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Ferocious Storm Snarls Holiday Travel; Obama Holds Year-End News Conference; NASA Astronauts Start Spacewalk to Repair International Space Station; A&E Quiet As Supports Grows for "Duck Dynasty"; Dangerous Winter Weather: Possible Effect on the Holiday Travel and FedEx Delivery; Prince William's Private Messages to Kate Middleton Used as Evidence in Court; Former Russian Oligarch and Critic of the Putin's Policy Finally Freed out of Jail

Aired December 21, 2013 - 06:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and the travel -- not so delightful. Nearly 95 million people are getting out of town for the holidays and here's what you can expect. Severe icing, and we're not talking about just a frosting. Powerful thunderstorms, flight delays and mix in some holiday cheer.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since I'm in charge, obviously, we screwed it up.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama talking about his health care rollout and what he calls his biggest mistake of 2013, but according to CNN's new poll numbers on the president's performance, that wasn't his only problem this year.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA STAR: I don't want him to think that I'm over here trying to be an ambassador and trying to use him, just as his friend.


BLACKWELL: Dennis Rodman back in North Korea visiting his personal friend, Kim Jong-un. So, is this basketball diplomacy or just a dangerous stunt or maybe something else? And remember, it's just days after the North Korean leader executed his uncle. Your NEW DAY starts right now.

BROWN: Good morning, everyone. Thanks so much for waking up with us on this Saturday morning. I'm Pamela Brown.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. At least 80 percent of Victor Blackwell. You can probably hear something nasally. But if we ignore it, it will go away.

BROWN: That's right.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's a NEW DAY SATURDAY. And it's the first day of winter, officially.

BROWN: It is. And it's certainly looking and feeling like it. Right?

BLACKWELL: Yes. You know, you may be dreaming about white Christmas with family, remember what that means. Yes, this is pretty, but there's also slush and ice and all of the dangers that come with it. I mean, it's going to make a travel nightmare to get to the family.

BROWN: Yes, nightmare is the best way to sum it up, Victor. A ferocious winter storm is slamming nearly 30 states this weekend bringing snow, ice and rain to an area stretching from Texas all the way up through Maine and we're even seeing a threat of thunderstorms and get this, tornadoes through the south. You don't normally see this time of year.

BLACKWELL: Now, if you're headed to the airport, be patient. Because more than five-and-a-half million people will be there with you headed somewhere starting today. And already, we're seeing delays and cancellations across the Great Plains.

BROWN: That's right. Yes. Not what you want to be delay with.

BLACKWELL: No, ma'am.

BROWN: Because more than 85 million people will be traveling by car to see family and friends. That's more than one in four Americans and, of course, you will want to use caution on the roads so you don't end up like this right here. Icy roads like these in Kansas have caused multiple accidents.

BLACKWELL: So, we've got 85 million on the roads, five million who are taking planes. What is everybody else taking? A train, maybe.

BROWN: A train probably.

BLACKWELL: A ferry. Who knows? Hey, let's look in with Jennifer Gray now and we're going to look at the forecast. Who's getting hit hardest now?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, this is going to be a mess, guys. Right now it's in the center part of the country and that's why we continue to push to the east. We have a threat of severe storms in the south, just as you mentioned. Very heavy. Possibly flooding rains across much of the Ohio Valley. We also have the possibility for an icy mix across some sections and even heavy snow for folks up to the north. This is something different than the last couple of winter storms we've had. This one has a lot of very warm air in place.

And so, it is going to mainly be a rain event, however, we are going to have that ice threat anywhere from Oklahoma City all the way through Springfield and we could see additional quarter of an inch of ice, maybe even half an inch of ice. And so, you know what that means. Possible downed power lines, power outages. Things like that. So we are going to see that ice component. We're also going to see the severe component, and this is going to be from Shreveport through Memphis, Nashville, in this area for today, could possibly see isolated tornadoes, they could see damaging winds as well.

That threat shifts to the east as we go into tomorrow. Also, the very heavy rain event. We're going to see a possible five inches of rain through Indianapolis, St. Louis, even Little Rock could pick up possibly four to five inches of rain. So tracking this hour by hour, you can see through Memphis, Jackson, Little Rock, as we go through 4:00 this afternoon, it's going to continue to push to the east as we go through midnight tonight, and you can see there's mainly rain on the map. Not as much snow with this system. Most of the snow is going to stay very far to the north, guys, but it is going to make a mess for travelers today and tomorrow.



BROWN: We're seeing a little bit of everything out there, it seems. Jennifer Gray, thank you.

BLACKWELL: President Obama, he wrapped up the year with a wide- ranging news conference. Then he left the Washington fishbowl for 16 days in the sun.

BROWN: Something tells me he's ready for a vacation.

BLACKWELL: Ready to go.

BROWN: The first family arrived in Hawaii this morning where the president will happily bid adieu to 2013. A difficult year to say the least. Senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Pamela and Victor, President Obama said, 2014 will be a year of Action as he narrowed his priorities to immigration reform in the economy and took heat for what was a rough 2013.


OBAMA: It's the most wonderful press conference of the year. Right now.

KEILAR (voice-over): President Obama closed out 2013 facing a skeptical White House press corp.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Has this been the worst year of your presidency?

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Were you wrong then because were you not fully ready in not just on these programs but on other programs? KEILAR: The president at times appeared combative and at other times conciliatory, acknowledging the biggest foible of a foible-filled year, the rollout of ObamaCare.

OBAMA: Since I'm in charge obviously, we screwed it up.

KEILAR: Instead of making excuses for the way his signature legislative achievement has been implemented he accepted fault but pushed back against critics in defense of the underlying law.

OBAMA: Having said all that, the bottom line also is that we've got several million people that are going to have health care that works.

KEILAR: Reporters also hammered the president over his shifting position on the reach of the NSA, and revelations that the agency was collecting information on Americans.

HENRY: On surveillance you looked the American people in the eye six months ago and said, we've got the right balance. And six months later saying, maybe not.

OBAMA: Well, hold on a second to that. I think it's important to note that when it comes to the right balance on surveillance, these are serious adjustment calls, we're making every single day because we have got a whole bunch of folks whose job it is to make sure that the American people are protected.

KEILAR: The president said, he will consider changes to the NSA while he's on vacation in Hawaii and make what he called a definitive statement on surveillance programs in January. In one flash of frustration the president pushed back against opponents on Capitol Hill who have suggested they will again hold up approving increasing the nation's debt ceiling. The treasury secretary has warned without an increase, the U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills early next year.

(on camera): Will you negotiate with House Republicans on the debt ceiling?

OBAMA: Oh, Brianna, you know the answer to this question. No, we're not going to negotiate for Congress to pay bills that it has accrued.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is a bipartisan deal.

KEILAR: Obama warned Republicans not to squander the glimmer of goodwill from the recent bipartisan budget deal that averts a government shutdown in the New Year.

OBAMA: I can't imagine that having seen this possible daylight breaking when it comes to cooperation in Congress that folks are thinking actually about plunging us back into the kinds of brinksmanship and governance by crisis that has done us so much harm over the last couple of years.

KEILAR: And if that wasn't enough to send Republicans a message --

OBAMA: I've got to assume folks aren't crazy enough to start that thing all over again.


KEILAR: Some Republicans actually share that sentiment with President Obama but they also say it isn't helpful for him to say that -- Pamela and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar in Washington. Thank you.

BROWN: Still have holiday some holiday shopping to do. A good news here. Target offering a 10 percent discount to all shoppers today and tomorrow. Target CEO says, the retail giant wants to apologize after 40 million of its customers had their credit and debit cards hacked. He says, Target will also offer free credit monitoring services and there's already a lawsuit that's been filed in California on behalf of shoppers who say thieves used their debit card info.

BLACKWELL: Four people are in custody in last weekend's deadly carjacking and shooting of a young New Jersey lawyer and husband. Dustin Friedland had gone Christmas shopping with his wife at the Short Hills mall when they were ambushed as he was helping his wife get into the SUV. Police say, Friedland was shot several times, his wife was not hurt but police say, two assailants got into their car and then drove off. Prosecutors are holding a news conference at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

And just about an hour from now, two astronauts aboard the International Space Station are set to embark on the first of three emergency space walks.

BROWN: Yes, they're expected to spend about 6.5 hours today working on a critical fix to one of the station's key operating systems that makes sure that the equipment doesn't get overheated there on the space station.

BLACKWELL: Like any space walk, you know, this is risky. And NASA has taken some MacGyver-like steps to try to keep astronauts safe.

John Zarrella is in Miami with the latest for us on this. Hey, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Pam, if you ask, NASA officials, what they want for Christmas, they'll tell you, a working cooling pump. They'll have to wait until Christmas Day to see if they've got one.


(voice-over): For the International Space Station astronauts, Christmas will be a working holiday. Three planned space walks. The first Saturday, the last coming Christmas morning. Two hundred and twenty miles above the earth, quite literally, high drama.

Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will spend about 20 hours in space removing the 780-pound failed cooling pump and replacing it with a spare. Much of the time, Mastracchio will be dangling from the end of station's robotic arm. Two pumps are used to cool the station. The failure of either is considered critical. NASA says, it learned a lot from a similar incident back in 2010 that's given them confidence this time.

DINA CONTELLA, ISS FLIGHT DIRECTOR: I looked around the room today and said, what are people worried about? And really, there was not much to be said. So, I think we're ready to go out the door on Saturday.

ZARRELLA: A valve inside the pump failed over a week ago. Complicating matters, NASA has to carefully watch the crew's spacesuits. Back in July, astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet began mysteriously filling with water. Scary moments as other station crew members raced to get his helmet off. NASA still doesn't completely understand what went wrong. This will be the first walk since.

CONTELLA: All days have spent with a lot of water chemists trying to figure this out. So, we've not yet said that something that for sure would be fleet-wide.

ZARRELLA: Space agency officials say, they don't expect the problem to repeat but they are taking no chances. Water absorbing pads have been installed in spacesuit helmets and tubing on the station has been fashioned into snorkels.

ALLISON BOLLINGER, LEAD SPACEWALK OFFICER: This is your last resort that if water is encroaching your face, similar to happened with Luca on the last two days that the crew member can lean down and use this to breathe to receive, you know, fresh oxygen down near his midsection.


ZARRELLA: NASA astronauts always make space walks look easy, but the bottom line is the space agency never wants to send them outside unless there is no other choice. This happens to be one of those times -- Victor, Pam.

BROWN: All right. John Zarrella in Miami. Thank you so much, John.

BLACKWELL: Well, hundreds of thousands of people are demanding that A&E end the suspension of one of the stars of "Duck Dynasty."

BROWN: This has really been a talker. Find out what A&E is saying about this suspension now.


BLACKWELL: Support for the suspended star of "Duck Dynasty" is growing, the reality TV show network A&E, staying quiet.

BROWN: More than 200,000 people have signed petitions demanding A&E end Phil Robertson's suspension, but an A&E executive told CNN the network isn't second guessing its decision and noted that conversations about Robertson and the show will continue after the holiday. BLACKWELL: But questions remain about the show's future. CNN entertainment correspondent Michelle Turner has more. Hey, Michelle.

MICHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Pamela, the Robertson family is presenting a united front releasing a statement in support of Phil, the man they call the head of their family. They said in part, quote, "We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but as a family we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of "Duck Dynasty."


(voice-over): Talk about rocking the boat. Just a day after A&E suspended the backwoods Louisiana star Phil Robertson from his hit reality show "Duck Dynasty" for making anti-gay comments, a firestorm erupted.

Now as his critics and supporters are lining up getting their ducks in a row, Robertson's family has addressed the controversy for the first time saying while some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were course, his beliefs are grounded in the teaching of the bible. Phil would never incite or encourage hate, but now surfacing, a video from 2010 showing Robertson in a Pennsylvania pulpit preaching morality.

PHIL ROBERTSON, REALITY TV STAR: Women with women, men with men -- they committed indecent acts with one another and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. They're full of murder, envy, strife hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God haters.

MATTHEW BREEN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ADVOCATE: He has the right, of course to say what he likes to say, but A&E I think made a very good decision when they decided that those views are not American views. Those views do not represent their brand as a network and they pulled him.

TURNER: But now coming out of the woodwork are Robertson supporters even pledging their support on twitter with the #Stand by Phil. Republicans like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin taking a stand behind the boys from the bayou as well. Palin saying on herself Facebook page, "Free speech is an endangered species. Those intolerants hating and taking on the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch for voicing his personnel opinion are on taking on all of us.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: The Left kept saying, they're for tolerance except for people that disagree with him. It's stunning to me after all of those antics that Miley Cyrus would still be on TV and Phil's the one getting kicked off.

TURNER: Robertson supporters say, they're fighting the good fight.


TURNER: But critics say, it's an old fight likely to lose in a new world.


TURNER: A&E has told CNN they will not have any further comment on this situation, and the network did air a previously scheduled three- hour "Duck Dynasty" marathon on Thursday night. Another one is scheduled for this weekend. The new season is also still set to kick off on January 15th, although they say, and now we're talking about A&E, and they say Phil Robertson is suspended from filming, he is expected to appear in the new season's initial episodes that have already been shot. Victor and Pamela, back to you.

BROWN: All right, Michelle. Thank you so much. This just continues to be a talker. We'll going to be having more on this coming up later in the show to discuss sort of other similar situations with high- profile people and kind of dissecting the decision that A&E made. So --

BLACKWELL: We're going to talk about this one too.


BLACKWELL: This other p.r. nightmare going viral on twitter. The hashtag, "#has Justin landed yet" is exploding. If you go to twitter and search, you go find out why. Justine Sacco, she's the top p.r. exec for InterActiveCorp. It is a media conglomerate run by billionaire Barry Diller. Well, look at this. Yesterday this tweet appeared on Sacco's account. "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white." Then her account went silent, and now the tweet is gone, and the account is gone. There's been a lot of outrage and reaction, as you'd imagine. Someone created the website and it links to African charities. The IAC which Sacco works for, currently, there has been no update recently on her employment fair called the tweet offensive and outrageous and we're still waiting to hear from Justine Sacco herself.

BROWN: Yes. Very curious to see how she responds to this.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So, we're going to have that conversation about, you know --

BROWN: Sounds like she might need her own publicist on this one.

BLACKWELL: Certainly. Quick break and we'll be back.


BLACKWELL: Twenty two after the hour now and we're looking live at the International Space Station. We've got two astronauts who are preparing for a spacewalk that's set to start in, what, 40 minutes from now, Pamela?

BROWN: Uh-huh. About 40 minutes. This is going to last about six- and-a-half hours. They're fixing one of the cooling systems onboard the International Space Station. And it's really important to note here, you remember six months ago, there was another space walk, an Italian astronaut nearly drowned from water in his helmet.


BROWN: So, NASA really taking those extra precautions to make sure that doesn't happen again.

BLACKWELL: Yes. As our executive producer says, this is so flipping cool. It is.

BROWN: It is. Whether you're a space nerd or not, you got to be understood in this.

BLACKWELL: Whether you're watching this or not.

BROWN: This is pretty cool. Yep.

BLACKWELL: Hey, in the near future, you might not ever need to leave the comfort of your own home to watch an NFL football game. I mean, we do that now. Right?

BROWN: Yes. I was going to say.

BLACKWELL: OK. So, apparently there's something new happening here.

BROWN: Yes. And here's what new. The FCC took the first steps towards repealing the unpopular blackout rule. Now, for those who don't know, a lot of you do, the rule prevents TV stations from airing a game if tickets aren't sold out.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I remember that from the days when I was working in Jacksonville. The jaguars were up against that every Thursday and Friday.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes. Every week. Here's the deal. The FCC is considering, you know, appealing this rule, getting rid of it altogether. They're considering it. Now, obviously, the NFL does not want this to happen, but the FCC here is saying, you know, what this rule is outdated? The economics of the NFL have changed. Back in the day, obviously, a main revenue stream for the NFL was ticket sales. Go to the game, you park at the game, you buy concessions at the game. And it's changed a lot these days. You got broadcasting rights. Billions and billions of dollars being poured in the NFL from these networks.

So, the economics of the game has changed. The NFL says, wait. We don't want to change this rule, because hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's been in place for 40 years. We like the fact that people go to these games and go in record numbers. This year there's only been two games that have been blacked out. When you look back at the numbers, 35 years ago, 50 percent of the games were blacked out. So it's working. Basically if you're in a market and you don't get a game sold out, you're not going to be able to see it on television. So, it helps the NFL's economics.

Obviously, if they were to take away this rule in certain markets, like you talked about Tampa, Jacksonville, San Diego, I think it hurts the brand. Because people are going to see. Well, if I can see it on TV, why do I need to go to the game? You know, if I can see it? Ah, just watch it from the comforts of my home. People have the opportunity now to view the NFL in other ways. Obviously, the red zone channel, they can get direct television, they can watch it online, they can get it through twitter feeds. They can do it through Facebook. There are a lot of ways to do it. So the NFL is saying, hey, listen, it's not broke, don't fix it. Leave it the way it is.

The FCC saying we're getting a lot of complaints from TV customers because they're saying, hey, we pay tax money. Our hard earned tax dollars are going into these massive stadiums that they're building in these cities. We should be able to watch whatever game is played inside of the stadium that we are essentially helping fund.


CARTER: So, we'll see. Because at this point right now, the FCC is considering voting on getting rid of this rule. It's only being considered at this point.

BLACKWELL: OK. So, Stewart goes and it definitely helps us smaller market share you mentioned. Joe Carter, thank you.

CARTER: Thank you.

BROWN: Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Hey, after a massive hack of customers' credit card and debit card data, Target is trying to make amends with its shoppers. After the break, we're going to tell you what the retailer is doing this weekend, today and tomorrow.

BROWN: Plus meteorologist Jennifer Gray here with your weekend forecast.

GRAY: Yes, and this weekend could be a mess. We have showers and storms, possible severe weather, including gusting winds. Tornadoes, even, and even ice and snow. We'll break it all down for you when we come back.


BLACKWELL: Bottom of the hour.

BROWN: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown. Great to have you along with us.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Pleasure to be with you. Here are five things that you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Up first, Target is rolling out a 10 percent discount for all of its customers today and tomorrow. I can hear agendas and itineraries changing now. The retail giant says it wants to make things right after 40 million of its customers had their credit and debit card information breached. A Target CEO says, shoppers will not be held financially liable for anyone who illegally uses their card info to make purchases.

BROWN: And at number two, same-sex couples rushed to courthouses in Utah last night to get married. Hours earlier a federal judge ruled Utah's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The state plans to appeal but it did not ask the judge to stay his ruling. So, that means that allowed these same-sex partners to marry right there on the spot.

BLACKWELL: Number three, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is out of the hospital and under orders to rest. Reid checked in to George Washington University Hospital Friday because he wasn't feeling well. Medical tests came back normal. Doctors diagnosed Reid who is 74- years-old, with exhaustion.

BROWN: And at number four, if you're headed to the airport, you will want to check the status of your flight ahead of time. An ice storm in Oklahoma is expected to cause some delays and cancellations today. Tonight and heading into tomorrow, Chicago will see a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, which of course will likely snarling flights out of O'Hare. And on Sunday, we're going to see delays out of major hubs like Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

BLACKWELL: So, you know what number five is. The nasty winter storm making its way across the U.S. We've got pictures, I believe, from -- we don't have the pictures from Oklahoma City? Well, let me tell you. It's terrible. This weekend's storm will bring everything from ice and snow and sleet, even more record highs of snow. And some record highs in temperature, too. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is here with your details. Jennifer, we're going to hit the 70s here in Atlanta. Sorry, Oklahoma City.


BLACKWELL: But other people are just suffering.

GRAY: Yeah. Other places are cold. We're very, very warm, and I think more important than even the winter component to this, the severe storms. We're talking about possible tornadoes on the first official day of winter. So we already are seeing showers start to line up anywhere from Dallas and that will soon be in places like Memphis, Little Rock. Yes, we do have that icy component from Oklahoma City all the way through St. Louis. We'll zoom down on that a little bit. Interstates 40, 35, will definitely be trouble trying to travel through those today, and even flying out of Oklahoma City today. And then already seeing rain in portions of Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and that will continue throughout the day today into tomorrow. So expect delays anywhere from Kansas City, Chicago, even Dallas, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jennifer Gray, we will expect it. Thank you.

BROWN: All right. So you hear that forecast and you are thinking, what about those last-minute gifts I ordered? Will they arrive on time? Well, UPS, FedEx saying not to worry. Meteorologists are working hard tracking the storm and UPS says they have snow removal equipment ready to go and that as long as it's safe, packages will be out for delivery. And FedEx adds that while it's confident your packages will arrive in time, the safety of their employees comes first, of course.

BLACKWELL: I want to show you this daring rescue. It's at a Tampa airport. Look at this. This is a radar image that shows a single engine-Cessna. You just see the bright flash here, slamming into a canal bank short of the runway. Two Tampa police officers on the helicopter patrol heard the pilot's distress call and rushed to the scene. Look at this. You can see one of the officers dragging the pilot away from that crash. It was fiery.


BLACKWELL: The pilot reportedly is in stable condition, suffered a few head and leg injuries. Tampa's mayor, of course, as many people are, is hailing both officers as heroes.

BROWN: Hmm. Unbelievable.


BROWN: Well, it was quite a week on the money front, of course.


BROWN: We had the mega millions jackpot, hoards of people were lining up for a chance that that massive holiday mega million jackpot, just strong new evidence that the U.S. economy is flying high.

BLACKWELL: I spent $15 and I won $3.

BROWN: You did better than I did. I didn't win anything.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Zain Asher joins us now with this week's top news in business. Hey, Zain?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela and Victor, the Dow closed at record highs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The big driver, the Federal Reserve said it would slowly wind down its $85 billion a month stimulus program. That's the sign the economy is strong enough to stand on its own. And Friday, third quarter GDP solidified that, coming in at 4.1 percent pace. The fastest pace since 2011. Also, a massive credit card breach at Target affected 40 million customers. The retailer says the issue has been resolved and customers won't be responsible for any fraudulent charges.

Google is getting into the robot business. The company bought Boston Dynamics, the company that makes agile animal-like robots for the Defense Department. No details on what Google is going to do with them, but it has the potential to be used for warehousing or in emergency situations like fires.

Big changes in the pharmaceutical industry. GlaxoSmithKline will stop paying its workers based on how many drugs they sell. It says, it's scraping sales targets in an effort to give greater priority to the patient. Glaxo is in scrutiny in China over claims it bribed doctors to use its products.

And finally, if you didn't win mega millions this past week, you should still check your ticket. $800 million in lottery prizes go unclaimed every year. Many people just throw their tickets away if they don't win the jackpot. That's a wrap of the week on Wall Street. Pamela and Victor?

BROWN: Hmm. $800 million. Wow.

BLACKWELL: Zain Asher, thank you.

BROWN: It looks like a live look now from the International Space Station. Take a look right here. This is where just about, what, 25 minutes from now we're going to see the astronauts venture out for a spacewalk to fix one of the cooling systems. Very important, because the cooling systems keep the equipment on the space station from overheating.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, and you know, back in July, there was an Italian astronaut who nearly drowned after his helmet filled with water. Can you imagine? If you've seen that movie "Gravity" imagine if the helmet is filling with water.

BROWN: While you are in space.

BLACKWELL: While you are in space, OK?

BROWN: No less.

BLACKWELL: So they've added a snorkel and some padding. We're going to talk about that with an astronaut coming up soon, but this is a live shot of the preps at the ISS, we've also seen some shots of mission control. We'll stay on top of this and have more for you throughout the show.

BROWN: I just can't get enough of watching them, though. Unbelievable.


BROWN: All right. Well, let's go to another big talk. Of course, the "Duck Dynasty" clan, can they recover from a major stumble, many are calling it.

BLACKWELL: The future of their popular reality show is in doubt. We'll talk about it. You're up early and we're glad you are. This is "NEW DAY Saturday."

Welcome back, everybody. Taking a live look here in Atlanta.


BROWN: Welcome back, everybody. Taking a live look here in Atlanta.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Pretty foggy this morning. You know, that weather that is coming through Oklahoma City. I mean we're good today. 72 degrees.

BROWN: Yeah, can't complain about that, but ...

BLACKWELL: Tomorrow, you know, it could be a problem here. The busiest airport in the world, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, we could see some delays from that weather in Oklahoma City as it moves to Atlanta, but let's just enjoy today.

BROWN: That's just be in the moment. I've got to travel tomorrow, and I don't want to think about it.

BLACKWELL: Let's enjoy today.

BROWN: All right. Well, a new music video is paying tribute to "Fast and Furious" star Paul Walker.




BROWN: The singer Natalia Safran's music video "All I Feel Is You" features scenes from one of Walker's last movies called "Hours."

BLACKWELL: And the video in production before the actor was killed in a fiery car crash last month. Safran says that the song has become a farewell to the star after his death, and all proceeds from the single will go towards Walker's charity "Reach out Worldwide."

Good news for "Harry Potter" fans. A stage play, or just a play, based on the hit series is in the works. I think Tyler Perry the word, stage play, I don't know how that happened, but a play. Author J.K. Rowling announced the new project on Friday. The play will be based on Harry Potter's early years before heading to Hogwarts. Production is set to begin next year. That's just a little pet peeve of mine. A stage play. It's a play.

BROWN: Yeah.

BLACKWELL: That's just where it is.

BROWN: Is it a play, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, it's a play. Thank you.


BLACKWELL: All right, so the family behind that wildly popular reality show "Duck Dynasty" suggests the series may be over. Maybe it's done. They say they cannot imagine going forward without Phil Robertson.

BROWN: Yeah, a lot of "Duck Dynasty" fans not happy about the prospect of that happening, A&E suspended Robertson for homophobic and racist comments, but Robertson certainly isn't the first celebrity to trip on his tongue. Here's national correspondent Gary Tuchman.


UM: I'm not into dainty things.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson certainly isn't the first celebrity whose mouth has gotten him or her in trouble.

ALEC BALDWIN: Get away from my wife and the baby with the camera! [EXPLETIVE DELETED] what you want that is.

TUCHMAN: Alec Baldwin had recently lost a program at MSNBC when he had a running with paparazzi in New York City.

BALDWIN: Wait, (inaudible) with the camera? You know what's going to happen to you, don't you? Come on! [EXPLETIVE DELETED]

TUCHMAN: After those comments, Baldwin was suspended from his show, and then it was cancelled in what was described as a mutual parting.

PAULA DEEN: My goodness.

TUCHMAN: Celebrity chef Paula Deen was accused of using the n word at times and was sued by a former employee alleging racial and sexual discrimination. The Food Network said it would not renew her contract and one by one she lost many of her sponsorships. She went on the "Today" show to apologize, but was also defensive.

PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: I'll tell you what, if there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wished they could take back, if you're out there, please, pick up that stone, and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please. I want to meet you. I want to meet you. I is what I is, and I'm not changing.

TUCHMAN: The lawsuit against Deen was ultimately dismissed. Shock jock Don Imus got into hot water after saying this about African- American basketball players at Rutgers University.

DON IMUS, RADIO HOST: Some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and ...

BERNARD MCGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy headed hos, there, I'm going to tell you that.


TUCHMAN: Imus apologized later, but it wasn't enough to keep his radio program or an MSNBC deal. Although he is back on radio and TV today.

MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR: It's like I was swimming through a flabby armed spanking machine.


TUCHMAN: The man who we know as Kramer on "Seinfeld" Michael Richards also was called a racist after he said the "N" word seven times in just over two minutes to hacklers at an L.A. Comedy Club. Later he was contrite on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR: I think it's important for the Afro-American community to make sure this kind of crap doesn't -- just doesn't come about. I mean and I'm sorry that it happened.

TUCHMAN: Richards maintained a low profile for quite some time following the incident. Few celebrities have been exposed quite like actor Mel Gibson. Not only with anti-Semitic and racists outbursts, but incredibly profane and threatening messages he left on his ex- girlfriend's voicemail.


TUCHMAN: Some careers can't recover, but others do. Experts say it all comes down to how it's handled.

MARVET BRITTO, ENTERTAINMENT AND PR STRATEGIST: The best way for any celebrity to navigate some - a mishap or words that they didn't mean to say or words that fell on the public in the wrong way is to be honest, transparent and truthful about the context, in which the words were shared.

TUCHMAN: But not all celebrities heed that advice.

UF: Some are saying that you're bipolar?

ROBERTSON: Wow. What does that mean?

UF: I guess that, you know, you're on two ends of the spectrum?

ROBERTSON: Wow. And then what? What the cure? Medicine? Make me like them? Not going to happen. I'm bi-winning.

TUCHMAN: Winning or not, "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson is now the latest member in the celebrity club. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


BROWN: You know, Twitter's really been blowing up over this ever since it happened. A lot of people coming to his defense.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, we're going to talk more about this, and we've been talking during the break and during the stories about this. You know, I'm both black and gay, and I saw what he said, and I read it. And there was nothing that surprised me. I didn't look at the words and weep. I mean what would have been surprising after Phil Robertson calls himself a bible thumper and we know that they've called themselves rednecks. If he would have come out and supported gay marriage ... BROWN: Right.

BLACKWELL: That would have been the surprise. We're going to have the conversation later about A&E.

BROWN: And let's not forget, this is a reality show

BLACKWELL: Yes. You want a reality show, and then the man is real, and then you suspend him. We're going to have that conversation coming up later in the show.

BROWN: In the meantime, this really made some headlines this week. Prince William's cutesy nickname for Kate Middleton.


BROWN: Babykins.

BLACKWELL: Babykins. Hmm - While intimate details of the royal couple's texts were read aloud in a London courtroom.


BLACKWELL: Hey, we're about to go around the world. Let's start in London. Oh, look. Good day. We say good morning to all the American cities. But when we go to London, we say good day. All right. 11:48 there in London. Live look at the Tower Bridge. Looking at - a little cloudy there, overcast. No surprise for London. Shoppers rushing around for these final Christmas gifts. Let's go to Pamela for headlines around the world now.

BROWN: Thanks, Victor. As more states and courts right here in the U.S. moved to legalize same-sex marriage, Uganda is closer to passing a new law with harsh punishments for homosexuals and people who help them. CNN Isa Soares has more from London. Isa?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, the Ugandan parliament has passed new anti-gay legislation. Now, under the bill, gay men and lesbians could face life in prison in some cases, and anyone who fails to report them could be given jail time. Even promoting homosexuality would be a crime. Now, the legislation is a setback from that 2009 proposal that called for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. The bill has already been denounced by activist group Glad. It calls it one of the worst human rights violations of our time. Pamela?

BROWN: All right, thank you, Isa. Now, let's move over to Moscow, that's where Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a pardon to release a once powerful critic of the Russian government from prison. CNN'S Diana Magnay is there with more. Diana.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, onetime oil giant and longtime critic of the Kremlin is a free man and on German soil. He used to be Russia's richest man until he crossed Vladimir Putin. His oil company UKOS was broken up and he was thrown in jail on tax evasion and fraud charges. Now ten years later, Mr. Putin just decided to free him on humanitarian grounds. His mother is very sick. Now his son is in Berlin to see him after ten years of not seeing his own father. His mother, though, told us she wasn't sure she could join because of her health. Pamela.

BROWN: Diana, thank you for that. And now heading back over to London, a new claim that a British tabloid hacked the phone of Kate Middleton while she was dating Prince William. CNN's Erin McLaughlin has details of the intimate conversations. Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He called Kate Babykins, a term of affection Prince William probably never thought would be heard by others, let alone read out loud in open court. Fraud securities alleged that journalists of the now defunct "News of the World" hacked Kate Middleton's phone in 2006. Her intimate voicemails were read out as evidence in an ongoing trial. Seven former "News of the World" employees are charged with conspiring to intercept voicemails. The denial charges against them, it's because of this trial that the world now knows that William is a fan of "Hunting with Beagles" and that he liked to send Kate cheeky text messages. Pamela, back to you.

BROWN: All right. Thank you, Erin.

Victor, back to you.

BROWN: Nothing wrong with a cheeky text message.


BLACKWELL: Hey, Dennis Rodman, he never fails to surprise. He's in North Korea -- again. The hall of fame NBA player is coaching young basketball players there, this is part of a plan to bring former NBA stars to North Korea, but critics are outraged. And it may be in part because people think his close personal friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un puts him in a position to negotiate on America's behalf, which he has so far refused to do. Specifically, about Kenneth Bae, he is that North Korean American, rather, arrested in North Korea in November of last year, 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after he was found guilty of hostile acts, and attempts to topple the government through religious activities, but Rodman says North Korea's politics has nothing to do with him.


DENNIS RODMAN: I don't want him to think that, you know, I'm over here trying to, you know, be a, you know, ambassador and trying to use him as being his friend. And all of a sudden I'm starting talking about politics. That's not going to be that way.


BLACKWELL: The Bae's sister Terri Chang told CNN week that she wants Rodman to press for her brother's freedom.

If there was any doubt that the 2014 Oscar ceremony was going to be -- animated -- we're going to put that to rest. Right now. Well, in a moment. We'll show you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


JAY LENO, "LATE NIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Are you all done with the Christmas shopping? Most people are? I'll tell you, I bought a lot more people gifts this year than I thought I did. You know why? I used my credit card at Target. That's why.


LETTERMAN: That's why.

DAVID LETTERMAN, "LATE NIGHT SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": We were decorating the Letterman Christmas tree, and we're all finished, and my son, we were talking about him earlier, he's ten years old, and he said, he was very excited. And he says, I don't -- I said, you know what? What we need now is a star. And he said, it's just like your show.



BLACKWELL: I like Dave's show. That didn't sound like me at all. What was that? I'm working through it, y'all. I'm working through it.

BROWN: You are OK. You fake it until you make it.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I'm faking it.

BROWN: Mind over matter.

BLACKWELL: If there was any doubt that there would be a dance number or two at the Oscars next year -- listen, we can put that to rest now.

BROWN: Yeah, and here's why.


BROWN: Ellen DeGeneres has been tapped to host it.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, the Academy of Motion Pictures released this trailer of Ellen dancing through the streets of a movie set.

BROWN: And as we see, dancing, about 250 other tuxedo-clad men and women, can expect to start seeing the trailer in movie theaters after the first of the year, and by the way, the Oscars are Sunday March 2nd.

BLACKWELL: All right, one of our must-see moments of the day. That moment when an acceptance letter to college arrives at your house.

BROWN: Yeah, this was extra special for 20-year-old Ryan Holcombe who has Down's syndrome. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UM: It says, congratulations.

RYAN HOLCOMBE: I got -- I got accepted?

UM: Pleased to inform you of your acceptance into the program for the fall of 2014, beginning August 17th, 2014.

HOLCOMBE: They said, yes?

UM: They said, yes. What do you say?



BROWN: Oh, god. I have chills.

BLACKWELL: They said, yes. They sure did, Ryan. He's getting his acceptance letter here to Clemson University's Life Program. And that program is for people with intellectual disabilities, and aims to give them a college experience.

BROWN: Good for Clemson University.

BLACKWELL: Yes, congratulations to Ryan, too.

BROWN: Yes, absolutely.

BLACKWELL: All right, so, by now you've probably seen that Jean- Claude Van Damme doing that split between the two moving trucks.

BROWN: Yeah. But in the event you haven't, let's take a look.


BROWN: That's the Van Damme's commercial right there from Volvo trucks.

BLACKWELL: And the music is provided by Enya. I love some Enya. Well, not to be outdone, Chuck Norris has his own split.


UM: No favorite things. No rich head forward to charm so hallowed and so gracious is the time. So I broke ...


BLACKWELL: Yeah, that's Chuck. Doing his split between two fighter jets while balancing 11 people standing in the shape of a Christmas tree on top of his head. They later light up with Christmas lights. You know that whole line of jokes with Chuck Norris. Like Chuck Norris doesn't do pushups. He pushes the Earth down.


BROWN: Well, so it's not surprising, I guess, that he's involved with this spoof. And it's only a matter of time until this happened. And this parody, by the way, of the Van Damme ad makes much use of CGI graphic technology. I guess not surprising there either.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, still funny, though.


BLACKWELL: Good job.

And thanks for staying with us this morning.

BROWN: The next hour of your "NEW DAY" starts right now.