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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels; Interview with LL Cool J

Aired July 8, 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, a cable anchorman at war with his country, his bosses and even himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR: YouTube, YouTube, YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, you're just a crazy guy shouting YouTube. Just say you understand.

DANIELS: I understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Could it really happen? I'll ask the star of "The Newsroom", Jeff Daniels, what he thinks of the real thing, and if he's tempted to take my chair.

Also, his boss, the genius Aaron Sorkin, and find out if he thinks cable news can handle the truth.

Plus, Mr. Cool himself, LL Cool J opens up about fame, family and that prayer for Whitney Houston at the Grammys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LL COOL J, ACTOR/MUSICIAN: I could not see going out on stage and having a party without first finding some sort of peace with what took place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: He also reveals why he's rapping again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: King of the rap world.

LL COOL J: You really are. They're talking about you in every club.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening.

A big story tonight: truth, power and the media colliding like never before in "The Newsroom." Aaron Sorkin gave us "The West Wing" and "The Social Network." Now, he's taking aim at cable news. I'll talk to him at the moment.

I'll also talk to Jeff Daniels, who plays the cynical anchorman and find out who he based his character on.

Plus, the hit maker with a hit show, LL Cool J, one of my favorite guests, joins me again. This time, he's opening up about his private life. What it really means to be a role model.

MORGAN: But first, the big story, HBO's "The Newsroom."

With me now, the show's writer and creator, Aaron Sorkin, and star, Jeff Daniels.

Welcome to you both.

So I was at the -- the premier of "The Newsroom" in New York, a very grandiose affair, with all the great and good of the media there, lots of cable news anchors recognize to see how accurate this was.

And I think it's fair to say the general consensus was it was pretty darned accurate. People really enjoyed it. I found it a -- a very sort of prescient, thrilling reality check, for me, for what it's like to see it through the prism of your character, Jeff.

But I'm curious about your motives here. I'm an unashamed "West Wing" fan. I've said this many times on the show. And it's a great privilege to have you here.

But what are you trying to achieve with the cable news genre, if anything?

AARON SORKIN, WRITER: I -- I'm only trying to achieve one thing. I've got one goal and that's to entertain the audience for an hour.

We shoot our show on Stage Seven Sunset Gower Studios. That's the same stage where they shot "The Monkees." And we are going to the exact same thing.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: But are you, though, because I always think underneath all this -- you say all this stuff, but I think underneath it, you do like to make a point. I mean, some of the criticism of it in the reviews I've seen is not centered, really, around the show or Jeff or anything else, it's always about what they call Sorkinism (ph), that somehow this is some offensive new term for some of the more polemic stuff that you put in these shows, which is really enjoy, but I -- I suspect some people don't. But tell me about that. Tell me about that criticism you get.

SORKIN: Well, I -- I do enjoy it. I -- first of all, I enjoy language very much. I -- I've -- it sounds like music to me. And I enjoy oratory. And that's the reason for the long speeches.

I grew up in a family where anyone who said one word when they could have used 10 just wasn't trying had enough.

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: And I was the dumbest kid in my family. So I'd sit at the dinner table just listening to fantastic arguments like I was watching a -- a tennis match. And I grew to really like that.

I just -- I love the sound to -- the sound of a point really well made, of somebody saying, but you haven't thought of it this way, but think about that, but what if this were to happen?

And as a writer, I grew up just wanting to imitate that sound.

MORGAN: There's a fantastic speech right at the start of episode one that your character Will makes, Jeff. And it's a real tour de force. He's trapped in this boring, convention, all with students. And then he's goaded by the moderator into finally letting rip with what he really thinks.

Let's watch a bit of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELS: I didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last eve election. And we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America's not the greatest country in the world anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It was fascinating watching the room reaction, all these hard-edged newsmen, Aaron, because a lot of them were sort of nodding along with that, because it was a great speech and a classic, if you don't mind me saying, Sorkinism and -- and it --

SORKIN: I don't mind.

MORGAN: -- at its very best. But -- because it really made you think, because you rattled off all these statistics about where America is not number one anymore and made the point, it used to be a great country and it could be a great country again, but right now, it's not the greatest country in the world.

Let me ask you a difficult question.

When you said it, did you believe it yourself?

DANIELS: It was interesting to do the speech, to work on the speech. That came late. I mean, there were some drafts where it wasn't there, where it was -- there was something that happened at Northwestern that -- that was referred to. And then I think it was one of the last couple of drafts before the pilot.

SORKIN: It was the last thing written.

DANIES: Here comes the pi -- here comes the speech, let's see it. And I remember reading it going, you may not like it, you may disagree with it, you know, you -- for those who are patriotic and wave the flag and don't want to hear it, but there's nothing in it that's not true.

And that went all the way -- each phrase, each thing that Aaron has Will say, it's all true. Sorry to tell you, but it's true.

That -- so that really resonated with me. And to be able to say that, to be able to take words like the way this guy can put them together and throw it at the lens, throw it at an audience, it's -- it's -- for an actor, it's gold.

MORGAN: Yes, but it seems to me you're doing, with Will's character, who's the cable news anchor, kind of what you did with President Bartlet. You know, he -- he makes these great speeches and makes these great moments when he's sitting at his desk or wherever he may be, and over time, you start to speak for what America should be like. It's a better world, if you like.

It's -- it's -- and so that's way -- where I sort of take issue with you slightly devaluing your -- what your objective is here, because I -- I actually believe you do have a slightly higher calling with these things.

SORKIN: Well, I -- listen, I do -- my point with devaluing is -- is simply that a -- this show wasn't asking anyone to eat its vegetables at all. But really its spirit is screwball comedy. It's a romantic comedy.

It's heightened reality. It's idealistic. It's swashbuckling.

And we do just want people to have fun for an hour.

But I'm writing about things I really, you know, believe in. And one of them is I'm a patriot and I love America. That word patriot, at least in my lifetime, has been defined over a different way, as just somebody who flies a flag in front of their house and that if you, for instance, criticize America, if you give the speech that Jeff gives at the beginning of the show, that makes you anti-American.

And that's something, on "The West Wing" and on this show, that -- that we fight against.

MORGAN: I mean, Aaron, you said, I feel like a lot of news outlets have abdicated their responsibility. I've met people that want to carry that torch of Edward R. Murrow.

I suppose critics would say, look, you've got to live in the real world here a little bit, in the sense that if you go too highfalutin with your news coverage, if you try and do it in the purest sense, what your character does in this show, it doesn't rate, especially if there's not big breaking news.

And I can tell you for a hard, unpalatable fact, that that is true.

SORKIN: No, I know it's true. But the good news is --

MORGAN: And it's -- it's hard.

So how do you tackle that?

If it's -- now you've had your toes dipped in our waters for a while, if you were running a news network, what would you do?

SORKIN: Well, first, let me just backup a little bit and say I don't have to live in the real world. I'm a fiction writer.

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: So, I get to write a -- you know, a Democratic administration that can get things done and I get to write about a very idealistic newsroom, where these guys reach unrealistically high, so they fall down a lot. But we're still rooting for them anyway.

But there's no question that the antagonist in this show is -- doesn't come so much in the form of a person, although that's the role Jane Fonda plays and that's the role that Chris Messina plays. It's ratings, that -- that if we have a problem in this country with the news, it's at least as much the consumer's fault as it is the provider's fault.

But this show doesn't live in the real world. It seems like it does, because it's set against the backdrop of real news events. We never do fictional news on the show. It's all real.

The characters are all fictional and not based on anybody. I know you're going to get to that question.

But --

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: -- but it's -- they're -- they -- they're constantly referencing Don Quixote, "Brigadoon" and Camelot. And the name of the cable station is Atlantis and its parent company is Atlantis. And these are all imaginary lost cities.

DANIELS: Unabashedly romantic and idealistic.

SORKIN: Yes.

DANIELS: That's the -- I mean he excels in that. And that's -- it's the happy ending. It's the show -- swashbuckling, he said.

You know, that's -- that's what we're doing. And -- and Aaron told me, when we started this, he goes, by the way, if you're in here to be likable all the time and, you know, you're -- it ain't going to work that way, because you're going to fail. Will is going to fail miserably.

And we do. Over the first season, it is a struggle, just like the struggle a lot of these TV journalists say they're going through every day.

MORGAN: And Will is a -- a quite spectacular (EXPLETIVE DELETED) from time to time, as well, which is why --

DANIELS: Thank you.

MORGAN: -- why I like him so much.

DANIELS: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: Let's take a short break.

We'll come back and talk more about Will the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and Aaron the genius.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People don't come here looking for handouts. We are a nation of strivers and climbers and entrepreneurs, the hardest working people on earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama speaking in Florida today.

I'm back now with Jeff Daniels and "The Newsroom's" creator, Aaron Sorkin.

The hardest people on earth -- is he slightly deluded, President Obama -- I mean just taking up from your character's speech at the start of the first episode? Are Americans still the hardest working people on earth?

SORKIN: Well, I have no idea. I've -- I've never tested how hard other people in the world work. But it's -- it's good oratory --

MORGAN: You didn't write the speech though?

SORKIN: No, I didn't.

(LAUGHTER) SORKIN: And -- but, Jon Favreau, not the actor, but the president's speechwriter, would tell you that Barack Obama is the best writer in any room that Barack Obama is in. I always smile when people have a problem with the -- with the teleprompter. I mean he's the guy who wrote what's on the teleprompter.

MORGAN: Yes.

Let's watch how this speech goes on, because it's quite interesting what he then said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And nobody personified these American values, these American traits, more than the Latino community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: He's fairly shameless. I mean I would have thought -- I mean that a -- again, you could expect that to pop up in "The West Wing" at some stage as a campaign message.

But I mean for a president to be standing there today deliberately pandering like that to the Latino community at a Latino conference?

SORKIN: Right.

MORGAN: Am I being too cynical here?

SORKIN: No, no, of course you're not.

(CROSSTALK)

SORKIN: Listen, he's -- he's at a Latino conference. Governor Romney spoke there yesterday, I think. And they both need the Latino vote.

But I will say that I -- it's -- it's nicer hearing that than hearing about the lazy Mexicans who come here who are draining our resources -

MORGAN: That's true.

SORKIN: -- selling drugs and shooting guns. You know, you get up at 6:00 in the morning and see who's waiting at the bus stops. Any time a new hotel opens in town, see who's snaking around the block three times waiting for a job.

MORGAN: Have you ruined it, basically, for every American president by making Bartlet so likable, principled, and everything else that he was?

Have you basically ruined it? Do all of them now get unfairly compared to Bartlet?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Because I've seen polls that Bartlet -- SORKIN: It --

MORGAN: -- would have been made president time and again.

SORKIN: Yes, the --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- their way.

SORKIN: Again, I have the benefit of fiction. I don't just get to decide what Bartlet says, I get to decide what everybody else says and does, too, so.

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: It's a lot easier for Bartlet than for a real president.

MORGAN: Jeff, what is it like to -- to work as an actor with someone like Aaron's words, because he's famously, he -- he strives over everything himself. This is absolutely his stand on almost every word that you will be, in the end, acting.

DANIELS: Every word, yes. I mean it -- you memorize every word and that's the drill. I was doing a movie with Meryl Streep once and -- "The Hours." And we were going to walk into a doorway -- through a doorway.

And the director, Stephen Daldry, said -- we had David Hare was the screenwriter. And -- and they said, Meryl, just say a couple of things coming through the door.

She goes, what, I have to write it, too?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: And I had never -- I'd never heard an actor say that. And he had David Hare sitting over there. And David came up with two lines. That's for -- she was -- why do I have to write it?

And that's how you feel. You've got Aaron Sorkin. You've got a singular voice. You don't have a committee. You don't have executives noting in the depth and you feel like somebody -- you don't have three or four writers on it. He's got every word on it.

SORKIN: And by the same token, when I'm writing it, I get to know that Jeff is going to be playing it, that Emily is going to be playing it, that Tom Sadoski, John Gallagher, Sam Waterston, that these people are going to be playing it.

So I can say, you know what, you don't need a half page speech here. It's going to happen on Jeff's face when he lights the cigarette.

MORGAN: I read an interview with you a few years ago and you were talking -- it was after the -- the drugs bust thing that happened to you. And you were talking about just this -- you like to just disappear on your own. You know, at the time, it would be with drugs. But --

SORKIN: Yes.

MORGAN: -- but you would -- you wanted to go to Vegas on your own rather than go with other people.

SORKIN: Yes.

MORGAN: And just have a -- a night in a clean hotel room, as you put it. I mean that is a strange thing to do.

But what -- why do you like that solitude?

SORKIN: Well, I liked it then because of the drug use. I didn't party with other people. It was -- I never did drugs with other people. I only did it by myself.

But now, solitude is about writing, because so much of that process is thinking about what you're going to write before you write it. And I'm also a father now. So, you know, when I'm not working, I like to spend my time with my daughter.

MORGAN: And did you let The Beatles do your best stuff on the drugs?

SORKIN: You know what? I don't --

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: -- the last thing I want to do is make drugs sound good to anybody. But, you know, Bill Maher once said that, you know, drugs sure haven't hurt his record collection.

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: And I don't think I did do my best stuff while I was high. But even if I had, if I was writing at Shakespeare level high and the hackiest hack level straight, I'll take not being high and a hack.

MORGAN: Have you arrived at a good place in your life now, do you think?

SORKIN: Yes. I've --

MORGAN: The hard way, maybe, but you have?

SORKIN: I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Like I said, I'm -- I love being a father. I get paid to do exactly what I love doing, exactly what I'd love to do for free. And I get to work with the greatest people in my industry.

MORGAN: And without wishing to be too intrusive here -- and you are -- according to the photographs I saw after the premier, you are dating a beautiful woman from "Sex and the City."

Is this true?

SORKIN: Every so often, I'm a single man. But every so often, an otherwise brilliant woman will have a short lapse of judgment --

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: -- and agree to go out on a date with me and that's what happened with Kristin Davis, who was nice enough to be my date for the L.A. premier the other night.

That's where --

MORGAN: Well, but you make a very nice couple.

SORKIN: Thanks. We'll see what happens.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let's take a hurried break.

And when we come back, Jeff, I want to talk to you about the fact that you were compared to be the new Cary Grant.

DANIELS: Oh, good.

MORGAN: I want to know how that's going for you.

DANIELS: It's going well. Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELS: (INAUDIBLE) contract anymore. It's a 156-week contract that gives me the opportunity to fire you 155 times at the end of each week. We'll wait a few months to make sure it's not a story Bill Carter can shove up my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) then.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you get my contract changed?

DANIELS: I gave the network back some money off my salary?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much money?

DANIELS: A million dollars a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You get back $1 million a year?

DANIELS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You paid $1 million to be able to fire me anytime you want?

DANIELS: Three million dollars. Not any time I want. Just the end of each week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: We're back with Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin to talk more about "The Newsroom" from which that clip was taken.

And, actually, I love your character. I think you've just landed -- I'm sure you feel that way as an actor -- that this is one of the good --

DANIELS: With very good money, yes.

MORGAN: A great role, isn't it?

DANIELS: Yes. Oh, it is.

MORGAN: So much you can go to with him.

What's Emily Mortimer like to work with?

DANIELS: She's a dream. She's a -- she's an incredible foil for -- if that's even the word -- for Will. Through Will's bluster and his screaming and yelling and treating everybody as if they're, you know, peasants, when the smoke clears, Emily is still standing there going, "Are you done?"

And then she comes right in. And she -- she can -- she knows him better than he knows himself.

He is still, for reasons that will develop over the season, mad -- he's madly in love with her and hates her guts at the same time.

MORGAN: Well, they've clearly had a fling before, right?

DANIELS: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: This is the obvious --

DANIELS: Off-camera, she's a dream. She's a pro. She works so hard.

And the chemistry we have is just two actors listening to each other in front of the camera. And she's -- she's just beautiful to work with.

MORGAN: The worrying thing I felt -- and I said this to you the moment I came out and bumped into you I said, the trouble is, you're going to put us all out of business, because you're so good. The new Will, when he gets reborn as this kind of cynical, charging firebrand. And it's prompted this big debate about who you base this on -- well, I suppose who you base this on.

Lots of names have been thrown in. Is it a hybrid? Or is there one particular, you know --

SORKIN: Not a --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Keith Olbermann has been probably throwing his own hat in the ring, but --

SORKIN: Yes, it's -- the character is entirely a product of my imagination and then Jeff's imagination. This person doesn't exist on TV.

Will McAvoy is a moderate Republican who says that he's from a town outside -- a town outside Lincoln, Nebraska. He is pro-life. He supports the Arizona immigration bill.

And he's become famous and successful for assiduously hugging the middle of the road and not bothering anybody. So --

(CROSSTALK)

SORKIN: -- if I was trying to --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- mad as hell?

SORKIN: -- base it on Keith Olbermann, I missed.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Now, Jeff, you were, in the '80s, we've got a "GQ" cover to show, because it asked a great question, "Is Jeff Daniels The Next Cary Grant?"

There it is.

DANIELS: That's a great question?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: That's -- that's the -- oh, boy.

MORGAN: To which the answer was?

DANIELS: No.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: No.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: No, I believe -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there was only one Cary Grant. And I think Woody had said it. Woody had kind of mentioned that there are elements of what he does in "The Purple Rose of Cairo," that, you know, are of that kind of Cary Grant way of acting, or some such --

MORGAN: You had a great line about it, actually. You said, "I was aware that I don't have the looks for that movie star thing. When you put the camera on me, it just sucks the lens (INAUDIBLE) to me. So whatever career I'm going to have will be because I'm an actor and a good actor."

DANIELS: Yes, I'll stand by that.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: Yes. Yes, you know?

SORKIN: I actually think he's the new Spencer Tracy.

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: And that's who, you know, any time I write something and it comes time to cast it and you sit around with the casting directors to talk about who you're looking for, you know, I always ask if Spencer Tracy is available. He --

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: -- he never is and --

(LAUGHTER)

SORKIN: -- and then we -- and then we try to fill the role. And it's so -- it's impossible to find Jeff Daniels in Hollywood.

There is only one. He's the only person that we wanted to play the role. It would be an entirely different show if he wasn't playing it.

And we were lucky to land him.

MORGAN: What do -- what do you think is the art of great acting?

I mean you've written for great actors.

SORKIN: Yes.

MORGAN: And you've been a great actor. What is the art of great acting, other than listening?

SORKIN: Listening is a bit part of it. And I think it depends what actor you're talking about.

I can tell you that there are some things that an actor can't fake. An actor can't fake smart. An actor can't fake funny. So if you need those things, you need to find somebody who's smart and funny.

You were talking about Emily a moment ago. And this really remarkable and winning performance that she gives.

I don't write a lot of description in the scripts, but when her character enters, I just -- I describe it a little bit as someone who doesn't need to act tough, because she is tough. And that frees her up to be kind of silly and goofy and be who she is. And that exactly who Emily is. You know, there's -- there's -- she doesn't feel like she's a woman in a man's world.

MORGAN: No, she's -- she's a great character.

And, Jeff, when you look around now in the firmament of great actors, who, for you, stands out, male or female, right now as pound for pound a great actor?

DANIELS: You know, Meryl. Meryl Streep is the go-to for me. And I've told her. I've been lucky to do a couple of movies with her. And she's come to theater things that I've been in.

I said I steal from you all the time. She's the best moment to moment, present.

Sam Waterston came up with that word about Meryl. She's present. And she never gets ahead of herself. Each take is different. And you feel like she's not only acting, but reacting to what you're doing.

And that's the key. Too many actors, you know, act in front of a mirror. You know, it's, you know, I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille, which is, you know, I'm right here.

MORGAN: Yes, yes.

DANIELS: And the closer it gets, the more you make it about the other person.

MORGAN: I've got two contemporary questions to ask you.

One for you, Jeff, is that there was a remake of "Dumb and Dumber" that's supposed to be coming out that's now apparently not. What can you tell me about that?

DANIELS: What have you heard?

MORGAN: That Jim Carey buggered off.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: : Buggered off. I know this. I know that the four of us, the Farrelly Brothers, Jim and myself, would all love to do it. Especially Jim. Jim's wanted to do it for a year and a half. We've hit some bumps in the road. My hope is that while I completely agree with Jim's stance on it, that he's, you know, frustrated and throwing up his hands -- my hope is that there's a happy ending and we get to do it.

MORGAN: Because you did gross 250 million dollars.

DANIELS: : Million or billion? Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: It has the potential to be seen by a couple of people, let me put it that way.

MORGAN: I've got to ask you about Facebook, whether you own any of the stock.

SORKIN: You know what, I didn't. And I should have -- really, I should have bought one share of stock just for sentimental value. I forgot to. But maybe I will now. And maybe -- I don't really know how this works. Maybe if the street sees me buying Facebook, suddenly there will be a rush to buy the shares.

MORGAN: It's actually been edging up --

SORKIN: Starting to do well?

MORGAN: Yeah, starting to creep back to where it was before.

SORKIN: Oh, damn, I can't take credit for it.

MORGAN: No, you may have missed the boat again.

SORKIN: I'll figure out a way.

MORGAN: Aaron Sorkin, thank you so much. Jeff Daniels, thank you so much. It airs, "Newsroom," Sunday on HBO. Time?

SORKIN: 10:00 p.m.

MORGAN: 10:00 p.m. It's terrific show. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Worried about my own future, obviously. Worried that Will is going to come and sit in this chair, and everyone's going to go, yeah, he's better than the real thing. For now, I'm prepared to help you promote it. Thank you, gentlemen.

DANIELS: Thanks so much.

MORGAN: Coming up next, LL Cool J stops by with a surprise for his fans. And he all talks about that prayer for Whitney Houston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP FROM NCIS: LOS ANGELES)

morgan: More than 15 million Americans watched THE season finale of "NCIS: L.A."; it's wrapped for the summer. That doesn't mean LL Cool J is taking a break. In 1992 he earned his first Grammy for the popular "Momma Said Knock You Out," and this week launched a new music program called MyConnect Studio.

LL Cool J joins me for a primetime exclusive interview.

Welcome back.

LL COOL J: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: I feel like we now know each other so well --

LL COOL J: Yes, yes.

MORGAN: -- I can call you Todd.

LL COOL J: Yes, you can.

MORGAN: Which is the name your friends call you.

LL COOL J: Yes, it is.

MORGAN: Your real buddies don't call you LL Cool J.

LL COOL J: No, they don't.

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL J: No. They don't. No.

MORGAN: Am I allowed to call you Todd?

LL COOL J: You should -- you're definitely allowed to call me Todd.

MORGAN: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL J: Absolutely.

MORGAN: So the last time we met was a sort of strange experience for me, because we had a great time, a great interview.

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: You were excited the Grammys were a couple of days away.

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: And then Whitney Houston died.

You then had this strange position as having to host an event which had been completely overtaken by the drama of losing one of the great entertainers in the world.

When you heard what has happened, what was your reaction?

LL COOL J: Well, you know, my first reaction was -- it was horrifying, you know. You know, you -- you -- you know, you hear the rumors about things that people are going through and that's always tough, you know, to listen to. But, you know, I didn't expect to get that news. And the timing of it was just -- you know, it was horrible.

MORGAN: Did you know Whitney well?

LL COOL J: Yes, I knew Whitney. She was a -- she was a very sweet girl, a very sweet girl. It's so funny, I used to walk around, for many years, I wore my pants legs rolled up, like that was something I was known for, having one pants leg rolled up.

MORGAN: I did the same thing.

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL J: Yes. And, you know, Whitney used to tease me. I remember one time she saw me backstage at an event. She said, oh, LL, you got that from my husband.

I said, no, Whitney, your husband got that from me. And that was --

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL JAY: -- that was a fun moment.

But she was really cool. Like when I worked in Miami a couple of times they came by the studio and, you know, she was a really nice girl, man. So --

MORGAN: You came up with this really special idea --

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: -- which was to -- to say a prayer --

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: -- which everyone remembers. I mean, the audience went to the roof at this event, because suddenly the Grammys was going to be this tribute to Whitney.

Let's take a look at -- at the prayer that you said there on stage.

LL COOL J: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LL COOL JAY: Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today, our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit and to have her lasting legacy of music to cherish and share forever. Amen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was a really powerful thing to do.

What gave you that idea to do that?

LL COOL J: You know, I -- I was thinking about it and it was the only way that I felt -- I would feel comfortable proceeding with the show and celebrating all of these other musicians, because it was about trying to find that fine balance between celebrating her legacy, giving love to this wonderful, amazing entertainer, and, at the same time, respecting all of these young artists and all of these established artists who were either nominated for Grammys or performing on the show and not putting them in the position where they have to perform at a memorial.

You know, it's tough, it's tough because you have to remember that there were so many artists, so many fantastic musicians. We had Paul McCartney in the audience. We had Bruce Springsteen. We have, you know, Bruno Mars. We have all of these great artists, Lady Gaga. You have Adele making her comeback.

And you -- they deserve an opportunity to be celebrated as musicians. But at the same time, we can't be -- I guess the word would be crass or insensitive to what is going on.

So it was just finding that balance. It's not easy.

MORGAN: Ultimately, the show goes on, doesn't it --

LL COOL J: Yes, it does.

MORGAN: -- in show business?

I mean, Whitney would have understood that.

LL COOL J: Of course she would have. And she would have wanted it to go on. I think any true artist or entertainer would want other artists to have their moment. No one wants to deny someone their moment.

But at the same time, we recognized and I recognized that there are a lot of people in the country and a lot of people around the world who were going to have this -- this weight on their shoulders and this 100-pound elephant in the room that had to be addressed. And I could not see going out on stage and having a party without first at least, you know, having some sort of -- finding some sort of peace with what took place.

MORGAN: Well, I thought you got the term completely right --

LL COOL J: Thank you.

MORGAN: -- and set the mood correctly for the evening. I thought it was a very moving night.

The interesting thing, to me, with you in particular talking about this, is you -- the last time you came on -- talked about. In a very tough upbringing, you could have gone down the way of a lot of people that you hung out with.

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: You could have ended up in gangs or dead or in prison or whatever.

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: But you didn't. You made something of yourself. LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: I interviewed Mark Wahlberg very recently and he has a similar kind of story. And I'm really impressed by the way he's done what he did, as I am with you.

When you look at Whitney and Michael Jackson, both died around the same age, both died from pretty severe drug abuse, different types of drugs, but still, drug abuse in the end. And yet their upbringings weren't that tormented. You know, they were actually relatively OK.

But they got sucked into that kind of world.

LL COOL J: Right.

MORGAN: You've got four kids now who are coming out of teens into their 20s --

LL COOL J: Right.

MORGAN: What do you say to them? I mean, you've been through this experience and come out well.

LL COOL J: Right.

MORGAN: You've seen others -- big, big stars -- die --

LL COOL J: Right.

MORGAN: -- through substance abuse and so on.

What do you say to your children?

LL COOL J: You know, I think it starts with trying to set an example, you know? If your kids see you reading, they're more likely to read. If your kids see you downstairs on the treadmill trying to exercise, if they see their mom downstairs, you know, down there fighting the good fight and working out to be the best that she can be, they want to do that.

And I think that that's all we can do. You know, I think it's a fantasy to think that we're going to be able to go out and single- handedly stop all of the -- or prevent all of the -- the influences in society from affecting our kids.

But what we can do is set an example and then try to instill the right values in them.

MORGAN: Do you understand why someone like Whitney, who had lost her magical power as a singer, unquestionably. She wasn't the singer she had been. She couldn't hit the big notes anymore --

LL COOL J: Right.

MORGAN: -- that made her so hugely famous.

Do you understand the particular pressure, as a former -- that led her to enter that spiral of self-abuse towards the end?

LL COOL J: Of course I do. I think, you know, it's -- you know, it's -- it's not easy for everyone to handle the pressures of fame, the pressures of fortune, the pressures of having a huge business, a huge company, running a huge paper or whatever it is. It's not easy. And we -- you know, there's an old saying, pressure can either bust pipes or it can create diamonds.

And, you know -- you know, sometimes we land on one side or the other. Why? I can't tell you specifically, because I don't know what was going on in her mind and what was going on in her heart.

But I do understand how tough it can get. You know, you have a lot of people out there in the world who are dealing with a lot of tough situations. And we, as human beings, always try our best to escape pain and seek some sort of pleasure.

Hopefully, a pleasure can be something that's going to be productive in your life. You put your -- you seek pleasure by maybe diving into your work. Some people dive into their exercise. Some people, you know, make it about their kids. You know, people have different ways they do it.

But for others, it can turn into gambling. It can turn into drugs. It can turn into alcoholism.

I mean, that's -- you know, that's the -- that's the price tag, you know?

It all comes with a price tag. And it's about what price are you willing to pay?

If you want a lot, you've got to sacrifice a lot.

MORGAN: The reason I know that you are successful is that you are blinding me with diamonds.

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL J: But can I -- can I just say something? This watch is so old.

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL JAY: This is a really old watch.

MORGAN: That watch could probably sustain the national debt of Lithuania --

LL COOL J: You know what --

MORGAN: -- for about 10 years.

LL COOL J: -- you're very, very funny, but this -- this watch is real -- now, I did work hard for it. I'm not going to make excuses.

But this watch is super old. And one thing about me, I'm not, you know, money, money, money. I'm not one of those guys.

(CROSSTALK)

LL COOL JAY: I'm a -- I'm actually, you know, my -- my friends used to tease me, because there was a point when I had -- you know, you're going to laugh, I had really success albums out and I had a Honda Accord. And my friends were like killing me about that, like, you know, they were killing me.

MORGAN: So that's actually brand damaging when --

LL COOL J: Yes, yes, I shouldn't have even said that on TV, but --

MORGAN: No, it's really -- because that's going to kill everything. Everyone is going, not a Honda Accord.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let's take a break.

LL COOL J: All right.

MORGAN: Let's come back, because you are back rapping.

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: I want to know about this.

LL COOL J: Let's do it.

MORGAN: I want to do a bit of rapping with you.

LL COOL J: All right.

MORGAN: LL Morgan.

LL COOL J: Ha-ha, I love it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LL COOL JAY: But to keep America great, we have to keep America creative. I think the key is to create. I don't think that anything great in this nation has ever happened without creation, whether it's the Wright brothers or it's what Bill Gates has done or -- rest in peace -- what Steve Jobs did.

The basis of America, it's about creating, even if it's just creating freedom, you know? We've always been about creation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Words of wisdom from LL Cool J there. He's back with me now for a primetime exclusive interview.

I was very struck by what you said there, because it's so right, isn't it?

I really feel one of America's fundamental problems is in this huge breakout of consumerism and demand or wanting, wanting, wanting. People stop making stuff.

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: And you look at the Steve Jobs, but these are guys in isolation. But it should be more than that. America has so many great brains.

LL COOL J: Yes, it does.

MORGAN: I just want them to be using it properly, making stuff again.

LL COOL J: Yes. You have to have the opportunity. You have to know to take advantage of the opportunity. You have to get the platform. You have to get in position.

So, there's a lot of other maneuvering that goes into creation.

As far as, you know, what I've worked on now, what I did was we -- I always dreamed that if I was in, let's say, New York and a kid was in London or if I was in LA and a kid was in Tokyo, we would be able to go online -- or a musician -- go online and create music in real time together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LL COOL J: There is no delay, no latency. We've solved all those problems and they can actually create in real time. And this is amazing because it won't just be for professional artists. It will be Becky in Idaho and her friend Buffy off in college.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LL in L.A., me in San Francisco, you know, something like that.

LL COOL J: We're going to be uploading dance tracks and recording music.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LL COOL J: It's as simple as us talking on the phone. Now, we can go to our laptop --

MORGAN: And you've called this My Connect Studio.

LL COOL J: My Connect Studio.

MORGAN: It's a new program.

Let's see a little bit of you --

LL COOL J: OK.

MORGAN: -- rapping in your studio. LL COOL J: All right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(LL COOL J RAPPING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I like the way you name checked Piers in that. That was --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: -- I know I'm a bit of a king in the rap world --

LL COOL J: That's funny. Yes, you -- you really are.

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL JAY: They're talking about you in every club.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Tell me about music (INAUDIBLE), because obviously you've had this smash hit TV career now --

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: -- in "NCIS: L.A."

If I could -- I think I asked you the last time to try and decide if I could let you do one thing the rest of your life, the more you deal with TV, the more you maybe do movies and all that kind of thing, do you drift away from music? Was music always your first love?

LL COOL J: Well -- well, yes, you drift away. But, you know, at the same time, you know, you always return to your roots. You know, I'm currently, you know, working on an album. And, you know, I'm popping, you know, my -- my laptop out and I'm -- I'm working on music. And I've been in the studio every day and just really working, trying to create something great.

You know, there are different audiences. You know, there's a -- an audience out there that grew up with LL Cool J as musician, as a rapper, as an artist. And I'm, you know, going to give them an album. That art, that audience who grew up on me as a musician may not necessarily be -- some of them do, but everybody who watches my show isn't aware of my music.

MORGAN: I interviewed Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins, who is a fascinating guy, very smart. But he -- he's adamant. He's not just going to do a tour where he plays all the hits. He's actually going to play his new album from start to finish.

LL COOL J: Yes. Yes. That's --

MORGAN: Because he says, actually, he wants the audience to come with him.

LL COOL J: But you know what? You have to do that. You -- you have to -- you can't like -- you don't want your music or your -- your products to become a commodity. There has to be some sort -- some --

MORGAN: Just become a greatest hits.

LL COOL J: Yes, some sort of level of fidelity, some hot -- some sort of thing that makes this thing special. When I come out with a new album, it will be authentic hip hop. It will be special.

I did the thing with Sony. I put, you know, My Connect on the laptop. It's special. It's not -- but it's also -- it has a convenient thing. It's convenient for musicians. But it's special.

Like you have to make things special. When I go to a U2 concert and I see them on stage and what they bring in terms of the experience, it's special. You don't -- nobody wants to hear you just do, you know, your shtick, you know, at least not the really -- not the audience that really cares about you.

MORGAN: What -- what is different about you, special, in many ways, is my producer, who prepared this -- this interview for me with you, said that his hairdresser said to him yesterday, the thing I love about LL Cool J is his Twitter feed.

LL COOL J: Oh.

MORGAN: Because you're so inspiring. Because every day, he says -- so we went and checked. And I -- I follow you anyway.

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: You're annoying me. You've got about 100,000 more followers than me, about 3.5 million, but I'm going to get you.

But it was interesting what -- what they meant. I don't think they meant, because you --

LL COOL J: Follow me on Twitter @LLCoolJ.

MORGAN: Yes, you'll find it just after @PiersMorgan.

He conquers who endures --

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: -- Perseus.

Being considered relevant become cliche. It's all a matter of opinion. Either you're winning or you're not.

And the constant theme of all of your Tweets is you've got to keep going, even when people write you off.

LL COOL J: Absolutely. MORGAN: And you can't just be a cliche. You've got to reinvent, you've got to be creative. And in the end, you've got to win.

LL COOL J: Absolutely. And, you know, winning -- you have to define what winning is. You know --

MORGAN: What is it to you?

LL COOL J: Whatever goal I'm going -- I want to achieve, achieving it

MORGAN: If I could write your tombstone heading now --

LL COOL J: Oh, no.

MORGAN: Here lies Todd.

LL COOL J: Here lies Todd?

MORGAN: Here lies Todd, he -- what would you like it to say? What would you want to be remembered for?

LL COOL J: Oh, God, I don't even want to think about that, right?

MORGAN: I'm not saying it's going to happen imminently.

LL COOL J: Yes. Yes. You know, he maximized his potential, because that ultimately is all that we can do as human beings, right?

You know, the last thing you want to do is be sitting on your deathbed, look, with all your dreams standing around you, saying why are you taking us with you?

And so many people do that. So many people believe their dreams have deadlines, but they don't. It's just a matter of you taking your life to the next level. It's like you were, you know, across the pond doing something different. You took your show on the road, stepped into another arena. You're doing your thing.

I mean, that's what it's about. It's about maximizing your potential.

MORGAN: Yes, I always say to my sons, just give it your best.

LL COOL J: That's it.

MORGAN: Never regret the fact that you didn't quite try hard enough for something --

LL COOL J: Absolutely.

MORGAN: -- that you -- that you wanted, because that's the biggest regret you'll ever have --

LL COOL J: Absolutely.

MORGAN: -- is if you didn't give it everything you had.

LL COOL J: It's what you didn't try to do that you regret.

MORGAN: Yes. Absolutely right.

LL COOL J: You know, you don't want to go out just and purposely make mistakes. But, you know, things -- all being relative and everything being even, it's what you don't do that you'll ultimately regret, you know?

MORGAN: Well, you're doing a hell of a lot. My Connect Studio is available now?

LL COOL J: Yes.

MORGAN: The "NCIS: Los Angeles" returns for season four this fall.

LL COOL J: Yes. And, oh, I want people to know that the My Connect Studio is also available on the Sony Vios laptop. It's preloaded.

MORGAN: OK.

LL COOL J: So if you go to, you know, Sony.com, you can actually get a laptop --

MORGAN: Great.

LL COOL J: -- and it's preloaded. It's cool, very cool.

MORGAN: I will be getting it as a matter of urgency.

LL COOL J: My man.

MORGAN: To continue my own hip hop career.

(CROSSTALK)

LL COOL J: I'll see in the VIP.

MORGAN: When is the new album out?

LL COOL J: You know what, I'm working on it. I'm almost finished with it. It's authentic hip hop and it's coming. And, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Well, come back --

LL COOL J: It will be a lot of fun.

MORGAN: -- well, when it's out, come back and talk about it.

LL COOL J: I'll do it.

MORGAN: And if you're basically hanging on to get me on that album in some capacity --

LL COOL J: I am. MORGAN: MC Morgan is available.

LL COOL J: Absolutely. CPM, Cool Piers Morgan.

(LAUGHTER)

LL COOL JAY: I love it. I love it.

MORGAN: There are rap fans all over America dying a horrible death right now at the thought of this.

It's always great to see you. Thank you.

LL COOL J: You, too, Piers.

MORGAN: LL Cool J.

Next, Only in America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, saying I do in the flash mob age. You see them in malls and markets, on Youtube clips and morning slows, the supposedly spontaneous eruption of artistic, romantic performance, a burst of synchronized loving improvisation, designed to catch people by surprise. It's a flash mob proposal. They come in all kinds.

This month, in New York's Bryant Park, there was one that may have topped them all in sheer size and production values.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is going on?

Oh my God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That is a young woman named Allison. She's about to be the unwitting star of her own engagement. First a small troop dances to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Then the show really gets going when a massive brass band marches in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm shaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The camera work, the editing, all those extras, it's very Hollywood. Only it's missing is some explosions for it to be a Michael Bay film. Finally the grand finale, with family and friends surrounding Allison, her boyfriend Craig walks up and pops the question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allison Mclair (ph), before I met you I didn't think I could love someone for the rest of my life. Now I know I can. Will you please, please marry me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Of course she said yes. Didn't have much choice really, did she. Hundreds of her nearest and dearest staring at her together with all the complete strangers gawking wide eyedly as well.

What ever happened to old fashion discrete proposals? Don't get me wrong, I wish them Allison and her fiance Craig all the very best for the future. But just imagine the pressure on them for their wedding now. Unless it's conducted in Yankee Stadium, broadcast live on CNN, and includes personal video citations from President Obama, Lady Gaga and the Dalai Lama, it's going to be one hell of a disappointment.

That's all for us tonight.