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Wildfires Raging in Southern California; U.S. Believes Israel Launched Airstrike into Syria

Aired May 3, 2013 - 21:00   ET



Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Tonight, breaking news on two fronts.

The raging wildfires in southern California -- helicopters are scooping up water from lakes in a desperate attempt to extinguish the flames, thousands of acres burning. The inferno is also threatening thousands of homes and an army of firefighters battling to contain it. A live report coming up.

Also tonight, breaking news in the Middle East. A huge development. CNN has learned that Israel conducted an airstrike inside Syria. Much more on that also in a moment.

But, first, I want to show you what it looks like to be shot at by an AK-47. This video is graphic and disturbing and it comes on the day the NRA is holding its annual meeting in Houston. The video has just been released.

It's from Ohio back in March when a man called James Gilkerson opened fire on police. It was all captured on the officer's dashboard camera. Just watch this.


MORGAN: Quite extraordinary. Gilkerson fired at least 33 rounds at the officers. Both were injured by the gunfire. Gilkerson can be heard yelling "kill me." He was fatally wounded when authorities returned fire.

The authorities say the officers acted in self defense. The dead man's gun had a 40-round magazine.

It comes on the day of course the NRA's CEO, Wayne LaPierre, attacked me personally for my stance on gun control. Listen to this.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: We know how they play the game. President Obama or Michael Bloomberg or some other official trots out on national television to scold and shame us, suggesting that there's something wrong with law-abiding people who want to own firearms. And then what happens -- all the Piers Morgans, Lawrence O'Donnells and Rachel Maddows, they pound the message over and over again.


MORGAN: That's right, Mr. LaPierre. I will continue to pound that message and continue to show shocking footage until people like you realize the damage that guns are doing to Americans every day.

This man used an assault rifle. He also used a 40-bullet magazine. The two things that you don't think should be banned. Try telling that to those police officers.

Another breaking news on the Boston bombings investigation tonight. The cause of death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been released. The death certificate says he died as a result of gunshot wounds, of torso and extremities, as well as blunt trauma to head and torso.

Investigators also tonight say the explosives residue was found in the apartment of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Also we're learning that his funeral will take place in Worcester in the coming days. His body is now at a funeral home. All that as authorities search areas in and around Dartmouth.

Now to breaking news on the massive wildfires in southern California. It is tonight an absolute inferno.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Newbury Park, California.

Kyung, it's pretty bad down there. What's going on at the moment?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, what firefighters have done is they've sort of taken the upper hand at least on the northern flank of this fire.

Look at this hillside. When we arrived here, Piers, this entire hillside was completely on fire. Just over the ridge, though, active fire.

Check out these aerials. This is what homeowners are facing. They are looking at their houses, firefighters separating them from their life, their possessions and the fire, it is very alarming. It is very scary, 18,000 acres burning at this point, only 20 percent containment.

I was just talking about those homes, what people are feeling. There are still evacuation orders in effect.

And one family that's certainly understanding and knows this fear is the Whyte family. This is Paul, Shelly and Michelle Whyte.

Shelly, thank you so much for coming out here. The evacuation order in your area has been lifted, but yesterday, you got a phone call saying to get out.

SHELLY WHYTE, PROPERTY DESTROYED BY WILDFIRE: Yes, I got a phone call to get out. I had anticipated it was going to come. The fire came up in my backyard and I immediately got the phone call at the same time, and I just got the kids, got the dogs and we left.

LAH: And it was extremely close.

S. WHYTE: It was very close. It came up right to our door. If you look at the pictures, it was so close, I still -- my heart pounds when I think about it.

LAH: It's one thing to look at these pictures on television, but what is it like to be told you only have 15 minutes to get out and this is the home you just purchased in December.

S. WHYTE: It's the worst feeling. You just worry about your kids and your pets and the anxiety is amazing. I have never experienced anything like that, and my heart was pounding and I just went into motor drive and I just did it. I just did what I had to do. And I still don't even know how I did it.

LAH: You're still shaking today.

S. WHYTE: Yes. It was really an experience.

LAH: So, you and Michelle, you got out.

But, Paul, you decided to stay with your house.

PAUL WHYTE, PROPERTY DESTROYED BY WILDFIRE: I did. I went to work that morning and my wife called and said, "The fire's coming up the hill. She didn't see it but there was more smoke and I thought well, maybe it's fire and smoke far off and that it's really not coming our way, it may be just blowing our way."

Ten minutes later, she says, "There are helicopters in the backyard, there's flames on the hill, in our yard, we're leaving, we're leaving the house." So I --

LAH: When you drove up, you actually saw fire.

P. WHYTE: Yes. Coming up the street, my house is on a slight incline and there's hills behind it. I had seen two and three story flames behind my house. And it was terrifying. I thought there might not be a house, as I pulled up the driveway, but the house was still there, and the big yellow fire engine with three firemen who were at that point relaxing, having worked in the backyard, they controlled the fire which had wiped out the whole back section, probably about 20 acres and the hillside, and they were just sitting and waiting for the front sides of my house and the actual front to burn.

LAH: You stayed at your house all day, but when you left, did you think you were going to return to a house?

P. WHYTE: With the firemen giving me excellent odds that they had pretty good control of things at the time, the answer would be yes. It was very reassuring. These fellows know what they're doing and I appreciate that tremendously.

LAH: OK. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. We are going to toss it back to Piers because I understand that there's actually something happening that we're quite interested in.

Piers, back to you.

MORGAN: There is, actually, Kyung. There's a press conference going on right now which has more information about the fire. Let's go straight to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are still evacuations at least until 8:00 tonight. We'll give you more information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to call up the city manager, Scott Ochoa, to talk about what a lot of people want to know. Where do you go right now until we reopen and what time will we reopen, so families can get back into their homes.

REPORTER: Can you spell your name please?

SCOTT OCHOA, GLENDALE CITY MANAGER: Scott Ochoa, city manager, O-C-H-O-A.

Welcome to Glendale, everybody, on behalf of mayor and city council.

Three-thirty today, we opened up our emergency operations center. We are staffing that with all of the various departments of the city of Glendale. We have established the evacuation center where we have several families, five families I believe at this point in time, at 201 East Colorado at the Adult Recreation Center or ARC.

We will be staffing it with our partners, the Red Cross. We have cots, we have food, we have a canteen, and we will continue to operate that until the Fire Department allows for those families who have been displaced to return back to their home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, before we step away, I would like everybody to know that you can follow us on Twitter, @myglendale. We are doing regular updates, if not on the minute, every five minutes, 10 minutes. Also on

Any other questions?

REPORTER: Can you come back, sir?

MORGAN: Let me go back to Kyung Lah now.

A bit more information, there, Kyung. Clearly, still quite an unstable situation. How many homes do we think may be directly affected by what's going on

LAH: At this particular fire, 4,000 are still threatened. I want to put that press conference you were just listening to into perspective. That's an entirely separate fire a couple hours away. There are a number of fires that California firefighters are dealing with all over the place, inland. The Glendale is actually my neighborhood. You know, it's very close to my house and that's, to give you a sense of how many fires that these firefighters are dealing with.

But one thing I just want to ask you guys, the Whyte family, before I let you go, I just want to know, there are so many people, I was just telling Piers, 4,000 homes still threatened, people are not back in their homes here at the springs fire. Is there anything you want to tell them? You certainly understand how it feels.

S. WHYTE: I just want to tell them that just keep it in perspective that you just want to be safe and stay alive, and these are just things. It's horrible to lose something, but you can move on. And just make sure you get your family out and your animals out and just do what the firemen tell you to do.

LAH: Did you think that you were ever going to be returning to a home yesterday?

S. WHYTE: No. I did not. I looked back when I drove off and I saw the flames surrounding my home and I thought I would not come home to a house. And I was preparing myself for that, mentally.

LAH: The other families out there listening to this, you know, going through that exact same thing, driving away from their home, thinking they're not going to return. I mean, what kind of pit is that in your belly?

S. WHYTE: It's devastating. Just thinking about the feeling it will never leave me, and I understand and my heart goes out to them. I lived through it, we got -- we were very, very lucky. I hope everyone else is as lucky as we are.

All I can say is you'll get through it and it will pass. Tomorrow's another day.

LAH: Anything you want to add, Paul?

P. WHYTE: I feel very fortunate today. I was able to go back to work. My house is still standing. I owe a lot to the Ventura County Fire Department. Their skills are wonderful. I hope that I don't have to repeat this again in my lifetime, and I appreciate everything they've done.

LAH: Thank you very much, to the Whyte family, one of the lucky families able to return home. One thing I do want to add, Piers, 15 structures in part had some sort of damage, but no home burned to the ground. Really extraordinary when you think about how erratic and dangerous this fire was -- Piers.

MORGAN: It certainly is. Also how hot it is.

I'm in California now. It's incredibly hot today, in the mid 90s. It will be we think for another day or so at least. These guys have a hard job to do.

Kyung, thank you very much indeed for that report.

Now to the breaking story on the Israeli air strike into Syria.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with more.

Barbara, pretty extraordinary development. Tell me about this.


Yes, U.S. and Western intelligence agencies tonight are in fact reviewing the classified intelligence data that's showing them that Israel indeed conducted an airstrike into Syria. So what they're looking at, of course, is radar communications intercepts, that sort of thing.

This is all very interesting. The Israelis are not publicly acknowledging it, at least not yet, but the Lebanese are saying that between Thursday and Friday, over the last 24 hours or so, 16 Israeli war planes flew in their air space.

So the belief is when you look at the map that the Israelis basically flew north into Lebanon, shot into Syria from there, didn't enter Syrian air space, but went after some sort of weapons site in Syria that they believe pose a threat to them, that they were very determined to get -- Piers.

MORGAN: What is likely to be the White House reaction to what's happened here?

STARR: Well, nobody's talking about it publicly, you know, but President Obama is literally getting asked about Syria every day, and again today, with this ratcheting up of tensions, the president once again said you know, no prospect that he can see of putting U.S. ground troops into Syria. But he's not ruling out any options.

Have a listen to what he had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If in fact we see strong evidence that we can present and that allows us to say that the Syrian military and the Syrian government is using chemical weapons, then that is a game changer for us.


STARR: A game changer. No ground troops, but still keeping all the other options on the table, but it looks like the Israelis have decided pretty much they're not waiting around.

The Israelis, as you know, have a very strong policy. What they are looking at striking is any weapons that they believe the Syrians are going to try and get out of the country to keep safe, transfer to Hezbollah across the border in Lebanon, and in fact, we got a statement from the Israelis. It's not exactly confirming it, but saying, quote, "We will do whatever is necessary to stop the transfer of weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. We've done it in the past and we will do it if necessary in the future."

So, tonight, it looks like the Israelis went ahead and did it -- Piers.

MORGAN: And is it -- is the fear, Barbara, that the Syrians may respond in kind now against Israel?

STARR: Well, I think that the Israelis and all the countries in the region certainly would be prepared for that. The Israelis have very strong security measures, very strong air defenses. I think it's unlikely that the Syrian regime would try to take the Israelis on, because that certainly would bring a much wider war down upon Assad's regime.

MORGAN: All right. Certainly a very significant development.

Barbara Starr, thank you very much, indeed.

STARR: Sure.

MORGAN: Coming next, under arrest and with plenty more to say. The new Reese Witherspoon video. Wait until you hear what she tells her husband and the cop. That's all coming up next.


OFFICER: Now, ma'am, get back in that car. I'm not going to repeat myself again.

OK, I need you to get back in the car. There ain't no way to use it out here. If I tell you again, I'm going to arrest you.




REESE WITHERSPOON, OSCAR-WINNING ACTRESS: When a police officer tells you to stay in the car, you stay in the car. I learned that for sure. You know, I think I played a lawyer in a movie so many times, I think I am a lawyer. And clearly, I'm not a lawyer because I got arrested.


MORGAN: Reese Witherspoon's groveling apology for that public embarrassing run-in with the trooper. We have seen some of the video of the incident. Tonight, we have a lot more to show you and it's not helping the Hollywood star.

With me now is civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, and, Janice Minn, director of the "Hollywood Reporter".

Welcome to you both.

This is acutely embarrassing for poor Reese Witherspoon. And I can -- am I right to feel really sorry for her because I know she behaved really badly, but I just feel for her.

JANICE MINN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Yes. I mean, in terms of image, she took the hit last week with news of the arrest. It was embarrassing. But to see it live in action, this woman you're used to seeing onscreen being beautiful and lovely, you see her in paparazzi photos with her kids, she seems so nice and wonderful.

But then to see her saying those words that are sort of celebrity death. It is do you know who I am. Yes.


MORGAN: Let's watch the first clip here.


WITHERSPOON: My name is Reese Witherspoon. You're arresting me for obstruction of justice. It will be in the national news. I just want to let you know.

OFFICER: That's fine. Why? On God's holy name would you have gotten out of the car? You would have been able to drive --

WITHERSPOON: Because I wanted to talk to you like a normal person would talk to a normal person.

OFFICER: I told you not to get out of the car.

WITHERSPOON: Absolutely. You told me not to get out of the car. I said to you, I disagree. That's my right. I'm an American.

OFFICER: Go ahead and take a seat for us.


OFFICER: It will be a lot easier on you. OK?

WITHERSPOON: This will be national news. I'm letting you know.

OFFICER: That's fine.


MORGAN: Gloria, she was right. It is national news but not for the reasons she probably hoped, which was the trooper would be humiliated and she would be gloriously cleared.

She clearly had a few drinks, as had her other half, and came a cropper. Is it worse than that? Is this brand terminally damaging?

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: No, because she did what some are calling the apology tour. She did it quickly, she did it fully and she said that she needs to be responsible and accountable and that when a police officer asks you to do something, you should do it. So that was the right thing to do.

However, she does have her free speech but she has to face the consequences for it. And she did the wrong thing and now she's entered a plea to disorderly conduct, she's entered a no contest plea. And she's had to face the consequences in terms of her image.

MORGAN: Yes. But, Janice, it will damage you, there's no question. If you're Reese Witherspoon, you are -- she's America's sweetheart.

MINN: Right.

MORGAN: This is a whole different side to her and it's a kind of condescending, very arrogant way she treats this trooper who emerges, by the way, to his credit, he plays it completely straight. It's not a good look for her.

MINN: Well, listen, there are things that are really contradictory to her personality. You know, 2:00 a.m., she's drunk, she's seeming entitled.

I have to say, though, she was somewhat calm during the whole thing. I thought her husband came across as much as someone who has just been arrested for DUI had come across great. He's calm, rational, sounds far less intoxicated than she does.

MORGAN: He looks to me like he realizes this is a big problem.

MINN: He understood the big picture here.

MORGAN: Let's watch another clip. This is her arguing with her husband.


WITHERSPOON: I'm an American citizen. I can say whatever I want to on free ground. He does not have jurisdiction over the ground that he speaks on. He does not. I'm allowed to say anything I want to say. I can protest any way I want.

JIM TOTH, WITHERSPOON'S HUSBAND: He asked you to get in the car. All you should have done is let me get arrested.

WITHERSPOON: Arrested for what?


WITHERSPOON: What did I get arrested for?

TOTH: You wouldn't listen to what he said to do and you kept getting out of the car. Now you've turned it into a mess --

WITHERSPOON: I have threatened him and put him in a position that he feels vulnerable? Honestly? Come on, honey. Come on.


MORGAN: Probably the most farcical moment, Janice, when she suddenly exclaims, "Officer, I'm pregnant, I must go inside," which clearly, she isn't pregnant. By the way, you've been drinking. That's always a great defense.

MINN: Right. It doesn't make her seem better that she's probably pregnant and drunk. No, not at all.

I thought a little bit she reminded me of Elle Woods from "Legally Blond." This is probably what would happen of Elle Woods got in the situation. So, when you look on Twitter, people are -- some people are actually saying this makes me like her a little bit more.

MORGAN: Right.

MINN: That's the warped culture we live in right now.

ALLRED: They may like her, more but if you make a false statement to a law enforcement officer who is conducting an investigation, it's not a good thing. It was a false statement that she was pregnant. She said she's not pregnant. She said that later.

MORGAN: I guess she was trying to get inside to make a frantic phone call to a lawyer or agent, I think.

ALLRED: Maybe. Apparently she wanted justification to get out of the car, because she said she had to go to the bathroom. That's not exactly how she said it, but she said that was the reason.

And again, that's not what a person should do. If they're stopped by a law enforcement officer, don't interfere with the investigation. If they say stay in the car, stay in the car.

And frankly, I wasn't crazy about her, you know, saying national news, do you know who I am? But in addition, when she gave her apology, she said, well, there are police officers in my family.

You know what? Just treat yourself like anyone else would be treated, don't ask for special treatment. Don't insinuate that you should get special treatment. You know? And don't be talking about who's in your family. Just take responsibility, done, it's over.

MORGAN: Janice?

MINN: Well, I mean, remember, she has been one of the biggest actresses in Hollywood since her early 20s. I don't think she has -- I don't think she's ever had to have anyone contradict her in 20 years.

You don't have to do that when you're an A-list celebrity. You don't wait in line, you can bend the rules. Someone is always fixing something for you. And I'm sure under that situation, you know, that is almost a natural response. ALLRED: This is not Hollywood and the law does not recognize that celebrities should get special treatment.

MORGAN: Nor should they. And, by the way, apparently the husband is, of course, her agent as well. So that compounds the issue, the one person she might most want to go to is sitting next to her on a DUI.

MINN: Yes, he's a top agent here, very well regarded. And listen, I don't think his agency loves it either, that he represents a lot of movie stars and this is exactly the kind of bind that every movie star dreads.

ALLRED: You know what? I'm happy for her success but you've got a law enforcement officer who was trying to do his job. I agree with you, Piers, he deserves a lot of kudos.


ALLRED: A lot of congratulations. He kept -- not only kept his cool but he was so polite, so courteous. We can learn from him.

MORGAN: And I don't think he had a clue who she was.

ALLRED: He didn't care who she was.

MORGAN: That probably annoyed her the most.


ALLRED: That's right. Anyway, it's great and I'm glad that she said no one should do what she did. I'm glad she said that.

MORGAN: Right. Gloria, Janice, we're going to leave it there.

From my view, I do feel a bit sorry for Reese Witherspoon. Thank you both very much.

Coming up, two music icons, Eddie Van Halen and LL Cool J on their new project, and the controversy over LL Cool J's new song, "Accidental Racist".



MORGAN: Thirty years ago, Van Halen's "Jump" hit number one, and the band and Eddie Van Halen have been going stronger for over 40 years in the world of rock.

LL Cool J is about to celebrate 30 years himself in the world of hip-hop.

These two music icons have now joined forces for a new project, LL Cool J's "Authentic".

I guess the obvious question is, how did you two guys meet? It's an unusual pairing.

LL COOL J, MUSICIAN: At a meeting. You know, I reached out to Eddie. I had an idea about doing, you know, a song that has some rock guitar on it and you know, I feel like Eddie's the best in the world. And, you know, I reached out to him and was hopeful, had my fingers crossed that he would be into working on a record with me.

And he came by the studio, I played the demo for him and he said, you know, let's rock and roll.

EDDIE VAN HALEN, MUSICIAN: He played me some other songs and it was such a diverse record. When I first got the call, you know, I'm such a left of center thing, I went, what would he want with me, you know? But I agree to meet with him, so I go down there and his enthusiasm and his -

MORGAN: He's a pretty impressive guy.

VAN HALEN: He's just so excited, you know?

He played me all this diverse stuff. I'm like I would really like to be part of this. And the interesting thing about the song itself is I got to give him a lot of credit for being open to pushing the envelope and experimenting and not being afraid to do things that haven't been done. Because usually in a song, during the vocal, there's rhythm guitar.

Well, I'm ripping guitar solo while he's -- while the vocal's going on. So it's a very unique, interesting combination, you know what I mean?


MORGAN: You play a big part in my life, my early life, because when I was 19, "Jump" came out. It was a huge, huge hit. One of those things you dream of as a rock star.

VAN HALEN: It was funny. At the time I had played on "Beat It", Michael Jackson's record. His album went to number one. Our album was number two. Our single was number one, his single was number two.

And then he did the Pepsi commercial and burned his hair and he stayed at number one.


MORGAN: Selfish, selfish man.

VAN HALEN: To this day, guys in the band still blame me for that album not going to number one.


MORGAN: It's your fault. Is it true you didn't get paid to be --

VAN HALEN: I did it as a favor, you know?

MORGAN: Michael Jackson rings up and says, Eddie, you're the best guitarist in the world, can you play on my song "Beat It"? It's a smash hit around the world and you get zero dollars?

VAN HALEN: Well, I didn't ask for anything. It was about 20 minutes out of my life. Quincy had called me up and asked if I wanted to do it.

Honest to God truth, the band's policy was, you know, we don't do things outside of the band at the time, and everybody was out of town so I had no one to ask. I swear to God, I figured who's going to know if I play on this black kid's record.


VAN HALEN: But the funniest thing of all was I actually rearranged the song, the section they wanted me to solo over was just, there was no chord changes underneath it. So I had to rearrange the song. Michael came in and I said, I hope you don't mind, I changed your song.

He listens and he goes, "No, I really like that high fast stuff you do."


VAN HALEN: And that was it. Took about 20 minutes out of my life.

MORGAN: What do you feel about what happened to Michael Jackson, the big court case going on at the moment? A really sad end to one of the world's great careers.

VAN HALEN: He was a sweet guy is all I know. Accused of a lot of things. He was just I think, you know, he wanted to remain a kid himself.

LL COOL J: I got to spend a lot of time with Mike, you know. We weren't super tight friends but we were friends.

And a couple times I got to fly with him, and you know, he gave me some good advice. He told me, "LL, no matter what you do, never limit yourself." And he also told me that, you know, if they can, you know, if they can whistle the melody, the record can be heard worldwide and the whole world can rock to it.

VAN HALEN: Or if you can dance.

LL COOL J: Or if you can dance a little bit. So, you know --

VAN HALEN: What about the people like me that can neither write none of this nor dance?

LL COOL J: But you can listen, you can whistle.

MORGAN: You're a guitar guy.

LL COOL J: You might be able to whistle. You got a little whistle in you.

MORGAN: LL, I interviewed you a few times. Never interviewed you, Eddie, unfortunately, but I'm delighted to now.

VAN HALEN: Neither one of us has interviewed you.


LL COOL J: Very true.

MORGAN: But the question I really wanted to ask you, since it happened, is my favorite story probably of the last ten years was the burglar that broke into your house. That's not your favorite.


MORGAN: Breaks into your house in the middle of the night, you're there with your four children, your wife, and you come down, you find this guy. The reason it's my favorite story was the police statement which had your real name, James Todd Smith.

And it said, Mr. Smith was unhurt after the altercation and the burglar suffered a broken jaw, broken cheek, broken nose and broken ribs.


MORGAN: Talk about the wrong guy, wrong house.

VAN HALEN: They picked the wrong house.

MORGAN: In all seriousness, tell me about that.

LL COOL J: You know, my alarm went off at 1:00 in the morning. Not the alarm, but the delay, entry delay. I looked scrolled through it, family room. I said to my wife, family room, thinking maybe my daughters are coming in.

So I strolled downstairs in my underwear just to see what's going on. I get down there and this guy comes out of my kitchen at me. I detained him.

I think I did what any man would do or what most men would do, which is whatever you got to do to protect your family.

MORGAN: Absolutely right.

LL COOL J: I had to do that. I'm just glad that I was able to stop and you know, let the authorities take care of the rest and not try to take justice into my hands.

MORGAN: Not as glad as the burglar was.


VAN HALEN: With me, you break your face with an Uzi.


MORGAN: On that bombshell, let's take a short break. Let's come back. I want to talk to you about survival in a notoriously risky business. You two are great survivors. I don't know how you've done it.

And about what you do with that Uzi.



MORGAN: Rock legend Eddie Van Halen, hip-hop icon LL Cool J teamed up on LL's latest album, "Authentic". You just heard one of the two songs, "Not Living You Tonight."

Just on the break, it's fascinating. You're talking about your son who joined you in the band, he's 22, Wolfgang. Been playing since he was 10. You had this eureka moment when you realized the boy had got rhythm.

VAN HALEN: OK. I bought him a drum kit and it sat there for awhile, you know? One day, I suddenly (INAUDIBLE), I faintly hear this -- and he was doing something that I had never heard any drummer do, for one thing with one foot. It had the lope (INAUDIBLE).

I wondered who was playing, I ran up there and it was him. He must have been 8, something like that. So I just went, whoa!

But more interesting, though, the perspective of a different generation that he brings, you know, to the band and his opinion of our music, like he's in charge of the set list and our latest record.

He said, no, we should do that song. He was the one pretty much in charge.

MORGAN: How do you cope with the mantle as LL Cool J, the greatest guitarist in the world? Because many people think you are.

VAN HALEN: Say that again? What?

MORGAN: The greatest guitarist in the world.

VAN HALEN: How do I feel about that?

MORGAN: How do you cope with that title?

VAN HALEN: I didn't come up with the title.

MORGAN: He did.

VAN HALEN: Well, I just did my thing, you know. It's just an opinion.

LL COOL J: The worst thing for an artist is to be judged by a standard that you don't want to be judged by. In other words, you know, you make a song with Eddie Van Halen and someone is comparing it to a record that is designed specifically for, you know, the barbershop in the hood.

See what I'm saying? It's just they're different. Like with this project and what we're doing, I wanted to bridge gaps. I wanted to do something that hip-hop hasn't done before in terms of a full album. Like Run DMC worked with Aerosmith many, many years ago. That was a breakthrough moment.

But no one has ever gotten an album and put an album together where they had people like Eddie Van Halen and they have Seal and, you know, Brad Paisley and all these different artists on one record together. That hasn't --

MORGAN: Well, talking of Brad Paisley, this furor that erupted over "Accidental Racist", what were you trying to achieve?

LL COOL J: What I was trying to achieve is --

VAN HALEN: Don't judge a book by its cover.

LL COOL J: Exactly. It was really that simple. Don't judge a book by its cover, and, you know, also, we have to get past what happened in the past if we're going to really have a future together.

You know, I think that the bitterness thing, I think people really -- people thought that I was trying to trivialize slavery which is ridiculous. You know, I couldn't, with good conscience, as a black man in America, who is born and raised here, just say, OK, that didn't exist and it's all OK because it's not OK. That's not what I was implying.

But what I was trying to say is I also don't feel like I need to walk around upset with every white person I meet or upset with every Southern white that I meet or Midwestern white that I meet just because of what happened in the past. There are generational issues but we have to get past it.

I'll give you an example. When you look at what happened with a kid like Trayvon Martin, you look at the kids that are arrested every day and thrown in prison for no reason, harassed by police for no reason other than the fact that their clothing is the way it is. I was saying, don't judge a book by its cover. If you want to be around that flag and you want to represent Southern pride, OK, I can tolerate that to a certain extent if, if you don't arrest my son, you don't harass the kids, we get rid of that glass ceiling, you know?

Those are the things that I was trying to imply and I think that is such a complex topic that I think people, they thought I was talking about one thing when I was talking about another. You know, I hope -- you get what I'm saying?

VAN HALEN: On top of that, there's plenty of white people that don't like me.


LL COOL J: It was an interesting thing to deal with, though. It was very interesting because at the end of the day -- you know, things always land on the side of love, man. Love conquers all, you know?

VAN HALEN: And music, too.

LL COOL J: That's why -- that's what we endure, why, because music is the answer to war. That's one of the lyrics in the song.

VAN HALEN: It is the universal language.

MORGAN: Tell me this, Eddie. You're nearly 60, if you don't mind me saying that. You look great, by the way.

VAN HALEN: Thank you. You, too.

MORGAN: Thank you very much. I'm not the same age as you. I just look it.

You're a recovered alcoholic. You have been clean a long time. You have survived oral cancer and various other ailments.

How have you survived the business, though? Because so many people in your trade have died young, have overdosed, alcoholism, whatever it may be.

VAN HALEN: I'm very lucky.

MORGAN: What do you put it down to? What is the art of survival?

VAN HALEN: Good genes and -- no, actually, just music. You know? Making music. Keeps you young.

MORGAN: Could you still do that "Jump"?


MORGAN: Same height?

VAN HALEN: Hurts a little more when I land.


VAN HALEN: Yes, it's not the jump, it's the landing.

MORGAN: It's a really unusual pairing but it's incredibly effective. Everyone should go and listen to it, because you will love the tracks you've done but the whole album is typically LL Cool J. It's new, it's innovative and exciting.

LL COOL J: That was the most important thing, to be innovative for me. MORGAN: It always is with you, even down to the jewelry you wear in my studio.

Check out the dates for the Van Halen tour,

Great to see you. Nice to meet you.

LL COOL J: Kings of the Mike tour is coming, too. So, I'll be out there, too.

MORGAN: How do you get details for that?

LL COOL J: Go to Check it out.

MORGAN: And while you're at it, go to It doesn't actually exist. I don't have a tour.

LL COOL J: And hit me up on Twitter, too, while you're at it.


MORGAN: You can hit me up on Twitter, @piersmorgan.

VAN HALEN: You can open for both of us.


MORGAN: Guys, thank you both very much.

LL COOL J: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Two great legends.

Next, the inside story to Matt Lauer and Ann Curry, the brutal morning show wars. I talk to author Brian Stelter to set the record straight. That's coming up next.



JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: You've been taking a lot of hits in the press lately. How you holding up? Are you holding up OK?

MATT LAUER, CO-ANCHOR, NBC'S "TODAY": I'm doing well. It's been an interesting year, no question about it. But, you know, the fact of the matter is every day, millions of people still invite us into their homes to deliver the news.

I am not a guy who complains. I am the luckiest guy. I love this job. I really do.


MORGAN: The goodwill tour for Matt Lauer. That's him on "The Tonight Show". He and the "Today" show have taken some big hits over Ann Curry's exit. Morning TV is a rough and tumble business, with money, ego and a whole lot of pressure.

"The New York Times'" Brian Stelter is getting a revealing look at it with the new book, "Top of the Morning", inside this cutthroat world.

Brian, welcome to you.

BRIAN STELTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: So, you've been putting the cat among the pigeons with this book. Many are calling you Matt Lauer's nemesis. He now appears to be on a bit of damage control press tour, a few talk shows and so on.

What do you think is really going on now at the "Today" show?

STELTER: I think the "Today" show is in comeback mode, just as it should be. It's about a year ago that it started to lose to "Good Morning America." Ann Curry being ousted, made that change and the ratings fizzled. They haven't been able to get back to first place since she left, since she was forced out, that is.

But now, the show is trying to get back to number one and it's fun for viewers to watch it try because, in some ways, it's a better show than it has been in a long time.

MORGAN: It's interesting watching Matt Lauer with Jay Leno because they've both been through the PR wars this year, and yet both remain incredibly talented television personalities and hosts.

Are they good friends? Have they known each other well, do you know?

STELTER: Well, we heard Matt last night mentioned to Jay Leno that they talked sometime about each other's shows. They do seem to be friendly.

They are in similar situations. They've been doing their job for a long time. They're great at their jobs. And, yet, people are wondering, who's next? Who is in line to replace them?

Of course, we know that Jimmy Fallon will be taking over for Jay Leno. And now that speculation shifts over more to Matt Lauer.

MORGAN: Right. (INAUDIBLE) telling me once, when we had coffee together, that it all goes with territory of being number one. And Matt Lauer is number one for a very long time. Jay Leno is still number one.

Is it just the traditional old puppy syndrome? That if you're right there at the top, you're going to get gunned down?

STELTER: There's a lot to that. The country likes to build people up and then it likes to tear them back down. But then they get built back up. And I think that might be the phase that Matt Lauer is entering. A lot of fans understandably were angry at him when they saw Ann Curry tearfully leave the show, because they didn't know who else to blame. The bosses of the network never came out and explained what they were doing. So, it was Matt Lauer that got the blame and I think he was very frustrated that his bosses didn't do a better job of defending him.

But like he said on Jay Leno, he is not a complainer. My sense is that he has not been complaining a lot about how he's been treated. He gets up in the morning, goes to work, and he wants to prove his detractor wrong.

And that's -- that's one of the reasons why it seems like a really interesting shows to watch right now.

MORGAN: If you had been running NBC, would you have fired Ann Curry when they did?

STELTER: I'd like -- well, of course, I don't get paid nearly enough to answer this question. But I'd like to think I promoted her in 2011, because that was the fatal mistake. Promoting her in the first place is where things started to go wrong.

Removing her was the right thing to do by lots of different measures. But it was just done the wrong way. She didn't agree to it. She felt like she was being rushed off the stage.

You have to wonder, if they have given her little more time, may be taken her off the stage at the end of the year, rather than in the middle of the year, maybe it would have gone a little easier.

But, really, the fatal mistake was the year earlier. They weren't thinking about who else to put next to Matt Lauer, they just promoted her instead of being more creative and taking a risks. And, you know, I suppose if we had our crystal balls, that's what we would go back and do differently.

MORGAN: You work for "The New York Times," you've been CNN a bit of a rough time about inaccurate reporting over the Boston bombings. And then, as I discovered when I began tweeting one of your colleagues, you, yourself, have dropped a few clangers in the reporting of the Boston bombings.

Were you right to be dissing out a few stones into glass houses, do you think?

STELTER: I thought David Carr's column was right on. But you make an interesting point, which is that any time any media company messes up, even if it's a small mistake, even if it's something most viewers or readers don't notice, it can hurt the credibility of that place, as well as its competitors.

But, listen, the overarching issue is, everybody's got to slow down a little bit. The Twitter era has probably made journalists a little too eager to press send and to hit publish and to say the information that turns out to be inaccurate on the air. If we all slow down a little bit, I think viewers and readers will be thankful for that.

MORGAN: I completely agree with that.

Brian, it's a terrific book. Great read, if you're into morning TV, as most people are, a lot of good detail in there about what's really been going on behind the scenes. Congratulations on the success and it's a "New York Times" bestseller.

STELTER: Thank you.

MORGAN: It would have been embarrassing to you if it hadn't been, of course, given you work there. But congratulations nonetheless.

STELTER: Thank you.

MORGAN: And we'll be right back.



RICHARD NARES, MEDICAL MARVEL: It's paralyzing when you hear those words "your child has cancer". I know what these families are going through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes the sun is coming up.

NARES: It's extremely difficult. My son, he was diagnosed with cancer. It was such a horrifying time. We were fortunate. We had rides to the hospital to bring Emilio. Many families don't have that support.

Good morning.

We find out that many of them were missing appointments.

My name is Richard Nares and no child should miss their cancer treatment due to lack of transportation.

Ready to go, all right.

We give over 2,000 rides a year. Our furthest cancer patients is a 120 miles. Ride with Emilio plays an important part of their treatment. We get them here and it's a nice, clean and warm and on time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live here, it's every day treatment, we want to fight, we are in this together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all I care right now. My daughter's life.

NARES: When you're fighting for your child's life, nothing else matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They pick us up in the morning and give us a ride back. Their help is every step of the way.

NARES: Seventy percent of our families are Spanish speaking. Having a bilingual staff is extremely important. I feel like it's my obligation to help them navigate the system.

Take good care of yourself.

From someone who has been there.


NARES: And Emilio has passed away almost 13 years. He's the -- the main force of this. And I feel that I'm the right person to help.