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Oscar Winners; Danica Patrick Makes History; Powerful Storm Warning; Stephen Colbert Supports Sister

Aired February 25, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have the potential for deadly conditions. Blizzard warnings for some states still digging out from under last week's storms.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Top 10 finish. Danica Patrick makes history at Daytona. We're live with the highlights.

BERMAN: And the first lady's Oscar act. Mrs. Obama gives an award at Hollywood's biggest night.

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. About 29 minutes past the hour right now.

Meanwhile, the Plains are simply getting pounded again. A second powerful winter storm, bringing with it heavy snow and strong winds, slamming the region, grounding flights and closing schools this morning from Colorado, all the way to Texas.

The National Weather Service Forecast has warned the storm is bringing potentially life-threatening and crippling blizzard conditions, with freezing temperatures to portions of Southeast Kansas, Northwest Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle. That powerful storm is threatening the plains states today has already made a mess in Colorado.

More than nine inches of snow blanketed the Denver area, even more snow fell in other parts of the state, including 19 inches in Jefferson. The heavy snow dumped on Denver International Airport forced hundreds of flight cancellations and delays, up to four hours for those flights that were able to take off. It's a mess.

Jim Spellman is live in Denver this morning. And Jim, besides you, are people going to able make it to work this morning?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think they're going to be OK. Take a look at Interstate 25 here. You can see it's open. Not too much traffic here, but they were out all day yesterday at the snow fell, getting these main arteries close. But come over here, take a look at this on-ramp, John. You can see how slick this is.

These are where you're going to have trouble spots, on-ramps, bridges, all of those sorts of areas. And I can tell you that it's really rare here in Denver, John, that they even plow the residential streets because, usually, we get this fine powdery snow. Right now, they've got 120 pickup trucks with snowplows on the front, out, trying to get the residential streets cleared.

Now, usually, we get that sort of famous Colorado powder here. But this snow is really much different. It came down all day yesterday. It's snowy on the top, but underneath, there's a really dense layer of almost frozen snow and that's really the hazard here is when it ices up underneath the top layer. Very treacherous. You don't know what you're driving into.

Over at the airport, they've been deicing planes. They've been clearing runways. They tell me all the runways are open. They're going to have some deicing delays, but they don't expect major delays in the air, except for flights going in and out of where the storm is headed.

The big advantage we had here yesterday, John, is this snow fell on a Sunday when everybody was off and the crews could get out here with not a lot of traffic on the road. The bad news is for the kids in Denver, Denver schools opening on time -- John.

BERMAN: That's the bad news for the kids today. Slow but everything moving in Denver. The big question is about Kansas. They got really pounded in last week's storm, and they are still under a state of emergency right now with more extreme weather ahead. How do things look up there?

SPELLMAN: Yes. The governor's extended the state of emergency there. Like you said, they're still digging out. In some parts, they got 20 inches of snow just a couple of days ago. They could get another foot now. Also, in Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas, they could get hit there. Blizzard warning in effect for the panhandle of Texas, John.

BERMAN: Looking at some pretty crazy pictures from there. All right. Jim Spellman in Denver this morning. Nice to see you.

ROMANS: All right. As Pope Benedict XVI enters his final days as leader of the Catholic Church, the cardinals who will soon select his successor are now heading to the Vatican. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, will take part in the conclave that will pick the next Pope. He says that the next successor probably won't be an American.


CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: The conventional wisdom says it can't happen from the United States because we're the only superpower. And I don't think it would be seen as a very good thing if the Pope, who's supposed to be reminding governments of their responsibilities to build peace, if he were from the same superpower.


ROMANS: Pope Benedict will officially step down on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. Vatican time. The Vatican says a new Pope will be in place in time for this year's Easter celebrations on March 31st.

BERMAN: There's a lot going on right now.

ROMANS: It sure is.

BERMAN: The White House budget office painting a gloomy picture of what will happen if the forced spending cuts known in Washington as the sequester go into effect this Friday.

Food safety inspections, vaccines, and early education programs, they would all take a hit. Cuts and defense spending would affect the maintenance of navy ships, the White House says, and air travel will be disrupted if the FAA is forced to furlough many of its employees, including air traffic controllers.

ROMANS: Oscar night is history. And Daniel Day-Lewis made history, winning his third Best Actor statue for "Lincoln." At just 22 years old, Jennifer Lawrence is also an Oscar winner, taking home the Best Actress award for "Silver Lining's Playbook," and taking a fall in her way --



BERMAN: Someone help her up. Oh, thank goodness. There's Hugh Jackman.


ROMANS: I know. She was very gracious about it when she accepted her award, and she got the big statue. The night's other big acting awards went to Anne Hathaway for Supporting Actress in "Les Miserables," and Christoph Waltz for Supporting Actor in "Django Unchained."

BERMAN: His second award in three years.

ROMANS: Is it? And the Oscars also had a surprise ending. It wasn't the winner. It was the presenter. It was Michelle Obama with a little help from screen legend Jack Nicholson. The First Lady announced the night's biggest award, Best Picture, live from the White House.



OBAMA: "Argo."


ROMANS: "Argo" becoming -- there's Ben Affleck -- "Argo" becoming just the fourth film in the Oscars 85-year history to win Best Picture without its director being nominated. And you know what, that was a really good film.

BERMAN: It was really good. They were all really good films.

ROMANS: I loved it.

BERMAN: So, Stephen Colbert isn't just a funny guy. He's also a loyal brother. He helped his sister, whose name is Elizabeth Colbert Busch, serve up sandwiches at an event in Charleston, South Carolina. Busch is a Democratic candidate for Congress there, and this was a meet and greet event with voters. Her brother bragged on her and also bragged on their home state.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": There's no place like South Carolina. It is the greatest state. It has the finest food, the finest people. It has the greatest history. It has the most beautiful countryside. It has the greatest water. It has the most beautiful women, the most handsome men, strongest children.


ROMANS: He is so funny. And you know, he's got a very big family.

BERMAN: Oh, yes.

ROMANS: So, if, you know, other people in this family started running for office, he could spend his entire life campaigning for them. I think he's one -- is he one of 11?

BERMAN: At least.

ROMANS: Eleven, I think. Anyway, so, there you go.

A sock that sold for thousands of dollars just -- isn't just used. It's not even clean. A collector paid more than 92 grand for the bloody sock that Curt Schilling wore in game 2 of the 2004 World Series. He pitched on above ankle and helped the Red Sox won the series and break the curse of the Bambino. The sock's new owner says he also has the contract that brought Babe Ruth to New York from Boston. So now, he's got both bookends of baseball's most famous --

BERMAN: You know, I hate to bring this up, but there are actually two --

ROMANS: I can't believe I actually read that story. Why John Berman did not read that story, I do not understand.

BERMAN: There were two bloody socks. The most famous actually was part of the ALCS, which Curt Schilling wore when he beat the Yankees in game six of the ALCS.


BERMAN: That sock allegedly discarded in Yankee stadium. The second sock that just sold for 92 grand, he wore in the World Series, less famous, but still, very important. In fact, transcended in some ways, but I didn't buy it.

ROMANS: Next hour, just please, give him that story.

BERMAN: That's right.

ROMANS: Thank you.

All right. Despite a spectacular crash on Saturday, the Daytona 500 went off without a hitch.

BERMAN: And Danica Patrick, she did not disappoint, driving her way into the history books. We'll have details on the big race when we come back.


BERMAN: So, five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has yet another prize for his trophy room. It's a big one, the second Daytona 500 victory. Johnson held off its Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the final lap to win NASCAR's most prestigious race. Earnhardt finished second. Well, 54-year-old Mark Martin took third place in the NASCAR season opener.

ROMANS: And Danica Patrick made history Sunday becoming the first woman to ever start the Daytona 500 from the pole position. She ended up finishing eighth in the race.

Joe Carter live in Daytona Beach, Florida. Good morning, Joe.

JOE CARTER, "BLEACER REPORT": Hey, good morning, guys. Wow! What a finish for Danica Patrick. I mean, in that last lap, she actually had a chance to win. She was running in third place. She said she was a little disappointed she didn't have a better plan at the very end (ph) of the race because she dropped back to eighth, but it was a great day for her.

She wanted to show fans and her competition that she can be a consistent driver. She ran on the top 10 for most of the race. She wanted to show her competition through this she's going to be a legitimate threat each and every race in this upcoming NASCAR season, but it really was Danica's day, and it started from the very beginning when they did driver introduction.

She walked out, she got a huge roar from the crowd, the same kind of roar that Dale Jr. gets who's been voted NASCAR's most popular driver for ten years in a row. And then, the grand marshal who is actor, James Franco, came out. And typically, the grand marshal says, "Gentlemen, starts your engines." But he changed it a little bit. It was a flattering nod towards Danica Patrick. So, listen.


JAMES FRANCO, ACTOR: Drivers and Danica, start your engines!

CARTER (voice-over): Danica Patrick made history three times at the great American race. She started from the front, led a lap, and finished in the top ten. She's the first woman driver to accomplish any of those three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great job. Great job. Who says girls can't do this crap?


DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NASCAR DRIVER: Real proud for her. I hope she's happy. I know she probably wanted to run a little better than that, but she's got a lot of good racing up ahead of her. And, this is how you get out on the right foot.

DANICA PATRICK, 8TH PLACE FINISH IN DAYTONA 500: Leading laps was nice. And, you know, it's a little bit maybe more calm driving around here than Indy in an Indy car. So, I guess, I had, at least on your own, anyway, especially in the lead. So, I guess I had a little more time to look around and see the people.

JIMMIE JOHNSON, 2013 DAYTONA 500 WINNER: She has no fear and is very comfortable. We're excited for her sport to have her in it and to bring this boost of casual fans that may not be, you know, an avid NASCAR fans as of now. So, it's great.


CARTER (on-camera): All right. One more thing about Danica Patrick before we talk about Jimmie Johnson, the champion. Danica beat 35 other drivers, guys, including her boyfriend, her new boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. She finished eighth. He finished 12th. So, that's going to sting for him for about another year.


BERMAN: I have to say, she really did not seem terribly happy after the race was over. She seemed a little bit blue, but let's not talk about Danica. Let's talk about the winner. Jimmie Johnson won his second Daytona 500. He's got five other Spring Cups. A lot of people think he's a little boring, but does this kind of cement his status as a true legend?

CARTER: Absolutely. I mean, you know, there's been, in the last two hours, some comparisons throwing around that this could be -- Jimmie Johnson could be this sport's Michael Jordan, and he is really truly a solid, consistent champion. And, you know, people said, back when he won his third cup championship that no other driver had done that.

And he went on to win five-straight. So, you know, recently, he started hash tagging six-pack, basically already putting a campaign out there for a sixth cup championship. But, Jimmie Johnson certainly is a great champion. I mean, yesterday's race, Daytona International Speedway needed this.

I mean, with the weather possibly coming in and, of course, the nationwide crash on Saturday, for them to have a clean race yesterday and for them to be able to crown the kind of classy champion that they did in Jimmie Johnson, was really a good day for the Daytona International Speedway and for the great American race, guys. BERMAN: All the guy does is win. All right. Joe Carter in Daytona for us, great to see you this morning.

ROMANS: OK. When we come back, and winter strikes again. The latest on that massive snowstorm hitting the central U.S.

BERMAN: And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or mobile phone, just go to


ROMANS: Pope Benedict is entering his final days as leader of the Catholic Church.

He's stepping down, as you know, on Thursday. Cardinals from around the world now heading to the Vatican for the papal conclave where they'll select the new Pope. The Vatican expects a new Pope to be in place sometime for Easter.

BERMAN: Congress is back in session today after a week off. Lawmakers have until Friday if they want to prevent a series of forced spending cuts also known as the sequester. The White House says air travel, food inspections, childhood vaccines, and maintenance navy ships will all take a hit if those cuts go into effect.

ROMANS: The end of the Castro era in Cuba now in sight. Cuban president, Raul Castro, says he plans on stepping down in 2018 at the end of his second term as president. Fidel Castro's 81-year-old brother made the announcement Sunday shortly after the country's national assembly elected him to a second five-year term.

BERMAN: So, Paul McIlhenny died over the weekend at age 68. His name may not ring a bell, but the family company he run, it will. The McIlhennies have been making Tabasco sauce in Louisiana since just after the civil war. Paul was the fourth generation in the business. He's credited with helping increase sales and creating new flavors and products.

ROMANS: Oscar night was "Argo's" crowning glory. The Iran hostage drama winning three awards, including Best Picture. Sweet revenge for its director, Ben Affleck, who was famously snubbed by the academy in the Best Director category. Top acting awards went to Daniel Day- Lewis for "Lincoln." His record third Best Actor win. Best Actress went to Jennifer Lawrence for her role as a troubled widow in the film "Silver Linings Playbook."

BERMAN: They have been up all night in Hollywood. We're just seeing you (ph) mid-party, I'm sure, in Hollywood right now. The Oscar night festivities continuing at some of the most celebrated after-parties in the world.

CNN's Paul Vercammen has more on that.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the governor's ball to the "Vanity Fair" party, to Elton John's famous fundraiser, Hollywood knows how to let loose on Oscar night.

ELTON JOHN, ENTERTAINER: We're able to come here and get our message across and raise money and have a good time at the same time.

VERCAMMEN: Sir Elton and partner, David Furnish celebrated their 21st year of his AIDS foundation Oscar viewing event. And Heidi Klum, Nicki Minaj and Jane Lynch were just a few of the stars on-hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's kind of a fancy event, but we're also benefiting Elton John's foundation which is wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was a wonderful show. I loved it. I loved the movies. And, it was great.

VERCAMMEN: Across town at the glitzy "Vanity Fair" soiree, Sandra Bullock, Gerard Butler, and Richard Gere, all hit the star-studded red carpet before partying it up inside. And presenter, Halle Berry, revealed what she thought was the biggest surprise of the night.

HALLE BERRY: Ang Lee I thought surprised everybody, but so deserved. I loved "Life of Pi."

VERCAMMEN: At the Governor's Ball after-party, the night's big winners bumped shoulders with Hollywood icons.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're the super couple.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. It depends on what and who is in there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How heavy is this?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is heavy. You have this great smile on your face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is and -- I'm very emotional. I just want a drink.

VERCAMMEN: Paul Vercammen, CNN, Hollywood.


BERMAN: Yes. You know, we could have gone to the parties, but instead, we, you know, we got up at 2:00 here to do the show. ROMANS: I wasn't invited to any of the parties.

BERMAN: Yes, me neither.

ROMANS: I'll be honest.

The National Weather Service has issued some urgent winter warnings for western and northern Oklahoma. Kansas City also expecting nine to 15 inches of snow, tonight into Tuesday. The same system just left a blanket of white over much of Colorado, canceling hundreds of flights out of Denver International on Sunday.

Jennifer Delgado live for us now at the scene in Weather Center. Jennifer, how bad is it? And I feel like it's almost a rerun.


ROMANS: We discussed here last week.

DELGADO: It's like "Groundhog Day." It's from last week. And right now, we do have blizzard warnings across four states. And keep in mind, blizzard conditions are already being experienced in parts of the Texas panhandle as well as the Oklahoma panhandle. Here's the snow coming down.

You see that center (ph) circulation spinning just to the west of Lubbock, Texas, a lot of lightning coming down through areas, including central and western parts of Oklahoma, but where you see the snow. Now, you add in the wind. Winds right now are 40 in Amarillo as well as 24 and look at those gusts.

They're going to continue as we go throughout the day. So, really, the danger is going to be the visibility. When you get those winds kicking around, visibility is going to be less than a quarter-mile. Now, you add in potentially a foot and a half of snow in some of these locations across parts of Kansas as well Missouri.

It is going to be a big, old mess out there as we time this for you. And we take you through 10:00 p.m., notice that snow starting to get heavier through parts of Kansas and in for St. Louis, your snow starts Tuesday and the same for Chicago and down towards the south. We are going to be looking at some very heavy rainfall, and that includes parts of Louisiana as well as into Alabama into Georgia.

You can see right now, we do have a severe thunderstorm watch in place and that is until 8:00 a.m. local time for Louisiana. And then, we're also talking potential for tornado threat. Look at this, in yellow, the northern gulf coast. We're looking at this from Texas all the way to Florida.

ROMANS: All right. Jennifer --

DELGADO: So, another three-peat.

ROMANS: There we go.


BERMAN: Yes. Not the good kind, at all.

ROMANS: This is winter. Hello, winter.


ROMANS: One last --

DELGADO: We need spring.

ROMANS: Last blast of winter. All right. Thanks, Jennifer.

BERMAN: All right. We'll be back in a moment, but first, tripping at the Oscars. The moment that everyone is talking about this morning, in how Jennifer Lawrence -- she not only recovered. She recovered brilliantly.

ROMANS: But that skirt -- I mean, really. That skirt --

BERMAN: I could never walk in that.



ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. It is 56 minutes past the hour. I'm Christine Romans along with John Berman, taking a look at the top CNN Trends on the web this morning.

BERMAN: So, at age 22, she is already an Academy Award winner, Hollywood's leading lady. But this morning, the buzz is about Jennifer Lawrence and how she tripped. It was on her way to accept her Best Actress Oscar, this, after she allegedly ripped her dress at the S.A.G. Awards. She handled it last night with just unbelievable grace and charm.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fall on the way up to the stage.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, WINNER, BEST ACTRESS: Was that on purpose? Absolutely.



LAWRENCE: What do you mean what happened? Look at my dress.


LAWRENCE: I tried to walk up stairs in this dress. That's what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Yes. There's like 100 feet long.

ROMANS: I know. Of course, Hollywood's biggest night, on the minds of the late-night hosts this weekend, too. Michelle Obama making an appearance at the Oscars last night and told Jimmy Fallon showbiz may be in her future, John. Here are the late-night laughs.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": The Academy Awards, you know, it's television's answer to JetBlue. You sit there for four hours, waiting for it to take off.



CRAIG FERGUSON, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON": At least Adele get nominated for that song. The --






FERGUSON: That's awesome.


FERGUSON: Her song is up against the song from "The Life of Pi." I have no idea how that goes.





JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Can I ask you, another thing to think about? I said it here first. Dream team, Michelle and Hillary, 16.


FALLON: What -- what do you think?

OBAMA: You know, I have my eye, actually, on another job. You know, I hear that when Jay Leno retires --


FALLON: Oh, yes, yes.

OBAMA: That position is going to be open. And I'm thinking about putting my hat in the ring. What do you think?

FALLON: I'm done thinking about it.



BERMAN: Awkward.


BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.