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Remembering James Gandolfini; Stocks Tumble on Fed Fears; Monsoon Floods Swamp India

Aired June 20, 2013 - 12:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: HBO began running onscreen messages last night, mourning the loss of the man who they called a beloved member of the HBO family.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, they're talking about the actor James Gandolfini, the star of the network's enormous hit show, "The Sopranos."

And listen to this. This is one of those modern-day ways the fans show their love their love for their favorite star.

MALVEAUX: So on iTunes just in the past few hours, the first season of the "The Sopranos" broke into the top ten TV series chart. That's right. People are downloading. They are buying the show in big numbers today, even though the series ended years ago.

HOLMES: Amazing, isn't it?

It might surprise you just how busy Gandolfini was in movies and in theaters. If you only knew him as Tony Soprano, you missed out.

Here's Stephanie Elam.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Gandolfini.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Private, reserved and painfully shy, James Gandolfini granted one of his only in-depth interviews to "Inside the Actors' Studio" in 2004.


JAMES GANDOLFINI, ACTOR: Westwood, New Jersey.

LIPTON: What are your parents names?

GANDOLFINI: Santa and James.

LIPTON: And where were they born?

GANDOLFINI: My father was born in Italy in a place called Borgataro (ph). And then when he was two or three, he came here. My mother was born in America and moved back to Italy when she was six months old. And then came back when she was about 20.

ELAM: Perhaps because of his own ties to the actors' studio having studied there himself, Gandolfini opened up in the interview, revealing a rare look at his early years.

LIPTON: Were you a well-behaved kid?

GANDOLFINI: Up to a point.

LIPTON: What point?

GANDOLFINI: High school.

ELAM: Gandolfini capped his teen angst years earning a bachelor's degree from Rutgers in 1983. Then he went to New York City to manage a bar.

GANDOLFINI: The club was straight two nights a week, gay two nights a week and kind of everything else two nights a week.

So I spent a few years just watching people just in amazement and saw a lot of interesting things that I stored up for later.

ELAM: Encouraged by a college friend and nightclub regular, Gandolfini attended his first acting class.

GANDOLFINI: It was a (inaudible) class. I went in and I was scared to death. I was shaking.

ELAM: Terrified, but fascinated and determined, Gandolfini would spend the better part of the next decade mastering his craft until finally catching a break in 1992 on Broadway.

GANDOLFINI: I auditioned for the role of Steve in "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin.

ELAM: A few more theater roles would follow before director Sidney Lumet gave the 30-year-old actor his first major movie role in "A Stranger Among Us."

Following several smaller roles in "Mr. Wonderful," "Money for Nothing," and opposite Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino's "True Romance" ...

GANDOLFINI: Yeah, well, maybe you can help me. I'm looking for a friend of mine.

ELAM: Gandolfini's career really gained momentum in the mid-'90s playing Gina Davis' boyfriend in "Angie."

GANDOLFINI: We're getting married and you can't go out with me no more?

ELAM: One of the heavies in "Terminal Velocity" and a series of big budget features like "Crimson Tide," "The Juror," "Night Falls on Manhattan," "She's So Lovely," "Fallen," and several co-starring John Travolta, including "A Civil Action" and "Get Shorty."

GANDOLFINI: I think you ought to turn around and go back to Miami.

ELAM: But it wasn't the big screen where the Italian-American Jersey family man would find the role he was born to play.

In his late 30s Gandolfini landed the role that would make him a star, New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano.

GANDOLFINI: You all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My leg is broken. The bone's coming through.

GANDOLFINI: Let me see.

I'll give you a (inaudible). Where's my (inaudible) money?

ELAM: He never expected to get the part as he told "Inside the Actors' Studio."

GANDOLFINI: I got the script and I remember reading it and laughing out loud and I said there's no way I'll be able to do this.

I really thought that they would pick someone different than I.

LIPTON: How different? In what way?

GANDOLFINI: Suave, good looking Mafioso guy. Just somebody a little more leading man-type basically.

ELAM: He may not have considered himself leading man material, but from the first episode of "The Sopranos," he was an undeniably compelling screen presence.

His Tony Soprano was part family man, vulnerable at times, at least in his sessions with his therapist, Dr. Melfi.

LORRAINE BRACCO, ACTRESS: You always talk about him more like a son.

GANDOLFINI: In some ways he was.

ELAM: A man of strong appetites, sexual and otherwise.

GANDOLFINI: You got time for lunch?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are my lunch.

ELAM: And an unapologetic mobster with an explosive temper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just having some bad luck.

GANDOLFINI: There. Just got worse.

ELAM: Shortly after the show debuted in 1999, series creator David Chase spoke to CNN about his leading man. DAVID CHASE, CREATOR, "THE SOPRANOS": We have a great cast. And of that cast, James Gandolfini is really important to the equation.

I think, you know, he's playing a mob boss, a killer, and a tough guy. And I think if he didn't have someone playing that role who also could illicit feelings of empathy and sympathy and even pity, I think we'd be -- we wouldn't have the show we have.

ELAM: Some of Gandolfini's finest acting came in scenes with Edie Falco who played his wife. Their marriage featured regular betrayals and titanic fights.


ELAM: And moments of surprising tenderness.

GANDOLFINI: To my husband, you're not just a funny, smart, lovable, good looking guy, you're mine.

Thank you, baby.

EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS: Happy birthday.

GANDOLFINI: Falco spoke of her co-star in glowing terms.

FALCO: I work most often with Jim Gandolfini, who was so easy to be married to and to feel like was family with me.

It was just so easy to feel we had this long history together, and love acting with him. Acting with him is like when you're a kid and you're playing, you know, house or something. It felt very un-grown- up. It felt very un-actory. We were just pretending and it just felt as real as anything has, so it was an absolute joy.

BRACCO: Finish telling me about the day you collapsed.

ELAM: Lorraine Bracco played Tony Soprano's psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi.

BRACCO: Great actor. And when you work with someone who is better than you, you have to rise to the occasion. You either fall to the side or you rise to the occasion.

And I guess when we just sit in those chairs, I kind of rise to the occasion. He's a brilliant actor to watch. He really is.

ELAM: That brilliance earned the actor multiple honors.


ELAM: He won a trio of Emmys, three Screen Actors guild awards and a Golden Globe for his work on the show.

After accepting his first Emmy in 2000, he spoke to the media backstage.

GANDOLFINI: I was very surprised. I was shocked. ELAM: On that occasion he offered his own thoughts on Tony Soprano.

GANDOLFINI: He tries to do the right thing and screws everything up by doing that. Kind of like a Ralph Cramden kind of "Honeymooners" kind of thing, just a little more dangerous.

ELAM: In 2003 Gandolfini threatened to leave the series in a salary dispute. HBO sued him for breach of contract, but eventually, the matter was settled with Gandolfini reportedly doubling his salary to $800,000 an episode.

Gandolfini starred in all 86 episodes of "The Sopranos" over the course of six seasons. The run ended in June 2007 with an enigmatic cliff hanger. Viewers were left wondering if Tony Soprano lived or died.

The conclusion of "The Sopranos" was not just the end of an industry changing television phenomenon. It also allowed Gandolfini to take his career in new directions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He respected the craft of acting, you know, immensely. He took it very seriously.

ELAM: Now in his 40's, he was free to take on non-tough guy characters, branching out from his iconic portrayal of Tony Soprano.

Most were supporting roles like 2009's "The Taking of Pelham 123".

GANDOLFINI: Everyone will get where they need to go. We'll make all the stops.

ELAM: That same year he voiced Carol in "Where the Wild Things Are," a movie based on the children's classic book.

GANDOLFINI: You're the king. And look at me. I'm big.

ELAM: True to his theater roots, he returned to the stage in the Broadway comedy "God of Carnage."

Starring alongside Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden, and Hope Davis, Gandolfini played a frumpy businessman, earning him a Tony nomination. The show itself won a Tony for best play of 2009.

Last year he took on a commanding yet small part as the CIA director in "Zero Dark Thirty".

GANDOLFINI: I want to know more about who's inside this house by the end of the week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any time there was a role that needed this gravitas or some kind of a sense of a little bit of menace, maybe, and a little authority, he was a good guy to play that.

GANDOLFINI: Everyone I've talked to knows the exact date when they've been hit. ELAM: The same year "The Sopranos" ended, Gandolfini stepped behind the lens as executive producer, again for HBO with "Alive Day Memories - Home From Iraq," a documentary where veterans opened up about their graphic war experiences.

His interest in vets went beyond the documentary. In 2010, he traveled with other actors from "The Sopranos" to Afghanistan on a USO tour.

GANDOLFINI: It's an honor to meet you. Thank you.

ELAM: He then earned a Prism award in 2011 for "Wartorn, 1861 to 2010," a documentary that examined post-traumatic stress disorder especially among soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was something that was definitely a passion project of his. And I know in his small community he knew people that were involved in the military. And I think this was his way of drawing attention to it.

GANDOLFINI: I see a role model.

ELAM: Continuing his long relationship with HBO, Gandolfini teamed up with the network in 2010 this time as Craig Gilbert in "Cinema Verite."

Long gone was the mafia persona. Instead he played a bearded documentary filmmaker following the Loud family in a story about America's first reality TV show.

At the time of his death, Gandolfini was preparing to star in an HBO series called "Criminal Justice." the fate of that show is now unclear.

Fiercely private, Gandolfini was known to skirt questions about his family life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never felt prey to the trappings of celebrity. He was never interested in that. He didn't want to do the fame game.

ELAM: He leaves behind two children, a teenage son from his first marriage, and a daughter born in October to his second wife, Deborah Lynn. The couple married in Hawaii in 2008.

Dead at just 51, a life and an acting career cut short, some had hoped to see Tony Soprano again on the big screen.

And although he was known to shy away from the spotlight, he opened up in an interview with "Inside the Actors' Studio," answering whimsically when asked about the end of his life.

LIPTON: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

GANDOLFINI: Take over for a while. I'll be right back. No, no, no, no.

LIPTON: That's it. That's it.

GANDOLFINI: No, no, no.

LIPTON: You dare not change it. It's too good.

GANDOLFINI: Think of the possibilities.


MALVEAUX: Want to get another check of the stocks, which have been tumbling all morning here. Felicia Taylor joins us from the New York Stock Exchange to explain why is this happening.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically the reason it's happening is because, obviously, we've heard hints from the Federal Reserve that, you know, that tapering that we've been talking about is going to begin at some point. But then again that really wasn't a surprise. I mean Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, kind of hedged his bets on both ends, sort of saying, as soon as he sees the data that corresponds with that -- in other words, the market is dependent on the data -- then he will start to pull back on the billion dollar -- $85 billion bond purchases that have been going on.

And, frankly, you know, a lot of traders out there have been propped up artificially by this stimulus. I mean this is something that needed to happen in the marketplace. Many people would argue that the market was too frothy and had gone too far to the upside. So the bulls are pulling back a little bit, the bears are out there taking advantage of an opportunity in what is, you know, obviously going to be looking at economic fundamentals going forward. And even today we got two numbers that were a little bit conflicting, an increase in jobless claims by 18,000, but yet existing home sales also on the rise.

So the question and one of the biggest worries out there is, are we going to see deflation coming down the road? And that is actually a decrease in prices. Yes, if you go to the grocery store, you know, things that you and I do and everybody does on a daily basis, you're going to see higher prices. But when it comes to larger ticket items, we haven't seen that yet. And that's a concern for the marketplace as well. So, a pullback like this, absolutely normal at this stage of the game.

HOLMES: Tell us then about the nervousness overseas. I mean you look at the major European bosses (ph), Asia for sure, all of them seem to be down between 2 percent and nearly 3 percent.

TAYLOR: Well, the concern is, I mean, if the Federal Reserve is going to start to pull back -- and, again, I'm cautioning that by saying I don't think it's going to happen before the end of this year -- will other central banks do the same thing? Is this going to be a coordinated effort in some way? Are we going to see the Bank of Japan start to pull back? Are we going to see other central banks do the same thing? That's why. I mean the Federal Reserve sort of, you know, hints at it, but doesn't actually come out and say that they're going to do it. Will other banks do that? And that's why you're seeing this sort of, I don't want to say coordinated selloff, but certainly bears going into the marketplace and taking back a little bit of profits.

Again, though, I want to emphasize that this is not anywhere near a panic selling. I mean this is -

HOLMES: It's not?

MALVEAUX: That's good.

TAYLOR: I can feel it on the floor of the exchange. It's a very calm pullback. Yes, there's more volatility in the marketplace, but this isn't a bad thing because hopefully the market will go back to watching fundamentals as opposed to being propped up by the Federal Reserve.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes.


HOLMES: All about the sentiment isn't it. Felicia, as always, thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: And coming up, more monsoon rains, flash floods. This is in northern India. Many of the victims are pilgrims visiting a sacred river. We're going to have a report from the region right after the break.


HOLMES: Take you to India now. We've been covering this for days now. No let-up in that tremendous flooding that is swamping much of the country.

MALVEAUX: The floods were brought on by a monsoon season that actually started early. Dozens of people are now dead. Thousands trapped by those flood waters. Here's CNN's Malika Kapur.


MALIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Early and torrential monsoon rains have ravaged this part of north India, leaving at least 100 people dead. Tens of thousands more remain trapped. Many of them pilgrims who have come to this area to pray at four famous Hindu shrines. The river Ganga (ph) is considered sacred by Hindus and that's why you see people praying on its banks even today.

Bridges are broken. The river is swollen. Apartment blocks and homes have been swept away. Roads are destroyed and still blocked after landslides. The Indian Air Force and military helicopters are leading the rescue operation, evacuating people, dropping emergency supplies of food and performing the grim task of pulling out dead bodies. The death toll is expected to rise significantly over the next couple of days.

Malika Kapur, CNN, (INAUDIBLE), north India. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And coming up next on CNN NEWSROOM, a Christian organization that spent decades trying to turn gay people straight now shutting down. We're going to take a look at what is behind that decision.


MALVEAUX: This is in Peru. This is a woman who confronts her husband about an alleged affair, and the video, I mean, it's attracting a lot of attention here. This is a showdown that occurs. This is from one of our affiliates. And you can see the man and the alleged mistress talking here.

HOLMES: Yes, then the wife shows up, starts hitting the other woman. And then it gets serious. Drags her by the hair to the edge of a cliff -- or at least a bit of a cliff, and tosses her over.

MALVEAUX: This is all captured on a surveillance video. This happened earlier in the year. And this cliff, as you can see, it's about a 20- foot drop. So the woman actually was able to walk away -- you see her there -- without -


MALVEAUX: With just minor injuries. Pretty incredible here. The man's wife said she did it out of blind rage, doesn't remember throwing this woman over.

HOLMES: Yes. This again happening in Peru. Extraordinary pictures.

Now, something from my part of the world. How would you like to live in a place called Cape Desolation?


HOLMES: Here's another one, too. How would you like to say I live in Bongbong (ph).

MALVEAUX: No. I really don't want to say any of those things.

HOLMES: These are my people here. These are just some of the odd and colorful place names in Australia. Kunabarabran (ph), that's another one. There's a debate now, though, over whether to tighten regulations on some of them.

MALVEAUX: So -- yes. You've got towns like Come By Chance --


MALVEAUX: Home Rule.

HOLMES: Woolloomooloo.

MALVEAUX: Woolloomooloo.

HOLMES: Woolloomooloo, yes.

MALVEAUX: I'm probably not going to -

HOLMES: Yes. There's another one called Gulugong (ph). There's a million of them. Those ones won't run into any problems, but there are other names I'm not going to mention and I wouldn't ask you to. Look them up on

MALVEAUX: Yes, please do. We know what they are.

HOLMES: You may find them amusing. Personally, I'm too delicate and innocent to say them aloud.

MALVEAUX: You'll say them off air. Don't worry.

HOLMES: You watch everyone go to the web now.

All right, that will do it for me. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. Woolloomooloo.

MALVEAUX: All right. CNN NEWSROOM starts right after the break.