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Mourning a Lost Son; Guns in America; Arming the Teachers

Aired December 20, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, a father's anguish.


NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF JESSE LEWIS: My little boy is never going to come back to me.


MORGAN: Extraordinary interview with a man whose 6-year-old son died in the massacre in Newtown.

But what will it take to stop more of this senseless violence? I'll ask a senator.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: We can do better. We must do something.


MORGAN: Plus, the Texas gun dealer who says the answer is we should arm teachers and clergymen and nurses.


CROCKETT KELLER, OWNER, KELLER'S RIVERSIDE GUN STORE: There should be an equal amount of firepower that the teacher would have.


MORGAN: Can any good come of all this? I'll tell you about one tragedy 16 years ago that continues to save lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea that because the problem is guns, the answer is guns is simply ridiculous.


MORGAN: Also, a man who knows a thing or two about guns, "Soprano's" creator David Chase. He talks about his new movie. And it's not about what you think. This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. In Newtown, there have been an assembly line of wakes and funerals. The grieving Connecticut town buried three children today, Allison Wyatt, Benjamin Wheeler, and Catherine Hubbard. There are also funerals for Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers Lauren Rousseau and Anne Marie Murphy. And the school principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was laid to rest in upstate New York.

Meanwhile, Adam Lanza's first victim, his mother, Nancy, was buried in undisclosed location. It was a private service for family only.

As America grapples with the tragedy that happened less than a week ago, we begin tonight with a quite extraordinary interview. I spoke to Neil Heslin. His son, 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, died in the massacre at Sandy Hook. But as this grieving father spoke to me about his loss, he also had remarkable words of understanding and the hope.


MORGAN: Neil, first of all, thank you very much for joining me and please accept my very sincere condolences as so many have been offering to you and the other families for this terrible loss to your family.

Tell me about your son Jesse.

NEIL HESLIN, SON JESSE LEWIS, 6, DIED IN SANDY HOOK SHOOTING: Jesse was my son but he was my best friend and my buddy, too, and I'm just really lost for words. I -- we did everything together. And he had so many favorite spots where we'd go, the diner in town here, the grocery store, a bagel or muffin in the morning. The Misty Ville (ph) deli where he'd go to get his sandwich in the morning, also before school, and his snack. Just -- I -- I'm lost for words.

MORGAN: The feeling I got from everything I've understood about his last few moments alive were that he showed great courage, that he was trying to get out of there, that he was aware something was happening, obviously his favorite teacher, Vicki Soto, was there, she was being heroic, too. But did it surprise you that in that moment, even at his young age, that he was showing such enterprising courage?

HESLIN: That's what's said happened and that's what's going around, that the kids made or were attempting to make a run or to escape. I'm not sure of the number of survivors in Miss Soto's class, if there were any. But, yes, that wouldn't surprise me -- Jesse. That was Jesse. He was the type that would take control and he was adventurous. And he -- I always told Jesse never to leave anybody hurt or -- and all to help them. So if there was somebody that was hurt or injured, he would be the one that was helping them or trying to help them.

He loved life so much and loved it to the fullest and the little guy really, really had no fear to anything. And I -- it's just -- the whole thing is such a tragedy. To all the victims, to all their families. My heart goes out to the other families for their loss of their loved ones. And also for Adam's father and his family.

I just want to extend my sympathy and my condolences to his family. They are going through what I'm going through and they are not responsible for what Adam did. And so I just want them to know that. And my thoughts are with them, too.

MORGAN: That's incredibly, incredibly gracious of you and people will be amazed that you can show such kindness to the family of the person that did this.

What are your feelings towards the shooter himself?

HESLIN: My feelings towards the shooter is, it was a cowardly thing he did. And about one of the lowest things I think somebody could do. Those kids and victims, they were women, they were children, he targeted them because they were a target that couldn't defend themselves against him. And I don't know what possessed them to go to that school or what the significance was or the connection. But they were helpless towards him, to his actions.

And he went in there and it was just a massacre. And just -- I had a lot of anger because of the way he died. I thought it was a cowardly way that he died, and I still do, but I think it's a fitting way. Because he'll be remembered as a coward for the cowardly act that he committed.

Nothing can bring back our families, our victims. Nothing will ever bring my son back. You know, when this first happened, I was just shocked at how devastating it was and the size of it and -- it was just unbelievable. I was at -- back at the firehouse about a half hour after that occurred and the amount of law enforcement, firemen, ambulances, and SWAT members, government people, it was incredible.

It was -- I was shocked that it could come together that quickly. And so efficiently. The state police have been incredible to work with and supportive and the government agencies and the Red Cross, you know, I just want to thank them especially for their compassion and their help.

I'd like to thank Governor Dan Malloy for being here and who I personally spoke with several times. It's just -- the support from everybody and the condolences and the compassion, I'm just at a lot of for words. Just people want to help so much, they want to be part of this in the way that they're trying to be part of it is by helping and reaching out, whether it's a donation, bringing food to these workers, and to the victims' families, and the memorials over here. It's like nothing that's ever happened before.

My little boy said something the night before to me. And he said, dad, this is going to be the best Christmas ever. And he was going on about it and I said, Jesse, you know, it's -- you know, we'll make it the best we can and I don't have much family. So it's kind of a quiet time for me. And he makes -- made Christmas happy for me and joyful and he made it what it was. And I said to him, Jesse, we'll make it the best we can. And the next day this tragedy happened, it occurred, and I thought to myself, boy, was he wrong about that and as the day went on and condolences came in, the help was available, the people came to offer and help and support and from all over the world, just not Connecticut, just not the United States, it hit me.

You know, he was right in a way. It is going to be a good Christmas because it brings back the true meaning of Christmas where -- him and I had this talk, what it was about, it's about giving and not receiving and it's about helping, be reaching out to others and that's what everybody in the world has done this year with this tragedy and they've come together and they are looking to help and provide support and they've done that for me and I just want to thank everybody.

It just doesn't change my loss or my -- you know, my little boy is never going to come back to me and I'm never going to have him again and -- but at least I can look at it that way and see the real meaning of Christmas this year.

MORGAN: Neil, I'm at a bit of a loss of what to say to you. You're showing such extraordinary dignity and compassion in this interview and I've got three sons. I can't even imagine the hell of what you're going through and the way that you've spoken about it all shows such dignity on your part, and I just want to thank you for that and to wish you all the very best as you try and rebuild your life from what's happened and Jesse sounds like a remarkable young man.

HESLIN: It's going to be a big change and a big adjustment next year. But I hope we can all focus on making it a positive one and making Sandy Hook a happy place like it was. The way I could describe that school, it was like Mayberry, going there in the morning and dropping your children off and seeing the other parents. And it was just happy. Everybody was happy. The teachers, the staff, the children. And it's not that anymore. And I hope some day that could be the case again, that it is a happy place where children can gather and play. I don't know where to start.

MORGAN: Neil, I thank you for your time. I really do. And I can only offer you my support, my deepest condolences, my prayers and just hope that you and those other families can somehow make it a happy place again. And just know that your son and the other children will never be forgotten. They will never be forgotten, I'm sure of that.

HESLIN: Thanks. I'm certain of that, too. I thank you very much and I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you and put my voice out there to the other victims and my condolences and my thank you's to everybody.

MORGAN: Neil Heslin, thank you very much indeed.

HESLIN: Thank you.


MORGAN: When we come back, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. What he's doing to prevent more tragedies.



JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: The president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act and we'll act in a way that is designed, even if he says we could only save one life, we have to take action.


MORGAN: Vice President Biden today vowing to take the steps to prevent tragedies like the one in Newtown from happening again.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says the school shooting calls for a seismic change in gun policy, and he joins me now.

Senator, thank you for joining me. It's been a --

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

MORGAN: -- horrendous week.


BLUMENTHAL: A week that I don't want to relive again.

MORGAN: That is the key thing here, isn't it? I had a big town hall debate last night in which the common thread of everybody, really, was that these things keep happening. How do we try and stop them from happening again? This has been happened right in your state. You've been all over this all week and you've lived the terrible trauma of these families.

What is the most constructive, definitive thing that America's lawmakers can now do?

BLUMENTHAL: You know, there is no single, simple solution. It has to be a multifaceted approach beginning with a ban on assault weapons, stopping high capacity magazines, better background checks. Right now 40 percent of all sales of guns in the United States involve no background check and better, more comprehensive checks as well as mental health improvement in the clinician and outreach and intervention programs and, of course, better enforcement of all these laws. Not just existing laws but more supporting resources for the federal agencies like AT&F and the local and state police that have the responsibility to protect our children.

MORGAN: I mean, I have been stunned by the sheer political cowardice of so many politicians in America who seem just terrified of saying anything that the NRA may object to. The NRA has four million members. American has 310 million people living here. I just don't understand why everybody is so coward about publicly debating this and trying to get exactly the measures in place that you've just suggested.

BLUMENTHAL: I think there really has been a seismic change, the political landscape is changing, almost (INAUDIBLE) as people react to the horror of beautiful children, babies, really, slaughtered en mass, and the teachers and other professionals who came to their aid, putting themselves literally between the bullets and those children.

I think that a nerve has been touched and I think that Newtown will never be the same but neither will America. And so I think that kind of nerve hitting will be reflected in what happens here in Washington.

MORGAN: Are you really sensing, from your colleagues, that this is a tipping point?

BLUMENTHAL: I really am sensing that there is an openness and willingness on the part of a lot of people who never would have considered before to actually consider, for example, a ban on assault weapons which, as everybody knows, were designed for military use and right now even in the states that have them, like my state of Connecticut, and I know because I helped write the bill and then I personally defended it in court, in the trial, in the argument before state Supreme Court when it was challenged constitutionally.

It has essentially weaknesses or defects that need to be corrected. So on a wide range of issues, we can do better. We must do something. That's the refrain that I've heard throughout Newtown, throughout Connecticut, and throughout the country from people who write or call. We must do something and I think it's reflected in very powerful statements that the president and the vice president make.

MORGAN: I had a very harrowing interview and -- they're all harrowing, but with the father of one of the poor boys who lost his life along with the young girls in his classroom, and it was really heartbreaking but he was also very extraordinary dignified when you talked about the family of the shooter and also about the way that -- the way the world has reacted and showered its love and support on to Connecticut, on to Newtown, on to the Sandy Hook school, had really touched him. Have you noticed this?

BLUMENTHAL: There's been an outpouring all across America of people wanting to help and to give. In fact I've suggested that the credit card companies and Internet processors suspend or eliminate their charges and fees and so forth so that people could donate without anybody taking a part of those contributions. But even more than the money has been the outpouring of caring and kindness within the Newtown community.

You know, Newtown is a quintessential New England town. Everybody knows everybody else, which means that everybody is there to support each other but, of course, they've all suffered a loss because everybody knows some of the children and the professionals who have been lost. In fact, that's true of all Connecticut. The bonds are very, very close among a lot of people all throughout the state and it has been heartbreaking. But here is maybe an even more important point. Newtown is coming together and coming back. It is rebuilding and recovering remarkably resilient, resolute and strong. People there want to do something and again and again, I have been asked, in fact, besieged, can you do something, what can you do about gun violence?

In fact, there's an organization, Newtown United, that citizens there have started and it will play a role along with other organizations in seeking a mobilized that community and reach across America.

MORGAN: Final question, Senator. Let's divert to the fiscal cliff for one moment. Still no sin of a deal. Are you optimistic that there will be one before we all tumble over this cliff?

BLUMENTHAL: I am hopeful. I think that there is a balanced and sensible common ground here. In fact, one could argue that the two sides, Speaker Boehner and President Obama are really closer than you would believe hearing some of the public vitriol. But I do think that there is the potential for cutting spending, raising revenue in a very balanced way that avoids those drastic consequences of going over that cliff and I am hopeful. I emphasize hopeful that we will get there.

MORGAN: I hope you're right. Senator, thank you very much for joining me and please send our continued condolences to everybody in your state. It's been a harrowing week for them and indeed for America.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming next interview, you really have to see what a Texas gun store owner who thinks that teachers across America should be armed and clergymen and nurses. In fact, just about everybody.



GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: You go through the process and you have been duly backgrounded and trained and you are a concealed handgun licensed carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state.


MORGAN: Texas Governor Rick Perry. That includes teachers. He thinks they should be armed in schools. As my next guest, Crockett Keller, a gun store owner from Texas who's offering a discount to teachers. Let me ask him what he believes.

Mr. Keller, you agree with Rick Perry?

KELLER: Yes, sir, I do. Wholeheartedly I've seen where that works.

MORGAN: And your idea is that all teachers would be armed? KELLER: No, not at all. I don't think that all teachers are capable of being armed. I don't think that they can handle it. It's too serious a situation. I think only volunteer teachers that are willing to go through extra training should be able to carry their weapons in school.

MORGAN: And you're offering a discount to teachers on weapons. Is that right?

KELLER: That's correct, whether it be the weapons or the concealed carry class that I teach, either one. I have a lot of respect for teachers. It's an underpaid job. Them and military, I try to extend a sympathetic hand, if you will, towards their situation.

I want to personally extend my sympathy towards all of the victims' families. I know what it's like to lose a child. I've gone through that. I don't wish that on anyone. And my sympathy is so much with these people. My heart is with them. And I -- there's just nothing that words can say.

I do wish that the news media would get out of their neighborhood and allow them to grieve in peace.

MORGAN: Where would these teachers who are armed put the guns when they are in school?

KELLER: I've thought about that a lot in the last couple of days. And I've actually been asked that question. And personally, I think on their person. That way they know where the weapon is all the time and it's immediately accessible.

This means that a woman is going to have to -- I don't think that they should carry it in their purses nor in a briefcase.

MORGAN: But obviously if the gun was to tumble out of a teacher, if they had it in a harness and it fell over and a school child picked it up and then used it, which a child may well do, you then have a very serious situation.

KELLER: Well, the part -- the thing is that the teachers need to be more responsible than that. We're not talking about -- here again, it is a -- you take extra training. They know where their weapon is. These weapons are not such that you would -- if it fell out of your pocket, you're going to know that it fell out of your pocket.

MORGAN: Do you sell AR-15 rifles?

KELLER: When we can get them. They aren't a big item that I sell. I have a few. I have more so .22 caliber AR-type weapons. I have one in stock. I don't necessarily make a real habit of stocking them.

MORGAN: The president wants to ban those types of weapons. What is your reaction to that? KELLER: I'm just -- I'm against any banning of any weapons that we are today. We have rules and regulations that if -- if the laws are enforced, they are -- they are there and they do a certain amount of good. In the United States, you can own machine guns. You can own silencers. These require you to go through an additional background check.

There have been little or no crimes committed with those weapons. And they are super assault weapons.

MORGAN: But are you aware, sir, that the last three mass shootings in America, at Sandy Hook, the school, at a shopping mall in Oregon and at Aurora, in a movie theater, were all with the AR-15? Are you aware of that?

KELLER: I'm aware of that. And I also am aware that all it would have taken was one person with a concealed handgun to put them out of business. And that happens quite a bit. And I think it happens more so --

MORGAN: Just clarify, your suggest at Sandy Hook then would have been for one of the female teachers to have pulled a gun and would shoot somebody with limited training, would shoot somebody who is carrying an AR-15, which could fire up to 100 bullets in a minute? That would be your solution?

KELLER: No, that's not the solution, sir.

MORGAN: What is the solution then? I misunderstood you.

KELLER: I think that probably a -- there should be an equal amount of firepower that the teacher would have. A principal should possibly even have an AR in the -- in her office. And --

MORGAN: Let me get this absolutely straight. You're suggesting that a female teacher in an elementary school would have her own AR-15 assault weapon and would go and get it and start firing 100 bullets at another guy with school children everywhere? That is your solution, is it?

KELLER: Why are we beating up on the women here? Whether it be a women teacher or a man teacher, it's insignificant. The fact is they are going to have training. They are going to have good training. And hopefully instead of spraying 100 rounds down a hallway, they will shoot once and kill the guy or kill whoever the perpetrator is.

We're not talking about just free fire. We don't do those types of things. When you're shooting a weapon to protect yourself, you always know what's behind it. And this business of shooting hundreds and hundreds of rounds, that's Hollywood stuff.

MORGAN: Actually, it's not, sir, because, as you may be aware, that's exactly what happened in the movie theater in Aurora with an AR-15 and exactly what happened at Sandy Hook School. You are aware that 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook and that 70 were shot in Aurora and 12 of them died. You are aware that these weapons did unleash many, many, many bullets, are you, and killed many, many people?

KELLER: My comment was that the person who is defending his place, whether it be a school or a theater, if they are trained properly, they can shoot one time and they take out the person who is spraying bullets.

MORGAN: Right.

KELLER: And hopefully take him out before he sprays a lot of bullets. The name of the game is to have equal power that the criminals have.

MORGAN: Right.

KELLER: I think that anyone in any profession that wants to be armed should be allowed to be armed. I agree with Governor Perry that when you've gone through these classes, when you've gone through the background check, when you've proven that you're capable of handling a weapon safely, I think you ought to be able to carry it anywhere. And if you're a nurse, that's a good place. If you're a clergyman, that's a good place. If you're a teacher, that's a good place, also.

MORGAN: Arming the clergymen, teachers and nurses of America. Well, that is certainly a unique solution to this crisis. Crockett Keller, thank you for joining me.

KELLER: Thank you.

MORGAN: And we'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police spokesman say that at 9:30 a gunman burst into the school gymnasium with four handguns. When the shooting stopped, 16 youngsters aged four to six were dead, as was one of their teachers. Among the people of Dunblane, the principle question remains, why their town, their children?


MORGAN: The same questions being asked in Newtown were raised in 1996 in Dunblane, in Scotland. The school massacre there led to sweeping gun control changes in the U.K. Those changes were fueled by petitions signed by 750,000 people. That petition was created by Dr. Mick North, whose daughter Sophie died at Dunblane.

And Dr. North joins me now, exclusively. Welcome to you, Dr. North. This must have brought back particularly painful memories to you?

DR. MICK NORTH, DAUGHTER DIED IN DUNBLANE, SCOTLAND, SCHOOL SHOOTING: Yes, it certainly did. When I heard the age of the victims and the place in which it happened, it was inevitable that all sorts of memories were going to come back. And most of those were likely to be painful ones.

MORGAN: You became a symbol for new gun control in Britain. You were very forceful about it. You got this extraordinary petition going. And it led to an almost complete ban on handguns.

The difference here, it seems to me -- and I want to you explore this if you can -- is that it's very political, the debate in America about guns. But it wasn't political in anyway like the same way back in Britain, was it?

NORTH: No, it wasn't. There were politicians who stood by the gun lobby, but I would say the majority of our MPs either had an open mind on the subject or were very much in favor of doing something to tighten up on gun control.

MORGAN: What impact did the ban on handguns have in Britain?

NORTH: Well, the level of gun crime in Britain is very low compared with the U.S. Gun crime has been falling in England every year for the last eight years. In Scotland, it's at its lowest level for well over 20 years. And as you probably know, although a lot of people in America don't know, gun deaths in Great Britain, gun homicides are running at about 30 to 35 per year.

Now, I understand that's a similar number to the number per day in the USA.

MORGAN: There is a theory put out by the pro-gun lobbyists here that answer to a shooting in a school, as in Dunblane, as in Newtown here, is to arm the teachers. What is your reaction to that?

NORTH: I just do not understand the logic of that. If they arm the teachers, does that mean they also have to provide the teachers with body armor? I understand the intruder on Friday had body armor on to protect himself from being shot at. Do the children have to have body armor?

How far do we have to go? The idea that because the problem is guns, the answer is guns is simply ridiculous. And I think it reflects more that some people take every opportunity to expand the gun trade.

MORGAN: There are obviously many families grieving -- appalling, appalling grief that they are going through at the moment. You've been in their very position, Dr. North. Is there any advice that you can give them, any words of comfort from somebody who's, quite literally, lived through what they've gone through?

NORTH: I think one of the main strengths that those of us who lost children in Dunblane found was being brought together. And when we were in our own company, we were able to talk about what had happened, talk about our children. I would hope that in Newtown, perhaps if the families could -- are able to come together, they might draw some comfort in being able to talk with one another. MORGAN: You're going to be an adviser now to the If Not Now When Campaign. The website launches tomorrow. It's www dot INNNW dot org. The goal is to end gun violence in America by 2015, to create a more compassionate society where guns are more difficult to get.

Doctor North, thank you so much for joining. I really do appreciate it. And I wish you every success with your ongoing campaign for just a safer world, is what it really boils down to.

NORTH: Yes. It's putting the right to life at the top, before any rights of ownership of guns.

MORGAN: Thank you for joining me, sir. I appreciate it.

NORTH: Thank you.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight hundred rounds first. He chromed out the inner carry. What I like, it's got the panther -- is this how you bagged that deer? .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't use a firearm like this on a deer. It's unsportsman-like.


MORGAN: A scene from "The Sopranos," one of the greatest TV shows of all time, created, of course, by David Chase, who is now making his big screen directorial debut with "Not Fade Away." Welcome to you, David.


MORGAN: We chose that scene as a kind of illustration I guess of one of the violent scenes from "The Sopranos," though it wasn't by any means one of the most violent shows on television. And the reason is because the story that's been around this week, this massacre in Sandy Hook.

People are trying to say, look, part of the blame has to reside with Hollywood, TV makers, with video game makers, as well as everything else, as well as guns, mental health and so on. What do you say to that?

CHASE: Well, I think when a thing like this happens, obviously all questions are on the table and deserve an answer, if you can get one. But I think the answer about what Hollywood's role in all this is -- I think that question is liable to be -- likely to be a digression, a delaying tactic.

MORGAN: Quentin Tarantino said that he thought it was a ridiculous argument, that movies and television reflect real life. The problem is real life, not the depiction of film makers.

CHASE: I don't know the answer to that. I just sort of look at it differently. I wonder if -- people talk about, well, these depictions of violence have made the world a worse place. I just ask myself the question, has Mary Poppins made the world a better place? Where's the data on that?

And I'm not being glib when I say that. I mean it. It's like, are all the happy movies, nonviolent movies, have made this a better planet? How do we quantify this stuff?

MORGAN: "The Sopranos," much missed show, one of my favorites on television, when it came to an end, what were your honest feelings?

CHASE: I was very happy. I was relieved. I was really tired of it. I mean, I was still having a good time, but I was tired and I was tired of it. But it took a while, but I began to miss it. I began to miss the social aspect of it, going to work every day. And what used to annoy me about it was what I started to miss.

I used to be annoyed with the fact that it's a weekly show. And I would think to myself, why do we have these same meetings every week, asking these same questions? Why can't we solve this problem? Why do you have to ask me this every week? Why are we talking about it? And then I began to realize that's what I really enjoyed, was solving those problems.

MORGAN: Did you think its legacy will be on American cultural society, if anything? Did you hope to have one?

CHASE: Here's all I remember coherently, was that there's this Elvis Costello song "Radio, Radio," the lyrics of which are "I want to bite the hand that feeds me. I want to bite that hand so badly. I want to make them wish they'd never seen me." I remember feeling that about network TV.


CHASE: I was lucky. I worked with really talented people, four talented people, learned a lot, worked on what are considered good shows. But the network system just tries to boil the vitamins out of everything. The beans always come out really limp and soggy. They're never crisp.

And they have this unerring instinct to take out the very thing that makes it interesting or like ambiguous. They know right where to go for it. , I just found it very inhuman like. I just did. When I would watch TV, I would say, this doesn't seem like life.

MORGAN: Despite that, you have pursued your directing career. You got your first movie. Why now, quite late in your career, to plunge into the big screen?

CHASE: I tried very hard. When I went to film school, I wanted to be a film director. I couldn't get arrested. I wrote scripts for 20, 30 years. None of them got made or sold. And after "The Sopranos," you know, that's the way Hollywood is, they're willing to make a movie with me.

MORGAN: Let's watch a clip from the film.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I pay that damn college 2,000 dollars a year for this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's people with longer hair than me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the coat. It looks like he just got off the boat at Ellis Island.



MORGAN: "Not Fade Away." And talking of not fading away, there is a familiar face in the lead role there, James Gandolfini. So your old -- your old mucker from "The Sopranos." Why did you want him?

CHASE: I didn't -- I wasn't thinking about Jim originally for this, for the role of the father. I wasn't -- I don't write with an actor in mind usually, in fact never. But I was having trouble with the script. I had written a draft and I really wasn't happy with it. I didn't know what it was.

And I pictured him -- or my wife suggested that maybe he would make a good dad for the kid. I pictured him in the role and the whole movie clicked into place, in terms of what tone it would have.

MORGAN: They're suggesting it's kind of autobiographical for you, that when you were young, you wanted to be a rock star?

CHASE: I wanted to be a rock 'n' roll musician. I wouldn't say I wanted to be a rock star. But maybe nobody goes out to be just a musician.

MORGAN: Doesn't every rock n' roll musician want to be a rock star really? They all lie about it but they do.

CHASE: Most likely yes.

MORGAN: Didn't see yourself on stage, long hair, big guitar, strutting your stuff?



MORGAN: What went wrong? All you did was create "The Sopranos."

CHASE: I know. You know, what can you do? You have to live with it.

MORGAN: It's a compelling film. James Gandolfini, as you would expect, is terrific in it. Were you happy in the end? Are you ever happy with your work?

CHASE: I -- I am happy. I always look at work sort of as a learning experience. I'm really happy with what I learned from doing this. I think I made some personal and -- or personal and artistic, or artisan like progressions in my work, in my directing work.

MORGAN: Best of luck with it. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It's good to meet you. I'm such a "Sopranos" fan. So you should have been in "The Sopranos." You have a perfect face for it.

CHASE: I was for like 15 milliseconds.

MORGAN: You were?

CHASE: Yes. I was an Italian guy sipping espresso.

MORGAN: You have a great head for a gangster.

CHASE: Thank you.

MORGAN: Is that a compliment?

CHASE: Yes, absolutely. Of course. I want to be in show business.

MORGAN: Good to see you.

CHASE: Thank you.

MORGAN: The movie is "Not Fade Away." It's in theaters from tomorrow.

CHASE: Thank you.

MORGAN: And we'll be right back.


MORGAN: Tomorrow, another chance to see the Piers Morgan special, "Guns in America." Experts, survivors, lawmakers, people on both sides of the debate join me for a powerful hour. Also, strong opinions you'll hear on gun control. And we'll let you decide what may be right for America. That's tomorrow.

That's all for us. "AC 360" starts now.