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Paul Walker Dies in Car Crash; Unschooling; Movie About Mandela's Life Opens in Theaters

Aired December 1, 2013 - 06:30   ET


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And as you know, we have been following this breaking news this morning. Actor Paul Walker is dead.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And we're learning more about the fiery car crash that killed him. We've got new footage of the inferno taken just moments after the crash. We're going to play just a few seconds of it here.






HOWELL: Police say speed was a factor. The star of "Fast and Furious," of that franchise, he was only 40 years old. Friends, family, co-workers, and fans around the world are shocked this morning. Many say his death came too soon.

KOSIK: CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner joins us on the phone now. Nischelle, tell me what else are you hearing about what may have caused this crash?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Alison. Well, first of all, when you see the images of what is left of that 2005 Porsche that he was in, I mean it just gives you chills when you see just that mangled mess of metal. That's sitting there, but the information we're getting this morning, and it's still an ongoing investigation. That's what we're being told by the L.A. County sheriff's department. But a spokesperson from that department just tells CNN that they do believe speed was a factor in this crash. And we also had one of our correspondents. Alan Duke from CNN Digital, was able to make his way to the scene of the crash last night. And around the vicinity of the accident there were a bunch of tire marks, it looked like skid marks. About 150 feet from where the car crashed was. You know, Alan took pictures of these tire marks. And it looked like there were also some doughnut marks. Now, we also spoke with the L.A. County's sheriff's department. And asked about these marks on the roadway, as if they were related to the investigation. All they could tell us right now, is they don't know if the marks on the road are related to the crash. But they are not also ruling that out. So, right now, you know, we know that it was a single vehicle crash. There were no other cars involved. It looked like it hit a pole and a light. And took both of those out before it burst into flames, but as far as what happened in the minutes leading up to the crash, that's still being looked at.

HOWELL: People are already connecting this, Nischelle, to Walker's Hollywood character on "Fast & Furious." But look - are there any real connections to this yet?

TURNER: Well, according to Paul Walker, there were some connections, and pretty much in the life lessons that he learned in shooting this franchise. And kind of how his character developed. I mean if you are fan of the franchise, which there are so many, the last installment of "Fast & Furious 6" that opened last summer, the $238 million, which was number one above expectations, but also led to the fact that they were going to shoot "Fast & Furious 7". And they were in the middle of it right now. But he said, you know, it's the beginning of this franchise.

His character, Brian O'Connor who was an undercover police officer infiltrating this street gang, this car street gang was kind of wild and free and loose, and had a little bit of a temper. Didn't really think much about other people, but his character evolved in the franchise. And it ended up with - he was just this guy with a big heart and loved his family. And Paul Walker said that's kind of who he became. You know, he said he believed in celebrating the victories and he also believed in just kind of living a good life. You know, we're looking at the video here of the "Fast & Furious" franchise. And you see him behind the wheel of cars. He's a self-described adrenaline junkie. He was. He also called himself a metal head. He loved cars. He was affiliated with, you know, some kind of car clubs outside of the industry. And it was just something that he loved to do, and so it kind of was his life on screen and also off screen.

KOSIK: OK. Nischelle, Turner, thanks for your reporting this morning. We're going to go ahead and check back with you in a bit for more details. We're going to have much more on the death of actor Paul Walker. So, stay with CNN throughout the morning as we learn new information on this passing. We're going to bring it to you.

HOWELL: All right, the roads and skies will be packed today as millions of people head home from Thanksgiving. In fact, it could be the busiest day, one of the busiest travel days of the year. More than $2.5 million people expected to fly today. But brewing storms could be a big headache for a lot of folks.

Pedram Javaheri joins us in the CNN severe weather center. Pedram, especially the northwest, I believe, right?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we know some $30,000 flights. I take your flight here over the next couple of hours. I just want to show you some of the cancellations in recent days leading up, of course, to Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, 308 cancellations, and our friends at FlightAware sharing this data with us. And notice, the last couple of days that tapered off to about 25 - about 40 cancellations. But already this morning, at about 6:30 in the morning, cancellations, 33. We expect that to be greatly increased. The volume, of course, quite high on this Sunday.

And if you take a look, the culprit is right there, in the Gulf of Alaska. It's a little steam in the atmosphere. That storm system goes to drop very far south over the next couple of days. So, temperatures cooling off on the order of 40 to 50 degrees in a few areas. Denver, you go from the mid60s down to about 17 degrees by midweek. And all of that cold air, of course, comes with that heavy rain showers in the lower elevations, heavy snow showers in the higher elevations. In fact, it's so serious that the National Weather Service in Seattle issuing people to give them an advisory for them to leave early on Saturday, if they could, if not as early as possible on Sunday. Just because these mountain passes could see upwards of 18 inches, travel is going to be certainly slowed quite a bit here and visibility reduced as well with all the snow showers and - Besides that, generally quiet conditions in the Southwest. Mostly sunny skies across the southern portion of the country and the central plains. Some showers, some minimal delays, but volume is going to be the main concern. And a few flurries across northern New England. So, all in all, it looks like the northwest, the flights are coming out of that region, they're going to be impacted.

HOWELL: Pedram and I, we used to work together at KOMO TV, and you know they're lining up those live shots on some quality pass with that snow coming in.


HOWELL: Pedram, thank you so much.

All right, still to come on "NEW DAY" a controversial new teaching method is gaining steam.

KOSIK: It's called "unschooling", and believe it or not, it lets students decide what they learn and when.

HOWELL: That's right. No curriculum, no tests. I'm explain after this.


KOSIK: No, if you're not looking at your TV screen. I want you to focus your eyes on what we're seeing here. It's just a picture- perfect sunrise happening right now in Washington D.C. over the Capitol. 32 degrees there right now, a high of 48 degrees later today. Gosh, that is just gorgeous.

HOWELL: I don't think it gets better than that. It's great.

KOSIK: It looks like (inaudible)

HOWELL: It does. It does.

KOSIK: It looks like the (inaudible) of it. HOWELL: It does. It does.

KOSIK: Imagine this, as you know. Imagine a school where the kids make all of the rules. It sounds like a movie plot or a maybe a dream come true if you're a kid. But believe it or not, it's real. It's called unschooling.

HOWELL: So, here is the deal, and this is a story that CNN producer Jennifer Whalen really worked on extensively. There's no set curriculum. There are no tests. The students set their own goals and they learn at their own pace. But teaching that, it has a lot of critics, but it's actually catching on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What looks like another day at the park for these school kids is actually a real life learning lesson. On this day they choose the playground as their classroom and tomorrow it's wherever else they want to go.

The concept is called unschooling where children lead the way with no curriculum or tests and adults watch on as kids decide exactly what they want to learn and when.

LAUREN SNOW, CO-FOUNDER, THE SUDBURY SCHOOL OF ATLANTA: It was some students here at the school, they want to draw a comic. They want to make a comic book. And so like, OK, how do I spell these words? I want these characters to be the same as how do I draw this? So you kind of see how they kind of come into it, like based on what they want to do, like when they have an interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A co-founder of Atlanta's private Sudbury School, Lauren Snow describes unschooling as a non-traditional path to success from primary school all the way to college.

SNOW: The colleges are starting to realize that the students are just like, is this going to be on the test, when am I going to get graded on this. And they are not engaged in learning and they don't seem to know how to learn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kelly Limes-Taylor taught high school for seven years, but even she thinks unschooling is a perfect fit for her four kids.

KELLY LIMES-TAYLOR, UNSCHOOLING MOM: I just have a lot of confidence in talking things over with my kids and my kids exploring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So confident. She's optimistic that her five- year-old will learn how to read on her own. Because as of now, she can't.

LIMES-TAYLOR: We learn written language in the same way that we learn spoken language. So, when we're babies, no one teaches us to speak, per se. We just need to remember that it happens naturally in that when a young person wants to and understands that he or she needs to, then he or she will. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But some aren't so certain. Parenting expert Dr. Erik Fisher tells CNN, quote, "the risk of unschooling is that children may not gain the range of skills that are necessary to succeed. Still, it's a risk like parents like Limes-Taylor believe is worth taking.

LIMES-TAYLOR: The kind of pocket of people that are unschooling are exploring one way of change. And so, while this may not be the definitive answer for our society, I mean it's a way to try it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because Sudbury is a private program, its founders say it's not held to all the same requirements as public schools. An unconventional approach toward education that's catching on for many parents who believe the world is the best classroom for their kids to learn.


HOWELL: I did say at the start it is a different way of learning.

KOSIK: Yeah, a different definitely. I've got to chime in here. I mean to me it's kind of ridiculous. I've got an eight-year-old and 11-year-old. I'm all into independent thinking for my kids, you know, reading that fostering independence. If I told my eight-year-old to go and make and just do what you want at school, he wouldn't learn anything. I mean how does a child at that age really learn?

HOWELL: Well, you know, according to the founders, there are no real benchmarks to the process. The concept is to just learn it organically. So, whether it's at five or at ten or at 15. You know, you would expect, I think, they would say, you would expect the kids to learn to read, things like that.

KOSIK: So, how quickly, how do they gauge if the kid is learning or not?

HOWELL: Again, it's an organic process. So, when the kid is able to read the book. Then they know it worked.

KOSIK: OK. I'm skeptical.


KOSIK: We'll leave it at that. All right, still to come on "NEW DAY" ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will die here.


KOSIK: A new film about Nelson Mandela's life hits theaters this weekend.

HOWELL: CNN spoke with relatives of the former South African leader. Find out what they thought about seeing their family story on this film.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people are angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are all angry. I'm angry ...




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The first black social worker I've ever had. You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm different.


KOSIK: And that's a clip from "Mandela. Long Walk to Freedom." It hits theaters this weekend. The movie is based on the former South African president's own autobiography.

HOWELL: This is the first film that puts the spotlight on Nelson Mandela as a young leader while also showing the complicated relationship with his wife Winnie. CNN editorial producer Nadia Bilchik recently had looked into this movie and you spent time with the Mandela family. First of all, what are their thoughts on this movie?

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Well, as you said, last weekend I was with Winnie Mandela and her granddaughters Zaziwe and Swati. And they really are laudatory about this film. And they particularly like the Naomie Harris's portrayal of Winnie. Mainly because they feel that it highlights her role in the struggle. They also felt that Naomie really captured her walk and her mannerisms. So, let's take a look at Naomie Harris's Winnie Mandela and Idris Elba as the young Nelson.


NAOMI HARRIS: Tell me about the arrests.

NAOMIE HARRIS: Usually, they wait till dusk before the girls come back from school to take me away. So the girls will find an empty room. I think about these things, you know. They think about.


BILCHIK: And yesterday, I spoke to Mandela's daughter Zenani, and I said what did you think of the film? And again, she said, this is one of the first films that highlighted, she said, my mother's role in this struggle.

KOSIK: What has Winnie said about the casting? BILCHIK: Winnie thought Naomie Harris was superb. She really liked. It's just Elba who doesn't like. It's just Elba. And particularly, this movie, they tried to capture the real Nelson. So, he was somewhat of a womanizer, very complicated and sometimes messy relationships with women. Elba says, you know, he was not un- egotistical, but Mandela was very ambitious. So, he tried unlike you saw Morgan Freeman in "Invictus" playing the statesman, the icon. In this movie it's much more, who is the real man, the passionate man. His humanity revealed. And by the way, Idris Elba spent a night on Robben Island in a cell the size of Mandela's, and he said he woke up the next day and he was so angry. And he wondered how Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years imprisoned in this tiny cell on Robben Island. S, this movie is a more real, more human look at both Nelson Mandela and his relationship with Winnie Mandela and the role she played in the struggle to end apartheid.

HOWELL: So, Nadia, Nelson Mandela himself, has he seen this movie and how is this ...

BILCHIK: Well, it's interesting. Because Elba said that Mandela had seen the movie and he liked it. Winnie seems to say that he's not really in a situation to see it. He's still very ill. He's not talking. He has tubes down his throat to drain the fluid in his lungs but Winnie has said he's not in a vegetative state. So, she's sure that if he saw it he would like the movie.

KOSIK: All right, Nadia Bilchik, very interesting. I think that the film I'll see.

BILCHIK: Sounds good. Thank you.

HOWELL: Absolutely, thank you.

KOSIK: All right, still to come, the old man wore tattered clothes and rode the bus.

HOWELL: But he just made history by giving a huge gift to a children's hospital. We'll tell you just about how big this donation was after the break.

But first as we enter the season of giving we here at CNN are preparing for a very special holiday tradition.

KOSIK: CNN heroes all-star tribute is a celebration of a top ten CNN heroes of the year, voted on by you. And their extraordinary work helping others. This star-studded event airs tonight, 8:00 P.M. Eastern, our Nischelle Turner has this behind the themes peek at preparations for the big night.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's that time of year again where giving back to others is in the air. Posted by CNN's Anderson Cooper this year's annual heroes event is packed with emotion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much. TURNER: And unforgettable moments.


TURNER: A night when Hollywood's brightest stars come together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It kind of makes your jaw drop.

TURNER: To shine the spotlight on ten remarkable people who are changing the world. Like a great grandmother who used her life savings to turn a bus into a classroom.


TURNER: And a woman who started a drill team to keep kids off the streets.


TURNER: Turning the tables on the traditional awards show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not the only hero in this room.

TURNER: CNN heroes puts these everyday people center stage.

It's a star-studded event with a few surprises.


TURNER: And a heroic ending that you don't want to miss.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: 2013 CNN hero of the year.

TURNER: A night to gather together to celebrate the human spirit.



KOSIK: "CNN Heroes, an All-Star Tribute" hosted by Anderson Cooper it's premiering tonight at 8:00 P.M. You don't want to miss it. I know I'm going to watch it.


KOSIK: For the 25th year, people around the world are marking World AIDS Day on this 1st of December.

HOWELL: It's a day to show support for the estimated 35 million people now living with HIV or AIDS and to remember the millions of others who have died from it. Since the epidemic emerged, 75 million people around the globe have become infected.

Now, what appears to be a nasty stomach virus has sickened dozens of people at a youth football event in Las Vegas. Officials say as many as 90 people have gotten sick. 18 people who were staying at the Rio hotel and casino, they had to be taken to a hospital. The head of the group running the tournament says nine teams now have reported players, parents and coaches who are sick.

ANNA LISA JOHNSON, TEAM MANAGER: I called the hotel to make a report. And they sent the security and started sending in people with masks. Next thing we know. We had about 20 fireman in our hallway. They were asking all of the sick kids to come down to our room to test them for their vitals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is going on?

GONZALO ORTEGA, ASSISTANT COACH: What is really going on? I mean why is it our team and eventually other teams? And it was a lot of different people from the third to the sixth floor and throughout the hotel.


HOWELL: It is a real mystery right now. The cause of the illness is still under investigation.

KOSIK: Some sad news for a little pup who earned his fame for all of the wrong reasons.

HOWELL: All right, Elwood who gained notoriety in 2007 for winning the - this is sad to say - the world's ugliest dog contest, passed away on Thanksgiving.

KOSIK: His owner doesn't yet know the cause of his death, but she tell us he didn't suffer and he died in her arms.

There is now a new record for the biggest donor ever to pediatric research in the U.S. "The Seattle Times" is reporting that this man, Jack McDonald, left $188 million to the Seattle's Children's Hospital when he died this week at the age of 98. But get this. McDonald was known for being extremely frugal, wearing tattered clothes, even taking the bus. He also had secretly donated thousands of dollars to other charities during his lifetime. He apparently made most of his money in the stock market. A big announcement today at the National Zoo in Washington. We're expected to learn the name of the new giant panda cub.

HOWELL: The cub is now 100 days old. And following Chinese tradition, that means it's time for her to be named. In a modern twist, her name was selected from the list of five possibilities. More than $123,000 online voters.

KOSIK: And the naming ceremony, in case you are interested, is set for 1:00 Eastern time.

HOWELL: Very cool. Very cool.

KOSIK: Thanks for starting your morning with us. All right. head.

A lot more ahead. The "NEW DAY Sunday " begins right now.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. It is 7:00 on the east, 4:00 on the west. You're watching "NEW DAY Sunday."

And all morning we've been following this breaking news. Actor Paul Walker has died.

KOSIK: And we're learning more about the fiery car crash that killed him. We have got some new footage of the inferno taken just moments after the crash. We're going to show you just a few seconds of it here. Look at this.





HOWELL: You look at that. Police say speed was a factor. The star of "The Fast and Furious" franchise was only 40 years old. Friends, family, co-workers and fans around the world are shocked by this. Many of them saying his death came way too soon.

KOSIK: CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner joins us now. Nischelle, good morning to you. What else are you hearing about what may have caused this crash?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question, Alison. We are not getting a lot of answers right now. Because police say this investigation is ongoing. But you're right when you talk about the shock, the sadness and complete surprise at the news that Paul Walker was killed in this fiery car crash.