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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Heartland Gets Hammered; Destruction In Oklahoma; Jodi Arias Trial; Yahoo Agrees To Buys Tumblr; Emergency Landing Nightmare; Belle Of Billboard Awards; Miguel Accidentally Kicks Woman; Justin Bieber Makes A Bid To Be Taken Seriously; Boston Strong; Dream Date; National Anthem Fail

Aired May 20, 2013 - 07:30   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. A lot going on this morning. I'm John Berman.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. The U.S. heartland gets hammered. Dozens of tornadoes touching down throughout the night and the threat of severe weather isn't over in many spots. Initial estimates show some 300 homes were damaged or destroyed in Oklahoma. This massive tornado bore down in the city of Shawnee.

One man who lived in a trailer park in that area did die and the National Weather Service says tornado threats stretched through the country's mid-section. It was Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois. Nick Valencia is in hard hit Shawnee, Oklahoma. Nick, what is the latest there.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoraida, the sun has come up here in Shawnee County and we're getting a better sense of the devastation here. The homes damaged destroyed. You mentioned at least 300 homes destroyed throughout the state. But this story, Zoraida, is about people.

It's about people like Kimberly Graham. Kimberly joins us. She's a resident from this trailer park. She's wearing just the clothes that she fled with on her back. Your house was destroyed.

KIMBERLY GRAHAM, HOME DESTROYED BY TORNADO: Gone, everything, gone. Home, cars, gone. Everything. Garage, gone.

VALENCIA: What do you think? I mean, you said you've never been through anything like this before?

GRAHAM: I haven't. It's devastating. Everything you've worked for, everything that you've built, the pride that you have in your home and your surroundings and everything that you have is just gone.

VALENCIA: It was you and your 7-year-old son. You managed to get out in time. How did you get out, was there a warning sign or sirens?

GRAHAM: No. Sirens from what was on the local weather station. You know, it was just like get out. I'm like we're out of here. VALENCIA: You lost everything. What are you going to do now?

GRAHAM: Keep going forward. Tomorrow is a new day. We're alive and material things can be replaced.

VALENCIA: Kimberly was telling me just a short time ago it's the things that can't be replaced like photo albums, those things that really, you know, carry a sentimental value and so many residents here, Zoraida, that are impacted just like Kimberly and our thoughts and prayers are with all of them right now -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: You know, as she points out to us that she and her 7-year- old are well this morning. So that's cause for celebration. Nick Valencia, thank you.

BERMAN: Our thoughts certainly are with Kimberly this morning. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon has issued a statement of emergency for 16 counties and Lincoln County is among them. That is where the National Weather Service says that two tornadoes carved a path of destruction right now. Look at that map, all the states affected by these storms, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa and Illinois, a huge part of the country affected in the news is the forecast not good, a big part of this country on the watch for today as well.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, a lot of people are being affected by that. I think we said earlier 50 million people, incredible. All right, so happening right now, firefighters trapped in a thick alarm condo fire. This is Northeast Dallas. These are live pictures. This is live on the scene.

Smoke was pouring out of the three story building when firefighters arrived. This was about four hours ago. At least five residents had to be rescued. One of them of treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. We're going to continue to monitor this scene for you bring you updates throughout the morning.

As we understand there is one firefighter trapped inside. We're going to continue to follow this and pray that they find that firefighter and get him out of there.

BERMAN: A developing situation.

All right, today is the day Jodi Arias can find out if she will get the death penalty for the brutal murder of boyfriend Travis Alexander. Arias set to take the stand today along with her ex ex-boyfriend and a friend as the sentencing phase of her trial continues. Once the testimony wraps up, prosecution and defense teams will offer their final statements.

The case will go to the jury who must decide between life in prison or death penalty for Arias. Now CNN will bring you her testimony live as it happens. Our coverage begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: And speaking of huge money, Yahoo! is set to be buying the blogging site, Tumblr for $1.1 billion. An official announcement is expected today in New York. This is a major move for CEO Marisa Mayer to try to tap into a young active online user base. It's a coup for 26-year-old Tumblr founder and high school dropout, David Carp. Don't drop out of high school even though you're seeing this. This is not the way to do it. He reportedly has to stay at Yahoo! for another four years.

BERMAN: We have an amazing story to tell you about right now. Passengers and crew aboard a U.S. Airways flight are counting their blessings this morning. They survived a spectacular crash landing. Sparks flew as the plane touched down Saturday with no landing gear at Newark Liberty Airport. Amazingly here, no one was injured.

CNN's Pamela Brown joins us with here exclusive interview with a passenger who just survived this harrowing, harrowing flight.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Terrifying experience to say the least. All U.S. Airways passenger Linda wanted to get was get on a non-stop flight from Dallas back home to Newark. When she couldn't get a direct flight, which started off as a simple kink in her travel plans turned into a fateful trip she says she will never forget.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Thirty four people sat aboard this U.S. Airways flight as it made this dramatic emergency belly landing at Newark Airport due to trouble with a landing gear. Linda Demarest was one of them and never thought this could happen to her.

LINDA DEMAREST, U.S. AIRWAYS PASSENGER: Thought it was it, went down. Basically, it was a controlled crash, but it was a plane crash. You see it on the news all the time. Not many people survive plane crashes. That was my thought.

BROWN: The mother of two said she was exhausted as she was making her way back home to New Jersey after training for her new nursing job in Dallas. The flight was going smoothly until --

DEMAREST: The captain comes out of the cockpit with a flashlight and he starts looking at the wing. At this point, everyone on the plane knew something was going to happen.

BROWN: Moments later, the crew confirmed her worst fears.

DEMAREST: The flight attendant told us that there's a mechanical problem. You could see the flaps opening for the landing gear on the right side, but the left side the flaps wouldn't open.

BROWN: Demarest first thought contact her family.

DEMAREST: I wrote to my husband we can't land. One landing gear went down. They are trying to fix it before we make an emergency landing. Then I wrote to him no announcement from the captain yet. I love you. Then I wrote we are crashing. That's when I turned off the phone.

I kept thinking of my kids and my husband -- that they would lose me then I thought back about 9/11 how families left messages for their loved ones so I texted each one of them that I loved them and I turned the phones off not knowing.

BROWN: What she heard next she said she will never forget.

DEMAREST: So about 200 feet before we hit. The captain comes on the speaker yelling crash, crash, crash, crash while she's yelling stay in position, head down, keep in position, head down so we're like this on the back of our seats.

BROWN: With sparks flying the cabin of the turboprop quickly filled with smoke. Emergency chutes deployed. Passengers evacuated. The plane was quickly foamed. Demarest said those minutes felt like a lifetime.

DEMAREST: I just kept saying to myself stop, stop, please stop. When you finally stop it's like elation. You made it.

BROWN: U.S. Air Ways says nobody on the plane was injured, but Demarest says for her and her family, the gravity of what happened still hasn't sunk in.

DEMAREST: I was joking with somebody I should have played the Mega Millions, but then I thought you know what? I already won so I don't need to play. I have my family and that's what's most important.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Demarest says that she wants to give a big hug to the pilot named Edward Powers saying that the pilot is the, quote, "captain sully of land." Overnight, U.S. Airways Spokesperson Devian Anderson told CNN that the incident is, quote, "A testament to how our crews are trained to respond and act with utmost professionalism." Meantime, Demarest added she doesn't think she will be flying again anytime soon and that she gets chills just hearing a plane fly above her.

SAMBOLIN: A couple of questions, do we know anything else about the pilot? At least by her accounts, it sounded like everything was very calm other than the last minute with the crash, crash.

BROWN: She talked how the crew was very calm and did their best to comfort the passengers. You can imagine as we heard how terrifying that experience was for them, but she really said that the crew in her mind are the heroes here. As far as the pilot is going, U.S. Airways is not giving any more details because everything is all under investigation.

BERMAN: The vivid descriptions of the, you know, people coming out, looking out at the wing, it just seems it must have gone on forever. I just cannot imagine going through that.

BROWN: You know, you heard her talking about texting her family. In that moment, she thought she would never see her family again.

SAMBOLIN: Just incredible.

BROWN: No injuries. SAMBOLIN: Yes, thanks for that story. Appreciate it.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a flashy move at the Billboard Music Awards. This turned into a nightmare for one fan. The moment singer Miguel crashed into one woman's head.

BERMAN: It isn't pretty. Let me tell you that. She never thought that he would show up. We're going meet the high school senior who got a shock of a lifetime when her favorite NBA player shows up for her prom, amazing. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It's 45 minutes past the hour. Pop Country Princess Taylor Swift was red hot winning a staggering eight statues at the Billboard Music Awards. She looked really nice.

BERMAN: She looked fantastic, but the award show took a painful brutal turn for at least one fan. Look at this.

SAMBOLIN: He goes on like it's no big deal.

BERMAN: Obviously, just keep on singing. That's R and B singer, Miguel, who accidentally kicked that woman in the face. I can't believe that. Nischelle Turner is in Los Angeles following the Billboard bust. Explain to me how that happens, Nischelle.

NISCHELL TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, you have a singer who is crooner and should have stayed on stage instead of taking a flying leap. That's how that happens, John Berman. You know, we don't see this show until three hours later. Twitter though was on fire after this happened.

It was like the Sunday Night Billboard Music Awards, all of a sudden, turned into Monday night WWE Raw. Let's look at this again. Now we've slowed this down so you can see what happened. He's really in --

SAMBOLIN: Look at the heel on his boot.

TURNER: It kicks her in the face. Not only does he land on this one girl's head. He cold cocks the girl on the other side of him and then he just keeps singing and thinks it's the blonde and he starts singing to her. You know, afterwards though, apparently, the good news why we can keep showing this and have a little fun. The one girl is OK.

He invited her back stage. She went back to the actor talking to him backstage and spent the rest of the show out there. I'm not really sure why. I would have just chilled out. Someone did tweet though last night they saw her backstage with an ice pack on her head. The other girl we don't know what happened to her. Again, we saw the blonde who was kind of smiling and got some too when --

SAMBOLIN: I know that Miguel is taking center stage, but there are other moments that people are talking about, aren't there? TURNER: Yes. You guys were talking about Taylor Swift. You're right. She had a huge night. She won eight awards last night. She walked away with top artist, top female artist and top billboard 200 artist.

It's also a big night for one Justin Bieber. Yes, he performed twice. I have to say I thought he did a really good job. He won three awards including the first-ever milestone award for ingenuity and innovation, John Berman. I guess somebody didn't agree with that because when he walked on stage to get the award, there were some boos in the audience followed by some sharp words for him. So listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN BIEBER, WINNER OF MILESTONE AWARD: This is not a gimmick. I'm an artist and I should be taken seriously and all this other bull should not be spoken of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Ouch.

TURNER: You know, agree, John and Zoraida, he's not a gimmick. He's an artist. He should be taken seriously and the snarky comment I'm going to have is I can't take you seriously when you have sunglasses on.

BERMAN: He has a chip on his shoulder too, Nischell?

TURNER: Well, listen, he's been taking some hits lately, guys. You know, everything he does is scrutinized. He said listen I'll take this moment to address all of the, quote, "I'm doing air," quotes, haters out there.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Nischelle, thank you.

BERMAN: Justin Bieber settling some scores all at once right there.

SAMBOLIN: Nischelle called you. It wasn't my fault. I'm a big Justin Bieber fan. Nischelle Turner needs to know that. No one likes Justin Bieber more than I do as far as you know.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, imagine your favorite celebrity surprising you at prom as your date. This actually happened to one high school senior who will now have the best prom story ever. We're going meet her live and ask her about this unbelievable night. What it's like to dance with Dwayne Wade? You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It's 52 minutes past the hour. Some rough realities are stealing the spotlight from the stars at this year's Cannes Film Festival in France. A man was arrested for firing a gun loaded with blanks near a French TV studio. The suspect was also allegedly carrying a fake hand grenade. The day before someone stole a hotel room safe filled with $1.5 million worth of jewels and so far there have been no arrests in that robbery.

BERMAN: It has been crazy at this festival.

Two very pecial graduates will be getting their business degrees in person later today at the Boston College commencement ceremonies. This is a very big deal because close friends, Brittany Lauren and Liza Churney were both badly injured in the Boston marathon bombings.

Lauren is still recovering from a skull fracture and three operations on her leg that left her in critical condition just a few weeks ago. We are thrilled for both of them that they are getting their diplomas today.

SAMBOLIN: All right, in a slam dunk of a surprise by NBA star Dwayne Wade, Florida High School Senior Nicole asked the Miami Heat superstar to go to her prom with her. Wade never responded, but then just showed up at the prom and gave her a surprise that she will never forget. We'll talk live to her a little bit later in the show.

BERMAN: You know, it's never easy, Canadian singer, Alexis Norman, says she only had a few hours to learn the United States national anthem before Saturday's hockey game between the Portland Winter Hawks and the Halifax Moose Heads. Norman botched the words badly, but she did her best to keep going.

SAMBOLIN: Poor girl.

BERMAN: She's really not even close there. But remember she's Canadian, all right. She is not American here. She was learning the song for the first time. How many Americans know the Canadian national anthem? The crowd actually helped her finish the song and after the game, Norman issued this message on Twitter. She said, I'm embarrassed and deeply sorry. I wish I had more time to learn the American anthem.

SAMBOLIN: Or a cheat sheet, right?

BERMAN: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: Poor girl. All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, how bad is the devastation across America's heartland after dozens of tornadoes ripped through that region. Residents are waking up to a stark reality. We'll go live to the area for the very latest.

And then my favorite picture, a camera puts you in the mouth of a grizzly bear. This is unreal. Look at that. It is frightening. I'm going with awesome. This remarkable footage is still to come. We will explain how this happened. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Our STARTING POINT this morning, at least one person killed as dozens of tornadoes tear apart the heartland. We'll go live to the ground of one of the hardest hit areas with a look at the destruction and what we can expect today.

SAMBOLIN: And then a firefighter is trapped inside a condo building, it is on fire right now. We'll have all the details ahead.

BERMAN: Absolutely crazy pictures. Inside the jaws of a grizzly bear, one wildlife photographer was able to capture the moment when he chomped down on his camera inside the mouth of a grizzly bear, all by accident. We'll meet the photographer live coming up. It is Monday, May 20th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

SAMBOLIN: And we begin with breaking news this morning. We're getting initial estimates that a rash of violent storms damaged or destroyed some 300 homes in Oklahoma. The tornado hit Central Oklahoma bearing down on the city of Shawnee. We know that one man who lived in a trailer park in that area has died, about a dozen others are injured, and the twisters tearing roofs off of home, downing power lines. Trees are down.

The National Weather Service says tornado reports stretched through the country's midsection. Take a look at that map, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois. Nick Valencia is in hard hit Shawnee, Oklahoma. It's finally daylight. What are you seeing this morning, Nick?

VALENCIA: Good morning, Zoraida. And with daylight comes a new perspective. We're able to see some of the houses in fact that were hit and it really gives you a sense of the power and the magnitude of this storm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA (voice-over): You can hear the roar as this half-mile wide tornado tears across the land headed straight toward Shawnee, Oklahoma. There were more than two dozen reports of tornadoes from Oklahoma to Iowa Sunday. More than 45 homes damaged, at least one person killed and a dozen injured --