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On the Set of "Mad Men"; "Liking" Facebook's Latest Toy; After Newtown, a New Law; Meat Labeling Examined; Mysterious New Bird Flu Proving Deadly; Bitcoin ATMs Are Coming Soon

Aired April 4, 2013 - 16:30   ET



You may have noticed I'm not sitting at my anchor desk, I'm actually at the desk of Don Draper, ad man extraordinaire and the main character in the hit AMC TV show "Mad Men."

Millions of fans have been eagerly awaiting the premiere of the sixth and second to last season of the TV show. We were given a rare opportunity to visit the set and talk to the creator and some of the actors and, well, we filed this report.



TAPPER (voice-over): It's been a long ten months since we left Don Draper at the bar. But this Sunday, millions will return to the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for the season's sixth premiere of "Mad Men" on AMC. The series creator, Matthew Weiner, invited us to come early.

(on camera): So we're sitting in Don Draper's office and it is unbelievably detailed. The whole set is incredible.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You two are actually working.

TAPPER (voice-over): More than tried the team behind "Mad Men" meticulously researches every vintage detail of Don Draper's environment. It can get a little crazy.

(on camera): Actually have a job sheet?


TAPPER: You actually -- why is this necessary?

WEINER: For me, it goes back to the idea of the empty suitcases. Like growing up and watching people on TV and movies, actors pick up suitcases to leave and seeing they were empty.

I always thought like the actors can tell they're empty and they know they're not going anywhere and maybe because I'm not an actor and I don't know how they use their imagination to create three dimensional space I wanted the set to be detailed always.

TAPPER (voice-over): The details matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.

TAPPER: Since it premiered in 2007, "Mad Men" has received 15 Emmy awards and four Golden Globes and it changed the game for AMC paving the way for the high brow scripted series now taking over cable TV.

WEINER: I feel very lucky to be working in television right now. There is none of it without "The Sopranos" that really was both the creative and the business model. And in fact AMC was very consciously trying to recreate that business model when they bought "Mad Men." You know, it felt like an HBO show to everyone but HBO actually.

TAPPER (on camera): Do you -- has HBO ever expressed regret for passing on the show?

WEINER: Yes, yes they did.

TAPPER (voice-over): What a story they've missed, heavy drinking, heavy petting and heavy drama have kept viewers tuned in to a bygone era of boys clubs.

(on camera): Last season, we saw real changes with the women characters.


TAPPER: Joan prostituted herself.

WEINER: Yes. I don't know if it was anymore prostituting herself than Pete telling American Airlines his father had died on that plane. You know, I don't want to take away at all what Joan did. It is a tough thing to do and a story based on reality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, girls, come on in.

TAPPER: How worried or concerned or aware are you when you're writing for your women characters about them not just being Joan and Megan and Peggy, but them being symbolic of women in general?

WEINER: That is a really good question. I don't want the characters to ever be symbolic in general. Did women have it harder? Yes. Were there women pioneers? Yes. Were there exceptions to every rule? Yes.

How did someone succeed in that world? I think the show resonates because things are not that different. I don't want to give a history lesson. I want people to know that these people could be their mothers.

TAPPER (voice-over): But the dark heart of "Mad Men" is mysterious, womanizing ad man Don Draper.

(on camera): The last line from the last season is, are you alone? WEINER: Yes.

TAPPER: Is he alone? Is Don Draper alone? Is this what the show is about?

WEINER: I think it's a big part of his life, yes. And the ambiguity of that statement after we've seen this man having found love and seeming less alone. I think, you know, there is an existential quality to him as a hero.

TAPPER (voice-over): An existential quality that will soon come to an end.

(on camera): So this is going to be the second to the last season.



WEINER: No one asks me that.

TAPPER: I'm enjoying it? It's going well? There doesn't seem to be any compelling reason to end it any time soon.

WEINER: I feel like, you know, first of all it's exhausting. I need a break, but the reality of it is that the show has a life span. It is mortal. You really want to end it before you have exceeded the ability to tell the story.

TAPPER (voice-over): Weiner has thought a lot about endings including the finale of "The Sopranos." A show he used to write for in which viewers were kept in the dark literally as to whether the family got whacked.

WEINER: To me it was so provocative and such a great model of how to deal with entertainment.

TAPPER (on camera): Please tell me you're not going to end "Mad Men" the way "The Sopranos" ended.

WEINER: If I had thought of it I would, but it has been done so I will not.

TAPPER: I don't need to know how Don Draper dies, but if the show is about this existential question, am I alone, can I ever be happy, those questions, there needs to be a hint at the end.

WEINER: I am going to try to use the machinery of my show to give a satisfying ending.


WEINER: I promise.

TAPPER: I've just devoted a lot of time to this.

WEINER: The idea that people wouldn't like it would bother me.


WEINER: If people had their way the first season Joan and Peggy would be living together. Joan would have given Peggy a makeover. They'd be best friends and you'd be bored. Leave them wanting more.

TAPPER (voice-over): This Sunday the "Mad Men" premiere is two hours long. Weiner calls it a movie to wet the fans' appetites.

WEINER: There is a sense that someone like Don and seeing the world through Don's eyes who is now 40 is going to become out of touch and is really the story for all of the characters all sort of moving toward some kind of hopefully reconciliation with who they are. But there is quite a fire to watch.

TAPPER (on camera): I can't wait.

WEINER: Does that sound juicy?


TAPPER: Of course, we can't talk about the new season of "Mad Men" without mentioning the worst kept secret in town including a season in Hawaii. Let the speculation begin.

There was not enough for Facebook to take over your life. Now it wants to take over your phone literally. Mark Zuckerberg reveals Facebook Home. What is it? Our "National Lead" is next.


TAPPER: Our "National Lead," break out the hoodie. Mark Zuckerberg is back. The Facebook founder and billionaire, remember ladies he is married, presented his company's latest product and all its PowerPoint glory. Is it a phone?

No, not really. It's an operating system, a feature for Android phones. Basically your friends on Facebook will be able to bombard your home screen with their vacation photos starting on April 12th. It's called "Home" and Mark Zuckerberg thinks it will change your life.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: I think that this can start to be a change in the relationship that we have with how we use these computing devices.


TAPPER: For the 650 million people who use Facebook on their phones is this a game changer? What about those who like to use their phone for something other than Facebook?

Joining me now Farhad Manjoo, he covered the event for as their technology columnist. Farhad, explain this to me. What is this and do I really need it?

FARHAD MANJOO, SLATE TECHNOLOGY COLUMNIST: Yes. So it's not a phone. People for years have been waiting for a Facebook phone. This is basically a new home screen for your Android phone and it's a home screen that makes Facebook kind of front and center on your phone.

So you'll turn on your phone after you install this and the first thing you'll see are vacation photos from your friends on Facebook or status updates. Basically you'll see Facebook. So you need it. If you are a huge fan of Facebook and if that's the thing you use your Android phone for more than anything else.

And you've always wished for an easier way to get to Facebook other than clicking the app then you'll love this. If you use your phone for other things, occasionally finding yourself doing things like e- mail or phoning people then this might not be for you.

TAPPER: It doesn't sound like something I am going to run me personally and download. Are you going to download it and use it?

MANJOO: I think I'll download it to try it out. I too am unsure if I want Facebook to be the central thing on my phone, but I think that there are probably tens or maybe hundreds of millions of people who are that way. Facebook is a hugely popular mobile app.

As you said, there are 650 million people who use it and for a lot of people it's the main thing they do on their phone. According to Facebook their engagement numbers are off the charts. People spend hours on it every month.

And that's more than anything else they do on their phones. For some subset of people, maybe younger people, maybe people who, you know, don't use their phone for work that much, this could be, you know, the great thing for them.

TAPPER: All right, Farhad Manjoo, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

MANJOO: Yes, thanks.

TAPPER: Last night, at a-no-cameras allowed Democratic fundraiser in San Francisco President Obama misstated the kind of weapon used in the Sandy Hook shooting advocating for stricter gun control the president said, quote, "It is possible for us to create common sense gun safety measures that respect the traditions of gun ownership in this country and hunters and sportsmen, but also make sure we don't have another 20 children in a classroom gunned down by a semiautomatic weapon -- by a fully automatic weapon in that case, sadly."

That is not correct. It was a semiautomatic weapon not a fully automatic weapon. Most fully automatic weapons, machine guns, are essentially banned to the public. When asked for an explanation, the White House said the president misspoke. This is not the first time a leading advocate for gun control has stumbled on the facts.

Here is New York City Mayor Bloomberg on ABC's "Nightline" just after the Sandy Hook tragedy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that would ban most pistols.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Pistols are different. You have to pull the trigger each time. An assault weapon you basically hold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, those are fully automatic weapons.



TAPPER: The gun debate is worth having and we'll have that conversation on the show. We have had it. We will continue to. It might help the advocates of gun control if in their advocacy for stricter measures they seemed more familiar with what exactly they're trying to ban.

Washington continues to wrestle with the question of what to do about gun violence, the governor of Connecticut just put pen to paper signing a sweeping new bill into law today. It outlaws more than 100 types of guns and prohibits the sale or purchase of high capacity magazines like those used in the Newtown shooting. It also bans armor piercing bullets. Advocates call the bill historic. Critics say it only infringes on the rights of people who already obey the law.

Your friends can get away with it on Facebook, but once your ground beef starts over sharing, it might be time to draw the line. The USDA is getting criticized by some groups for approving a move to put new labels on meat sold in the U.S.

The labels include information on where an animal was born, where it was raised, where it was slaughtered. THE LEAD's Erin McPike is here to explain the points of all this and why some groups are against it. Too much information maybe, no? Why do people want to do this?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Maybe. But it's all over a trade battle that's been going on for the past couple years. Some of our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, have been accusing the United States of protectionism for the last few years, but it's all over just a few words of fine print that you may never pay attention to anyway.


MCPIKE (voice-over): How carefully do you read the label on that package of ground round or pork chops when you grab it at a grocery store?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not getting this.

MCPIKE: If a new regulation goes through soon you'll be able to tell where that cow was raised and even where it was slaughtered. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it really matters. We don't know what was happening in Australia or New Zealand or how it was killed in the U.S. We just know it's here on the shelf, ready to go.

MCPIKE: The new labels are the product of a battle between American farmers and the larger meat industry. Before this new rule, meat raised in, say, Mexico could be labeled as a product of the USA simply because it was processed here in America. But do consumers really want this much information?

BILL WILSON, TRADE POLICY ANALYST, CATO ORGANIZATION: I think consumers want affordable meat. Sometimes they want particular information. They want safe meat. They might care about how the animal was raised, if it was done ethically. Some people really care about that. Some people do care about the origin of the meat. But it's just not a very large group of people.

MCPIKE: But the meat industry says the move is unnecessary, expensive, and ultimately costly to consumers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would take more beef out of the system is going to cost consumers more. Not only that, it's probably going to cost American workers jobs. Because we will lose production facilities in certain parts of the country because there won't be enough cattle to keep those plants operating.

MCPIKE: The Department of Agriculture estimates the move will cost the industry between $17 million and $48 million and will create greater transparency for consumers. But don't expect to see the labels outside of the supermarket. Restaurants including fast food chains like McDonald's are still exempt from telling you where your meat was born and raised.


MCPIKE: Now the Department of Agriculture is reviewing this and it may go into effect by the end of May if they decide they're going to go forward with it. Jake, you say we're learning things on this show every day.

And I will say to you that today in the grocery store I learned that so much of the meat on the shelves comes from Argentina and Australia and Uruguay and I pretty much always assume the red meat I buy is from Nebraska. Don't you? Guess not.

TAPPER: I mean, it seems it will be a short distance I would think, a shorter distance. But then again I didn't know that all the fruit we thought we eat comes from China, also. Who knows? Interesting report. Erin McPike, thank you.

A mysterious strain of bird flu is sickening and killing people in China and the scariest part, they have no idea how these people got sick. That's our "Buried Lead." It's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Time for our "Buried Lead." There is a new virus that is so far infecting few people, but the results are very deadly. A fifth person has died in Eastern China from a new strain of bird flu. It's called H7N9.

Fourteen people have been confirmed to be infected, all in China. Frighteningly enough that's all we know about the latest virus that right now has a 36 percent fatality rate.

Joining me now is Laurie Garret. She is a senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Laurie, thank you so much for joining us. There's clearly a lot we don't know. Why is it so concerning and what do you want to know that we still don't know?

LAURIE GARRETT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: There are many things I want to know, but there are two big ones. One is what is the denominator and the second is exactly how are these people getting infected?

So the denominator question is whenever you have a brand new outbreak the first people you see are the ones that are the most ill, the ones that are terminal. They show up in hospitals. They're severe cases.

What you don't know immediately is, well, OK. Those are the severe cases, but how many people are mildly infected or, in fact, infected with no symptoms at all? In 2009 in Mexico City, we made the mistake of thinking that the flu epidemic we were about to experience, the famous swine flu, was, you know, a super killer flu because all of the hospital emergency rooms got filled with the severe cases.

Then it turned out for every severe case you had 10,000 mild cases and all of a sudden we realized we didn't have as bad a flu as we thought. In this incident we have a small number of very critical cases with a very high percentage of death, about 50 percent.

What we don't know is does that reflect the denominator or, you know, is it less severe than we think? And the second is how did they get infected? Now, all signs right at the moment are pointing to pigeons.

Maybe pigeons are the silent carriers -- harmlessly to the birds of this virus. But we're not sure and nobody has identified a mechanism. How do you get it from the pigeons? How exactly did this happen?

TAPPER: You mentioned pigeons, but you also mention swine flu and on the subject of swine, I'm wondering, there have been all these reports of hundreds of dead pigs found in the Shanghai River around the same time. Is there any chance this is related at all to this outbreak?

GARRETT: Well, of course, the authorities say they've tested 34 carcasses of the some 20,000 dead pigs that floated in the Wongfu River and those 34 all tested negative. Some of the initial genetic analysis of the new h7n9 virus indicates it has mammalian elements in it, which is hard to imagine how that could have happened unless the virus passed from birds through the pigs through a mammal species of some sort. The coincidence remains profound and there is a Hongkong team that's just arrived in Shanghai, top, cracker jack flu experts, and I know this is one of the issues they're going to look at.

TAPPER: Laurie, very quickly, how concerned should Americans be right now?

GARRETT: Well, I don't think America should be on any kind of alert. We're still very early stages in this. What we want to know and I'm sure I can say to the American people that they can be confident of this, is that our federal health authorities are keeping a close watch on the situation in China, trying to be ahead of the game so that if -- if we have a case that turns up in the United States we're ready with the right diagnostics, the right response capacity.

TAPPER: All right, Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, thank you.

GARRETT: You bet.

TAPPER: There is always money in the banana stand. Did you get that reference? Then you must be as excited as my producers that the show "Arrested Development" is back.

And Netflix which is bringing the original content forward is finally telling us when. That's our "Money Lead" and it's next.


TAPPER: The "Money Lead." A lot of people don't know the difference between bit coins and monopoly money, but soon you might find yourself withdrawing bit coins from an ATM just like cash. For those of you mastering online banking a bit coin is a new kind of virtual coin used to buy and sell stuff online.

Usually it is not a physical commodity, but these would let you convert them to cash and vice versa. Plans are in the works to bring the first bit coin ATMs to Los Angeles and Cyprus, which makes kind of sense since the banks there helped with the bit coin boom.

Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one screening service that brought them back for a second chance. Netflix today announced that the brand new season of "Arrested Development" will debut on May 26. All 15 episodes will be available at once for your binging pleasure.

The last time we saw the Bluth family was in 2006 when Fox canceled the show because of poor ratings, but it has developed an iconic status and enough fans have been clamoring for more.

Hash tag you're it. We asked you to send titles for Hillary Clinton's new book. May I present your best efforts, 50 shades of pantsuits, Likeable enough. Put in a bill and all I received was some change, the story of the 2008 primary. That's pretty good.

That does it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I now leave you in the able hands of my friend Wolf Blitzer. He is next door to me in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Take it away -- Wolf.