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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
Facebook Trading Starts Today; New Photos of Zimmerman's Injuries; "Wants To Defriend The United States"; Justice Breyer Robbed Again
Aired May 18, 2012 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I hope it's a beautiful start to your Friday. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Ali Velshi. Ashleigh Banfield is on assignment. It's 5:00 a.m. in the beautiful here in New York City. Let's get started.
SAMBOLIN: OK. Today is the day, you know? In just a few hours, ticker symbol FB will appear on the NASDAQ, and Facebook will be a publicly traded company.
The social network setting its IPO price at $38 a share, which would value Facebook at $100 billion -- the most valuable company ever at the time of its initial public offering. And more valuable than Citi or McDonald's. Millions hoping it will help them boost their bottom lines this morning.
Dan Simon is live at the Facebook mother ship in Menlo Park, California, where workers are marking the occasion by working all night long.
Seriously, Dan, what's up with that?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zoraida. It's 2:00 in the morning here and we are wide awake. And the people who work in these buildings behind me are wide awake. They're more likely to be drinking Red Bull right now than fancy champagne.
They're having a hack-a-thon, this is an opportunity for Facebook employees to basically do what they do best -- that's build, design, and create. They do this periodically, and this is an interesting public relations move as we're about to begin the trading of the stock. What they want to do is send a message to the world that they built this company on building stuff.
So that's what they're doing. They posted pictures to the Web site showing what's going on inside some of these rooms. In terms of the fundamental challenge facing Facebook in the future, it's exactly that -- continuing to build services that people like.
I want you to listen to Silicon Valley venture capitalist Greg Gretsch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GREG GRETSCH, SILICON VALLEY CAPITALIST: What they're going to run into the next year, two years as they go public is the quarterly focus that Wall Street's going to put on them. And the question will be in the coming years whether or not that quarterly focus, that quarterly drive to make the numbers show the growth, take them at all off their focus on the product and the user experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: So the user experience is what made Facebook, that $104 billion company, along with all the advertising revenue that they're getting. The question is, can they build on that revenue? Can they build their usage base? And are they worth the valuation that we're seeing? Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, AUTHOR, "THE FACEBOOK EFFECT": There's no way mathematically that you can actually say, yes, it's worth 25 times revenues. I don't believe that. But I don't think argue that it isn't worth it either because, you know, this is a company that sort of transcends the traditional metrics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Well, it's really hard to say whether or not Facebook will live up to that valuation until we see the next few earnings reports. In the meantime, the hack-a-thon is under way. And it will continue until the NASDAQ bell rings.
Here from Menlo Park with Mark Zuckerberg ringing that bell at 6:30 a.m. local time.
Zoraida, back to you.
SAMBOLIN: Yes, sometimes when you use the word hack, it's a bad word. For them I understand it's very good.
I understand out of the hack-a-thon that "like" came out of that. When you like on Facebook?
SIMON: That's right. Some of the most common features we see on Facebook came as a result of these hack-a-thons. That's why they continue to have them.
This is the 31st one that they've had -- the "like" button, the timeline that you now see on Facebook. What they want to do is hopefully get some of these features rolling along. If, in fact, some of these things take hold, the employees can make that project their full-time position. So it's an interesting approach.
SAMBOLIN: And some of them even may become millionaires. Dan, thank you very much for that report.
VELSHI: Also this morning, dramatic new details in the Trayvon Martin shooting revealed as evidence in the case released to the public. For the first time, we're seeing Trayvon just moments before he died. This is surveillance video of the Florida teenager taken at a 7-Eleven where they bought those now-famous Skittles and a drink. The official autopsy on Martin shows he had traces of marijuana in his system.
Now, the police report reveals two weeks after the tragedy, officers in Sanford, Florida, concluded Martin's death was, quote, "ultimately avoidable," if only Zimmerman had stayed in his car like 911 dispatchers requested.
And these newly released photos of Zimmerman clearly showing an injury to his nose, as well as bloody lacerations to his scalp, in the hours after his deadly encounter with the unarmed teen.
CNN's John Zarrella is live in Miami this morning.
John, a lot of evidence to go through, including the reports of traces of THC, which comes with marijuana, that were found in Trayvon's system.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Ali. You know, a couple hundred pages that came out, along with the pictures and the videotape. And you know, the attorneys are going to, of course, spin this. They're going to try to characterize it, to mold it to fit their cases. And ultimately that's when we go to court and why we try to figure out and how they try to figure out who has the advantages here, if anybody, looking at this video and looking at all of this information.
Now, you know, we went through a lot of the documentation, a lot of the witness statements. And all of the witness statements that I read all indicated the same thing. They heard the scuffling. They heard the cries for help. But none of them actually saw what happened.
The autopsy report, you mention that, with the traces of THC. A lot of experts say, don't read too much into that. Because THC can linger in someone's blood for up to a week. But it also indicates that the gunshot entered the left chest, entered the right ventricle.
Now, on Piers Morgan last night, both of the attorneys were asked, you know, how did they characterize this evidence?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Whether it's an autopsy report or a medical record or some video or even a picture, it's what becomes the people's focus. But it's only one small sliver. Then they make the decision on the sliver and that prejudging the fragments carries through to the next fact and it's just not appropriate.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Again, you have to put it in context, Piers. George Zimmerman pursued and confronted Trayvon Martin after he profiled him and initiated an altercation. We believe Trayvon Martin went to his grave not knowing who this strange man was that was confronting him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Now, you know, a lot had been made early on about the alleged racial slur on the telephone recording that was captured, and after FBI analysis that came out yesterday. They also, the FBI, saying, look, there was just no way, it was very poor quality, they could not discern whether there was any kind of racial slur on that.
So, again, Ali, still a lot more material expected to be forthcoming and still come out as we start to get a broader picture of what happened on that night of February 26th.
VELSHI: John, with respect to the 911 audiotapes, there was some material here that indicated that Trayvon's mother thought that the voice crying for help on the tape was his and the father seemed to be less certain.
ZARRELLA: Yes, and again, no certainty in those 911 tapes either from analysis. It is still very difficult -- impossible is what we're being told, to discern who is saying what, because the quality was just not good enough.
VELSHI: All right. John, good to see you. John Zarrella in Miami on this story.
SAMBOLIN: It is eight minutes past the hour.
There may be a break in the case of two highway murders in Mississippi. Police are questioning a suspect, there he is, 45-year- old James Lucas. He was picked up after allegedly pulling over two drivers, both of which escaped after feeling suspicious. A Confederate flag vanity plate led police to that man. Police are trying to figure out if the suspect is behind the two deadly highway shootings that occurred 55 miles apart.
We're going to have a live report from CNN's Ed Lavandera. That's just ahead.
VELSHI: City of Houston rocked by mass protests after an all-white jury acquits an ex-police officer in the beating of a black teenager. At least 200 demonstrators rallied outside the Harris County courthouse yesterday.
Twenty-nine-year-ld Andrew Blomberg is one of four police officers, four former officers who were charged in the 2010 beating of 15-year- old burglary suspect Chad Holly. The other three officers are awaiting court dates. Blomberg told reporters he doesn't think he did anything wrong. Both Houston's mayor and the Harris district attorney say they disagree with the verdict.
SAMBOLIN: Donna Summer, the queen of disco, is being remembered this morning for her remarkable voice and signature hit. She died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. She was just 63 years old. Donna Summer had a string of mega-hits in the 1970s and '80s. You know them, "Hot Stuff," "Last Dance," "Love to Love You, Baby," just to name a few.
Fellow artists say she is going to be missed.
(BEGIN VIDEO LCI8P)
JOHN LEGEND, SINGER: We lost somebody who was great, such an important artist of her -- of her time, and of a particular type of music that was so important to America's pop cultural history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: In a statement, Donna Summer's family says she was a woman of many gifts. The greatest being her faith.
We're going to have more on Donna Summer's life and legacy at 6:20 Eastern. We're going to talk with "The Wall Street Journal's" Christopher John Farley. He is editor of the paper's cultural Web site.
VELSHI: All right. We're less than 24 hours away from the launch of the first commercial rocket headed to the International Space Station, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with its unmanned dragon spacecraft, that's set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center at 4:55 a.m. on Saturday. It's a first step, a major step, in NASA's plan to turn over space station missions to commercial enterprises.
SAMBOLIN: "I'll Have Another" going for the second leg of the triple crown tomorrow at the 137th Preakness. Bodemeister, the favorite going into the race at Pimlico tomorrow, even though "I'll Have Another" ram him down and beat him in the final 100 yards at the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. Can he do it again?
VELSHI: That's why I don't bet on horses, because I can never understand how those odds work.
All right. A moment of terror caught on camera, people running for their lives as a gun battle rages on a crowded city street. This is incredible. More video and the story behind it when EARLY START returns.
VELSHI: One crime scene, two separate deadly shootings during a chaotic afternoon in Louisville. It was caught on camera.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
VELSHI: Terrifying scene caught outside university hospital. Police responding to a shooting that left two men dead, about 90 minutes after the incident, while police were investigating. That's why there are all these police there. More shots rang out.
In the crowd, of witnesses, one woman had pulled out a gun and shot another woman. Then a police officer shot and wounded her. In all, three people were killed and three others wounded. The police chief of Louisville says detectives are still piecing together why it happened, what the motives were.
SAMBOLIN: That is unbelievable. It looks like a scene out of a movie but it's not. That is real life.
Fifteen minutes past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date. Here's Christine Romans.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning you two.
It's Friday, Facebook Friday. In just a few hours, Facebook will be a publicly traded company. Ticker symbol FB will hit the NASDAQ today, an initial offering price $38 a share. Although you may be paying twice that by the time it hits at the open. We won't know for sure. Maybe around 11:00, we'll first be seeing those first trades for Facebook.
New evidence just released in the Trayvon Martin case that includes police photos of shooter George Zimmerman, with an apparent injury to his nose and lacerations on the back of his head after his tragic encounter with a Florida teen.
Also released, surveillance video of Martin making a purchase at a nearby 7-Eleven moments before his fatal run-in with Zimmerman. And the official autopsy on Martin showing he had traces of marijuana in his system.
John Edwards' fate is in the hands of the jury now. They'll begin deliberating this morning, whether the former North Carolina senator is guilty. Six counts of campaign fraud and conspiracy. He's accused of using campaign cash to cover up his affair. Edwards' lawyer asking jurors to find him not guilty yesterday, urging them to separate sin from criminal behavior.
And the Staples Center in Los Angeles may just be the busiest building in America right now, hosting six playoff games in four days. Started last night with the NHL western conference playoff match between the L.A. Kings and Phoenix Coyotes. Tonight, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers host Oklahoma City in the NBA playoffs. And this weekend, there are double headers both days featuring the Lakers and Thunder, and the Clippers and Spurs -- Ali.
VELSHI: All right. It's going to be busy sports weekend. Christine, thank you.
Rob Marciano joining to us talk about weather and to talk about those Arizona fires.
Good morning, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Ali.
Yes, we'll start you off with not only Arizona but Colorado, where both places had evacuations under way yesterday. Fires burning, still out of control between 5 percent and 7 percent containment both at the Hewlett Fire west of Ft. Collins, Colorado, and the Gladiator Fire just north of Phoenix. Both have grown in intensity, and the red flag warnings and critical fire danger out at least for parts of Arizona again today. The deal's going to be winds, 40 to 50-mile-an-hour winds gusting through the four corners region, some of that getting up into Colorado.
So, today's going to be tough day as well for firefighters. They certainly could use some rain. They got rain yesterday across South Florida and the Keys. Key West over 2 inches. That was a record- setter. You'll see more on the way of moisture today.
Most folks will see a nice weekend I think across the Northeast. But this little system across Florida will try to make its way across the Carolinas and may get into Delmarva by the time Sunday rolls around. But other than, we're looking at low levels of humidity and comfortable temperatures for much of the eastern half of the country.
Eighty-one degrees in Chicago, kind of toasty, maybe you want to head to the lake, 72 degrees is the high temperature in New York City, 81 in Atlanta, looking for 89 Dallas, and 70 degrees out in Los Angeles.
That's a quick check on weather. Let's send it back to you, guys.
SAMABOLIN: Thank you, Rob.
Seventeen -- 18 minutes exactly past the hour. Time for our "Early Reads" this morning.
Let's start a toss-up in Texas, literally. This afternoon, voters in the city of Wolfforth deciding their city council election with a coin flip. Affiliate KJTV says the weekend voting ended with a draw with both candidates snagging 118 votes. The men decided to save taxpayers the cost of a runoff by agreeing to a coin toss.
VELSHI: Again, there are 236 people voting, how expensive would the runoff actually going to be if they said, oh, you 236 vote again? But I guess it's all the advertising and the campaigning --
SAMBOLIN: Isn't that incredible?
VELSHI: It's interesting. We're not telling you who won because you didn't know either of them. So, it wouldn't make a difference to you.
An unbelievable story from our Kentucky affiliate WLEX. A summer Santa -- a businessman in Clark County buys out a K-Mart Store that's closing down. He bought everything in it. Seventy-six-year-old Rankin Paynter, who you see here, purchased everything in the store and donated it all to charity. Nice. The estimated cost of all the inventory was about $200,000. Pater's even paying rent for a building to store the items while a nonprofit makes plans to distribute them.
VELSHI: Ninety percent of the merchandise, this is even better, is winter clothing. So, it's all going to be relevant to the people who need it. Paynter says, quote, "I just figured that my family isn't going to go cold or hungry this winter, but something I could do to help a lot of people."
SAMBOLIN: What an incredible gesture. Very kind. Very kind.
Nineteen minutes past the hour.
It's a killing spree that struck fear in the hearts of drivers across Mississippi. A gunman impersonating a police officer and murdering two people. This morning, there is a possible break in the case. We're going to bring you the details on that right after the break.
SAMBOLIN: It is 22 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.
A break in the case of two highway murders last week in Mississippi. CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Dallas. I know that there are a lot of new details, what's going on?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, all of this is starting to change up this morning. We were talking about an arrest or someone who is being questioned in connection with these shootings that happened just south of Memphis, in northwest Mississippi.
Last week, two people who were shot and killed by what investigators are suggesting was someone who perhaps pulled them over on the side of the road impersonating a police officer. We're now hearing word from officials in Tunica County, Mississippi, which is close to where these shootings happened -- I just got off the phone with someone in the communications office there who's telling me that they are set to announce the arrest of someone -- of an alleged shooter in connection these interstate shootings and that this person would be charged with murder.
We're still trying to get more information because al of this is confusing. Because yesterday in Yazoo City, Mississippi, which is much further south in the area where these shootings happened, investigators were questioning another man who apparently on Wednesday tried to pull over two people and perhaps was trying to impersonate an officer.
So, there was speculation yesterday afternoon and late yesterday that perhaps this might have been the culprit in these cases a little bit further north. But now, we're hearing there might be another arrest altogether. So, we're going to continue to work this here throughout the morning and try to clear up the information we have. But clearly a lot of activity and a lot of movement on this story in northwest Mississippi right now.
SAMBOLIN: So, Ed, not just an arrest but actually a charge with murder in the second one that you're following this morning?
LAVANDERA: Right. And what I'm trying to clarify is to make sure we're not talking about the same people there. So far, I haven't been able to get clarification, literally just getting off the phone with officials there in Tunica just a few moments ago. So, we're going to continue to work that. It's my understanding that this might be completely separate from the people that we had planned to talk about this morning and the man who was being questioned in Yazoo City. So, I'm going to try to clarify that this morning.
SAMBOLIN: OK. We're going to let you take care of that and then we'll get back to you and try to get the latest developments on that -- thank you. We really appreciate it. The folks in that part of town are going to be very happy.
VELSHI: Very. That was a scary one.
All right. A second grader raises a ruckus at school. Take a look why, he's in blackface. There's a reason why he put blackface on and you're going to judge for yourself. I think we gave you a hint there -- if he should have got no one trouble when you hear from him coming up.
And if you're leaving the house now watch us any time, no need to not have us by your side. We'll be on your desktop, on your mobile phone. Just got to CNN.com/TV.
VELSHI: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ali Velshi, sitting in for Ashleigh Banfield.
SAMBOLIN: Thank you for being with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Here is what's happening at half past the hour.
In just a few hours, you can own a share of Facebook. The social network begins trading on the NASDAQ after the opening bell this morning. While it's listed at $38, we're talking with Christine Romans about what price it will really land on when it hits the boards. I'm sure Ali is going to weigh in on that as well.
VELSHI: We're getting a look at some just-released evidence in the Trayvon Martin case. It includes police photos of shooter George Zimmerman's injuries and 7-Eleven surveillance video of Trayvon taken moments before he was killed.
SAMBOLIN: And a possible break in the case of two highway murders in Mississippi. Police are questioning a potential suspect and sheriff's investigators in Tunica County may be ready to make an arrest, we understand. Our John Zarrella is working the phones right now, trying to get these last minute details. We're going to bring them to you as soon as we have him.
VELSHI: Lots of stories we're following this morning.
Let's begin with Facebook. Today is the day when you decide whether to buy into all the hype. Facebook is going public in just a few hours from now. It's a historic IPO.
Christine Romans has been looking into just how historic it actually is, comparing it to some of the other biggest IPOs we've ever seen -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning you, too. As of right now, Facebook has raised $16 billion in its IPO, making it the third largest IPO in history. But IPOs aren't just a one-day event. They actually last about 180 days. The company can sell more shares. Investors can buy more shares. They can bump it up to number two on the biggest IPO list in the U.S. and could raise up to $18.4 billion.
And a lot of people are expecting that to happen. But let's take a look at how Facebook stacks up with other IPOs. Visa is the biggest. This one legendary. It went public in 2008. Even though you've been using Visa and know this name for so many years, it raised almost $20 billion. GM, General Motors, that IPO raised $18 billion.
That was November 2010. Remember that one? Because the company went through bankruptcy, had to be rescued by the American government, came public again November 2010, raised $18 billion. But it's tech. People compare what's happening in Facebook to big tech IPOs that they know.
I want to start with Google. This one was in 2004. It raised about $2 billion. This stock is up, oh, I think 500 percent since its IPO. It's been an unbelievable performer. Microsoft all the way back in 1986. Look at Bill Gates' glasses. 1986, target price there was $21 a share. It raised $61 million. "M." Million.
Take a look at apple. All the way back in 1980. That one went public. A $100 million raised there at $22 a share. Now, something to, I guess, consider about the $38 price tag on Facebook stock, you guys. The last trade that I saw on the secondary markets, people have been trading Facebook.
The insiders and employees who have Facebook shares of the original Facebook shares given to them by executives of the company, it was trading at about $44. So, there has been some trading on the secondary market as we call it, $44, and on the stock boards. So $38. We'll see how high it goes up today, but $44 is what the people, the early investors, were valuing this company at.
VELSHI: Well, if you're upset we're not getting a piece of the Facebook stock, it may be a good thing. We're going to tell you why the odds were stacked against you from the start. And Christine's going to do that on your bottom line on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. eastern.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Two congressmen are going after Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, for his efforts to dodge paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes. Saverin used his life savings, $30,000, to fund Mark Zuckerberg's plan for a social networking website.
He may be worth close to $3 billion now that Facebook is going public. But Saverin moved to Singapore, denouncing his U.S. citizenship, a move that could save him $67 million in taxes. Enter New York senator, Chuck Schumer. He believes Saverin's decision to leave America was nothing more than a tax dodge. He is introducing new legislation that would impose a big capital gains tax on people like Saverin and forbidding them from ever entering the country again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: This tax avoidance scheme is outrageous. Eduardo Saverin wants to defriend the United States of America just to avoid paying taxes, and we aren't going to let him get away with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: That's pretty clever, defriend. Saverin says his decision to move to Singapore was personal and not a tax dodge insisting he plans to meet all non-citizen tax obligations that the U.S. requires.
VELSHI: You know, there's an opposite side to this and that is that Facebook -- the taxes of all these new Facebook millionaires are going to pay is going to net the state of California $2 billion.
VELSHI: So, everybody wants a piece of the action.
All right. A second grader in Colorado gets in trouble for wearing blackface to school. Eight-year-old Sean King dressed up as Martin Luther King. I don't know if there's any relation, but it was for a school project. He donned blackface, paint, as part of his costume.
Now, school officials asked him to wash it off saying it was offending other students and faculty. King refused saying he didn't mean to insult anybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN KING, STUDENT: They thought it was inappropriate and it will be disrespectful to Black people. But I say that it's not. I like Black people. I don't want to be mean to them. It's just a costume. I don't want to insult anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: His parents didn't want him to remove the makeup either. They pulled him out of school. Blackface has historically been used by White performers, as you know, to portray Black people, and many people have found that offensive. School officials say wearing face paint goes against school policy.
SAMBOLIN: Why not use this as an opportunity to educate, right?
VELSHI: It's what you call a teachable moment, right?
SAMBOLIN: It is. So, I don't understand the outcome of that, right? I thought he was going to say something different. I thought he was going to say, you know, I admire this man, and I want to look like him. That's what I was expecting, quite frankly, when we were going into that story. So, I think it's an incredible, teachable moment.
All right. Thirty-four minutes past the hour. Comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen knows how to push the envelope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SACHA BARON COHEN, COMEDIAN: America! The birthplace of AIDS!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Boy, that was an understatement there. The star of "The Dictator," can make you laugh and squirm at the same time. So, how would you like to be the guy in charge of reining him in from time to time?
Oh! You're going to watch my one-on-one conversation with writer, director, Larry Charles. I'm a huge fan of his now. That's coming up for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You seem educated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I went to Amherst.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it when women go to school. It's like seeing a monkey on the roller skates. It means nothing to them, but it's so adorable for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Wow. All right. Thirty-nine minutes past the hour. That's a clip from Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie, "The Dictator." It is now in theaters. The actor is teaming up for a third time with Larry Charles who's written and directed some of the funniest and most controversial moments on television and film.
Charles was part of the brain trust behind "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." I had the opportunity to sit down with Larry Charles this week to talk about their madcap collaboration and find out whether Sacha Baron Cohen is as much of a character off-screen as on.
SAMBOLIN: This fictitious character that he plays, we've seen that he likes to stay in character.
LARRY CHARLES, DIRECTOR, "THE DICTATOR": Yes.
SAMBOLIN: And, you know, he appears on the red carpet, perhaps, dressed as his character.
SAMBOLIN: Does he do that when you're actually filming, when the cameras are not rolling?
CHARLES: Keep in mind Sacha creates a character from scratch, from the ground up, like a Robert De Niro does or (INAUDIBLE) does. So, for him, he needs to stay in character so his accent stays consistent, his body language stays consistent. It's actually better practice for him to stay in character.
And we've had many arguments where he's Borat, and I'm arguing with Borat. You know, it's crazy, but there's a logic to it, actually.
SAMBOLIN: I want to talk about that moment on the red carpet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: It's actually --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: So, we hear that he apologized for that moment. Do you know anything about that?
CHARLES: Don't know anything about it.
SAMBOLIN: Seriously? He didn't talk to you about it? You have no idea?
CHARLES: I didn't hear about the apology. I talked to him about it up until the points that --
SAMBOLIN: So, you knew what was going to happen?
CHARLES: I had a sense that something was going to happen, yes, I did.
SAMBOLIN: And what did you think about that?
CHARLES: I think that it's interesting. Our movies don't exist purely wind the frame of the screen. He's a performance artist, Sacha. And he's blurring the lines between what is the movie and what is real life. This is kind of expanding the definition what was a movie really is.
SAMBOLIN: A lot of your work is viewed as politically incorrect, right?
SAMBOLIN: And the reviews here, also some people are a little upset. There's a particular entity, the Arab-American group that is objecting to this particular movie. And one of our own CNN contributors, you probably know him, Dino Padella (ph), he is an Arab-American, and he actually likened Cohen's performance to the use of blackface. How does that make you feel when you hear something like that?
CHARLES: I would disagree strongly. I mean, I think we've gone out of our way to avoid any specific ethnic group. We're really drawing on a composite of dictators around the world. Sacha is Sacha. He looks a certain way, and we sort of need to sort of take advantage of that, of course.
You know, we couldn't make him Korean, obviously. It's anti-dictator, you know. It's not anti any ethnic group, whatsoever, or any religion for that matter.
SAMBOLIN: But what is your purpose here? What is your objective? It's clearly not just to entertain.
CHARLES: Right. Although that is the first and foremost priority. If the movie's not funny, if the movie is not entertaining, then nothing else will work. So, that's our priority is to make it as funny as possible --
SAMBOLIN: But do you find sometimes -- people say to you, you know, I found myself laughing, and then, I felt bad about it.
CHARLES: Yes. I think that's OK. I think it's OK, because that's part of the questioning process that we hope goes on during the course of the movie. You're laughing at things, but we're wrapping very heavy and very often not funny political messages within this comedy. So, hopefully, you will laugh very hard and then start to think about what you're laughing about.
You're wrapping the message in a very nice little package that people can enjoy and be entertained by and have an incredible group experience inside a movie theater.
SAMBOLIN: One scene in your movie, and it's portraying some characters that are talking about visiting America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Clearly, some people are going to be offended by that. As a matter of fact, a lot of Americans are going to be offended by that.
CHARLES: I don't think so. I mean, yes, there's certainly a percentage of people that may very well be offended by it, but we're always looking for another level. We want the movies to be dense so that you could laugh on this level of silliness, but under the surface there's something being said.
There's a theme that's being developed that's kind of an important one, and even a serious one that we're trying to find humor in. So, even though people will be offended, that's inevitable, but you never know what people are going to be offended by or aren't, you know? So, you can't really let that stop you. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SAMBOLIN: And there's more of my one-on-one interview with writer and director, Larry Charles. You'll find this web extra at CNN.com/EARLYSTART. He is a fascinating character. There's not a lot of information out there about him and that beard is very significant. I'm hoping that you're going to learn a little more about that also on that web video.
VELSHI: I didn't know he had that beard.
SAMBOLIN: Yes. Well, I looked him up online ahead of time to kind of get a feel for him. And I thought, boy, this is a really dark person. But when I sat with him, he's funny, he's clever, he's witty, he's a deep thinker, and his goal at the end of the day is to make all of us deep thinkers.
VELSHI: Yes. That was an interesting interview. I'm going to enjoy watching. There's more of it on the web.
SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes. A little bit more.
VELSHI: Good. All right. It is 44 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date on the news. Christine Romans, Christine good morning.
ROMANS: Good morning again. In just a few hours, Facebook will be a publicly traded company.
ROMANS (voice-over): FB will hit the NASDAQ today, and initial offering price, $38 a share. Although, you may be paying twice that by the time it hits the open market.
New evidence made public in the Trayvon Martin case. It includes police photos of shooter, George Zimmerman, with an injury to his nose and lacerations on the back of his head in the hours after the deadly confrontation with the Florida teen.
And there's surveillance video of Martin in the moments before he died making a purchase at a nearby 7-11. And the official autopsy on Trayvon Martin showed he had traces of marijuana in his system.
Supreme Court justice, Stephen Breyer, robbed for the second time this year. This time, no one was home, thankfully. Officials say earlier this month, the housekeeper discovered Breyer's Washington home had been broken into and burglarized. Back in February, he was robbed by a man carrying a machete at his vacation home in the Caribbean.
Vermont becomes the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing commonly known as fracking. Fracking is that controversial natural gas drilling technique. Vermont's governor signed the ban into law this week. Anti-fracking activists called it a big deal for their cause.
But Vermont doesn't have any natural gas. There has never been any drilling there, and there never were plans to drill. Still, the American Petroleum Institute warns it may challenge that law.
And the plot (ph) thickens on that possible UFO sighting in Denver. The FAA says it's found no evidence of an unidentified aircraft or any other object flying over the city. Earlier this week, a jet pilot radioed the control tower claiming he almost crashed into a possibly remote controlled aircraft. The FAA says the object didn't show up on radar and no other pilot reported seeing that.
Britain celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. She's lunching with world leaders today to mark her 60 years on the throne. The guest list is sparking protests because it includes two controversial figures, the king of Swaziland and Bahrain's King Hamad who's overseeing a bloody crackdown on civilian uprising in that country.
And Coors Field was buzzing but had nothing to do with the baseball. A swarm of bees near the Colorado Rockies dugout caused their game with the Arizona Diamondbacks to be delayed yesterday. A beekeeper was eventually called in to vacuum up the bees into a bag.
ROMANS (on-camera): Playing the most important position on the field. I know.
All right. Getting in on an IPO is not the most important part of your personal finances. That's the one thing to know about your money today. Max out your 401(k), balance your investments, and don't spend above your means. Ali, you say I'm so boring?
VELSHI: No. I -- you think we disagree on a lot of things, we do not disagree on that.
ROMANS: There you go.
VELSHI: I'm with you on that. And as you know, Christine's the smarter of us.
SAMBOLIN: Yes, I concur.
SAMBOLIN: Although, I'm still on the bees, Christine.
ROMANS: That was amazing.
SAMBOLIN: That was absolutely amazing.
VELSHI: I didn't know vacuuming was the option.
SAMBOLIN: I've got a little bee problem at home. So, I'm taking the vacuum cleaner out and see what happens.
ROMANS: Look at that.
SAMBOLIN: They noticed, during the game, not before the game. Do they just descend like that, all of a sudden?
VELSHI: All right. Maybe it was too good to be true. Van Halen's long-awaited reunion tour abruptly called off. What we're hearing about that and why.
SAMBOLIN: Oh! If you're leaving the house, don't leave without us. You can watch us any time on your desktop or your mobile phone. Just go to CNN.com/TV. We'll be right back.
VELSHI: It is 51 minutes after the hour, which means it's time to take a look at what is trending this morning. Who had June in the betting pool? I'm talking about Van Halen. Coming as a shock to no one, Van Halen has postponed its reunion tour. All 31 shows after their June 26th concert in New Orleans have been yanked from the band's website.
A rep wouldn't say why, but a source tells "Rolling Stone," the guys hate each other, the band is arguing like mad, and the last attempt to reunite with David Lee Roth was also called off.
SAMBOLIN: Fans seriously disappointed there.
And getting a little payback on world peace. Oklahoma City's James Harden snuck in an elbow on Metta World Peace last night as the Thunder beat the Lakers in game two of their playoff games. World Peace really sold it. Look at this. That is quite --
VELSHI: That's an elbow.
SAMBOLIN: Yes. He's Ron Artest also. You remember a few weeks ago, Metta World Peace threw an elbow that knocked out Harden and sent him to the sideline with a concussion. That was purposeful. So, World Peace missed six playoff games as punishment for that moment.
VELSHI: And you're entirely -- I mean, you live with it in the sports world. You're entirely comfortable just calling him World Peace now?
SAMBOLIN: No, I'm not.
VELSHI: All right.
SAMBOLIN: Your mom called you Ron.
VELSHI: Right. Right.
SAMBOLIN: That is who you are, but --
VELSHI: Ochocinko and World Peace and all --
VELSHI: All right. Now, this is in-flight entertainment for you. A packed Air Canada flight stuck on the runway, waiting for take-off when a Toronto-based gypsy punk super party band called the Lemon Bucket Orchestra grabbed their instruments from the overhead bin and started jamming.
SAMBOLIN: That's fantastic!
VELSHI: It looks like most passengers liked it. There's definitely a guy in the middle seat -- yes, she was having a good time. There's a dude in the middle sit over there who doesn't look so happy about the whole thing, but it does make the time go by when you're stuck on a plane, right?
SAMBOLIN: I love that. I love that.
VELSHI: What on you, guys (ph) --
SAMBOLIN: They should do it all the time, right?
VELSHI: I should only hope you guys are on a flight when I get stuck --
SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know. No kidding. I'd be a fan (ph), too.
SAMBOLIN: All right. When late-night worlds collide. Conan O'Brien paying a visit to David Letterman last night, and don't you know Jay Leno's name came up. Take a look.
CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST of "CONAN": You know Jay's watching right now.
O'BRIEN: You know he's getting a live feed in a satellite truck right now.
O'BRIEN: he is watching every second.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Forgive me for making this all about me, but that's kind of what I do.
LETTERMAN: I was delighted by everything that happened, except you losing your job.
LETTERMAN: I --
O'BRIEN: I will tell you --
O'BRIEN: I will tell you, and this is honest. The only consolation I took during that period was that you were happy.
O'BRIEN: Really -- it was really -- I did. I felt -- this is a -- sometimes Dave seems a tad unhappy in his life. And if this is bringing you some measure of joy, then to hell with my career.
VELSHI: That was a fun conversation.
SAMBOLIN: It was great.
VELSHI: I love when it that awkwardness has to play out in that way. It was fun.
All right. Coming up on EARLY START, we are following breaking news on those deadly highway shootings in Mississippi. Police have made an arrest.
And counting down the final hours until Facebook's big debut on the NASDAQ. The excitement building on Wall Street and on Main Street. We'll tell you everything you need to know about the big IPO. You're watching EARLY START.