Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Christian Pastor Jailed In Iran; American Woman Missing In Turkey; SAG Awards Winners; President Obama's Football Fears; Hillary Clinton' Exit Interview; 49Ers Arrive For Super Bowl; Sneak Peak At Super Bowl Ad

Aired January 28, 2013 - 07:30   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching STARTING POINT. The president says football is just too rough. And if he had sons, hypothetically, he probably would think twice about letting them play. We're going to talk this morning with former college football coach Jack Crowe about that.

Plus it was a big night in Hollywood, could predict the Oscars. We'll have a complete wrap up of winners and the losers at the SAG Awards live from L.A. First, though, John has a look at the top stories. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Thank you very much, Soledad. The U.S. State Department condemning an Iranian court for sentencing an Iranian-American Christian pastor to eight years in prison for his religious beliefs.

They want Saiid Abidini release saying, quote, we condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abidini's human rights and release him.

The husband and brother of a New York woman who has been missing in Turkey for more than a week are en route this morning to Istanbul in a desperate attempt to find her. Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two was traveling alone to fulfill her photography dream.

She was supposed to fly back to the U.S. on January 22nd, but she never checked in for her flight. Her passport and medical documents were found in her Istanbul hotel room though her iPhone and iPad were not found. Friends and family created this web site dedicating to help tracking her down.

Some of Hollywood's biggest names can now add SAG Award winner to their rather impressive resumes. Last night Screen Actors Guild saved one of the biggest surprises for last.

CNN's Nischelle Turner is live in Los Angeles with the highlights. It's all about "Argo."

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. At this point, John, you're absolutely correct because a lot of people thought that "Lincoln" would take home the coveted best ensemble cast in a motion picture trophy. But Ben Affleck and his cast of "Argo" said not so fast. Take a look.


TURNER (voice-over): Actors, actors, everywhere. The 19th Screen Actors Guild Awards was about union in every way. Both lead actress winner, Jennifer Lawrence of "Silver Lining's Playbook" and Anne Hathaway who won supporting actors honors for "Les Miserables" talked about getting their SAG cards at age 14.

ANNE HATHAWAY, OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY FEMALE ACTOR/SUPPORTING ROLE: It felt like the beginning of the world. I loved every single minute of my life as an actor.

TURNER: There was lots of love for "30 Rock" whose season's finale is this week. Tina Fey won her fifth actor trophy, and Alec Baldwin, his eighth. And even when "Modern Family" topped it for the comedy ensemble award, they praised "The Rock."

JESSE TYLER FERGUSON "MODERN FAMILY": "Thirty Rock" and "The Office," you all have set the comedy bar so high.

TURNER: Camaraderie also topped the competition as the cast of British import "Downtown Abbey" paid tribute to the shows it beat for drama series ensemble including "Homeland" and "Boardwalk Empire."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just absolutely overwhelmed by all.

TURNER: Everyone cheered for Dick Van Dyke honored with a lifetime achievement award for more than a half century of acting, singing, dancing and (inaudible) his way into our hearts.

DICK VAN DYKE, RECEIVED SAG LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: This very heavy object here means that I can refer to you as my peers.

TURNER: Best actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis was quick to share credit with the entire cast of "Lincoln."


TURNER: The actual ensemble award went to "Argo" adding that prize to Golden Globe and Producers Guild Awards. Director and star, Ben Affleck praised not only his cast but everyone.

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR/DIRECTOR, "ARGO": They wanted to kill it to make the movie better because that's what actors do all over the world every day. God bless you. Thank you so much for making the movies that you make and television you make.


TURNER: I think Ben Affleck is starting to think about what Oscar snub? Who needs an Oscar nomination for best director with the award season that he is having so far. Now John, the night's other big winners included Bryan Cranston who won for "Breaking Bad," Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence, they became Oscar frontrunners with a win in their categories.

And also Daniel Day-Lewis, you know, he seems to have a lock on the best actor Oscar because the last eight SAG Award winners for best actor have gone on to take the academy award as well. A little nugget for you -- John.

BERMAN: That is some streak. Nischelle Turner, thanks very much. Maybe the beard is a good luck thing for Ben Affleck.

O'BRIEN: Settle down, Will Cain with that scraggly beard you got.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: At this point, it's an open rebuke to the Oscars, right? Ben Affleck wins best picture at the Golden Globes, best director, he wins best ensemble at the SAG. What's wrong with the Oscars?

O'BRIEN: Well, maybe, we'll see.

All right, a wide ranging new interview with President Obama is in "The New Republic." When he asked about football, here's what he said. He said I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I would let him play football.

You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth, and then have nothing to fall back on. That is something I'd like to see the NCAA think about.

Jack Crowe is a retired football coach. He spent nearly 40 years coaching college football. He is also the former executive director of the American Sports Medicine Institute. It's nice to have you with us, sir. Appreciate your time.


O'BRIEN: You know, it was -- you're in an interesting position I think, right, as a coach and someone who's involved in medicine and science and you have -- have you sons -- do they play football? I mean, what kind of thoughts do you have about them playing football? Did you worry every moment that they were in the game?

CROWE: Not every moment, but as parents, you always follow the risk and as long as you feel like they are well supervised, I think youth sports is different than college and youth football is different from college football, different from pro football.

They just played in high school, and I understand the president's concerns, and he's qualified by saying as a parent. Well, that's where the grassroots people are. It's in the communities, at that level, I think those risks are really probably the ones that education and research -- those guys are coaching at that level don't have a course for care and prevention of injuries. That's the level I worry about.

O'BRIEN: So then tell me about the very first game that you coached. You had a kid who died. He died. What happened?

CROWE: Well, he didn't play for our team. First game, I coached was in Oxford, Alabama, played the school up the road, Jacksonville High School. And there was a player, his name was Speedy Canon. Actually, if you walk into Jacksonville High School today, the first thing on the wall at eye level is a jersey, 21, with the name Canon on the back of it.

And the first game I ever coached in, we were down 28-7, and we couldn't tackle Speedy. He just -- we finally wore him down, and we hit on him a lot and football is about hard tackling. And he was apparently fine, but he did finish the game. He turns around plays the next week, sustained a head injury and dies almost immediately.

He had had a concussion in our game. It wasn't recognized. It's the return to play. It's the second -- it's the residual effect of the contact after the first concussion is had and that's diagnostic, that's where a coach has to either have a doctor have the training. Soledad, this is really about how we're training our coaches.

O'BRIEN: So the president seemed to indicate that, you know it would be the NCAA's area to be more on top of this. He talked about how he worries less about the NFL. They have a union. They are grown men. They can make these decisions on their own, but it's really the college players. Do you think that's right? The NCAA could handle that and that college players do take on more risks?

CROWE: I don't think the NCAA is the approach. I think they have to have a role in it, but the NCAA is a litigious body. This is an issue of coaches and the medical support they have either trainers or doctors themselves. It's about who is at practice.

Games get covered by medical specialists, but the majority of these things happen at practice. So I think the NCAA should have a role, but it's time for a new coalition of which the NCAA ought to be a part.

But to say that they should be the lead in this, I can give you -- I mean, the NCAA just rescinded five years of rules they had built. They finally realized that there was too much bureaucracy there to go for medicine and coaches to go through the NCAA.

Forty years with the NCAA. There are organizations, there are medical organizations and there are coaching organizations that could come together, along with the NCAA and make sure that at least reduce, you know, know the risks for the athletes out there.

O'BRIEN: Jack Crowe is a former college football coach joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you.

CROWE: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Secretary Clinton, President Obama, side by side, very chummy, laughing through the entire interview, and addressing a 2016 run and maybe even an Obama endorsement? We'll dig into that in a just little bit.

Plus, we'll tell you how Volkswagen is planning to top the Mini Vader ad that was so popular. We've got an exclusive look this morning at their much anticipated Super Bowl ad.

Volkswagen's Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Tim Mahoney is going to join us and unveil that ad for us, here. Back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Well, it's the exit interview everybody is talking about. Hillary Clinton, the president, sitting down together, laughing, chummy, chummy as they really spoke about their shared vision for the nation and why they were doing this.

What do you think? Let's go right to Will Cain. What do you think -- why not, because I love you so. What do you think is behind all this?

CAIN: I'm going to take it at face value. The president said he wants to thank Hillary Clinton for four years of service, and well he should. This was a coming together, coming out of a very heated primary. I think it's good to see democracy come together like that.

Is he setting up Hillary Clinton four years from now? I don't know. Again, I'll take that at face value. He's a tough choice, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton. Who will he endorse? Right now, he's just saying thank you to Hillary Clinton.

O'BRIEN: But people say thank you all the time and they don't sit down and do a rare joint interview on "60 Minutes."

CHRIS JOHN FARLEY, EDITOR AND WRITER, WSJ SPEAKEASY BLOG: Yes, when you're leaving a job, it's great to have your boss come out there and endorse what you've done. And you're leaving him. So I thought it was a very good send off for Hillary Clinton.

I thought it was very interesting. The last time I saw President Obama do a joint interview, he was with Michelle Obama. Last time I saw Hillary do a joint interview, she was with Bill Clinton so --

CAIN: What am I missing?

O'BRIEN: I'm not sure they are cynical.

BERMAN: Taking it at face value. The face value of this is extraordinary. A president doesn't do a sit-down interview with a member of the cabinet.

CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think it helps to bolster her coming out of the Benghazi hearings, number one. Number two though, I think Hillary touched on something that I think people kind of laughed you off, which is the spouses take it harder, and that is a direct reference to Bill Clinton. Bill came up --

O'BRIEN: That's what she said.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Having been a spouse and a candidate, I think spouses take it much harder. You know, in a way, just as the president said, we're out there and we're responding minute by minute. And you don't have time to sit around and think about what, you know, some insult that you have felt you have suffered.


O'BRIEN: So was the idea to show the nation -- listen, we're over it, we're friends. We've been friends. I mean, they were really very genuinely chatty and charming.

BLOW: That's the whole idea. But I do think it took a while, you know, for Bill to come around and he did a great job of helping Barack. This is a thank you to him and his wife and that -- and I think if you can't underestimate how much of that is at play.

CAIN: They are both playing with a good amount of good will right now, right. So they are also using that to rub off on each other. It benefits both to be seen with the other right now.

FARLEY: I also think she wants to make herself look presidential again. If I had won, I would have made these decisions. But what would a Hillary president have looked like?

O'BRIEN: Stop talking about 2016, everybody.

BERMAN: And again this follows a week where Joe Biden essentially all but announced he was running. You know, walking around Washington with a big smile on his face, meeting people from New Hampshire and Iowa all week.

And if you listen carefully to what Mrs. Clinton said last night, her answer on running for president was qualitatively different than it has been in the past. You know, in October, when she was asked about it if she was running, she said, no, I'm not. She says no one knows. No one can make predictions about what's going to happen --

CAIN: The question we have to leave with is this. What was Joe Biden saying last night?

FARLEY: We have to have an instant camera on him, his reaction to this interview.

O'BRIEN: That would have been great. Still ahead this morning, we're going to talk to the folks from Volkswagen. They've got a new Super Bowl ad and we have it exclusively.

Tim Mahoney is the company's chief product and marketing officer. He's going to walk us through how they picked this ad and it is really good. That's ahead.


O'BRIEN: Game phases on, while you were sleeping, the San Francisco 49ers arrived in New Orleans ahead of the big game on Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens are going to be arriving in New Orleans sometime today.

If you love watching the Super Bowl for the commercials, like me, you're going to want to listen to this, Volkswagen is responsible, of course, for some of the most memorable Super Bowl ads over the last couple of years, like 2011's "The Force," which is the one that featured this little kid, little Darth Vader, hilarious.

This one, that was about the dog that had dreams of chasing a car. So it worked out so get in shape. This morning we have an exclusive sneak peek at Volkswagen's new ad from the Super Bowl.

This year joining us from Volkswagen America's headquarters is the chief product and marketing officer, Tim Mahoney. It's nice to have you with us. So I want to start by revealing the ad. This is exclusive to us so drum roll please, somebody, anybody. Here it goes. Super Bowl ad right here.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they're the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No worry, man. Everything will be all right. Yes, man. Don't fret me, brother. Sticky bun comes soon. Yes, wicked coffee, Mr. James. Julia, turn the frown the other way around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Dave, you're from Minnesota, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, the land of 10,000 lakes, the Gopher state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in conclusion, things are pretty dismal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what this room needs? A smile. Who want to come with I? Traveling along there's a song that we're singing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are 3 minutes late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't be no cloud on a sunny day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, chill, Winstock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me? That's the power of German engineering.


O'BRIEN: Thanks for showing us that, Tim. Thanks for giving us the exclusive on that. So walk me through why you pick that as the big ad that you'll be revealing on Super Bowl Sunday. TIM MAHONEY, VW AMERICA MARKETING OFFICER: Sure. I can tell you, you know, when we think of super bowl advertising, we, first and foremost, want to do great VW advertising. That particular ad we think is really important for these times because VW is a brand that can really put a smile on your face. I think it does that at the end.

O'BRIEN: You take some risks in that, right? You start with a white guy and the Jamaican accent. People in the past have had some challenges. The name Jarjar Binks comes to mind. So how do the meetings work? I mean, do you sit around and say how do we feel about this ad? I have to say that I love it, but my first take at the beginning was like hmm with the Jamaican accent.

MAHONEY: Sure. I mean, we obviously did our homework to make sure we weren't offensive. So we did some research to make sure we weren't going into a direction we didn't want to go, and the ad tested incredibly well.

Actually relative to previous ones that you showed earlier in the segment. And at the end of the day, VW is a brand that everybody has a story about. And quite often those stories put a smile on their face. That's really what we were trying to achieve. The tag line is the power of German engineering. We think having a smile is part of that power.

BERMAN: I'm always struck by ads because I watch that ad, and it made me want to go to Jamaica. It didn't make me think about driving at all. So what's the connection between that and driving?

MAHONEY: Sure. Well, you know, we all -- a lot of us work in office environments, and he talks about Mondays. Today's a Monday morning. It's raining here in Virginia this morning and you know, that sort of drudgery sometimes of going through the office.

This character in the spot named Dave has a different kind of take on life, and the transformative moment is the fact that he drives a VW. And when he exposes other people to that experience, it changes their disposition too. So that's really the turning point, if you will, in the spot.

O'BRIEN: The ad cost $7.6 million to run it on Super Bowl Sunday. It will be interesting. You have a question?

FARLEY: I want to be a one person Jamaican focus group here. I was born in Jamaica. I was wondering, did you test it with any actual Jamaicans see what they thought of it? Because although I love you using Jimmy Cliff, a famous Jamaican performer, the Jamaican accent did sort of strike me as sort of Jar Jar Binks attitude and anyone who saw "Cool Runnings" understands that. I mean, who did you test it with?

MAHONEY: We actually talked to about hundred Jamaicans in the research and we had a speech coach to make sure it was authentic as possible. Obviously, you know, Jimmy collaborated with us on the spot. We've taken I think someone who's a legend in music, which is Jimmy Cliff. And then on top of that, we've tapped into the popular culture with the Partridge Family song, "Come On Get Happy." So for me, it's a great matchup, if you look at the teaser we did, we're sampling out of the social media space, playing off the idea, people may not be so happy these days, but we're a place and a brand you can come and actually be happy.

O'BRIEN: Tim Mahoney is the VW's American chief marketing officer. It's nice to have you with us. I like the ad. I didn't know you were Jamaican, number one. Number two, at the end with the payoff, do you like it or not?

FARLEY: I like jimmy cliff. I always have a problem with Jamaican accents that are superimposed on other people.

O'BRIEN: The quality of the accent.

FARLEY: It's not the quality of the accent. It's the fact the accent was coming out of people who seemingly were not supposed to be from Jamaica. It's done as a joke.

BLOW: I don't like it at all. It's like black face with voices. I don't like that.

O'BRIEN: We'll talk about it more after the commercial break.

Still ahead this morning, the iPad, is there a new one in the works? A lot of buzz on the internet about that this morning, the iPad 4 trending.

Also, "The Walking Dead's" third season is about to come back to ANC and the star of the show, David Morsy is going to talk with us about what we can expect up ahead.