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Boston Bombing Suspects; Missing Marine; Pistorius In Court; Ellis And Liberty Island Security Revised; Mom Fights Off Kidnapper; Price Increases At Disney Parks; A Cymbalic Guesture; Miami Heat Advances To NBA Finals; David "Deacon" Jones Dead At Age 74; French Open Melt Down; Matching For 35 Years!; Study: Sunscreen Prevents Wrinkles; Will Smith Not As Fresh

Aired June 4, 2013 - 07:30   ET


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


BERMAN: The parents of the Boston bombing marathon suspects are revealing details of their first conversation with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev since their son was placed under arrest. The Tsarnaev's played audio recordings of the conversation during an interview that was aired on British television.

CNN's Phil Black is live in Moscow. Phil, what do the Tsarnaevs have to say now about their son?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Britain's Channel 4 had this interview with the parents of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in which his mother plays this conversation, recording of it, which she says took place a week ago. They're told they're not allowed to discuss the Boston bombing case specifically so the conversation in some way it's kind of general and it's really dominated by the parents asking questions about their son's health and welfare.

It's brief but it's still quite emotional too. At one point, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's mother asks is he in pain. This is how he replies? He says, no, of course not. I'm already eating and have been for a long time. They are giving me rice and chicken now. Everything is fine. His mother says to him you have to be strong. He replies everything is good. Please don't say anything.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's mother says that she was very surprised by just how calm he was during that conversation. She thought he would be more upset demanding answers and instead she says it was him calming her down and telling her that everything is going to be OK -- John.

BERMAN: Phil, you said they weren't allowed to discuss the case specifically still the parents seem to have a lot of opinions about the case itself.

BLACK: They do. So they say they didn't discuss the case specifically. They said the issue of guilt or innocence did not come up, but they say it largely didn't come up because they don't have any doubts in that area. They don't believe it's a question. They believe both of their sons, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, are the victims of a set up. They don't explain how, but that is clearly their belief.

We know through U.S. officials the Russians were concerned about Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother well before the Boston attacks. They had concerns about how radicalized they had become in their Muslim beliefs. The parents don't address that allegation specifically, but the mother does talk with a great deal of pride about how religious she is and how religious her son, Tamerlan, was and their efforts to persuade her youngest son, Dzhokhar, to also take his religion much more seriously.

This is what she said on that point. She said Tamerlan and I we pray because it is an obligation. That's our religion. How not we pray? Then what Muslims are we. So that's what Tamerlan used to say to Dzhokhar. You know, we are not Muslims. We cannot call ourselves Muslim if we don't thank our Allah five times a day as it's written in Koran -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Phil Black in Moscow for us, again, putting these pieces together of the Tsarnaevs, their family and their communications, thanks, Phil.

ROMANS: Federal agents are now looking into the disappearance of a Marine Corps reservist who was kidnapped last month in Mexico. The FBI says Corporal Armando Torres III was abducted along with his father and an uncle by armed men at a ranch in La Barranca, Mexico May 14th. They haven't been seen or heard from since.

CNN's Chris Lawrence joins us live from the Pentagon. Chris, any idea what happened to these men.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were taken from that ranch and that was the last that any witnesses saw from them, Christine. Right now, the FBI is working with the Mexican authorities and really friends and supporters of this Marine have gone on social media opening a Facebook page called "Get Our Brother Back," going on Reditt, starting discussion threads, trying to raise the profile of this case to put pressure on authorities to pursue any and all leads in order to try to get this Marine back. He had been in the Marine Corps for about eight years, did a tour on the horn of Africa and also did a tour in Iraq several years ago -- Christine.

ROMANS: Has the family made any sort of statement?

LAWRENCE: Nothing formal but a source who has spoken with the family tells us they still believe that Armando Torres is still alive. They said they have gotten some indications from Mexican authorities that he is still alive. Right now, they don't think that these kidnappers even knew he was a Marine. He was in the reserves, wasn't wearing a uniform. Rarely went to Mexico, the family says, but he had gone down there to visit his father and that's when he was abducted from the ranch by those armed men along with his uncle as well.

ROMANS: What a mystery. All right, Chris Lawrence. Thanks, Chris. BERMAN: New this morning, Olympic star, Oscar Pistorius back in a South African courtroom for the first time in three months. The blade runner appearing at a pre-trial hearing about four hours ago for the shooting death of his girlfriend, the model, Reeva Steenkamp. A judge agreed to postpone this murder trial until August 19th after lawyers asked for more time to prepare.

ROMANS: The Interior Department reversing itself now saying visitors to Ellis and Liberty Islands should be screened before they arrive at the New York landmarks. You're looking at live pictures of the Statue of Liberty this morning --

BERMAN: Beautiful.

ROMANS: -- nice Tuesday morning in New York Harbor. The National Park Service original plan was to screen visitors only after they arrive by ferry. So take the ferry, get there then do the screening. But a screening security facility now has been proposed in Manhattan's Battery Park and the city may try to set up a temporary screening facility before the July 4th opening weekend for Liberty Island, which is, of course, home to the Statue of Liberty.

BERMAN: A Seattle mother is telling her story and it is chilling after fighting off a would-be kidnapper that tried to take her 3-year- old son. Melissa says her son was playing in the backyard when she felt someone brush by her Sunday evening. That's when she spotted a masked man running around the back of the house with her son under his arm. What did she do? She chased him and he tripped dropping the boy and that's when a fight began.


"MELISSA," FOUGHT OFF KIDNAPPER: As soon as my son was on the ground, I jumped on top of my son. He started hitting and punching me and I continued to kick and punch him back and get him away from me.


BERMAN: What a brave, brave woman. Melissa says the suspect then ran off. She suffered some bruises on her knuckles. She got a black eye during the scuffle. Her son, miraculously and thankfully was unharmed.

ROMANS: When you wish upon a star, better check your wallet. Disney just raised ticket prices at its theme parks in California and Florida. Again, it's the fourth time in the last three years. Are families being priced out of a Disney family vacation? One industry observer says it's a case of good old supply and demand.


ROMANS (voice-over): Disney famous for fantasy from movies to theme parks. But now, you will pay a little more to join Mickey and his friends in Orlando and California. Disney raising ticket prices to its theme parks. One day admission to the magic kingdom in Orlando now costs $95. That's for visitors 10 and older and up from $89 last year.

In California, it's now $92 up from $87. So for two parents and two kids that's almost $400 for just one visit. Some visitors on Disney's blog aren't happy. Carol says, "At $95 a day per person a family of four is already priced out." Another one reads "Yes, the memories are valuable and what Disney offers is magical, but you can't get those memories if you can't afford to make them" says Crystal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at all the ticket prices, it just really becomes ridiculous. It really, really does.

ROMANS: The company tells us the tickets are still a great value. You get access from 9:00 in the morning to midnight. There's Main Street USA, Splash Mountain, Cinderella's Castle, a parade each night and fireworks and other parks around Disney aren't that much cheaper.

Universal Studios Orlando $92 a day for adults, $86 for children, Busch Gardens in Tampa, $85 for adults and $77 for kids and other summer entertainment options might not be as cheap as you think. The cheapest ticket to see the musical "Annie" on Broadway is $50. Want to see a Red Sox baseball game in Boston, on average that's $53 and even a 3D movie like "Epic" costs about $15.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That hurt, those are my eyes.

ROMANS: For some, visiting what's called the happiest place on earth maybe priceless while others may feel priced out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to really think about where you want to spend your money. You can't do all the parks anymore.


ROMANS: Disney tells us it's still a good value and they point out that the ticket price increase is for the one day -- you know, the one day pass. Most people buy multiday passes and it's still a good value considering what you're getting.

BERMAN: I will say I love Disneyworld. I used to be a Disney cast member. I used to get good, good free passes there.

ROMANS: You were a Disney cast then.

BERMAN: So to speak, but people --

ROMANS: I can't remember which one were you.

BERMAN: People save money for a long time to go there and I will say people always look happy.

ROMANS: Sleepy, Sneezy which one were you?

BERMAN: Dopey. It's 39 minutes after the hour, ahead on STARTING POINT, his symbol went flying out of his hand while played the "Star Spangled Banner," really you have to see what he did next.

ROMANS: And then the couple that dresses together stays together. Is this the answer to wedding bliss? You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: It's every musician's nightmare, mid performance your instrument breaks. Cue Andrew. So let's see it just one more time, see it again.

BERMAN: We're taking a look one more time there.

ROMANS: So the leather strap is still right there in his hand. About halfway through the "Star Spangled Banner" during a student band competition, Andre cymbal came flying off the handle. We talked to the cymbal star along with his mom and his drum teacher about his quick thinking rebound.


ANDREW PAWELCZYK, CYMBAL BROKE MID-PERFORMANCE: I didn't know if I should run and hide in the corner, get another pair or just stand there, but then it came to my head, maybe I should do something patriotic so I saluted the flag. Well, everybody started texting me a lot since this morning and people have been commenting a lot.

HEIDE PAWELCZYK, ANDREW'S MOTHER: I have been thrilled by the reaction that the vets have shown Andrew. There was a real nice letter sent to the school and some of the comments on YouTube were very complimentary about Andrew showing his patriotism and people are looking for something that feels good and to know that there's a kid out there that truly does respect his flag and his country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's one message it's just to keep music going no matter what.


ROMANS: And salute. When in doubt, salute. All in all, Andrew said it wasn't that bad. For the record, he graduated from junior high and is headed to high school in the fall. We did ask him what musical instrument he'll be playing there.


PAWELCZYK: Probably the drums. I've had enough cymbals for once.


BERMAN: Here it is again. You can watch it again here. He loses the cymbal here in a second -- that was a good one. Apparently, we have the exclusive footage of the cymbal not breaking. The alternate universe where he made it through the whole song with the cymbal is playing here.

ROMANS: Here it comes.

BERMAN: There it is. The cymbal falls.

ROMANS: His reaction, what he thinks to do is so amazing. He looks. He leans down, he turns.

BERMAN: And there is the salute you heard him talking about there. It's something patriotic he came up with.

ROMANS: Look at the girl on the base drum. She is laughing.

BERMAN: We salute him.

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat took care of business last night against the Indiana Pacers winning a sudden death game seven. Jared Greenberg has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Jared.

JARED GREENBERG, "BLEACHER REPORT": Good morning, John and Christine. If my microphone goes out I don't know sign language so I'll just stand here for the next minute and a half of so.

Indiana unable to pull off the huge upset two years ago, Lebron James vowed to bring multiple titles to Miami. Now he's just four wins away from two straight championships. Justin Bieber slowed down for a moment to check out some hoops, certainly not winning the fashion game. You be the judge.

David Beckham, more conservative attire. Appropriate for the white out in Miami where they watched Lebron James score 18 first half point and nearly injured the rim with his head. Lebron finished with 32. Dwayne Wade snapped out of his scoring slump dropping 21. The Heat blowout the Pacers earning their third straight trip to the NBA finals. Miami welcomes San Antonio for game one Thursday.


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: I've had multiple dreams about it and, you know, to see a dream become a reality and I'm just very blessed. Our team is blessed and, you know, we're just happy that we're able to represent the eastern conference in the finals.


GREENBERG: A legend of the gridiron has died. Deacon Jones was the cause of dozens of quarter backs having sleepless nights. The first hall of famer introduced football fans to the term we use on the regular, the sack. The NFL was forced to change some rules because of now dominant Jones was during in the 60s and 70s. Jones played for three franchises most notably the Rams. Deacon Jones died of natural causes at the age of 74.

We revisit Justin Bieber for just a moment. He's at the French open. He's saying we want more, we want more. Apparently not his first outburst on the tennis court, well, that's pretty apparent. As far as the tennis stuff goes, not so good either. Tommy Haas sent him to his room in less than 90 minutes of action.

ROMANS: You should see what Berman does, the laptop when he's had a real bad run -- it's ugly --

BERMAN: I hate this story. ROMANS: Anger management.

GREENBERG: That's why he has that exclusive deal with several laptop companies.

BERMAN: That's right. They sponsor me. I do appreciate the Justin Bieber joke. It's the first time that joke has ever been made on television.

GREENBERG: Very first.

BERMAN: Excellent. Thanks, Jared.

GREENBERG: I like that. I like to be an original.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT. So far, it's the box office bomb of the summer. Will Smith's "After Earth." Is Brad Pitt's zombie movie the next one to flop? We're going to take a look at what separate a blockbuster from a bomb.


ROMANS: Nancy and Donald Featherstone truly are a perfect match. These birds of a feather have been dressing alike for the last 35 years. Where do they get the fantastic his and hers ensembles? Nancy makes them. She had designed 600 matching outfits.

BERMAN: See the dog too.

ROMANS: And the dog too. The couple has one other claim to fame. Donald who proposed to Nancy on their first date, he created the plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament in the 1970s. It's all about love and staying house.

BERMAN: In today's "A.M. House Call," smoking isn't just bad for your health. It's also bad for business. New research shows the average smoker costs his or her employer an extra $6,000 a year. More than half of that is the price of lost productivity from frequent smoking breaks. Increased health care expenses are also a major factor in that scenario.

ROMANS: You might want to slather some sunscreen on your face after you hear this. A new study finds that it can slow down or even prevent wrinkles and saggy skin. Most of the people taking part had fair skin and they used an SPF 15 sunscreen in this particular study. Those who applied it every day had tighter and smoother skin than those who didn't. Researchers said that sunscreen makers did not pay for the study.

Instead of being a spectacular hit "After Earth," is an unexpected Box Office bomb. In fact, it's Will Smith's worst summer debut in 20 years. Some say it's because of Smith's ego. He reportedly rejected a role in "Tjango and Chains" because it wasn't the lead. Jamie Foxx eventually landed the job. Others blame "After Earth" director -- everyone is making fun of me. He is box office poison. Can the former fresh prince regain his standing as Hollywood royalty? Pamela Brown is laughing at me.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think John is relieved that he didn't have to read that. That's what it's about. We're used to the summer blockbuster making a big splash at the Box Office, but Will Smith's latest action film, coming up short. Now the question is, can big stars still rake in the big bucks?


BROWN (voice-over): Crash landed, a fitting description for the debut weekend of Will Smith's latest action movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must abort this mission.

BROWN: "After Earth" cost nearly $150 million to make, but earned only a disappointing $27 million, giving it a surprising third place opening. "After Earth's" Box Office thud could be a sign of things to come for Brad Pitt's "World War Z." From early on, it has been plagued with bad press, delays, drastic reshoots and a reported budget of more than $200 million, all hunting this zombie thriller, which begs the questions, can big stars still bring in the big bucks?

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, BOX OFFICE DIVISION, HOLLYWOOD.COM: There was a time when the conventional wisdom was that you plug in a big star like a Will Smith, like a Brad Pitt and then it is automatically be a big hit. That's really not as true as it used to be and in fact, the whole package, it's about what is the concept of the movie.

BROWN: With a long career of successful summer flicks like the "Men In Black" franchise, Smith is widely considered Box Office gold with 13 of his movies debuting at number one, which makes "After Earth's" lackluster all the more eye opening. But Paul Dergarabedian of says Smith is not to blame.

DERGARABEDIAN: I think it more had to do with the concept of the movie. Unlike something like "Fast and Furious 6," which is obvious what the movie is about or even "The Hangover," the mystery surrounding "After Earth" and what it was about may have hurt it a bit.

BROWN: Pitt and partner, Angelina Jolie hit the red carpet at the London premiere of "World War Z" Sunday where he acknowledged the movie's delayed production, but says it was a necessary step.

BRAD PITT, ACTOR: Always, always. To get it right.

BROWN: Audiences will see if this megastar did it right and still has his Box Office mojo when "World War Z" hits theatres June 21st.


BROWN: And the spokesperson for Sony Pictures, the studio behind "After Earth," says that they were hoping for a bigger opening weekend, but expect a strong performance internationally.

ROMANS: All right, we'll see. We have a quick programming note, tonight on "AC 360," the investigation exploring some recent mishaps on cruise ships. How safe are they? "Cruise Nightmare" airs tonight at 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, battling Mother Nature as fire scorches parse of the west and floods threaten to soak residents along on the Mississippi. We are live in these hotspots, just ahead.


ROMANS: Our STARTING POINT, fires and floods. Firefighters battling wild fires in the west while residents along the Mississippi are bracing for floods, a levy breach in Missouri already forcing evacuations.

BERMAN: The blade runner returns to court and is warned by the judge that he is facing trial by media. We go live to South Africa.

ROMANS: And then this gross picture goes viral, a Taco Bell employee licking a stack of tacos.

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: Happy breakfast. I'm Christine Romans. Tuesday, June 4th. Welcome to STARTING POINT.