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Pistorius Granted Bail; Oscar Preview

Aired February 22, 2013 - 21:00   ET



PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, freedom for the "Blade Runner".

DESMOND NAIR, MAGISTRATE JUDGE: I have come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know Oscar's version of what happened that tragic night and we know that that is the truth.

MORGAN: What does today's bail decision say about the charges against Oscar Pistorius? I'll talk to the people who know him and knew Reeva the best.

KEVIN LERENA, CLOSE FRIEND OF OSCAR PISTORIUS: He still is an icon. He will always be known as gold medallist and the Blade Runner. And I think he just needs a lot of comfort.

MORGAN: Where does the case go from here? I debate it with Gloria Allred and Alan Dershowitz.

And the winner is --

BRADLEY COOPER, ACTOR: Come on. She's making crabbie snacks and homemades. Come on, dad!

MORGAN: Who walks away with the gold guy?

JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: I don't care what makes you so curious (ph).

MORGAN: I'll I'll be on the red carpet before and after the show.

And tonight, I'll give you my picks for Hollywood's biggest night.




MORGAN: Good evening.

Eight days after shooting to death his girlfriend Reena Steenkamp, Oscar Pistorius is free tonight, released on $112,000 bail. His home is a crime scene and he's barred from going back there. He must also surrender his guns and he can't drink alcohol.

But his coach is already talking about getting Pistorius training again. For the accused murderers, this is clearly a big victory, leading many wondering that the sensationalize case against him may already be falling apart.

Robyn Curnow joins me now from Johannesburg with the very latest.

Robyn, it was a dramatic day in court today. I was watching as you were for the two hours that this chief magistrate, in a very labored, but very deliberate and precise way, went through, I guess, the arguments everyone around the world has been having with themselves and with others. And in the end, he let Oscar Pistorius go.

What's the significance of Pistorius getting bail at this stage, do you think?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I don't think it surprised the legal experts. I've sort of been getting opinions over the last few days and most people thought he would get bail and I'll tell you why, Piers.

In a way, this bail hearing was a bit of a legal ploy. We understand, and the prosecution kind of admitted it today in the courtroom, that by pushing for it to be on a higher charge of premeditated murder, they put the onus on the defense on Oscar Pistorius' team to have to prove that he wasn't a flight risk, et cetera, and also he had to then put across an affidavit. So what this was really about was getting Pistorius' side of the story on paper, six, seven, eight months before a trial.

So, in a way, you know, you can look at and say, OK, Pistorius is out, you know, that's a goal for the defense team. But actually, it's also a bit of a goal for the prosecution because what they now have is essentially their most valuable piece of evidence and that's Oscar Pistorius' version of events on paper.

MORGAN: Which, of course, could be dynamite if any evidence emerges that we haven't already seen from one of the cell phones, perhaps, or whatever, that actually gives some kind of contradiction to the affidavit. But if it doesn't, it could be very strong for Oscar Pistorius.

If nothing comes forward to contradict his version of events in that affidavit, you'd have to say he has a strong likelihood, I would think, of having a good chance of getting off.

In terms of what happened today, it seems to be one of the oddities of the bail conditions was the restriction on drinking alcohol. Should we read anything into that or is that a consistent thing in South African law?

CURNOW: It's not. I think a lot of that had a double take when we heard that. And we thought, well, did the magistrate explain why? He said he's not allowed to drink any alcohol and he didn't. And it seems like, this is highly unusual.

We know that Oscar Pistorius' defense team is going to challenge this bail condition next week. They also want to try to get the amount lowered. But they are also saying this is unusual and unclear as to why this is.

So there will be more on that next week, I think.

MORGAN: Finally, Robyn, you spoke to lots of South Africans about this. You covered every detail of the hearings. It seems to me from my Twitter and from Facebook and other social media, everyone is split down the middle here. Is that the sense you're getting among South Africans?

CURNOW: It is. You know, I think there is this sense, and it sounds sort of blase to say it, but there is a bit of team Reeva versus team Oscar going on here. And I think this sort of sense of whose side you're on and how that plays out. It's very much evidenced in the country.

And even -- I think it's generational thing. Many young people who saw Oscar as an inspirational character are still identifying with him, supporting him supposedly. And it's the older generation who perhaps is saying, listen, this is unacceptable. He should be behind bars.

So, that's going to play out in the next few days.

MORGAN: Yes, it's been fascinating. And one of the reasons is we've almost had a mini trial in the last week, very unusual. Certainty wouldn't have happened here in America.

But, Robyn, just did a great work out there. Thank you again for joining me.

CURNOW: Thanks. Thanks a lot.

MORGAN: With me now is Kevin Lerena. He's a good friend of Oscar Pistorius.

Kevin, we spoke yesterday when we didn't know what would happen to Oscar. You now know he's been given bail. You must be relieved for your friend.

LERENA: Yes, it's obviously good news for Oscar and his family. It gives them enough time to go home and actually give him a lot of comfort. I think that's what Oscar needs at this time. A lot of people have been (INAUDIBLE). But I think at this time, it's very important for him to have comfort from those that are close to him.

MORGAN: You tweeted after the decision, I believe Oscar's statement in court and as a friend I'm behind him. You'll be aware how divisive this case is, splitting not just South Africa, but the whole really on their opinion of what may have happened. Do you have absolute confidence that Oscar is telling the truth?

LERENA: No, like I said before, the onus is on Oscar. And Oscar knows what happened that night. And being a friend, you're going to support your friend no matter what it is. Like I said, whether it's premeditated murder, murder, or a complete, you've got to support him either way.

MORGAN: There was a big mistake made by the police, the investigator Hilton Botha, claimed to have found testosterone. In fact, it turns out to have been a perfectly legal herbal remedy, which I believe is called "testo compositum and coenzyme compositum". You know about this. You tweeted about this. What is that?

LERENA: It's basically used to fight the means of fatigue and tiredness. When you're a high level athlete and you're training a lot, you suffer from being tired and fatigue. This basically just helps kick start your natural testosterone levels and help you fight fatigue. So, it's perfectly legal.

As you know, top athletes get tested all the time, random drug testing, as well as in competition drug testing. It's perfectly legal.

MORGAN: Oscar has been banned from drinking alcohol while he's on bail. Were you surprised at that? It's not always a requirement. Clearly, they believe he may have a problem with alcohol? We don't know that, but it seems an unusual thing to have put on there. What can you tell me about Oscar and alcohol?

LERENA: Look, that's the magistrate's decision and what the magistrate wants during this bail, after this bail application. Oscar, you know, like I said, he's a normal human being. We have fun. And as a person, he's never in my company has alcohol changed him as a personality or changed him as a person. Never around me has he ever changed in any way when having alcohol in his system at any time.

MORGAN: Right. He does drink alcohol then?

LERENA: I'm sure when he goes out and goes for dinner with his friends and family, we'll have an occasional drink, but he's not an alcoholic if that's what you're asking.

MORGAN: No, but his defense counsel was suggesting he didn't drink at all, which I know from people that know him is not true. We can watch a sound byte. This is what Mr. Roux said here.


REPORTER: Are you ready for the next stage?


REPORTER: How concerned are you about the issue of alcohol? I mean, how concerned are about leading --


ROUX: No, he doesn't drink, so that's fine.

REPORTER: What are your concerns?

ROUX: I have to read the conditions. I haven't seen it. I promise, I don't know.


MORGAN: He says he doesn't drink. Would you say the reality is he would have alcohol just not to access?

LERENA: Look, I mean, that's obviously something he would do in his private time or he's off time. But Oscar is busy. Large amounts of the year he's away for a couple months. He's competing and he's training.

So during that time, I do believe he wouldn't drink at all. He's definitely not a person who goes out and goes to clubs and that type of thing. He's a very homely person. He spends a lot of time with his friends. So, I don't think he is a major drinker or does drink a lot.

MORGAN: And, Kevin, are you looking forward to catching up with Oscar? Will you be able to see him? Have you reached out to him or any of his family?

LERENA: Briefly, I spoke to his brother, I called, just to send my wishes and that my thoughts are with him and his family as they are going through a hard time. If I get an opportunity, I'd be very happy and grateful to see Oscar. Just to give a bit of comfort.

Like I said, a lot of people are doubting him and looking down on him. At the end of the day, he's still an icon and will always be known as the gold medallist and the "Blade Runner". I think he just needs a lot of comfort. If I get an opportunity, I'd love to see him, yes.

MORGAN: Kevin Lerena, you're a good friend and I appreciate you coming back on the show. We do appreciate that.

LERENA: Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: Sarit Tomlinson was Reeva's manager. She joins me now on the phone.

Welcome to you, Sarit. I'm very sorry, obviously, for the terrible loss of your client Reeva.

And what was your reaction to what happened today with Oscar Pistorius getting bail?

SARIT TOMLINSON, CAPACITY RELATIONS; MANAGER OF REEVA STEENKAMP (via telephone): My response I think was like many others in South Africa, it was mixed. I must say, though, we have to trust the legal process. It's taking its course. And I can only just say that justice ultimately has to prevail. So, it's a waiting game now.

MORGAN: Did you meet Oscar? And if you did, what did you make of him?

TOMLINSON: Piers, I didn't know him intimately. I met him twice. Like most others, I found him to be charming and friendly. So that was basically my -- you know, what I saw of him.

MORGAN: Had Reeva given you any indication of any problems with Oscar at all in the whole time that you knew she was seeing him?

TOMLINSON: I tried to keep my discussions with Reeva on a business level. You know, we were her agents and her publicists and the conversations that we had were based on her career, where she was going, how we were going to get her there and not so much the intimate details of her relationship with her at the time boyfriend.

MORGAN: She was obviously -- and we're seeing the pictures here -- a very beautiful, very intelligent, former law student, and with a whole career ahead of her. How good a career do you think she could have had in terms of the planning you had for Reeva? How big could she have become do you think?

TOMLINSON: She was on the brink of explosion. And I say this, we had put together and crafted the most incredible career framework for her. She was about to explode starting with "The Tropika" reality show. We had lined up some interviews for her as a host on various lifestyle shows.

We had also set up a whole host of talks. She was very passionate about women-related issues about making herself heard. She had a very loud voice. She had so many passions that she wanted to get out there and talk about. And those are some of the issues that we were in the process of confirming for her.

As a matter of fact, on the morning of the 14th, she was supposed to start off with one of her first talks about this issue at a school in Johannesburg. Yes, and then -- and then we know what happened. So, yes, her career was destined for success. She was just about to explode.

MORGAN: It's an absolute tragedy on so many levels.

Sarit Tomlinson, thank you very much for joining me.

TOMLINSON: It's a pleasure.

MORGAN: Next, is Oscar Pistorius getting special treatment because he's famous? Alan Dershowitz and Gloria Allred join me to debate it.



NAIR: There isn't proper evidence before me relating to the public perception of the matter. I have come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail.


MORGAN: The Oscar Pistorius case is already a media circus. The high-profile superstar charged with a horrific murder. But is Pistorius getting special treatment? And are people forgetting about the real victim here, Reeva Steenkamp?

Joining now are two of the top attorneys in America: Gloria Allred and Alan Dershowitz.

Welcome to you both.

Gloria, we'll start with you because you're in the nonbeliever camp in regards to Oscar Pistorius. Why don't you believe him?

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well, Piers, I think the magistrate raised substantial questions today. Even though he did release Pistorius on bail, he did ask questions that I think are extremely relevant. For example, why didn't Oscar notice that his girlfriend was not in the bed? Why didn't he flee if he thought there was an intruder there? Why did he not yell out, who is there before he shot four shots into the door?

These are questions that need to be answered. I think there are holes in Oscar Pistorius' story.

MORGAN: Alan Dershowitz, your response to that?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, ATTORNEY: Well, there are holes in his story and if the holes are validated by the empirical evidence, by the forensic evidence, he'll be convicted. His lawyer took an enormous risk, both sides took an enormous.

The lawyer took the risk by putting in the affidavit firming up the story. Now, that risk got him bail. That's why he got bail. The judge said that the reason I'm giving him bail primarily is because he did the unusual thing of putting an affidavit forward locking in his case.

Now, that may end up haunting him if forensic evidence comes back that doesn't support that.

Now, the prosecution did the same thing. They wanted to make sure they won the bail so they overcharged him with willful premeditated, deliberate murder, where there doesn't seem very much evidence of planning or deliberate murder, because they wanted to increase their chances of getting bail.

So both sides may have hurt their long-term chances of winning by trying to do what they do in celebrity cases and that is to get short- term results, good headlines and immediate gratification. That's the risk of having cases where celebrities are on trial.

MORGAN: OK. Gloria, here's my issue with the whole case. The one thing I come back to, at the moment, there doesn't seem to be any hard evidence suggesting any motive on Oscar Pistorius' part to do what he did. Without that, is it fair to convict him?

ALLRED: Absolutely, because motive is not necessary to prove. It's always helpful if motive can be proven, but it's absolutely not necessary. And here, there are a lot of questions.

I mean, she's got a cell phone in the bathroom. The bathroom is locked. My experience with a lot of women is that if they go into the bathroom and the door is locked and they've got their cell phone, often it's because they want to make a call for help to their girlfriends or to some member of their family.

MORGAN: But we know she didn't make a call.

ALLRED: OK. But I'm saying whether or not she was able to make the call, whether or not she wanted to make the call, it's often the case that they go in there for the purpose of wanting to make the call.

DERSHOWITZ: Yes. So that's the point. I mean, Gloria, who is a very good lawyer, maybe twice, she said women often -- that's not the way you make a case beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the way you try to persuade historians as to what might actually have happened.

But to win this case, the prosecution is going to have to prove motive because you can't convict anybody realistically of premeditated, carefully planned through murder unless they had a motive. It's easy to demonstrate that a person might have flipped out, might have been in an argument, but that's not going to be a premeditated murder case.

So, I think, again, what we have seen is when you have celebrity justice, it really affects how both sides try the case. And both sides did things at the initial phase of this case that may come back to haunt them. Now, the winner has been Pistorius' defense lawyer.

ALLRED: Alan, I agree and I disagree. There are other elements in the celebrity case and often, it's worse for the prosecution in a celebrity case because often they have to prove not just guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but guilt beyond almost any doubt, which is not fair, or reasonable doubt. It's very difficult.

And there's a young woman who is dead here. She's 29 years old.

MORGAN: The legal team, it seems to me, have been much more competent so far than the police were. And that in terms of public opinion has moved from almost unanimous sense that Oscar Pistorius was a cold-blooded killer to an element of doubt creeping in because the police led by this hapless investigator Hilton Botha made so many mistakes.

DERSHOWITZ: But remember, too, that this is not a jury trial. So Gloria's argument that there's a dead woman just won't have any impact on the judge. Of course, there's a dead woman. She might have been an accident. She might have died as a result of impulsive killing. She might have died as a result of premeditation. The fact she's dead and we are sympathetic for her, won't have any impact on a professional judge or a decent judge in South Africa. What will have to be proved dispassionately is that the forensic evidence is inconsistent with his affidavit. But you don't put in an affidavit unless you're absolutely certain as to what happened. It is very persuasive.

If he was telling his lawyer all kind of inconsistent stories, the lawyer would never have allowed him to put in the affidavit. The lawyer had to be certain that the forensic evidence --

ALLRED: You know --

DERSHOWITZ: -- will confirm to the affidavit and that's why the judge was influenced by it. A jury might not have been influenced by it, but a judge was rightly influenced by the affidavit.

ALLRED: Alan, unfortunately, you're backtracking because your suggestion earlier was he was rewarded with bail because he put his case in the affidavit.

DERSHOWITZ: That's right.

ALLRED: If that's true, I take issue with that. Let me just say, I take issue with a lot else that happened in this courtroom today. For example, the idea that because some of his pals might have acted as character witnesses and suggested through declarations that somehow they had a loving relationship that maybe he wouldn't have any motive to kill, for example. But, you know, nobody really knows to a certainty what happens in a relationship with two intimate partners are alone in bed in the middle of the night.

Sometimes people argue, but they present a brave face to the world and never argue in front of other people. So I don't think it --


MORGAN: Let's take a quick break. Hold your fire. Alan, hold your fire, hold your response. Let's take a quick break and come back and get Alan's response to the damning allegation there from Gloria that you're going backwards.



NAIR: I cannot find that it has been established, that the accused is a flight risk, or that that ground has been established that is needed to be established.


MORGAN: Magistrate saying Oscar Pistorius not a flight risk and that's why he's free tonight.

Back with me now are attorneys Gloria Allred and Alan Dershowitz.

Alan, we left viewers in a cliffhanger there, you were accused of going backwards, backtracking, what was your response to Gloria?

DERSHOWITZ: I don't even know how to go backwards. I always move forward.

Look, if the question was do I think maybe he did it? What's my best guess? I might very well agree with Gloria. There are a lot of questions about his affidavit and his conduct and lots of questions about the prosecutions case.

MORGAN: Unlike the O.J. Simpson case, which many people are trying to draw a parallel with, there, of course, O.J. just refused to accept any responsibility for the death and (INAUDIBLE) knowledge of it. Whereas here, there's a clear admission that Oscar Pistorius did kill Reeva Steenkamp. The only question is why he did it, Gloria?

Now, there are two things for you to consider, I think. One is the culture of violence in Pretoria, which I've been to. It is a violent place. There's a lot of gun crime, a particular problem with crime by people intruding into the homes of the rich and famous and successful. So, Oscar Pistorius, we talked before about a paranoia about this, which maybe well-founded.

But secondly, the Medical Research Council says three women are killed by their partner every day in South Africa. So, also a culture of violence against women.

ALLRED: And, yes, and the prosecutor just pointed out as well in court in this case, that recently, there was the rape and murder of a 17-year-old in South Africa. So, it's really important to understand that there's a lot of violence against women, as well as fear of intruders in the home. So let's not minimize that because that's also extremely important.

Why did he have to fire four shots?

DERSHOWITZ: That's like apples and oranges.

ALLRED: Why not just one shot?

MORGAN: The four shots thing I find a bit of a misnomer in terms of an argument against Pistorius, if he genuinely thought it was an intruder who is about to attack him, or fear for his life, you look at the number of cases in America where there are states for stand your ground. I don't think there's a limitation on the number of bullets fired if you think if somebody is about to attack, then why does it matter if it's one or four bullets?

ALLRED: Why didn't he flee? Why didn't he see if his girlfriend was OK and help her to run out the door?

MORGAN: What are you saying, Gloria, it's based on calm, rational thought. I mean, Alan, you dealt with many cases which are fraught with these kinds of complications. Isn't the reality in the heat of the moment, nobody knows how someone is going to behave?

DERSHOWITZ: That's right. And you can't really infer guilt from these speculated aspects. Consider what Gloria said a minute ago, said there are two facts. One that people are afraid about their homes and, second, a lot of men commit violence against women.

The fact that a lot of men commit violence against women is utterly, and completely and totally irrelevant and will never be admitted into this case because it doesn't tell us anything about whether he committed violence. The fact that he made personally been in fear because he was within that small category of people whose homes are invaded is very relevant.

So, you have two facts. One of which is utterly irrelevant to his guilt or his innocence. The other of which is dramatically relevant. And yet, you hear them put together as if they are similar. They have no relationship whatsoever to each other.

ALLRED: Well, I would respectfully disagree and I think what you said was utterly irrelevant to the issue of violence against women because if and only if --

DERSHOWITZ: We're not talking about violence against women.

ALLRED: There is evidence. Please don't interrupt me. I would appreciate it. If and only if, the prosecutor is able to prove a prior history of violence against a woman in his life. If in fact, that becomes admissible, then it's most certainly relevant.

DERSHOWITZ: It's not admissible. There's no court in the world that will admit the fact that a man hit a woman as evidence that he may then have killed her.

The only evidence you can admit is pattern evidence. If you can show that he had a pattern of treating women in a certain way, shooting at them through the door, threatening to kill them with guns, maybe that comes in. But certainly you can't get admitted into evidence the fact that there's a lot of violence by other people against women. That may make for a nice jury argument, but no rational judge is going to consider that in deciding did he premeditate and decide to kill this woman.

ALLRED: We'll see whether the judge agrees with you or not and whether the judge thinks that he or she is rational or not.

MORGAN: We will. And it's very complicated. And it's dividing opinions. And my next guest actually is someone who interviewed Oscar Pistorius, hung out with him a bit, and found out some interesting stuff about him, which contradicts I guess the conventional theories about what kind of man Oscar was like. So we'll talk to him after the break. But for now, Gloria and Alan, thank you both very much.

ALLRED: Thank you. DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.


MORGAN: We're learning much more tonight about Oscar Pistorius, and the details are revealing. Much of it comes from reporting by an author and New York Times Magazine contributor Michael Sokolove, who has spent a lot of time with the Blade Runner. Welcome to you, Michael. I read your piece with great interest, and I interviewed Oscar myself. And it was interesting to read, because my impression of him face to face was of a very charming, unassuming, softly spoken, polite young man, at the top of his game professionally and seemingly with no dark side to him.

Clearly, there are flashes that you picked up on of a different kind of Oscar Pistorius. We saw a bit of it in the Olympics when he blew up after losing a race. Do you think that the public image of Oscar Pistorius is slightly misleading? Is it a lot more volatile than we may imagine?

MICHAEL SOKOLOVE, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: I don't think the public image is misleading. I found him very much like you did. Very engaging, very magnetic and very respectful of everyone around him.

But he's a young guy, and he's an athlete, and he's very intense. So certainly I saw that side of him that's tightly coiled and the side of him that a lot of athletes have. But I didn't see anger, though. And I think that anyone who says now, oh, anyone could have seen this coming, I don't believe that. I didn't see it coming. I spent a lot of time around him. And I don't think anyone else did either. And even some of the things that are coming from the police that have come from the police that sort of indicate, you know, a history, I think some of them have been knocked down.

MORGAN: There were a few things that struck me from your piece. One was, he clearly likes guns and likes going to ranges and firing them. Does he like them to the point of obsession, I mean, how would you describe his relationship with guns?

SOKOLOVE: I think he was obsessed with his own safety and his own vulnerability. You know, this is not the first time that he spoke of fearing an intruder in his house. I think that's a function of living in South Africa, which is a very dangerous society with a big gulf between rich and poor, and people with means, as Oscar had, feel vulnerable.

It may also be a function of someone who was born without lower legs and does not have biological lower legs. I don't want to psychoanalyze from this distance, but maybe that makes him feel a certain way, especially when he's in bed without those legs. And I don't mean to make excuses for him at all. What he's done at best is reckless and negligent and tragic.

MORGAN: One of the things I've thought about is is that if he, as he claims, was on his stumps and not using his prosthetic legs, then it is I would have thought more understandable that he wouldn't have seen his girlfriend in bed, it's possible, depending on the height of the bed, I guess. This is a man who is not a normal guy. He doesn't have legs. And if he was genuinely on his stumps fearing an intruder, then his construct of what happened becomes more plausible.

SOKOLOVE: You know, it's so hard to say. I mean, I think his construct, as you put it, is hard to believe. It's hard for me to imagine not knowing who's in bed with you. On the other hand, it's a new relationship.

But I weigh that against -- first of all, I don't want to believe that he murdered someone with intent, because that isn't the man that I think I met. So I just didn't see it. So the implausibility of his version of events to some extent is I weigh against what is more implausible to me, that he had this malice in him that would shoot someone in cold blood.

And also, by the way, Oscar loved his life. Loved being Oscar Pistorius, liked the money, liked the fame. And you know, I would think there would be a part of him that would say, well, I'm not just ending one life here, I'm also ending this life of mine, which I really love.

MORGAN: In terms of your time you spent with him, did you drink alcohol with him? Because his defense counsel seems to suggest he never drinks alcohol, but clearly, as his friend just told me, occasionally he would when he wasn't in training. Did you get the sense that occasionally he would drink a lot?

SOKOLOVE: When I was with him, it was in the lead-up to the Olympics, to the London Olympics, and I think he had some wine around the house, but he very specifically told me he wasn't drinking at that time in those months, because he said I train so hard, alcohol has the impact of diminishing your training a little bit, and why should I give up anything, even for a glass of wine, because I am working so hard to be as fit as I can be.

MORGAN: And in terms of his behavior around women, did you see anything untoward in that regard?

SOKOLOVE: I didn't. When I was with him, he had just broken off a long-time relationship. There was another woman who was with us at one point, and I think that that was a fairly casual relationship. In my experience, Oscar is very respectful to everyone, including men and women. And I think that his closest relationship in this world is with his sister. That doesn't mean he did this, he didn't do this, but he's a relational person and in my experience a respectful one.

MORGAN: Certainly from my encounter with him, I would concur, with what you've been saying. I read your piece with great interest, like I said. He's a fascinating case, because you are left with these two alternatives. Either you believe Oscar Pistorius and his version of events, which is implausible, incredulous to some but may well be true, or you believe this rather polite, charming young man that you and I found, personal (inaudible) turns out to be a cold-blooded murder. And both are extraordinary scenarios for somebody like Oscar Pistorius. But I'm very grateful to you, Michael, for joining me. It was a riveting read, your piece, and I think I share your shock about it all.

SOKOLOVE: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up next, predict the winners. My Academy Awards all-star panel. Get ready for Hollywood's biggest night. The road to gold.



SETH MACFARLANE, OSCAR HOST: I'm Seth MacFarlane, and I'll be hosting the Oscars this year. They told me that I'm not allowed to drink on television.


MORGAN: Hollywood's biggest night, the road to gold, is just two nights away. The 85th Academy Awards, hosted by Seth MacFarlane. The red carpet is down, the Oscars are being polished, and I'll be here on Sunday night to cover it all for CNN. Joining me now is Ben Lyons, special correspondent for "Extra" and Kim Masters of "Hollywood Reporter." Welcome to you both.

Ben, where are you with this? Because it seems to me a lot of good movies this year. A lot of conjecture about who may win. Could be some surprises.

BEN LYONS, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, EXTRA: Unlike other years in recent memory, it doesn't seem like everything is a lock. The year that Forest Whitaker was playing Idi Amin and won every award under the sun. Or even Sandra Bullock for "The Blind Side." It felt like we all put on a tuxedo to watch their speeches every weekend.

This year, I think some of the key categories could go a couple of different ways. And that could be the final thing that the Academy needs to maybe break through and get some ratings back at the Oscars. I don't think it's about skewing younger or about having a younger host or opening up the best picture category. It's about having a little unpredictability. And I think you have that this year at the Oscars.

MORGAN: Kim, they are using the success of "Les Miserables" as a basis for a lot of musical-related stuff this year, we hear. What do you think of skewing it towards a more musical performance?

KIM MASTERS, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: I hear the length is quite long. And I think they are talking about closing the show with a duet with Kristin Chenoweth and Seth MacFarlane. And I'm thinking my God, by the time they announce best picture, aren't people just clawing to get out of there? I mean, are they going to sit and listen to--

MORGAN: I mean, I can't wait for Barbra Streisand, personally. I think it will be an amazing thing. But I think you have got a point. Ben, the musical stuff is fine, but if you're skewing it to a younger demographic audience, is it sensible?

LYONS: They are balancing it with having the cast of "The Avengers" present, Daniel Radcliffe will be presenting, as well as there's a tribute to the 50th anniversary of James Bond. So I feel like it's a give and take. You're getting an older audience with some of the more traditional musical numbers, but then hopefully bringing in a younger audience by (inaudible) as well.

MORGAN: We're being told we shouldn't call it the Academy Awards. They want us to call it the Oscars. Finally, because we all call it the Oscars anyway.

Let's go through some of the categories. Best actor, for me I think Daniel Day-Lewis is a shoe-in. I thought his performance in "Lincoln" was just sensational. But do you see any surprises there?

MASTERS: Not at all. I think it is one of the locked categories. If he does not win, there will be a loss (ph). Whoever has that took somebody else wins the office pool.

MORGAN: Hugh Jackman of course could pull a surprise. Brilliant "Les Miserables." For me.

LYONS: It's the work of Hugh Jackman's career. We all know that he's--

MORGAN: He's a great guy.

LYONS: (inaudible), we've seen him on stage before, but never in the movies like this. He's unrecognizable at times throughout "Les Mis."

I think when you look at Daniel Day-Lewis, though, I look at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. That's a show that really helps you kind of determine who is going to win at the Oscars. When people win at the SAGs for playing real-life people, you think of Charlize in "Monster," Jamie Foxx in "Ray" or even Sean Penn when he upset Mickey Rourke that year. They go on to win at the Academy Awards. And that's the case for Daniel Day-Lewis for sure.

MASTERS: Well, often playing a dead famous person is the key. Capote, you know, there's one after the other. And Lincoln was a real person.

MORGAN: Best actress, so this could be a surprise. Because Jennifer Lawrence, brilliant in "Silver Linings Playbook." Most people's favorite, I would guess, but a lot of traction now for Jessica Chastain, who is also very, very good in "Zero Dark Thirty." Kim.

MASTERS: I think the surprise could be Emmanuelle Riva. Because I think if she were American, she would have this thing locked up. She's the oldest nominee ever. She plays a really unflinching role of this woman who is stricken -- has a stroke and is incapacitated. It's kind of -- it's Oscar bait. She's not American. It's also a film that's very hard to watch. It's a sad, sad movie. So maybe some of the Academy members who are not --


MORGAN: I can't see the Academy letting somebody who appears in a French-sounding movie win.


MASTERS: Dark horse.

LYONS: She doesn't have Harvey Weinstein in her corner.

MORGAN: Exactly.

LYONS: And he's been able to champion performances in recent years, really worked the system. Jennifer Lawrence in her rise this year kind of reminds me of Gwyneth Paltrow for "Shakespeare in Love."


MORGAN: No one knows how to win Oscars better than Harvey.

LYONS: Where it is a star coming into their own -- a star coming into their own at the same time as --


MASTERS: -- Jessica Chastain, but if somebody is going to sneak in there, I still say it will be Emmanuelle Riva.

MORGAN: I think it's between Jessica and Jennifer.

LYONS: Apparently, ballroom dancing with Jennifer Lawrence cures mental illness. I guess that's the case.

MORGAN: Another mention for Quvenzhane, the young girl?

LYONS: My favorite film of the year. I think it's the most memorable, the most unique, the most emotional. But I think for someone at that age and that part in their career, it's welcome to the industry.

MASTERS: The nomination is the honor.

MORGAN: Every single person in broadcasting secretly hopes she doesn't win. I'm going to try and pronounce that name repeatedly on national television on Monday.

MASTERS: Exactly.

MORGAN: Let's go to best actor in a supporting role. To me, Tommy Lee Jones was brilliant in "Lincoln." I thought he actually stole the movie in many ways, but I'm hearing Robert De Niro. He hasn't won an Oscar for a long time. Ben, are we hearing--

LYONS: He's my pick. This is by far the most difficult category to predict. All five nominees have won before. It's been 21 years since De Niro was even nominated. Which is back for "Cape Fear." If he wins for "Silver Linings," it will be his third Oscar win.

It's the most relatable of all the roles. I think it's the role that people can identify with. It reminds them of their own father. My dad is a fanatical sports fan. There were moments in this movie I thought of him. I think it is the best work we've seen from him obviously in a long time.

MORGAN: I agree with that.

LYONS: And I think it will be for -- again, he's got Harvey in his corner.

MASTERS: Great performances in that movie, but if there's a dark horse, I think Alan Arkin, because he plays a producer. And Hollywood people like to see themselves portrayed as smart, funny and very patriotic.

MORGAN: And he's very good in "Argo." "Argo" is a huge movie.

LYONS: It's a great category.

MORGAN: Best actress in supporting role? Anyone but Anne Hathaway going to win? Are we all agreed?

MASTERS: Short answer, no.

MORGAN: We're all agreed. Let's move on. The others are great actresses, but I just can't see anyone win.

Director? See, this is where the Academy just completely got this wrong. Because of course Ben Affleck should have been nominated. However, the fact that he hasn't been could help the movie win best movie.

MASTERS: I think people in the future, the campaign strategists will say how can I get my director snubbed, because there's been such a wave of sympathy for Ben Affleck. And he's handled it so well. He's really worked the crowd and been humorous about it and played it pitch perfect.

MORGAN: We have a clip actually from President Jimmy Carter, whom I interviewed yesterday, about "Argo." Of course he was president at the time the real-life story happened. Listen to this.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a great drama, and I hope it gets an Academy Award for best film, because I think it deserves it.


MORGAN: I mean, some other great directing performances. Ang Lee for "Life of Pi," Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln." I think it was a beautifully made movie. David O. Russell, I interviewed him here, passionate man, made a great movie, great thought-provoking theme of mental illness related to his own son. You know, this is a tough category.

LYONS: And Benh Zeitlin as well, 27 years old, first time out, was involved in the music for "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

MASTERS: Very, very brilliant young man.


LYONS: -- baker to play Quvanzhane's father in the movie.

MORGAN: Where's your money, then?

LYONS: I can't bet against Steven Spielberg.

MASTERS: I think Spielberg gets the sympathy vote, too.

LYONS: A sympathy vote for Spielberg?


MORGAN: Greatest director in the history of movies.

MASTERS: Yes, but he's been so snubbed. So (inaudible).

MORGAN: He has, yes, he has.

MASTERS: The Producers Guild, the Screenwriters Guild, the Directors Guild. I think people feel a little, maybe a little guilty, like maybe I should have voted for "Lincoln," but I'll just vote for--

MORGAN: I thought it was a great movie. And also brilliant historic movie. I didn't know a lot of the background to the vote about slavery and seeing what happened, and also very smart not to include the assassination of Lincoln at the end.


MORGAN: You have a tiny mention of it, but it wasn't a part of the movie.


MASTERS: I think that is one of the critiques, that he should have ended it a little sooner, and it felt like an ending when he's walking out of the White House, and I honestly think that would have been a good move. It's been a critique of Steven Spielberg's that he doesn't end the movies at the right moment.

MORGAN: I thought he ended it -- just a tiny mention of it. And that was it. Finally, best picture.

Don't even discuss it. Give me a name.

LYONS: "Argo."

MASTERS: I got to go with that.

MORGAN: OK. Thank you both very much. We'll see. Sure there will be some surprises.

But anyway, coming up next, I'm going to stick my neck on the block and give you my Oscar picks for the big ones (ph).


MORGAN: Join me this Sunday for my Oscar preview live on the red carpet. I'll be talking to the biggest names in Hollywood. And then immediately after the Academy Awards, I will be joined by an all-star panel as we look at the winners, styles and surprises of the night.

Tonight, here are my personal Oscar picks. Best supporting actor, Tommy Lee Jones, best supporting actress, Anne Hathaway. Best actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, best actress, Jennifer Lawrence. Best director, Steven Spielberg. And best movie, hands down for me, "Argo." And you can take that to the bank if you want to lose a few dollars. Anyway, that's all for us tonight. Jake Tapper is in for Anderson Cooper, and it starts right now.