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Sochi Olympics Has Begun; Woody Allen Fires Back

Aired February 8, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Just about 9:00 on the dot. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. 9:00 now.

PAUL: There you go.

BLACKWELL: 6:00 out on the west coast. This is "New Day Saturday."

PAUL: OK. Let's begin with the 2014 Winter Olympics. Officially, obviously underway now in Sochi. And we do have a spoiler alert for you already. So if you want to look away, turn down your volume just for a few seconds. Victor, take it away.

BLACKWELL: We will tell you now that Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of this winter games. He was competing in the men's snowboard slopestyle competition. He tweeted, "Wow, I just won the Olympics. Bringing back the first gold here to the USA."

PAUL: Congratulations to him. 230 American athletes at the games right now. The delegation got to take part a marvelous opening ceremony. The organizers say watched by three billion people around the globe.


Our Rachel Nichols is in Sochi. Great opening ceremony, a few snafus but also controversy. Rachel, what is the controversy about?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we did have some controversy there. The biggest one was with the woman who lit the Olympic torch. Her name is Irina Rodnina. She is a hero here in this country because she is a multiple time Olympic figure skating champion. She is also now a member of Parliament. So common sense would be that she would be involved with the big honor like this, except, last year she tweeted out a photo of President Obama and the first lady and she had superimposed a banana on top of it.

Obviously the U.S. ambassador of Russia condemned this act, but Rodnina refused to apologize for it and then now she was given this honor. The head of the Olympic committee here, the organizing committee was questioned about it after the ceremony but he said "Hey, politics is not part of the Olympics" he said "it's no big deal." That's controversy number one.

Controversy number two, you may have seen during the broadcast that the electronic snow flake that was supposed to change and morph into one of the Olympic rings and the presentation of the Olympic ring is always a big part of the opening ceremony. Well, it didn't go right. At least that is what Americans saw and viewers around the world saw.

But here in Russia, they did not see that. Because the producer, when he saw that the rings was malfunctioning, he called down to the control room and had them slice in some rehearsal footage from when the ring opened properly and that was what was broadcast on Russian TV. He says, now "That's no big deal either." His name is Constantine Ernst. Take a listen.


CONSTANTINE ERNST, PRODUCER(THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No one normal person can be disturbed from the two-hour story about one unopened snow flake. This is a paranoid reaction.


NICHOLS: Obviously not that important whether people see a snow flake, the ring or don't see a snow flake or a ring. But the reason why this is such an interesting story is it underscores the fact that the official line here in Russia is not always the same as the actual line. And we have seen that with much more important topics like security.

The official line at the Sochi Airport is you can't bring in liquids or creams or anything in bags. Things that could be explosive. Tubes of toothpaste. That's not actually what's happening, it is much more random here at the Sochi Airport. So it's a good reminder you can't exactly take everything for what you hear or apparently what you see, guys.

PAUL: OK. But what about what we see in this next photo that makes you go what the heck happened here with the Olympic bobsledder Johnny Quinn. I know it went viral, right?

NICHOLS: Yes, absolutely. This has gotten a bunch of retweets. You know, we have been hearing about these Sochi problems as it has been hash tagged on twitter. And one of the Sochi problems a lot of people here have been having is, the doors, once they close, they lock and they can't be open again. People are locked in their rooms and bathrooms. You know, we had an Olympic bobsledder who went to go take a shower and he did not bring his phone in there with him. There was no one else in his room. So when he couldn't get out of the bathroom, it locked on him, he did what any bobsledder would do. He used his push skills guys and he pushed his way out and opened the door.

Unfortunately, it shows you the quality of the doors here, I guess it's good for him it is mostly cardboard. Not so good for the rest of us that the doors are mostly cardboard. But hey, now I know what to do if my door gets stuck.

BLACKWELL: 7,032 retweets of this photo thus far. I'm responsible for one of them. Rachel Nichols from Sochi, thank you. PAUL: So also in this morning for you, filmmaker Woody Allen is firing back right now over allegations that he sexually abused his adopted daughter, Dylan two decades ago.

BLACKWELL: It all started when Dylan wrote her own letter in the "New York Times" last weekend accusing him of abusing her when she was a child.

PAUL: So now, Allen is speaking out with his own scathing op-ed in the "New York Times." His target though is actress Mia Farrow.

CNN's Alexandra Field is in New York and she's going to break this down for us. Hi, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christi. Woody Allen says that his ex, Mia Farrow is fueling these false accusations that's what he calls them, that were first lodged against him more than 20 years ago. Woody Allen is categorically again denying allegations that he sexually abused Dylan Farrow, the seven-year-old daughter, that he adopted with Mia Farrow.

Here's what Woody Allen is writing about his adopted daughter, Dylan. He says, quote, "I loved her and hope that one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter's well being. Being taught to hate your father and made to believe he molested you has already taken a psychological toll on this lovely young woman." That was Woody Allen's response following the open letter published by Dylan Farrow just a week ago.

And in it, she details the alleged abuse. Here's what she said. She writes "Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim closet like attic on the second floor of our house, then he sexually assaulted me." Again, those allegations were first brought up more than 20 years ago. At the time, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were going through a nasty divorce after 12 years together, a nasty break up after 12 years together. Following that break up, Woody Allen went on to marry Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi. Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Has there been a response from Dylan Farrow to the - a Woody Allen response to her letter?

FIELD: Yes, she actually already spoken to the "Hollywood Reporter" and she has told them that Woody Allen's letter is full of lies and distortions. She says she is sticking by her story that these are memories that have not left her for her entire life. So she is again standing firm, sort of reconfirming the things that she put in that initial letter a week ago.

As for Woody Allen, he says in his letter than he won't be responding again. So this could be all we hear from him. Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right. Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

Up next, protesters are hitting the streets, fighting back against Russia's new anti-gay law. U.S. officials are trying to press for tolerance. The question is is it going to work? Is it going to be enough?

BLACKWELL: And Jerry Seinfeld - he is facing a backlash over renewed activation that there is not enough diversity in his comedy. We got more after this.


BLACKWELL: This is happening now. It's a live look at a first-degree murder trial resuming this morning for a man in Florida who shot into a car saying he feared for his life.

Michael Dunn is charged with killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis last year. It all started after Dunn asked if the music could be turned down. Stay with CNN. We of course, are watching this trial and all the developments. We will keep you up to date on what is happening there.

Let's go to Russia now with the Olympic spirit taking over Sochi. But protesters they're are taking to the streets to fight back against Russia's notorious new anti-gay laws. U.S. officials are trying to press for tolerance, but it may not be enough. Our Erin McPike has the story.


ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid the spectacle of the opening ceremonies, the United States sent a message to Vladimir Putin that Russia's anti-gay propaganda law is wrong.

In the U.S. delegation, two prominent former and openly gay Olympians. Figure skate Brian Boitano and hockey play Caitlin Cahow. President Obama drove the point home on NBC.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We wanted to make very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in any forms, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. One of the wonderful things about the Olympics is that you are judged by your merit.

MCPIKE: Around the world, activists are demanding that big corporate Olympic sponsors go further than the general support for LGBT rights they've expressed so far and specifically condemn the Russian law. They are pressuring NBC to cover the controversy.

(on camera): Groups like the human rights campaign are keeping a close watch on the network during the two-week event and ramping up the pressure on the games' sponsors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Coca-Cola and McDonald's and several IOC corporate partners have been leaders in the movement here in the U.S., but they have been silent when it comes to defending LGBT rights in Russia.

MCPIKE (voice-over): They are praising AT&T for calling the Russian law "harmful to LGBT individuals and families and it's harmful to a diverse society." And they point to Google which changed its home page to a rainbow theme and posted the Olympic charter, calling for every individual to have the possibility of practicing sport without discrimination of any kind.

Madonna and other celebrities have spoken out. Back state side in Washington, gay rights groups are holding fund-raisers to keep the momentum alive for their counterparts in Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we're worried about is when the lights are out in Sochi and the athletes go home, it will be a terrible time for LGBT people in Russia.


MCPIKE: Now, we reached out to both McDonald's and Coca-Cola and they provided us with some statements essentially saying they welcome respect and value diversity. That's what McDonald's said. And Coke said much the same thing, but they did not specifically condemn the Russian anti-gay law about propaganda. And that's really become the sticking point for these gay rights groups. Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right. Erin McPike, thanks very much.

BLACKWELL: Ahead on "New Day," Jerry Seinfeld, he is going after critics slamming him for not having enough diversity in his comedy.

Two comedians join us next for their take on this controversy.



JAY LENO, HOST "THE TONIGHT SHOW": I want to thank you, the audience. You folks have been just incredibly loyal. This is tricky. We wouldn't be on the air without you people. Secondly, this has been the greatest 22 years of my life.


BLACKWELL: Did you watch this week? Jay Leno holding back the tears, at least trying to hold them back. Got emotional as he said good-bye to "The Tonight show." His home for, as he said, the last 22 years.

PAUL: He (INAUDIBLE) knowing they were there, to this last one. Of course, in his typical style, the show is full of laughs.


PAUL: "Late Night" was even joined by Hollywood's biggest names, along with this very first guest, Billy Crystal. (INAUDIBLE) goodbye.

It could be inspired, obviously, by the "Sound of Music" there.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now for more on this, comedian Scott Blakeman and Deborah Wilson, a comedian as well, former MAD TV star. I want to start with you Deborah. Good morning to both of you. Deborah, Leno said goodbye before. I mean, we saw this in 2009. Do you think we've seen the last of Jay Leno.

DEBORAH WILSON, FMR. MAD TV STAR: For "The Tonight Show" I will have to say yes. Yes, he said goodbye before but you have to remember something especially in interviews that he's given prior to this. The last time he was told this time he was asked and I think when you're asked and you made that decision, it truly is your choice and it was a very poignant show, a very beautiful show, a very funny show. And I couldn't hold back my tears, I have to admit. So I think we have definitely seen the last of Leno as the host of "The Tonight Show" indeed.

PAUL: OK. But a lot of people are looking at this why did he leave? I mean he is hosting the number one late night show on television. Pulling four million viewers every night. His last show had 14.6 million, the highest ratings in five years. I mean, why is he gone and can Jimmy Fallon fill his shoes, Scott?

SCOTT BLAKEMAN, COMEDIAN: Well, you know, his contract did go to September. Once gain, Jay Leno who I have to say proves that nice guys can finish first. What an incredible achievement. 22 years. Almost the entire time number one. Goes out number one. Incredibly heartfelt emotional farewell. He talks about the audience, the staff and his crew being his family.

I never heard that authenticity and emotion before in television. Jay Leno, I must say, has been so unfairly maligned by some rival hosts. David Letterman was very gracious the other night in making tribute. But to other people, Jay Leno has always been a good soldier, whenever NBC says to do, he did. His contract could have gone to September. He said, "OK, as long as you pay my staff until September, I'll go." I think Jay Leno should have stayed, he's still number out. Jimmy Fallon is great. But Jay Leno has been unfairly maligned. He's a good guy in our business, one of the really good guys.

BLACKWELL: Let's also talk about Jerry Seinfeld who made news this week. Listen to what he said on Buzz Feed. Taking on really renewed accusations that there is not enough diversity in his comedy. Listen. We'll talk on the other side.


JERRY SEINFELD, ACTOR: People think it is the census or something. I mean, this has to represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares. It is just funny. Funny is the world that I live in. You are funny. I'm interested. You're not funny. I'm not interested. I have no agenda in race or anything like that. Everyone is else is kind of, with their little calculating is this the exact right mix? You know, I think that is - to me, it is anti-comedy.


BLACKWELL: Deborah, we had this conversation about diversity in comedy when we were talking about "Saturday Night Live" bringing on a black female. What do you think about, first the criticism of not only his web series now but also "Seinfeld" when it was on NBC and now his response to those criticisms. WILSON: You know, I actually agree with him. I absolutely agree with him. I think one of the issues that really is prevalent in society today is the sense of entitlement. I think when we feel that we have a sense of entitlement, as human beings, let alone people in the industry and comedians, then we feel like we have to hold people to a certain standard.

My feeling is if you are not interested, then don't watch. If you don't see an aspect of yourself in what Jerry Seinfeld does as a comedian and in all shows that he does, then don't watch. I remember when "Friends" came on, I wasn't interested. I'm not saying it's not great comedy and I'm not going to be reversed racially by saying I didn't watch "Friends" because there were no black people, but because the backdrop was New York City and I saw no black faces, I decided not to watch.

By the time, Aisha Tyler came on, I was still not really interested in the show, in general. The only control that I do have is by saying "If I don't feel it's diverse for me, and I'm not interested in watching then I won't." Other than that, this is not a democracy. He can do whatever he chooses and if you don't like it, America, then simply don't watch.

PAUL: Scott, let me ask you, I mean, he is one of the cleanest comedians out there. He doesn't joke really about race or about sex. They are just kind of observations of his perspectives. There are others that do focus on that. You know, where do you sit in the whole thing, Scott?

BLAKEMAN: As you know, I was with you two weeks ago praising "SNL" for hiring (INAUDIBLE), the first black female in the show in seven years. To me, diversity is so important not a politically correct reason because it makes comedy better and funnier.

Having said that, Jerry Seinfeld, who I know personally, is a great guy and a great comedian. His only responsibility is to be funny. The burden of carrying diversity is not is on Jerry Seinfeld, the burden is on network executives, on producers to hire a broad swath of people from all ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientation as producers and writers so there's many, many shows representing all points of view with all African-Americans, all Asians or all white people, all Jews or whatever, anything. Just have a lot of everything but don't put the burden on Jerry. He does a great show. He does what his job is. That job is to be funny.

BLACKWELL: Yes, a web series, some would argue is different than broadcast network series or an "SNL." Scott Blakeman, Deborah Wilson, again, good to talk with you, always good to have this conversation.

BLAKEMAN: Great to be here. Thank you.

WILSON: Thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, both.

So I want to tell you about the family celebrating Christmas more than six weeks late. They were waiting for a very special guest. Wait until you see it.

BLACKWELL: It's amazing.

But first, this week's "Open Court."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you broken lots of records. Were they important?

I was all about being number one and winning majors. That was my goal. I created a certain lifestyle to really recreate that. I felt, you know, I was very focused, very single-minded (INAUDIBLE). I just felt like, you know, I needed to be a certain way as far as my personality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the grass courts of Wimbledon where you became famous for thumping people, you did not like grass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not like grass at all. People asked me about grass and I - when I first won over there. I hated Wimbledon. Excuse me. I hated the surface. I loved Wimbledon. I won in men's but the surface, I was uncomfortable, I felt like that balances. And then by '92 and '93, came around, I really felt comfortable. I was the owner of the place for about seven or eight years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your dreams for your kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want them to be good kids. I'm not sure they will be into tennis. They are great kids. I love them. I just want them to listen a little better. Do their homework and don't give me a hard time and do what I say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Open Court" is sponsored by Rado.


BLACKWELL: We got some good stuff for you. Staff Sergeant Daniel Shah (ph) returned home from a Mission in Africa to greet his son for the first time this week.

His son, Fulton, was born on Christmas day. His dad was only able to see it over Facetime.

PAUL: Look at him.

Shah (ph) also he had a surprise for his two other children. He hid in a box, look at this, wrapped in Christmas paper. Look at them. Oh, my goodness. Big way to celebrate Christmas. That's the best.

BLACKWELL: Oh, wow. Take a look at this little puppy. Abby, the Chihuahua broke her legs when she was tossed out of a moving car.

PAUL: What is wrong with people?

BLACKWELL: It's unbelievable. A witness rescued her and brought her to a humane society for care.

PAUL: So the community loved this little thing more than $15,000 have already poured in to help pay for her medical costs. $900 of those dollars from the local fire department. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Abby is still moving. Recovering after surgery. Waiting to be adopted. Several families have already lined up to take her home.

PAUL: And the shot there. (INAUDIBLE) we want to say thank you for your services.


PAUL: And thank you very much for spending some time with us today. We will see you here at the top of the hour again.

BLACKWELL: Coming up on all new "Your Money." Billionaires say if you want to be rich, work harder. Do the one percent work harder than you? "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.