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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Rigged to Blow; "Wake-Up Call" For Penn State; Columbine Survivor Interviewed; New Movie By Producer Harvey Weinstein Generates Buzz
Aired July 24, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody.
Our STARTING POINT this morning, rig to blow. CNN has exclusive details this morning of the death trap that was found inside the Aurora shooting suspect's apartment.
Unprecedented punishment for Penn State. The school forfeits past wins, future scholarships, and $60 million. Some say the punishment doesn't fit the crime. We're going to talk to the NCAA president Mark Emmert. He's with us.
And weapons of mass destruction. A threat from Syria saying they will release chemical weapons if the world gets involved. How the U.S. is responding this morning.
It's Tuesday, July 24th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.
O'BRIEN: This could be our theme song. I kind of like that. That's Dave Matthews band. I haven't heard that in like 20 years.
O'BRIEN: "Ants Marching." That's off of Margaret's playlist.
Welcome back, everybody.
Our team this morning, Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker".
Nice to have you.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here again.
O'BRIEN: Short questions next time. Just throwing it out there.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wow. Short question, longest respondent.
O'BRIEN: Oh, oh!
Margaret Hoover is a former White House appointee during the Bush administration. She's with us this morning, wearing pink to support a Brooklyn candidate.
And Will Cain -- I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.
Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com.
Nice to have you all.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to be four part.
CAIN: I have a question for you if you can hold still. I'm going to ask four questions.
O'BRIEN: I have had people say that. I have a nine-part. I'm like, really? Really? Or nine-part answer.
HOOVER: OK. Ask for a three --
O'BRIEN: One, that's all you get.
STARTING POINT this morning is details from inside the apartment of the man accused of shooting up that Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
A law enforcement officer spoke exclusively with CNN after reviewing some of the footage they took, black and white footage, from inside that apartment, and he tells Poppy Harlow that the massive wires looked like, quote, spaghetti, and that it was rigged right, meaning that if police hadn't dismantled the explosives, the entire floor of the complex could have been consumed flames before even a fire truck could have arrived. He described it as something you would have seen in Iraq or Afghanistan, not here in the U.S.
Meantime, the two public defenders representing the suspect are expected to seek a competency evaluation after yesterday's hearing. They are trying to determine, of course, the mental state of the alleged shooter, who seemed completely out of it in that court appearance.
Did you watch that?
O'BRIEN: He sort of floated in and out. Sometimes looked like he was dozing. Sometimes his eyes would bulge.
Lisa Wayne is a criminal defense attorney and she knows the attorneys who are representing the suspect. She even trained them.
Nice to see you, Lisa. Thanks for being with us. We certain appreciate it.
His appearance was odd. I know you watched what he looked like in court -- and not just his hair, his demeanor. Would he have been medicated? Is that policy? He looked to me like -- because he was falling asleep at times. He looked like he was sedated possibly.
Would that have happened?
LISA WAYNE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It could have happened. I mean, there are two possible scenarios. That that is an individual who has been medicated and therefore has prescribed medication that they have continued using that at the jail.
Or the other scenario is when he presented at the jail, he was completely psychotic. And in order to be able to deal with him at the jail, there's an assessment that's made by a doctor at the jail and they can prescribe medication to him immediately.
So those two scenarios could be possible.
CAIN: Lisa, isn't there a third scenario? This is Will Cain. Isn't it possible as well that it's an effected behavior? Isn't it possible that he is simply faking it?
And I guess the question for you would be, would that help him down the line? Would he have a reason to act that way?
WAYNE: Well, you know, look, it's difficult to fake mental illness over a long period of time. And we're all speculating because we don't know his history and much about him.
So, yes, it's possible. But we don't know whether or not that's actually what's happening. And frankly, I think most of us hope that there's something here, that he has a true deep mental illness, because it doesn't make sense to us otherwise.
And it's not unheard of when you have a client who has a mental illness that he was in a psychotic state. And a psychotic state can run a long duration. You can go in and out of psychosis. You can seem like you're in total control, have composure, seem calculated and cold and still be in a psychotic state.
And when you end that state, sometimes you -- it's like an adrenalin rush. Suddenly, you just go limp. You're out of it. You're disconnected.
And who knows? I mean, this is all speculation. But that would not be inconsistent with his appearance yesterday.
O'BRIEN: It's interesting to compare it to video that we now have in 2006, where you see him talking. He's at science camp. I want to play a little bit of that first before I ask you a question on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES HOLMES, ACCUSED THEATER SHOOTER: Hello, I'm James. I've been working with a temporary (INAUDIBLE). It's an illusion that allows you to change the past.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His goals are to become a researcher and make scientific discoveries. That's a good start.
HOLMES: Gamers might feel like they have a superpower and I'm like, let them have more fun. So --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So as a public defender, let's say, hypothetically, you were representing him. What would your first step be once you did the mental evaluation?
WAYNE: Well, you know, these are public defenders that are trained. They are capital lawyers. They are the best of the best. And their job is to save his life.
So they are assessing not only his competency but his history. Who is this guy? Where does thee come from?
So there is a process, and these kind of cases that's called front ending, doing all the work you can on that front end to really assess who this person is. Because at the end of the day, we know this is the guy that everybody loves to hate. And this is the most difficult job for lawyers.
O'BRIEN: And it all hinges, right? I mean, it's all going to hinge on the mental capacity. Because it seems to me like an open and shut case in terms of the tons of evidence, not only in his home, but where he was captured, and the zillions of witnesses who have been able to give a description that matches what he was wearing. So on the evidentiary front, it seems done and done.
So the only thing they are looking at here is mental state?
WAYNE: Well, I don't know if that's true. I mean, I get that that's obvious to us on the outside, but cases are brought that it's proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I don't know if there's other available defenses.
I don't know if this guy is working and has cohorts, if there are other co-conspirators. I don't know if they are looking at his computer, if he's being directed by other people.
I mean, we really don't know, and it's too early to rush to judgment. The obvious is yes, this is a cold case and it's mental health.
But I would suggest that we kind of, you know, wait to see here because we've been in this situation where we rush to judgment, and ultimately it turns out to be something else. So it's tough.
HOOVER: Lisa, it seems as though -- and from your professional perspective, it would be very helpful to know. It seems as though anecdotally there are a lot of cases of undiagnosed mentally ill young 20-year-old, 20-something men, who act out in violent ways across the country. We have heard a number of stories in the last five years, 10 years.
Is this something that you're seeing in your profession?
WAYNE: You know, we've seen it for a long time. The criminal justice system is made up of people who have a lot of mental health issues. And the cutbacks have made it more glaring, I guess, and we see it more often and it's being untreated.
And I think there's a tendency to turn away. I mean, we want to blame it on everything else. Look at gun control. Look at the politics of things.
But at the end of the day, we have a lot of young men and a lot of young people out there who have mental health problems.
So, you know, there are no easy answers here. But -- and it's going to be very complicated. But it breaks your heart, and it's a tragedy.
O'BRIEN: Gosh, it really is. Lisa Wayne is a former public defender and a criminal defense attorney -- nice to see you. Thanks for all the insight. We appreciate it.
WAYNE: Thank you very much.
O'BRIEN: You bet.
Christine has got an update on the day's top stories for us. Hey, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Soledad. A lot of concern in Israel and the U.S. this morning about chemical weapons coming into play in Syria. Fierce fighting between rebel forces and government troops continuing overnight in the city of Aleppo.
And now a spokesman for Syria's foreign ministry publicly threatening to deploy chemical weapons against any foreign nation that attempts to intervene.
ROMANS: New this morning, charges will be filed against several key figures arrested in the U.K. phone hacking scandal. British prosecutors say that Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks will be charged. Coulson was a former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, a close confidant of Rupert Murdoch. Brooks is a former executive, rather, of Murdoch's News International.
Astronaut Sally Ride being remembered this morning as a pioneer who opened doors of opportunity for other women. She died yesterday of pancreatic cancer. Ride was the first woman in space, serving as a mission specialist on the shuttle Challenger in 1983. After leaving NASA, she launched Sally Ride science, encouraging young people, especially girls, to reach for the stars. Sally Ride was 61.
Mitt Romney preparing for a big speech on foreign policy when he addresses the VFW convention in Reno today. President Obama got his turn yesterday, touting his record on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden. After Romney lays out his foreign policy vision today, he travels to England, Israel, and Poland.
Looks like a lot of Americans are already fed up with the presidential race. Take a look at this brand new Knights of Columbus/Marist survey. Nearly eight in 10 voters saying they are frustrated by the 2012 presidential race, with nearly three out of four saying that the negative campaigning is getting worse than ever. Sixty-four percent of those who responded believe that attack ads are harming the political process in America.
Although many would say the political process is harming the political process in America.
O'BRIEN: And how many more months do we have? Hang on, people. Stay with us. Don't be frustrated yet.
LIZZA: You know, negative ads actually --
O'BRIEN: They work, right?
HOOVER: They work.
LIZZA: Not just that they work. They actually have more factual content than positive ads usually. As much as people hate them, they are better in some ways.
O'BRIEN: But the problem is figuring out which is factual and which is stretched a little bit.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT: did the punishment for Penn State go far enough? Will it change the culture not only at that school but in all football programs? We're going to ask the man who handed down the punishment, that would be NCAA president Mark Emmert. He's coming up next.
And our tough call this morning, the Muppets versus Chick-fil-A? We'll tell you why they are cutting ties with the fast food chain. I can guess why.
This playlist, St. Vincent, "Chloe in the Afternoon," and here's the one song that I recognize today.
LIZZA: You'll like this one.
HOOVER: Really? (INAUDIBLE) morning.
O'BRIEN: Our entire playlist, CNN.com/playlist. All right. Let's listen.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT this morning. The future of the Penn State football program is uncertain. The NCAA handed down strict penalties for the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. They include $60 million in fines over five years, a ban from bowl games for four years, the loss of 10 football scholarships a year for four seasons.
And the team has been stripped of all wins between 1998 and 2011. And that means that Joe Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in division I college football history. He is now number eight. Dr. Mark Emmert is the president of the NCAA joining us this morning to talk about this. Nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.
MARK EMMERT, PRESIDENT, NCAA: Good to be with you.
O'BRIEN: $60 million in fines. Where did you get that figure from? Why $60 million?
EMMERT: We were looking at the aggregate revenue that the football team produces in any one year. And over the past 10 full years, that's been the average one season gross revenue. Not profits, but gross revenue of the football team. It is a -- by sports standards, an enormous number.
It's literally 100 times greater than any fine we've ever levied, and we clearly wanted to do something significant that would help all the people that suffer under child sex abuse.
CAIN: Dr. Emmert, did you, in your opinion, kill The Penn State football program yesterday?
EMMERT: No, no. What we did want to say, and I think the message we did deliver was, look, you need to not worry about for the next handful of years going to a bowl game. You need to worry about getting your culture right and your values right and getting the game in the right perspective. They're going to be playing football in the fall there.
CAIN: The argument would be, right, that the SMU program in the 1980s was given the death penalty, was a one year period, and then they extended to two, and they've never, ever recovered.
And many are saying today with the scholarship limits imposed on Penn State, the bowl games for four years you sit out, they may never come back from this 10 years plus. I wonder, is that not really what happened yesterday?
EMMERT: Well, again, I don't think so. But, that's going to be up to Penn State. Penn State is going to have to make those determinations. The executive committee and I were trying to craft some sanctions that fit the enormity of the circumstance that demonstrated that we cannot tolerate behavior that's completely antagonistic to the values of intercollegiate athletics.
And they're going to have to deal with these consequences. The fact is the penalties could have been significantly worse. There was a lot of debate about the fact that they should have been.
CAIN: Like what?
EMMERT: Whether or not we should have imposed the death -- so- called death penalty in addition to those penalties.
LIZZA: Can I ask the other side of Will's question here is, why didn't you kill this program? I mean, that's what a lot of people are looking at this. And they're looking at the history of NCAA fines and looking at the SMU case, and they don't understand why it didn't go further.
EMMERT: Yes, sure. So, first of all, no one had any illusions that anyone was going to be happy with these sanctions. No one should be. This is not a happy moment for intercollegiate athletics. It's a very disturbing moment. The intention was to put in place punitive impacts that everyone would say, wow, this is significant.
At the same time, allowing Penn State an opportunity to fix that culture that's helped create this problem. The problem with -- that the committee and I agreed with the so-called death penalty is it's too blunt an instrument. It has too much impact on people that had nothing to do with this whatsoever.
LIZZA: How so?
EMMERT: Well, let's imagine you're running a mom and pop hotdog stand in state college, Pennsylvania. You'll be out of business. You'll lose your business. Let's say you're in the marching band. You went there to play the trumpet. All of a sudden, you can't do that.
Let's say you're involved in anything that goes on around football personally in other fashion. We didn't want to say you can't be involved in football. We wanted to say, football has to have the right perspective and the right values at Penn State.
CAIN: Doesn't that same rationale apply to the punishment you did choose? In other words, isn't there an argument that Jerry Sandusky is gone, Joe Paterno is gone, the leaders of the school. All the culpable parties are gone. And now, who we are punishing with this Penn State penalty that's imposed?
EMMERT: Well, again, trying to minimize the impact on students. So, as you're probably aware, student athletes that want to transfer, can transfer, and can go play ball somewhere else if they choose to. So, this is about trying to get the institution to recognize that its values got away from it.
That it was too focused on athletics and protecting that athletic program, and it lost control of that program. That's the focus here. HOOVER: You've heard from a lot of people. You've heard a lot of blowback, a lot of people who think you did the right thing, a lot of people think you should have gone further.
But, you've also heard from a group of people that you didn't expect to hear from that you told us before -- just before we came on. Victims of child abuse. Can you tell us more about that, tell the audience.
EMMERT: I've been surprised and deeply moved by e-mails, by phone calls, that we received from individuals, from people who work in organizations that deal with child sex abuse, people who have been victims themselves, not the victims in this particular case, but just across the country. And they've been very emotional, very thankful, very appreciative that someone said, this can't go on.
They're thrilled with the magnitude of the fine that was put in place. We think this amount of money is more than maybe all of the money going into child sex abuse in the country combined. So, we're hopeful that some good can come out of this very, very bad situation.
O'BRIEN: When I was talking to Mike & Mike this morning, you know, we played a little clip of you talking about how the goal was to change the culture, maybe not even just the culture at Penn State, sort of the wake-up call for the culture of a very powerful program that drives a lot of revenue for a university.
And they said, not going to make a difference. They said, you know what, I got to tell you that this just -- it will not change the culture by doing this. Do you think that it's impossible to change the culture in a move like this? What would you say to this?
EMMERT: I understand their view, but as a former university president, I also know that my colleague presidents around the country are watching this circumstance, watching the outcome and the aftermath of this circumstance, and they're all asking themselves this morning, could this happen at my place?
What is working and not working in my culture? We in America, all of us, I love sports, obviously. That's my business, right? But we can't let the love of sport overwhelm our values of decency and responsibility. And in this case, that occurred. So, everyone's got to be asking themselves, do we have our values right or wrong today?
O'BRIEN: Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA. I bet you're having this exact conversation with absolutely everybody, because it's so fascinating to find out what went on behind the scenes in this decision. Nice to have you, sir.
EMMERT: Good to be here.
O'BRIEN: We appreciate it.
We got to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, our "Tough Call," the Muppets saying no to Chick-fil-A. We'll tell you why the makers behind these puppets are cutting ties with the fast food brand. We're back in a moment.
ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans "Minding Your Business."
U.S. stock futures are trading slightly lower right now. Overseas stocks suffered losses overnight. Moody's cut the outlook on Germany's credit rating to negative, but an uptake in manufacturing data from China lessening the gloom of it this morning.
Pressure for jail time for people involved in the LIBOR rate- fixing scandal. Reuters reports that investigators in the U.S. and UK are close to making arrests, and the "Wall Street Journal" reports the investigation has expanded to traders from at least nine banks around the world.
Of course, LIBOR is used to set rates on trillions of dollars worth of loans, including mortgages, credit cards, student loans. So, this scandal, Soledad, very, very wide implications. A lot of pressure for prosecutors to bring some people to --
O'BRIEN: Yes -- all right. Christine, thank you.
"Tough Call" this morning. Makers of Muppets cutting their ties with Chick-fil-A. The company president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, recently announced the company was "guilty as charged," that's his words, opposing gay marriage. Jim Henson Company had been working with the chain to create products for the kids' meals.
After the announcement, though, they ended that partnership. I don't think it's a tough call for the Muppets at all. You know, they say that they embrace diversity and inclusion, and they've done so for 50 years, and the values don't match their values. So, they're out. I think that's not a tough call at all.
LIZZA: Yes. I think, you know, as someone who likes Chick-fil- A's food a lot, I've thought about the same thing. I wrestled with this. You know, great food, good restaurant. But they support something that, you know, I oppose. I mean, they want to deny basic rights to gays and lesbians.
O'BRIEN: So, does that mean you go have a sandwich or not?
LIZZA: You know, I've thought about it. Every once in a while, when I'm traveling, you know (INAUDIBLE) you know, I'll pop in. But recently, as the controversy has become a bigger deal, I thought, you know what, why should I be supporting this restaurant that's aggressively doing something I'm opposed to?
I think it's a much easier call for Henson where they're actually endorsing the Chick-fil-A by, you know, advertising with them.
O'BRIEN: Are you endorsing something -- yes, maybe the tough call is, are you endorsing --
HOOVER: You're clearly not a consumer who consumes pop culture and art, because if you're a conservative --
HOOVER: -- yes. And I don't like Chick-fil-A. So, there's no tough call for me. For me, it's not a tough call. But you remind me, I'm a conservative. I like pop culture. I consume a lot of art -- artists who have very different political opinions than I do, I still like their music.
O'BRIEN: It's not art.
HOOVER: But it's a dice (ph). It's about supporting values on a consumer level or supporting ideas on a consumer level that you don't support.
LIZZA: I think the more out front and aggressive you are as a company in expressing those opinions, then the more you make the consumer uncomfortable with doing business with you.
O'BRIEN: Will Cain?
CAIN: To me, it's not whether you disagree or agree with Chick- fil-A. I think the big takeaway from this is it's an amazing example of how you effectuate change, right? That you can do it, not to the blanch (ph) instrument of government, but through -- those you choose to support, both as a sandwich buyer and either and goes as an advertiser/endorser.
O'BRIEN: I think I agree with you on that, Will Cain.
HOOVER: So, Will Cain likes Chick-fil-A for the record.
CAIN: I think Chick-fil-A is phenomenally good food.
LIZZA: What's your position on gay marriage?
HOOVER: He supports gay marriage.
CAIN: I support gay marriage. That's correct.
LIZZA: And do you wrestle with eating a Chick-fil-A --
CAIN: I hadn't -- until you ruined it for me.
O'BRIEN: Maybe it is a tough call. (LAUGHTER)
O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow. All right.
Got to take a break.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he knows movies. Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, got a new film already getting Oscar buzz. Plus, the $38,000 a plate fundraiser that he is hosting for President Obama. Maybe we can all pull our money -- no. So, that's happening next month, that fundraiser.
We're going to talk to him about movies and that fundraiser straight ahead. You're watching starting point. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Let's get right to Christine Romans with a look at the day's top stories. Good morning, again.
ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad. Shocking Taliban propaganda video posted online taking us behind the scenes of a suicide attack on a U.S. base back in June. The blast was so powerful it damaged homes two miles away and flattened a dining hall. CNN cannot verify any information in this video. The Taliban claims 20 coalition troops were in that attack, but officials last month said that two Americans were killed in that blast.
A civilian ship yard worker now charged with setting a fire that sent a Navy nuclear submarine up in flames while it was in a dry dock in Maine. The fire back in may did $400 million in damage to the USS Miami. Naval investigators say 24-year-old Casey James Fury has confessed. He told them he did it because he was having an anxiety attack and he wanted to get off work early -- $400 million.
And 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich will be spared a charge for tweeting the names of two boys who sexually assaulted her. Attorneys dropped their motion to have Dietrich held in contempt for violating a court order. The Kentucky teen says she tweeted her attackers names out of frustration over the plea deal they received.
Airport security will soon be a breeze for airline flight attendants. They're being added to the TSA's known crewmember program already used by pilots. It will be in place at 31 airports by the end of the year.
And things could get caffeinated. A public hearing set for today on New York City's proposed ban on big sodas. Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces at city restaurants and theaters. He says they make people fat. And NYU researchers are backing him up. They found that the ban would cut calorie intake as long as most people didn't get up and buy a second drink instead.
O'BRIEN: That's the key line, the "as long as," which might be a big question there. All right, thanks. Appreciate it, Christine.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: The man who is accused of killing 12 people, injuring 58 others in a Colorado movie theater, faces formal charges next week. But in all this talk about Aurora, a similar tragedy gets lost in the conversation. And 13 years ago, two students opened fire on Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado. It was one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history. And 12 students, one teacher killed, one of them 17-year-old Rachel Scott who was eating lunch on the grass when one of the shooters hit her four times. She was the first victim. Her brother, Craig Scott, was in the school library when the shooting happened. Two friends sitting next to him were shot and killed.
After the tragedy, Craig's family started Rachel's Challenge to prevent other school shootings. Craig it with us this morning. I know we have had a chance over the years to catch up and talk about a couple of different things. I have to imagine, Craig, whenever you hear of something like this a mass shooting, it's got to take you back to that horrible day when you lost your sister. Am I right about that?
CRAIG SCOTT, COLUMBINE SURVIVOR: Yes, especially the shooting just being so close to home.
O'BRIEN: Public memorials, we know the president came out to meet with some of the victims' families, and some folks who are recuperating in the hospitals. What was most helpful to you and family members who lost people, people who are recovering in the hospital? What was the thing that was most helpful to your recovery in Columbine?
SCOTT: I think there were a number of things that were really helpful. After the aftermath, after our shooting, I think that the support that we received from our community, from around the world, just so many people reaching out to us. I think there was a real strong sense of unity that came after the shooting that's been happening after this shooting. It really brought people together where little differences were put aside and people came together and were unified.
And I think it just puts -- when something like this happens and you feel it, I think it kind of puts things in perspective. You think about what's important. Petty things kind of fall to the wayside. And so the unity, the support -- the biggest thing that helped me get through was my faith. I had my family there to support me and get me through. And so these are some of the things that helped me get through the immediate aftermath.
O'BRIEN: We've been trying not to say the name of the suspect as much as we possibly can in this case. One of the victims, Jessica Ghawi, her brother mentioned that and got the president to agree to that, and then Anderson has picked up on that and we have been doing the same, because the thing is to focus on the victims, and not the killer. And I agree with that. Do you wish that had happened in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings?
SCOTT: I absolutely agree with that. I think that is a really good philosophy. I think that what you place your attention on you give power to. I think that we're going to learn from the shooter that there's no good reason that he did this. And I think to focus on him, we're not going to find answers. I think the best thing that we can do is focus on the beautiful things about the victims that were lost.
I think that one of the things that we saw with Rachel's Challenge, which is my family's program, that reaches a lot of schools, is that we focused on Rachel's story. She was a very kind, compassionate person who kind of reached out to people who were on the outside, on the fringes. And she gave a challenge for others to step out and show kindness and compassion in an essay she wrote before she died.
And so we know that by focusing on her story, we've actually prevented school shootings from happening, prevented suicides. And so I think that with this shooting here at this Aurora theater that they should focus on the beautiful things about the victims. Don't give the shooter the air time.
Don't -- you know, I know over a decade after the shooting at Columbine, we still don't have answers as to really good reasons as to why the shooters at Columbine did what they did. So I'm in total support of focusing on the positive. I wish, in fact, every tragedy would pick up on that philosophy, because I think we would do a lot more good.
O'BRIEN: I think you're probably right about that. Craig Scott, he is Rachel's challenge speaker and film maker. His sister, Rachel Scott, was killed this Columbine. Thank you for talking with us, Craig. Nice to see you again. We appreciate it.
We've got to take a short break. Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, he rode a silent film to Oscar glory last year. Now Harvey Weinstein has a new move we a French twist generating early Oscar buzz. We'll talk to him about "The Intouchables." Welcome, nice to have you. You're watching STARTING POINT. Back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Oscar-winning producer and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is a man behind several movies that scored big at the box office and at awards shows, "The King's Speech," "The Artist," best picture Oscars the last two years in a row. Now he is hoping for another big hit with the movie "The Intouchables." It's about an unlikely friendship between a quadriplegic millionaire and his street smart ex-con caretaker. And by the way, that's a comedy. Oh, and by the way, it's in French. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: This movie looks so good. And that man is so handsome. The movie has already broken records in its native France. Harvey Weinstein is joining us, cofounder of the Weinstein company. Nice to have you.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN, CO-FOUNDER, WEINSTEIN COMPANY: Nice to see you.
O'BRIEN: Do you think this is going to be a blockbuster? Any expectation of that?
WEINSTEIN: Right now in only 90 theaters, we've broken the record for this year's biggest foreign language film, which is the Academy Award Winner "The Separation". We're going after "Dragon Tattoo" next and we're going one after another.
I'm actually going to go to France and ask all the people in France who saw the movie to call somebody in America so we can start breaking these records. Because I think in this time, you know, to see a movie that's a true story, that's transformational, that's so much fun, and you watch the relationship between these two unlikely people.
You know, these are the people you would never, ever imagine to have a friendship. And they transform each other. They jump out of airplanes. They race cars. They chase girls. I mean if I ever needed a caretaker, this is the prescription for health.
O'BRIEN: He's gone on to become a famous actor. You can't have him anymore.
WEINSTEIN: Well, he is very famous.
O'BRIEN: It seems like it's the summer though sometimes of the big blockbuster. I mean if you name all of the movies that are making big, big bucks, it's you know, you know the bold-faced name movies.
WEINSTEIN: But you know what this movie around the world, I mean we released in our French company and our French company released it, it is doing blockbuster business.
So everywhere it goes, it starts slow. And then people discover it and because it's not a blockbuster, but it's a blockbuster in spirit. People have seen it, I mean anybody who's seen this movie will tell you, it's so much fun, and it's transformational.
HOOVER: And it's a happy movie, right?
WEINSTEIN: Really happy movie. And you feel good.
HOOVER: So you go to the movies there's so much bad stuff going on in the world. And you really want to wrap for two hours and you come away and it makes you feel good. WEINSTEIN: And what's amazing these two actors in the movie you know the actors jump out of an airplane. And, you know, they saved it for the last day because the two guys in real life, I mean, this guy was, you know, crippled and the other guy had never jumped out of an airplane. And they went over the Swiss Alps and threw themselves out of an airplane.
So on the last day of shooting the actors looked (inaudible) were going to do it and we're just there for the close ups and these two directors threw them out of the airplane. So the look of terror on their face is I can tell you is dead real.
LIZZA: How did it start, how did you get the script and how did you decide to do this? It seems like if someone -- you the reputation of the movie like this would be oh Hollywood would never be interested in something like this. So how did you get it off the ground?
WEINSTEIN: Well my movie.
CAIN: Because he's Harvey Weinstein. I mean that's the answer.
WEINSTEIN: Well, I mean, I think people know that I have done movies like cinema parodies so where "Life is Beautiful" or "Amelie" you know what I mean. And we've had great success, you know, with foreign language movies and different kind of movies. And as I said last year we won the Oscar for "The Artist" and that had no, you know what I mean, you know no dialogue, no sound. So this is a step up.
O'BRIEN: I was going to say what makes your successful because if you look at other people's assessment of you, I think Meryl Streep called you God.
WEINSTEIN: She was kidding.
O'BRIEN: And the Alec Baldwin -- Alec Baldwin -- Alec Baldwin called you something unprintable that I cannot say on TV.
WEINSTEIN: Yes, yes.
O'BRIEN: What do you think is the secret to like reading a script and saying, this has no dialogue at all, and yet I think it's going to be a winner?
WEINSTEIN: Well, I think you know you could actually tell with "The Artist" script that it was amazing and touching. And I think the same thing is true of this. You know this was a French company who is making the movie, one of our guys intercepted it. You read this story and you realize that it's true, and you say, this is unbelievable and so true and so funny. And these two directors direct comedies in France that are wildly successful.
This is, you know, a terrific movie. And I wouldn't go out and promote it myself.
As for Alec Baldwin, let's give you the other side. Meryl called me God. And I've said this before the minute she called me God, I had to do an interview on another network at 4:00 in the morning. And Madonna called me the Punisher. She called me God. And the French guys, when they won for "The Artist," call me "Le Boss".
So here is the French guys on "The Artist" they don't show up at 4:00 in the morning. They are supposed to be there. They are partying, dancing on tables, drinking champagne and I call them and they go, come on, guys. We promised this early morning show we would all stay up after we won the award and we would be there. They go, we're French. We don't care. So, you know, so what? Let them gone so it's me and the dog. Me and Uggy.
So here is God, the Punisher, and the boss. I'm sitting with Uggy and Uggy decides to have a bowel movement during my interview. So and I realize quickly that my -- you know my 24 hours of fame is up. I mean, as I'm doing this interview.
As for Alec Baldwin, I was busy. I couldn't do an interview in Cannes. He wanted me to do an interview for the movie that he is making, and I think he got angry with me.
O'BRIEN: He surely he did.
WEINSTEIN: Just -- just to handle it you know I mean, but -- but you know, one thing that I did. I refused to talk to him or do anything until he apologized. So he came over and gave me a written apology at a fundraiser, at a charity event that he was doing. He is a good guy. He loses his temper all the time. But he's a good guy. Trust me, I know what losing my temper is like.
O'BRIEN: Really? Really? Yes, we've heard about that a little. Famous last words.
WEINSTEIN: I'm good at that too.
O'BRIEN: Let's talk about fundraisers. Because you've got one coming up.
O'BRIEN: And it's not cheap. We -- we are able to cobbled together $8 to go but I guess that's $35,000 short.
WEINSTEIN: You're in.
O'BRIEN: So it's $35,000 plus a plate for this.
O'BRIEN: How much money are you expecting to raise -- you're fundraising for Obama?
WEINSTEIN: $2 million. Yes and I think it will be $2 million and it's just in the early stages. And it's funny. You watch some of the people, you know, for the Republicans, for Mitt Romney, write checks for, you know, one of these -- the Koch Brothers I think they're going to raise $400 million on PACs. I mean, we are so come from behind compared to these incredibly wealthy people who are doing it. But if you're really --
O'BRIEN: Says the incredibly wealthy --
WEINSTEIN: No, no. No. No, no, no there is no Democrat in the Koch league of wealth. You know what I mean? But I think the --
CAIN: I think you just offended George Soros.
WEINSTEIN: You know what? You're right. I'll probably worry about this --
O'BRIEN: And talking about the Koch Brothers, not Coca-Cola.
WEINSTEIN: But I think the situation is you know it's an investment. I think for the people who can afford it, it's an investment in America. We don't want to go back to the economy that the President inherited, you know, in '08. The President came into office he inherited that economy. He did not make that economy.
And I think if the other guys get into office, they are going to do the same old terrible politics, they're going to deregulate the banks. The banks will be -- you know, it's not that the banks institutionally are greedy. It's that there is always one bad guy or two bad apples. And if there aren't any rules, these guys will take advantage and put the country in worse shape than it is.
O'BRIEN: We are out of time. But the movie is called "The Intouchables". It looks really terrific. Thank you for coming and to talk to us about it. We appreciate it.
WEINSTEIN: My pleasure Soledad. Thank you.
O'BRIEN: We've got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.
WEINSTEIN: Thank you guys.
O'BRIEN: You bet. Nice to have you. Thank you.
O'BRIEN : She's an HIV positive mother turned advocate. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to Patricia Knolls this week's "Human Factor".
RICHARD DICKENS, SOCIAL WORKER: I'm going to ask you first to just take three deep breaths.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richard Dickens is a social worker who works exclusively with cancer patients. Here he's using meditation to help patients cope.
DICKENS: It really is just calming the body and quieting the mind.
GUPTA: Dickens knows all too well the emotional struggle of being sick. As he was looking forward to graduate school to become a social worker, he got devastating news.
DICKENS: I got the invitation to Columbia University, my number one choice on a Monday, and a cancer diagnosis the next day.
GUPTA: At 37, he was diagnosed with advanced non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He underwent six months of aggressive chemo and a bone marrow transplant. But he didn't give up his dream of helping others.
DICKENS: Without ever anticipating I would get cancer, I wanted to work with cancer and AIDS patients.
GUPTA: During his illness, he stumbled across Cancer Care. It's an organization that helps people through the emotional and financial maze that comes with cancer. Once in remission, he was able to start grad school at Columbia.
DICKENS: Well, we do have a very small grant.
GUPTA: After graduating, he began working for Cancer Care and started to run the very support group he previously participated in as a patient. Today, he's Cancer Care's Mind Body Project coordinator.
DICKENS: My life is definitely very rich, very rewarding, and I feel I'm where I'm supposed to be.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
O'BRIEN: A short break. And "End Point" is up next.
O'BRIEN: 10 seconds we're going to talk about "End Point." and my "End Point" is this, this morning. Craig Scott, whose sister Rachel was killed in Columbine, said it's all about unity. And that is something that we wish for the folks who are suffering today and really grappling with how to move forward in Colorado in the aftermath of that terrible shooting and tragedy.
Got to take a break. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. See you tomorrow morning.