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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
Race Against Time To Find Couple With Children Missing In Nevada; Remembering Nelson Mandela; What The Art of Coding Could Do For American Students; The Future Of Fast And Furious Franchise; Life After Losing A Loved One In Sandy Hook
Aired December 9, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, breaking news, a couple and four children missing in brutal sub-zero weather in Nevada, the latest on the desperate mission to save them. Plus, from your government spying on you to a history making gathering of presidents. Who better to talk to about the day's headlines than the great Dan Rather. And new questions about the rise of Asperger's in the wake of Susan Boyle's revelations that she suffers from the condition. Also, a subject most schools don't teach and why your kids need to learn it. What is it? I'll talk to Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey. That's all coming up. Plus, the crash that took the life of Paul Walker. What will it do to the Fast and Furious franchise?
Also, an amazing story of love, hope and inspiration as she's turning her grief into a message for all Americans.
ERICA LAFFERTY, DAUGHTER OF SANDY HOOK PRINCIPAL DAWN HOCHSPRUNG: It doesn't hit you until it happened to you, until it happens in your town, until it happens in your seat. And that can be anywhere.
MORGAN: Beginning tonight with breaking news, the race against the clock to find that young couple and four little children missing in the remote snowy mountains of Northwest Nevada. Chad Myers has more on that now.
Chad, obviously some particularly extreme weather down there in the Nevada. How extreme is it and what can you tell me about this missing family?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Last night, Piers, it was 17 degrees below 0. Now, that's now a wind chill and in fact the wind really wasn't blowing. But that is so far below your skin temperature. That's more than 50 degrees, really, below freezing and they're between Winnemucca, Nevada and Reno, Nevada in a beautiful wilderness area. They went Sunday just to go out to go play in the snow but they never came home.
And that black -- the silver jeep with a black top is what the authorities are looking for.
Tonight we're going down to minus 6 degrees right there. Here is what they have to have, and here's -- if you're going to learn anything from this family, you can't go out in the wilderness or even outside and then when it's this cold without a tank of gas, a full tank of gas, because when you start the car you can't use that engine's heat to keep your family or you warm.
Let's hope that they had 22 gallons of gas in that tank and all they are is just sitting out there waiting to be found, and that would be the only thing at this point that could save their life, is the fuel in their car, or maybe start a forest fire, get a fire going that they can stay warm. But right now there's no indication of anything like that. They are still lost out there in the snow.
MORGAN: Chad, thank you very much indeed. And now I want to bring in Amanda Fitzpatrick. She's the mother of the missing 10-year-old girl, Shelby Fitzpatrick. Amanda is on the road right now searching for her daughter. She joins me live on the phone. Amanda, it's obviously a terribly serious situation for you. Whereabouts are you right now and what are the conditions like?
AMANDA FITZPATRICK, MOTHER OF SHELBY FITZPATRICK: It's just very icy and very cold. We're actually on our way back up to Seven Troughs, the area that we were told that they were heading when they were going out to play in the snow.
And it's just very icy and it's getting very cold.
MORGAN: It's obviously every parent's nightmare this. How are you coping with what has happened and what have the authorities told you about the likelihood that this will end with the recovery of everybody safe and well?
FITZPATRICK: Everybody has been very positive. It's been extremely hard. Probably the hardest 24-36 hours of my life. It's my baby girl. But they've all been very positive. We've got the entire town of Lovelock, the entire county of Pershing County and even some help of outside counties with their search and rescue teams and everything like that.
And everybody has been very positive and very willing to support and helpful and everything like that.
MORGAN: And just for anybody watching who is that area, it's James Glanton, he's 34 with his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, who's 25.
MORGAN: There are four children, and that's your girl who's 10, two 4-year-olds, and a 3-year-old. What are the conditions like there, Amanda? For people that don't know Nevada well, is it particularly extreme? Chad Myers is saying that 17 degrees below -- below normal, what are you experiencing?
FITZPATRICK: It's just -- it's extremely cold. It is a lot colder than it has been in the past. These are extremely cold temperatures that we haven't seen in a long time. So we're just trying to beat the weather really and get them home safe. MORGAN: Well, Amanda, I thank you for joining me. I wish you all the very best with your search. We'll all be hoping and praying that your little girl turns up and indeed that the others do, too. And very good luck with your search.
FITZPATRICK: Thank you.
MORGAN: Now I want to turn to a man (inaudible) experience of, not this extreme weather but just about every other major news story in American headlines, going back decades. Dan Rather, the anchor and managing editor of AXS TV's Dan Rather Reports.
Dan, good to see you.
DAN RATHER, AXS TV ANCHOR: Good to see you.
MORGAN: I was thinking about you last week because whenever there's a huge event like the death of Nelson Mandela, one of the great figures certainly in my lifetime, I'm sure yours as well. I was thinking about the great reports that you did, the great interviews with Mandela and son (ph). What was your reaction when you heard that he had finally died?
RATHER: I was somewhat surprised because he had such resilience, such determination. Of course we all knew he was very, very ill. But just somehow I thought, you know, he's going to live to be 100 or a 102. Because looked what he survived. Look what he went through. You know, he was in prison for over a quarter of a century. And for a great deal at that time he was under great duress to say the least.
MORGAN: I mean, the tiny, tiny cell. For anyone who hasn't been there, Robben Island, the cell he was in was sort of 6 by 6. I mean, literally a box cell.
RATHER: Well, that and everything else they did to him was designed of course to break his will which he had an unbreakable will. That was one of his hallmarks. He had many hallmarks, resilient to say the least. He was elegant.
You know, some people, particularly people in this country who have heard of Mandela but didn't know he was quite a well-educated attorney and he was a very good attorney.
MORGAN: And he was a tough man. I mean, I think to try and sugarcoat Mandela is to miss the point of what this man was. He was as hard as nails. He was tough and determined. But the great, great thing about Mandela was that when he came out of prison he could've sought awful revenge on his captors and all that stood by the captors, but he went completely the opposite way, didn't he?
RATHER: We have two things about that. I was raised in what we thought was a pretty tough neighborhood in Texas and we always said, you know, there's tough, there's street tough and then there's prison tough. I would say there's tough, there's street tough, there's prison tough and then there's Mandela tough.
RATHER: That's simple. And number two, I'm not so sure that deep within himself that Mandela didn't have some twinges of revenge, but here's the point. He recognized that he had to be bigger than that and overcame. And so he was (inaudible) reconciliation as well as forgiveness. I'm not so sure if forgiveness is an overworked word with Mandela because given what he'd been through how he could he, deep down, want to forgive. But he recognized that, frankly, for his own mental steadying, his own spirit but mostly for his country and his people that he got beyond that and reconciliation.
There's no doubt in my mind that when the history of the -- last half of the 20th century and the first couple of decades of the 21s century is written there will be line that goes to Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela.
MORGAN: And in the early hours of this morning there will be this remarkable memorial. There's apparently other 90 world leaders which is the greatest collection of world leaders for any event of this since Winston Churchill's funeral back in 1966.
RATHER: Well and that should tell us how history is going to look upon Nelson Mandela.
MORGAN: Yeah, a quite amazing man. Let's turn to the NSA. Pretty I would say controversial letter today for the bosses of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter, AOL to President Obama and Congress, which is -- one of the key lines just says "The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual -- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change."
Now, I have the -- one of the (inaudible) of Twitter, Jack Dorsey coming in after you, but what do you make of this, Dan? We clearly now have a standoff between the NSA that wants to have the right to poke around in everyone's private business because they think it's going to stop terrorism and you have these companies who obviously are the portal of a much these information saying "Whoa, steady. You're going to respect people's privacy and their rights."
RATHER: Well, this is where we need to allow for light and shade. First of all there's two parts to this. One what the National Security Agency does in the United States with US citizens. Now, on the least circumstantial evidence, the real question is whether they're behaving legally and within our constitutional rights.
The other part of it is what they do overseas in places like China, just to pick, you know, Iran, and other places -- Iran perhaps (inaudible) division. But the point is two different parts of it because there is no international law that deals with this.
Now, what some of the big companies, IBM, Microsoft, Hewlette-Packard, Cisco Systems and the other, what they're planning, their business is falling off in places like China ...
MORGAN: Because of all this controversy?
RATHER: Well, partly because of the controversy. It might be too much to say all of it is because of this. But the Chinese can say, "You know what, your systems are not secure."
RATHER: So they -- so we're not -- their business -- some of their business is off 21, 25 percent. Not all of that can be accounted for.
MORGAN: Is it not -- it's certainly hypocrisy, though, Dan, for these companies because they themselves are raiding our private information very aggressively for commercial reasons.
RATHER: Well, I'm smiling but it's not funny. But exactly, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy. On the one hand they say "Listen, I can register what brand of underwear you wear and what size of underwear, and that's OK because that's in our business' best interest.
But on the other hand, it hurts our business in places like China and some people are suspicious of buying. So they can't have it both ways. But, again, this is going to take a long time to sort out. And one question is, well, their business is being hurt overseas but there's -- I mean in a lot of countries beyond China. How long would it last and what's it going to o to turn it around? My own opinion (inaudible) it's going to last for quite a while and it is going to require a good deal of all three branches of the US government, particularly our President, and going forward to the next presidency.
MORGAN: And I don't envy President Obama because, you know, look at Snowden's revelations and some of it I think is perfectly legitimate. Others I think have crossed the line into stuff that really ought to be, I think, stuff that governments should do to protect his nation and to combat terrorism.
But living in a world of the internet where terrorism could use that to attack.
RATHER: I'm so glad you said that, Piers, because there's a temptation to go too far in one way. But, listen, there are people around the world who do not wish us well. There are people who want to kill us.
And it would be uncomfortable (ph) for our government not to do what it could to prevent them from doing that. So on the one hand you've got to be proactive and know what they're talking about when they're talking. On the other hand there are all these other issues, not just the business but the real business of -- the people's business of where is privacy? Where is the line? Where can we get into it to commit terrorism?
It's a tough one for this or any other president.
MORGAN: It's pretty historic, I think, (inaudible). The FBI apparently and now have the power to get into to anybody's webcam, camera on their laptop or computer, and the light doesn't even go off. So they can actually just be looking at you without you having any clue.
RATHER: They have the ability to do that, but under our constitution and our set of laws, do they have the right to do that?
MORGAN: That's the big debate. And I'm sure it will go on.
Let's move on to Asperger's because you've been doing some interviews about this recently with some high profile people. Susan Boyle, the great singer who I actually helped find on Britain's Got Talent all those years ago in Scotland has now revealed that she too has been diagnosed with Asperger's.
And we know that Adam Lanza, in the anniversary of Sandy Hook, he was also believed to suffer from this condition. What do we know about it, Dan? And how prevalent do you think it may be?
RATHER: Well, first I want to say I'm not an expert on this subject. But I did interview, and I'm not naming dropping, you know, with dude, Daryl Hannah, a great movie star who has -- I think she described it as it's akin to autism. There's another way of putting this is symptoms akin to autism. That isn't calling Asperger's Disorder.
But this is not a precise science with medicine to be able to diagnose this. But for people who have it, it causes shyness, sometimes, extreme shyness. And what great story this is about this woman.
MORGAN: Susan Boyle.
RATHER: And she said, you know, great relief now that she knows what's wrong with her.
MORGAN: Because I know her very well actually. And I've stayed in contact with her and I've always been -- she's very bright actually, very bright and very normal most of the time. But she suffers from a clear behavioral disorder when she was aware of without really knowing what was causing it.
And I think she does feel there's great relief is finally ...
RATHER: Well she said she's felt great relief and she's looking better ...
MORGAN: Yes she is.
RATHER: ... and I think, let us hope the she'd be a little more forthcoming not quite as shy. This has been the experience of other people, particularly if you've grown over it.
MORGAN: Let's listen to a bit of a clip from your interview with Daryl Hannah because it was fascinating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RATHER: You did not consider yourself particularly socially adept. Is that what led to, let me say suspicions and at least have diagnosis that you have Asperger's Syndrome when you were younger?
DARYL HANNAH, FORMER ACTRESS: It's always been an awkward fate, you know? And I'm -- but I definitely -- as I grow older, I've definitely learn how to deal with it better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Fascinating stuff. Let's just return quickly to what's been going on CBS, your old network. Your former colleague Lara Logan on leave absence over this report from Benghazi.
Many people believe there's a double standard at CBS in the way that you were treated in terms of the way you departed from CBS and the way that Lara Logan's been treated, and the way they've handled this crisis, what do you think?
RATHER: We'll first of all, CBS News has a lot to answer for this. They have a lot of questions, they've answered some of them. I don't want in anyway to add to their burden. I know what it feels like, you know, what it feels like to be the correspondent who is the center of the controversy when there are people both above and below you, you know, (inaudible) answerable.
But I will make this point. With her story, the one that led to her difficulty, no question the story was true. What the complaint and how we eventually most of us lost our jobs was, "OK, your story was true but the way you got to the truth was flawed." The process was flawed. That's not the case with her Benghazi story.
Unfortunately, and there's no joy in saying, they were taken in by a man who was a fraud.
RATHER: I mean, Lara Logan is an incredibly brave reporter. I remember her stuff from Egypt and she was being assaulted and attacked in Tahrir Square, and, you know, a really, really brave woman. Should it end her career at CBS as some people are crying for?
RATHER: In my opinion, clearly labeled no. And I'm so glad you mentioned that. That, OK, whatever one thinks of what Lara Logan did or didn't do with this story, in fairness, it should be put against her whole record. She's still a very young correspondent. But for a young correspondent has a distinct record. She should be seen in that context and in that perspective.
MORGAN: Dan, it's always good to see you. Thank you very much indeed.
RATHER: Always good to see you, Piers. Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up, the subject your kids should be studying in school, and probably are. And I'll talk to Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, about that. Also in Hollywood, (inaudible) the crash that took the life of Paul Walker and what it will mean with the next Fast and Furious movie.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New research shows that 15 year olds in Singapore, Finland and South Korea have the highest scores in the world in Math, Reading, and Science.
But US students, at least those three states are doing well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Saturday Night Live having some fun with -- it's no longer a laughing matter for many Americans, America's students falling way behind the rest of the world. Could the hottest new trend in education, learning code, change all that?
Well, joining me now are two men who are leading the charge, Jack Dorsey, the founder and chairman of Twitter and CEO of Square, and Hadi Partovi, the co-founder of code.org, an organization that's working to make coding cool.
But that doesn't get much cooler than you, Jack Dorsi. Right now, the king, really, of social, right, in many ways. And for, whatever you want to call it, what is this plan you've got? How are you going to change the terrible statistics? I mean, just looking at this, science, China first, US 21.
Math, China first, US 26th. And by the way, Britain was just as bad. What are you going to do about this?
JACK DORSEY, CEO OF TWITTER: Well this is really a hardiest movement. And we were in a conference about two years ago? One year ago? Two years ago and he said, you know, what if we created a movement to really encourage more people to learn programming, more coding? And it's something that immediately resonated with me. I didn't have computer science in my high school. I didn't have any programming classes in my high school.
It's something that I went out and did myself. It's something that I learned by myself. But it's one of the best ways to really help you solve problems, break problems down into their smallest parts and sequence them to really understand how a system works together. So even if you don't become an engineer, even if you don't become a programmer, it's a great way of thinking. So everyone should try to learn it.
MORGAN: And how do you -- I think it -- I mean every young kid I know has a device like this that they carry at all times, plus probably a laptop, probably an iPad and so on and so forth.
They are surrounded by technology. It's not huge leap for them to getting into the code game. I guess they are going to guess this, they think code, geeks, you know, people like Jack, you know?
DORSEY: No doubt about that.
MORGAN: You know what I mean? It's not that cool. He's making it cooler. How are you going to make it cool enough for kids to say "Yes, I want to do this?"
HADI PARTOVI, CO-FOUNDER CODE.ORG: Well we've just released a video staring Ashton Kutcher, Shakira, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, you know, these are celebrities and icons or people with folks like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates and the President all saying "This is something everybody should do." And that alone resonates as people are -- it's not just for the Jack Dorsey's of the world.
MORGAN: Why is computer science so lacking and widespread encouragement and availability in schools? Why is it that? Why is there so few American schools that are really investing a lot of time and effort into this?
DORSEY: I think from my end, it's -- it was hard, you know, when I was growing up to see the value in it. And more and more we're seeing how easy it is to create something, how easy it is to take that thing and build an entire company, to build a business around it to touch potentially every single person on the planet with the service that you create.
And it's never been easier, it's never been faster to create one of those programs, one of those services, one of those companies than today. So the more people we have who can do that, who can take a blank canvass and think of something and then express it, and that expression is actually an experience that other people can use, you know, it's amazing. The creation just becomes so, so fast.
MORGAN: And how will it directly, Hadi, help people with, say, their math? What's the link there?
PARTOVI: Well there's actually schools that have had every students do computer science in the 9th grade. And then you can see by the 11th grade, those students have improved in math scores compared to the kids who didn't have to do it.
MORGAN: What are the Chinese doing that's so different to the Americans?
PARTOVI: Well in computer science the difference is that they're teaching it. So in our schools, 90 percent of schools don't teach it, and it's actually declining. In China it's required for every student to graduate, in the UK actually they just announced that starting September every single kid will get it in 8th grade and up.
So, you know, we compare in Math and Science and we might be -- we'll not get worst scores but at least we're getting scores in Math ans Science. In Computer Science, it's not even on the -- on the schedule.
MORGAN: I mean, Jack, you've made untold billions from your own experiences with computers and it is well deserved as a Twitter holic myself, I tip my hat off to you.
DORSEY: Thank you.
MORGAN: But in terms of the way forward for American young people at schools with this, you know, you're at the center of this new revolution of social media and so on. You've got to somehow hooked the main avenue. Is social media going to be a clever way to do that? Are you going to be using Twitter? Is Zuckerberg going to use Facebook to embrace this very campaign that you're running?
DORSEY: I think it's one channel but, you know, a younger generation is using their mobile device every single day. And more and more are they're not looking just to use it, they're looking to make something on it. And that's what the avenue of coding allows you is whatever your idea, whatever you want to see in the world you can actually do and you can do very, very quickly.
And it's a bit like learning a foreign language but it's even easier because you see immediate results, you see immediate action.
MORGAN: Well, it seems to me you all are going to have to learn code or Chinese, you might as well learn code, but the both probably both equally difficult.
Let's turn quickly to this NSA letter that your company, Twitter, were one of the Big 8 that wrote to President Obama and Congress. There's clearly a big battle going on now about the rights to privacy for the average Americans. This is going on around the world, but let's focus on America here.
There is a hypocrisy, I guess, and many people would charge against Twitter and (inaudible) say look, "You pillage away at people's privacy," not particular Twitter but certainly Facebook and Google and others. They're in there grabbing people's private information. What right really if you collect it we got to say, where we want to defend people's privacy?
DORSEY: Well we intend to defend the people using the service and their voice, and make sure that that's protected and they have an understanding of who has access to the information. The nice thing about Twitter though is it is inherently public. It is something that people are saying out in the world and there's an understanding, a deep understanding that when they Tweet something, the world sees it. And that's a very, very nice aspect of our service.
But we want to make sure that that is always understood, that's always protected and that's something that people can come to the service and say, "Yes I trust them."
MORGAN: Do you think the NSA is being too damn nosey full stop? Is that the short version of your polite letter?
DORSEY: I don't know if I can necessarily speak to that specifically but to us it's just establishing trust in people who are using our service and making sure that we maintain that. And I think we have to be stewards not only of our service but also everyone who has -- who's participating it. And, you know, as we push back on our own policies we should also push back on government policies as well ours and others.
MORGAN: I couldn't help but notice that Twitter's stock price hit a record high today, you must be extremely pleased, the role that's gone so well.
DORSEY: It's actually not something I pay attention to at all. You know, we have an entire company of brilliant people making the service every single day.
MORGAN: You never look at your stock price?
DORSEY: I don't.
DORSEY: It's not the leading indicator of success. The leading indicator of success is people finding value in the service.
MORGAN: So the great thing about Twitter is that the leading indicator success on Twitter is how my how many follows you have. Now, you're the founder of Twitter ...
DORSEY: In you case, I have over 2 million.
MORGAN: Are you aware of how many I have?
DORSEY: You probably have 3, 4.
MORGAN: 8 million nearly double the founder of Twitter. You've no idea how satisfying it is. If you want to follow me to add to my overwhelming majority over the founder of Twitter, I repeat that once more, it's @piersmorgan.
DORSEY: Another million right there.
MORGAN: You're @jack, right?
DORSEY: That's right?
MORGAN: It's been a phenomenon. You must be really pleased with the way it's gone.
DORSEY: I'm very, very proud. It's been a great seven years of watching the service grow.
MORGAN: Hadi, what do you think of Twitter? What do you think of Mr. Dorsey? He's got Square, he's got Twitter, he's like this little shy, unassuming genius.
PARTOVI: I think he's one of America's greatest entrepreneurs.
DORSEY: Thank you, Hadi
PARTOVI: He's amazing and ...
MORGAN: Do you -- do you Tweet? PARTOVI: I do and I think actually Jack is exactly the example of why we should be doing things like teaching computers and science in our schools. I mean Jack is an example of the American dream. And the fact that 90 percent of America's schools don't even offer the courses to become the next Jack Dorsey, that seems un-American to me.
MORGAN: Well, Jack, you came in and restarted all this and you made a lot of bold pledges about how success was all going to be, they've all come true. I salute you, sir.
DORSEY: Thank you
MORGAN: What's the next big idea? I always ask you this because you always seem to know. Which should I be looking to get into?
DORSEY: Code, programming. It's I mean that's -- that's the power is if you learn this tool, you create the next big idea. And that's what we're looking for. We're looking for this in our companies to hire brilliant people who change the course of the company and maybe potentially change to course of the world.
So it's really a question of what we see and editing that accordingly.
MORGAN: Well, you heard the man there, Jack Dorsey, who's now I think your billionaire, right, Jack?
DORSEY: Not something I pay attention to.
MORGAN: God, I would. Anyway, all right very nice to meet you, Hadi. Very nice to see you again, Jack.
Hollywood pays tribute to Fast and Furious star Paul Walker. But what happens now to the franchise after Walker's tragic death? That's coming next.
MORGAN: Hollywood pays tribute to Paul Walker after his tragic death in a fiery high-speed crash. As remembered, the Fast and Furious stars was attributed their own yesterday, a procession of cars at the scene where Walker died.
Now they're wondering about the future of the billion dollar Fast and Furious franchise. Joining me now is Sharon Waxman, the Editor-In- Chief of TheWrap.
Sharon, thank you for joining me. It's obviously -- for any film production company involved in a situation like this, this is incredibly difficult to know what the right thing to do is. What do you think they should be doing here?
SHARON WAXMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THEWRAP: I think they are doing what they ought to be doing, which is they're taking a step back and they put the breaks on and they take -- they're taking a moment to decide what's the best thing to do for this huge production that they're right in the middle of. And also, I think they're frankly in shock. You know, you do have a leading actor from a multi-million dollar, nearly $200 million production, who's disappeared in the middle of this -- who happen to have died in a car crash, when the movie itself is about high-speed car racing. So, what they're doing is thinking very hard about how they're going to not salvage what they have, but go ahead and make a great movie.
And what I think they are likely to end up doing is just scrapping what they've got and starting over, which is what I reported this week, this past week.
MORGAN: I mean, that would be an extraordinary thing because they're supposed to have wrapped by the end of December. So they must be pretty well into production. And I guess the other options, which is -- I know one they use with, Oliver Reed in Gladiator for example is to use a CGI technology to -- as you put Walker's face onto somebody else's body, they can do that. Is it deemed to be just too distasteful to do that? Is there an argument against it for that reason?
WAXMAN: I don't think there's any resistance to using computer graphics or visual effects to put heads on bodies or anything like that, but I think it really would be -- you couldn't really do that for the rest of the movie. He had many key scenes that still had to be shot.
So, you don't want to -- you can't take his face, right? I mean that's who he is. And I think the conversation really is, are you trying to force the story into -- to fit the circumstances of real life?
And so what they're really looking at it is -- and by the way, you know, I should add that the cost is really not a factor here because they are covered by insurance for an event like this. So, they really have the flexibility to sit back and think what is the best thing for the story, for this major franchise that they're trying to -- they're going to have to try to protect.
MORGAN: The other big movie that's been hit by a news event beyond this control was obviously the new Mandela movie, Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. It's a Harvey Weinstein movie. He's the producer. And obviously, this very strange moment in the middle of the premier when it was revealed that Nelson Mandela had died. Again, a tricky situation isn't it for Harvey and for his company as to how you carry on promoting a movie without looking like you may be capitalizing on what is a sad and tragic event.
WAXMAN: Well, that's a exactly right. I mean for some -- I mean the snickering times in Hollywood are saying that he's going to try to use this to win an Oscar.
But I spoke to Harvey Weinstein this weekend. He was in London. He was still kind of in shock himself. You can imagine he's putting on this big premiere. He has Mandela's two daughters sitting at this event where there's royalty and everything else, and five minutes before the end -- before the credits come up, secret service comes in and whispers to the daughters that their father has passed away. They decide to sit through the screening and let the credits come up and (inaudible) that tells to gather dignitaries that this has happened.
So, he was at pains to say that he's not doing anything other than trying to honor the wishes of the Mandela family and has not changed the release strategy for the film, which is not to push it into theaters right now, but indeed to wait until Christmas day. It's going to open about somewhere between 800 and 1,000 theaters.
And we'll see. I mean I think that the film could easily benefit from worldwide interest in learning more about Mandela, but I think that the notion that he might be trying to get ahead because of the death of someone of his -- Mandela's stature is something that he wants to stay very far away from.
MORGAN: Yeah, and knowing Harvey, he's a pretty honorable guy. But I kind of think -- I can't imagine for a moment that he would want to put himself into that position. Also, that's a (inaudible) if you've seen the movie. It's a fantastic film, if you don't know the story of Nelson Mandela.
I think for many millions of Americans who -- that are not familiar with the whole background to it, I would urge them to go and see it. It's a brilliant movie with a brilliant performance of Mandela by Idris Elba, who was of course in the wire over here.
WAXMAN: Yeah. It wasn't a film that was easy to make by any means. You know, Harvey Weinstein was involved in trying to make this film over a dozen years ago with Denzel Washington. They couldn't pull it together for scheduling reasons and all of that.
And honestly, this is not an easy money maker, you know, a story about a South African hero is not something that American audiences are necessarily going to run out and see.
So, I do think that this is a project that is close to his heart and that he feels is an important project. By the way, they're putting it in schools for free. So, I think that it could be a teaching moment as we sometimes like to say.
MORGAN: Yeah, absolutely. Sharon Waxman, editor-in-chief of TheWrap, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
WAXMAN: Thanks, Piers.
MORGAN: Coming next, the story of hope and inspiration. How one young woman who lost her mother at Sandy Hook is turning her grief into a message for America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAFFERTY: You had mentioned that day for it -- on owners of gun stores that he obtained a background checks with (inaudible). I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the hall of her elementary school isn't as important as that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was Erica Lafferty bravely confronting Senator Kelly Ayotte. Erica's mother was Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung, who died making a final effort to protect her students, reportedly lunging at the gunman in her last moments. Today, the families of the Sandy Hook victims are launching MySandyHookFamily.org to remember all their loved ones. And Erica Lafferty is part of that effort.
Erica, it's good to see you. That was quite a moment when you confronted the senator there and you've been doing that kind of thing all year. Has it helped you personally deal with the loss of your mother in such horrific circumstances to try and get on the frontfoot with this debate and get real change?
LAFFERTY: It absolutely has. It gives me purpose. It allows me to be the voice that my mom no longer has, that so many Americans don't have anymore. Somebody needs to speak up, the country needs to speak up and it is therapeutic and meaningful for me to be able to be a part of that.
MORGAN: It strikes me as extraordinary that here we are a year later after this hideous atrocity, 20 young children, six adults, including your mother, just blown away by a shooter and not a single change to gun law has happened despite all the promises from the President down.
How do you, as one of the families, one of the victims, feel about this?
LAFFERTY: I mean as far as to changing gun law there definitely has been steps taken on the state level, you know, Connecticut, New York, Colorado for example, on a federal level absolutely disappointing what we saw in April. But the fact that it got to that point is something that we haven't seen in 20 years.
So it is a step. It didn't go far enough and, you know, that absolutely is disappointing, but it's not going to discourage me from continuing to try. You know, Americans are standing up and, you know, the overwhelming majority of us do that support these standard background checks and we're just going to get louder and louder until that change is made.
MORGAN: Your mother was pretty anti-gun before all this, wasn't she? Tell me about that.
LAFFERTY: I don't even think I owned a Nerf gun growing up. It just wasn't a part of the culture that I was raised in. It was all about reading books and being a family and to playing outside. And I don't even think my mom would have known what way to hold a gun to be honest with you. So I mean doing what I'm doing, I absolutely believe that this -- if the roles were reversed, this is what my mom would be doing for me.
MORGAN: Do you think if every American was touched in the way that your family has been touched by such extreme gun violence and such senseless violence that change would come much quicker? I mean in other words, do you think you have to go through this kind of this thing to really understand the horror of guns?
LAFFERTY: Absolutely. I know that me personally, I was pretty lined to the entire subject prior to December 14th last year, you know, I would hear about mass shootings on the news or, you know, read about somebody being shot in the newspaper, and the next day it was just me going back to my normal life.
It doesn't hit you until it happens to you, until it happens in your town, until it happens in your state and that can be anywhere. t can happen in every single town in our country. It has happened in so many places. And I think that people are more and more starting to realize that, but you would have thought that something like this would've really opened a lot more eyes.
MORGAN: When you hear of mass shootings and there have been tragically many more since what happened at Sandy Hook, what goes through your mind now when you see this? It must bring back awful memories for you?
LAFFERTY: After the initial shock and all of my flashbacks, (inaudible) my first thought is "Oh God, how many?"
MORGAN: How many have died.
LAFFERTY: Yeah. I mean, honestly that's my first thought. How many more families are feeling my pain? How many more kids are losing their mom? How many more parents don't get to tuck their kids in tonight? How many?
I'm so sick of thinking how many, but that's what it is every single time.
MORGAN: Erica, let's take a short break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about what must have been a very beautiful but amazingly bittersweet day, the wedding that your mom helped you plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAFFERTY: We will light a candle for my mom, Dawn Hochsprung.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will light a candle for my older sister, Victoria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The Sandy Hook family has chosen to mark the anniversary of the last night they still have their loved ones announcing they will light candles for each of the victims this Friday. Erica Lafferty was there today. She's the daughter of Sandy Hook principal, Dawn Hochsprung. Your mother was an extraordinarily courageous woman when it really mattered, when her children came under attack in that school, her pupils, she basically put her life right on the line trying to save them. Were you surprised at how incredibly brave she was?
LAFFETY: No. Mad, because I didn't expect anything different from her. My sister and I knew before we went back to the fire house that day that my mom didn't make it. No one was going to hurt her kids without her going down first.
MORGAN: What kind of woman was your mother? What else you didn't know?
LAFFERTY: Hilarious, and perfect, and crazy, and smart, and well- spoken, and fierce, and tiny and she was the kind of mom, kind of principal that wouldn't yell at you. You could tell that she was mad by the lower her town got. So that's when you knew that you are really in trouble when she have this like soft monotone voice going on. You're like, "Oh boy, we're in trouble now." But she was the best friend you could ever ask for.
MORGAN: You -- one of many families, who were obviously torn apart by what happened in Newtown, do you see many of the other families on a regular basis? How is the group doing collectively, given the remarkable attention that is received around the world?
LAFFERTY: I have gotten extremely close with the Soto family. And they, I think just like the rest of us, are in a, you know, "blah" (ph) at it sounds taking it day by day, you know. Some days are worst than others. Some days are excruciating and you don't want to get out of bed. Their birthday is every first, it's going to be like that. But then, you know, there's other days like I don't know, hearing my niece talk. Those are the days that really make it worth it, you know, that make it easier.
And I think that every family is kind of experiencing that same thing. The good and the bad, it's just all mashed (ph) into one.
MORGAN: You do something very special on the birthdays of each of the students who was killed that day. Tell me about that.
LAFFERTY: On their birthdays, I always reach out to them, reach out to their families in any way I can, typically on either Facebook or Twitter and just let their families know that I'm thinking about them. If I have a phone number, I will, you know, send them a text message or, you know, an e-mail just because I know how it feels. I know how it feels.
MORGAN: You got married a few months ago. It must have been a very bittersweet day for you, obviously a great joy but your mom wasn't there for that. How was it for you that day?
LAFFERTY: I got married in the dress that my mom and I picked out at her house in the (inaudible) and the shoes that she would have tormented me for wearing. We had almost the entire wedding planned together and I did it exactly the way that she wanted it to be. And I knew that day would have been perfect for her.
It was perfect for me. It was perfect for my husband. And I knew she was with me. I was able to go to the cemetery to be with her that morning only for a couple of minutes because I knew I had to get out quick so I didn't completely lose it and ruin my day. But I think it's exactly the day she would have wanted me to have.
MORGAN: Do you feel she's looking down and guiding you as you go on this or let this campaign now to try and make America a safer place?
LAFFERTY: Every time I'm ready to give up, at school bus will drive by or I will be staring outside in the wind and my wind chimes will go off or I will see a butterfly in the blistering cold or "Harriet the Spy" will fall off my bookshelf. She let's me know that's it's all worth it.
MORGAN: Well, Erica, you're doing a tremendous job. I really do tip my hat off to you because trying to deal with the grief is bad enough but you turned it into a positive, you're trying to get real action done and I will support you all the way as you know. Best of luck with you.
LAFFERTY: Thank you.
MORGAN: We'll be right back.
MORGAN: Tomorrow, I sit down with a rather odd paring, Howard Buffett and Eva Longoria. What are the son of the billionaire investor and the Hollywood actress have in common? It's something you may not expect. And they're here for their first Primetime interview. That's tomorrow. That's all for us tonight. AC360 starts right now.