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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Dzhokhar in His Own Words; Ex-Cop Denies Killing Wife; The Heat Goes On; Hard to Swallow; Facing the Film Flop; Interview with Stacy Lewis

Aired June 4, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What do the Tsarnaevs have to say now about their son?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Dzhokhar's mother, Subida, was clearly very emotional as this recording of a conversation from a week ago was played again during this interview.

Apparently at the time they spoke, they were not allowed to discuss details of the Boston bombing case itself, so the relatively brief conversation is really dominated by Dzhokhar's parents asking him, how is he doing? How's his health, his welfare, and so forth? At one point they asked him, is he in pain?

This is how he replied. He said, "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 went on to say you have to be strong and he replied, "Everything is good, please don't say anything."

His mother said she was really surprised by how calm and in control he was. He thought -- she thought that it would be far more emotional. But in the end, she said it was him telling her that everything is going to be OK -- John.

BERMAN: Now you say they could not discuss the details of this case, any specifics. Still, his parents have clear opinions about the case, don't they -- Phil.

BLACK. They do very much. Yes. They still insist that both of their sons are innocent. They believe that they are the victims of some sort of setup here. They say that the question of guilt or innocence didn't come up in this conversation at all. They said there was no reason for it to come up discover. We know that at the moment, neither of them have any plans to travel to the United States.

Still, we know that there is an outstanding shoplifting case against Subida Tsarnaev, the suspect's mother. At one point in this recorded conversation, the father Enzo says to his son that they will see each other again in heaven -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Phil Black for us in Moscow.

Again, the first time we're really hearing from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev since he's been imprisoned here there in Boston. Thanks so much -- Phil.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Potentially damming testimony as the prosecution wraps up its case against an ex-cop accused of killing his wife and torching their home. Yesterday, a marriage counselor for Brett and Vashti Seacat testified that hours after his wife's death back in 2011, Seacat called her and said, quote, "I killed her. Vashti is dead and it's my fault." But his defense claims his wife died by suicide.

Ted Rowlands breaks down the intense courtroom drama for us from Kingman, Kansas.

Good morning.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Today will be day nine of what has been riveting testimony in this case and while there seems to be a mountain of evidence against Brent Seacat, he maintains that he did not kill his wife.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Brett and Vashti Seacat were high school sweethearts, who got married, had two children and were living in the small town of Kingman, Kansas, until April 2011.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Kingman 911, do you have an emergency?

BRETT SEACAT, ACCUSED OF KILLING WIFE: There's a fire.

BLACK: Starting with his 911 call, Brett Seacat, a former sheriff's deputy has maintained that his wife committed suicide after settling the family home on fire.

SEACAT: She shot herself, but she's in the fire, my wife is upstairs. I'm about to go upstairs and try and get her out.

ROWLANDS: Seacat told investigators in this seven-hour videotaped interrogation that he was sleeping on a downstairs couch when his wife called his cell phone from upstairs, telling him to get their two boys, ages 4 and 2, out of the house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you hurt her?

SEACAT: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did pull the trigger?

SEACAT: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill her?

SEACAT: No.

ROWLANDS: Prosecutors say Seacat is a calculated killer who even forged his wife's suicide note. Just days before she died Vashti files for divorce and according to friends, she was worried about her safety, even asking a friend about the exact scenario that eventually took her life.

JOY TROTNIC, FRIEND OF VASHTI SEACAT: Do you think Brett would burn the house down with me in it? And I looked at her and I said what? And she said, do you think Brett would burn the house down with me in it? And I was taken aback by that. I said, not with the kids at home.

ROWLANDS: Seacat denied ever making threats to his wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She told a friend a week and a half prior to this incident happening that you threatened to kill her.

SEACAT: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You threatened to burn the house down, you threatened to make it look like she did it.

SEACAT: That is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then -- and then --

SEACAT: That is bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: And, Christine, we expect the prosecution to wrap up its case around noon today. It'll be the defense's turn after that. And we do expect that Brett Seacat will take the stand in his own defense as early as this afternoon -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, so we'll be hearing from the accused. All right. Ted Rowlands, thank you.

BERMAN: The FBI is now looking into the disappearance of a Marine Corps reservist who was kidnapped at gunpoint at his father's ranch in Mexico. Investigators say Armando Torres III was kidnapped along with his father and uncle by armed men in La Barranca, Mexico on May 14th. They have not been seen or heard from since.

Corporal Torres is an Iraq war veterans from Baytown, Texas. The FBI is asking anyone with information about the case to come forward.

In New Jersey, and the nation's capital, they are mourning the passing of the oldest member of the U.S. Senate. Colleagues and constituents remembering the legacy of five-term New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. The liberal Democrat died yesterday from viral pneumonia. At 89, he was the Senate's last remaining World War II veteran. It's a real milestone.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he will chose Lautenberg's replacement. He has a lot of leeway on this. It's not clear if he'll choose a conservative to appease the right or anger the Republican base by selecting a moderate, perhaps even a Democrat. He also has a lot of leeway potentially on when to set a special election. New Jersey has sometimes conflicting laws on this. So different lawyers have different interpretations about what he might or might not be able to do.

ROMANS: Certainly he's a legend. And Chris Christie, a lot of nice things to say about the fights he's had over the years with Frank Lautenberg.

BERMAN: He did.

ROMANS: All right. Now just what the world was missing. A job site for beautiful people. The controversial dating site aptly named beautifulpeople.com announced Monday is starting a recruiting service. Employers hoping to attract good-looking workers will have access to the site's 750,000 members. In order to stay on the site you have to survive a ruthless peer review and could raise questions about employment discrimination if any employers there are willing to give it to try.

BERMAN: You know, it's what's inside that counts. I'm told.

ROMANS: If you're beautiful on the outside at the same time.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Exactly.

LeBron James and the Miami Heat can finally exhale this morning. The defending NBA champs headed to the finals for a third straight season. Their series against the Indiana Pacers -- man, it was tough. A lot tougher than expected. But the seventh and deciding game, it was no contest really at all.

CNN's Rachel Nichols has more from Miami.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS (voice-over): Few things define an athlete like a playoff like game seven. And on Monday night, LeBron James met the moment, not only leading the Miami Heat to a dominant win over the Indiana Pacer, but quieting questions about his legacy, with a third straight trip to the NBA Finals.

LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: This is what it's all about. You know, I dreamed about opportunities like this as a kid to have a game seven. That's the notion that, you know, high-caliber players need to step up and play at the highest level in game sevens.

DWAYNE WADE, MIAMI HEAT: Moments like this can define your career. Situations when you -- when everyone is -- you know, when you're looking like -- when everyone is counting you out, you're looking down, to see how you respond. And -- and I feel like we as a team, we respond very well.

NICHOLS: For the Heat, the stakes went well beyond a basketball game. The team is built on the star trio of James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and speculation was rampant a long tear would have sent at least one of those three packing. But players said that pressure only helped them against Indiana. CHRIS BOSH, MIAMI HEAT: We all love those big moments and, you know, those bright lights on, I think guys really step it up and really accept that challenge to really overcome any kind of obstacle we have.

NICHOLS (on camera): Next up for the Heat are the San Antonio Spurs, the same team that swept LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the first NBA Finals in 2007. James says he remembers being torched in that series, but he also noted he was just 22 years old at the time and that now at 28 he's, quote, "Twenty, 40, 50 times better a player." On Monday night, he showed it.

For CNN, I'm Rachel Nichols in Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Let's see what he brings on Thursday.

ROMANS: All right.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a Taco Bell employee caught French kissing, I guess, a stack of taco shells. That's right. He's licking the taco shell. The image of course has gone viral and the fast food giant is doing damage control this morning.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

BERMAN: Getting intimate with lunch, you might say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So this will make you think twice before going through that drive-thru today after seeing this picture of a Taco Bell employee apparently licking a stack of taco shells. Sexually harassing a stack of taco shells there. Someone posted it on the company's Facebook page, Monday, sending a wave of nausea across the Internet.

The outrage is predictable but unfortunately you have to say so is this kind of behavior. There have been a rash of recent incidents of this kind of thing at fast food chains. So the quesiton is, is this a new trend, or is this all really about social media?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): Do ever wonder what goes on behind closed doors at fast food restaurant? You certainly hope it's not this. A gross picture of an employee at a California Taco Bell licking a stack of taco shells.

It's just the latest in the cringe-worthy fast food employee incidents. This picture made it on to Taco Bell's Facebook page.

ELI ROUSSO, FRIEND: Fantastically disgusting.

ANDREW YARAGHI, STUDENTS: He should be fired right away.

ROUSSO: I think is absolutely horrifying. He should be fired right away.

Taco Bell officials are investigating the restaurant and employee involved. The company released this statement, "When we learned of the situation we immediately contacted this restaurant's leadership. And although we believe it is a frank and the food was not served to customers, we are conducting a full scale investigation and we'll be taking swift action against those involved.

AMBER VANDERZEE, CUSTOMER: I think I'd give him the benefit of the doubt, you know, maybe he was just doing a funny thing with coworkers and throw them away hopefully.

BERMAN: But the damage might already been done. The photo has been shared thousands of times on Facebook and yes, has now gone viral.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not completely sure what's up with social media nowadays where everybody posts their bad behavior on Facebook. It doesn't like you post that on the Internet. Not a good idea at all.

BERMAN: Taco Bell is not alone when it comes to disturbing employee posts. Earlier this year a KFC worker in Tennessee was fired after this photo was posted on Facebook. Appearing to show her licking a pile of mashed potatoes. And last summer, a photo of this burger king employee, stabbing in two containers of lettuce, was posted on an online forum, with the words, "This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King," also shown the door.

Prank or not these images are still hard to swallow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: I don't think it's fair to fully blame social media here. I don't think it's ever appropriate to treat taco shells that way.

ROMANS: No, but there's two crimes here. One is doing it and the other one is in posting it with your face or your handle. Like that. You don't think you're going to get found out and in trouble and lose your job.

BERMAN: Two layers of civility at work and disgustingness.

ROMANS: At least. All right, take a look at some trending stories.

Oscar winner Penelope Cruz will reportedly play a Bond Girl. And the next 007 blockbuster. This is part of the story. The casting reports are true, the 40-year-old Spanish bombshell would be age appropriate for Daniel Craig's super spy. But some Web sites jumped on the news, sawing said that Cruz would be the oldest bond girl ever. At a geriatric 40. Cruz's husband, Javier Bardem, he played the major villain in "Skyfall." Remember him in the last film.

BERMAN: Shocking that they will have a problem with Penelope Cruz there. They're going to get themselves checked out.

ROMANS: Yes. BERMAN: All right check this out a dynamite find in Wyoming has paleontologist excited. They are digging up the fossils of three triceratopses -- plural of triceratops -- two adults and probably a child. One of the adults is thought to be the most complete skeleton of the giant ever found. The fact that three of them have seemed to have died together may mean they travel as a group, which you know is something that they have never seen before, scientists. The question is just how did they die?

Well the pattern of broken bones means they likely died at the hands or perhaps jaws of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Pretty cool.

ROMANS: All right. That is cool.

Ahead on STARTING POINT bombing in the box office, why some of the biggest flicks of the season turnout to be the big flop? You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: A Tampa socialite connected to the disgraced former CIA Director, David Petraeus is suing the government saying, "It violated her privacy". Jill Kelley says officials leaked false information about her to the media. Kelley was the one who tipped off officials to the Petraeus scandal when she complained about harassing e-mails from Petraeus's biographer Paula Broadwell. Petraeus later admitted having an affair with Broadwell and resigned his post as CIA director.

At the time Kelley was said to have exchanged inappropriate messages with Afghanistan Commander General John Allen but neither were ever charged with a crime.

BERMAN: So a minivan turns into a makeshift maternity ward in Utah. When Lynette Hales' twins decided they needed to be born a few weeks ahead of schedule she went into labor on her way back from a road trip to Nevada. No time to get to the hospital; the boys were born on Interstate 80. The first one had trouble breathing a Utah State Trooper sped to the scene and helped out. Doctors expect the baby boys to be fine.

You know, there must have been a vision. I have actually been there for a birth of twins before. That must have been a site.

ROMANS: A dramatic way to begin life in the back of a minivan.

BERMAN: So it is that time of year again, box office blockbusters. They become a rite of summer; a time for movie studios to make up some ground and make some big cash. This year's crop is bigger and more expensive than ever.

The question is why do some of the biggest movies, the big money ones, turn out to be the biggest flops? And why do some of the most reliable box office draws, the stars, sometimes turn into duds?

CNN's Pamela Brown with all of the answers. PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. So the big question this morning. Can big stars still rake in the big bucks? We're used to the big summer movie with the big superstar making a killing at the box office. But Will Smith's latest action movie "After Earth" crash landed this past weekend. It was third place, earning only $27 million.

And that means everyone is looking at the next big blockbuster movie that hit theaters that would be Brad Pitt's movie "World War Z". It comes out June 21st. He's a superstar, so no worries, right?

Well not necessarily. From the beginning this movie has gotten terrible press, faced tons of delays and gotten major re-shoots in total. They've reportedly blown through over $200 million.

ROMANS: Wow.

BROWN: That's $200 million. We spoke to Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com. He says these major movies are more about the content now and not the big stars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: A spokesperson for Sony Pictures who is behind "After Earth" says they are expecting a strong performance internationally. But we wanted to give Will Smith and Brad Pitts some hope this morning. Plenty of stars have starred in serious flops and still haven't lost their A-List status. So we want to see you guys remember these box office bombs. I want to put you to the test here. I hope you've been brushing up on your trivia.

Yes ok so let's start with Eddie Murphy. Are you ready for this one? Can you guess his biggest flop?

BERMAN: Oh, he had a few that were questionable. "Foe Finger" --

ROMANS: "Best Defense". Is that what you said?

BROWN: No. No it was "Adventures of Pluto Nash" from 2002. In fact -- well this movie is about mobsters on the moon earned only $7.1 million after spending $100 million on it to make it and guess what it is one of the top box office flops of all time.

But it didn't keep him from landing a supporting role in 2006 "The Dream Girls," where he earned a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award nomination. So --

BERMAN: Yes. BROWN: What were you going to say?

BERMAN: I was waiting for the next one.

BROWN: Ok John Travolta. I think you might have a good guess here.

BERMAN: "Battlefield Earth." Is it "Battlefield Earth?"

BROWN: You got it. We have a winner. That's right. His biggest flop is "Battlefield Earth", another sci-fi movie. It was released in 2000. It was based off a novel written by Scientology founder, L Ron Hubbard. It cost $73 million to make and market, but earned $29.7 million worldwide.

ROMANS: Oh no. That math doesn't work.

BROWN: It doesn't work very well. But you know what; it's ok for him. He's been landing some great roles ever since then.

ROMANS: The only one I know is Ben Affleck and "Gigli". That's the only one I really -- Ben Affleck --

BERMAN: That's a perfectly good movie.

ROMANS: What?

BROWN: We'll talk about that later.

BERMAN: We'll talk about that later.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Pamela.

Pro golfer Stacy Lewis was the 2012 LPGA player of the year. She hopes to regain the number one spot after competing in the (inaudible) LPGA championship this weekend. In today's "Human Factor, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us how Lewis has been able to reach an elite level of play despite having a severely curved spine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: At age 28, Stacy Lewis is living the life.

STACEY LEWIS, PRO GOLFER: It's been fun. You know, I get to play golf every day for a job, I mean that's not too bad.

GUPTA: She's been golfing since she was eight years old, mostly just for the love of the game.

Was there a point in your life when you knew you were really, really good at golf?

LEWIS: Probably in college was the time that I said I could maybe do this as a professional. GUPTA: But it wouldn't come easily. In middle school, Stacy was diagnosed with scoliosis, it's a major curvature of her spine. Her doctors had hoped that it would correct itself without surgery.

LEWIS: A wore a back brace for six and a half, 18 hours a day.

GUPTA: She only took it off to play golf, but it didn't work. She had to go under the knife.

You scheduled the surgery. Do you remember what that day was like?

LEWIS: I thought I was done playing golf. They took out one of the ribs to do a fusion, on the side had to move all the organs, lungs, chest tube, all that kind of stuff.

GUPTA: It took doctors five hours to insert a rod and screws into the spine and then several months of rehab.

LEWIS: I couldn't bend or twist for six months. So the doctor let me chip and putt a little bit.

GUPTA: Slowly but surely, her game started to come back; her swing, even got a little better.

LEWIS: When your hands are low like that, you tend to hit it left, when my hands got high, I started to hit a little fade to the right, which is actually I think a better shot for golf. So it actually worked out pretty good.

GUPTA: Right, right. Worked out pretty well.

Today, she's at the top of her game. Do you pinch yourself every now and then?

LEWIS: It's strange. You know, I definitely as a kid didn't aspire to be in this position, but it's cool just to see the hard work pay off.

GUPTA: It has paid off indeed. She's reportedly made close to $5 million in winnings, but Lewis also knows it's not forever.

LEWIS: I don't know how long I will be able to play golf. I just feel very lucky to be doing what I'm doing. And why not enjoy it?

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: A quick programming note: tonight on "AC 360", investigation exploring recent mishaps on cruise ships, how safe are they? "Cruise Nightmare" airs tonight at 8:00 only on CNN.

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

And I'm John Berman.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", an American Marine kidnapped in Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They took him. You don't know he's dead. That means you still have that hope that he's alive.

COSTELLO: The reservist vanished. The FBI with an urgent flee for your help this morning.