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Interview with Jon Lovitz; Interview with Spike Lee

Aired August 17, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the break-up. Is Hollywood over President Obama?


JON LOVITZ, COMEDIAN: He represents everybody, OK? He took the 1 percent of the population, that bracket, and throw them under the bus to get votes.


MORGAN: Comic Jon Lovitz has some harsh things to say. How much all of this matters in November?

And not all Hollywood agrees. Spike Lee's been team Obama from day one.


SPIKE LEE, MOVIE DIRECTOR: I think some people got tricked into thinking that automatically magically presto chango, abracadabra, racism would evaporate.


MORGAN: Is he disappointed in the president now? Spike Lee on the state of the union and his controversial new movie. Also, the creators of "Will and Grace" and how their show changed America's conversation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was never something we had set out to do to change any conversation.


MORGAN: Plus, Whitney Houston's friend Bebe Winans on the diva's final farewell.


BEBE WINANS, SINGER: We are learning how to celebrate her life.



MORGAN: Good evening. Our big story tonight, a complicated relationship between Hollywood and the White House. President is still pretty popular, with several A-list fund-raisers. Including one memorable one at George Clooney's home earlier this year.

For some celebrities, the honeymoon is well and truly over, pretty much before it even begun.

Jon Lovitz is fairly outspoken with the president last he was here. So, outspoken, in fact. He said he's received death threats and even branded a racist for criticizing the president and the policies. And Jon Lovitz joins me now.

Welcome back, Jon.

LOVITZ: Thank you. Thank you.

MORGAN: I wanted you back because you got so heated last time, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

LOVITZ: Oh, good. Let's do it again.

MORGAN: Exactly.

LOVITZ: Like when I said, I'm going to be interviewed by Piers Morgan again. They said, hmm, have a nice listen.


MORGAN: Aha, nice start. Let's talk about President Obama and just been a fascinating week. I feel really energized the whole election battle. The appointment of Paul Ryan as the V.P. pick has certainly led to a surge of interest in the media into what is now the real battle. It's all going to come down to what we had a debate about last time -- the economy, the tax, and who you're going to trust with your money.

How are you seeing things? Now you've seen Romney go for Ryan with his well-known budget plan. How do you see this battleground now?

LOVITZ: Well, clearly you help the vice president to help you get votes to get elected. but I think it's in my opinion as a comedian, you know, and as a citizen I think that he picked Paul Ryan to say this is my philosophy and this guy will carry that forward. The same reason Obama picked Vice President Biden. I still say the economy's math.

It comes down to if you raise taxes. If you look at it, Obama says he wants to keep the Bush tax cuts the same for the middle class. It will be the same as it has been for the last four years. Then he's going to raise taxes on people making $250,000 more and business owners. So it's just going to lose jobs, because it's not -- the middle class won't have more money to spend. They'll have the same amount to spend that they've had. And then you're raising taxes on employers which means they have less money to spend on --

MORGAN: Right, but if tax cuts were the answer, how do you explain that after eight years of George Bush's presidency, the unemployment rate was just nearly 8 percent? One of the worst rates in modern American history? If tax cuts create jobs, what went wrong under President Bush?

LOVITZ: I don't know. I don't have --

MORGAN: Still that's not an answer. You can't say you don't know.

LOVITZ: Well, in my opinion, part what wrong when they gave loans to people who weren't qualified for them. Then the banks -- they were both guilty. The banks -- they didn't care. They said, you're a waitress. How much do you make? Twenty-five thousand. Well, let's put down $80,000.

MORGAN: Who do you blame for the complete and utter breakdown of the financial system? Because I look at the president, I say, whoever is president at the time, happens on your watch. George Bush had been there eight years. It's a very, very long time to work out what you think is good and bad about your country's financial system. This all happened on his watch.

LOVITZ: Well, honestly, I did not vote for George Bush because I knew that his background was every company he ever ran they said went bankrupt. I ran -- I ran to the booth to vote Al Gore. I didn't want that to happen. So, I wasn't surprised if that happened.

But let's say it's 100 percent George Bush's fault. For the last four years now, the economy hasn't changed --

MORGAN: I wouldn't say 100 percent. Certainly some of it began under President Clinton. If you're president for eight years, I don't think you can end up blaming others. You've got enough time to fix it.

LOVITZ: Well, you could say it's Bush's fault. At the same time, Obama, he's had four years and it hasn't changed. And the real truth is if you ask very experienced businessmen, they'll say that the president really has no effect on the economy. It goes up and down. That's what they'll tell you.

MORGAN: But isn't it true? You've got a country that's $16 trillion -- $17 trillion in debt. And it has the endemic problems --

LOVITZ: He cut taxes and then he -- Bush cut taxes. And then he also was spending on two wars. So you're spending more than you're taking in, you're going to go into debt, period. Same with you personally, if you spend more than you make, you'll go into debt. That's what happened. Now, in the last four years, it's still the same. I don't think President Obama -- by the way, I'm not against President Obama. I'm -- socially, I don't agree with anything the Republicans say. Pretty much at all. So I'm pretty much socially liberal but fiscally conservative. And you don't spend more than you take.

I just know his policies have -- aren't working. He says the private sector's doing better. I have an actual business. It's -- we're down. Every business I deal with -- go to any business you work with or deal with, say, are you doing better? They say no.

MORGAN: But most of the world is down. I mean, there's a massive global recession. You say you're not anti-Obama. You did tweet this. You said, I didn't build my business either. Photo is President Obama holding a Nobel Peace Prize, with the words saying, Nobel Prize, you didn't earn that, somebody else made that happen.

LOVITZ: Right. That's a joke. That's called sarcasm.

MORGAN: It's also a point you're making.

LOVITZ: Yes, the point is -- the people say no, he did earn the Nobel Peace prize. How did he earn it? They vote you the Nobel Peace prize.

Some saying, that's right, he did get the Nobel Peace prize. They voted it for him. So, he did earn it and I built my business.

And the truth of the matter is, when I looked at the video, people said you're misquoting him. Everybody misquoted him, because you watch it and he says, you know how you work hard, you work smart -- lots of people work smart, lots of people work hard. They build roads and bridges. And that -- you didn't build that. Someone else made that happen.

Everyone says, no, you took it out of context. But two days later, he released a video, the president, where he's saying, you know what, if you owned a business, it's because you worked hard and because you worked smart.

I mean, it's insane to say if you work hard and smart, that has nothing to do with your success. Of course it does.

You're lazy and you're stupid, you'll get ahead? Come on.

MORGAN: Why did you end up, though, being incredibly successful and you make millions and millions of dollars out your success? Why, if so many of your fellow countrymen are really suffering and they have lost their jobs and their homes and so on --why would you not want to have a kind of moral duty to offer more perhaps as a percentage of the great success and wealth than those who have nothing? Why wouldn't you ideologically want to do that?

LOVITZ: Well, yes, ideologically, you would.

MORGAN: You don't agree with that? LOVITZ: Well, it's more of the way -- yes, I don't agree when he says you're not paying your fair share. I say I'm paying more than my fair share. Half of the country pays zero taxes. I'm at the level of at least 50 percent or more, and I have deductions. What I'm saying is I am paying my fair share.

If he had said, look, if you're working really hard, you're paying your fair share, but could you pay a little more, we need help? OK. But he didn't say that.

MORGAN: It's the same thing.

LOVITZ: It represents -- no, it isn't. It's putting someone on the defense.

MORGAN: You're just playing the wounded comedian here.

LOVITZ: No, I'm not wounded.

MORGAN: Get over yourself.

LOVITZ: He represents everybody, OK. And what he did was he took 1 percent of the population that bracket, and throw them under the bus to get votes. And he's making -- he's using them as a scapegoat --

MORGAN: No, I don't think he is. He's making --

LOVITZ: He absolutely is using them as a scapegoat. They say that's why the economy's bad. That's not way the economy's bad.

MORGAN: Here's what I would say, what I think the jury's out on whether the actual reality of taxing the super rich a lot more actually can save your economy. But in conjunction with other sensible policies, it could work. What I find odd about the Ryan plan is it's such a dramatic cut in the income tax rates, for everybody, including the rich.

I don't hear people in America screaming for tax cuts. I hear them screaming for something that will get them back to work. It's a different scream.

LOVITZ: Well, here's the reality. If you raise taxes on business owners but the revenue stays the same, they then have a choice. Their overhead's larger, right? So they have a choice now to either go -- they can't afford to stay in business, go out of business or cut costs which will cut less jobs. Right?

Now, if I have -- my own business, we're barely breaking even. And sometimes -- a lot of times we're not breaking even and I have to pay the difference. So, if I have to pay more in tax, that's less money I have -- I'll either close or cut employment.

MORGAN: Right. Could it be -- I put this to you in the kindest possible way. Just for whatever reason, your business isn't appealing to many people at the moment? Whereas somebody like Apple are doing record profits of any company in the history of companies in the history of planet Earth? They clearly are providing something that Americans are going on spending a fortune.


MORGAN: Doesn't it depend as much on the individual businesses?

LOVITZ: Absolutely. I'm not blaming the economy for my business. You try to figure out what can you do to generate more ticket sales. We've tried everything.

We're doing a new thing -- it was a comedy club. Jon Lovitz podcast theater and this new thing called It's like a live mobile television where anyone can take -- and interactive. You can use your phone and download this application and then you can interact live with people and do polls and different things.

We're trying that. I'm investing in that. We're doing everything we can to survive.

I'm not an expert and I think Paul Ryan -- I think they put in things -- it's politics.

MORGAN: I haven't seen the detail in the Paul Ryan plan about exactly how this works, when you put it into totality. The detail isn't there. It wasn't Romney's plan. It's not there in writing. Until we see the devil in the details, I don't think anybody can really --

LOVITZ: I mean, I don't know what to do. Socially, I'm with the Democrats. Economically, I'm more with the Republicans --

MORGAN: Who you going to vote for?

LOVITZ: I don't know. I want to wait for presidential debates. I want to hear what Romney's plan is. I want to hear.

To me, if you have to pick between socially and the economy, I think you go with the economy, because like, say, for example, President Obama says he now believes in gay marriage and Mitt Romney doesn't.

I think gay marriage should be legal. The fact is, it doesn't matter what they say. It makes people that I think are gay feel good. I'm all for gay rights. They're American citizens to me. Everyone should have the same rights.

The fact is, it doesn't matter what they say because it's a state by state vote. So it's on a state level. It's not a federal level.

MORGAN: You can only make a big difference in the president makes a statement like he --

LOVITZ: It will help.

MORGAN: I think it helps hugely.

LOVITZ: I think you should be able to on that example marry who you want. To me, it's none of my business.

MORGAN: Jon, good to see you again.

LOVITZ: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: We're ending on a point of agreement. Extraordinary.

Coming up, someone in Hollywood who says the expectations were simply too high for President Obama, but he still supports him anyway -- the always opinionated Spike Lee.


MORGAN: Spike Lee's been making movies for over a quarter of a century. His breakthrough, "She's Got a Habit," came out in 1986. His latest film is the powerful and controversial "Red Hook Summer."

Let's just get on with it, Spike. I've waited 18 months for you to come on this show. Don't want too much preamble.

LEE: I'm glad to be here.

MORGAN: We're going to talk about everything, but let's start with "Red Hook Summer," because in many ways -- I've watched it. It's a gripping, powerful film. It's a classic Spike Lee film. You're back in your own stomping ground in New York, in Brooklyn.

Yes. And it's raw and it's visceral and it's warm and it's funny and it's challenging and provocative. In short, it is you. The lead character who plays this pastor who delivers these fantastic sermons, it's basically you, isn't it, when you're a bit older? It's what you want to end up doing.

LEE: I don't think so. Number one, I didn't grow up in the church. I can't deliver any sermons. I let my film-making do the talking.

MORGAN: I suppose what I really mean is it's more metaphoric. Because this guy, he has a lot of views. He doesn't sugarcoat stuff.

LEE: Right.

MORGAN: Your films --

LEE: That's the tradition of the black preacher, the reverend. Dr. King --

MORGAN: Yes, but also your movies --

LEE: Right.

MORGAN: -- I think are similar in the sense that you don't try to sugarcoat stuff. You don't take us to places like the projects in Brooklyn and say, it's all terrible or it's all great. It's both.

LEE: Right.

MORGAN: There's a sort of beauty and a magic to these places.

LEE: Beauty and ugliness.

MORGAN: Right. Tell me about that.

LEE: That's life. There's beautiful stuff and there's ugly stuff. And that just happens to be my outlook on life. I'll let people do what they do and that's fine. But this is the way I see the world. I'm lucky enough to be making films since 1986 with "She's Got a Habit."

MORGAN: Is America a more beautiful or a more uglier place --

LEE: Today?

MORGAN: -- than it has been, 20 years ago, in your experience, since you began making movies?

LEE: I think that it's that whole thing, one step forward, one step back. But I never, ever thought I'd see the day in my lifetime when there would be an African-American president. That night, I was there that night in Grant Park, Chicago. I don't -- if somebody told me I had to walk, I'd have left a month early, to walk from Brooklyn to Chicago to be there for that night. That's one, I had to be there.

MORGAN: Want to play a clip from an interview you did with my CNN colleague, Don Lemon. It's about Obama.



LEE: Expectations were I think way too high. What somebody can deliver, knowing how politics works, and knowing that you have to deal with the Congress -- in my opinion, a Congress that's solidified in saying whatever you do, we're blocking it. We're blocking. We're blocking.

And every breath we take, we're going to do what we can that you don't get a second term, bottom line. And if it hurts Americans in the process, tough business.


MORGAN: I thought you hit the nail on the head there. The bottom line about Obama was he could never live up to expectations, because the expectations were so stratospherically high.

LEE: You know what? I want to say something, because I do interviews with CNN and you take one word. So Spike Lee says Obama's Jesus. I didn't say that.

MORGAN: What did you say?

LEE: I said people thought he was Jesus. People thought he was the savior. I didn't say he was.

MORGAN: I didn't do anything, Spike.


MORGAN: Nothing to do with me.

LEE: When they get you on CNN, that thing goes across the bottom of the screen. It said --

MORGAN: I'm looking at a thing that says Spike on Obama. Nothing controversial about that.

LEE: All right, but that's not you.

MORGAN: But I agree with you, there was a kind of messianic atmosphere about him.

LEE: How could that not be? How could that not be?

MORGAN: I agree with you. The problem is it set the bar so high for him.

LEE: Yes.

MORGAN: How do you think -- if you're being critical of Obama, because I know you're a huge supporter of him -- obviously you're going to vote for him again. I assume you're going to vote for him again.

LEE: Yes, very much so.

MORGAN: Where would you be critical? Where do you wish he'd gone further? Where do you think if he gets re-elected he should push harder?

LEE: The bottom line is economics. People need jobs. People need to stop losing their homes, their life savings and that health care thing maybe.

You know, you can't go back. But I'm 100 percent in support of him. And I'm going to do what I can to see that he gets a second term.

And I think that historically second terms, you get to do what you want because four years --

MORGAN: You're out.

LEE: You're out.

MORGAN: There's a courage that comes with a second term, because there's a kind of, well, I'm not going to be here, right, so this is my legacy moment.

LEE: Any job, if your neck is on the line, if you don't have that threat of -- you love soccer. You're the coach of a team. You know, there's freedom that comes with knowing that your job is not at stake.

MORGAN: We're going to come and talk more soccer later, because you're an Arsenal fan like me. You're the first American Arsenal fan I've ever had on the show, one of the many firsts tonight.

When we come back, I want to talk to you about race in America, because you touched on this a lot in the movie. I want to know whether you think America -- I asked this of a lot of people. Your view will be fascinating. Is America more or less racist, do you think, since Barack Obama became president?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dego Wopp, garlic bread pizza slinging, spaghetti (inaudible) --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gold chain wearing, fried chicken and biscuit eating monkey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You Goido, bean eating, 15 in a car, 30 in an apartment, pointy shoes, red wearing, Menudo -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED) sucker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold up. Time-out! Time-out! Ya'll take a chill!


MORGAN: Spike Lee's 1989 film "Do the Right Thing." He's back with me now. Samuel L. Jackson, he's such a cool guy. You see his tweeting in the Olympics?

It was the stuff of legend.

LEE: Yes.

MORGAN: Did you like the Olympics?

LEE: Say it again.

MORGAN: Did you like the Olympics?

LEE: Oh, yes. You don't see I'm wearing my jacket?

MORGAN: I do. America did well, beat China.

LEE: This is what you wore when you win a medal.

MORGAN: But it was mainly about Britain. LEE: You guys did great.

MORGAN: Wasn't bad, was it?

LEE: You guys did great.

MORGAN: Tell me this, America --

LEE: Yes.

MORGAN: -- elected its first black president, a moment you talked about movingly as one of those great moments you'll never forget. But has it made America more or less racist?

LEE: Well, I like to say, first of all, African-Americans alone did not elect President Obama. It was a coalition -- black, white, brown, yellow, gay, straight. Everybody came together. And it was such a great moment in America.

I think some people got tricked into thinking that when he put his -- when Barack put his hand on Abraham Lincoln's Bible, that automatically, magically, presto, chango, abracadabra, racism would evaporate, and we'd be in the post-racial area.

I still don't understand what that word is. So it's still a great movement. But I like to say this, because I hope you understand that I don't think about race 24/7, 365 -- I know I have a reputation. But that's not the case.

If you look at my films I've done since 1986, everything I've done is not about race relations in this country. I do care about other things, not to negate that.

But I'm always being put -- not ganging on it, but I'm always being put in this position that I have to speak on race and I'm speaking on behalf of 45 million African-Americans, which is not the case for both of those.

MORGAN: Let's switch to another issue then, guns.

LEE: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, I'll talk about that.

MORGAN: There was another shooting today.

LEE: Where?

MORGAN: It was down in Texas I think. And three people were killed, including I think at least one policeman. A random killing again. Somebody disaffected, possibly unstable. We don't know yet.

But this follows two really appalling massacres.

LEE: Yes.

MORGAN: The Sikh temple and Aurora -- Aurora being the worst single gun massacre of this time that America's ever seen. There's just this terrible conspiracy of silence that goes on afterward, it seems to me. A few people pop up.

LEE: How many people die of gunshots in England every year?

MORGAN: Well, this is the point I make.

LEE: Two, three?

MORGAN: It averages about 30-odd.

LEE: In Brooklyn, we might get 30 depending how much -- how hot the weather is.

MORGAN: Right, so what should America be doing? Because doing nothing can't be the answer.

LEE: Well, I think that, you know, I'm really in full accord with Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, not as far as the stop and frisk.

But we have one of the toughest gun laws in New York City but the guns come from Florida. They come from Virginia. They come from Georgia. And it's like buying a toothbrush. I mean, there's no checks and balances.

The guy from Aurora, how can you buy that much ammunition on the Internet and that's not a red flag? We have --

MORGAN: There were never red flags. The Gabby Giffords guy was clearly mentally sick. No red flags. The Aurora guy dressed up as the Joker and buys all this stuff. The common theme of those two, the Sikh temple guy, they're always buying guns legally. All this stuff is just easy to access.

My point is make it incredibly hard.

LEE: Well --

MORGAN: Countries that do that don't get as many gun murders or anything like it.

LEE: So, what do you do about NRA?

MORGAN: Well what do you do about NRA, which holds this incredible power?

LEE: They got the -- the Vulcan death grip. I mean, like, you talked about it. There's a silence about the power that they have. And they're running things. They're setting the agenda.

MORGAN: Should -- should Barack Obama, rather than just talk in this kind of slightly rhetoric way, as he does about guns, should he now push?

LEE: I think they both should. I think anybody's running for president has to address this crazy loss of life. I mean, we are dead. Here's the thing though, people playing these video games and they think like, all right, 20,000 points for shooting in the head. Like it's -- when you get shot in the head, you're dead. There's no coming back.

And something has to be done. I don't have the answer. I'm just -- and I live in New York City. And this summer there's been a great spike of -- I'm not trying to be funny. No pun intended, but the shootings. The Harlem/Brooklyn Tournament, historical, every summer, where the best basketball players come to Harlem in the world, a shootout there? Little four-year-old girls get shot in the head? Stray bullets.

MORGAN: It's crazy.

LEE: It's insane.

MORGAN: It has to change.

We've run out of time. "Red Hook Summer" is a fantastic movie, powerful, raw. It's very Spike Lee. Thanks for coming on.

LEE: My man.


MORGAN: Coming up, the creators of "Will and Grace" on how their TV series made a real life change in America.



JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When things really began to change is when the social culture changed. I think "Will and Grace" probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody's ever done so far.


MORGAN: Vice President Joe Biden on NBC's "Meet the Press." crediting the hit sitcom "Will and Grace" with changing the conversation in America on being gay. Since then, President Obama has made his support of same sex marriage public.

Joining me now are the Emmy-winning creators of "Will and Grace," David Kohan and Mutchnick. Chaps, what a moment that must have been. I was watching it live when they aired the interview. All I could think when he said it was, I wonder how the writers of "Will and Grace" feel about that, because what an incredible affirmation really of what I guess you were trying to achieve with the show.

MAX MUTCHNICK, CO-CREATOR, "WILL AND GRACE": Yes. Personally, I nearly fell out of bed. I -- I --

DAVID KOHAN, CO-CREATOR, "WILL AND GRACE": And it was 2:00 in the afternoon. MUTCHNICK: You know, we heard the vice president talk about this at a private fund-raiser about a week earlier, and thought that was the end of it. And then to turn on the television in the morning, as we do, to watch "Meet the Press" and to see that he still was talking about it, I couldn't believe it.

MORGAN: It was. It was an amazing moment, wasn't it?

KOHAN: I wanted -- I wanted to hire his speech writer, quite frankly.

It was. It was. I mean, it was never something we had set out to do to change any conversation. We just wanted people to like the show.

MORGAN: I wondered that.

KOHAN: I mean, the one thing we always said was don't try to write ideology. Then the characters will die on the page. You write about relationships and characters. And whatever else happens is gravy.

MUTCHNICK: Yeah, I mean, we're supposed to entertain as many people as we can, you know, during a given week. And if we start teaching, I think we're in a lot of trouble.

MORGAN: What do you think about President Obama's position? He came out with this big statement. Everybody went wow, that's incredible, endorsed everything to do with gay rights. He hadn't really. A lot of it was language. In the end, does it come down to legislation? Is that what you want to see?

MUTCHNICK: I actually feel totally responsible for where he's at. I feel like -- we made this happen, right, really for the United States. No, all I can hope for is that "Partners" does for President Obama what "Will and Grace" did for the vice president, because it's just been amazing to hear such a high-profile figure talk about a television show.

I mean, you know, it was similar to listening to Dan Quayle talk about "Murphy Brown." You know, this just doesn't go on in the world. To think that these -- you know, these comedies that we're writing, you know, in the Valley are getting the kind of eyeballs on them was just a remarkable thing for us.

KOHAN: Talk matters. I mean, it does. The -- it's more than just lip service, because it's coming from the mouth of the president of the United States. Ultimately, yes, legislation is what really counts. It's funny because we have a writer in our room who was talking about selling his house. He's a man who is married to another man in a state that recognizes that, and could not get the tax break.

It's a little thing, but it's a thing, you know. And it's -- you know, if there was federal legislation in place, he wouldn't be talking about that. MORGAN: Obviously, if we get a Republican administration with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, I mean, they both made their position on gay rights pretty loudly clear. They're not going to be friends of the gay community at all. Quite the contrary. Are you nervous?

MUTCHNICK: It scares me, quite frankly.

MORGAN: The good work that's been done could just evaporate.

MUTCHNICK: I mean, they are in the process of trying to take away rights. And that's what scares me about that ticket. You know, they're very clear about, you know, wanting to put something into the Constitution that would limit rights. And that's not going to be good.

And I feel like when you go into that booth and you vote, you have to think about that. You have to think about your son or your, you know, your doctor or your postman, are you comfortable with the idea of bringing in a group of people that want to take away their rights? I'm concerned.

MORGAN: Your know show "Partners," because it's been incredibly six year since "Will and Grace" was last airing new shows on American television. It seems like it's always on, so it just seems like, you know, you have never been away. But you have been away. And you've come back with "Partners." Tell me about this.

KOHAN: We -- you know, we wanted to do a story about our relationship. It was a gay guy and a straight guy. We've been friend since we were kids. And it seems --

MORGAN: Like 30 years?

KOHAN: More than that actually. Yes, probably about 35 years. And we're only 37.

MORGAN: Amazing.

KOHAN: But we -- not even thinking about it in terms of the next step, because it's not the next step. It just seemed to me that it was an interesting dynamic and one that we hadn't seen on television before.

MUTCHNICK: I think it's out there. I mean, I think that it's exists. It's just that nobody's written about it yet. And so we live it and why not make it --

MORGAN: Let's take a little watch of a clip from "Partners."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's been really stressed out lately because the store's in trouble and she has a lot riding on some buyer that's coming by to see her today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this story isn't about you or me in the next 30 seconds, I'm going to kill myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyway, she had a couple of glasses of wine.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was four. Girlfriend likes her liquor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of nowhere, she tells me she wants to get married and she wants kids like now. So there's play me or trade me ultimatum on the table. I'm not ready for that.


MORGAN: It's got that kind of pacey rhythm that I loved in "Will and Grace." Inevitably, you'll get comparisons. But it's a very different kind of show, different kind of premise to it.

What are you -- given that you have led to the vice president on your last show making a comment about the effect you had on American society, is there anything about this show where you could imagine in 10 years time, somebody saying something similar? Is there a point to it that could really resonate?

KOHAN: I -- my hope would be that it actually -- that society is so receptive to the idea that it doesn't make a point, you know. In 10 years, if this -- if it's not something that is worthy of public discussion, I think that's hopefully a good thing. I don't see it happening in the next 10 years. But --

MUTCHNICK: On "Will and Grace," the gay subject matter was the end of almost every line. You know, we talked a lot about gay stuff on that show. And this is -- this is a buddy-buddy comedy. One of the guys happens to be gay. Hopefully that's where, you know, the audience is as well, that they were just going to be receptive to this relationship. And they're going to want to -- they're going to know that relationship or they're going to want to be in that relationship.

KOHAN: And it asks the question, you know, where's the best marriage? Is it between -- you know, because the gay partner is romantically involved in a path that's leading towards marriage presumably. The straight partner is in a romantic relationship that's in a path leading towards marriage. But the relationship at the core is probably the most solid, the most open, the most communicative.

MORGAN: You're probably the closest unmarried couple in Hollywood, right? .

MUTCHNICK: Something like that. I mean, look --

KOHAN: All the married couples we know are far more distant than this.

MUTCHNICK: All you have to do is just split a tuna fish sandwich every day for 20 years and you're good to go. MORGAN: Listen, I can't wait to watch it. It's called "Partners." It premieres Monday, September 24th on CBS. It's been a pleasure.

MUTCHNICK: Looking forward.

MORGAN: Been big fans of yours for a long time. Thank you for coming in. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did try to turn it off, but I can't. I know the lord loves me and he wouldn't torture me with something I want to do, can't help but do. So I figured --



HOUSTON: Sparkle, you can have a gift. It's how you use it.


MORGAN: Whitney Houston's final performance. The movie "Sparkle" opens in theaters this weekend, six months after her sudden, untimely death. It's a diva's farewell, a reminder of her extraordinary talent as a singer and an actress.

Here now is Whitney's longtime friend, gospel singer BeBe Winan's. He has a book titled "The Whitney I Knew" and a new album called "America BeBe."


BEBE WINAN, GOSPEL SINGER: Thank you, good to be back.

MORGAN: It's extraordinary it's only been six months. It was an amazing week. I remember covering it on CNN. It was so sad. It was so tragic. Yet after the funeral service, it was so uplifting as well. The -- one the most extraordinary things I've ever been involved with.

For you as a central player in this, someone that had known Whitney nearly 30 years, singing at the funeral and so on, what was it like for you?

WINAN: Difficult. You know, kind of surreal. You know, you're there and you're in the moment. Yet still you're filled with a lot of disbelief, you know. This can't be happening.

And then it's that journey after the service is over that you get up and you really start to walk with the reality of her being gone.

MORGAN: Why did you do the book? What was your motivation for this?

WINAN: Very important two specific reasons. It truly was a way for me to embrace the pain and come to the other side of the reality and the acceptance of her death. And I walked -- walking through that journey caused me to smile. You know, it was very hard to find a reason to smile, you know. And at the same time, I thought it was so important to give maybe the 97 percent of who she was instead of the tabloid's three percent and what people were told.

MORGAN: What were the biggest misconceptions about her, do you think?

WINAN: That she was this difficult diva who lived life in a drug coma, and that, you know, her life at every minute was turmoil. And that was so untrue. Knowing her for 28 years -- someone asked me the question, why didn't you tell her not to do drugs. And my answer has always been and will be, out of the 28 years that we knew each other, she never did drugs in front of me. She never went to that place where we didn't speak the truth about drugs or anything else, you know.

MORGAN: Did she have then almost two camps of people? People like yourself and the family members who weren't exposed to that kind of things, and other friends perhaps some of them not the most desirable?

WINAN: Probably. You know, at the same time, what I've always chosen to never assume and speak for what I know. I'm sure. I think all of us are taught, even when we're young, to display a different persona when you're in public than when you're in private. But at the same time, I can only be the kind of friend that I was to Whitney. And I tried to wonder what the others were.

MORGAN: You're quite sympathetic about Bobby Brown. And that was certainly the impression I began to get from the people that knew her well, that to blame him for all the drug problems was way off the mark. She was already using drugs way before she met Bobby Brown anyway. And actually he wasn't really the blame in all of this. Would you agree with that?

WINAN: I agree that that he wasn't the blame. One of the things, I think misconceptions was when she married Bobby, everything just went crazy. That's so untrue. I find Bobby to be a wonderful guy. As I said in the book, what I told Whitney then, I stood my ground and said he's just not the husband. He's -- you know, please don't --

MORGAN: Well, it was almost fire and fire, wasn't it?

WINAN: To a certain degree, because of just being in the same industry. I think when someone marries a person that is doing the same thing they're doing, jet setting, and then kids that he had out of wedlock, there was a lot of reasons why I shared with her, this is not the person. But at the same time, Whitney was grown and Whitney made her own decisions. And when she made her decision, I said I would be right there and I was. MORGAN: Do you have any personal regrets that she died in the way that she did? Did you ever feel you could have done something to perhaps avert what happened?

WINAN: No regrets at all. No regrets at all, because everything that needed to be side while she was alive was said. I think that's very important. I think it's a very important lesson for all of us who have friends that are dealing with situations, to speak the truth. And love, I think, is the most important and powerful tool that we have.

I loved her. And by loving her, I told her the truth and I stood beside her.

MORGAN: How is Whitney's daughter doing? And how is her mother doing? Because they're two people who were so front and center, if you like, when the funeral was happening.

WINAN: Doing -- doing well. Doing well. There's those moments, you know. when August 9th came about, I made two phone calls to Cissy just to say I love you and thinking of you, because that was Whitney's birthday. You know, difficult. Christmas will be difficult. All those monumental moments will be difficult for her and for Bobbi Kristina. But they're doing well.

MORGAN: You sang beautifully "I'm Going to Miss You" at the service. It's was one of the most memorable parts for me certainly of the service. And you've got this album out. Why this? Why such a patriotic album?

WINAN: Because I want to remind through these songs that before any association with any party, we all are Americans. But I want to inspire this country to come together. Because if we come together, there's nothing that we're facing that we can't accomplish.

MORGAN: Well said. BeBe, I wish you the best with your new book, "The Whitney I Knew," the new CD. It's good to see you again.

WINAN: Good to see you too. Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up next week, the daytime television wars, My exclusive with talk show queen Ricki Lake on her knew show and on the competition.




CATALINA ESCOBAR, CNN HERO: Teen pregnancy in Cartajenas is a very big issue. When you go to the slums, it is unbelievable what you see.

Many of my girls live here. It's just so wrong.

You see these girls. They're babies holding babies.

About 10 years ago, I was volunteering at this maternity hospital and I was holding this baby and he passed away with me. His teen mother failed to raise the money to cover treatment. Four days later, my own son passed away in an accident.

I realized I didn't want any mother to feel the same grief that I went through.

My name is Catalina Escobar, and I'm helping teen moms get a healthy and productive life for them and for their babies.

When we first started at the maternity hospital, we reduced dramatically the infant mortality rate. But the real problem, it was much bigger than that. My girls end up being pregnant because they don't have sexual education. And many of my girls are sexually abused.

When my girls come, they drop their babies in the day care center. We have different workshops so they can develop their skills.

We are changing the lives of these girls. If you give them the right tools, they're capable of moving forward.