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NASCAR Driver makes History; Pistorius Drops Out of Future Races; The Strange Case of "Prisoner X"; Typecasting in Hollywood; Sandy Victims Drowning in Red Tape; The Motor City Madman; Jordan vs. LeBron; Canada to Prepare for Zombie Invasion?

Aired February 17, 2013 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM begins right now. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us. We're going to get you up to speed on the day's headlines right now.

Massive spending cuts are coming and you should get ready for them. That's what Republican Senator John Barrasso said today. I'm talking about those budget cuts that were narrowly avoided two months ago. Remember the fiscal cliff? Well, the cuts will kick in automatically March 1st if nothing changes.

Democrats don't want them. They favor raising taxes and other alternatives to across the board cuts. So there's another deadline countdown and plenty more budget fighting on Capitol Hill.

A huge rally at the National Mall in Washington today as thousands pleaded for more action on climate change. Among the demands, the protesters want President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and to get the Environmental Protection Agency to set carbon standards for power plants.

A bigger than normal crowd packed Vatican City today. It is the second to the last time Pope Benedict XVI will address crowds of Catholic faithful from that famous window overlooking St. Peter's Square. About 100,000 people turned out to hear Benedict ask for prayers for the next pope. The 85-year-old Pope shocked the world last week when he announced he is resigning at the end of the month.

NASCAR history was made today Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500. Patrick posted a qualifying lap of just over 196 miles an hour. She will share the front row next Sunday with veteran driver Jeff Gordon. This will be Patrick's first full season in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series.

A few minutes ago I talked with Danica Patrick right here on CNN. It was not long after her ground-breaking achievement. She joined me from Daytona Beach. She is a modest lady and I asked her if she understood the magnitude making this important mark as in sports.


DANICA PATRICK, NASCAR DRIVER: In a simple word, yes, I understand that. I think that understanding the scope of what that means and what that will end up meaning is -- or if any is something that happens down the road. In the moment it's about thinking about what I need to do for next Sunday and trying to make some more history.

LEMON: Tell us about the reaction from your fellow drivers, including your -- your team owner Tony Stewart.

PATRICK: Tony came over when we -- we had gotten the pole so qualifying was over with and he came over to say "good job" and you know, for me I just wanted to tell him thank you for giving me the chance and for giving me the crew and the car and the job at his team to be able to go out there and do something like that. So it means a lot and it goes a long way when someone like Tony Stewart believes in you.

LEMON: Yes, I met Tony Stewart a couple years ago when I was doing an interview for Daytona 500 and he couldn't have been more gracious, a very gracious man.

Let's talk a little bit more about you though. Winning the pole is one thing. Now you have to go out and race in 125-mile qualifying race and then a 500-mile main event on Sunday. How are you going to prepare for this, this week?

PATRICK: Well, I'm going to hope that I can have a little bit of time off between now and when we hit the track on Wednesday. But I'm racing in the nationwide race which is I think going to be really good help for the race on Sunday for the Daytona 500 so I'll be racing on Saturday and Sunday.

But, I mean just getting out there in traffic and feeling what it's like around other cars and we're going to have to be smart about what we do out there on the track. I believe if we crash in practice or the duals which is a race that we do on Thursday, we don't get to start in the front row so we're going to have to be a little bit smart. But it doesn't mean we can't get that chance to go out there and feel what it's like around other cars.

LEMON: All right so listen, don't be modest. You won this time. You won the pole position, what are you doing this time that's different or better than you were doing before or better than the other drivers?

PATRICK: I don't -- I don't know how to answer that. I mean I -- you know I -- all I can do as a driver when I go out there and qualify at a place like Daytona is to be smooth, to not let the car bind up too much, let it take its head, let it be -- let it go where it wants to go a little bit yet keeping a minimum distance as little as possible.

So -- but other than that I mean it's very much about the crew. So I know you told me to not be modest but it is very much about the crew and the engine, and the car. Those elements have to be in place for you to go out there and be able to have a chance at the pole.

LEMON: Yes and you were also modest when you answered the history question, but you said you do understand that you made history today. It is ground-breaking, but do you understand there are young women and little girls at home watching you who all of a sudden today will say, you know what; I can do that. I can become a race car driver. I can be a Danica Patrick and well little boys -- my producer is saying little boys but little boys have had role models in racing for, you know, from the beginning, but you are a role model for little girls. Do you get that?

PATRICK: You know, I love that -- to go beyond racing in general. I mean just to kind of break gender barriers. I feel that one of the coolest things is to be able to think that parents and their kids are having that conversation at home about it and to -- you know I've heard stories about a kid, whether a boy or girl, saying, "But, mommy, daddy, that's a girl that's out there racing" and then they can have that conversation to say, you can do anything you want to do and gender doesn't matter. Your passion is what matters and that's cool.


LEMON: My thanks to Danica Patrick.

Sprinter Oscar Pistorius, now charged with murdering his girlfriend, won't be racing anytime soon. His management agency today announced the man known as "Blade Runner" has dropped out of a number of important races so he can deal with his huge legal troubles. His agent met with the sprinter to discuss what's next.


PEET VAN ZYL, OSCAR PISTORIUS AGENT: The nature of my visit was on a professional manner to discuss obviously his career and especially the plans that we had made for this year with the IAAF World championships in Moscow as the main goal for this year and then obviously secondly also to visit him as a friend and give him my moral support.


LEMON: The murder charges have stunned other top runners who still can't believe what they're hearing.


USAIN BOLT, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: When I heard about it, I was like what? Who? As in the amputee, the guy who ran the 400 meter? I was asking all kinds of questions because this can't be the same guy that I have seen that I know and I still can't process it really. I'm trying to process what really happened, what's going on.

So as far as I'm concerned I'm just listening, listening to the news, hear what's up. Follow Twitter and let's see what's going on because for me I'm still in slightly shock for what happened.


LEMON: In a bizarre turn South Africa is now airing a new reality show starring Pistorius' late girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Cleaning up in Russia after blasts from a meteor damaged thousands of buildings; some scientists are still baffled by it. And a prisoner commits suicide inside a prison and no one hears about it for two years? The strange case of "Prisoner X".


LEMON: Multiple car and roadside bombs exploded today in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods in Iraq. Baghdad police say at least 21 people were killed and another 125 wounded. The blasts mainly targeted outdoor markets. The U.S. embassy has condemned the attacks.

A Cuban blogger and fierce critic of the Cuban government finally got to leave Havana today at least for 80 days. Yoani Sanchez seen here on the left had been refused an exit visa for years. She's headed on an 80-day tour of ten countries including the U.S.

Sanchez said she doesn't plan to temper her criticism of life in Cuba just because she got the exit visa but she acknowledges it could be her last trip out of the country.

In a snowy southern Russia today they're still cleaning up broken glass and still trying to calm down after that meteor plowed into the earth the other day. Some people near the impact site say they're afraid to stand near windows remembering that cosmic explosion Friday morning that injured more than 1,000 people and damaged thousands of buildings.

Now to Israel and the strange case of "Prisoner X". His apparent suicide inside an Israeli prison was kept under wraps for two years because of extreme censorship. Now his identity has been revealed opening a host of new questions with few answers. Here is CNN's Sara Sidner with what we know.


SAR SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Behind me is one of Israel's highest security prisons. Ayalon prison is now surrounded by controversy because of the mysterious circumstances of a death of an inmate who was allegedly housed in this prison and died here in 2010.

Now, the local Israeli media has been unable to tell the prisoner's story for the past two years because Israel activated its military censorship laws which are normally used when the military believes it could benefit an enemy of the state or harm the state of Israel.

But a recent investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed the name of the prisoner and the report said that the prisoner was a member of Israel's spy agency, Mossad.

The ABC account said "Prisoner X" was actually Ben Zygier who also went by several names -- Ben Alon and Ben Allen. We have not been able to independently confirm all the information. However we were able to talk to an Australian investigative reporter who had been in contact with Zygier over the years. It turns out he says he was tipped off by the Australian intelligence sources who told him that Zygier was involved in a passport scam.

JASON KOUTSOUKIS, AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST: I was contacted in October of 2009 by an Australian intelligence source. He passed on to me the details of three Australian citizens who were also Israeli citizens and he suggested to me that they had been involved in a -- a passport scam, a means to change their identities in Australia and use the new travel documents that they obtained to -- to go and travel to countries that were -- that are sensitive for Israel.

SIDNER: Zygier allegedly killed himself inside the cell by hanging himself but questions have surfaced as to how he managed to do that inside such a highly monitored and secure cell. A human rights attorney who we spoke with said that he actually had a conversation with Zygier a couple days before he died. He told us that the cell was supposedly suicide-proof and that Zygier had not been convicted, only suspected of a crime at the time.

Now, here is where the story takes another turn. A Kuwaiti newspaper has reported that Zygier was involved in the assassination in a Dubai hotel of a leader of the Hamas military wing. But Australian journalist Jason Koutsoukis says his intelligence sources say there is no indicator that Zygier was involved in that assassination. The assassination made news worldwide because surveillance cameras took video of the assassins in a hotel elevator while they were all dressed in tennis outfits.

Australian officials have made no comment as to the Dubai connection but they are looking into the Zygier case as far as his time in prison and how he died. Now, when it comes to what they knew, Australian officials with the foreign ministry said that Australia did know its citizen was inside an Israeli prison and died there and the body was sent to the family. The family, according to officials, never asked for an investigation.

As you might imagine, this story is sparking a lot of debate here in Israel and finally the courts allowed the local media -- and you can tell from all of the newspaper articles with Zygier's face plastered all over them that they are now allowed to report only what international media reports. It has certainly sparked a debate about censorship in a country that's supposed to be a democracy and about prisoners' rights.

So far the Israeli government has not said a word about the report or any details of the case.

Sara Sidner, CNN, outside Ayalon Prison, Israel.


LEMON: Up next, one black actor shows up again and again and again on TV commercials. Why? He thinks it's because he's safe for white people. I'll talk to that actor next.


LEMON: OK. Being black in Hollywood is fantastic for the one black guy in every single commercial. You know him, the quirky non- threatening black guy. Saturday night live hit a nerve with a skit based on a real actor. Roll it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Seth, high five.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awesome, man, just awesome. My life is great. This year I was in 14 commercials and I was also the one black guy in a college brochure.

MEYERS: Well, that's great. That's really cool. What have you been up to lately?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, so much. Just came back from Venice Beach where I was playing some drums on the top of a Pringles can with some friends just messing around. Then I went to this awesome party where I was the deejay. Yes. I put a Dr. Pepper can on the middle of the turntable and I was just like wicky, wicky, wicky.


JAMISON REEVES, ACTOR: Oh, yes. I actually just left Venice Beach.

LEMON: That skit was inspired by that guy right there who is talking -- actor Jamison Reeves who joins us from Los Angeles. His casting director Mimi Webb-Miller joins us from Phoenix and director, Anthony Hemingway joins us from L.A. He's from Red Tails, depicts an African- American squadron fighting to defend the U.S. during World War II.

Thank you all for joining us. This is going to be an interesting conversation, I see now.

James, you describe yourself as the one acceptable black friend in commercials. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You made a great choice. The Honda Accord holds its value better than any other sedan in America. Coffee?

REEVES: Please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like I was saying the new Accord --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you do that?

REEVES: Auto magically.


LEMON: So listen, the commercials are good, but Jamison, why do you think casting directors choose you and not other black actors? That SNL skit, there was a lot of truth to it. REEVES: Well, I think it's because -- well, first, I'm talented. I think I'm a talented actor. I think my look has caught on because I've remained this look since the beginning, and other people have started to kind of take on the look to, I guess, they thought that it was making them a better actor by having this kind of hair and these kind of glasses.

LEMON: How do you describe that look? What's your look?

REEVES: My look is I really don't care about how I look. Like -- I like to feel comfortable. I grow my beard because I don't want to shave. I grow my hair out because I don't want to do as much work on it. And I wear the glasses because I got sick and tired of having to wear contact lenses.

LEMON: Are you usually the only black guy on the set? I mean what about the clients or producers or the crew?

REEVES: For the most part, yes. I'm usually one of two or three black people on the set. Clients, agency -- most of the people on that end are white, and most of the crew is white. So you do come across black talent every once in a while and black crew members. It's very seldom. It's getting better, but, yes, it's an interesting phenomenon.

LEMON: Mimi Webb Miller --


LEMON: -- you worked with Michael Jackson. You worked with Ray Charles. Do you think it's difficult to get black actors cast in major roles for TV and movies or even television commercials? How are black actors viewed in Hollywood today?

WEBB MILER: Well, it's better than it used to be, and Jamison really isn't blowing his own horn, he's very talented. It isn't -- we could bring him to the picture, but he has to be chosen by the director or the client. And he's been very lucky and worked very hard.

LEMON: Other than that though, I mean obviously he's very talented, but why do you think he's -- you know, there are a lot of black actors, starving black actors and talented black actors are out there and they don't get picked. Do you think he's the acceptable black friend, as he says?

WEBB MILLER: Well, yes, I do believe that that's true, but, you know, in the old days we couldn't even put a couple together if they didn't match colors. Nowadays that's different. It's changed quite a bit. I would think Jamison would think so, too.

LEMON: Let's talk to Anthony though. Anthony, how difficult was it to get "Red Tails" off the ground? I mean what are the biggest barriers in Hollywood for black actors and black filmmakers?

ANTHONY HEMINGWAY, DIRECTOR: Well, George Lucas had "Red Tails" on his lap for over 18 years. And as he said many times, it took him many efforts to get studios to listen, so that's why he went and did it independently and we're very thankful for that.

But, you know, I think part of the problem a lot of times is these stories -- before we even get to casting, it starts on the page. So we are constantly trying to think out of the box from script to screen and just to get producers on board to be a part of social change and to try to make steps ahead. "Red Tails" for me was definitely one more page that we can turn toward the future.

LEMON: Actor Denzel Washington is mega successful. We know about that with two Academy awards, dozens of big-name roles. Is Denzel's Hollywood, is he the go-to black actor now? I mean why no other actors? There are very few other actors.

HEMINGWAY: Well, I think with actors like Denzel, they bring a certain, I think, I would say a gravitas to the picture. So when you see that actor, you know what to expect and you can go and watch the film and kind of relax.

But I think in having -- there's so many more talented actors out there. I have had such great experiences on the wire, (inaudible). My whole career has been working and trying to present platforms and presenting so many more great talented actors, both men and women. And it's definitely a challenge, but we're all a part of I think a coalition of really trying to break down the wall and continue to forge ahead because we're out there.

LEMON: Yes. So Jamison, Anthony, Mimi, stick around. Don't go anywhere. We're just getting started. We have a lot more next.


LEMON: Does Hollywood prefer white skin? We're talking about typecasting in Hollywood. Non-white actors face subtle and not so subtle stereotypes. For example an actor born in Iran is getting lots of jobs playing terrorists. You might not -- you might recognize him, I should say -- Navid Negahban from Showtime's "Homeland". Take a look.


CLAIRE DANES, ACTRESS: You pervert the teachings of the Prophet and you call it a cause.

NAVID NEGAHBAN, ACTOR: Generation after generation must suffer and die. They are prepared for that. Are you?


LEMON: In "Homeland" his character seeks revenge for a U.S. drone strike that killed his son. He also played a terrorist in "CSI", "Law and Order". Some in the Iranian-American community say his terrorist roles reinforce stereotypes. Here's his response.


NEGAHBAN: First of all I am an actor and I'm not playing an Iranian. Just because I know the culture, I think I can do a much better job to bring that character to life.

The show doesn't give you an answer. It raises questions so you sit down and you ask yourself the question, how would I behave if I were in that situation? They see that there is no hero. Everybody has flaws.


LEMON: OK. So joining our panel now is psychologist Wendy Walsh, activist and anti-racism writer Tim Wise and political comedian Dean Obeidallah. Look it's like the "Brady Bunch". You guys have to look at each other.

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: And you're the dad -- the "Brady Bunch" dad.

LEMON: It's interesting because whenever I look on television, whether it be the news or whatever it is, I go that is not America. That's not the world. Nothing in America -- I haven't seen anything that looks like that or in movies where there is like everything is all white.

So, Dean, what's going on? Dean, I'm going to start with you. Should this actor feel guilty about playing a terrorist or should a black actor feel guilty about playing a stereotypical role?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: That's a really ongoing discussion. I'm Arab-American. That's something we hear about all the time. Should Arab-American actors play the Arab terrorist. Frankly, if we don't play, a Latino guy or an Indian guy is going to be cast to play it. So maybe he could bring some humanity.

But the bottom line is those projects are going to be done. We have to make our own projects to tell our own story accurately and honestly. So it's up to us to get out there and tell our projects ultimately -- our story.

LEMON: OK. The voice of reason in the red shirt, Tim Wise. What's going on in Hollywood?

TIM WISE, AUTHOR, "COLORBLIND" AND "DEAR WHITE AMERICA": Well, what's going on in Hollywood is what goes on all around the country. Hollywood reflects back and advertising commercial ads reflect back the culture. We live in a society where we have 40 years of research which finds that sadly, white consumers, whether it's moviegoers or people who buy consumer products, will oftentimes not purchase products or not go to films that they perceive as somehow not about them.

That's not Hollywood's problem. That's our problem. If we want Hollywood to reflect America, we have to demonstrate -- and when I say we, I mean those of us in the dominant group, those who are white -- have to demonstrate that we are open to connecting with black and brown folks in ways that are not stereotypical.

That's on us. It's not Hollywood's fault so much as it is the larger culture.

LEMON: Go ahead, Wendy.

WALSH: Yes, but I agree with what you're saying. Advertisers and the media -- just reflect back what people are feeling, but they can also have the power to raise the ante, to up the bar, raise the bar, up the ante, if you will. Therefore like a few years ago when IKEA was the first one to do this amazing commercial with a gay couple shopping for furniture.

Now I'm sure they didn't think that their primary demographic were all gay couples but that brought in a very progressive, liberal wonderful group of people I'm sure to their stores. And I think advertisers can do that. Yes, they do the research and the research says that some of these awful stereotypes still work, they still sell, but they also have the power to change us a bit.

LEMON: I was watching one of our shows here the other night, and Jane Fonda was talking about women in Hollywood and empowerment.


LEMON: And everyone was like, yes, it's great, it's great, we should talk about this, we should talk about it, but the moment you talk about minorities in films or in television commercials or even on television, in -- in positions of power in the news, people say why are you bringing that up? You're racist for talking about that. What is that, Tim Wise?

WISE: Well, you know, we live in a culture that tells us if we talk about racism that causes racism and that we just should talk less which is absurd. If you think about any other social problem, no one would say that. Like if you talked about world hunger, no one would say, oh, my good, don't talk about that and then food will miraculously appear on the plates of starving children.

Like we understand other problems you have to address by talking about them, but white America, frankly, and I -- you know, I'm white, been around white folks all my life, white folks do not like to be confronted with the truth of our history and our ongoing reality. That's why we say we're post racial, because we have a black president, because, you know, millions of white folks turned Barack Obama into their own personal Cliff Huxtable, but that doesn't mean that we're past racism. And that's what we have to deal with.

LEMON: Anthony, do you agree with that?

HEMINGWAY: Absolutely. I think especially we're talking about the whole big picture of Hollywood and where we all work. It's -- on the surface it's liberal, but when you look deeper than that, it's completely face value, and it's always an issue, and I think it's the consciousness that we need to continue to bring up and to discuss that will only help us move forward.

LEMON: Did Tim Wise really break out the Cliff Huxtable reference? Good job, Tim. All right. Moving on, a NASCAR first as Danica Patrick becomes the first woman to ever win the pole position at the Daytona 500. How fast did she have to go to beat all those guys? Talking about diversity? That's next.


LEMON: Danica Patrick, NASCAR driver. She will have an unobstructed view when she starts next Sunday's Daytona 500. That's because she'll be in front. The 30-year-old rookie today won the pole position with a qualifying lap of over 196 miles per hour. She is the first woman ever to win a pole position in a NASCAR top division race.

I interviewed Danica a little earlier on CNN and if you missed it you can catch it again at 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

The manhunt for ex-Los Angeles cop Christopher Dorner may be over but the controversy over how he died is just beginning. A few dozen people gathered Saturday outside the LAPD headquarters to criticize how police handled a manhunt and its fiery conclusion at a mountain cabin. Some protesters tell CNN that they don't condone Dorner's killing spree but his disturbing allegations about the LAPD should be investigated because of the department's history of corruption and racism.

Massive spending cuts are coming and you should get ready for them. That's what Republicans in the Senate are saying today. I'm talking about those budget cuts that were narrowly avoided two months ago. Republican Senator John Barrasso says sequestration is unavoidable even after a Democratic proposal last week to avert it.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: I think there are much better ways to do these budget cuts and I welcome that sort of discussion with the president, but the cuts are going to occur. We're talking about 2.5 percent of what we spend this year, and this is just the first year of 10 years of cuts. So you have to be realistic about this. Families all across the country, Candy, have had their budgets cut by larger than that.


LEMON: Meanwhile, House minority whip Steny Hoyer is getting frustrated with Republicans.


REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP: Republicans would have us return to our districts with nothing to show our constituents, notwithstanding the fact we've been here for six weeks this year. Who are deeply concerned about how the sequester will make their lives more difficult and their communities less safe. Our country less safe and our communities less safe as a result of sequester.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: With less than two weeks before massive spending cuts would kick in.

Victims of Superstorm Sandy can't seem to catch a break. Four months after the storm, many now feel they are drowning in red tape as they try to get insurance money to repair their homes.

Here is CNN's Deborah Feyerick.


CATHERINE HALL, SUPERSTORM SANDY VICTIM: When am I going to get my money?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Begging for money is not something Catherine Hall ever thought she would have to do.

HALL: I had to run to the bank two Fridays ago, and beg them to give me a loan just so that I could pay my contractor and once he's finished doing this segment of the work, we have to stop because we don't have any more money.

FEYERICK: Nearly four months since Superstorm Sandy destroyed her home in Island Park, New York, Hall has been calling her mortgage banker almost every day. She's begging them to release insurance money so she and her family can rebuild and go home.

HALL: We have a 4-year-old little boy who basically we spent his college fund. You know, the money that we've put by since his birth towards being able to send him to college later in life is what we've spent. It's gone.

FEYERICK: Hall, who is originally from Britain, and her husband Bob and 4-year-old son Nathan, have been living in a hotel since November.

The Halls are among more than 6,000 families still waiting for insurance money. New York's governor blamed unnecessary red tape and accused banks of failing to release more than $200 million worth of insurance. The problem is some lenders require proof the repair has been made before they will reimburse for the cost of that repair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of older people here that, you know, that just don't have any money and they're being told that, you know, do 30 percent of the work and then they'll get 30 percent of the money. Do 50 percent of the work, you'll get 50 percent of the money.

HALL: The reason that they do that I think is they're scared that you're going to get the check and leave and leave them with a property that's not sellable. You know, but we've invested a lot of money in this house, you know, and it's our home.

FEYERICK: Banks contacted by CNN, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Citibank, and Bank of America, tell CNN they've distributed more than 75 percent of all insurance money. The Halls' mortgage lender, who they asked we not name, did not respond. HALL: You know, we came here to live the American dream and now we're living the American nightmare because they're holding our money and we can't get it and it's not fair, you know. It's not fair on anyone. And everybody is in the same position. Everybody. Like I said to you, I don't know a single person who'd had a dime.

FEYERICK: And the waiting and uncertainty is taking a toll as devastating as the storm itself.


LEMON: Thanks to Deborah Feyerick.

You know his name, you know his politics, but Ted Nugent says you don't know him at all.


LEMON: Ted Nugent, the Motor City madman, there he is, one of the more unlikely audience members who was -- invited to the president's State of the Union speech this week. The outspoken gun rights advocate and former rock star shoots straight from the hip and from the lip when it comes to firearm restrictions.

What you may not know is Nugent can be kind of a softy, especially when it comes to his grandchildren. Here is Nugent in our red chair interview.


TED NUGENT, GUN RIGHTS ADVOCATE AND FORMER ROCK STAR: Every hateful statement ever made about me is a dirty lie. Yes, I get this question a lot. How did I avoid the temptation to indulge in substance abuse? The same way I avoided the temptation to stab myself in the eye with an ice pick.


I don't do stupid things. Who doesn't know that all these dead rotting carcasses are a result of substance abuse? And I'm all for a beer. You know, at Thanksgiving my brothers drink a beer, have a beer, I drink a little red wine, I have Cuban cigar, I shoot my machine gun. I don't really smoke it but it looks good with the machine gun.

I don't want to be a rock star. Don't believe in rock stars. If you really examine what goes with being a rock star, I have avoided that really well.


Are you kidding me? I mean, I have turned down literally we've calculated hundreds of millions of dollars because I have to get away from it and the ultimate escape is to get a sharp stick and go kill a deer. It's literally the last perfect thing left to get away from the outrageous rock and roll stuff. So rock stars are cute. They got nice haircuts. I loved the pierced nipples but I'm more into just working hard, playing hard, making great music and going hunting.

I'm a real mushy grandpa. I snuggle with them. I'm the master of snuggling. I'm like Mr. Rogers with a machine gun.


I'm so much fun. Every grand kid wishes I was their grandpa. I'm the Motor City mad gramps. We get the trains and before my knees blew up, I'd run around the kitchen and the dining room -- and swing them around and let the G forces send theme into the other room. And when we get on the four-wheelers we go -- and of course I teach them how to shoot the bow and arrow and I'm pretty mushy. I'm a pretty excitable guy.

You may have picked up on this. And I like to apply that energy and my passions for the things that turn me on, to my grand kids, so they realize that they don't want act like Europeans. They want to really let it rip and really enjoy life to the fullest.


LEMON: You can see more fascinating interviews like this one online in our Web site. Just go to and search for "red chair."

Who is the best NBA player of all time, Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Our Rachel Nichols caught up with King James to get his answer. The exclusive interview is next.


LEMON: Welcome back to "Sports Center," everybody. The NBA's best players are gathered in Houston for the annual All-Star Game. It also happens to be the 50th birthday of the great Michael Jordan which has sparked a lot of discussion and debate about who's the best of all time. Is it Jordan? What about LeBron James?

CNN's Rachel Nichols sat down with LeBron for an exclusive interview.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN/TURNER SPORTS: Dwayne Wade said that after one of these games this last week or two, that he looked at you and he said, who are you right now?


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT FORWARD: He did. He did. And I said, what do you mean, who am I? You know, best friend, right? What do you mean? You know what I am. And he is like, I don't know who you are right now. You're from another planet.

NICHOLS: Most of us don't know what it's like to be on an NBA court and be shooting with that kind of accuracy. Can you compare it to anything in regular life that the rest of us can know how you feel right now looking at that basket?


JAMES: Well, I mean, I guess I will say, you know, the way I have been shooting the ball, it just feels like you're on the beach and -- you have a tennis ball and you can just -- you know, no matter where you throw it it will enter the water. You know, and that's just the feeling I have every time I go on the floor. I feel like every shot I take, no matter what shot I take, it will go in. You know, I haven't shot 100 percent yet. But --


NICHOLS: But you want to. You were close one night.

JAMES: Yes, I was close. I was close. I missed a lay-up. I missed a lay-up.

NICHOLS: And lay-up bothers you.


JAMES: That lay-out did -- after the fact. During the game I didn't know. But after the fact I said, oh, 13 of 14. Lay-up.

NICHOLS: You tweeted this year, "I'm not M.J., I'm L.J."

JAMES: Right.

NICHOLS: How sick are you of being compared to Michael Jordan?

JAMES: You know, well, it's not even a sick thing. I'm not sick of it. It's just that Mike is Mike. And a man can only be himself. And I can't be Mike. I don't want to be Mike. I want -- well, not I want to. I am who I am.

NICHOLS: So everyone is so focused on your basketball right now. But there's all this other parts of your personality that we're seeing, whether it's you play catch with the fan the other night, or you tackling the guy after he makes the half-court shot, or we actually saw you joking around with your family in the commercial or you have a cartoon series.

JAMES: A lot of people think it's kind of like staged. It's just -- I don't know. It's just -- it happens. It is me. You know, like you said, for instance, with the fan and the basketball, I don't know. I went over, hey, give me the ball. And he threw it to me light. And I was like, no, give me better pass than that.

NICHOLS: And we talked over the years where you say, I have more fun, I play better basketball.

JAMES: Right. Right. Right.

NICHOLS: That there's a relationship.

JAMES: Right. It is.

NICHOLS: Well, you're playing the best basketball of your life. Arguably.

JAMES: Right.

NICHOLS: Are you having the most fun of your life?

JAMES: Absolutely. It is fun. You know, at this level, it's hard, you know, to find that balance. And I'm happy that I'm at a point in my career where I found the balance. And you know, I'm back to having fun and loving the game that I've always loved.


LEMON: Canada's parliament has a warning for possible invaders -- for possible zombie invaders. Lawmakers speak out putting their foot down about an undead apocalypse. That's next.


LEMON: It is always a good idea to be prepared for a natural disaster. But how do you prefer for a zombie apocalypse? Lawmakers in Canada thought they had a great idea to train emergency responders, pretend the country was under attack by the invaders.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is there a zombie in the house? The House of Commons.

PAT MARTIN, CANADIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I don't need to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that zombies don't recognize borders.

MOOS: This isn't the latest episode of the "Walking dead." Though you could argue some politicians fit that description.

This is actually Canada's parliament.

MARTIN: I want to ask the minister of Foreign Affairs, is he working with his American counterparts to develop an international zombie strategy so that a zombie invasion does not turn into a zombie apocalypse?

MOOS: It's clear these guys aren't brain dead because they know how to joke. The minister of Foreign Affairs reciprocated with a pun that was dead on.

JOHN BAIRD, CANADIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure this member and all Canadians that I am dead-dicated to ensuring that this never happens.

MOOS: The zombie issue came up because Quebec was supposed to hold a mock zombie disaster training exercise. And while that might sound bizarre, zombie drills are not that unusual. This one took place in Ohio. The idea is to have emergency planners think outside of the box as opposed to dealing with crises they dealt with in the past. Even officials at the Centers for Disease Control have used zombies to grab the public's attention.

Zombies have no respect for romance. There were false zombie alerts this week and a handful of TV stations and places like Michigan and Montana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living.

MOOS: Hackers managed to temporarily take control of the station's emergency broadcast systems just as they used to do with far simpler traffic signs.

The zombie debate in Canada's house sure had members laughing.

(On camera): But wait. Zombie apocalypse training has been canceled. The new scenario will simulate flooding. Flooding?

(Voice-over): Yes. All the joshing about zombies had Quebec's government worried the training exercise would lose its serious focus.

BAIRD: Under the leadership of this prime minister, Canada will never become a safe haven for zombies ever.

MOOS: Anyway, Canada has nothing to fear as one guy posted on Gawker, zombies are allergic to maple syrup.

Jeanne Moos.

MARTIN: To a zombie apocalypse.


BAIRD: Canada will never become a safe haven for zombies ever.

MOOS: New York.


LEMON: And what great day it was for Friday for thousands of people who finally got off the cruise from hell. That was a Carnival ship that was dead in the water for five days leaving passengers to sleep on the deck and walk around in raw sewage.

Well, last might on "Saturday Night Live" the cast imagined what it was like onboard.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now before we move on, we want to designate a few -- a few more areas on the boat as toilets. OK? All right. What do we've got here? What -- the superstar karaoke bar is now officially a toilet. OK? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Blue Iguana Cantina is now a toilet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Just in time. OK, good. And the -- and Banzai Sushi Restaurant is -- well, that's still a sushi restaurant. So you want to get in there, you know, soon before it becomes a toilet. There you go.


LEMON: All right. You're not really famous in America until "Saturday Night Live" gets to have its way with you.

Coming up tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, we want to tell you about fascinating new details surrounding the murder of former Beatle John Lennon. Lennon was killed in 1980 while walking outside of his apartment building in New York City. Now more than 30 years later, the former NYPD officer who arrested Mark David Chapman for the murder has revealed that he exchanged letters with Chapman and he is sharing them.

We are talking to the former officer and we'll show you the actual letters from Chapman. That's tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. It's going to be a fascinating story. I've been looking at some of the letters. They're revealing. So make sure you tune in.

Thank you so much for watching. I appreciate it. We had a good time. Hope you learned something. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. We're going to see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. In the meantime, it's called "COP KILLER: INSIDE THE HUNT FOR CHRISTOPHER CORNER." It's going to begin in just a couple of seconds right here on CNN.