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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Uninvited Guest at Five-Star Resort; Interview with Bill Deeley and Punxsutawney Phil; Supreme Court Hears Arguments on DOMA Today; Defining Moment for Marriage & Families; "It's a Disaster"

Aired March 27, 2013 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to all of you. You and Punxsutawney Phil. A defense lawyer claiming it was Jodi Arias and not her murdered ex-boyfriend who was the victim in their volatile romance. Psychotherapist Alice Laviolette took the stand yesterday to discuss various forms of abuse and isolation in relationships. Here is what the defense expert told the court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALICE LAVIOLETTE, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Isolation doesn't have to be as obvious as you never get to see anybody that you care about. Isolation can be that are you not talking to anybody what's going on in your life. That's common in domestically violent relationships. Because they want people to like their partner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: If she's found guilty of killing Travis Alexander, Arias faces a possible death sentence.

New developments this morning in the murder of a 13-month-old Georgia baby boy. The mother and aunt of one of the teens charged in the case have now been arrested. They are accused of making false statements, this is according to an official complaint. The women have been released on bond. Two teenage boys are accused of shooting the baby to death to last week. The child's mother saying they tried to rob her before firing at her child.

(CROSSTALK)

Four big-name senators part of the so-called "Gang of Eight" who are working on immigration reform legislation will hold a press conference on border security Nogales, Arizona. This will happen right after their tour of the Arizona/Mexico boarder. The bipartisan group consists of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Republican Senator Jeff Flake also of Arizona and Colorado's Democratic Senator Michael Bennett.

A neighbor of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber is accusing the singer of, quote, "battery and threats." Los Angeles officials are investigating a confrontation Tuesday morning outside Bieber's home in Calabasas, California. A member of the entertainer's security team says the neighbor entered Bieber's property and words were exchanged, but there was no physical contact. Officials are deciding whether charges should be filed.

An uninvited guest at a five-star resort in southern California. A rescue crew from Seaworld was called after, a malnourished, dehydrated sea lion decided it needed a little place to relax. Human guests didn't seem to mind him too much. The pup is resting comfortably at Seaworld this morning. He was really was just hanging out on the chair. And he didn't freak out. People were figuring out what to do with him, calling authorities and the like. And he just sat on the chair.

O'BRIEN: Probably because he was dehydrated, probably ugh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need a massage.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Ain't no credit card, just chilling in the lobby.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Speaking of animals, shall we transition to Punxsutawney Phil? A bit of a credibility problem. Had it for a little while now. He predicted an early spring back in February. And then of course, much of the country hit by cold temperatures and snow, and we're in spring already. Cool temperatures across the country this morning. Butler County, Ohio, prosecutor was so mad about the long winter, he indicted Phil for fraud. He has apparently dropped the charges since then.

But where is Phil? Joining us from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is Phil, the groundhog, the president of the Groundhog Club is Bill Deeley, he's with him too, and Ron is Phil's handler. Nice to have you with us, Bill, we'll all jump in and start with you. I guess the legal hatchet hanging over your necks going away the prosecutor has decided he's going to drop that lawsuit. But are you feeling bad? Feeling guilty? Everyone in the country is blaming you?

BILL DEELEY, PRESIDENT, GROUNDHOG CLUB: Well, we're feeling a sense of relief. Truly nobody wanted to go to jail. I don't want to go to jail, Phil didn't want to go to jail. So we're relieved it's over. Not Phil's fault, guys. It's my fault. I'm the guy, and I goofed. I totally made a mistake. You got to give me credit for making a mistake. For owning up to it or whatever.

O'BRIEN: If you could see how Phil is looking at you. Look how Phil is looking at you while you are saying that. He is staring at you in the head. He is - how is it your fault? Explain that to us.

(LAUGHTER)

DEELEY: Well, as the president of the Groundhog Club, we are given this Arcadian cane and it's passed down from generation to generation, president to president, and with this cane, it gives us the power to speak in Groundhogese, and what has happened is all Phil is saying to me is "stupid, stupid, stupid." I told you and I didn't get it. I'm shivering here right now, Phil's shivering here right now. It's cold in Punxsutawney, we can't wait until it gets warm.

MARTIN: Have they started impeachment proceedings against you as president? I was in Detroit Monday. Snowing, 30, and it's almost April. Bill, I think you should do the nation a favor and actually resign.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Oh!

DEELEY: Well, I'll be truthful, we had no school here in Punxsutawney on Monday because there was a snowstorm. Two weeks ago, they elected me as president for another year. I did hear at the coffee shop there was an impeachment process being thought of. So far, it hasn't happened. Now I know what Bill Clinton feels like.

ROMANS: This I think is a coverup. I have to say I think you're taking the wrap for a really bad forecast, and economic and stock market forecasters around the country getting nervous about how much grief the world is giving Punxsutawney Phil. What do you think about the Ohio prosecutor and his original contention, maybe it was time for Punxsutawney Phyllis, maybe a woman could do the job better next year?

O'BRIEN: Throwing down the gauntlet for a feminist cause.

DEELEY: We're still male chauvinist here in Punxsutawney.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: The apology only goes so far.

DEELEY: We definitely were upset with the prosecutor when he said that the death penalty. You know, maybe he was punishing us by making a trip to Ohio to greet some folks out there. Because Ohio is not one of those good states anyway.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Oh. He can come right back. You know, he had moved on. He had moved on. You never want to make a prosecutor angry.

MARTIN: An electoral college battle there, Pennsylvania/Ohio.

O'BRIEN: Well, Phil and Bill, and Ron, we thank you so much for being with us. I'm glad that you are off the hook, litigation wise. I'm confident you are going to figure it out for next year.

MARTIN: Impeach Bill!

O'BRIEN: Hopefully the impeachment calls will die down as well. Nice to have you this morning. We appreciate it.

DEELEY: Thank you very much for having both Phil, Ron, and I on the show. Thank you from Punxsutawney. O'BRIEN: You bet. My kids at home are like, oh, my God, that was the best thing ever. My mom interviewed a groundhog.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: What am I doing?

O'BRIEN: But my kids are saying my mom interviewed a groundhog. That was awesome.

CHRIS FRATES, REPORTER, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": I'm with Christine on the cover-up. I think he's taking the fall.

JOE SOLMONESE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, GAVIN/SOLMONESE:: I am more fascinated with Phil now.

O'BRIEN: Ahead on STARTING POINT. As we move back to the Supreme Court taking up the Defense of Marriage Act. Could they change the definition of marriage in this country? We're going to discuss that up next.

Plus, actress Julia Stiles is preparing for the end of the world literally in her new comedy, called "The Disaster."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIA STILES, ACTOR, "THE DISASTER": I never went scuba diving, never went to the ballet, never been in love. I have never even watched "The Wire."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Julia Stiles, up next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: In about 90 minutes, the Supreme Court is going to take on DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act. We'll talk about it with the panel. It's interesting, yesterday we heard about same-sex marriage, Prop 8 in California and Jeff Toobin said he left listening to that conversation more confused and he's made a couple of bad calls as he would admit. Not always 100 percent right. But he seemed to say it was unclear what they were going to do in this DOMA, which is what they are hearing today.

SOLMONESE: It, I think, was seemingly unclear what they are going to do about yesterday's case, because there are multiple questions before them; - the question of standing, whether they should have been there arguing the case, and then of course the complex question around Proposition 8, and the many different outcomes that they could have from marriage all across this country to a narrow ruling which might reinstate marriage in California. Todayls question --

O'BRIEN: About the federal --

SOLMONESE: Much more straightforward, which is in states where marriage is already legal, the nine states plus the District, ought there be federal benefits conveyed to folks in those states?

O'BRIEN" What has been the argument against that?

SOLMONESE: There wasn't much of an argument, quite frankly, yesterday in the court against the question of marriage equality generally. That they were debating yesterday. But there is not -- really, it's a rather straight-forward question, and it is only limited to the states where same-sex marriage is legal right now.

O'BRIEN: Right and it's about legal benefits.

(CROSSTALK)

SOLMONESE: So it's difficult to make an argument against it. And I think the important part, a lot of people don't realize that the sort of things we're talking about, the kinds of safety net that marriage provides when you are at your most vulnerable, Social Security survivor benefits. Estate tax issues, those are the sort of federal benefits that are conveyed with marriage and the sort of benefits, folks even in a state like New York or D.C, where I live, where marriage is legal, that we still don't have access to it.

MARTIN: And the thing about yesterday, when you listen to the analysts, all the different angles and the pieces. And you look at Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg when she gave the speech a couple of months ago, when she talked about how the court may have actually gone too far with Roe v. wade and how all of these things somehow are factoring into their decision making. Do they get too far ahead of the public? Do they say, wait a minute, let the states decide this a little bit longer, we come down later. Then you have Alito saying we are not elected, we are nine justices making this decision. Because look Brown vs. Board of Education was decided in '54, almost 60 years later, we're still trying to talk about equality in public education. The legal arguments are very interesting, and that's why I don't think anybody can figure out what the decision is going to be based on the questions yesterday.

FRATES: I think you have to be careful today when are you watching arguments. Because we saw so many questions yesterday, and analysts and I just remember -- I wrote a piece yesterday -- when we had healthcare reform, we had the "New York Times" saying it looks like healthcare reform is in peril, Jeffrey Toobin said individual mandates are doomed, and all those things were upheld.

O'BRIEN: Predictions (ph) aren't necessarily insight into the direction that they're going to go.

SOLMONESE: And all across the spectrum of justices, there were a lot of questions about children and the consequences of children in same- sex relationships. What I think was lost in the conversation yesterday is that this social safety net of marriage really is about protecting all stakeholders in the relationship and marriage is something that really protects children, just as it protects men and women as they enter into the relationship.

O'BRIEN: You want to be sure to watch CNN on Saturday for a special. It's called the -- it is called "THE MARRIAGE WARRIORS". It's "Showdown at the Supreme Court". Sorry, I can't read, it profiles two former rivals who've teamed up now to fight for same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court. CNN's Gloria Borger got exclusive access to them as they prepare to fight and face the Justices. That's on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, it's the end of the world, but being punctual still matters to Julia Stiles. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's (inaudible) out here.

STILES: Well maybe you should learn to show up to things on time. Huh?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It's her new dark comedy, it's called "It's a Disaster", you're watching STARTING POINT, we're back with that conversation, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

It is Sunday brunch, and the world is about to end. That is basically the premise of a new movie called "It's a Disaster". It's a dark comedy and it stars Julia Stiles and David Cross who portray a group of 30-something friends at an obligatory couples brunch. Awkward moments abound like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CROSS, ACTOR: Who -- who is this other guy in the picture with Tracy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Roger.

CROSS: That is Roger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So the couples eventually learn they are in the middle of a chemical attack. The movie opens in theaters on April 12 and Julia Stiles joins us to talk more about it.

I know that the director said he wanted each character to sort of portray a stage of grief. Which stage is Tracy in this?

STILES: I think he told me that I was denial. But I think I feel like, I feel like he told everybody that we were denial. Because they're all -- everyone has their own little crazy moments of distracting themselves with mundane things. Or whatever problems they're having in their relationships as opposed to really confronting the idea that they're -- the world is about to end. O'BRIEN: It's a kind of a crazy premise to do a comedy about what is serious I mean, the serious threat on the outside. It's not the joke, which is the chemical attack. Like that's happening and then it's what's happening inside the house that everybody is reacting to it that becomes very hilarious. How weird was it to balance those two things?

STILES: The -- I just thought it was hilarious. Like most of the guys in the movie are more concerned of the fact that they can't get the football game on TV. And yes just the idea that like all the technology is gone and they are -- refuse to come to terms with -- I mean, it's an abstract idea, the idea of like a dirty bomb going on outside, going off outside. But it's more about the people inside the house than what's going on outside.

O'BRIEN: Your character starts to freak out about all of the things that she has not had an opportunity to do. And I should say that the guy you're with is kind of a relatively new --

STILES: I play the perpetual singleton.

O'BRIEN: Yes so let's play a little bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. Yes.

CROSS: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you and Tracy meet?

CROSS: Online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you holding up?

STILES: You know, I never went to Europe. Never. Not once. I never even went to Montreal, which I hear is very European. I never went scuba diving. I never went to the ballet. I have never been in love. I've never even watched "The Wire".

CROSS: All of those things are overrated. Except for "The Wire". It's really good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Did you guys crack up through the entire -- I mean there are so many great lines in this film.

STILES: It's the kind of thing where I feel like if you watch the second time, there are even more funny one liners, but also David Cross, I mean I'm such a huge fan and he's a -- it's really hard to improvise with him too, because like I had a really hard time keeping a straight face in any scene that I was doing with him.

O'BRIEN: So none of that was improvised?

MARTIN: All written?

STILES: That scene I think all written. But there was a lot of improvisation in other scenes.

O'BRIEN: And you're just cracking up through the entire thing.

STILES: Yes. Like totally ruining takes and inappropriately messing up.

MARTIN: Do you like being able to do that? Some folks, you know, they like being rigid. This is what I want to read in the script, whereas others say, look, I love the freedom to be able just to add stuff and go with it.

STILES: I like -- it's like Todd Berger, our director, had so many great lines that we wanted to keep, like the structure of a scene and get to a punch line, but within we could improvise a little bit. So there was a structure, which was not as like overwhelming, the pressure's on to make the entire scene funny.

CHRIS FRATES, REPORTER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: So how do you -- do you have any tips for people for not laughing inappropriately? As a professional.

O'BRIEN: It's all about you.

SOLMONESE: What was your initial reaction to the subject when you first got the script?

STILES: Well, I had worked -- Todd Berger, the writer and director and a bunch of the other guys in the movie I had been friends with and we did a few like short videos together and then Todd sent me the script and I was laughing out loud when I was reading it. He has a very specific, very clever sense of humor that I just really appreciated. And so immediately I was like, yes, I totally want to be part of this.

O'BRIEN: The whole thing done in one house.

STILES: One house, yes.

O'BRIEN: Yes, so is that weird? I mean how --

STILES: It was really good for me, because I have navigational problems, so driving to work every day was easy. I knew exactly where I was going.

O'BRIEN: You can't get through a scene without laughing. You can't actually make it to the set without getting lost.

STILES: Exactly. No. And it was actually really great because instead of having trailers, we would like have our downtime in the house across the street, which happened to be the house that Marvin Gaye died in interestingly enough.

O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Well the movie is called "It's a Disaster". And it is hilarious.

Julia Stiles, nice to have you with us to talk about it.

STILES: Great to be here.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate it.

We have to take a break. "End Point" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Time for "End Point". Roland, you want to start us off?

MARTIN: Yes. I have nothing to talk about today. Last night Shaka Kahn celebrated her 60th birthday party. It was fabulous. She looks fabulous.

O'BRIEN: How great did she look?

MARTIN: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: Oh my God.

MARTIN: She's wonderful (inaudible) Billboard put her on the cover.

O'BRIEN: 100 days of Shaka Kahn.

MARTIN: This is her third party. She had one in L.A., one in Miami and so we enjoyed the one last night.

O'BRIEN: All leading up to the 40th anniversary of her first album.

MARTIN: Absolutely. Fabulous. Shaka Kahn, way to go.

O'BRIEN: Happy birthday, Shaka. What have you got for us?

FRATES: Not as fun as Shaka Kahn. But everybody will be watching the Supreme Court. I'm going to be watching Arizona and those four senators who are down there talking about immigration reform. See if they're going to make any news. Are they going to come back to Washington with a plan? Are we going to see something happen after this?

O'BRIEN: What do you think?

FRATES: I think we will see something start to happen when they come back next week after their Easter and Passover recess.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right. What's your "End Point"?

SOLMONESE: And I'll continue to watch the Supreme Court while you're watching that. And I predict that we are going to continue to see a long parade of unconventional characters coming forward in support of marriage equality. Particularly more Republicans.

O'BRIEN: You do?

SOLMONESE: I do. I do because I think that --

O'BRIEN: Republican-elected officials. Because if you think about, right, you have Rob Portman who really talked about his son. And then you -- we heard from Karl Rove, right? Who kind of stepped back a little bit -- I wouldn't say he necessarily did a big endorsement.

SOLMONESE: Today, it's been retired folks, Kristy Todd Whitman and others.

(CROSSTALK)

SOLMONESE: But look, I think that it is going to become impossible to do the math to get elected nationwide in this country with young people without somehow figuring out how to resolve that.

O'BRIEN: Interesting to watch Supreme Court and Arizona and Shaka Kahn.

MARTIN: I'll watch Shaka.

O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning, everybody.

CAROLS COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", same- sex marriage front and center.