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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Mother Versus Son in Mayorial Election; Interview with Halle Berry & Michael Kors on Battling World Hunger; Remembering the Bataan Death March; Truman Capote's Iconic Novella

Aired April 9, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. Let's get you started this morning.

BERMAN: Happening right now, it is a lovely beautiful spring-like day here in New York, but we are not going to go out too much, because out west, it's states (ph) wild, wild weather, having huge portion of the country, wondering what the heck is going on here. We're talking about gusty winds and fires in California, tornadoes, even hail in Kansas, and then the biggie, snow, lots of it, snarling traffic on the highways and in the air.

Reports at Denver International has canceled some 300 flights already this morning. Jennifer Delgado is tracking the system for us. And Jennifer, you know, what's going on here?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it takes a lot when Denver cancels flights with snow across that region. What's going on here is basically a classic spring setup. We have two air masses and it is causing snow on the north side as well as severe weather. That's going to be arriving later today. We talk about some of the snowfall totals -- a foot of snowfall possible for areas including South Dakota, Nebraska, as well as into Colorado.

In fact, we still do have blizzard warnings in place. Anywhere you're seeing in red (ph), some of those are going to last through tomorrow, and that means we're going to be dealing with very gusty winds. Some wind gusts up to about 40 to 50 miles per hour. That is going to reduce visibility.

Now, the snow right now still coming down through parts of Colorado as well as really good through South Dakota as well as that wintry mix, and then some rain on the warm side is spreading even into parts of Chicago. As we go through the afternoon, we are going to see storms firing up and some have the potential to produce tornadoes anywhere in red, from Oklahoma down toward Texas. That is our greatest risk. And we're also talking a lot of big cities as well in the slight risk category, including St. Louis, both Kansas City all the way down to parts of Texas and that means, along with the tornadoes, we could also see some damaging winds and some large hail. And you just showed some of that video of the hail coming out of Kansas yesterday. More of that could arrive.

Very warm temperatures, guys, that's the plus side for parts of the south and east. Temperatures near 80 degrees. But look how cold, 16 degrees in Denver.

BERMAN: We're 60 degrees warmer than it is Denver right now.

ROMANS: Like that.

BERMAN: Jennifer Delgaod, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Zoraida Sambolin has the rest of the morning's top stories. Good morning, Zoraida.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Good morning to you. And this just in to CNN: Iran getting rocked by a powerful earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 6.3 quake struck in central Iran. The epicenter is said to be about 60 miles away from the country's key nuclear facility in Bushehr. No word yet on any casualties or on any damage there.

And CNN has confirmed, the Center for Disease Control has opened up their emergency operations center in Atlanta. They're doing so to better monitor and coordinate a response to China's bird flu situation. So as we speak, they are working with Chinese officials on the early stages of a potential vaccine.

And it's tragedy at a weekend cookout in Lebanon, Tennessee. A 4- year-old boy accidentally shooting and killing the wife of a sheriff's deputy. State police say Wilson County deputy Daniel Fanning was showing off his gun collection to a relative and he did not see his 4- year-old nephew enter the room. The boy took a loaded gun off a bed and it went off, killing 47-year-oldo Josephine Fanning. No charges have been filed there.

And lawyers for the National Football League will be in a Philadelphia courtroom today. They are trying to convince a federal judge to dismiss hundreds of cases brought against the NFL by more than 4,000 former players. The players accuse the league of hiding information from them about the dangers of head trauma. They want the NFL to pay for a medical monitoring system for all players, along with monetary damages.

And a kindergartner is missing a lot of school because of his haircut. Keshia Castle says his (sic) 5-year-old, Ethan, was sent home Monday and can't come back until he gets a different haircut. School officials say the hairdo caused a disturbance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KESHIA CASTLE, MOTHER: I'm going to have to go take him to go get it shaved because obviously he has to go to school. I'm already going to a mediation because he's missed a few days of school.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The superintendent says the hairstyle was a distraction for students and that it also violates district rules.

BERMAN: Can't he just comb it differently? There's got to be a way to get the kid back in school.

SAMBOLIN: District rules?

ROMANS: What's wrong with a mohawk?

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely nothing, you would think, right? If your kid wanted one, you would be OK with it, right? So should the school.

ROMANS: They say all politics is local. In the town of Dixmoor, Illinois, they're taking it one step further. A mother and son rather are running against each other today to be the town's next mayor. There they are. Wendy Casey and her son Randall, they live in the same house.

BERMAN: And they are running against each other. This is really serious business for the citizens of Dixmoor. The town is in dire financial straits; it has problems making payroll. It even is having trouble finding money to fill the gas tanks in its squad cars.

So joining me now is one of the candidates, the mother in this case, Wendy Casey. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. And I think the first question -- I mean, there are a lot of questions I think everybody has about this -- but how did this come to pass that both a mother and a son decided to run for the same office?

WENDY CASEY, RUNNING FOR MAYOR, DIXMOOR, IL: I don't know. I decided to run four years ago, after the re-election of the current mayor. And my son had, two years prior, he decided to run for trustee as a write-in candidate. He did not win. So he knew I was running, and, you know, it really came to the point in September that I really knew that he was serious when he began to start collecting signatures.

ROMANS: And so here you are, faced with running against your son. You have to prove you are the better candidate. That can make it complicated around the house, I can imagine, because he is your son, and you raised him, but you want to convince everyone that you're the better candidate to run the town.

CASEY: Exactly. It's been very hard in the house. You know, we just say good morning and good evening. This morning, I actually told him good morning, and good luck, and may the best woman win.

BERMAN: That's nice. That's nice. I'm sure he appreciated that. But you guys are getting along OK?

CASEY: We'll be okay after the polls close today at 7:00.

BERMAN: This is a serious matter, though. I mean, this town, Dixmoor, is having a really, really tough time here. There are a lot of serious issues. Do you worry that having a mother and a son running for the same race is a distraction from what really are some serious problems in this town? CASEY: Well, the majority of the residents, they know who I am; they're very familiar with me. They're familiar with my name. The work that I have done with the PTA for a little over 13 years, and they know that I'm serious. They know, for me, this is not a joke. And this is -- it's quite serious because, like you said, our community really needs help. And our residents, it has gotten to the point where residents, they just do not want to come out and vote because they're not instructing the current elected officials, you know, based upon the lies, broken promises. And they're frustrated; they're frustrated and it hurts. It really hurts.

ROMANS: Well, Wendy Casey, you know, no matter what happens at the end of the day when the polls close, we hope that maybe your 16-year- old daughter can be the mediator in the middle to make sure everyone is happy no matter what, on tomorrow or the day after.

Wendy Casey, thank you so much for joining us. Dixmoor, Illinois, is the election. Nice to see you.

BERMAN: You know, we invited the son to come on too. He decided to pass on this. So there you go. Not getting along perfectly well in that house. We'll see how it turns out.

Thirty-seven minutes after the hour right now and Oscar-winner Halle Berry has teamed up with celebrity designer Michael Kors for the United Nations World Food Program, raising awareness and cash to help fight global hunger.

ROMANS: The two sat down with CNN's Alina Cho in an exclusive interview just after the actress confirmed she is pregnant with her second child.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I feel fantastic. This has been the biggest surprise of my life, to tell you the truth.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really?

BERRY: I was kind of past the point where this could be a reality for me, so it's been a big surprise and the most wonderful.

CHO: Is it a boy?

BERRY: I don't know. I don't know. But healthy. Healthy, that's on my mind.

CHO: Halle, as a mother , what does it mean to be involved with the UN World Food Program?

BERRY: Especially, being a pregnant woman and already having a child, it's so important what happens to the baby while they are in utero. And the first 100 days is fundamental. Good nutrition during that time period is fundamental for your baby to develop properly and normally. CHO: Michael, I know that you've been involved with fighting hunger for a very long time on the local level and now the United Nations. Why is this so near and dear to you?

MICHAEL KORS, FASHION DESIGNER/ACTIVIST: I'm a guy who likes to see results. And, you know, you see that this is a solvable problem. The food is there; you can change someone's life immediately.

BERRY: $50 will feed a child for an entire school year.

KORS: That's crazy. Think about -- think about a cup of coffee. Here in New York City, a cappuccino is $5. That's going to feed a child in Africa for a month. That's unbelievable.

We've never actually designed a product that was strictly designed for philanthropic purposes.

CHO: So I want the big reveal.

KORS: The big reveal.

CHO: Oh, it's the watch. And you have a special name for it, right?

KORS: Yes, this is our 100 series watch.

BERRY: Ta-da.

CHO: Wow.

BERRY: If you buy this watch, this buys 100 meals. And I know when I give, I want to know, well, what exactly -- where is my money going? And people often want to feel like, OK, if I buy that watch, does it really translate into food? And this does. And that to me is pretty amazing.

CHO: What do you get out of this?

BERRY: Well, I feel really good. You know, that is so simplistic, we're helping others, but it gives me another reason to wake up. I'm a mom and that's first and foremost, but it gives me another reason to exist, another purpose. And if I know that I'm helping one person every day in some way, that really makes me feel good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: I have to say it's hard to sit next to Halle Berry, but through social media, Facebook and Twitter, we should mention, Kors and Berry are hoping to reach some 500 million people with this global hunger campaign. They're also planning an on-site visit with the World Food Program, and that is scheduled to happen sometime next year.

I also have props today. This is the actual 100 series watch.

ROMANS: His and Hers.

CHO: His and Hers. And they each come in the gold and the silver. They retail for $295. They'll be available at Michael Kors' stores. But again, the whole idea is every time you look at the watch -- and if you look closely, you can see there's a map of the world on it - you'll be reminded that you paid for 100 meals for someone through the UN World Food Program. It's really, really nice.

SAMBOLIN: I like the His watch. May I?

CHO: Yes, yes, sure, of course.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: I wanted to ask you more about Halle Berry. She's about three months along and she's surprised at her second pregnancy?

CHO: She called it the biggest surprise of her life. She's 46 areas old, she looks spectacular. She has just a slight little baby bump and -- the watch looks great, doesn't it? She told me that her doctor actually told her she was entering menopause.

SAMBOLIN: What?

CHO: She said she had absolutely no idea.

SAMBOLIN: That's why she called it the surprise of her life, right?

CHO: But she looks great, she feels great, and she says she has never been happier.

ROMANS: Well, best of luck to her.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: I love the watch; this is really nice.

ROMANS: Men's version, very nice.

CHO: You can't keep it; you have to go to Michael Kors.

SAMBOLIN: I can pay for it, I can pay for it.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, then Truman Capote's iconic work, "Breakfast at Tiffany's", now on Broadway. We're going to talk with two of the show's stars, including George Wendt of "Cheers" fame.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Today marks the 71st anniversary of the Bataan Death March that followed one of the worst U.S. military defeats in history. As many as 11,000 American and Philippines soldiers died after the Japanese captured them and forced them to walk in scalding heat for more than 80 miles. In today's "Human Factor", Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiles a survivor, Lester Tenney. He lived to tell the story, turning personal ragedy into joy for others.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lester Tenney, along with his wife Mary, are packing boxes to ship overseas. They are the founders of Care Packages from Home. It's a volunteer organization that sends goodies to servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since it began five and a half years ago, they have sent items to 150,000 troops. And although it's a labor of love, a more personal reason drives Tenney. You see, back in 1940, he enlisted in the National Guard and was then transferred to the Army division and ended up in the Philippines.

Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. One day later, Japan invaded the Philippines. The fighting became so one-sided that the U.S. had to surrender, and on April 9, 1942, American soldiers were brutally forced to march to a POW camp 80 plus miles away in 100 degree heat with no food or water.

LESTER TENNEY, BATAAN MARCH SURVIVOR: It was called the Bataan Death March not just because how many died, but because the way they died.

GUPTA: Tenney says there are no words to describe what happened.

TENNEY: If you just couldn't take another step you were killed and they just killed you for no reason, except for the fact that you did not move.

GUPTA: Tenney made it to the POW camp and was eventually shipped to Japanese coal mines and survived until the end of World War II.

TENNEY: It was a feeling of freedom that you can't -- you can't ever describe.

GUPTA: Now a retired professor of economics, he and his wife live in California. Tenney had never stopped thinking about his days as a prisoner of war. The loneliness, the fear. That's the reason he started sending packages to the troops.

TENNEY: They know where I've been -- maybe they do, maybe they don't. But the one thing they do know, they do know that we care.

GUPTA: At 92, Lester Tenney is one of the few remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March. How did he survive?

TENNEY: I think my first thought after that was I can't die, because the Japanese want to kill me and they are working hard to do it, and if I die, then they win. And I just was making sure that they did not win.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Well we appreciate his stubbornness.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Amazing, right?

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: It's 46 minutes after the hour right now.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, he spent 11 years as Norm on "Cheers," now George Wendt back at the bar. Only this time he owns the joint. He has the pivotal new role in the new Broadway production of Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's". you know the movie we're going to talk to George Wendt next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is probably best known for the 1961 film adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn "Moon River" delightful film. Well its now on Broadway starring "Game of Thrones" actress Emilia Clarke as Holly Golightly.

ROMANS: Her co-stars are George Wendt "Norm" from "Cheers" and he's in the role of Holly's bar owner Frangio (ph), and in his Broadway debut Cory Michael Smith as Fred the neighbor and friend of Holly. Take a look as the two reminisce about her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WENDT, ACTOR, "BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY": It's good to see you Joe.

Sure I loved her, but it wasn't that I wanted to touch her. I'm not crazy. I knew how it was, and I swear that never crossed my mind with Holly. But you can love someone without it being like that. You just keep them a stranger, a stranger who is a friend. You know what I mean?

CORY MICHAEL SMITH, ACTOR: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So I had a chance to sit down with George Wendt -- "Norm"; and also Cory Michael Smith and talk about their roles in this iconic play.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: George, you've been on Broadway before but what was it was like jumping into this iconic work that's really a new project?

WENDT: Well, I was floored by the script, because I was only familiar with the movie. And the script is so different in many key ways. A lot of it is the same, but there are some really key differences. And I also was just floored by the -- I read the novella at that point and it's so beautiful. It's just an elegant, eloquent, just tragic love story, so -- I mean, I never understood the fuss about Truman Capote before. I knew that he was sort of cute on the chat shows and everything, but I never read anything and now I can't wait to read "In Cold Blood" and stuff like that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WENDT: I see faces of her all the time, flat little bottom, any skinny girl that walks fast and straight. You think I'm around the bend?

SMITH: No, I just didn't know you had been in love with her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So Cory you -- this is your first Broadway show.

SMITH: It is.

BERMAN: Your first off Broadway. You got this part after one audition?

SMITH: I did, yes.

BERMAN: What did you do in this audition to get the part so quickly?

SMITH: I don't know. I wish I could remember. Well the nice thing was, British directors, which we have a Brit director they have a habit of having a conversation with you. You know, usually about the character of the play which I always feel more comfortable with, that I enjoy so it feels a bit collaborative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: There was pattern of water damage on the ceiling above my bed, that and on dissolute evenings, I was certain it was the Shroud of Turin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: How exciting is it to be on the Broadway stage for the first time? You're going to tell me it's just ho-hum, it's part of the work or is this really every bit as awesome as a lot of us assume it would be?

SMITH: It's really exciting. I think it's really exciting for my family, really exciting for teachers. To me, it feels a lot like doing another play in a larger house. It's not that it's more important to me. The work doesn't deserve any more attention than any other piece does. It's merely telling the story to more people every night.

BERMAN: One thing that is different about this is you're on stage with Emilia --

SMITH: With this guy.

BERMAN: Well, of course, it's your play.

That's very exciting.

SMITH: It is.

BERMAN: Other people may be more excited or as excited in a different way, I should say, by Emilia Clarke being the star of "Game of Thrones."

SMITH: Yes.

BERMAN: You have an interesting bathtub scene.

SMITH: We do. We share a bathtub late in the second half.

BERMAN: And what are you wearing in that bathtub.

SMITH: My birthday suit and bubbles -- lots of bubbles.

It's a beautiful part of the story. The entire play is about my love interest in Holly, and at this point, in the play, it's physically the closest that we get to each other. But I'm just coming off of an injury, and it's her caring for me and nurturing me. So it's not sexualized. It's supposed to be very intimate, and very caring, and friendly.

BERMAN: We opened this by talking about the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's" having something so iconic. Something so many people do identify with. Do you feel like you have to measure up to that in some ways?

WENDT: It's daunting. We don't feel like we have to -- I don't feel like we have to measure up to the movie at all because well, for starters my character is not in the movie. That's one of the --

BERMAN: You can't help but be better.

WENDT: That's one of the differences.

BERMAN: That bartender sucked in the movie. You're awesome in the play.

WENDT: I know. They cut him out.

SMITH: And the pressure for me was alleviated too because my role -- the role in the novella of Fred and then the role that George (INAUDIBLE) did in the film is so vastly different. I don't feel like I'm living up to this kind of leading man quality that George had, he is frankly much more of an artist and he's very different kind of person. Much less identifiable by common standards.

So I think a lot of the pressure was coming in with Emilia Clarke taking on Holly Golightly when she has certainly done in her own way.

BERMAN: Well, we're all excited to see it. Thank you guys so much for coming in. George Wendt, Cory Michael Smith. Good luck, congratulations.

SMITH: Thank you.

WENDT: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Really great interview.

BERMAN: They're fun guys.

ROMANS: STARTING POINT back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. You can still bet they are celebrating in Louisville right now.

ROMANS: And they should.

BERMAN: Louisville -- the NCAA national champs. Congratulations to them. Also congratulations to CNN's Ashleigh Banfield who won the CNN bracket challenge. Of all the CNN anchors here she came out on top. She had Louisville winning. She won running away here. Chris Cuomo, finished a close second, Michigan or something. I finished in fifth right there. Christine Romans, where did you finish?

ROMANS: I don't know. I was down in the double digits. It's the proverbial tortoise and the hare. I came out strong at the beginning and now I'm not -- I'm not too proud to admit that I'm almost at the bottom.

BERMAN: It took a long time to scroll down to where you were actually in that.

ROMANS: Thanks Berman.

That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

Tomorrow on STARTING POINT, we continue to cover the story of those kidnapped children in Cuba. We'll also be following developments in North Korea.

Meanwhile "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins now.