Return to Transcripts main page


Oscar Gold For Amy Adams?; Repeat Wins For Streep And Roberts?; "Blurred Lines" Dispute Gets "Blurrier"; Violations At Second West Virginia Chemical Site; Top 100 Companies To Work For

Aired January 16, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: For our Pop Culture Lead, it was a big day for movie buffs, Vegas odds makers and Hollywood studios hoping that a nod from that little gold man means millions more in their coffers. Left coasters had to get up early this morning to see if they were nominated for an Academy Award or they at least had their personal assistants get up early to watch for them.

"Gravity" and "American Hustle" took the most nominations with 10 each. Ellen Degeneres will host the Academy Awards on March 2nd. Critics says this has been an unusually good year for films so let's discuss what makes these films and performances are such high quality.

Joining me now is the film critic for the "New York Times" A.O. Scott. Tony, good to see you. So the best actor Academy Awards, that's a competitive category. Let's talk about them and who you would give it to. There is Christian Bale for "American Hustle," Bruce Dern for "Nebraska," Leonardo DiCaprio, for the "Wolf of Wall Street," Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyer's Club and Chiwetel Ejiofor for "12 Years A Slave." If it were just up to you, who would get the best actor Academy Award?

A.O. SCOTT, FILM CRITIC, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think of those five, now granted, there are a lot of great performances that were left out, but there can only five. Those five are all perfectly credible. I think I would go with Chewitel Ejifor in "12 Years A Slave."

TAPPER: All right, let's run a clip of that and then we can talk about it on the other end.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I told you to commence putting on clappers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These have all been replaced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't I tell you to get a keg of nails?



TAPPER: Why do you think he deserves the best actor award? SCOTT: The character he's playing is leading this very kind of normal, dignified, middle class, life as a free man and then he's kidnapped into slavery and what his performances shows is not just the physical brutality and cruelty of slavery, but also the way that it strips away from his humanity.

TAPPER: Let's look about best actress, the five nominees for best actress are, Amy Adams for "American Hustle," Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench and Meryl Streep. Who would you give the Oscar, the Oscar goes to --

SCOTT: The Oscar goes to with me as the sole voter in the academy of Tony Scott, to Amy Adams.

TAPPER: Let's run a clip from "American Hustle" and then we can talk about her.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.


TAPPER: So Tony, what did you like about her? She had two big performances this year. What is it about this one that you liked?

SCOTT: What I like about -- her performance here is Amy Adams has always had sort of a vulnerable, fragile, kind of lost little girl aspect to her and she's playing a very tough and confident and cynical character in this, but that vulnerability shows through. So you have a sense of the shadings of the character and it's very unpredictable.

You don't know from scene to scene, from moment to moment, what game she is playing, if she's playing a con, if she's being sincere, what's she is going to do, which side she's going to end up on and I think there's something so graceful and witty and emotionally complicated about this performance that it really organizes the movie. There is a lot of crazy characters and a lot of wonderful performances in this movie, but hers is really I think at the center of it.

TAPPER: So odds makers say that it's probably between for best picture, it's probably between the two films we just showed, "12 Years A Slave" and "American Hustle." But of course, there are other films up for best picture. Let's take a scene from one of them, one of the more controversial ones, perhaps, "Wolf of Wall Street."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just tried to bribe a federal officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Technically, I didn't try to bribe anyone. No, no. According to the U.S. Criminal Code, there needs to be an exact dollar figure for the exchange of services. That would not hold up in a court of law. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: It's probably not going to go to "Wolf Of Wall Street," best picture, but there is something of the moment about this movie, you say?

SCOTT: Yes, I think so. I'm impressed that you found the one scene in it that you could show on television without bleeping anything out.

TAPPER: We have a great staff.

SCOTT: And the movie producers -- I think one of the reasons it's confusing to audiences and may alienate some Oscar voters is that it produces both emotions. So you're looking at, you don't know, am I supposed to love this. I mean, this guy has a great car. He is with beautiful women. He is living the high life or am I supposed to be disgusted because he is just one of the most, you know, objectively one of the most morally repugnant screen characters. Everybody is played by Leo Dicaprio who is charm and charisma itself.

TAPPER: All right, A.O. Scott, thank you so much, Tony. We appreciate it.

SCOTT: Pleasure, thanks.

TAPPER: And you may have heard, there were two little known actresses nominated today for an Oscar. I'm not sure if you've heard of them, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. This is the fourth nomination for Roberts and a record breaking 18th for Streep. They were nominated this time around for the same film, "August: Osage County." It features a famous ensemble cast with Juliet Louis Dreyfus, Benedict Cumberbatch and who's the lucky dude who gets to play Julia Roberts' husband?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not pursued my responsibilities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forsaken, big shots. The horse you rode in on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not fight fair.


TAPPER: And one of the stars of "August: Osage County," Ewan McGregor joins me now. Thanks so much for being here. I'm a big fan. This is quite an ensemble cast, multiple Oscar winners and nominees including Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. But Julia Roberts, you play her husband. Was it difficult? I know that you're actually the more sympathetic one in the film, but was it difficult to agree to be cheating on America's sweetheart?

EWAN MCGREGOR, ACTOR, "AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY": Well, that was the writing that I go given to play. You know, it wasn't my choice.

TAPPER: Tell us about Meryl Streep because she's obviously getting a lot of attention and notice and recognition for her portrayal of the character in this film. Was it fun to watch obviously? I don't want take away from your performance. You're great as well, but it's really her starring role. What was it like watching her in this element?

MCGREGOR: Yes. It's a wonderful opportunity to see her acting up close and personal. It's really -- she's -- she is extraordinarily impressive to watch working. Obviously you get to see it in her work, but when you're making a film with her, you get to see every take and you get to see the kind of commitment and the exploration that goes into her work. No two takes are the same.

You know, she would always be finding new details, different moments and different colors and flavors in the scene from morning until night. Off camera as well as on, she gives 100 percent. So you know, when the camera is on her now, she's giving her all off camera, which is the way you would hope that it's always done, but isn't always the case.

TAPPER: There's going to be a "Star Wars 7?" Are you going to be play Obi-Wan Kenobi again?

MCGREGOR: I've been sitting next to my phone for three months now and nobody has called. So I don't I'm going to be in it. I haven't gotten it. I'm waiting for the call. I'm watching. I'm ready. I put the clock on again.

TAPPER: All right, great, Ewan McGregor, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

MCGREGOR: Thank you very much. Thank you.

TAPPER: The legal mess between Robin Thicke and Marvin Gaye's family over Thicke's hit song "Blurred Lines" just got a lot more blurry. Gaye's family suing and Thicke claiming the song was too close to Gaye's got to give it up. Here's a snippet of Thicke song in case you haven't been around the radio in a year. Now listen to the Marvin Gaye song that family members accused Thicke of sampling.

Yes, just a little similar. According to Billboard, Gaye's family has now settled with the publishing company, Sony ATV although the terms of the settlement have not been released, but the lawsuit, which was filed against his Thicke and his producers after he filed a pre- emptive suit is still moving forward. The settlement with the publishing company only means Sony ATV is less likely to get stuck in the middle.

He's a self-proclaimed creative genius whose pearls of wisdom includes you know what should be banned, stuff that's whack. So the question isn't so much, why is there now a church in Kanye West's honor, but how in the world did it take so long? The Church of Yezus, a.k.a. the best church of all time is what we can only hope is a satirical nod to the rapper.

According to its web site, it's comprised of an anonymous group of members. I can't imagine why they wouldn't want to be identified. The web site also says they believe West is a define being sent by God to usher in a new age of humanity. I'm going to let you finish Church of Yezus, but Moses had one of the best proclamations of all time.

Coming up on THE LEAD, homes burnt to the ground at least one injured as a fire rages out of control in California and now three arrests. And later, new information in the investigation against former Patriot Star Aaron Hernandez, why police think he may have been a trigger man in an unsolved double murder.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other national news, it's been a full week now since a chemical spill contaminated West Virginia's water supply and still only about half of the 300,000 people affected have been given the go ahead to start using their tap water again and even now the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, is advising pregnant women in the area to keep drinking bottled water.

Area health officials report that 109 people have visited emergency rooms complaining of possible exposure throughout this debacle. The leak came from a company called Freedom Industries, which sounds like a company that manufactures those little American flags, though, in fact, the company calls itself a full service producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, steel and cement industries.

An estimated 7,500 gallons of a chemical used in coal production leaked from its Charleston facility right into the Elk River. The state environment officials ordered Freedom Industries to move its chemicals to another facility. One issue with that, that plant already has safety violations, including an emergency containment wall that has holes in it.

Let's bring in Charleston, West Virginia Mayor Danny Jones. Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. Let's start with the safety issue first. If the CDC is concerned about pregnant women drinking the water in your city even out of an abundance of caution, why should anyone feel safe drinking it?

MAYOR DANNY JONES (R), CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA: Well, to me it tastes very good now, finally and we have made a lot of progress on getting water out into the nine counties and I understand we are even over half what you stated in your lead. But I'm certainly not smarter than the doctors and I wonder if you tested all of the waters in this country, how much of it would be safe. This has been devastating for this area, these nine counties and four my city. And we are looking forward very much to getting back to normal if we're ever able to get back to normal.

TAPPER: You've said that Freedom Industries is ran by quote, "a small group of renegades." That seems to suggest that they are the exception not the rule even though we have heard for years and years and your constituents know better than I, incident after incident. How can we trust that they are the exception and not the rule after learning how rarely companies like freedom industries are inspected? JONES: Well, that was a surprise to me, too. Freedom Industries is not in the city of Charleston. It's about a quarter of a mile. But yes, I know of two of the principals and now the third with the English gentleman that was on the TV the other night that had kind of a meltdown. You had one individual who was a two-time convicted felon that helped incorporate the freedom industries and he left the company a few years ago.

And then one of the principals owned a biker bar in another part of the county and we should have had a better handle, somebody should have had a better handle on what was going on in those white tanks that were off of 119 and you could actually see from the interstate. I never knew what was in them, but I drove by many times.

TAPPER: But a larger context to you, sir and I'm not telling you anything you don't know was that yours is a very economically challenged area and state. You depend on the chemical on coal industries and those industries wheeled a lot of power with elected officials and sometimes cut safety concerns, cut safety corners to save money. Is reform to protect your citizens possible?

JONES: Well, in the first place, when I was a young man, back in the '60s, this area right here, right here where we are in downtown Charleston is very dirty because of the chemicals. It was in the air. It was in the traffic. It was everywhere and now it's not that way because a lot of the chemical industries have left Charleston, West Virginia and the surrounding areas and West Virginia.

I can't believe that -- I've heard so many people talk about regulations and how we may need more regulations and maybe we should. But I can't believe that what those folks did wasn't against the law on its face. In other words, if what they did was not against the law, we're in real trouble.

The wall was deficient. The tank had leaked for quite some time and somebody, apparently, dropped the ball. Most coal operations are safe and they are as clean as coal is allowed to be, but --

TAPPER: But I guess, Mr. Mayor, I guess the question is, I'm not proposing more regulations. It just doesn't sound like there are inspections going on. I mean, if this plant hadn't been inspected since 1991, if there were holes in this other plant and I hope I'm not mispronouncing it, Nitro, West Virginia -- if this plant -- facility was allowed to be built right next to the Elk River, it doesn't seem like anybody is minding the store.

JONES: That actually was an oil tank at one time and Penzoil used to have those tanks and these folks sometime along the way started storing other chemicals in there. There weren't actually any chemicals manufactured there. It's just a storage facility. And yes, you're right. Somebody really dropped the ball and didn't check them out. And maybe this is a wake-up call. I just hope the damage done to this community is not irreparable and that we can come out of this somehow because Charleston, West Virginia, is a place I feel like I was gifted and born in. I've stayed here all my life and I'll never leave. TAPPER: Well, it's a beautiful town and we hope for the best for your citizens. Mayor Danny Jones, thank you so much.

TAPPER: Thank you.

In California, a wildfire has burned more than 2 1/2 square miles in the foothills of Los Angeles County and now authorities say they can trace it all back to three allegedly careless men. All three who are in their early 20s are now charged with starting the fire. Police say they were tossing paper into a camp fire when the wind picked up and carried embers into their surroundings. Bail has been set at $20,000 a piece. So far firefighters say the flames have injured at least one person and destroyed two homes.

When we come back, floating massage chairs, stocked refrigerators, private concerts with Bruno Mars. Those are just a few of the perks you will get if you work for the company named to the top stop on "Fortune's" list coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the Money Lead, when is the last time your boss offered to send you work on a community project overseas, offered you incentives that might shorten your commute or maybe $650 a year to put towards a gym membership or swimming lessons or pilates classes?

If the answer is never, in your dreams, then there is a chance your company did not make the list of "Fortune" magazine's top 100 companies to work for. Topping the list, once again this year, is of course, Google, the darling of Silicon Valley followed by software developer SAS, the Boston Consulting Group, financial services firm, Edward Jones, and Quicken Loans.

So just what makes these companies so special according to Fortune? Joining me now is Leigh Gallagher. She is the assistant managing editor of "Fortune" magazine. Lee, life at Google is often described as some sort of utopia, laundry facilities, free haircuts, pool tables, food, spa, are all these perks why this company keeps coming out on top or is there more to it than that?

LEIGH GALLAGHER, CO-CHAIR, FORTUNE MOST POWER WOMEN: You know, it's a combination. I mean, our survey really looks at how employees rate their companies. So the most important thing is how happy is the workforce. So we're not necessary measuring the square footage of the gym or notching the number of, you know, affairs that they go to or pilates classes they get, but it's how happy people are.

And I do think that this has what we found over and over is that the workplace environment has a tremendous amount to do with how satisfied workers are. Would they leave because they can't get their eyebrows waxed somewhere else? I don't think so. But I think when you add it altogether, the shuttle buses that bring people down, the sending people to Ghana to do volunteer projects.

You know, a lot of time it's not just the intangible perks, but it's also the intangible things. So let's say the company overall makes a lot of contributions to philanthropy. We see that a lot with Goldman Sachs' employees. That's a company that gives a lot.

I mean, Google does, too. Both of those companies are great examples. That makes employees feel really good about where they work or sometimes it's the level of training. A company invests in its employees and paying for going back to school for things. We see a lot of these companies doing that.

TAPPER: Are they doing that out of the goodness of their heart or doing it for worker retention or because ultimately it means greater worker productivity and more money?

GALLAGHER: Well, this is business so, you know, everything has a reason and that reason is usually a gain for the company. These are very rarely purely --

TAPPER: You mean the eyebrow waxing? I don't see how that does anything for the bottom line, but --

GALLAGHER: Well, we had a great quote. A couple years ago we profiled the company, SAS, the software company in North Carolina who is number two this year. This company's campus, much like Google's is a perk-topia. It's incredible. The CEO, Jim Goodnight, told us at that time, you know, contented cows give more milk. That was his quote.

I thought that really says a lot. I mean, yes, you want to create a good lifestyle and a great workplace for your employees, but you want them to give you more and they do that more when they are happier. Studies have shown this over and over again. You see higher retention levels, lower turnover rates at these companies than any peers or industries typically.

You know, the people feel better about their company. That might mean that they work harder, get back a little more. You get more out of your employees. That's something that people want now with the last couple of years with the huge gains in productivity from the companies.

TAPPER: Did you notice any trends about which directions employers are going to do this kind of thing, perks to attract and retain good workers?

GALLAGHER: We looked this year a lot about the overall culture, which is something that's hard to put your finger on and hard to -- you can't really touch it or feel it. But Goldman Sachs, for example, a lot of people, we went through all of the employee comments for a big story we did about their workplace and everybody said over and over and over again, we really feel like this is team-liken environment. We feel that there's a culture of consensus.

And they have talked about how employees work together, the spirit of collaboration. In terms of trends, you know, fitness has gone more into the wellness area, I'll say. We'll seeing a lot of meditation classes, pilates, you know, kind of wellness seminars. It's as if maybe the employees know that people are working harder across the board in corporate America and I think they are trying to alleviate that in some way.

But we're seeing all sorts of things. Red Sox tickets, the Bruno Mars at Google sales force, the top three people that won got to open for Bruno Mars. So that's something you're probably not going to find anywhere else. It's definitely a lot of spirit, a lot of fun. You go through these descriptions and it's really pretty amazing.

TAPPER: It sounds great. Leigh Gallagher, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Turning to the Sports Lead, as the New England Patriots gets ready for their conference title game this weekend, more new evidence is linking their former tight end to a double murder in Boston south end back in 2013.

According to the "Boston Globe," police now believed Aaron Hernandez may have been the shooting inside an SUV that was spotted circling the area at the time of the killings. A judge today unsealed the warrant filed by police to search that SUV, which was seized from Hernandez's uncle's home. The former football star became a suspect in this case after his arrest in another murder case, that of Oden Lloyd whose body was found June 17th near Hernandez's Massachusetts home.

Right now somewhere down under there's a local reporter frying an egg on a car hood when players are fainting and hurling and water bottles are melting before your eyes, it's probably too damn hot at. Officials have gotten the clue that it's too hot to play tennis. There's also lightning. A match went three sets in 107-degree weather.

Tired of spending all of your bit coins at the local black market? Then you are in luck if you can manage sitting through some pretty bad basketball. The Sacramento Kings announced today, they will start accepting the virtual currency becoming the first sports franchise to do so. They fluctuate in value depending on demand. The deal is Bitcoin's latest attempt to shed its reputation as magic internet money. revealed last week, it will take Bitcoin as payment. One coin currently valued at $850. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Wolf.