Return to Transcripts main page


"The Tip of the Iceberg?"; What You Drink and How You Vote; "It's a Win Just Being Nominated"; A Lesson from the Roastmaster General;

Aired January 1, 2014 - 16:30   ET


KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And what I learned really fast working for a mayor was there's no Republican way or Democrat way to pick up the garbage, plow the streets of snow.

This idea of a liberal utopia, I think it seems great at first and sounds great at an inaugural speech until you run out of rich people to tax.

And I think at the end of the day you see a lot of big city mayors really put ideology aside and focus more on nuts and bolts of city services. Rahm Emanuel out of Chicago, for example, he took on the teachers' unions. There's a host of other examples.

Look at Mayor Bloomberg, given whatever day it was, could be a liberal or a no-nonsense conservative, depending what it was that he was dealing with.

So I think that's something --


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: (INAUDIBLE) in this guy is my --

MADDEN: Yes, I think that's going to be an extraordinary challenge for Bill de Blasio, is liberal ideology, the idea of liberal utopia will meet the simple fact that he has to be a nuts and bolts executive mayor. That's going to be a challenge for him.

DOUG THORNELL, SVP: That's one of the things Bloomberg did, he was high on efficiency stuff, he was a great manager. People feel city services were well executed. If there's any sense of a drop-off there --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he understood --

THORNELL: -- de Blasio is in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the key to that was his tax base. And he doesn't want to chase his tax base off to the suburb --


TAPPER: Let me do one thing in honor of Doug, who is the one on this panel who actually celebrated New Year's as opposed to lame dads on the panel.

And anybody at home who celebrated last night, how much does what you swill say about how you'll vote or if you'll vote at all? The answer is potentially a lot.

According to two years of consumer data analyzed by the right-leaning group National Media Research Planning and Placement, Democrats apparently like more clear liquors like Absolut and Gray Goose Vodka, Tanqueray Gin. Republicans on the other hand supposedly like more dark liquors, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Canadian Club.

There are also a variety of bipartisan beverages, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Malibu Coconut, Johnnie Walker Black, Seagram's 7 Crown.

Kevin, with the exception of Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign trail boilermaker, how much do you think is regional as opposed to actually partisan?

MADDEN: I think that's right. I think it is regional. I think it also has to do with sort of maybe some of your cultural upbringing.

For example, this goes to the heart of -- this is not a lot of new information for guys like me and Doug that have worked on campaigns because we microtarget these types of things all the time. Democrats are more likely to drive Volvos. Republicans are more likely to drive Jeeps. Where you vacation says a lot about your political leaning.


TAPPER: What is your poison, Kevin?

MADDEN: My poison? Nothing like an ice cold can of Bud.


TAPPER: Sounds very Republican.

MADDEN: It's not.


Actually, I might be wrong about that. (INAUDIBLE).

THORNELL: My poison? Whiskey ginger.

TAPPER: Whiskey ginger? Where is that on the map?

THORNELL: Actually that would put me unfortunately, I woke up depressed after reading this story because I think I am a Republican now.


TAPPER: You'll have to change your --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're also a hockey fan, too. Doug and I have had Budweisers at a hockey game.

THORNELL: I bet if you took this poll 20 years ago, those whiskey drinkers would be considered Democrats because they're in the South.

TAPPER: Last word on this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gin and tonic. Who would have thought that's actually a Democratic --

TAPPER: That's a Democratic drink, gin and tonic?


TAPPER: That's like a "Great Gatsby" kind of thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like everybody gets together, too, bipartisan, they get together and drink rum apparently.


TAPPER: Doug, Bob, Kevin, thank you so much, all of you. Happy New Year.

With his approval rating at 1 million percent among the late night comics, the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, will officially file the paperwork tomorrow morning to run for re-election, believe it or not. His spokesman told CNN -- I think the real news there is that he has a spokesman.

Rob Ford has been laying relatively low lately, providing updates on the ice storm that slammed the city over the holidays. So that's coming in straight from Toronto. Rob Ford is going to file the paperwork to run for re-election.

Coming up, a safe mysteriously explodes in an embassy, killing the ambassador.

Was it an act of terrorism?

And later, it's an honor just to be nominated, yadda, yadda, yadda. But let's be honest. Everyone in Hollywood wants to be a winner. And the new trick movie marketers are using you to convince their films have already nabbed the statue. That's the latest trend and that's coming up in our pop culture lead.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now time for pop culture lead. The line: congratulations, you've already won, apparently doesn't just apply to those of us that get letters from Publishers Clearinghouse. Movie studios are using a similarly savvy or shady move, depending on how you look at it. They're releasing trailers touting Golden Globe nominees as Golden Globe nomination winners. It's a subtle but no doubt very intentional way of boost a film's credibility. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is behind the Golden Globes, is now trying to put a stop to these ads. According to "The Hollywood Reporter," the group sent a memo to the publicists of movie executives which reads in part, quote, "while earning a nomination is certainly an honor and one to be celebrated, it is not a win. And using that term or terms similar to it is likely to mislead the public and diminish the excitement around the awards show when the winners will be revealed."

Of course this isn't the only trailer trick studio execs have up their sleeves.

Joining me now with more is Scott Feinberg from "The Hollywood Reporter."

Scott, thanks for being here. This is a pretty sneaky move on the part of movie executives, but you say it is not new or even original.

SCOTT FEINBERG, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Yes, the Academy actually banned this practice specifically years ago, it's in their rules and regulations that you can't do it because, from the point of view of the ceremony itself, it diminishes interest, the people think the winners have already been determined, and it also is just inaccurate.

You can be nominated for a win, but as far as anyone in the general public believes, you can't win a nomination. That's like saying the -- that's essentially the equivalent of a participation award in Little League.

TAPPER: Now the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which does the Golden Globes and they get mocked a lot, do you think that this crackdown on these trailers, is it part of an effort to give them and Golden Globes -- to enhance their reputation at all?

FEINBERG: I am sure it is because they really have taken a lot of hits over the years, and really deservedly so. They were a group that really kowtowed to A listers. They wanted the biggest names that they could have at their party and they also were famously -- they would take photos with everybody, they -- which continues, but it was just transparently kissing up to celebrities.

This year, though, I think in response to some of that coverage, they elected one of their youngest presidents ever, a 46-year-old guy, who represents a generational change. They put out their first nominations in years that nobody really had cause to object to because the fact that they were able -- not saying it was the right or wrong decision, but they didn't nominate Oprah Winfrey for "The Butler," for instance. Normally she could have coughed and gotten nominated with the HFPA. So it definitely -- those were signs that things might be changing. And the fact that they have done this suggests that they don't want to be associated with tricky games any more.

TAPPER: I've noticed trailers for movies I think -- and "Grudge Match" was one of them, which is not a movie that I think would merit a lot of positive reviews -- that includes accolades from random Twitter users, not all of them of course exactly reputable movie critics.

Is this a new trend in Hollywood, anyone who tweets something positive about a movie can end up being used in a commercial to promote it?

FEINBERG: Listen, I don't see why not. They seem to value the opinions of critics, so the general public seems to value the opinions of critics virtually not at all, if you look at a movie like "Twilight" that makes a fortune, or many blockbusters, the critics think very little of them and they still make a fortune.

So it almost is logical that they value the opinion of @joeschmo as much as any of the rest of us who actually cover this stuff for a living.

But I think that it is also the equivalent of what they have done for years, which is that if you look at a movie ad and you see that the big quote that they're citing is from an affiliate that nobody has ever heard of in the middle of nowhere, that if that's the best they can come up with, it is also a sign of trouble. So I guess a tweet would be not very different from that.

TAPPER: But I'm saying it is even worse than that, it's even worse than Fred in the middle of nowhere in Ontario or wherever. But Scott Feinberg, @joeschmo gives this segment two thumbs up. Thank you very much. We appreciate it and Happy New Year.

FEINBERG: Thank you. You, too.

TAPPER: You would be hard pressed to find a kid growing up in the '90s who didn't yearn to have an Uncle Phil. After all, he was rich, he had a mansion in Bel Air and famous neighbors like Evander Holyfield, but the character's real appeal truly rested with the man who portrayed him for nearly a decade.

And today we sadly learned of the passing of that actor, James Avery. Avery starred in dozens of films and movies over the course of his career. But it was his role on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" as Will Smith's tough yet lovable uncle that earned him a spot on "TV Guide's" list of the best 50 TV dads of all time.


"UNCLE PHIL": You find Jeffrey and bring him back or they'll never find your bodies, and I'm a judge. I can make it happen.


TAPPER: Avery's manager says he died last night from complications after open-heart surgery. He was 68.

It is almost 5 o'clock on the East Coast which means you probably have already broken at least one of your New Year's resolutions. And no, running to the medicine cabinet to grab aspirin for a hangover doesn't count as cardio. But if you need a little help sticking to the rest of your goals, look no further than your phone. "Time" magazine, which is owned by the same parent company as CNN, has a roundup of all sorts of apps available in 2014 to help you avoid the pangs of guilt that inevitably roll around come February.

One app called Lose It includes a food bar code scanner that helps you track calories.

Another called Job Search uses GPS to help you find relevant jobs in your area, if you're the type who's easily distracted, check out an app called Strict Workflow. It blocks access to popular sites on your computer in 30-minute intervals, forcing you to actually work when you're online. There's a concept.

And if your resolution was to watch more of THE LEAD, congratulations. One day down, 364 to go. James Franco spent much of 2013 posting selfies, hanging out with his Grandma and forcing her to promote his movies.




TAPPER: Franco brought Grandma to his Comedy Central roasting, which brought in over 3 million viewers for its inaugural broadcast. Franco's buddy, Seth Rogan, Andy Sandberg and Jonah Hill unleashed a nasty and hilarious insults toward the thespian and towards each other. But the real burns come from the Roastmaster general, comedian Jeffrey Ross.


JEFFREY ROSS, COMEDIAN: Franco comes from humble beginnings, right? Your first job was working at McDonald's. The last time anybody ever said about your work, "I'm loving it."

TAPPER (voice-over): I recently got a chance to sit down with Ross to talk about the art of roasting celebrities.



TAPPER: Jeff Ross, thanks for being here, appreciate it.

ROSS: Of course, Jake.

TAPPER: You've done a lot of roasts.

Yes, I've watched many of them, obviously not all that could be aired on CNN.

What's the rookie mistake that people make when they do their first roast, when they're a guest for the first time, making jokes? ROSS: They try to dig too deep too fast. But I find back-handed compliments will serve you better. Build up the target before you take them down.

TAPPER: OK. So you say nice things a little bit and then hit them?

ROSS: Right.

TAPPER: Are people afraid of you? Because I am telling you, like I would never do a roast. I am way too insecure.

ROSS: Is that true?

TAPPER: It would terrify me.

ROSS: I feel like you could take a joke, Jake.

TAPPER: I could take a joke, but I feel like an hour of it, with some of the guys who are the meanest funny guys in the world, or the funniest mean guys, not sure which one it is, it is a pretty tough (INAUDIBLE). I mean, that's a tough crowd.

ROSS: You want everyone to leave saying that was so much fun, I hope they roast me again someday. You don't want to hurt people's feelings. You want someone that you roast to go home and be able to repeat the jokes to friends and family. You want someone who's so made, whose skin is so thick, not just fat, roasting Roseanne; I don't want to say the wrong thing. But you know.

TAPPER: Nobody's feelings get hurt ever?

ROSS: The censor.

TAPPER: The censor, right. A lot of beeps.

ROSS: You have to be very careful to pick people who are made, who are Teflon. It just bounces off.

TAPPER: Who is your favorite roast so far? They've been going for a long time.

How long have they been going on now?

ROSS: A 100 years, the first --

TAPPER: Right, but how long have you been --?

ROSS: Emanuel J. Rostenberg (ph) invented the roast of George Washington in 1789 to knock his buddy off his high horse.


TAPPER: How long have you been involved?

ROSS: I did my first roast in 1995. They couldn't get anybody to roast Steven Segall. I was like, what? This was before YouTube. I had to go to the Museum of Broadcasting, look up the roasts to see how far you could take it.

And I show up at the New York Hilton, 1,500 people. No one knew me. Milton Berle is the emcee. I had my one good suit on leftover from "The Letterman Show" the month before, and I looked out, it was like my Yankee Stadium. A lot of you people don't know me, but I feel uniquely qualified to be here today because I am also a crappy actor.


TAPPER: So I do want to talk about something else that I know you have been involved in, because you and I have talked a lot about troops. Your Uncle Murray (ph) served in World War II. You came to my book party out in Los Angeles. You do a lot of work with troops. And you, in fact, while you were here in Washington, you visited Walter Reed.

How did you first get involved?

ROSS: Drew Carey, who's a Marine, invited me to go to Iraq during the very early days of the U.S. occupation; it was August or September of 2003. And the soldiers loved Drew Carey, because they love blondes with big boobs.


ROSS: So we went in --

TAPPER: Thanks for cleaning that up.

I appreciate it.

ROSS: You're welcome. I kind of went in as an adventurer, almost like a tourist, going, sure, let's see what this is all about. And I immediately realized I was seeing things I could barely describe. I barely met any active military and I quickly learned that the government and the military are two different entities.

Growing up in New Jersey, the only guy I knew in a uniform was a caterer. I had no clue. And it opened my eyes. I got to see the entire Sunni Triangle from a Black Hawk perspective. You can't as a comedian find a better crowd.

TAPPER: When you go to Walter Reed, what's the response like? I mean, I know that's a very intense experience.

ROSS: That's a little bit different because when you're in the field, you have guys who really need a laugh; who -- you're trying to tell jokes while they're active duty.

But you go to the hospitals and, you know, there's a different thing. Sure we can go in and make jokes. But I do find that the military likes to just tell their story. Sometimes I'll just ask a guy what happened and you just want to be there to listen.

You know, they just want to tell their story to somebody who cares. So if you're out there, and you meet a soldier and you think that they're wounded, just ask them what the heck happened, and you'll make them feel better and you spread that sort of positive energy.

TAPPER: And my producer is in my ear saying let me have it, if you got anything you want to say to me.

ROSS: I love your suit. I didn't know you shopped at Forever 41.


ROSS: You look great.

TAPPER: Jeffrey Ross.

ROSS: I use your show as a nightlight every night.

TAPPER: Thank you very much. Appreciate your stopping by.

ROSS: This is great. I have seen hostage videos with a bigger budget.


ROSS: Congratulations, buddy.

TAPPER: Jeffrey Ross, thank you so much.

ROSS: Sure, buddy.

TAPPER: Good to see you. I appreciate it.


TAPPER: Our thanks to Jeffrey Ross.

So Kim Jong-un, what's your New Year's resolution, more exercise, fewer executions? But can he stick to it? What the North Korean leader has in store in 2014 when we come back.




TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper. Time now for the world lead.

The Academy Award nominees will be announced in just over two weeks. But one of the international entries caught our eye. "Walesa: Man of Hope" tells a story of the blue collar worker from humble roots in Poland whose activism ultimately helped lead to the collapse of the Communist Soviet Union's oppression of Eastern Europe. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was in Washington recently and sat down with us for a wide ranging conversation about the movie, the state of global affairs and how he thinks President Obama is doing as a world leader.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER (voice-over): It was an era of big dramatic moments and movements and amazing victories led by underdogs.

Mandela was one. Lech Walesa another. Walesa was the shipyard electrician turned union organizer who helped overthrow the repressive Communist government in Poland.

Imprisoned in the early 1980s, the leader of the Solidarity movement went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and became the first democratically elected president of Poland in 1990.


TAPPER (voice-over): His story is once again the hope of Poland. Although this time the stakes are considerably lower. A new biopic, "Walesa: Man of Hope," telling his life story, is chasing Oscar gold. It will be Poland's submission for best foreign language film.

TAPPER: Did they get it right?

LECH WALESA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF POLAND (through translator): Last night I saw it for the sixth time. And I like it more and more each time. At first I didn't like it so much. I suggest you also view it six times and you will also like it.

TAPPER (voice-over): At 70, he remains irrepressible, stubborn and very opinionated. Having made clear his U.S. presidential preferences of Mitt Romney last year, the old Cold Warrior is also a strong critic of President Obama.

TAPPER: How do you think President Obama is doing as a world leader?

WALESA (through translator): When he was elected, there was great hope in the world. We were hoping that Obama would reclaim moral leadership for America, but that failed.

America does not lead the world in the area of morality; in terms of military, yes, no question about it. Economically it is getting weaker. But in terms of politics and morality, America no longer leads the world.

TAPPER: What has President Obama not done that he should have done in terms of leadership?

WALESA (through translator): We have to do everything that we can to recreate, to reclaim America's role. It seems Obama would manage that, but he didn't accomplish that.

America did not regain its leadership status. We're just lucky that there were no bigger conflicts in the world, because if it had bigger conflicts, then the world would be helpless. In the long run, it is a dangerous situation. So we are awaiting a president who will understand that.

TAPPER (voice-over): He is a religious man, and he's calling for a secular 10 Commandments for this new world, including a focus on solidarity with those whose human rights are being abused.

WALESA (through translator): The main topic number one would be solidarity, not in everything, but we should show it with China, not on everything, but on certain issues. For example, human rights. I have a Nobel Prize colleague who in prison there.

TAPPER: You're 70 this year. I hope you live --


WALESA (through translator): You had to remind me.

TAPPER: -- I hope you live another 70 years.

But when you're no longer here, how do you want to be remembered?

WALESA (through translator): I managed to destroy a bad system. Together we were good at destroying things, but now we must be excellent at building new things. It doesn't take that much, but let's talk about that.


TAPPER: Walesa lost in Poland's 1995 presidential election. These days, he travels the world promoting human rights, democracy and now his hopes of an Oscar with this movie.

In other world news, who set off the explosion that killed the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic? It may have been himself accidentally. Police did find evidence of explosives in the debris after the blast at the diplomat's home in northern Prague. But investigators say the device was probably a security mechanism on a safe inside the home and it was most likely triggered when the ambassador mishandled it. The investigation is still going on and police haven't completely ruled out a glitch in the mechanism. But they do say there's nothing to indicate that this was a terrorist act.

So Kim Jong-un, what do you really think about your late uncle? North Korea's leader giving a new year's message from Pyongyang, and for the first time publicly talking about his uncle and former mentor's execution.

Kim said the December purge left the party more unified because it got rid of what he called "factionalist filth." He also called for better ties with South Korea, but managed to get a dig in at the United States. Kim referred to "war maniacs" in the U.S. and said if the two Koreas go to war again, it would be a deadly nuclear catastrophe and that the U.S. would never be safe.

Russia's president also delivering a new year's address, Vladimir Putin promising the total destruction of terrorists. This is coming after two consecutive days of terror attacks in the city of Volgograd. At least 34 people were killed.

Putin visited some of the bombing survivors in the hospital today in an unannounced trip to the city. Security across Russia is getting much tighter ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. They begin February 7th.

Volgograd is the main transit point for train passengers headed to Sochi. A Chechen extremist group has promised to use maximum force to disrupt the games.

How long is when? To paraphrase a quote from President Obama, it is not a question of if Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad will go; it's a question of when. But now we're getting a much clearer idea of how long when actually is.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports that a CIA analysis shows the war in Syria could last another decade or more, according to congressional officials. Yesterday Syria missed a key deadline for handing over its chemical weapons. Under the timeline, the whole stockpile is supposed to be destroyed by June 30th.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JakeTapper. That's all one word. And also @TheLeadCNN. And check out our show page at for video, blogs and extras.

That's it for THE LEAD today. I am Jake Tapper. Have a very, very happy and successful 2014. We now turn you over to Dana Bash; she's filling in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."


Happening now, New Year's inferno. Residents plunged from the windows of an apartment building to escape a mysterious fire.

Liberal change: New York's new mayor takes office, making promises that could reshape the city and influence Democrats across the nation.

And high times: large crowds line up in Colorado for the first legal sale of recreational marijuana in the world.

Wolf Blitzer is off. I am Dana Bash here in THE SITUATION ROOM.