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Hollywood Holds Oscars; Pope Prepares to Resign; Sequester Deadline Looms for Congress and White House; Hollywood's Biggest Night; Danica Comes in Eighth; MacFarlane's Less Reverent Oscars

Aired February 25, 2013 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, some surprises and some snubs at the Oscars. He won Best Picture for "Argo," but this morning, we're hearing some other reaction about director Ben Affleck being passed over in the Best Director category.

Jennifer Lawrence speaks out about her stumble to the stage, and the Seth McFarlane moments that everybody is talking about this morning.


O'BRIEN: -- that he made the crowds' guess. We'll tell you what that was live in depth coverage. Our special Oscar's edition of STARING POINT comes to you live this morning from the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.


O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the morning after Hollywood's biggest night. The 85th Oscar has lots of song and dance, a couple of upsets and a few surprise endings as well. There was also history being made: Daniel Day-Lewis winning his third Best Actor award and revealing how he nearly lost the role of "Lincoln" to another screen legend. I think he was joking. Listen.


DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, ACTOR: Before we decided to do a straight swab, I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher.


DAY-LEWIS: And -- And Meryl was Steven's first choice for Lincoln. And I'd like to see that version.


O'BRIEN: We would all like to see that. CNN's Nischelle Turner watched it all and she joins us this morning. Take a look.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: And now for the moment we have all been waiting for --

NISCELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: First lady Michelle Obama gave the Oscars a jolt of excitement and a huge surprise when she appeared from the White House to announce the night's biggest prize, best picture.

MICHELLE OBAMA: And the Oscar goes to "Argo."

TURNER: It was an especially sweet victory for Ben Affleck who wasn't even nominated for directly the Iranian hostage thriller.

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: I'd like to thank everyone in the movie, on the movie, worked on the movie, did anything with this movie.

TURNER: "Life of Pi" based on the bestselling novel about a boy adrift at sea with a tiger, won the most Oscars, four, including best director for Ang Lee.

ANG LEE, DIRECTOR: Thank you, Academy. Namaste.

TURNER: Lincoln's leading man Daniel Day-Lewis made history of his own, becoming the first male actor to win three Oscars.

DAY-LEWIS: I'm so grateful to the Academy for this beautiful honor.

TURNER: She took a tumble heading to the stage, but everyone else on their feet when "Silver Linings Playbook's" Jennifer Lawrence won for best actress.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: You guys we're standing as fell. That's really embarrassing.

SETH MACFARLANE, COMEDIAN: And the quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh begins now.

TURNER: Host Seth Macfarlane struck a cheeky tone from the beginning, poking fun at himself during a visit from Captain Kirk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worst Oscar host, is it that bad?

TURNER: Music as the theme of the night, and the show, and there were full-throated performances from "Chicago," "Dreamgirls" and "Les Miserables." And music was a memorable part of Oscar's 50 anniversary tribute to James Bond. Shirley Massey got a standing ovation after belting out "Goldfinger" while Adele sang the lastest 007 theme "Skyfall" which won the Oscar for best song. And Barbra Streisand sang "Memories."

AFFLECK: I was here 15 years ago or something, and I went out, never thought I would be hack here, and I am. And it doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life, because that is going to happen. All that matters is you have to get up.


TURNER: That was a very good night, a very good moment last night. One of the things I don't know if people caught the fact that George Clooney was also on stage there with Ben Affleck and the other producers of the movie "Argo." He didn't say a word during the whole speech. I said why didn't you say anything? He told me simply this was Ben's night. It was Ben's moment to kind of redeem himself for that Oscar snub, and I think that he did.

O'BRIEN: He surely did. Let's bring in Tom O'Neil, one of the top Oscar analysts. And I think you actually got 100 percent.

TOM O'NEIL, EDITOR, GOLDDERBY.COM: In all of my top categories, yes, I did.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations.

I thought that the Ben Affleck speech was really moving. Often they are so prepared in their speeches. He was all emotion. It was great.

O'NEIL: I think it was a perfect Oscar moment because it turned the Oscars into a Hollywood story because we saw the happy ending play out. He referred to how he had been there 19 years before on the red carpet. He came to international acclaim and he finally made the journey to the podium as winner of best picture.

O'BRIEN: With a great message. Don't give up.

O'NEIL: Against great odds, and Michelle Obama of all things.

O'BRIEN: What did you think of Seth Macfarlane?

O'NEIL: I liked him a lot. I think in general there were way too many song and dance numbers. In the beginning, I'm wondering why is he dancing with Daniel Radcliffe? But in general, I thought he was suburb.

TURNER: I thought the opening monologue went a couple of beats too long. I thought he was funny, kept the pacing going and his comebacks quick and sharp. I thought he was really funny.

O'BRIEN: I felt like they were showing us entertainment on the screen, even the song and dance numbers, which went on and on and on. And some of those taped pieces were hilarious, like the skit with Sally Field. That's was so funny.

O'NEIL: How many kids knew what he was talking about?

O'BRIEN: Let's go to that.


SALLY FIELD, ACTRESS: I am going to go to a party.

MACFARLANE: Count me in, man. Fire up the trans am.

FIELD I can't go anywhere.

MACFARLANE: I have a bottle of wine and some Boniva. FIELD: Amy.

MACFARLANE: I don't know who that is.

FIELD: Jackie.



O'BRIEN: It was hilarious. I thought it was so funny when he said the Boniva. That was so hilarious.

The thing that I thought all of those clips and song and dance numbers, just showing how amazing he is. He really is so multifaceted.

O'NEIL: His singing was superb.

TURNER: A lot of people know him from "Family Guy," but he was nominated for best song for "Ted." So we have always known he was talented. He can do so much.

O'BRIEN: He can be crass and inappropriate and can be --

O'NEIL: That's why we love him, right?

O'BRIEN: The joke about the actor who could get inside Lincoln's head. That was terrible, but funny.


MACFARLANE: The actor really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth. It's 150 years and still too soon? I have some Napoleon jokes coming you up. You guys will be so mad.


O'NEIL: He said we don't need big a-list stars, Americans will tune in because they have seen the movies.

O'BRIEN: I have seen all of them.

O'NEIL: Last year "The Artist," people were saying what is that?

TURNER: And "Life of Pi" worldwide has made over $500 million.

O'BRIEN: We'll have more coming up on the after parties and of course we'll talk about some of the winners, the losers, and the fashion. First, right to breaking news coming to us out of the Vatican this morning. Let's get right to John Berman with that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad. Breaking news this morning just as Pope Benedict XVI is entering his final days as leader of the Catholic Church, Britain's top cardinal, Keith O'Brien stepping down. This follows accusations that O'Brien abused young men studying for the priesthood back in the 1980s, and it comes amid Italian media reports that the Pope is stepping down because of a scandal involving Vatican priests and male prostitutes. CNN's Becky Anderson is live at the Vatican with more. Good morning, Becky.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They say a week is a long time in politics, but an hour it seems is a long time in politics there at the Vatican. There is a news briefing going on for journalists as we speak. I'll get you as many of the lines out of that as I can, because bombshells coming from right, left, and center this morning out of Vatican.

Let's start with that breaking news on the top British cardinal, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who has resigned. The pope has declared that today. We are told he talked about his resignation to the Pope back in November. He said he was of ailing health and at 75 he thought he should go. But his resignation hasn't been announced, nor was it going to be until his birthday on March 15th. But as of today, the top British cardinal has resigned. He was the only British cardinal that would have been here for Conclave, which we are told out of his press conference this morning won't be announced before March 1st. It could still happen now before March the 15th. So breaking news is the news out of Britain today, he will no longer be here at Conclave.

Also hearing today about a secret dossier. This is with reference to allegations doing the rounds in the Italian press. Allegations that there is a network of gay clerics at the Vatican who have or possibly could have been made vulnerable to blackmail by male prostitutes. The pope this morning announced that secret dossier will be passed on by this Pope to the next one it will not be released. The allegations will continue until people get their eyes over that. We won't any time soon.

BERMAN: Anything but a quiet good-bye for Pope Benedict XVI. Our thanks to Becky Anderson today live in Rome.

Other news this morning, we are just four days away from the forced government spending cuts, and today the White House laying out what cuts will look like they say in each state. Our Christine Romans is here with a look at that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, John. Some call this a doomsday scenario laid out by the White House meant to pressure Republicans into accepting a deal with higher taxes on the wealthy. The White House, though, spelling out the $85 billion in reductions mean. Across the country, Washington, D.C., head start, just there, the child development program for low-income families will be cut for several hundred kids. And 13,000 department of defense civilian workers will be cut.

Across the country over in California, for example, education will take a nearly $90 million hit, so teacher jobs in jeopardy there. Some Navy ships in San Diego won't be repaired. Nationwide, the cuts mean longer security lines at the airport and plane delays because the FAA's budget would be slashed by $600 million. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood was on "STATE OF THE UNION" this weekend saying worker furloughs are inevitable. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: In the end, there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers, and that then will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports.


ROMANS: And food inspectors will likely be furloughed and meat and poultry plants will be temporarily closed or slow down. Republicans are calling for less talk, more action.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I won't put all the blame on the president of the United States, but the president leads. The president should be calling us over somewhere, Camp David, the White House, somewhere, and us sitting down and trying to avert these cuts.


ROMANS: Senator Kelly Ayotte was on "Face the Nation" yesterday saying we shouldn't even be in this position.


SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, (R) NEW HAMPSHIRE: We wouldn't be in this positions if -- these sequester type situations if we actually prioritized spending. In terms of the Democrat's plan, the first thing they come up with we'll raise taxes.


ROMANS: Chances are slim Congress will avert cuts before Friday, so expect to feel it through the economy, hitting schools, grocery stores, airports, just to name a few, John.

BERMAN: Thanks, Christine.

Call it a very severe weather sequel. Life-threatening blizzard conditions, that's what the national weather service is saying a powerful winter storm is bringing to the plain states this morning. This just days after a powerful winter blast had already blanketed the area with record snow.

Severe weather advisories issued for portions of southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle. The same system dropping a blanket of white, canceling hundreds of flights in Denver on Sunday. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is calling for drivers to stay off the road and he worries the storm has the potential to be more dangerous than last week's. That's why you are looking at Jennifer Delgado standing there on the ready to tell us what will happen next. She's live in the CNN weather center.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John. We have a weather blockbuster. We are experiencing blizzard conditions now through the Texas panhandle and the Oklahoma panhandle. You can see where the warnings are. We're talking about four states. This is likely going to continue through tomorrow morning. Here is the radar, snow is coming down, in fact, we know now that interstate 27 from Amarillo to Lubbock is closed due to visibility. The roadway is too bad out there. That's the big story as we go through today and tomorrow.

If you're thinking about heading out through Texas and Oklahoma, it's too late. Snow has been there. Storms through central Texas will change over to snow. And many of these, we're talking about a foot of snow, 12 to 18 through parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and northern parts of Missouri. But it's not just the snow, not just the blizzard and visibility. Today we're talking about today, a chance for severe storms setting up along the Gulf States as well as potential for heavy rainfall across the southeast. We're talking two to four inches of rainfall. We have four big storms to deal with today.

BERMAN: A lot of weather happening around the country. Jennifer Delgado, thank you very much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Coast guard rescue crews searching for two adults and two children after their 29-foot sailboat started taking on water near San Francisco. The vessel was about 65 miles off the coast of Pillar Point when someone onboard radioed for help that Sunday afternoon. An hour later, the Coast Guard got a message they were abandoning ship.

A pair of earthquakes hit Japan today. They were about 11 minutes apart. There are no reports of any kind of serious damage. Japanese officials did not issue a tsunami alert, so some good news out of there.

Let's go back to California, Hollywood, where no doubt the party still goes on. Soledad is there.

O'BRIEN: No doubt indeed. John, thanks.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we'll bring you more moments from last night's very differently styled Oscars, plus the Daytona 500. We'll talk to driver Kyle Petty about that and Patrick's historic finish and the safety of the sport after that terrible accident that happened over the weekend. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drivers, and Danica, start your engines!


BERMAN: So in case you doubted that is was Danica's day at the Daytona 500, grand marshal James Franco cleared it up, raised eyebrows with that opening. She made history, Danica Patrick did, when she kicked off as the first woman to win the pole at the Daytona 500. She made history again as the first woman to lead a lap. In the end, she came in eighth, the best finish by a woman in the Daytona 500 ever. It was Jimmie Johnson who claimed the top spot, his second time as winner there. This is what he said about Danica Patrick's performance.


JIMMIR JOHNSON, DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION: She did an amazing job all day long. Spent a lot of time around her, racing in the draft. And the style of racing fits her well. She has no fear and is very comfortable. And we're excited for our sport to have her in it.


BERMAN: Joining us now is Kyle Petty. Analyst at "Speed" and former NASCAR driver and owner. So Kyle, let me ask you in general, your overall thoughts about the race?

KYLE PETTY, ANALYST, SPEED CHANNEL: You know, obviously they call it the great American race. It was a decent race, the first part of it. With the new cars, with the new Toyotas and Fords and Chevys, everyone is feeling this car out, the Gen 6 car all week. Once they got in the race, they got more comfortable with it the last 24, 30 miles of the race pretty good. Pretty fantastic.

BERMAN: Not a lot of passing, a lot of people claiming with the new car, not a lot of passing the last lap. Looked like it would line up for big drama maybe not so much. Let me ask you this. After the race, Danica Patrick was slipped from third to eighth on the last lap. She seemed a little disappointed by what happened. Did she have reason to be disappointed about the last lap?

PETTY: I think there were a lot of people disappointed. Denny Hamlin was disappointed where he finished. If you follow these guys on Twitter, there were a lot of people that thought they had better runs and didn't have the finish they wanted to show for it. Danica being one of them. She ran an incredibly solid, really good race. Wouldn't be a great race unless you win, but it was a good race. She ran solid, she ran in the top five, she ran in the top ten, still finished eighth. She should hold her head proud. I had to eat a little crow when I said she wouldn't do that well. But she had a great day.

BERMAN: She held her own. She was right there the entire race. Let me ask you about what happened on Saturday, at Daytona the Nationwide race, because there was that big crash there, and parts of the car which flew into the stands. How big of a concern is fan safety at NASCAR?

PETTY: It's a huge concern for NASCAR. And let's go back. Bobby Allison in 1987-88 almost did the same thing at Talladega. NASCAR reassessed the tracks, reassessed the fencing at that point in time. No issues until we get all the way to Carl Edwards in 2007-2008, right along in there. And then NASCAR reassess again, and they change the fence design. This design at Daytona has been changed in the last six or seven years. So, it's the best design that we can have and that we've come up with at this time. And when you look at it, the tent (ph) fence did exactly what it was supposed to do. It kept the car on the racetrack, did parts and pieces fly into the stands? Yes, they did. But the catch fence keeps the majority of the car on the track and out of grant stands. It did a fantastic job. I believe NASCAR will go back to the R&D center, take the car, the fence, and the parts and pieces and lay it out, just like in a plane crash or that type of situation, try to figure out what went wrong, how it went wrong, when it went wrong, and NASCAR will definitely look at this, and the sport will move forward in a safer way.

BERMAN: All right, Kyle Petty, our thanks to you. You know, we didn't even talk about Jimmie Johnson, lining up to be one of the legendary drivers in NASCAR. We'll get to that. Nice to see you.

Let's not go back to Hollywood, where Soledad is basking in the post Oscar glow. He, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I am basking. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we'll talk about the rookie host of the Oscars and his brand new producers, the result, I think with an Oscar show with a whole different feel. Did love it? Hate it? We'll break it down, coming up next.


O'BRIEN: The road to gold. Welcome back, everybody. You're watching a special edition of STARTING POINT, coming to you live from Hollywood, California. We're talking Oscars with Tom O'Neil, another Oscar night in the books now. 85th Oscars have been short on surprises, but some drama, I think it's fair to say, with "Argo" winning best picture for Ben Affleck. There were musical numbers, lots of them, long ones. There was the host, Seth MacFarlane, a lot of talk about his performance.

Tom O'Neil with us from and Nischelle Turner sticking around with us as well. Nice to have you both back with me. Let's talk about Seth MacFarlane's take on the Oscars. I think that it was very different because he really brought an entire different team of people to produce the Oscar show.

O'NEIL: I think people who have an appreciation for pop culture and a context for all his jokes were on target. In general I thought he did a superb job.

TURNER: Yeah, and not only was he a first time host, but the producers were first time producers, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. One of the things they told me was, we will make sure the Oscars have more music than ever, we're going to make sure it's a little edgier, they want to bring that back. And I think they did.

O'BRIEN: I think they did too, I thought they gave it a really different feel and tone, very "entertaining" kind of like with a capital E. "The Boob Song" got a lot of flak.

O'NEIL: I loved it, that was one of my favorites.

TURNER: Mine too.

O'BRIEN: Let's play a little bit of -- I thought it was hilarious, but completely inappropriate, but very funny. Let's play that.


MACFARLANE (singing): Kristen Stewart we saw your boobs in "On The Road," and in "Monster" we saw Charlize Theron's. Helen Hunt, we saw them in "The Sessions" and Scarlett Johansson we saw them on our phones. Jessica Chastain we saw your boobs in "Lawless." Jodi Foster in the -


O'BRIEN: The cutaway shots were meant to look like the women they were referring to were unhappy, but actually those were - you know Charlize Theron was wearing something else.

TURNER: That was a taped piece and those women participated. And you could tell. Naomi Watts, Charlize Theron, they were all wearing something different to the Oscars. So you know that wasn't really what they were doing. So you know they really weren't put off by it. They enjoyed it. They participated in it. I thought it was hilarious.

O'NEIL: It was. It went right up to the edge, it was naughty, but it didn't go to far.

O'BRIEN: He consistently went to the edge or over it. We'll talk about it all through the morning. Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

Still ahead, we'll talk about what is a long road going from "Gigli," right for Ben Affleck, to "Argo." He's Oscar's comeback kid. You're watching STARTING POINT, we'll talk about that straight ahead.

Plus, the end of the Castro era in Cuba. A transfer of power is now in sight. That's ahead.