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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Whitney Houston's Funeral; Interview with Russ Feingold; Interview with Steve Carell, David Steinberg
Aired February 20, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, inside Whitney Houston's farewell. I'll I talk to one of the gospel singers who rose the roof, Donnie McClurkin. And a man who knew Whitney and know what it's like to struggle with addiction in the celebrity spotlight, Pat O'Brien. Plus the top Democrat who says this election is for sale, and it's all about the Super PACs, Russ Feingold. One of the funniest men in show business, Steve Carell and the price of fame.
STEVE CARELL, COMEDIAN: It's much, much better to be rich and famous. It's -- there's no --
MORGAN: Don't know that, honestly.
And why he compares the GOP field to the Three Stooges?
CARELL: Actually I was just thinking of your analogy, I was thinking Ron Paul is sort of a Shemp.
DAVID STEINBERG, DIRECTOR, COMEDIAN: He's a Shemp. There's no question --
MORGAN: Legendary funny man, Steve Carell, and David Steinberg. Plus an only in America tribute to a real all-American hero.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. Our big story tonight, Whitney Houston, a fallen diva laid to rest, buried beside her father in a New Jersey cemetery. Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin is here to talk about his extraordinary performance at the funeral and about the song Whitney's family asked him to sing.
Plus Pat O'Brien who's interviewed Whitney, and his own struggles with addiction. And later the comic genius Steve Carell and David Steinberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Are you -- are you a funny person by nature?
CARELL: As is evidenced by this interview no. Clearly not. No, I don't -- I don't light up a room. I'm not the type of person who can hold court and I was never a stand-up so I'm not, I'm not proficient at that at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That's coming up. But we begin tonight with Whitney Houston's final farewell. Joining me now is Donnie McClurkin, Houston family friend and gifted gospel singer. He performed his hit song "Stand" in Whitney's memorial services. He's also a senior pastor of the Perfecting Faith Church in Free Port, Long Island, and joins me now.
Donnie, I got to say, one of the most extraordinary performances I've ever seen by any singer. I was watching it live, obviously, co- anchoring the coverage of CNN. And it really -- it blew me away your singing in the church.
What was it like for you? Was that one of the most extraordinary experiences in your life?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN, PASTOR, GOSPEL SINGER: Well, I wouldn't say extraordinary. And I thank you so much for your kindness, Piers, I really do. But it was more bittersweet than anything else because not only was it's just the passing of one of the greatest vocalists and musical icons in the world but it was family and friend. And so singing the song was more to encourage the family as well as portray some of the things that Whitney may have felt in her career and in her personal life.
MORGAN: How would you describe the atmosphere throughout the day? It was a long day, it was full of -- a lot of celebration as well as grief, but how would you describe it?
MCCLURKIN: You -- it was really not just a long day but it was a day full of family, full of friends, full of people from the industry, from the government, Governor Christie, Mayor Booker. You had Oprah Winfrey and Gayle and Mariah Carey, Angela Bassett, and the gospel community, and everybody in one room celebrating the life of this woman in a way that most people probably wouldn't expect, such a luminous figure being brought back home into the church. And we did not skimp. We did everything that we do in church because that's the life Whitney lived.
MORGAN: Yes, and it really did feel like a homecoming, a home going. But to me, I just watched it, you know, I've never seen a Baptist service in such depth before, and I was really, I found it so uplifting. I've got to say, I mean, for a funeral service, you know, as a Catholic, we just don't do it that way. I mean it's always a much more serious affair. But I really -- I found it very touching.
MCCLURKIN: It was -- it was the quintessential way that we did. Whitney was the type of person that no matter what city she went into, she would find a church and go to. It was two months ago that she was in Detroit, and the -- and the eulogist, Pastor Winans, she went to his church and same thing, she was just used to that. She would sing along with everybody. She was dancing in the aisles. She would egg the preacher on. And this is -- this was just the quintessential Whitney Houston. So the home going was just reflective of how she worshiped and the way that we worshiped together.
MORGAN: There was a report that at a recent awards show, the BET, was when Whitney took you aside and asked you to join her in prayer. Tell me about that.
MCCLURKIN: It was -- it was an awards show some year ago and I had sung with Patti Labelle. She had sung a song -- well, I'd sung a song with her. And as we were finishing, we were going through the hallway and they beckoned me to come into Whitney's dressing room. She's sitting in her bathrobe with her hair done and her face made up, and she was saying, Donnie, Donnie, just pray with me because, you know, everybody is expecting so much of me and my voice is messed up and hoarse, and they're going to think it's because of this and because of that. And I can't make everybody happy.
And just, she was so nervous. What I had to do was I had to grab her by the hand and I had to pray with her and remind her that the few critics that you have don't compare to the whole world full of people that love you. And we prayed like we -- like we usually do. And then she calmed down and her confidence came back and she went out and she wowed them. Her presence was just absolutely wonderful.
But that was the way it was. Whitney was somebody who, no matter how iconic she was, she was very full of faith and she loved God and she wanted to pray.
MORGAN: How big a blow do you think it was to her that she lost the power of her voice and couldn't hit the great notes she used to hit?
MCCLURKIN: You know, to any singer, that would be devastating. I mean, to any singer, especially someone who has such high expectations put upon her, it was really heartbreaking in a way. But she always knew that it would come back. And that's what she was working on even before this happened. She was working on coming back to snap and coming back up to get those high notes again.
And she would have done it and it would have been wonderful. But even in her struggle with her voice, she still had the ability to control it and know what notes to hit and where to go. And she worked little range that she had like only Whitney Houston could.
MORGAN: I was surprised, Aretha Franklin didn't perform in the end or even go to the funeral. Were you surprised? Because she performed her own show the night before and indeed the night of the funeral.
MCCLURKIN: Well, she's been suffering with some ailments and some cramping in her legs. And she wanted to come and she was supposed to be there. And at the last minute she couldn't come. And I think that probably affected Miss Franklin much more than it did anybody else because she loved Whitney and that was her godchild. And -- so it was really only because of physical ailments that Aretha couldn't make it but she would have surely been there.
MORGAN: Donnie, you played a huge part in there. I thought you set the scene very near the start of the service in spectacular fashion. And I thank you for that and congratulate all of you involved on a really very special afternoon.
MCCLURKIN: I just want to thank you for your sensitivity. The way that you really covered the story was really heart-warming and it was a pleasure, it was a pleasure. And hearing everybody's comments about how you did so, it was really good. Thank you so much, Piers.
MORGAN: Well, the pleasure was certainly mine, Donnie. Thank you very much indeed for joining me.
MCCLURKIN: God bless you, man.
MORGAN: We don't know yet what caused Whitney Houston's untimely death but we do know she struggled publicly with addiction for years. Pat O'Brien knows a lot about that sort of struggle. He's battled with his own demons. As a former host of "Access Hollywood" interviewed Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown twice. He's now FOX Sports Radio host and Pat O'Brien joins me now.
PAT O'BRIEN, FORMER HOST, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" AND "THE INSIDER": Piers, nice to see you.
MORGAN: What do you make of the whole Whitney Houston story? A woman blessed with an incredible voice, a terrible addiction, shockingly early death. For you, what did you think?
O'BRIEN: Well, I think with all these cases, it's a matter of she paid the price for what she thought she used to want. You know, I mean, here she was -- and I knew Whitney from the beginning, I interviewed her from the beginning. And she was a sweet, you've heard it all in the last couple of weeks. And then I watched her go into this whole diva world and I -- you know, I've always loved her so to speak. And -- but it's part of the deal in Hollywood.
Let's point out early, can we, that this isn't just about celebrities? There are 100,000 people who die of drugs and alcohol during a year. Twenty will die while we're sitting here. So it's not just about her. But that does give us a schematic of how these things happen.
MORGAN: Whitney did change over the years. I think that much is known. I've heard conflicting reports about her upbringing, her background. Some people said to me, look, don't misconstrue the Bobby Brown corruption element to this because she was already up to no good before she met Bobby Brown. She was a party girl before she met him. Do you know anything about that?
O'BRIEN: Well, it's not illegal to be a party girl. And, you know, it depends what the party is. But yes, I mean -- no, not really. I mean I don't judge her and I don't know what she did. But I saw her from the beginning and I saw her in the middle and that picture we're seeing now, I saw her during that period. And she always said to me, Pat, I love you because you always have my back. But I didn't. Because if I had her back, I would have grabbed her and said, you know what, you got to slow down. And that's what somebody didn't do.
MORGAN: What kind of woman was she and what did she become? How did she change from the woman you saw?
O'BRIEN: Well, physically, she changed. And I think that was a result of whatever she was doing. But personality-wise, when she was away from the camera, and look, we didn't hang out, but when she was away from the camera, she was always a lot sweeter than you thought. And I would see her at the Clive Davis events and that sort of thing. She was a wonderful woman, big loss.
MORGAN: CNN has devoted a lot of airtime this week to addiction in particular. People have talked to me about fame itself, being as addicted and as problematic for people, as any other kind of drug. Would you go along with that?
O'BRIEN: Partly but addiction is not as Dr. Drew, who treated me, by the way, successfully, it's not about -- it's not a character defect, it's not a moral problem, it's, you know, something wrong with your brain, to put it simply. And until you decide that the party is over, I can say, Piers, stop drinking, and by the way, he doesn't have a problem that I know of. I can say, stop drinking, but you're not going to stop until you want to stop. You got to surrender.
MORGAN: That is the theme I hear all the time. Everyone I've talked to and a lot of people last week who've had their own problems all said the same thing. That in the end, you can blame everybody else but you have to look in the mirror and make that decision for yourself.
O'BRIEN: Well, who won World War II? You'd think the Allied forces, right? No, Japan. You know why? Because they surrendered. And the life in Japan got better after World War II because people took care of them. You have to say the party is over, I'm stopping and nobody can do that for you. And sad to say, it's tough to do.
I speak to thousands of addicts, Piers. And I don't know one who did it because someone told them to. They did it because they finally said, it's over.
MORGAN: Whitney just never seemed to have the desire to rehabilitate herself, to actually get proper treatment for this, did she?
O'BRIEN: No. Or the people that I know of. Or the people. You know I'm old enough to have been around when Elvis died. And they would say to me, what killed Elvis? And I said, no, who, because nobody said no to him. And you know at some point, you've got to say, Whitney, enough, you can't do this.
MORGAN: When you saw -- I don't know if you did see, but in the run-up to the day she died, for a few days, pictures emerging from Hollywood nightclubs of her falling out and looking disheveled and so on, did you fear that something awful would happen? O'BRIEN: No. Because there's nothing -- you know, every picture from every nightclub doesn't look good. I mean, you know, especially at 1 :00 in the morning. There's nothing that good that comes out of that.
MORGAN: But the mere fact that she was drinking at all as an addict.
O'BRIEN: Well --
MORGAN: Doesn't that ring alarm bells?
O'BRIEN: Not really because I don't -- I don't know what she was doing and still we don't have the toxicology reports yet. But looking back at it, is that what you want to do? Yes, it was alarming.
MORGAN: Well, I'm supposed --
O'BRIEN: But to say that that's blood on her legs as some of these entertainment shows did, it was red wine on her legs.
MORGAN: Well, do we know? We don't now either way, right?
O'BRIEN: I think they've said no.
O'BRIEN: But you can speculate so much about what goes on in a nightclub.
MORGAN: No, I mean, I think everyone is working on the same sort of theory now that Whitney was mixing prescription drugs --
O'BRIEN: That's a bad deal.
MORGAN: With a lot of alcohol and she was drinking not just a little bit of alcohol, but a lot. She was up at 10:00 a.m., seen on two consecutive mornings at the hotel pool drinking.
O'BRIEN: No, I agree, I'm not here to defend her on that. And if that all happened, as Dr. Drew points out here many times, they should run Dr. Drew's comments here on Anderson every 10 minutes, , once you put prescription pills into the mix, it's a whole other story.
I mean the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, Bob, all these guys, you know, went through life doing every drug I did, every drug imaginable, and none of them died. The people that go on to prescription pills end up dying.
MORGAN: What lessons can we learn from Whitney Houston's tragic story?
O'BRIEN: Oh, gosh, how many -- how long do you have? I mean if you have a problem, try to admit it. If you see somebody -- you know people at home, normal people, say don't bother daddy because he's drinking. Well, bother daddy because he's drinking. You know you have to get these people, like me, into some sort of recovery program, into a step program. Get them to church. But you have to -- you can't force them, and especially a celebrity.
MORGAN: I mean, again, the theme I was hearing from a lot of people was, when I saw the church, 1500 people who clearly loved her and cared for her and were mourning for her, and you thought, well --
O'BRIEN: Barely two weeks ago?
MORGAN: Where was everybody when she was on this chaotic, spiral downhill.
O'BRIEN: That's the thing. I mean, you know, I was fortunate to have people that finally said to me, Pat, you've had enough, that's it.
MORGAN: Pat O'Brien, a really interesting insight. Thank you very much.
O'BRIEN: Thanks, Piers. Nice to see you.
MORGAN: Nice to meet you.
O'BRIEN: Nice to see you.
MORGAN: When we come back, a top Democrat who's taken the president to task for accepting big bucks from Super PACs.
MORGAN: Top Democrat, Russ Feingold, says President Obama is, quote, "dancing with the devil," by accepting super PAC money. He also says America is ignoring the lessons of 9/11. His new book is "While America Sleeps: A Wake-Up Call for the Post 9/11 Era." And joining me now is former senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold.
Senator, thank you for joining me.
RUSS FEINGOLD, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: It's a pleasure.
MORGAN: What is happening while America sleeps?
FEINGOLD: Well, you know, we were all surprised on 9/11. I think we all made a resolution at that time that we wouldn't be surprised again. What seems to be happening is that we have become diverted away from looking at what's happening in the rest of the world, sort of going back into that slumber and not really thinking about those challenges. Part of it makes sense because of the terrible economic problems we've had.
But I think also some of it is cynical and a bit manipulative, purposely ignoring issues around the world, issues related to al Qaeda, issues related to China, and Africa because those that are opponents of the president want the opportunity to basically just try to blame the economy on him and not talk about anything else. As a result, we're not really focusing on the rest of the world in the way that I think we need to do to be successful and, frankly, do be safe.
MORGAN: This whole issue of super PACs is fascinating to me because you would imagine that those who have the most money to spend on these things would be having the biggest advantage. And it seemed that way with Mitt Romney for quite a while. But you could argue now that Rick Santorum is on this constant surge precisely because he hasn't got the money to attack his opponents all the time, in fact, he's got another way.
FEINGOLD: Well, he's got his own super PAC. In fact he's going to a fundraiser for his super PAC. All these guys are --
MORGAN: Yes, but it's nowhere near, it's nowhere near in terms of financial firepower, anything like Mitt Romney's, and it kind of reminds me of that campaign Meg Whitman fought in California, because money in the end can't overcome personal deficiency, can it, as a candidate?
FEINGOLD: Usually not. But these candidates on the other side have so many deficiencies, that it's sort of as a free-for-all but the point here is not so much about who wins or who loses because somebody has more or less money. The point is this is corrupting our system. It isn't about who wins, it's the kinds of conversations that are held when somebody calls up somebody and says, hey, can you give me $10 or $20 million? We don't have the disclose what it is?
That's the problem with it. It's destroying our system. It's not just a question of who's up or who's down in the polls.
MORGAN: I mean I was concerned about it and then as I've seen the way the Republican race has unfolded, you do start to think how much of a difference is it really making? I mean again I come back to what Mitt Romney has been spending, vastly out-spending any of his competitors. Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack. And yet in the polls now, Rick Santorum, 8 points ahead and clearing.
FEINGOLD: See, what you're just talking about who's winning the Republican primary. What does this do to the average citizen's involvement in the political process? What about the idea of one person one vote. When these kind of individuals can have 5 or $10 million worth of influence, how do you think it makes everybody else feel? They feel cut out of the process.
And that's what's corrupting to the process and it also leads to, I think, corrupt results and scandals. And I guarantee you this system will fall on its own weight because of the nature of the elicit conversations that are being held. So what's going to happen in the primaries, I don't know? I think President Obama will defeat whoever they put forward. But I don't think either President Obama or the Republicans should be involved in hidden contributions that have never been allowed in this country for 100 years.
MORGAN: I mean, one thing is for sure, President Obama has played a pretty tricksy game on this because he was very, very against these super PACs, very publicly against them, and has done this huge U-turn and about to (INAUDIBLE) himself. I mean that is hypocritical, isn't it?
FEINGOLD: It really disappointed me and I was very clear about it. I'm a strong supporter of the president, I will play whatever role official and unofficial in trying to get him re-elected because I think his role in international matters, especially has been exception. I think he's key to making sure that America does not stay sleeping, as I talk about in my book.
But with regard to being involved with super PACs, I don't think Barack Obama should be involved or any of his cabinet members nor should anybody else running for public office because it completely cuts out the average person from the political process, and people with that kind of fortune can dominate our system. It's wrong and we need to put the genie back in the bottle.
MORGAN: You've been pretty critical of President Obama in this book. Where do you think he's really been going wrong or where would you give him due credit?
FEINGOLD: Well, if you really look at the book carefully, I'm far more favorable about the president than critical. I agree with the president over 95 percent of the time. I think he's doing a very good job and I think he's going to be by the end of his second term one of our greatest presidents.
Our areas of disagreement have to do with surging in Afghanistan. I think he needs to be more focused on protecting civil liberties. And as you already pointed out I had a concern, a significant concern about the money and politics. But on the positive side, he had the courage to actually get us health care for all Americans, this is something we've waited for for 70 years.
The stimulus package which people made fun of is working. We actually now have almost two years worth of positive job growth in this country. On the international side, I don't know any president in modern times who's done more to improve our relationship with the rest of the world, whether it's Africa or Europe or Southeast Asia, people have a much better feeling about the United States than they did under George Bush because Barack Obama is a superb ambassador for us internationally and I think he's going to make some of the greatest moves in terms of our international position in his second term.
So I disagree with him on some issues and I am open about that. But I think the president knows that I strongly believe he is infinitely superior to the crew that you were talking about earlier on the Republican side and should be re-elected.
MORGAN: I mean there's no question you're right about him improving the standing of America abroad. The problem is that, given only 25 percent of Americans have passports, most of them don't realize that so he didn't get any credit for it.
FEINGOLD: Well, this is exactly what my book "While America Sleeps" is about. We need to have, not just the president, but all elected official and frankly Americans engaged in some kind of citizen diplomacy. We need as a people to encourage Americans to go overseas and help connect with people overseas, whether it's a dairy farmer or a violinist or a construction worker.
We are a large country that could have a great influence in improving our image and our relationships abroad. So the president has set the stage. But my book is largely about the need for us to learn foreign language, perhaps to have members of Congress get credit instead of being criticized for trying to understand other countries, and for every American to be deeply engaged in trying to connect with other countries in the world and to have these conversations not just as government, not just as a CIA or the military but as a people because we can never again just be an island as we seemed to be prior to 9/11.
That should have been the lesson of 9/11. And we need to understand that we will never be safe if we do not connect in a serious way to the countries around the world. We can't just close our eyes and come back and focus on issues within the country.
MORGAN: Senator Feingold, thank you very much.
FEINGOLD: Thank you. A pleasure.
MORGAN: Tomorrow night my exclusive and provocative interview with New Jersey governor, Chris Christie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Santorum said it's a juicy bone, it's exciting.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, congratulations but I mean I've got to buy it.
MORGAN: No, but it's real. It's happening. There is a Santorum surge.
CHRISTIE: Listen, he won -- he won three caucuses in an evening. Congratulations. And that's great. Good for him. And I --
MORGAN: You're not feeling the surge?
CHRISTIE: No, I'm really not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And just ahead, Steve Carell on returning to television for the first time since he left "The Office."
MORGAN: Hollywood doesn't exactly celebrate the people behind the scenes very often with a possible exception of my guest tonight. "New York Times" called David Steinberg a comic institution who directed some of your favorite actors in "Friends," "Seinfeld", "Mad about You", "Newhart," "Weeds", and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Now I've got your attention, haven't I?
And he's brought a friend with him who's apparently in comedy in some vague way.
Steve, isn't it?
MORGAN: Steve. Yes. Great to see. Anyway, but, David, let's focus primarily on you here.
MORGAN: Because I think we all agreed, you are a comic institution as the "New York Times" said so.
MORGAN: Tell me about being a comic institution.
STEINBERG: Well, I should be an institution. I don't know if I am a comic institution but --
MORGAN: You appeared how many times on Johnnie Carson?
STEINBERG: About 140 times.
MORGAN: That has to be a record, isn't it?
STEINBERG: Yes, Bob Hope was the most, and I was the second most. You know, he could call me at the last minute. People used to drop out of "The Tonight Show." And I always found it amazing that someone had something more important to do than the "Tonight Show."
MORGAN: And the great thing was, you never did.
STEINBERG: No, I --
MORGAN: And you're always available.
STEINBERG: I was there -- I was there all the time. And the other go-to person was Bob Newhart, because he could come in the last minute and talk to Johnny and it would be fine.
So one day I said to Bob, I said, you know, I'm so flattered that we got to do this so much. And he said, you know, I talked to Johnny about it and Johnny said he loved it because we bombed all the time.
STEINBERG: And he enjoyed it when we --
MORGAN: You were making him look good. Of course -- that's why I invited you both today, obviously.
STEINBERG: Hey! (LAUGHTER)
STEVE CARELL, COMEDIAN: I'm done.
MORGAN: Now, look, let's get serious. You guys have collaborated on this new documentary series for Showtime about comedians.
Why did you do it? You're exec producer and you both appear in it. What was the idea?
STEVE CARELL, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Well, Charlie Hartsock and Vance DeGeneres, who are my partners at Carousel, had this idea to kind of trace the -- trace comedy in terms of generations and -- and how it cross-pollinates and sort of look to people's inspirations.
And -- but it was -- it was too big an idea for a movie. So we very rapidly realized that this has to be a series.
STEINBERG: We actually shot it -- we shot a lot of it as a movie.
MORGAN: And you've got incredible names. I mean, it's like a roll call --
MORGAN: -- of superstar comedians, isn't it?
MORGAN: So is this like a definitive history of comedy? How are you -- how are you billing it?
STEINBERG: Well, I -- I don't know if it's a definitive history of comedy, but it is --
MORGAN: On what makes people laugh?
STEINBERG: It's unique in the way in which the comedians talk about what they do. It's just a -- something about it is just totally unique. There is no audience. There is no pressure. They're not on, but they're funny.
MORGAN: Let's take a little -- a little watch.
Let's have a look at a clip here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY CRYSTAL, COMEDIAN: I have 28 on tape different stories --
STEINBERG: That happened between you and him?
CRYSTAL: That never happened. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember my mom, she literally, she would try to make me feel good about my size but always do stick, say he's a large boy, it's all heart, but when he came out of me --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weather-wise, such a cuckoo day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, it's a brilliant lineup. And, you know, immediately I am laughing. So, it's obviously going to be a huge success for this thing.
But what is the definition of comedy? Is there one? Is there a stat -- when you all get together?
CARELL: It's so subjective. You know, what's funny to one person is not at all to someone else. I sort of refrain from saying that something is funny or not funny because -- just because I don't find it funny doesn't mean a multitude of people don't find it --
MORGAN: Are you -- are you a funny person by nature?
CARELL: s it evidenced by this interview, no.
CARELL: Clearly not.
No, I don't -- I don't light up a room. I'm not the type of person who can hold court. And I was never a stand-up. So, I'm not -- I'm not proficient at that at all.
But I enjoy comedy. I enjoy laughing. And --
MORGAN: Here's -- I want -- I want to play you something to embarrass you now.
CARELL: Oh, good.
MORGAN: Because I interviewed Lisa Kudrow and I -- I put a question to her. And I think that -- I hope this will embarrass you.
Let's watch this. This is -- this is her answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, God.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Name one person you think everybody finds funny.
LISA KUDROW, ACTRESS: Steve Carell.
MORGAN: That's true.
MORGAN: I've never heard anyone who doesn't find Steve Carell funny.
KUDROW: Yes, right.
MORGAN: That's right. That's true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: See I -- I challenged her, thinking there wasn't an answer. And, actually, she came up with two. She said Tina Fey, as well, who pretty much --
MORGAN: -- because I think you're right.
CARELL: No, it's mostly me.
MORGAN: I don't think she is that funny.
CARELL: I think -- no. I -- no.
MORGAN: It's all about you, isn't it?
CARELL: Tina Fey? Oh, good book.
CARELL: Yes, she can actually write a book. Yes, she can executive produce her own show, but not -- not so good.
CARELL: That's really, really kind.
Again, it's -- I think it's a matter of personal taste. You know, our -- our own influences growing up, I had -- I had people like from Peter Sellers to Steve Martin to, you know, to Jack Lemmon. You know, it was sort of all over the map in terms of my --
MORGAN: But biggest comedian would your great burning ambition as a kid, was it?
CARELL: No, not at all.
MORGAN: You were going to be a lawyer or whatever.
MORGAN: You had all sorts of little career paths lined up. CARELL: Yes.
MORGAN: What was the moment for you when the lights came on and you thought, no, I'm going to be a comedian? Because to me, it's always seemed this --
MORGAN: -- horrible, soulless profession, having to make people laugh.
MORGAN: It must be the hardest thing in the world.
CARELL: It was when I started getting paid to do it, because I thought, oh, I'll be in -- if I can make money as an actor, if I can make a living as an actor, that was my goal.
But the fact that I just, over time, realized that I was making more money being a comedic actor than a dramatic actor. And so, that's -- that's what -- what it was for me.
MORGAN: Do you -- do you feel a pressure to always be on?
We were talking about this a little earlier. I mean, when you go out and people meet you, when they meet me, they just want to say, hey, you know, what was Steve Carell like? When they meet you, there must be this horrible pressure for you to be constantly hilarious.
CARELL: No, I constantly set the bar really low.
CARELL: But, seriously, like going on a talk show, I see some comedic actors -- comedians going on and just swinging for the fences in terms of -- of their bits and what they're doing. And I, early on, decided I'm going to be congenial, but I'm going to try to do any more than that.
And if it's funny, then, you know?
MORGAN: Let's talk a little bit break, gents.
When we come back, I want to talk to you about the presidential race, because I'm imagining it from a comedic point of view. Instantly you're laughing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: From work, you met him at the Christmas party. The one --
CARELL: Please stop.
MOORE: The last person in the world I want to hurt you is you.
CARELL: If you keep talking, I'm going to get out of the car.
MOORE: If I did, it shows how --
MOORE: Oh, my God! Help!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was "Crazy, Stupid Love," one of the favorite comedy movies of the year for me, certainly starring Steve Carell, who's back with me now.
The comedy legend -- I keep calling you a legend here.
CARELL: I know.
MORGAN: David Steinberg, I like this. Well, you've written this. You must love this.
MORGAN: Let's talk about the comedic value of the presidential race and the Republican race in particular. There's been some fantastically funny moments in this.
But you do -- do you thank God every day that these things happen?
STEINBERG: Yes. This is a gift from God to comedians the likes of which we have never seen. It's like we --
STEINBERG: You couldn't -- it's a ship of fools that is -- it's just unbelievable. You know, I used to have a theory that I took almost through all of -- all the presidencies. And it was that you're either -- it's like the Three Stooges. You're either a Moe, who's in charge, or a Larry, who wants to be a Moe, or you're Curly, who is nuts and totally just off the page.
MORGAN: Who's been -- and if you look at those --
STEINBERG: But this is all Curlies.
MORGAN: It's a little bit like that, isn't it?
STEINBERG: There -- there is no Moe and Larry here.
MORGAN: Almost everybody has huge comic potential, I think. STEINBERG: Absolutely.
CARELL: Well, actually, I was just thinking of your analogy. I was thinking Ron Paul is sort of a Shemp.
STEINBERG: He's a Shemp, there's no question.
CARELL: Yes. Yes.
STEINBERG: That's true.
CARELL: I mean physically a Shemp.
STEINBERG: Yes. That's rare.
CARELL: It was funny. When we were on "The Daily Show," when I was on "The Daily Show" with my wife, it was the same way. We were so thankful when anything that we perceived of as ridiculous would happen.
MORGAN: You watch the news and rather than most people, who just want to have information or whatever, you must be just itching for something to happen where you just start laughing your head off.
CARELL: There were researchers on "The Daily Show" that would just -- that's all they would do is watch for those little tidbits. And they'd cut them and they'd throw them in there and, you know, and -- the writers were fantastic.
STEINBERG: But when you watch the -- these debates, where they go at each other, I think the philosophy that you get from them is that character is overrated.
STEINBERG: They don't care about character in any way, shape or form.
MORGAN: That's right.
STEINBERG: So, it's gone. And I think it's been overrated through the years, you know, and -- you know, not the best, some of the best presidents, their character wasn't great.
So, the Republicans are sort of in the sweet spot of having no character. And --
CARELL: But character only matters when someone else is lacking in character.
MORGAN: Yes. Yes.
STEINBERG: Yes, that's right.
MORGAN: They can be devoid of character and you can go after them for that.
MORGAN: It will hide your own lack of character, right?
MORGAN: You've made this great series about comedy.
Who -- if I could trap you both on a desert island separately and you could have one comedian with you to make you laugh for the rest of your days, who would you take?
CARELL: I would take Alan Arkin.
CARELL: Because he makes -- one-to-one, he makes me laugh more than anyone I've ever met.
CARELL: He is -- he's so dry and so acerbic, he just -- I love being around the man.
MORGAN: Who would you take?
STEINBERG: I'd probably take Groucho. I might take Marty Short, again, non-stop funny all the time. But Groucho was so acerbic and he was fun.
MORGAN: You came to this late in terms of acclaim and everything else.
If you're honest, did you prefer life before, when you were more anonymous, or have you actually embraced the whole fame thing with great enthusiasm?
CARELL: It's much, much better to be rich and famous.
CARELL: It's -- there's no --
MORGAN: I love that honesty.
CARELL: I mean, what do you say? I -- but my life hasn't changed that much. I certainly have more money than I did. But my home life, my family life, all of that really has stayed essentially the same.
MORGAN: I mean, you're resolutely normal is my sense of you. When I read interviews and stuff, you say you still go to the mall. You go to the movie theaters.
MORGAN: You've got two young kids. You like to just -- you don't go partying. You just do your job, you go home --
MORGAN: You're batting way above your strength with your wife.
MORGAN: Everyone is in agreement about this.
CARELL: I think -- I -- I don't dispute that in any way.
CARELL: But it -- it's interesting, because I think had -- because this all did happen later in life for me. And I think I sort of had my ducks in a row at that point. And I had figured things out, for the most part, in terms of my goals and my wants and dreams and what was giving me happiness, ultimately.
So I think if it had happened early in life, I don't -- I don't know if it would have been the same story. I like to think it might have been, but you never know, you know?
MORGAN: It's a lot tougher to deal with, I think, if you get that kind of thing when you're younger.
Let's have another break. Let's come back and talk about "The Office," because I know Ricky Gervais very well, the monster that spawned all this. I want to know what you feel about him, about leaving the show --
STEINBERG: And "Inside Comedy" we're going to be talking about.
MORGAN: Yes. Yes. Your show, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARELL: You will be thin. You won't drool over pizza like an animal anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But --
CARELL: You will find love.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty much OK with who I am now.
CARELL: Don't be. You should never settle for who you are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Classic Steve Carell from his "Office" farewell.
He's back with me now, along with David Steinberg.
"The Office" obviously began with Ricky Gervais in Britain. What was interesting about watching your version was that he was more empathetic, your character. And I've heard you say the reason was you wanted to create something that could run for, as it did, indeed, under you, seven series --
MORGAN: -- rather than just this sort of 12-program thing that Ricky came up with.
Tell me about that.
CARELL: He knew that the run would be limited and he could play this guy that was just insufferable and a truly terrible person.
MORGAN: No redeeming features.
CARELL: Not that we could see. Not --
MORGAN: Whereas yours did, a bit, I felt.
CARELL: Well, I --
MORGAN: I liked it.
CARELL: I did feel that, ultimately, in order for -- because television, people are -- I know it sounds like a cliche, but they are inviting them into your homes every week. They are inviting these characters into their living rooms.
And so they don't want complete jerks in their living rooms. And I thought in -- in order to make it a lot more palatable, that you had to see a bit more of the -- the human --
MORGAN: Has it been a wrench leaving?
I mean, I know -- I know you've been e-mailing your old colleagues and stuff like that.
CARELL: Yes. MORGAN: They're back filming without you.
MORGAN: I mean, a weird thing when you lose the star of the show.
CARELL: It was strange. I miss -- I miss my relationships there. You know, I haven't -- I just saw everybody at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for the first time in -- in a while and it was great. You know, it was just --
MORGAN: Do you miss the character?
CARELL: No. I felt like I -- I -- it was the right time for me to leave the character.
MORGAN: What -- what do you think of the whole Ricky Gervais, Golden Globes, just coming out and offending Hollywood shtick?
Could you do what Ricky does?
CARELL: Oh, not in a million years. No.
CARELL: I think I would just get too skittish. I -- I am --
STEINBERG: 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 like he always makes fun of me, always. And he -- he's also, you know, per -- in a personal way, very sweet to me. Like before one of these awards shows, he pulled me aside and he said, hey, I've got a few things that I wanted to go after you with, is that OK? 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: No, but he's a gentle -- he warns you before he annihilates you.
CARELL: For me, yes. And you know what? I take it as a badge of honor.
MORGAN: You've got seven movies on the go, is that right, over the next two years? CARELL: And I'm writing a symphony and I have a cooking show coming up.
MORGAN: But could you imagine -- let's go back 10 years.
MORGAN: Did you ever imagine here you'd be in Hollywood in your smart power suit, in the middle of a seven movie extravaganza --
STEINBERG: Yes, no.
MORGAN: -- earning you, potentially, a billion dollars?
CARELL: A billion dollars. I -- I wouldn't --
MORGAN: The billion dollar movie star.
CARELL: Within the year, I'll be a billionaire.
MORGAN: You must pinch yourself a bit, don't you?
CARELL: I'm always pinching myself.
CARELL: I -- I'm going to grow another arm so I can constantly pinch myself.
MORGAN: Because most of -- the other great thing here, most comedians are tormented by terrible things that happened to them.
And that brings all the comedy. And I've interviewed a few where you can tell, that's the motivation for why they go and get affirmation from the --
MORGAN: -- crowd.
But they -- there's a great quote about you that said the most wounded thing about you is that you're not wounded.
CARELL: Judd (ph) said that.
MORGAN: Yes, I loved that line.
MORGAN: I loved that line.
Do you -- do you concur with that? Do you feel like you've managed to avoid the normal comedic hell?
CARELL: Oh, you know what? I -- I don't think that is necessarily the -- I -- I don't think it's necessarily true that you have to be a wounded soul in order to --
STEINBERG: Well, for --
CARELL: -- become a --
STEINBERG: -- for stand-up comedy, if you've had a great childhood and a happy marriage and enough money, you're going to make a lousy stand-up comic.
MORGAN: Yes, it's true. It's true.
MORGAN: It's absolutely true.
MORGAN: You need to have had cigarettes burned on you for years, don't you, to be genuinely -- to make an audience laugh?
MORGAN: That's the sick society we live in.
CARELL: Well, it's that thing about us, you know?
MORGAN: We're sick people.
CARELL: I suppose. Yes.
MORGAN: Most people will laugh at other people's misfortune.
CARELL: That is true.
MORGAN: Isn't that -- I mean, that's what would seem to me the bedrock of real comedy.
CARELL: You know what, I read a quote -- I read a Woody Allen quote this morning in the paper. And that is, if it bends, it's comedy. If it breaks, it's not, which I thought was a really --
CARELL: -- interesting --
CARELL: -- way to put it.
CARELL: Because it's true, if it's -- if it's still -- if it's painful but it's still within the realm of being OK, it can be funny.
MORGAN: Tell me more about "Inside Comedy," because I love the premise of the show and the -- and the fact that you've got access to all these greats, Billy Crystal and so on. You said that Billy's timed to go with his Oscars appearance, right?
STEINBERG: Yes. Billy Crystal and Brad Garrett and Marty Short. Billy talks about the Oscars. This was -- we -- a year ago. We talked --
MORGAN: Well before he was even on the radar.
STEINBERG: Yes. And --
MORGAN: Eddie Murphy was probably doing it then, wasn't he?
STEINBERG: It was before that. It was before that. So, he -- he talks about the Oscars. And he talks about opening for Sammy Davis, Jr.
STEINBERG: Brad Garrett talks about a hilarious story about opening for Sinatra when Sinatra is in his '80s and he's -- and Brad Garrett is like 21, 22.
And Marty Short was Jerry Lewis for the whole half hour, practically.
MORGAN: Did you enjoy making this thing together? I get the sense you've got great chemistry between you?
CARELL: It's so -- I -- you know what, I think David is the best interviewer because he puts people at ease.
MORGAN: Well, hang on a second. It's --
CARELL: In terms of --
MORGAN: Rewind there, Steve.
STEINBERG: For comedy.
MORGAN: For comedy.
CARELL: Only because, you know, you have all of these people who -- who do tend to be on a lot. But -- but he puts them in a comfort zone and -- and allows them to not only be funny, but to be themselves.
So you find -- you find out a little bit more about them in a -- in a personal way, which I think is great.
MORGAN: Chaps, it's been a great pleasure. I love -- I love the documentary. It's going to be a great -- it's a great series.
STEINBERG: Thank you.
MORGAN: I recommend everybody to watch it. Thanks for coming in.
CARELL: Thank you.
STEINBERG: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Thanks, Steve.
Much appreciate it
Steve Carell and David Steinberg, "Inside Comedy" airs on Thursday on Showtime.
When we come back, "Only in America," a true hero. A man who put America back in the space race.
MORGAN: The world watched in awe as an American astronaut boarded the Friendship 7 capsule on a dangerous mission to the great unknown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Godspeed, John Glenn.
ANNOUNCER: Five, four, three, two, one. Zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Three orbits and five hours later, John Glenn entered the history books as the first American to orbit the earth. The Soviet Union has already put two cosmonauts into the orbit. And with his flight, Glenn put America right back in the space race.
And by doing so, he rallied this nation's morale like few others in modern history. For a whole generation, there was no more extraordinary aspiration than to be an astronaut. John Glenn, now 90 years old and a former U.S. senator, remembers those days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GLENN, FORMER ASTRONAUT: It was such an impressive thing at the time that it's indelibly printed on my memory. And I can recall those days very, very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: We can all recall those days. America's space program was a fabulous invention to behold. I remember as a youngster, watching the rockets take off with a sense of pure exhilaration. I wanted to be one of those astronauts, as did billions all over the planet. It all seems so thrillingly innovative, dazzlingly daring and deeply evocative.
With the end of the space shuttle program last summer, children today have no such wondrous feats to savor or crave to emulate. I think it's not only just a shame but a tragedy. The American Dream was built on going forwards, not backwards. And right now, this country surely needs more John Glenns, not fewer.
Tomorrow night, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie won't run for president this time. But is he still the great hope of the Republican Party? I sat down with him for an exclusive, rather feisty in depth interview.
That's all for us tonight. "A.C. 360" starts right now.