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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Remembering Dick Clark; Interview With Rep. Allen West; TSA Going Too Far?; Class Action Suit Against "The Bachelor"; Online Web Site Solicits Charity Funds

Aired April 19, 2012 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

(AUDIO GAP) The legacy of Dick Clark. The man who made pop stars. From the Jacksons to Gloria Gaynor, who also got her big break on "American Bandstand," they're going to share their memories of Dick Clark.

Also ahead, he says he was nude but he was not lewd. The man who stripped down to literally nothing at the airport. We've had to blur out those pictures. He's going to tell us this morning why he has no regrets. Imagine if you will.

WILL CAIN, CNN ANCHOR: My hero.

O'BRIEN: That scares me.

And a lawsuit that says that "The Bachelor" -- the TV show "The Bachelor" is more like who wants to marry a white guy. Two guys suing the show and its network and they are alleging racial bias. We're going to talk to their attorneys in this case.

It's Thursday, April 19th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: That was the band stand boogie, the theme from "American Bandstand". You can all stop dancing now.

Welcome back, everybody. Catchy tune and play for long time. How long was that show on the air? More than 30 years.

Will Cain is joining our panel today. He's a columnist for TheBlaze.com.

Abby Huntsman is a political commentator and daughter of former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

Ryan Lizza is a Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker".

Nice to have all of you back.

Of course, Dick Clark, whose name -- did you ever watch Dick Clark doing the ball dropping in Times Square?

CAIN: Absolutely. 1957 to '89, you asked how long the "American Bandstand" lasts.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

CAIN: So, over 30 years. I watched the New Year special every year.

RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: Once you have kids, it's the only thing you watch.

O'BRIEN: You don't go out.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes, it's amazing. You know, what really do I think where he gets tremendous kudos was as a businessman, as an entrepreneur who was able to take something so fleeting, right? A good hold on a culture that you are not necessarily the same age group of those people who are running the culture and pushing culture forward and managing somehow to be on top of it.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He took risks, too. I mean, I think he found that fine line of just, you know, interviewing African-Americans and doing things that weren't popular back then and changing pop culture world.

LIZZA: I love the story behind why he became a music entrepreneur. He was involved in a scandal back in the day, the payola scandal, and he had to sell off his assets in the music business and he decided --

O'BRIEN: Never again.

LIZZA: Never again. And he became one of the -- you know, a sort of mini mogul in Hollywood.

O'BRIEN: Dick Clark died yesterday. He was 82 years old. He suffered a massive heart attack.

And this morning, those who knew as a familiar who helped ring in the New York shared their memories of Dick Clark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I would watch "American Bandstand" and I would also watch every New Year's Eve. Dick Clark was the one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's the memory of watching the New Year's Eve, "New Year's Rockin' Eve" -- I was watching the ball drop and seeing him. And even in the last couple of years post-stroke, just his strength and I think that was really an amazing representation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like a ritual. Every year, "New Year's Rockin' Eve". It made New Year's what it is, you know? And he'll certainly be missed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Clark's first nationwide New Year's Eve broadcast took place 40 years ago, back in 1972. That's when he came up with the idea of a youthful alternative to Guy Lombardo's big band broadcast on CBS. Now, we look back and think, of course, it made sense to do something sort of current and popular for New Year's.

The show spent two years at NBC and then it moved to ABC where it's been ever since. Clark hasn't only been the face of New Year's, but also "American Bandstand," of course. It was on for 32 years.

And he became the host of shows like "The $10,000 Pyramid," and TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes." Dick Clark Productions also produced thousand of hours of TV, including the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the Golden Globe Awards.

Larry Klein is producer of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" and he joins us this morning.

It's nice to se you. Thanks for talking to us. Our condolences, I know you were a close friendly and also business partners.

So many people find it hard to have both long careers and then careers that are successful financially and then also managed to stay sort of a step ahead of the culture. Why do you think that Dick Clark was able to do that better than most?

LARRY KLEIN, PRODUCEDR, "DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE": Dick always kept his pulse on what was going on on a daily basis. He was always, always on to top of the music scene, television scene, film scene as well as what you were saying before, the business scene.

I mean, I remember being on the road with him so many times where you would see a couple in an elevator with Dick. The wife would go, oh, my God, it's Dick Clark. I love you so much and ask for an autograph. The husband, the businessman -- I remember happened this one time -- didn't know Dick that well from television but knew him from the business side and asked for an autograph for another reason.

O'BRIEN: That is a sign of success, right, when the husband and the wife are both asking for the autograph. One thing that was interesting was to see how many he genuinely seemed to like teenagers. He referenced -- I think it was in an interview he did with Larry King where he said success of "American Bandstand" was that he really enjoyed being around the young people who were dancing and understood that they were sort of the centerpiece of the show and he respected them for that.

KLEIN: Dick always, always gave the dancers credit. He always said the show -- the stars of the show are the dancers. People tune in to watch the kids dance.

O'BRIEN: He had a stroke in 2004. And Ryan Seacrest stepped in to do the show. How difficult was it for Dick Clark to come back? And why come back to do the show that you were the producer of? I mean, he had so much success for so long he could have easily have said now is the time to retire and rest on my laurels.

KLEIN: Dick loved his job. Dick loved his work. Some people thought of him as a workaholic. That wasn't the case. He just happened to love what he did.

He partied hard. He worked hard. When he had his stroke, it wasn't a question of him coming back or not, it was just a question of when he was going to come back.

You got to understand when Dick did come back as he said the first time he came back that year, his speech was impaired. That was it -- his brain, his body, his heart, his soul. Everything was there. Just his speech was a little bit impaired. But he was there.

O'BRIEN: It was tough for people who were huge fans of his because it was a struggle for him. I remember thinking like, oh, it's hard to watch somebody struggle to try to do something that they've done so well.

Did he think a lot about his legacy? I mean, did you ever talk about like how do you want to leave the world? How do you want people to remember you?

KLEIN: No. I used to beg him to just tell stories. I mean, the life that he's led starting in the '50s and what he did, he started -- he was the first person to start the world of touring in America, taking artists on the road to different cities, doing shows. I would always beg for stories.

Dick was never -- Dick always said, please, my life is boring. This is what I do for a job. He really never talked about a legacy. He never talked about anything like that. He just was like the every day person. That's who he was.

O'BRIEN: It's all the people around him, though, who credit him tremendously for the success that they've been able to have in the business.

Thanks for joining us this morning. We certainly appreciate it. Mr. Klein. Again our condolences to you.

KLEIN: Thank you very much. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead, we're going to talk to the singer, Gloria Gaynor. One, of course, of the best known disco artist from back in 1970s, got her big break on "American Bandstand." We'll chat with her straight ahead.

We've got to take a look at some of the stories making headlines first. Christine got that.\

Hey, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Thank you again, Soledad.

Three agents have been forced out -- the first casualties of a prostitution scandal that's shaking up the Secret Service. One of them resigned. Another was allowed to retire. A third agent was relieved of his duties and plans to fight his dismissal. Eight others remain on administrative leave.

Listen to "the New York Times" reporter William Neuman on CNN's "A.C. 360" last night. He interviewed the call girl who wound up blowing the whistle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM NEUMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via telephone): One of them was essentially hitting on her and said he wanted to be with her. And she says that she told him, well, that's great, but you have to give me a gift. And then he said, well, how much is the gift? And she says that she told him $800. And then a lot of drinking happened, and at some point she and him went back to their hotel.

The next morning, this woman asked for her payment and the guy says -- he became angry and said I was drunk and you can't expect me to pay that. And she insists and he calls her names and gets angry and throws her out of the room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Earlier on STARTING POINT, we spoke to a former Secret Service agent who served three administrations. He knows the agents involved in the scandal and says the eight who have been placed on leave may not be around much longer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: The personal embarrassment alone is enough for them to just evaluate their own careers and say, I think at this point they would be happy to just keep their jobs and move on. But, yes, this isn't the kind of thing you put on a resume. There's no question about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Up to 10 members of the U.S. military are also being investigated for their alleged role in this scandal.

The Secret Service will interview rocker Ted Nugent today. Ted Nugent got the Secret Service's attention with that anti-President Obama rant at an NRA event, saying he'd be dead or in jail if President Obama gets re-elected. Nugent says he's looking forward to that meeting.

Minding your business this morning: U.S. stock futures are up. Dow futures up 25 points right now. In about 30 minutes, we're going to find out how many people filed unemployment claims for the first time last week. Investors waiting on those numbers for a fresh read on the health of the jobs market.

A retired Illinois couple has finally come forward with the third winning ticket in last month's $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. Merle and Pat Butler of Red Bud, Illinois, they took home $158 million after taxes. They are retired computer analysts.

Merle says he watched 10:00 p.m. news on March 30th and quickly realized, hey, something special was happening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MERLE BUTLER, MEGA MILLIONS WINNER: The first thing I spotted was I had the mega ball number. So, well, good. I'm going to win something anyway. Yes.

And then I started on the other numbers. And it was two, four, and the further I went, the more they matched.

I turned to my wife who was right there with me and I says, "We won." And she kind of looked at me funny. And I says, "No, we won."

And then she started giggling. And she giggled for about four hours, I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: I'd giggle for like 40 more years.

Merle says he took the winning ticket to the bank the next morning, locked it in a safe deposit box. He spent the last few weeks meeting with financial advisers before going public, which is exactly the right thing to do.

Just keep it inside the family. Quiet. Plot out your strategy.

O'BRIEN: I agree with that. Keep it inside the family. I just want to say Uncle Merle, Auntie Pat, it's cousin Soledad.

ROMANS: His financial advisers have already warned against people like you, right now.

O'BRIEN: Me? What? That's my Uncle Merle. What are you talking about? Come on. I got to call him later and check in on the family.

CAIN: Let's call now. We'll wait. Put the show on hold. You call Merle right now.

O'BRIEN: We'll see what happens. Thanks, Christine.

Still ahead on this morning on STARTING POINT: he got naked fighting for the privacy of Americans. The Portland airport stripper tells us what was going through his head.

Also, it looks like the ticket is locked up. Who is Mitt Romney going to pick for number two slot? Will the Tea Party get a say? Congressman Allen West will chat with us in a moment.

We leave with you Christine's playlist. It's Wings, "Live and Let Die."

What James Bond movie was this part of?

(INAUDIBLE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: This is off of Abby's playlist. How do you announce it?

LIVINGSTON: It's Gotye. I actually looked it up, because before, we couldn't pronounce it right.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes. Sometimes, I mangle my way through some of the names that I don't know with that Eyes Wide Open.

A little consensus within the Republican Party about who would make the best running mate for the likely nominee, Mitt Romney. There's a new CNN/ORC poll that shows that the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, tops the list with 26 percent. Former presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, is a close second. He comes in at 21 percent.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie and also Senator Marco Rubio from Florida are tying each other for third with 14 percent, but if you look at the Tea Party faction of the GOP, very different order to their wish list. It's Marco Rubio at the top and then followed by Chris Christie, Rice, and then Sen. Santorum tied for third.

Joining us this morning, a vocal member of that Tea Party, Congressman Allen West of Florida is with us. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. Always appreciate it. You know, your name had been brought up. Herman Cain, I think, we had -- we're having breakfast with him, and he said, you'd be a great VP candidate.

Sarah Palin had mentioned you, as well, but the public doesn't pick you. Does that upset you? Do you want to be on that list?

REP. ALLEN WEST, (R) FLORIDA: It's not about me. It's about my country, and that's always been that. And so, I'm happy to be here serving as a Congressional representative and doing what I can to make sure I get our country back on track. So, it's not about myself, it's not about an ego, it's about the team.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question about some of these remarks that Ted Nugent said over the weekend at the NRA. I'll play a little chunk and we'll talk on the other side. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED NUGENT, SINGER: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So, now he's going to be interviewed by the Secret Service. Do you think he was threatening violence in any way, shape, or form? What do you think he was saying?

WEST: I think he was just expressing maybe his opinion about something, and of course, everyone wants to sensationalize things. Well, let's leave it up to the Secret Service to interview him and get to the bottom of it, but I don't think the motor city mad man has any ill will toward the president of the United States of America.

O'BRIEN: I think he's got a lot of ill -- but I think that's a separate question of whether or not he's threatening violence. I think that's kind of night and day. No, I don't think he likes it at all. I say a ton of ill will.

WEST: Well, there's a lot of people that didn't like President Bush, and we didn't have to cart them in front of the Secret Service. So, let's just let the people who are responsible for investigating take care of it.

O'BRIEN: You know what's interesting, the Romney camp through Andrea Saul, the spokesperson, I think it was by Twitter, maybe email, sent out a statement, and they said this. "Divisive language is offensive no matter what type of political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil."

But the former governor, himself, didn't weigh in and sort of saying everybody needs to be civil is not exactly putting yourself out there on a limb in any way. Do you think he went far enough in condemning what exactly, whatever it was, Ted Nugent was trying to say?

WEST: Well, that's not for me to decide. And, I think that the more important thing for me to be focused on is our economic security, our energy security, and our national security and not what Ted Nugent said and not the response of Governor Mitt Romney to what Ted Nugent said. So, I just want to stay focused on the critical issues that are affecting the United States of America right now.

O'BRIEN: Okay. Let's talk about what you said, I think, it was last week, Jensen Beach. You were talking about members of the Communist Party. I'm going to play a little clip about what you said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEST: I believe there are about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: You say, "I believe there are 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party." You mean like card carrying members of the Communist Party?

WEST: Well, unfortunately, Soledad, you didn't play the entire thing, and I talked about the Congressional progressive caucus.

O'BRIEN: Hmm.

WEST: And we've been back and forth about this. And I've had to give quite a few people a little tutorial --

O'BRIEN: OK.

WEST: -- about the political spectrum of ideologies, and there's been separation. And at the turn of the century here in the United States of America, American communists renamed themselves progressive, but the strategy and the tactics and the ideology still remains the same.

When you're a member of a caucus that actually wanted to have a constitutional amendment to redistribute wealth in the United States of America, I don't think that's in keeping with the principles and values of this country.

O'BRIEN: So, name names for me. Start naming of the 78 to 81.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: So, Keith Ellison is a communist?

WEST: Soledad, Soledad, you know something, it is not -- well, look, I'm just talking about the fact that the ideologies, the principles --

(CROSSTALK)

WEST: You can call it whatever you want. You can call it whatever you want.

O'BRIEN: No, but I want to know what you're calling it.

WEST: I'm calling it this. Communist progressive, Marxist, socialist, statist, which is another term that's been used. I'm looking at the ideologies. I'm looking at the things that they believe in.

And if you don't think we have to stand upon truth and be able to identify and clearly contrast the different principles and values and ideologies and principles of governess here in this country, then we're never going to get to the fact of accepting the true debate that's happening in America.

We don't need a bureaucratic nanny state. We need to stay a constitutional republic. I think a lot of people need to study that and understand what it is. O'BRIEN: So, there's a guy who's name is Libero Della Piana, and he is the vice chairman of the National Communist Party. So, here's a guy, he knows communists. And he says this, "I just think it's an absurd way" -- he's talking about you -- "absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It's kind of a sad ploy. It's just guilt by association taken to an extreme." He says you're wrong.

WEST: I don't care what he says.

O'BRIEN: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: We'll see if your colleagues like being called Communist. Nice to se you, Congressman West. Appreciate having you on the show as always. Thanks.

WEST: All right.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, naked and proud. We'll tell you about the man who stripped down to absolutely nothing at the airport. He says it was a form of protest. It also got him in a lot of trouble.

And if you're about to head to work, you don't have to miss the rest of our show. You can check in on our live blog at our website, CNN.com/STARTINGPOINT. This must be Will's playlist.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: "National Blues." Cory Morrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Nice. I like it. The band. The weight.

LIZZA: The drummer is critically ill from cancer.

O'BRIEN: Oh, I didn't know that. Oh, that's so sad.

Our next story involves this crazy story from yesterday. You know, as we all know, since 9/11 attacks, airport security measures have become much more intrusive. They say it's to protect the flying public. Well, Portland, Oregon, resident, John Brennan, decided he was going to take a stand against these pat downs by stripping down completely. There he is.

Yes. He shocked some onlookers who averted their eyes and covered up their kids' eyes. Other people, though, just whipped out their cell phones and started taking pictures and tweeting this. That's the 49-year-old Brennan. He got naked in protest.

LIVINGSTON: I thought that was Will Cain for a moment there.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

LIVINGSTON: That's a beard going.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Oh, I should just let everybody carry on. Anyway, apparently, they were testing him, the wipe down of the fingers, you know, and he got a positive test for explosive. He refused to get dressed as part of -- after his protest. They covered him up with the blanket, and he was arrested, charged with indecent exposure and second charge for disorderly conduct was eventually dropped.

The TSA issued a statement. They said this. "TSA partners with the traveling public to screen all passengers safely and efficiently. When a passenger chooses to be purposefully disruptive" -- and I think this would qualify -- "we notify law enforcement."

John Brennan joins us now. Nice to see you. Let me ask you a question. Describe the moment when you decided that that was it. You were going to get naked. They did that swipe of your fingers, right? It comes back with a positive read. At that point, they have to pat you down.

Take me to that moment. Did you snap or did you feel yourself just slowly getting more and more furious? What happened?

JOHN BRENNAN, REMOVED CLOTHES TO PROTEST TSA: They had actually already patted me down and were testing the residue from that pat- down. I had to ask what was going on. They were not very informative about what was going on. And at the point, I found out I tested positive for nitrates, which is an explosive.

I decided the best way to show them that I'm not carrying a bomb as to take off my clothes. They get to choose when they see us naked in those machines, and I just decided I'm going to speed the process up.

O'BRIEN: Well, yes, you did -- Will.

CAIN: John, so, this is what we're trying to parse here. Have you had a long running frustration with the TSA and you thought, hey, this is something I can do one way or was just totally spontaneous?

BRENNAN: Well, as an Oregonian, I know my right to free speech includes nude protest. And so, as I look at any situation, I'm aware that's one way I can communicate and have a voice. And so, this, certainly, was not premeditated. And I had plenty of time and thought I am -- you know, it was less than it's taking me to tell you. I just was like that's it. It's ridiculous.

O'BRIEN: That's it --

BRENNAN: I have protected speech here, and I'm not carrying a bomb.

O'BRIEN: Done and done. I'm not carrying a bomb. Take a look is really what you said -- Abby.

LIVINGSTON: John, I read here, you said that you're only going to strip down once. You don't want to be on the no-fly list. So, is this basically to prove a point? If this happens again, are you just to going to keep your cool and keep the clothes on or this really was a one-time thing?

BRENNAN: Like I said, TSA needs to find a balance between our liberties and security, and I need to find a balance between defining my own boundaries and complying with TSA and being able to fly. They're a powerful organization.

O'BRIEN: Yes. So, were you mad at the TSA people who are patting you down? Are you mad at kind of the system?

BRENNAN: I don't know. These guys are just doing their job. They -- you know, in no way, were disrespectful. And, we have a broken system that is erring on the side of taking away our constitutional rights.

LIZZA: John, can I ask you about that? So, you don't have to fly, right? So, you know that when you fly, you give up a little bit of your of your liberty, frankly, in return for the security that the TSA provides. What do you say to people who say just don't fly, buddy?

BRENNAN: I say that I do have a right to fly, and I'm willing to give up some liberties. I went through a metal detector and I was patted down through my crotch by a stranger. That's giving up a lot. When they took me past that step, I said, here's what I'm going to do. I did not impede the search process. They were uncomfortable that I was naked, but it shouldn't be illegal. My nakedness should not be illegal.

O'BRIEN: Were you uncomfortable that you were naked? Your picture is everywhere. Do you look back and say maybe I shouldn't have done it that way?

BRENNAN: Like a lot of Americans I wish I didn't have such a big belly.

(LAUGHTER)

BRENNAN: But I am not ashamed of my body. I am not ashamed of my body. I was very calm and comfortable and complying with the TSA's request within my rights.

O'BRIEN: And within your rights as an Oregonian, as you pointed out. We appreciate you talking to us. Keep the clothes on for the next protest. Thanks for telling us how it went down.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a lawsuit targeting the show "The Bachelor." There are two guys who claim that the show discriminates. We'll talk to their attorney this morning.

And from rock to disco, to hip-hop, Dick Clark was there for it all. Gloria Gaynor, who got her big break on "Bandstand," will share her memories. You're watching STARTING POINT. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's Gloria Gaynor performing on "Bandstand." That was back in 1979. That show turned singers into stars and also broke down racial barriers. Clark turned his show into an empire. He was the man behind the Golden Globes, American Music Awards, "Bloopers" and "Pyramid," and his "New Year's Rocking Eve" was the show for those that wanted to stay inside and warm on New Year's Eve.

Gloria Gaynor joins us over the phone. Thank you for being with us. Will you take me back to that day in 1979, how nervous were you about going on Dick Clark's show and how did he treat you?

GLORIA GAYNOR, SINGER (via telephone): I tell you what, I wasn't nervous at all. I had been there several times before with other hits like "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "I am What I am" and then I was nervous because it was the first TV show I had ever been on. It was national exposure. And I was very nervous. He immediately set me at ease, which he always did with I think everybody that he met.

O'BRIEN: What did he do to set you at ease? The word people would use is kind. You're going to be great. Make them feel comfortable. Sometimes people do the opposite in that kind of thing. What did he actually literally do?

GAYNOR: Just that. He said, you know what, you're going to be great. You are fabulous. These people are here because they love you. You know, it was just -- then he told me how to follow the cameras. He made me feel very much at ease I was in the place where I was supposed to be and I would do great and I did.

O'BRIEN: When you were coming to the end of performing "I Will Survive" did you know by the reception on that show that song was just a big, massive hit?

GAYNOR: Absolutely. I mean, I believed it when I first read the lyrics and the song before I recorded it. But I just say when I did that and got the response that I got from that audience, it was, like, OK, this is it. This is it. I have a hit on my hands and I'm on my way.

O'BRIEN: We're watching the performance on TV. I have to say, I'm loving the gold outfit that you are rocking, very, very fabulous. Why do you think Dick Clark had the magic touch when it came to the financial part of it and a cultural part that would make someone a star an make a show successful. How was he able to pull that together? I think it was incredibly rare. GAYNOR: I think it was rare as well. It was just a gift. He just seemed to have that gift. I was listening to something last night on the news where he was saying he knew what he wanted and how to go get it. That was part of his many gifts to know what he wanted and know how to get it.

The other thing that spurred him to instant success was always knowing what young people wanted. And he always had a new generation while the generation that was growing up was still loving him. He was ready for the new generation. And giving them what they wanted. And so you just grew with him.

O'BRIEN: It was brilliant strategy. Gloria Gaynor joining us. "I Will Survive" as you performed it on that show back in 1979. Nice to talk to you.

Let's get to other headlines this morning. Christine has that for us. Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. This just in -- 386,000 jobless claims were filed for the first time last week. It's a number we watch every Thursday. We also saw that last week's numbers were revised higher to 388,000 jobless claims filed, a little bit worse than expected so we'll watch closely to see what that means for the markets when the bell rings in about an hour.

New fallout this morning from photos published in the "Los Angeles Times" which appear to show U.S. soldiers dangling the remains of suicide bombers in front of the camera like trophies. CNN has not independently authenticated these photos. The Taliban now reportedly vowing revenge. The Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying this is not who we are. An investigation is already underway.

A new plan has been submitted to the keystone pipeline expansion project. Pipeline building TransCanada is proposing a new route that would attempt to avoid an area in Nebraska aquifer. That's a major source of drinking water for the state. Many Nebraskans fears a pipeline burst would contaminate the aquifer and the fragile Sand Hills region of Nebraska.

And we have this to show you, fishermen in the sea hauling in a massive great white shark. This is reportedly measuring nearly 20 feet. One of the largest great whites caught in history. The fishermen thought they were pulling in a fete full of fish. Their boat is about 22 feet long, horse hour outboard 75 horsepower motor. They didn't need a bigger boat. They dragged that whole thing. Can you imagine?

O'BRIEN: You make sure you stay in the boat when you pull that in.

CAIN: Where was that?

O'BRIEN: Sea of Cortez.

ROMANS: I'm staying away. O'BRIEN: No way. Chicken, all right. Christine, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, they say that the producers of the "Bachelor" refuse to cast black people in key roles. There are two men who are suing and they say the show discriminates. We'll talk this morning to their attorney.

And a giant virtual flash mob of hope. We'll talk to a man who is trying to harness social media to help complete strangers who are in need. His name is Shaun King, and this is off his playlist, "Don't Stop For Anything."

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. After 10 years and 23 combined seasons of ABC's Hit Reality dating show "The Bachelor" and its counterpart "The Bachelorette" not one of the shows romantic leads has been anything other than white. That has gotten the show some criticism over the years. And now two residents of Nashville, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, are filing a class action lawsuit against the show's producers. The complaint reads like this, "These applicants were denied the same opportunity to become the next bachelor or bachelorette as white contestants not because they were unsuitable for the role but solely because of the perceived risk that casting a bachelor or bachelorette who is a person of color would alienate the show's majority white viewership."

We reached out to the show's producers for comment. They haven't gotten back to us yet. We should note that one of the defendants is Warner Horizon television, which is a subsidiary of CNN's parent company, which is Time Warner. We're going to talk to one of the attorneys who are representing Mr. Claybrooks and Mr. Johnson Cyrus Mehri. Nice to see you, sir. How will you be able to prove what your complaint is? You basically say there's a fear that by putting on a black bachelor you would alienate white viewers. How are you going to be able to -- if this goes further down the road legally, how are you going to be able to prove that?

CYRUS MEHRI, ATTORNEY IN LAWSUIT AGAINST "THE BACHELOR": We start with the information you just said. They are going into the second decade and they can't find a person of color to be a lead role in these shows. That's a starting point. But as we get into this case, we'll get more information. We'll find out the details of how their process works, what the people are thinking. We're going to send out subpoenas for information as we get into this case.

O'BRIEN: Michael Fleiss is the executive producer of the show and as I said, that the producers haven't returned our calls. But he has been asked about diversity in the past. And here's what he said. He said, "We really try but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh we have to wedge African-American chicks in there. We always want to cast for ethnic diversity it's just that for whatever reason they don't come forward. I wish they would." It sounds like he's saying just can't find them. MEHRI: Well, that shows his mindset. I mean, this is a case about equal opportunity and it's a case about purposeful discrimination. That they are -- their business plan is to be exclusionary. And that is sad for this country and we hope we can turn it around and really make this a -- a positive outcome for people going forward.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. Explain that to me. When you say their business plan is to -- is to be exclusionary. What do you mean?

MEHRI: Well -- well I mean, here they've had 23 seasons. Ten years. And they believe -- it's our -- it's our contention that they believe that it will hurt their viewership to have people of color in the lead roles. Because if they wanted people of color in the lead roles, they've had ten years to have that happen on one of their shows and they haven't done it.

And so we think that that is actually what they're -- that is the outcome that they intend.

HUNTSMAN: Cyrus this is Abby Huntsman here. Can you explain to us what the audition process is like and what they personally went through that that got them to this place right here? I mean since 2008 -- I'm a big fan of the show. It's seems like they've recycled a bachelor or bachelorette from a previous season because they have such a following.

So do they already pick, you know, their bachelor/bachelorette by the time the audition starts? Or how --

(CROSSTALK)

MEHRI: Well this is interesting -- yesterday our two clients spoke here in Nashville and Christopher Johnson has been a fan of the show from the beginning. Loves the show. He --he personally wanted to be on the show. You know very, very deeply wanted to be on that show. He came in with a full package of material ready to compete.

They only gave him a minute and he was gone. He wasn't able to compete. And then Nathaniel Claybrooks when he came in he was interviewed for about 20 minutes and then he was gone. And as you've said the executive producer says he can't find any candidates. Well these people came forward and we don't think they were given the same shot as white counterparts.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: And so there is a guy --

MEHRI: And you bring up an interesting --

O'BRIEN: Oh I'm sorry, I was going to --

MEHRI: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Let me just jump in there for one second, Cyrus. There's a guy named Lamar Hurd (ph) and we had some pictures that we were showing a minute ago.

MEHRI: Yes.

O'BRIEN: A very handsome young man who looks like he would be a terrific bachelor. There he is, you know and they've -- and he was interviewed earlier this morning on "Early Start" and he was talking about why he thinks that there is a lack of diversity on the show. And -- and here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAMAR HURD, "BACHELOR" HOPEFUL: You see some of the stuff they do. There's a lot of swimming in the oceans. There's a lot of sitting on top of mountains. A lot of my black friends don't want to do that kind of thing. But no I mean -- I mean, really? Really, I'm not sure, you know.

It might be something that a lot of people just haven't stepped forward into that role. I know it wasn't until this year that I accepted that responsibility to step forward. I had a few people say I should do it. And I shot it down initially. And I finally accepted it. But you know, I'm really not sure. I'm guessing just like everybody else is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: How hard do you think it's going to be to prove in fact your case and win this case especially if Lamar Hurd gets a certain -- you know makes headway into becoming the next "Bachelor" maybe not picked himself but -- but it looks like he's a leading contender.

MEHRI: Well, we hope Lamar Hurd gets selected. That would be a great thing. Where -- all these cases are tough to prove. But we think we're going to be able to prove this case because it's a very simple case about them purposely excluding people of color. They've had ten years to bring this about. They haven't done it. If you look at all of the people that are on the show, it's all white casting.

And we think it sends a very dangerous message to this country that it reinforces negative stereotypes that says only certain colors and certain backgrounds are -- are attractive, are winning personalities. And that's just not true.

And so we're going to turn this around by focusing on policies and practices that lead to this outcome so Lamar saying I'm not sure why this is happening. We're going to be able to show why this is happening as we prove this case.

O'BRIEN: Cyrus Mehri is the attorney who is representing the plaintiffs in the case against "The Bachelor". Nice to see you, thank you. We appreciate your time.

MEHRI: It's great to be here.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

MEHRI: Yes thanks.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, generous strangers uniting on the Web changing people's lives even sometimes saving people's lives.

We're going to talk to the man who is behind this incredible idea. It's called "Hope Mob". Well, here's Shaun King's playlist. Kanye West.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Oh that was one of the favorite things that we showed on this show a couple of weeks ago. That was a Delta Airlines Airport flash mob. When those employees got out there and started, "Keep going that's great".

Now though, there is a flash mob of hope, a flash mob where people come in and instead of dancing in an airport, they coalesce around somebody who is in need. They come together to help out online. That's the goal of HopeMob.org. The founder and CEO is Shaun King. And he's here to tell us about his charity.

I think this is a brilliant idea. Explain for us Shaun to everybody. How exactly does Hope Mob work?

SHAUN KING, FOUNDER AND CEO, HOPEMOB.ORG: Yes, we're so excited about Hope Mob. We just launched today. And so people can go to HopeMob.org right now Soledad. And we have just one story that we feature every day and so instead of telling a thousand different stories and splitting the community up, we just feature on one great story of need.

And so today we're telling the story about a great little boy named Wyatt and the whole world can chip in and help bring Wyatt and his family hope. And --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: So Wyatt we should say Shaun is 4 years old. He's ill.

KING: Yes.

O'BRIEN: I think he's been diagnosed with cancer. And his -- his dream is to have -- his father works as an Air Force fireman. And his dream is to have his bedroom sort of decked out like a fire fighter's -- you know like a fire station really, which cost something like $9,000.

So people who are moved by that story can just go to the Web site and -- and contribute?

KING: Absolutely. And you know, I think what we're finding is that people really want to know that when they donate that every dollar that they are giving is actually going to -- to helping somebody in need. And so Hope Mob is all about telling real human stories of people in need and for months we've built over 300,000 people that are part of our Facebook community who follow us on Twitter.

And our goal is to get millions of people to kind of chip in and every day we tell a new story and we stick with that story until we hit the goal.

O'BRIEN: So -- so Wyatt's story will remain up until you reach the $9,000 goal right? And then the second person in line moves up to first spot. Is that correct?

KING: Yes that's right and so we kind of have a cue just like if you -- have a -- a cue on Netflix we have a cue of stories. But we stick with each story until we hit the goal. And so if we hit Wyatt's goal today, which we hope we do, that would be great but if it takes a week or a month or a year, we'll never abandon a story we'll just stick with it.

And so Wyatt is first. And we have people lined up to -- to be helped right after Wyatt.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

KING: And so we're going to do some great stuff.

O'BRIEN: You are doing some great stuff already. Shaun King, the founder and CEO of Hope Mob, HopeMob.org. Everyone should check it out and read the stories and narratives. And the stories are really amazing.

It's nice to see you Shaun thanks for talking with us about it.

KING: Yes it's good to see you Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thanks.

"End Point" is up next. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That's James Brown, "Living in America". James Brown was another star who made his national television debut on "American Bandstand".

Time for "End Point". Ryan you want to start for us.

LIZZA: Yes, the Allen West interview reminds me of something you've been saying. That this is the year of doubling down.

O'BRIEN: No one apologizes anymore.

LIZZA: Nobody -- they say something outrageous. He calls 80 members of Congress communist --

O'BRIEN: 81.

LIZZA: 78 to 81, depending -- highly specific number. You know, you go on TV and you defend it, you raise money off your base. Everyone doubles down.

O'BRIEN: So you're doubling down. Abby?

HUNTSMAN: Do what you have to do. I'm going to give it to Dick Clark. I wasn't around during a lot of the time that he changed really pop culture. So, it's really fun to look back and see how much he really has changed. He's a great man.

O'BRIEN: You make us feel old but we appreciate that.

And Will, you have 20 seconds.

CAIN: I'm actually going to address Dick Clark as well. One of the things I really like -- stories I like to focus on are entrepreneurship. I think we think about Dick Clark as just a host. A host sometimes of shows you think that might be frivolous not obviously the ones that were actually have a chance to change culture. But this man started so many businesses. He spun off being a TV host into being a massive media mogul.

O'BRIEN: He was financially successful and culturally successful. That's the final word.

Time to get to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello.

I'll see everybody else back here Friday morning at 7:00 a.m.

Hey Carol. Good morning.