don't want our families to meet. That's the thing.


MORGAN: How do you show your romantic side? GERVAIS: I don't know.

Should it be -- is there a definition? I think I -- I am a romantic.

I think -- I think I'm very romantic. I mean the fact that we have been together for 30 years. We -- we're soul mates. No one knows as much about me. No one loves me as much. And that's mutual. I -- I don't think you get more romantic than that.

And I -- I think -- I think buying someone a card once a year is irrelevant. It doesn't do it for me. That's not romance. That's -- that's a tick on a calendar. It does -- it's nothing.

You know, we've -- we like each other's company. And we don't like anyone better.

MORGAN: You've had this amazing career path, amazing, in many ways.

If I was to have the power to relive for you one moment -- this is not personal. It would be professional, really -- a moment in your life, what would it be?

GERVAIS: There's loads of things whizzing through my head, but they're all from childhood.

MORGAN: Like what?

GERVAIS: I just remembered one. My brothers and sisters are a lot older than me by -- the next one is 11 years old, then 13, then 15. And I remember I was 12. I was eating my Corn Flakes.

And I said to my mom, I said, mom, why are all my brothers and sisters so much older than me?

She went, because you were a mistake.


GERVAIS: I just laughed. I went cheers. I love honesty growing up. There's little things like that that I sometimes just --

MORGAN: Those little magical moments.

GERVAIS: This is great, isn't it?

It's so sweet. It's so sweet.

I remember when I went to do -- I went to -- I was -- I was good academically at school. I -- I did sciences. And I went to college to do -- to do biology. And after a couple of weeks, I changed to philosophy.

And I came back that Christmas and my mom had got me a book on biology. So sweet. And I went, oh, I'm not doing biology anymore. I'm doing philosophy.

She went, what good is that?

I said, well, it doesn't matter, because I'm going to be a pop star, right?

She went, pop star is another word for junkie, right?

And I told her what the advance was and she went, Mick Jagger bought his mum a house in Wales.


MORGAN: Ricky, it's been a pleasure, as always.

You fly the flag brilliantly for my little country.

GERVAIS: Thank you.

MORGAN: And it's a great joy to watch you in action over here.


GERVAIS: Thank you.

Cheers, man.

MORGAN: Thanks, man. Ricky Gervais.

There is only one Ricky Gervais?

GERVAIS: Thank God.

MORGAN: Thank God.


GERVAIS: And I'm an atheist.

MORGAN: Coming up next, Only In America.


MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America, putting a price on Lin- sanity. By now, everyone in the country has heard about New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin. He's the Harvard grad who led his team to victory through eight straight games leaving sports fans gasping across America and, indeed, across the globe.

But even the man himself is finding this whole thing a little hard to believe. Listen to what he told the MSG Network.


JEREMY LIN, NEW YORK KNICKS: It just hasn't really sunk in yet, to be honest. It's like I'm still kind of in shock about everything that happened. But, you know, I'm just trying to soak it all in right now.


MORGAN: I bet he is, with a bathful of dollars. But Lin, himself, is not the only one cashing in on his extraordinary run. Yah Ros Marin (ph), the 29-year-old New Yorker took a big gamble back on February the 6th, the day after Lin made his first start for the Knicks and just before Lin-sanity exploded.

He bought the players rookie card, signed with a piece of his jersey embedded inside for 1,000 dollars. Now there are only 25 official Lin rookie cards that are signed and have the jersey cloth embedded, like Mr. Ros Marin. Crucially though, his card is numbered 17, Lin's jersey number.

Pretty crafty, hey, because that makes it one of the most prized cards in sporting memorabilia right now. And that's why he's hoping to make an absolute killing. Tonight, he put the card back up for sale on eBay with a current bid of -- wait for it -- 12,000 dollars.

That's just to start, though. Mr. Ros Marin confidently predicts it will eventually sell for at least 75,000 dollars, as Lin-sanity continues, Jeremy Lin keeps hitting baskets, and the world goes crazy. And they say that America is losing its entrepreneurial touch.

Just one gentle word of advice to Mr. Ros Marin, the thing about winning streaks is they always, always come to an end. If I were you, I'd think about selling.

Tomorrow I'll talk to the only man who's probably happier about Jeremy Lin's career right now than Jeremy Lin and that's his agent. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.