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ESPN Apologizes for Sportscaster's Comments; Interview with Actress Jenn Sterger; Hollywood's Road to Gold, Model's Frank Talk Goes Viral

Aired January 9, 2013 - 08:30   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're talking this morning with a woman who can kind of relate to what Katherine Webb went through, the woman sportscaster Brent Musburger was kind of going crazy over at the BCS game Monday night. Jenn Sterger in 2005 was also highlighted on national TV by Musburger. She says it was great for her. We'll talk to her ahead.

First, though, John Berman has a look at some of the other stories making news today. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Thanks, Soledad. Development this morning in that rape and murder case that has shaken India. Three of the five have been advised to plead not guilty. They were brought to court Monday under heavy security. This case has sparked angry protests across India about the treatment of women. The victim was savagely attacked last month and died from her injuries.

What was supposed to be a joy ride down a mountain slope turned deadly at a Russian resort. Now the inventors of the sport known as Zorb are speaking out against the tragedy. This YouTube video purports to show what happened, two men rolling down a mountain and off a cliff. A 27- year-old man died, the other rider injured. Zorb's inventors are distressed about what happened, but they say they were operating this illegally.

Illinois lawmakers approving a measure that would allow undocumented immigrants to get temporary drivers licenses. Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill, saying the states roads would be safer if everyone driving learns rules of the road and gets the proper safe driver training.

So a woman surprised to wake up and find a thief asleep on her couch and her leftovers gone. So Teryl Parnell grabbed her trusty machete, called 911 and held the man until police arrived. Parnell says the man broke in through a window and had her valuables packed up and ready to go. The suspect decided to take a nap after he ate her leftover Chinese food.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TERYL PARNELL, HELD ROBBER WITH MACHETE: That's when I took the machete and said no, you need to get back, you need to sit down right here and stay and wait for the cops to get here. I'm not afraid and I know exactly how to use it.


BERMAN: She knows how to use the machete. Parnell snapped this picture when the deputy snapped the cuffs on 25-year-old suspect Christopher Weaver.

A few celebrities facing the harsh reality of Twitter with a sense of humor on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Take a look.


SELENA GOMEZ, SINGER: Selena Gomez is on the radio right now. Is there a volume lower than mute? Sorry.

LARRY KING, HOST: I saw Larry King at dinner, but it might have been just a run of the mill goblin.


JESSICA BIEL, ACTRESS: My Asian orthodontist says Jessica Biel has horse teeth.

DAVID ARQUETTE, ACTOR: Wow, David Arquette has gotten old. That's right, I did get old. It happens.



BERMAN: That was on Jimmy Kimmel's new time slot at 11:30 on ABC.

O'BRIEN: That's interesting.

ESPN now responding to the comments heard around the world. Here is what they said in their statement yesterday "We always try to capture interesting storylines, and the relationship between an Auburn grad Miss Alabama and current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that." Brent of course is Brent Musburger, and here is what they're talking about his original comment from the BCS game Monday night.


BRENT MUSBURGER, ESPN SPORTSCASTER: You quarterbacks, you get all the good looking women, what a beautiful woman. Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A.J. is doing some things right.

MUSBURGER: If you're a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pops. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That was Katherine Webb. She's dating Alabama's quarterback, A.J. McCarron. It turns out not the first time that Musburger highlighted a beautiful woman in the stands. Back in 2005 a camera showed some pretty girls at a Florida state game.


MUSBURGER: And 1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State.


O'BRIEN: One of those women was Jenn Sterger and she joins us this morning to talk a little bit about that. Nice to talk to you, Jenn. Thank you for being with us. Some felt like it was a big deal and kind of offended by what Brent Musburger said about Katherine Webb, and I think she is beautiful. I thought he went on maybe oohed and ahhed a little bit long but. What did you think of it?

JENN STERGER, ACTRESS AND MODEL: You know, I think Brent honestly, he's a really great guy. Maybe he went a little overboard and got carried away, what else was he supposed to be talking about? Did you see the score of the game? It was boring to look at.

O'BRIEN: I hear you. Back in 2005, we were just showing that clip you and a bunch of girlfriends decided to dress up as scantily clad cowgirls. Was the point to get on TV? Was that what you were hoping to do?

STERGER: No, it just randomly happened. It was one of those things, unlike Katherine Webb, I was single at the time. So 20-year-old me thought I could run around like that looking at a football game. It was 90 degrees so what else where you supposed to wear to a football game.

O'BRIEN: He said "1,500 red-blooded Americans," and it actually had a huge effect. Walk us through what happened after that.

STERGER: Actually, at least we a really cool catch phrase when he said that for me. You know, it wasn't as instantaneous as it was with Webb. With Webb, it was literally could you watch her Twitter followers climb overnight. It was insane, but with me, it was much more subtle, like it happened over time, it was me interacting with people on message boards. Unfortunately, you know, ESPN didn't do me the favor of putting my name below so that I could capitalize off of it and get more Twitter followers that way. Thanks, guys. But --

O'BRIEN: Back then Twitter it was totally different. And I think Twitter allows to you frame your response. When I talked to Katherine Webb, she was laughing about the whole thing, and I think it allows her to kind of say instead of letting other people weigh in, some people were very nasty to you in the wake of that.

STERGER: Exactly. O'BRIEN: What happened?

STERGER: This is back with me it was back during the days of like Facebook and MySpace, and who uses MySpace anymore? It was a lot harder to communicate with people. That's why I took to the message boards to defend myself. Look, I'm 21 years old, out having a good time with my girlfriends, that's how I kind of grew. Katherine's was just a much larger scale than that, but she seems to be taking it much better and has a better head on her shoulders than 21-year-old me does.

O'BRIEN: She has a publicist now. Step one, hire a publicist.

STERGER: Those help a lot.

O'BRIEN: For my 90,000 followers who have joined. ESPN has apologized sort of on behalf of Brent Musburger. You actually thanked him, right?

STERGER: Absolutely. You know, I credit two people with putting me on this crazy journey that I've been on. I credit Brent and that guy up there. That's the only people that I really can thank for it. I ran into him at the University of Oregon and he knew exactly who I was and I just thanked him. I said honestly, I couldn't have done this without you. Jenn, I just pointed you out in the crowd because that's what my camera guy gave me to work with. The director in the booth is who is call the shots, so Brent is commenting on it until they give him the next shot to comment on. Like I said, the game was ugly so there wasn't much to comment on, on the field.

O'BRIEN: That is true, filling a lot of time and someone takes a shot and if you're doing the commentary you got to comment on what is on camera at this moment. You've probably did some modeling and did you pose for "Playboy"?

STERGER: Yes, I posed for "Playboy."

O'BRIEN: Who hasn't?

STERGER: Yes, you know --


O'BRIEN: You've done some acting. John Berman is raising his hand to tell me he hasn't posed for "Playboy," but I guess my question would be, thank god he hasn't -- I'm kidding, John.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I loved the article in your issue.

STERGER: He reads the articles clearly.

O'BRIEN: Who doesn't? What advice would you give Katherine or do you think she's handling it just fine and needs no advice?

O'BRIEN: You know, I think that this is one of those things. Everybody walks different and it's not my place or anyone else's place to make a decision what she's going to do with it. I think she has a great head on her shoulders. I think her family was flattered. I don't think she was offended by it in any way. Whatever she wants to do from here it's her journey. Embrace it and have fun along the way. Don't get too wrapped up in it.

O'BRIEN: Jenn Sterger, nice to have you this morning. Thanks for talking with us. We appreciate it.

STERGER: Thank you so much. It was great talking to you.

O'BRIEN: Pleasure.

She makes a great point, at some point, you and I have done this, sitting in the chair and they're showing shots of things and your job during any kind of live coverage of something, you have to or it's weird.

BERMAN: Right.

LIZZA: But you and John usually don't start talking about how hot someone is.

O'BRIEN: Get a shot of Ryan Lizza, wow, is he so wow!

BERMAN: And 1,500 red-blooded Americans just subscribed to "The New Yorker."


O'BRIEN: And 1,500 red blooded women.

LIZZA: Was she also, this was the Brett Favre case as well?

O'BRIEN: It was.

LIZZA: We didn't get into that. Did that ever get, was that settled what happened?

O'BRIEN: I don't know what happened with that case, do you know?

BERMAN: I don't know. I mean it sort of went away, drifted off and he was never charged with anything and the NFL let it go.

O'BRIEN: This is how she got her notoriety and her fame was that, and she's really grateful for it. It doesn't seem it as a bad thing at all. And talking to Katherine Webb yesterday, she thought it was hilarious. She was with A.J.'s mom, you know, and she was literally laughing through our entire conversation because thought the whole thing was so crazy and funny.

JENN PSAKI, FMR. TRAVELING PRESS SECRETARY FOR OBAMA'S REELECTION: They've been dating a month, so it's like a lot of pressure in their relationship.

O'BRIEN: At that age though that's like eight years. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're just about 24 hours away from the Oscar nomination announcements. We'll tell you who are some of the top choices on the academy award short list.

Plus, she found tremendous success as a model, but Cameron Russell says to young women modeling is not a career path. She'll join us and explain that straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Tomorrow morning the Oscar nominations will be announced. We're going to bring them to you live at 8:30 a.m. eastern time. So who do you think is going to be nominated? What do you think? "Lincoln" for sure. "Argo" for sure. "Les Mis" I think. No?

BERMAN: You have people on both sides on "Les Mis."

PSAKI: Little girls practicing in mirrors with their microphones.

O'BRIEN: I want to thank my agent, and the person who designed my dress. I don't know, I think it's going to be great. There are a lot of great movies out.

LIZZA: A good year for geeky Washington movies like, you know, considering our panel, "Zero Dark Thirty" "Lincoln" "Argo."

PSAKI: "Silver Lining's Playbook."

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see if they walk away with a nomination.

LIZZA: Why can't you get stuff passed in the Senate like "Lincoln"?

SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: You actually had members of Congress sitting in the chamber and debating, that doesn't happen anymore. It's unfortunate. It particularly doesn't happen in the Senate. I don't want to get too partisan here.

O'BRIEN: It's OK. You're a Republican Senator from Wisconsin.

JOHNSON: But the fact of the matter is you do have that opportunity in committees where you can -- you can actually sit around and legislative markups where you debate across the table but when it comes to the floor, right now we bring all of these pieces of legislation and never even gone through committee. And you know, Harry Reid is not allowing them.

(INAUDIBLE) to the floor so we can't debate those amendments which is a piece of legislation just dropped on the floor, vote yes or no.


O'BRIEN: How has -- how does 24-hour cable change that? I mean you know what, like I'm really curious to know if, yes I'm trying to understand. So the fact that every single thing that you do on the floor will now be reflected back, you know any kind of conversation I think is going to be reported on.

JOHNSON: Right, well you know I think honestly what -- what 24-hour cable has done is allowed people like me to come on when and debate here where the public sees it and actually more people see it. So I think that's actually a very positive thing. So I mean, certainly that's one of the reasons I come on shows like this is to actually lay out the issues and inform Americans.

LIZZA: But do you think it makes it -- do you think it makes it harder to get legislation passed when every little tick of the negotiations is reported in real time? A lot of people made that argument during the health care debate.

O'BRIEN: Fiscal cliff, too, right behind closed doors.

JOHNSON: First of all we shouldn't have the behind closed doors negotiation.

O'BRIEN: Really?

JOHNSON: It shouldn't just be a couple of like officials with their staffs. These should pieces of legislation that are worked on in committee, have full markup where you actually do have the debate going back and forth and then bring it to the floor of the chamber --



JOHNSON: -- and have amendments and have those things debated and -- and actually make members of Congress vote on things, put themselves on the record and that's one of the things that one of the reasons Harry Reid doesn't do it, he doesn't want you know amendments that are tough for his -- his senators to vote for and that's -- that's not what this is about. You should be -- you should be forced to say whether you're for or against certain provisions.

PSAKI: I think Democrats would be happy to have that as well. I mean, you look at the filibuster and how it's become kind of a weapon.

O'BRIEN: How did we get on this? Didn't I start with talking about movies and parties?

BERMAN: You guys should get together and see a movie --

O'BRIEN: "Silver Linings Playbook" what happened with that?


O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the Oscar nominations that's going to happen live tomorrow beginning at 8:15 a.m. Eastern Time. A.J. Hammer from the Headline News "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" is going to join me along with several Hollywood insiders and celebrities to talk all about that tomorrow morning.

Coming up we'll talk to a model who's achieved international fame thanks to her amazing looks. But Cameron Russell is actually telling young women to not follow in her footsteps. She's joining us to explain why, coming up next.



BERMAN: Welcome back everyone. A few stories we're following this morning.

He wanted to bring attention to the Superstorm Sandy relief effort, so 38-year-old Christopher Angelo climbed to the top of a landmark New Jersey roller coaster that was swept out to sea. He placed an American flag on the Jet Star coaster in storm ravaged Seaside Heights. When he finally came down though he was he was arrested.

You have to check out this video, call it the blindside.


LEE VALSVICK, KARE ANCHOR: Go ahead, I'm not going to get in trouble. It worked in practice.


BERMAN: Oh. OK. So I'll tell you, in case you missed it, here it is in slow motion again. Lee Valsvik of KARE News in Minneapolis was doing a live shot before a big Vikings playoff game against the Packers Saturday. The photographer was obviously a little too excited, he was supposed to catch the ball and run past her, obviously he ran past her a little too close.

O'BRIEN: He checked her basically.

BERMAN: Yes you know she was in his way. No one luckily -- no one luckily was hurt.

O'BRIEN: Oh my God.

BERMAN: A pretty amazing video, the perils of the live shot.

O'BRIEN: Wow, wow. Well this morning our guest --


LIZZA: She looks like she was hurt.

O'BRIEN: She did, she really did look like she was hurt.

A 25-year-old model who has spent a decade walking high fashion runways in Paris and New York and she's done shows for Victoria's Secrets and photos in international fashion magazines but she gave a Tedex speech recently and had advice for young girls who want to be just like her. Listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CAMERON RUSSELL, MODEL: The next question people always ask me, is can I be a model when I grow up. And the first answer is I don't know, they don't put me in charge of that. But the second answer and what I really want to say to these little girls is why? You know, you can be anything. Saying that you want to be a model when you grow up is akin to saying that you want to win the Powerball when you grow up. It's you know, out of your control and it's awesome and it's not a career path.


O'BRIEN: It's awesome but it's not a career path. That speech went viral. That's Cameron Russell there. 90,000 views on YouTube and Cameron joins us this morning.

It seems so contradictory, a woman who's been wildly successful in modeling is sort of advising people this is not a career path, but for you in some ways it has been a career path. There is a contradictory?

RUSSELL: I think what I was trying to say was not that you shouldn't pursue modeling if you can be successful, because it's been really great for me. I've received so many amazing benefits. I paid to go to college but to say that there are all of these little girls that come to me and tell me they want to be models when they grow up and you have no control over that, you have to win the genetic lottery to become a model.

O'BRIEN: You have a piece in this talk and the talk is amazing and I highly encourage people to go check out your Tedex talk. It's really, really great.

RUSSELL: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You make my girls watch it and they loved it. Here's what you say in this talk about kind of the -- the you that we see in magazines and the real you. Listen.


RUSSELL: For the past few centuries we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we're biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures and femininity and white skin. And this is a legacy that was built for me and it's a legacy that I've been cashing out on.


O'BRIEN: You talk about constructions, you say this is me at a slumber party and the next day here I am wearing some fabulous designer. I think we have that clip, let's play that.


RUSSELL: Well this is what I looked like with my grandma just a few months earlier. Here is me on the same day as this shoot my friend got to come with me. Here's me at a slumber party a few days before I shot French "Vogue". Here's me on a soccer team in a "View" magazine. And here is me today and I hope what you're seeing is that these pictures are not pictures of me. They are constructions.


O'BRIEN: Are you conflicted that you're part of this construction? Because my daughters, who are 10 and 12, look at the construction and say, I want to be that and you're saying, that's not real. That's not even you. You're this other real thing.

RUSSELL: Yes, I mean that's one of the things I hope that I would communicate is that look, nobody looks like this in real life. In real life I look dorky and normal and my friend is going to kill me for putting that picture up but, you know, I wanted little girls to see in real life nobody looks like that.

And I -- I think that if there are any costs to this, I think the benefits outweigh it. Because here I am on CNN talking about body image and having a clip about race and privilege in America which we don't get to talk about.

O'BRIEN: Not as many people talk about beauty privilege and certainly not people who sort of won the beauty privilege lottery. And you know why -- why is that your mission?

RUSSELL: I think that it's a great place to talk about issues that are uncomfortable and complicated. You know, for example --


O'BRIEN: Oh I like that -- I like that so much.

RUSSELL: -- you know, you're a senator, but you're a white man and I'm sure you had to work really hard to get there and that means that it's very complicated to figure out how to unpack the, you know, role of privilege in that but for me it's so easy. You know I am here completely I'm successful because I'm pretty, and that's it, and it's easy to tell that story because it's honest and it's obvious.

LIZZA: But aren't there plenty of people who are beautiful and didn't work hard and didn't put in the hours that you had to put in to reach where you are in your career? I mean, it's not just beauty, right? It's not just genetics?

RUSSELL: Well 98 percent of it is. To -- to get in, to get the job, you have to look a certain way, and then certainly you have to work hard once you're there and be nice.

LIZZA: So there are no skills, there is no hard work involved?

RUSSELL: There -- there totally is hard work but, you know, having a bad haircut is more important than hard work.


RUSSELL: And gaining 20 pounds is more important than hard work. So --

O'BRIEN: You have majored in economics and political science at Columbia University. So what -- what's the long-term goal? I mean, will we have you on to talk about the fiscal cliff, you know, 15 years from now?

RUSSELL: I would love to talk about the fiscal cliff.

O'BRIEN: We'd love to have you on to talk about the fiscal cliff. What do you see is your long-term plan for you?

RUSSELL: Well during the summer I started a consulting firm to help people build participatory art and media platforms.

O'BRIEN: Is this the big bad lab.

RUSSELL: Yes. And we're starting a fashion magazine that's in the very nascent stage that deals with participation. Because I think right now in fashion we have this huge online community that's so engaged and as creators and as participants and that really needs to be tapped into.

O'BRIEN: Wow. Interesting. I'm so interested to follow where you go because I think your message for women is just fantastic and to use your opportunities that you've had to talk honestly about it. People really just don't do that. You like making people uncomfortable and I enjoy that as well.

LIZZA: She's going to work in magazines. Maybe I'll go work in modeling.

JOHNSON: She's making people think, that's a wonderful thing.

O'BRIEN: I love that. And we love that.

BERMAN: I agree.

O'BRIEN: Give him some advice about being a successful model.

RUSSELL: It's all about posing, angles.

LIZZA: Similar to being a magazine writer.

O'BRIEN: We're going to take a break. "End Point" is up next. Cameron Russell, nice to have you with us. We certainly appreciate it.

RUSSELL: Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: We only have 30 seconds for "End Point". I'm going to choose. Jen, why don't you start. JEN: Look, I'm going to use a dance metaphor. It takes two to tango, and that's true as a theme for Washington right now whether it comes to guns or it comes to resolving the debt limit. You need both parties to come together to make tough choices and tough decisions. Lot of people are talking out there, we need some action.

O'BRIEN: Senator?

JOHNSON: I agree and listen. This is an interesting show, we saw Americans live their lives wonderful examples. Let's get these problems solved so people can go ahead and have a prosperous future.

O'BRIEN: Hallelujah is what I'm trying to say. I agree with that.

Thank you guys. Nice to have you.

PSAKI: We can have breakfast.

O'BRIEN: I love that.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.