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Interview with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer; Mick's Shocking Relationships; Report To Be Released on Penn State Child Abuse Scandal; Military Suicides Addressed in Recent "TIME" Article; Robert Blake Versus Piers Morgan; Ellen Burstyn's "Political Animals"

Aired July 12, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning was a tough crowd for Mitt Romney. He is running against the first black president, getting boos from the NAACP yesterday. But was that booing strategic? And why was President Obama a no show? We'll take a look at that this morning.

Did they put the football program ahead of the children? A former FBI director's new report is expected out in less than an hour. It's about what Penn State knew about the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Plus, in your face.


ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: Well, before you start asking questions, you should do some (EXPLETIVE DELETED) research.


O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. And that was kind of how it began. That's the actor Robert Blake kind of defensive about his legal ordeal, the murder of his wife. The testy Piers Morgan interview is straight ahead. We'll share that with you.

Plus, Ellen Burstyn will be stopping by. She's got a new political project. It might remind you a little bit of, hmm, Bill and Hillary Clinton?

It's Thursday, July 12th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: All right. A little Bruno Mars, we haven't started with Bruno Mars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off your playlist.

O'BRIEN: Off my playlist. Everybody has that, I think. It's at everybody's playlist.

Welcome, everybody. Let's get right to the team this morning. Abby Huntsman is with us. She's the host of "HuffPost Live." Congratulations on that, by the way.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HUFFPOST LIVE: Thank you. Very excited.

O'BRIEN: Ken Feinberg is with us. He is the author of "Who Gets What." We were talking about that just a moment ago.

And Will Cain is a columnist for

Nice to have you with us this morning.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning to you.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Christine for a look at the day's top stories.

Christine, good morning.


First, breaking news for -- you just in to CNN, Soledad. A killer avalanche in the French alps. Police say nine people are dead. Three Germans, three English, two Spanish, and one Swiss tourist. Four people are missing at this hour, and the search is underway in the Alps. It is already the deadliest such disaster there in a decade.

Legacy on the line. In one hour, former FBI chief Louis Freeh will release his report commissioned by Penn State University on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. It will detail whether the head coach Joe Paterno and school administrators could have done more to stop the child predator.

A seven-month-old letter surfaced from the late Joe Paterno yesterday in which he defended the integrity of Penn State, saying, quote, "This is not a football scandal."

A live report is coming up in about 30 minutes.

Florida's state attorney plans to release FBI reports later today that could explain whether race played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The reports contain federal interviews with more than 30 people, including members of the Sanford Police Department and friends of shooting suspect George Zimmerman. We're also expecting details of email exchanges between Zimmerman and fired Sanford police chief Bill Lee.

Florida A&M University is looking for a new president. James Ammons is stepping down after five years in the wake of a hazing scandal. He announced his resignation on the same day that the parents of drum major Robert champion, who died after being hazed, added the university to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Champion was beaten by fellow members of the university's band during a hazing ritual on the band's bus last November.

Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. says his month-long absence from Congress has nothing to do with alcohol or substance abuse. They say he's being treated for a mood disorder.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Chicago -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Christine, the bottom line here is that we're getting some information from the Jackson camp, but we're not getting a lot of detail. And there have been two camps here in terms of folks on Capitol Hill that want more information. You've got people like Steny Hoyer, Luis Gonzalez and Dick Durbin in the last few days. They that have come out and give us more information, give the public more information about what's ailing you.

The other side, we ran into Roland Burress yesterday. Listen to him. He blasts Democrats on the Hill and the media, saying leave Jesse Jackson Jr. alone.


ROLAND BURRIS (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Senator Durbin, Gutierrez, Steny Hoyer, all of them, need to back off of Jesse Jr. and let's wait and see what will come forward at the proper time.

ROWLANDS: Don't people have a right to know what's wrong with him?

BURRIS: He is a public servant. At the proper time, they will know. And I'm asking you all to give him some space. The young man has evidently some problems.


ROWLANDS: Now the extent of those problems, Christine, is the big question that remains in Chicago, and in the state of Illinois this morning. How long will he be out? Will he run for re-election in November? We just haven't gotten those details yet. But a lot of people are asking for them, and hoping that they'll come out in the days to come.

ROMANS: All right. Ted Rowlands in Chicago -- thanks, Ted.

A woman recovering this morning after a very close call on the road. Her car impaled by a bundle of 30-foot long wooden poles that went all the way through the back window. Police in Washington state say she rear ended a station wagon holding the teepee poles. Doctors spent two hours removing wood fragments from her skull.

She is on Facebook and texting her friends two days later, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I know. What a great sign, right? If you're on Facebook, texting and emailing your friends, posting to your wall, you must be OK.

All right, Christine. Thank you.

Fighting words from Mitt Romney as Vice President Joe Biden prepares to address the NAACP convention in Houston today after Romney's rocky reception. He is now telling detractors to, quote, "Go vote for somebody else" if they don't like what he said. Romney was trying to convince African-Americans they'd be better off with him in the White House.

But when he promised to repeal President Obama's health care law, the crowd erupted into boos.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to eliminate every nonessential, expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare, and I'm going to work to reform and save --



O'BRIEN: And it went on like that for 15 seconds.

We want to get right now to the House minority whip, Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

I'm going to talk in a moment, sir, about your new jobs initiative that's meant to get Americans back to work. But, first, I want to talk a little bit about this Romney speech.

The Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that it was a calculated move to be booed by the NAACP. What do you think she meant by that? And do you agree with that?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP: Well, I don't want to speculate on what exactly Nancy meant by that. But clearly, I don't think Romney was surprised that he was going to get an adverse reaction. The African-American community feels very strongly that the Obamacare bill, the Affordable Care Act, will provide affordable, quality health care to all Americans, is a very important piece of legislation, not only for them but for America.

So I don't think he was surprised that there was an adverse reaction.

O'BRIEN: Do you think it's a mistake that President Obama is not addressing that group today? It will be Joe Biden speaking today, but not the president.

HOYER: Look, I think the vice president clearly is representing the president and himself. He's going to talk about the policies that this administration has put forward to try to turn the recession around that they inherited, create jobs. We created 4 million jobs -- more than 4 million, over the last 28 months. The economy has grown too slowly, but grown.

And I think that the vice president and the president are well known to the NAACP and African-Americans and to America. And I think those policies are going to be supported by that organization and by frankly Americans across the country that understand how hard the president and vice president have been working to get this economy moving.

O'BRIEN: You have a new jobs initiative, a plan, and I should say kind of a sort of new, because it's half -- part new and part old, from the Democrats called the make it in America plan -- a combination of old bills and some new bills. Why are you highlighting it now, and what's the new part as compared to the old part?

HOYER: Well, very frankly, Soledad, we're continuing to focus on what we call make it in America. That is to say that we're going to make it in America, have success, get jobs. Grow the economy. Have a more successful economy, if we make more things in America.

The president has set forth an agenda to double exports. The way you double exports to make more things in America. So what we want to do is adopt policies that will focus on expanding our manufacturing sector of our economy.

We also want to make it easier to keep jobs in America by giving tax credits, and make it less beneficial to ship jobs overseas. We want to make sure there's a level playing field that our trading partners are trading fair, and not providing barriers to our exports, that make their products cheaper in America and more expensive for us to excel there.

So we are continuing to focus on growing jobs in America.

O'BRIEN: It will not come as a huge surprise to you that Eric Cantor's office doesn't think it's such a great idea. Here's what Elena Fallon, a spokeswoman for his office, said:

"Whip Hoyer's umpteenth version of make it in America isn't new and hasn't moved the needle on job creation. Rather than focusing on the same-old, same-old, we'd welcome Whip Hoyer and his party to join us policies to grow the economy, reduce red tape and stop the tax hikes on small businesses and working families."

What's your reaction to that reaction?

HOYER: Look, I've asked Eric Cantor to put the president's proposed bill on the floor, which he proposed six months ago to put it on the floor. Mr. Cantor has the ability, has that authority as a majority leader to do so. He's refused to do so.

So when he says it hasn't grown jobs, we haven't put an agenda on the floor. Obviously, jobs have not grown because we haven't been focused on that. We passed -- we voted on yesterday for the 31st time a repeal of health care for all Americans, without any alternative plan from the Republicans. They continue to focus on issues that appeal to their political base but don't focus on jobs.

In my opinion, had they put Mister -- President Obama's agenda on the floor, had we passed that, had the president signed it, we would have created 1 million to 2 million additional jobs in this country.

O'BRIEN: Representative Steny Hoyer is the Democratic minority whip -- it's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us this morning. Appreciate it.

HOYER: Soledad, thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, today's "Tough Call" is an automatic R rating if you smoke in a movie. Will that stop kids from lighting up? We're going to talk about that.

Plus, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and the London School of Economics. A new biography reveals some secrets of Mick Jagger on the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones.

We'll talk to the author up next. We're back in just a moment.

Hey, good morning. Nice to see you. How are you?


O'BRIEN: That's our playlist this morning, Rolling Stones, "Start Me Up."

Fifty years ago today, the Rolling Stones performed their very first live show. Fifty years ago. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Dick Taylor, Tony Chapman, took the stage at the Marquee Club in London. Today, they're considered to be one of the world's greatest rock bands.

The group gained fame not only for the music but also their lifestyle, which was pretty hard partying, high profile relationships, and by relationships, we mean sex with other people. Mick Jagger still getting attention for some of those bedroom escapades in a new biography which is called "Mick: The Wild Life and the Mad Genius of Jagger."

Best-selling author, Christopher Andersen, delved into his life of the superstar. It's nice to see you again.


O'BRIEN: Wow! So, you've written about a lot of famous people. Obviously, you and I chatted before about Princess Diana, Madonna, the Kennedys, the Clintons.


O'BRIEN: What did you find most over the top that you didn't know about Mick Jagger?

ANDERSEN: Well, everything.


O'BRIEN: Everything?

ANDERSEN: Well, I've been working on this for 43 years, I hate to say. But I covered the ultimate rock festival in 1969 for "Time" magazine, and I stood there. And I don't know if you remember that. For people who don't, it was the Hells Angels were hired by Mick (ph) as security.

O'BRIEN: Mick guards, right.

ANDERSEN: You know, Hells Angels security right away there's a problem. And there was mayhem. There was a murder that was captured on film. The documentary "Give Me Shelter" was based on that. And I stood there and I watched this person being stabbed, that I watched Mick singing "Under My Thumb" and his expression on his face.

And then, of course, Mick got on a helicopter and went off. It was a dark moment in the history of rock. And I thought at the time, boy, some day, I'm going to write a book about this. And over the years, I've covered him for a variety of publications. And now is the moment, you know? Fifty years.

FEINBERG: Why? Why now? Why after 43 years did you finally decide it's finally time to lay it out?

ANDERSEN: Because I think the most important thing about Mick is that he's still here, you know? He said I'd rather die than be 45 years old and still singing "Satisfaction."

O'BRIEN: Apparently not.

ANDERSEN: No. He's 69 in two weeks.

O'BRIEN: Wow! Wow!

ANDERSEN: And not only is he here, he's more relevant than ever. When so many of his peers in contemporaries have self-destructed, he hasn't, and yet, he's done everything they have done, and then some, because he has said, you know, obviously, I'm no paragon of virtue was one of his line.

O'BRIEN: (INAUDIBLE) association --



ANDERSEN: Well, again, 4,000 women is one estimate.

O'BRIEN: That's the number.

ANDERSEN: That's the number. Well, Carla Bruni was one of his mistresses, long-time mistresses, the first lady of France, formerly, said I was just one of the 4,000 women when it was all over. And they had a fantastic relationship, an interesting relationship, during his marriage to Jerry Hall.

And she was one of the reasons that broke up. There are many scenes in the book, confrontations between Jerry and a number of Mick's high profile mistresses.

O'BRIEN: To this day, he still tries to sort of tweak Sarkozy.

ANDERSEN: Yes. As a matter of fact, Sarkozy when he was still president, a year ago (ph), Sarkozy was going to get an apartment with Carla Bruni in Paris, a place to go to away from the Elysee Palace, and she picked out an apartment that was the former apartment of Yves St. Laurent, the late designer.

And Sarkozy said fine until he realized that Mick actually lived in the penthouse of -- two floors above. So, that deal was nixed rather quickly.

O'BRIEN: He slept with men and women.

ANDERSEN: Well, yes. I mean, you know, people forget that in the 1970s, it was androgyny and bisexuality were in for rock stars. They trumpeted it. David Bowie was openly bisexual. That was part of his appeal. And David Bowie is very, very close to Mick Jagger. And Angela Bowie, David Bowie's wife told me that she found them in bed together.

And you know, it's interesting when you tried to look back from this point where we have Sir Mick Jagger -- establishment. He wasn't that. You know, he built his fame and his wealth and his iconic status on being an enemy of the establishment. And that's what got him in trouble with the queen, for example.

CAIN: I think the fact that he slept with both men and women is almost the understory to who some of those men and women were.


CAIN: And in your book, you have a ton of amazing names here. We're talking about (INAUDIBLE) Eric Clapton. You mentioned David Bowie, Uma Thurman. Madonna.

ANDERSEN: Right. Madonna was a groupie in the early 1980s, pushing her career, the other groupies remember her vividly. And just recently, Madonna chose Mick's daughter, Georgia May, as the face of her Material Girl clothing line, so the connection goes on.

O'BRIEN: I'm more stunned by the fact that he went to London School of Economics. And you describe him as a financial wizard overseeing his $400 million financial holdings.

ANDERSEN: Right. Those are his personal holdings. Don't forger, he's also in charge of the minimum $2 billion that the Stones brought in just in the five top 10 tours that they've done. That doesn't count the income from the 250 million album sales, for example. All of this -- you know, Mick oversees the contracts, the logistics, the costumes, the make-up, recording sessions, right down to the designs of the T-shirts that are sold in Macy's.

FEINBERG: At his age, will we likely see another tour? I mean --

ANDERSEN: You bet.

O'BRIEN: Does he have to get along with Keith Richards first, right?

ANDERSEN: Right. Today is a big day, because --

FEINBERG: You see people from teenagers all the way up to late in life, everybody goes. It's sort of a very diverse audience.

ANDERSEN: Right, right. The Justin Bieber crowd and baby boomers. And who else appeals equally to those? "Moves Like Jagger" big hit from Maroon 5 last year. I think it was the second biggest song of the year. I think they're going to tour next year.

What happened was, Keith Richards rubbed Mick the wrong way with his own memoirs last year and cause to rift (ph). And because of that, the huge tour that should be going on right now isn't, but I think it will be.

HUNTSMAN: So, Soledad, you could be woman number 4,001 --


O'BRIEN: I can feel comfortable going out on a limb and saying that will not happen --


O'BRIEN: The book is called "Mick: The Wild Life And Mad Genius of Jagger." Christopher Anderson, always great to have you. Thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.

ANDERSEN: Wonderful. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, is smoking the same as profanity and sex and violence? A new study says it should be treated the same when it comes to movies. We'll take a look at that straight ahead.


ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans "Minding Your Business."

The Federal Reserve is concerned about the slow recovery. Officials say they're worried the Euro Zone debt crisis and the slowdown in China will hurt the U.S. They're also worried about the so-called fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax increases looming at the end of the year. All of these things have the fed on high alert.

The minutes of the fed show it's seriously considering new stimulus measures, but it's not ready to do anything yet. And that's why U.S. stock futures are lower this morning. Also concerns about slowing economic growth weighing on the markets today. And European markets are lower.

A South Carolina funeral home offering a new perk to mourners. A coffee shop that will brew Starbucks coffee. It will be right next to the new chapel, and, yes, mourners will have to pay. The Starbucks will be open to the public, too, if you're passing by -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Christine. Thanks.

Today's "Tough Call" this morning, should movies feature people who are smoking? And if they do, should they be automatically rated R? If you look at popular movies like "The Lord of the Rings," "Pulp Fiction," "Fear and Loading in Las Vegas," they all show well-known actors smoking.

And a new study which comes out of the Journal of Pediatrics says any movie that features smoking should get an R rating. What they did was to look at the effect of exposing kids to watching movies, and they found that actually when you controlled for everything, the kids were twice as likely to start smoking so they started asking themselves, how do you make them stop? Ratings could do that. How do we feel about that?

CAIN: We were talking about this earlier. We discussed the fact that the MPAA, the Motion Picture Association of America, is a voluntary organization that the movie industry submits itself to. With that fact in mind, if they choose to make smoking something they see as dangerous as sex or violence, then I think they submitted themselves to this process. And if smoking has that kind of damage, so be it.

HUNTSMAN: I don't agree with you. I don't think that it should automatically be rated R. I mean, a lot of kids, their parents smoke. You walk outside in the street, how many people are smoking in New York City?

CAIN: So, your position is if you sat on the board, you would say no, I don't think we need to elevate this --

HUNTSMAN: I think there are a lot of other things that you could, you know, rate a movie as R. I don't think smoking is one of them.

O'BRIEN: When they controlled for that, when they said they accounted and adjusted for age, gender, outside influences like your parents smoke or you have friends who smoke, that kids who -- exposing a young viewer to any movie that featured tobacco use, it made the kids twice as likely to start smoking.

So, even if their own parents smoke, adjusting for all those factors, that's pretty damning research, I think. HUNTSMAN: But you see smoking on TV, you know? I mean --

CAIN: Not in commercials. Not in commercials. Not allowed in television commercials.

O'BRIEN: It's so interesting when you see the old style, you know, commercials, and someone will be like, we want to thank camel for sponsoring this.


FEINBERG: Thirty years on TV, you can't show liquor being ingested or drinking. You never -- in fact, now I don't even think there are any ads on television.

HUNTSMAN: There are. They're awful to watch. They're the anti- smoking ads.

O'BRIEN: Oh, right. Oh, those are.

FEINBERG: I'm talking about liquor. I think those have been voluntarily taken off.

CAIN: (INAUDIBLE) industry still supporting television.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Clearly. Clearly.

All right. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Baretta on fire, man. Did you see this? Robert Blake literally got out of his seat a couple of times as he was sitting down to talk to Piers Morgan. This interview was completely crazy. We're going to play a little bit of it for you this morning.

Plus, one U.S. soldier will take his life on average every single day. We'll take you inside the "Time" magazine cover story about the shocking rise of suicides in the military.

And a report on the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal is due out in just about 30 minutes. What is it going to reveal about Penn State? We've got details. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. We'll start with Christine Romans, because in less than 30 minutes, we're going to be finding out what Penn State knew about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. We're expecting that at 9:00 a.m. eastern. The former FBI chief Louis Freeh is going to release an online report likely describing what university administrators did when they were told about an incident involving Sandusky and a young boy on the grounds of Penn State. We'll detail whether the head coach and the school administrators could have done more to help stop that child predator.

A seven-month-old unpublished op-ed published yesterday from the late Joe Paterno defending the integrity of Penn State, saying this is not a football scandal.

We'll get to Christine with the rest of the day's headlines. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning. First, breaking news, Soledad. The search for four missing people in the French alps after the deadliest avalanche there in a decade. Police say nine people now are dead after an avalanche swept over a group of European climbers. The mayor of a nearby town tells the AFP no weather report was forecasting an avalanche risk at this time.

Mississippi's one and only abortion clinic will remain open for now, a federal judge extending his injunction against the state's new abortion law. It allows the Jackson women's health facility to stay open until he reviews how the state department of health will administer the law. It requires abortion providers to be OB/GYNs and have admitting rights at local hospitals.

A growing medical practice -- doctors dispensing drugs to patients in their offices and turning a huge profit. A new U.S. times report says that doctors can make millions a year operating their own in-office pharmacies. But experts say the big markups in drug prices can add hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to insurance companies, employers, and taxpayers.

San Francisco officials say Apple is no longer green enough. The city's 50 departments will no longer be allowed to buy Apple laptops, desktops, or monitors. That's because the tech giant withdrew from an international green electronics certification program last month. But the ban does not apply to iPads or iPhones. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: So they are banning apple but not the iPads and the iPhones?

ROMANS: Right. The fastest-growing parts, by the way.

O'BRIEN: The numbers are pretty shocking. On average, one U.S. soldier will commit suicide every day. And among veterans, one every 80 minutes will take his or her own life. It's "TIME" magazine's cover story this week, and it focuses on the incidence of suicide in the military. Leon Panetta recently called military suicides possibly the most frustrating challenge he's had to deal with since heading up the Pentagon.

Mark Thompson is the writer on the story and also "TIME" magazine's Washington deputy bureau chief. It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking to us. It's so interesting to me when you see the military presence in a place like Afghanistan actually winding down, you see suicides actually ramping up. Why?

MARK THOMPSON, WASHINGTON DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, Soledad, I think it's important to realize that some of the stressors that can lead to suicide are like seeds that are planted. And they don't sprout immediately. Whether it's PTSD, traumatic brain injury, these are sort of things that don't manifest themselves or months or years after troops come home. O'BRIEN: When you look at the actual people who are committing suicide, many of them never saw combat. Didn't go into combat. What's the explanation for that?

THOMPSON: Well, the stressors apply across all 1.4 million men and women in active duty forces. We have been at war for a decade. And even if you haven't been deployed, you're in that environment where you will feel some of those stressors.

CAIN: Hey, Mark, this is Will Cain. This conversation reminds me a little bit about the conversation we have over autism. And I have to ask then, are we seeing an increase in suicides related to military service or are we seeing an increase in awareness of this problem of suicides in military service?

THOMPSON: Well, plainly, Will, suicides especially in the army, are now at an all-time high based on the degree we can tell on their records. It's been very frustrating. The military and the army have put a lot of money against this problem, but nothing seems to be working. They are always eager to do more because they are trying to figure out what the key is.

And what they are finding out is that every suicide is unique. The reason for every suicide is unique. The logic such as it is for every suicide is unique. So it's difficult for mental health professionals to figure out what is the proper screen to get the folks before they kill themselves.

And the army especially is having trouble hiring enough mental health professionals. There's a shortage of them nationwide. If the VA hires them, the army can't. If the civilian world hires them, they oftentimes come from the ranks of military mental health professionals. So it's a problem. So it's a problem, and it's a problem not only in the military.

HUNTSMAN: Hey, Mark, this is Abby Huntsman. I actually have two brothers in the military, and this is a big concern of mine, because I know when they return from serving I do worry a lot about this. But I know they have such pride and I know that's very common among the military. They have pride. They don't want to get help. They don't want to assume they have any problem with PTSD. Do you think that they should be required to get checked when they return form serving? Is there a problem there?

THOMPSON: Abby, they are required to do a self-assessment when they come back. And it's gotten increasingly rigorous. As we show in the magazine this week, we focus on two soldiers who were officers who were highly educated who were doing important jobs for the nation, a helicopter pilot just back from Iraq and a military doctor in an army hospital in Hawaii. And in each case they died on the same day. In one case the soldier, the Apache pilot, actually sought help six times from the army in the three days before he died. And yet he couldn't get the help his widow felt that he needed.

FEINBERG: Mark, Ken Feinberg. What about the Veterans Administration? You know, with Agent Orange in the 80s after Vietnam, the VA was very slow to respond to allegations of injury and illness caused by Agent Orange exposure. Is the VA here more responsive or more willing to invest time and resources in helping soldiers upon their return to civilian life?

THOMPSON: Ken, if you talk to the media as well as the DOD, they don't have the money. I interviewed General Chiarelli, the former number two officer in the army until January, he made very clear that there are promising techniques that the military can deploy against suicide, but they involve an initial two hour screening, a sit-down, a one-on-one with a psychiatrist that this nation is just not willing to pay for.

We see the same thing at the VA where soldiers or veterans filing for disability have to wait months if not years for their claims to be adjudicated. They're doing right, doing it fast, and giving people the mental health care they need is a very expensive proposition.

O'BRIEN: Secretary Panetta said the issue is a stigma, and getting rid of that stigma is a big deal for him. Let's play that.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We will not tolerate actions that belittle, that haze, that ostracize any individual, particularly those who have made the decision to seek professional help.


O'BRIEN: But it sounds, Mark, like they're saying there are half measure when it comes to actually funding the things that could help. There is a big gap in what they want to be able to accomplish and what they're going to be able to accomplish.

THOMPSON: And the fact is that the military does spend about four percent of its health budget, it's medical budget, about $2 billion a year, which is a lot of money, on mental health for soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. The problem is that it's not enough, that -- and the other part of the problem in terms of talking about stigma is a general recently filed on his official blog that he was fed up with soldiers killing themselves. They should just suck it up and go on to live their life. There are folks in the military who believe, number one, they are stunned that he remains in his current job down at Ft. Bliss, and that he never really apologized. He retracted the statement, but he didn't apologize for it. And I think that gets to the heart of the matter, because it's that attitude that this is something that you can deal with and you should be able to deal with, that misses the essential point about what suicidal tendencies are all about.

O'BRIEN: Mark Thompson is a Washington Deputy Bureau Chief for "TIME" magazine. The article is really fascinating. Thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

THOMPSON: Thank you. O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, big weekly jobless numbers just released. They stand out in a big way. We'll have those for you up next.

Plus, Robert Blake goes completely nutty on Piers Morgan in their exclusive CNN interview. He calls Piers out for calling him a liar. Piers says he's defensive. The whole thing goes to pretty much hell in a hand basket. We'll show you some of the fireworks coming up.

Plus, one of the greatest actresses of our time Ellen Burstyn will join us. She will talk about her latest project. All that and more straight ahead this morning on STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: Just in to CNN, weekly jobless numbers. A four-year low for the number of jobless claims filed last week -- 350,000 unemployment claims were filed. That's 26,000 fewer than expected, the lowest since 2008.

Stock futures are still down. Dow futures are down about 75 points here. Again, a four-year low for jobless claims. These are people for the very first time ling up for jobless benefits, Soledad. But it's important to note that week included the Fourth of July holiday, so we'll see what the vacation week might have had to do with that. But the right direction indeed.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

Robert Blake has emerged from seclusion, and he is as weird as ever. Did you see the CNN interview? He went off on Piers Morgan last night, called him a liar concerning his wife's death, which Blake was acquitted of murder back in 2005. Here is kind of how it went down.


ROBERT BLAKE, FORMER ACTOR: Tell me where I'm lying, because if you don't know I'm telling you the truth, then you must have a little scratch in the back of your head about where I'm lying.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": No. I'm not saying you're lying.

BLAKE: But you're saying you don't know if I'm telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?

MORGAN: I said I have met you for what, 20 minutes?

BLAKE: I don't care about that. You put me on the stand.

MORGAN: I didn't put out stand. Why are being so defensive?

BLAKE: Because you just insulted me.

MORGAN: I didn't insult you. BLAKE: Yes, you did. Nobody tells me I'm a liar.

MORGAN: I didn't call you a liar.

BLAKE: You said I might not be telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?

MORGAN: I said I'm going to ask you --

BLAKE: I don't want to take this anyplace special. All I want -- ok. Let me say it this way. My skin is a little bit thin.


CAIN: Wow.

O'BRIEN: I felt like I was watching a scene from a movie. That was so crazy.

CAIN: I have to say, regarding that -- that clip we just watched, I think Robert Blake has a point. What is the difference between saying you're not telling the truth and calling someone a liar?

O'REILLY: Well, he didn't outright say you're not telling the truth, right. He was asking him questions. He's on a book tour. And so he was asking him to justify things that had been written, things he had written in his own book. And what we knew in accounts in the press.

So that, you know, I think that's sort of a portion about the thing.

HUNTSMAN: He agreed to do the interview with Piers Morgan. What do you expect? That's what Piers Morgan's job is all about. He's going to dive in deep, you should have expected that going into it.

O'BRIEN: Yes. The thin skin thing.

HUNTSMAN: And Will, I didn't know, you must have lent him your cowboy hat.

CAIN: Yes. That's my attire backstage. He got into it, obviously.

O'BRIEN: Yes were not even talking about the outfit, which was crazy. Yes with just the whole hour was like that. Just -- strange.

CAIN: What do you think?

FEINBERG: I was on during the BP oil spill. Piers had me on and I got grilled. You know, you expect it.

O'BRIEN: What did you wear?

FEINBERG: It goes with the territory. No I wasn't dressed like that.

O'BRIEN: Not wearing the best.


FEINBERG: No, no I wasn't dressed like that.

CAIN: He took some clothes off. He didn't start out the interview that way. I'm serious.


CAIN: Yes, oh, yes. Did you take clothes off?

FEINBERG: Really? No.

HUNTSMAN: At least he didn't start smoking. Who did that on Piers Morgan? That was --

O'BRIEN: Oh I can't remember.

CAIN: Charlie Sheen.

O'BRIEN: Charlie, yes, yes.

HUNTSMAN: Crazy things happen on Piers Morgan, I tell you.

O'BRIEN: Yes, they do.

Well, ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, she is a drunken floozy in the White House. But we're only talking about her new TV show, of course. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling the truth and you say --

ELLEN BURSTYN, ACTOR: TJ started it. He said that you can't make margaritas with Jack Daniels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turns out you can, and it's good.


O'BRIEN: Ellen Burstyn is going to join us to talk about her new series, "Political Animals". And here she is. How are you? Welcome. Great to have you. Thank you for being with us.

We're back in just a moment everybody.


ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A few quick headlines Lebron James of the world champion Miami Heat, the big winner at last night's Espy's. He picked up three awards, including Male Athlete of the Year. But the King missed this coronation. He was in Las Vegas with the U.S. Olympic Basketball team.

Actress Kristin Chenoweth hit on the head with a piece of scaffolding on the set of the CBS drama "The Good Wife". The 43 year- old actress is taken a New York City hospital by ambulance. Details about her condition have not been released.

And incredible video of a petrifying close encounter -- a 12 foot great white shark circling two spear fishermen off the coast of Australia. They didn't panic, they didn't shoot at it and swim away. They stood their ground, they poked it when it when it got real close and then made a dash for the boat when the shark swam away. Wow.

O'BRIEN: And it turned out to be an excellent strategy because they lived to tell the tale.

ROMANS: Yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: All right, Christine thanks.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: So this story might sound familiar to you. The former First Lady of the United States decides to pursue her own political ambitions, but loses her party's nomination for president. Instead she is named Secretary of State when her opponent gets elected to the White House.

No, we're not talking about Hillary Clinton. We're talking about the premise of a new TV show, which is called "Political Animals." In it Sigourney Weaver plays a powerful and ambitious woman and Ellen Burstyn plays her opinionated mother, Margaret Barrish (ph). Listen.


BURSTYN: Don't waste your time. They never let me talk on the record anyway. I'm either too drunk or too honest. Or God forbid both.

CARLA GUGINO, ACTRESS: Yes, we're off the record. Tonight is just for color.

BURSTYN: Oh, just for color. Well, tell me, did you have a boyfriend?

GUGINO: Yes, I do.

BURSTYN: Is that right? I always thought you were a lesbian.


O'BRIEN: Multiple award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn is with us this morning. It's nice to see you.

BURSTYN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Your character drinks through the entire show. I think literally every time she's on camera at least in the first show.


O'BRIEN: She has a cocktail glass in her hand.

BURSTYN: Yes and I never seemed to be drunk, which I didn't understand at all until I spoke to the creator and he said it was based on somebody close to him. And she never seemed to be drunk.

O'BRIEN: And also a foul mouth.

BURSTYN: She has a very foul mouth. I must admit. That gave me a bit of a problem at first.

O'BRIEN: It did? Why?

BURSTYN: I don't know. It just didn't feel very ladylike, shall we say. But we negotiated, and I swapped certain foul words for other foul words. And we finally settled on a level of foulness that was acceptable to all. And now it's funny to me.

O'BRIEN: What did you like about this role? I mean, you're surrounded by all these really strong women. That was Carla Gugino, who plays a reporter, who you just called a lesbian in that scene. What did you like about your particular role?

BURSTYN: Well, she's the truth teller in the group, you know. It's politics. So everybody's negotiating with everybody. And -- and making deals. And covering up how they really feel. And then I come in and go, bonk. So that's always fun.

CAIN: Ellen I'm trying to decide as a potential viewer, the relationship of your story to the real-life events or the connection to the Clintons, the similarities, is that something that appeals to me or not? But as an actress was that something in taking the part if you thought, yes that's a plus, or that's going to be more difficult?

BURSTYN: Well, at first I was a little shy about it because I felt like we were exploiting somebody else's life.

But very soon, I realized that it's just those immediate details that are similar to Hillary's. And then after that, it's so different that you sort of forget about it. I mean, I -- Hillary Clinton does not have an ex-show girl as a mother. She doesn't have two boys.

HUNSTMAN: So how realistic is it going to be? I mean, could a character that you're playing actually survive in politics today?

BURSTYN: Well, I'm not in politics, you know. My -- my daughter is. And the family is. But I -- I represent the home life, the family life. And I'm a pretty tough character. So I could survive anywhere I had to.

O'BRIEN: And it's a little bit of a tough home life. Let's play another clip.


BURSTYN: You're not going to see Bud for the first time in two years dressed like that, I hope.

WEAVER: Well, first of all, I'm divorced. Secondly, I was involved in a diplomatic crisis all day. I didn't have time for a costume change.

Are you two really drinking already?

BURSTYN: TJ started it. He said that you can't make margaritas with Jack Daniels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turns out you can. And it's good.

BURSTYN: I saw the attendee list. Why is that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Susanberg coming?

WEAVER: Because that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is covering me this week. Please do me the favor of not talking to her. Or if you must, try not saying things like the country didn't elect me because they didn't want to sleep with me.

BURSTYN: It's true.


HUNTSMAN: That's going to be a great show.


BURSTYN: I'm afraid I'm going to get bleeped a lot though if you show more.

O'BRIEN: We did have to go through this with a fine tooth comb this morning because your character, as I said, sometimes a little bit of rough language. You're going to do this for six weeks. It's a six-week role.

BURSTYN: Six episodes, and then it could get picked up for more. We don't know that yet.

FEINBERG: Filmed in Philadelphia? Was that where it was filmed?

BURSTYN: We filmed in Philadelphia, although it's set in Washington. So we're pretending.

O'BRIEN: What do you like best about where you are in your career now?

BURSTYN: I'm having an awfully good time.

O'BRIEN: It looks like it by that role. It really does.

BURSTYN: Yes. And I just signed on to do a play, "Picnic", a revival of "Picnic" this winter. And Sebastian, who plays my grandson in the show, is cast in the lead. So we're very excited about working again. And, you know, acting is fun.

I was watching you earlier talking about Abraham Lincoln, how he was your favorite character in history. He's my favorite historical character too, but I played Mrs. Lincoln once. And, you know, every time I see anybody talking about Abraham Lincoln, I think they are talking about my husband.


O'BRIEN: They should really turn that book, Stephen Carter's book, into a movie. That's a great book as well.

BURSTYN: Is it? I'll have to read it.

FEINBERG: Has Hollywood over the years evolved in how it treats women and how women are given more prominent roles, less prominent roles? What have you seen over the years in Hollywood's approach to feminism and women?

BURSTYN: Well, when I made "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" in 1974, it was the first film ever made from a woman's point of view. So it was like a new idea at the time. Since then, there have been many films made from a woman's point of view. But I still think Hollywood has a long way to go to catch up to the realities of life as a woman.

O'BRIEN: Ellen Burstyn.

FEINBERG: Well, you, Meryl Streep, and others have --

O'BRIEN: Paved the way, really.

FEINBERG: -- paved the way.

O'BRIEN: With a machete, I guess. If I can mix some metaphors there.

This show looks really terrific, with the cursing and all. Thanks for being with us. Ellen Burstyn, this morning. So great to have you here. We appreciate it.

BURSTYN: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: And our "End Point", I'll do it today. Ken, I want to ask you from your book, "Who Gets What", what was the hardest compensation to manage? 9/11?


O'BRIEN: It was. Why?

FEINBERG: 3,000 traumatic deaths. People offered money weeks after their loved one is incinerated. No bodies, no nothing. Very, very emotional and difficult.

The book is called "Who Gets What: Fair compensation before tragedy and upheaval". Ken Feinberg is the author. It's great to have you today. We appreciate you being with us.

FEINBERG: Thank you.

Coming up tomorrow on STARTING POINT, the National Governors Association meeting is underway. We've got some big players, including Maryland governor, Martin O'Malley; Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell; and Iowa governor, Terry Branstad.

"CNN Newsroom" with Carol Costello begins right now.