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"USA Today": Armstrong to Admit Doping; Worst, Earliest Flu Season in Years; Boeing's Dreamliner in Crisis; FDA Recommends New Ambien Guidelines; Behind the Scenes: Oscar Preps; The Latest from CES

Aired January 12, 2013 - 07:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thanks for starting your day with us.

KAYE: And we start with Lance Armstrong in a new report saying that he's going to come clean about taking drugs. "The USA Today" reports he'll admit to it in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Monday.

BLACKWELL: Armstrong has vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs during his career and has even sued people who said he did. He's already been stripped of seven Tour de France titles. Why come clean now?

Well, last hour I spoke with "USA Today's" Brent Schrotenboer.


BRENT SCHROTENBOER, USA TODAY (via telephone): As to why is he doing this now? The evidence came out against him, as massive file of evidence came out against him in October, and in the three months since then, he's been keeping a pretty low profile.

And I think he's been deciding what to do about it. He's kind of cornered himself because for many years now he strenuously denied these doping allegations. And with all the evidence that's come out against him, it's hard to deny it anymore. And he's making a calculated decision for himself personally and it's also, I think, a business decision for him because it's affecting his charity Livestrong. All of his sponsors have fired him.

I think when he goes out in public now, he's getting a little bit different reception than what he used to get in that, you know, everybody knows now that if you believe the evidence that he did dope and lie about it for many years. And so, this is really a personal decision for him and also a calculated business decision for him.


BLACKWELL: Schrotenboer who, of course, broke that story also said that Armstrong is taking a big risk by admitting to doping and could face legal action as a result. We'll have much more on that angle, next hour. KAYE: The 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan may be headed home sooner than expected. Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with President Obama in Washington yesterday. He and Mr. Obama agreed to a complete transition of combat operations by the end of 2014. President Obama spoke after the meeting.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our path is clear, and we are moving forward. Every day, more Afghans are stepping up and taking responsibility for their own security. And as they do, our troops will come home. And next year, this long war will come to a responsible end.


KAYE: President Obama is considering keeping some troops, possibly between 3,000 to 9,000 in place after 2014 for counterterrorism and training, but only if they get immunity from prosecution. Karzai signaled he may be willing to give in to that demand.

BLACKWELL: Also in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden wrapped up his meetings on gun violence. He says there's no silver bullet to solve the problem. Friday, he met with producers of some of the most popular and most violent video games, "Call of Duty" and "Medal of Honor". Biden says he wasn't looking to point fingers, just looking for solutions.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a problem beyond, quote, "the massacres," the Columbines, through the Auroras, to Connecticut. There's 10,000 people a year gunned down in our cities. Different motives, different reasons, different explanations, but, you know, it's a real problem. It's serious.


BLACKWELL: There may be room for compromise. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he may be open to limiting high-capacity magazines. He says that move would not challenge the Second Amendment right to bear arms. And we'll have much more on the gun debate in about 10 minutes.

KAYE: A man who many are calling a hero says he doesn't want to be called anything except teacher. It all started on Thursday when a 16- year-old student walked into his school in central California with a shotgun and pockets full of ammunition. He shot one student at point- blank range. That's when 40-year-old teacher Ryan Heber stepped in and stood face-to-face with the gunman, gently persuaded him to put the gun down.

Meanwhile, another teacher, Ken Field, helped other students escaped the classroom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHERIFF DON YOUNGBLOOD, KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This teacher and this counselor stood there face to face not knowing whether he's going to turn that shotgun on them and because they've seen the news media throughout our country in the last several months and they probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave their students a chance to escape and converse, and it worked.


KAYE: The teen was taken into police custody. Police say he will be charged with attempted murder. The wounded student was taken to the hospital and is in critical, but stable condition.

BLACKWELL: The U.S. is experiencing one of the worst and earliest starts to the flu season in years. Forty-seven states are reporting widespread flu activity, California, Mississippi, and Hawaii are the only states without a widespread flu outbreak. And this season has been deadly. At least 20 children have died, including a Texas couple's teenage son.


MELANIE SCHWOLERT, MAX'S MOTHER: He was scared. He said, "Mom, I'm scared." I said, "I know, buddy, I am too." And he saw me crying. He said, "Mom, it's going to be OK. You're going to be OK. I love you." And that's really the last really coherent things that he said to me.


BLACKWELL: That was the mother of 17-year-old Max Schwolert. He died just after Christmas from the flu. Before he got sick, Matt was a healthy, normal teenager.

And joining me now is Dr. Jeffrey Oyler from Piedmont Hospital here in Atlanta.

Doctor, it's good to have you. And this is the scenario that scares a lot of people, because you know who is typically sensitive to these flus, the young, the old, those with compromised immune systems. But this is a healthy teenager who died from the flu out of nowhere.

How rare is this?

DR. JEFFREY OYLER, PIEDMONT HOSPITAL: It's fairly rare. Influenza, the main complications are respiratory and they can develop pneumonia, viral pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia several days into the care. So, it's not uncommon. That's the main reason we recommend vaccinations to prevent these complications and prevent death.

BLACKWELL: Flu season comes around every year, right? And you get your flu shot or don't, you get the flu or you don't. But it seems that this season is so much more deadly than others. What makes this one so unusual?

OYLER: The flu season every year picks up around October. This year's a little earlier. We're experiencing about a 20 percent increase in just our own emergency department visits. Vaccination actually was fairly accurate with the strains selected for the vaccination, but with the morbidity, the other medical illnesses that individuals have, the elderly, we're seeing a tremendous increase of the volume of patients.

So, it's predictable, but there is a large volume of patients that did not get the vaccination this year and therefore a lot more complications.

BLACKWELL: Quantify that for us. How many more patients are you seeing at Piedmont?

OYLER: We're seeing about 20 percent to 25 percent more patients in our emergency department daily. We will have 30 positive influenza screens in the month of November. It ticked up to 80 in December. And we're on track in January, as well.

And those are just ones we've tested. And many times it's clinically diagnosed and you may not actually do an influenza test if you -- it's not indicated.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Oyler, can you tell us what your recommendations are for people? What medications they should take? What they should and should not do?

OYLER: Clearly, the vaccination is our number one recommendation for patients. Get the vaccination. It still takes about two weeks after you are vaccinated before you will have immunity.

The vaccination this year is around 62 percent, 63 percent accurate, in preventing influenza for those that receive it. So, that's our main recommendation, getting rest, avoiding co-workers. It's spread by droplets, obviously anything you can do to avoid coughing, sneezing. So, frequent hand washing.

And for individuals, you know, that do come down with influenza, rest at home, spare your co-workers, take time off, and let yourself recover.

BLACKWELL: All right. Dr. Jeffrey Oyler, a lot of common sense and then your expertise. We thank you for joining the conversation.

OYLER: Thank you.

KAYE: Good advice there.


KAYE: See, stay home. That's the thing. Everyone wants to come to work to come to work.

BLACKWELL: Want to be a team player. We need this part of the team to stay in bed.

KAYE: Exactly.


KAYE: Well, we've got much more ahead this hour.

BLACKWELL: Here's what's --

KAYE: You want me to do it? >

BLACKWELL: No, let me do it. Here's what's coming up.


KAYE (voice-over): Forgetting where you put things? Waking up in strange places? It might be thanks to your sleeping pill. Why the FDA is sounding an alarm.

What will the White House decide when it comes to gun control? All morning long, we'll put the proposals and the pushback in focus.

They're the men behind "Chicago," "Hairspray," and now, Hollywood's biggest night. Our exclusive interview with the producers of the Oscars.




WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.


KAYE: Good guys with guns. That's the NRA's solution to gun violence in America. They rolled that out in response to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

But is that really a solution?

We're focusing on the gun debate this morning. And we can see both sides. Here is the tale of two shootings.


KAYE (voice-over): If you wonder whether or not good people armed with guns really do help prevent more gun violence look no further than the shooting inside this San Antonio theater in December. Around 9:30 p.m., December 17th, 19-year-old Jesus Manuel Garcia allegedly opened fire at the China Garden restaurant.

Investigators say he was targeting his ex-girlfriend who worked there. Police say when the employees fled, the shooter chased after them in the parking lot, firing at them. In the chaos, he also shot at a San Antonio patrol car after the officer shined a light on him.

SGT. RAYMOND POLLARD, BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: He was having a difficult time dealing with the break up and that's what may have set him off to come over here and commit this act.

KAYE: Garcia then followed the restaurant employees into the Mayan Palace movie theater next door. The gunman kept shooting as panic moviegoers poured out the exit doors.

MEGAN ROEL, MOVIEGOER: I could have died, you know? And I wouldn't have another day with my son.

KAYE: One of the f fleeing patrons was wounded. But so many might have died had it not been for a quick-thinking, off-duty sheriff's sergeant who also was armed.

Sgt. Lisa Castellano, out of uniform, happened to be working security at the theater and ran toward the sound of the shooting. When Castellano spotted the suspect coming out of the bathroom with his gun drawn, she shot him four times.

LISA CASTELLANO, BEXAR CO., TEXAS SHERIFF'S DEPT.: That was really nerve-racking and it was -- it was -- I'm not going to lie, it was frightening, but, you know, the training kicks in.

KAYE: Garcia, the suspect, is charged with attempted capital murder and has not yet entered a plea. He survived, but more importantly, so did everyone else in that movie theater, thanks to one of the good guys with a gun.

(on camera): But as we all know, not every shooting incident ends like the one in San Antonio. Those in favor of tighter gun controls might argue that "good guy with a gun" scenarios can make a bad situation even worse.

(voice-over): Take what happened in Arizona, January 8th, 2011, when a lone gunman opened fire on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords at a community event. While Jared Lee Loughner was spraying Giffords and the crowd with bullets, an innocent bystander named Joe Zamudio was in a nearby drugstore buying cigarettes. When he heard the gunfire, Zamudio, who was legally armed with a pistol, ran to the scene.

By the time he arrived his safety was off and he was poised to fire. Trouble is he almost shot the wrong man.

Zamudio on FOX News.

JOE ZAMUDIO, HELPED SUBDUE ARIZONA SHOOTER: As I approached the people wrestling with him the -- one of the other gentlemen actually had gotten the gun away from him. And that's what I saw first, was him holding the gun. And you know, I had my hand on my pistol.

KAYE: Zamudio has said he was incredibly lucky that he didn't shoot.

Listen to what he told MSNBC.

ZAMUDIO: I saw another individual holding the firearm. I kind of assumed he was the shooter so I grabbed his wrist and, you know, told him to drop and forced him to drop the gun on the ground. When he did that, everybody says no, no, it's this guy. I would have shot him. I almost shot the man holding the gun.

KAYE: The man Zamudio almost shot was the hero who had tackled the real shooter and wrestled his gun away from him.

Two very different shootings, two armed bystanders to the rescue, and the debate continues.


KAYE: And part of the debate going forward is over specific weapons. The White House is expected to push for an assault ban, but neither of the guns used in these shootings would fall under that ban. They were both handguns. In San Antonio, the suspect's Glock 23 could hold as many as 17 bullets, while Jared Loughner's Glock 19 could hold 33.

And that's another part of the debate, should high capacity magazines be banned. He expects to present the policy recommendations by Tuesday. Next hour, more on the debate. We'll hear from the author of the book, "More Guns, Less Crime."

Well, it may be the Dreamliner, but all those problems might feel like a nightmare for Boeing. We'll have the latest on the FAA's investigation into the jet dubbed the plane of the future.


BLACKWELL: Look at this video. A couple of crooks in Miami. You can see them here. They pulled off a really brazen heist this week.

You can see this guy. He ties some kind of rope to an ATM, other end to the car and pulls it off. They run off with it. They take the ATM out the door.

But then, these guys try to pull off the same heist at another convenience store. You see the guy here ties the tether to the ATM and revs up the car and pulls at it. But it's not coming out. The machine doesn't budge. So, he goes back and body slams the ATM. Yes, that's going to work, buddy.

He walks off with a bruised shoulder and police are now looking for those two.

KAYE: And here is a warning. Don't mess with that guy, his name is Petey. The 8-month-old Jack Russell terrier scared off two gunmen who broke into his owner's home in Florida. The crooks drew (INAUDIBLE) to the floor demanding, that's when Petey jumped into action, came to her rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was jumping up and down in that guy's face. I don't know if he was trying to bite his face or whatever.


KAYE: I used to have a Jack Russell, this does not surprise me at all. When Petty started to bite one of the crook's ankles, they took off.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead, Petey.

In business news, American Airlines has filed an extension requesting more time to file its restructuring plan. American is asking for 20 days more.

Now, the company is working on terms with creditors as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. The airline is in talks to merge with U.S. Airways. And that move would create one of the largest carriers in the country.

All right. Staying with airlines, Boeing's Dreamliner has been called the plane of the future.

KAYE: But a string of incidents involving fires, broken windows, leaking fuel, as well. That's all prompted concerns from the FAA. And now, an investigation has been launched.

Rene Marsh has more.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi, Victor, only 50 of the much talked about Dreamliners are flying worldwide, including six for one U.S. airline. But with its lightweight composite body, fuel-saving engines and comfortable interior, experts believe it's the plane of the future. And that's why a string of problems with the plane has captured public attention and it's why the DOT took action Friday.

(voice-over): A week of glitches with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has raised questions about safety.

RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: I believe this plane is safe. And I would have absolutely no reservation of boarding one of these planes and taking a flight.

MARSH: Despite the assurances, the government is stepping in to figure out what's going on.

MICHAEL HUERTA, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: We want to determine the root causes of these recent events so that they won't happen again.

MARSH: The FAA's newly sworn in administrator Michael Huerta ordered a team of experts to scrutinize how the plane was assembled, how its parts were manufactured with an emphasis on the plane's electrical systems.

(on camera): The problems aren't in just one area or with just one plane. Monday, a battery fire in an auxiliary power unit in the belly of the plane, then Tuesday, a fuel leak because of an open valve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, that Japan Air may not know it, but they've got fuel or something spilling out the outboard left wing there quite a bit. MARSH: While unusual, investigators said it wasn't a problem at all.

Then, Wednesday, a problem with the braking system. Friday, a crack in the cockpit window, and then fuel leaking from an engine.

(voice-over): Experts say the issues raised questions about whether the FAA has an efficient process of certifying planes.

CAPT. KEVIN HIATT, FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION: The review should continue with the FAA looking at their own internal practices on how they certify aircrafts to make sure that it is keeping pace with the new modern technology airplanes that Boeing's building.

MARSH: The FAA says it's locked 200,000 hours of technical work on the jet and crews took numerous test flights before certifying it was safe. Meantime, Boeing says these problems are not unusual.

RAY CONNER, BOEING CORP.: The 787 in-service performance to this point is on par with the past successful commercial airplane introductions.

MARSH (on camera): United Airlines, the sole U.S. carrier with the Dreamliner in its fleet, says that it still has confidence in the aircraft. Dreamliner flights will still fly and the more than 800 jetliners on order will be delivered without delay -- Randi, Victor.


BLACKWELL: All right. Rene Marsh, thank you.

KAYE: Passengers on a plane were shocked when they looked out the window mid-flight and saw a snake trapped on the wing. It was actually a 9-foot long python. This happened during a Qantas flight between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Witnesses say that the snake was clinging on for dear life.

I mean, could you imagine this scene? But the rough wind and the freezing cold temperatures turned out to be too much for the snake. The python was dead when the plane landed.


KAYE (voice-over): Forgetting where you put things? Waking up in strange places? It might be thanks to your sleeping pill. Why the FDA is sounding an alarm.



KAYE: Mortgage rates actually ticked up this week. Have a look.


KAYE: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thanks for starting your morning with us.

Five stories you should know and we're following all of them this morning.

Number one, Lance Armstrong, " USA Today" sports reporter Brent Schrotenboer says Lance Armstrong is ready to admit to doping during his cycling career. The paper says he'll come clean to Oprah Winfrey on Monday.

Now, in the past, Armstrong has strongly denied using any performance- enhancing drugs. But overwhelming evidence from anti-drug agencies has cost him millions of dollars in endorsements. He's also been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

KAYE: Venezuela's vice president flew to Cuba yesterday to visit his boss, Hugo Chavez. Chavez missed his own inauguration Thursday, though the Supreme Court said he could be sworn into his third term at a later time. The 58-year-old hasn't been heard from since he went to Havana a month ago for cancer surgery.

Government officials said he suffered a severe lung infection after the operation. There was no firm evidence that Chavez is even conscious.

BLACKWELL: Number three, the deadly flu outbreak. The CDC is now reporting that two more children died. That brings the total of deaths this season up to 20. Officials also say that number -- the number of reported U.S. cases has decreased, especially in the South. But it's too soon to tell if the season has peaked.

KAYE: And number four, BP has settled with as many as 100,000 plaintiffs who claimed they were sicken or hurt by the 2010 gulf oil spill disaster. The medical settlement was inked yesterday and covers cleanup workers and residents who live near the spill zone. A company spokesman said that BP is, quote, "pleased with the settlement."

BLACKWELL: One of Hollywood's most iconic movie theaters is getting a new name. Grauman's Chinese Theater will be called TCL Chinese Theater. That's thanks to a 10-year multimillion dollar deal with the Chinese electronics firm. The money is expected to go towards needed renovations. The cultural landmark first opened in the summer of 1927.

KAYE: The FDA is recommending new guidelines for women who take the sleeping drug Ambien. This comes after years of complaints of people still feeling drowsy the morning after taking the medication and in some cases getting into car accidents. You might recall Ambien was found in Kerry Kennedy's system after her car crashed last July.

Joining me now is Dr. Jeffrey Oyler from Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.

Doctor, good morning.


KAYE: So what do these new guidelines recommend then when it comes to Ambien? OYLER: Well, it's a recommendation, and what we're trying to do is make sure that women who metabolize the medication a little slower than men don't take the medicine and get up in the morning and go get in a car. It's not uncommon for sedative hypnotics to do this, but the recommendations are coming out now, many of the people practicing clinically have known this for years.

KAYE: So, if we do metabolize it slower than men, what are some of the side effects then for women who have taken too much for her body weight?

OYLER: Well, you know, Ambien is really kind of a band-aid drug. It's a great medicine to induce sleep, but it's not a great medicine at keeping you at sleep. So, the general recommendations for an Ambien are that you take it for a two to six-week period. You really want to modify the behavior whatever is causing the insomnia, probably the first line of therapy. And you're using it to simply assist people in getting rest until you get to the bottom of what the real cause of their insomnia is.

KAYE: And so, from what I understand, part of this drug is that people who take it may not even know that they're drowsy. I mean, have you actually encountered patients with this type of problem and other problems related to Ambien?

OYLER: Right. Ambien is a very common drug. It's a great medication, like I said, to induce sleep. The problem is, it's really rapid onset.

So, there'll be people even fall asleep at the dinner table. So what we recommend is actually get dressed, get into bed, take the medicine because it's about a 15-minute onset. It only lasts two to three hours and that's one of the problems with it. There's a C.R. formulation that many people take that has a longer ability to keep them asleep.

But -- and the other problems with Ambien is you can get sleep walking, retrograde amnesia, headaches with it. It has like, all medications, some very common side effects, but it's also very effective at getting them to sleep.

KAYE: So you say it only lasts two or three hours but it stays in the system, that's the issue.

OYLER: That's exactly right.

KAYE: Got it. Does this announcement surprise you? I mean, isn't it somewhat long overdue? We've been using Ambien. People have been using Ambien for years.

OYLER: Right. It doesn't surprise me. I don't think it surprises many people that practice clinically. All of these drugs sedative hypnotics have a hangover effect. And it's not uncommon for us when we're prescribing medications like this to tell people they have to function the next day, move the dosing up.

KAYE: So in addition to Ambien because people try other medications to sleep, what else should we be concerned about? What other drugs? OYLER: Well, Ambien in classical benzodiazepine. But any of the more typical drugs people have heard of Ativan, Valium, all of these drugs can help sleep, but they're not encouraged long-term because of the addictive potential. And that's one of the advantages that people liked about Ambien, it has a lower risk of addiction, but it's still not zero.

And that's the concern. That's why you don't want people on it more than two to six weeks. And even so, you really don't want them taking more than about three to four times a week as needed.

KAYE: Dr. Jeffrey Oyler, thank you very much. Great advice, appreciate it.

OYLER: Thank you.

KAYE: And here is what's coming up.


KAYE (voice-over): They're the men behind "Chicago," "Hairspray," and now, Hollywood's biggest night. Our exclusive interview with the producers of the Oscars.




CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: The movie "Lincoln" received 12 Oscar nominations. That's right. Yes. Yes. You know what that means? Sequel, huh? "Lincoln 2: The Lincolning." Yes. "Lincoln 2: Breaking Dawn." "Lincoln at Abe's."


KAYE: Well, you may have heard the nominations are in for the 85th Academy Awards. And now, it's time to put the best of the best together in one amazing award ceremony. And that job belongs to two men, a producing team that has spent years planning this ceremony.

Now, our Nadia Bilchik spoke to Neil Meron and Craig Zadan about their plans.


NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: This is your first time producing the Oscars. But you've been preparing for this for years. Tell me about that.

NEIL MERON, PRODUCER, 85TH ACADEMY AWARDS: Well, you know, it's -- we produced a movie a couple of years ago called "The Bucket List" which turned into that nice little hit. And we, for the past decade or so, have wanted to be doing this show. And when we got the job, we said this has always been on our bucket list. BILCHIK: And you've had a vision for how you would produce the Oscars for so long. So far, is it turning out the way you hoped?

CRAIG ZADAN, PRODUCER, 85TH ACADEMY AWARDS: Yes, I would say that what's interesting about it is Neil and I have played this fantasy game for the last five, six, seven, eight years saying, what if? What if they called and they said would you like to produce the Oscars? And then you, sort of, say, what we would do? And we started coming up with ideas and pitching ideas to each other about what we'd do if we had the opportunity. And then, of course, after a while you sort of give up on that because you think they're never going to call.

BILCHIK: And who called?

MERON: We got a call from Hawk Koch who is president of the Motion Picture Academy. And he asked us if we would like to produce the Oscars. And, of course, it's the call that you wait for your entire life if that's something you p want to do. So it took barely a second for us to respond that it's a great honor and it's -- and yes, you know. We really, really were kind of preparing for this for many, many years.

BILCHIK: On your bucket list. So where are you drawing your inspiration? Does a lot depend on who the nominees are?

ZADAN: Well, for us, it doesn't actually. Because I know that other producers have waited for the nominations and then created their show around the pictures and the actors who were nominated. We haven't done that. This year what we did was we created the show based on the show that we wanted to see.

So, we started off by creating an entire entity of entertainment and then the nominations fit into our segments of entertainment.

BILCHIK: So it's going to be a very different awards ceremony.

MERON: Well, you know, especially with our choice of Seth MacFarlane to host. And we think Seth brings something very, very special to the table. Seth is not as well known as previous Oscar hosts, but he has such a vast well of talent that we will make great use of.

Not only is he hysterically funny, a terrific writer, does impressions, does great voices, but he's an incredible song and dance man too. He had an album out last year and was nominated for a Grammy for it. So, he's a great musical artist and he also has a respect for the legacy of what the Oscars are, for acting, and he's just a tremendous all around guy.

BILCHIK: So let's hear a little from Seth when he was actually calling out the nominations.


SETH MCFARLANE, OSCAR HOST: I'm Seth Macfarlane, the host of the Oscars. If you don't know who I am, just pretend I'm Donny Osmond.

These are five people who are the very best at sitting in a chair watching other people make a movie.

Congratulations you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.

These are adaptive screenplays keep in mind. So, that means the writers just basically copied stuff from Microsoft Word and pasted it into final draft.


BILCHIK: So have you started working with Seth yet?

MERON: Oh, we've been working with him since the -- since September. We work with him several times a week, just about every day, actually.


BILCHIK: So, how much collaboration. Do the three of you get together and work on what his jokes are going to be, what his comments going to be? How much from the two of you, how much from him? How much other writers?

ZADAN: Well, Seth is in charge of his sections of the show. His hosting sections and has this team of writers writing his material for that. We have input into that, of course. But Neil and I are creating the entire show around Seth. So we have created entertainment pods of different sections of the show that are unique for this particular Oscar show that are different from other Oscar shows.

BILCHIK: And we know there's going to be a tribute to the James Bond franchise. Can you give us the scoop?

MERON: That's correct.

BILCHIK: What else can we expect to see?

MERON: I think, you know, I think if you look at the DNA of what we've produced previously, you can see that there's a great deal of music that has kind of come forth in our work. And you could probably expect there to be a lot more entertainment.

BILCHIK: Well, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, I hope you get to fulfill your entire bucket list, producers of this year's Academy Award ceremony. Thank you so much for joining us.

MERON: Thank you.

ZADAN: Thank you. Thanks for inviting us.

MERON: Very nice.

ZADAN: Watch the show.


BLACKWELL: It's going to be a great show. All right. Work of art or ghastly? Find us on Twitter and tell us what you think of this new portrait of Kate Middleton. It is drawing a lot of criticism.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This is a SpikerBox. One of these along with a cockroach could make you an expert on the brain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We try to make the tools simple enough to be used. Things people are already familiar with, cell phones offer laptops and our equipment has one button on it and you turn it on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been enlightened by the neuroscience, how our brain functions, to get a better understanding of muscles and brain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're almost to 100 high schools. I'm greedy. We want that across all of the country. We don't just want one kid, we want every kid.

GUPTA: Neuroscientist Greg Gage this Sunday on "THE NEXT LIST."



Have you heard about this new portrait or seen the new portrait of Kate Middleton?

Pretty easy to see why. Take a look here. The painting by Paul Emsley was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery. You have a chance to look at it. What do you think?

BLACKWELL: I think it makes her a little old.

KAYE: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Right under the eyes. It really makes -- she looks tired.

KAYE: Yes, she does.

BLACKWELL: She looks tired and she looks as if, I really don't want to sit there for this portrait.

KAYE: Yes, you know, she has this like great energy about her and this beautiful smile.


KAYE: And in the picture her lips are kind of -- they're tight. They're together. Her mouth is clenched. You said she looks old. I mean, there's a little bit of silver in her hair.

BLACKWELL: Yes. KAYE: It just doesn't even look like her.

BLACKWELL: I think what this artist misses is the light, the light that when you see her with people and you see her at these sporting events and with the royal family, she has this light.

KAYE: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And you can pick -- oh, that's Kate Middleton. But she looks really, really tired.

But this artist, Paul Emsley, he has a photographic style. And he's also painted South Africa's president, former President Nelson Mandela. But, yes, this misses it.

KAYE: I saw one comment that somebody had written was she looks like she's someone out of a "Twilight" movie.

BLACKWELL: She does look like one of the "Twilight" actress.

KAYE: So not Kate Middleton. It is unfortunate. But everybody has their own opinion.

BLACKWELL: Hey, how about this? It is official. You can now use your smart phone everywhere. OK. So, you're already using it on a plane, in the car, at the gym, dinner table. How about using the phone in the shower? Really.

Dan Simon has been on gadget overload all week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Here is some of the coolest things he found. Watch.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First up, the water-safe iPhone. Liquipel has a special coating that makes any phone or tablet immune to the hazards of H2O.

(on-camera): If you're someone who likes to watch TV in bed, here's a product that might appeal to you. This is from Brookstone, and it's a pillow that has speakers insides. And the selling point is, if you're listening to the TV, watching whatever show or movie you got on, you can listen to it without disturbing the person lying next to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think it's going to be a terrific Father's Day gift. May even save a few marriages.

SIMON (voice-over): There was the Hapifork which might be able to save you a few pounds. The electronic utensil lets you know when you're eating too fast.

(on-camera): If you're eating too fast, it's going to buzz or it's going to light up and tell you to slow down, right?

FABRICE BOUTAIN, HAPIFORK: Yes. You're going to have a gentle vibration.

SIMON (voice-over): At $99, it's being called the world's first smart fork.

Next, ultra HDTV, the headliner at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

PHIL JONES, SONY: 4K Ultra HD is four times the resolution of a traditional HD TV, which means you can have a bigger TV in your room. You can sit closer to that TV, and that TV will be much, much, much clearer.

SIMON: They are, in fact, stunning. Content, though, is limited. And the price can go upwards of a whopping $20,000.


KAYE: Ninety-nine dollars for a smart fork, I don't know about that.

BLACKWELL: And we don't need ultra HD. You all know enough about our faces. No.

KAYE: I vote for the top hat. No matter which Monopoly piece you prefer, you better vote for it, too, because guess what? It might be gone forever. We'll tell you why.


BLACKWELL: Time now to take a look at the top CNN trends on the web this morning.

KAYE: Do not pass go. Do not collect 200. Your favorite Monopoly piece could be forced to go to jail forever if you don't vote for it.

BLACKWELL: Hasbro, the maker of the board game, is replacing one of the tokens with one that is, quote, "more representative of today's Monopoly players." And it wants fans to vote on Facebook for the piece they want to save. Voting ends on February 5th. OK.

KAYE: Which one you want to save?

BLACKWELL: I don't know. I want to save all of them, except for the thimble.

KAYE: You don't like the thimble?

BLACKWELL: Tell me another time and place in our life when we come in contact with the thimble.

KAYE: I'd save the dog. So mark it down. Let's save the little dog.


KAYE: Reports of a lion -- speaking of dogs, reports of a lion on the loose in Norfolk, Virginia, turned out to be slightly exaggerated. Some people called 911 to report a lion roaming the streets. Listen to this.


911: Norfolk 911, where is your emergency?

CALLER: Hello, I'd like to report a lion sighting.

CALLER: I just saw an animal that looked like a small lion, it had the mane and everything.

CALLER: I just saw a baby lion on Colley Avenue and 50th Street.

CALLER: There was a lion that ran across the street, a baby lion.

911: Oh, OK, where --

CALLER: It was about the size of a Labrador retriever.


BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, that last caller was on to something. The reason it was about the size of a Labrador retriever, this lion is actually a Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador and a poodle. Cutest, though, right?

KAYE: So sweet a thing.

BLACKWELL: His name is Charles the monarch, and he's only getting groom to look like the mascot for Old Dominion University, which is nearby. And we're told that Charles the monarch is much better with kids than an actual lion. Cute, though.

KAYE: He's so adorable. Got to love the haircut.

All right. Finally, the invisible man gets a mac attack, the best prank ever. And it has exploded on YouTube.

BLACKWELL: I love this one. An inspiring magician named Rahat Hussein (ph) created a driver's seat costume that makes it appear as if no one is driving this car. He put it on and went through a bunch of fast food drive-thrus and -- look at this - recorded the stunned and freaked out employees.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. What the heck is going on? Oh, my God!

Oh, my God. I can't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really? Girl. Hello? Are you serious?


KAYE: You've got to love it.

BLACKWELL: I love it.

KAYE: A driver's seat costume. I mean, who would ever think of that?


KAYE: It's pretty funny.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thanks for starting your morning with us.

KAYE: But don't go anywhere, a whole lot more ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING which starts right now.