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Remembering the Life and Legacy of Robin Williams; FBI Launching Investigation Into Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Missouri Teen; Tense Protests Overnight in Ferguson

Aired August 12, 2014 - 06:30   ET


LARRY HACKETT, FMR. MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE": You look at the culture now, you look at everything from Will Ferrell to "South Park" to Jon Stewart and John Oliver. You see Robin Williams in all of that. It is absolutely out there. You cannot underestimate the influence he's had on pop culture right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We've been looking at clips all morning from "Aladdin" too, the Disney-animated film where he plays the genie, or the voice of the genie. When I see that, to me it's almost like the Disney animators could not keep up with the energy.

HACKETT: Without question. He's doing Ed Sullivan, he's doing Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's doing all kinds of riffs about pop culture in that movie. And you can tell the way the character was moving. Remember, he was unbilled or he was supposed to be unbilled. So they strapped in for the ride and let him go and they made the character around him.

BERMAN: We talked about how people like Carson revered him, how he influenced so many others. What was he like as a celebrity in the world of Hollywood?

HACKETT: Well, he was very, very well-known. Whoopi Goldberg and people like that were his friends. He was part of the establishment of Hollywood. He did a lot of work with Comic Relief and things like that. He had his own share of personal problems. He was married three times. He was very open about his drug abuse from the 1980s onward. He even went back to rehab in 2006.

So he was a pasha (ph) in that community. He was exceedingly, exceedingly well-known. Had a lot of influence and a lot of love. I mean, who out there did not like Robin Williams, not only the performer, but the man out there in Hollywood?

BERMAN: You talk about the addiction. And that was very much out there. It wasn't like it was hidden in the back room. Heck, he was there the day that John Belushi died. He was with Belushi hours before his death there, and then he was sober for 20 years and then fell back into alcoholism.

HACKETT: And he said when he fell back, he goes, there was no particular trigger. It lies in wait, waiting for you to think everything's OK. Let me just try this again and the next thing you know -- he made a joke about it. The next thing you know, you wake up and you're in Cleveland.

So it was something he was, again, very, very open with. And that made him all the more endearing. He could be this massive celebrity, this incredible intellect, this wild comic mind, but he admitted that he had the same problems that lots of other people had.

BERMAN: And some of his roles, by the way -- I'm most struck by his comedic talents. I think those unprecedented and will never be matched again, but he was a serious actor as well. He could do serious. You have, "Awakenings," for instance, where he plays a serious character. You have "Insomnia," which may have helped lead to his relapse into alcoholism.


BERMAN: -- where he plays just an awful, awful guy. Real talent.

HACKETT: And he played psychiatrist Sean Maguire in "Good Will Hunting" which he won an Oscar for. And you know there's something there, and you can just feel as he's doing that performance there was something in his real life that he's tapping into that's making that performance work. When you watch those serious roles, or those non- antic roles, you keep kind of almost waiting for something to happen as it goes on. And you know that's informing it, and he knows you know that. He knows you know that he was Mork. So when you're watching those, there's an added energy there that makes it all the more effective.

BERMAN: You know, you can call Mork silly. If you want to go back and watch Mork now, he's freaking hilarious.

HACKETT: Absolutely.

BERMAN: I mean, it's an unbelievable role. Look, the last thing he did that we say -- he's filmed some movies that have yet to come out -- but he was on this sitcom, "Crazy Ones" on CBS. That was canceled. You do wonder if that had any impact on him. We know, his wife has said he'd been battling depression. He checked back into a rehab facility not too long ago.

HACKETT: He also had open heart surgery about six or seven years ago. And I think, like a lot of people, he was dealing with all kinds of issues perhaps regarding his mortality. I'm very, very reluctant to guess about his psychological state, but I think all those kinds of things were impacting him, as they do many, many people, and clearly he was in a very dark place that he couldn't come out of.

BERMAN: If there's one role that you'll remember him for, what will it be?

HACKETT: Oh gosh, I have to go back to Mork. I know that dates me but I think you begin there. You have again this antic (ph) energy, this free association, upon which all the other roles were built from. It was again just that incredible, incredible energy that I think people sort of strapped in and watched and couldn't get enough of. BERMAN: And what you saw was this limitless talent that we got to

enjoy for decades and decades. And we should all to an extent be grateful if that. Larry Hackett, great to have you here with us this morning. I really appreciate it

HACKETT: Good time, good to be here.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Nanu, nanu. You remember that? Mork was my favorite as well. Thanks for that. Appreciate it, John.

Let's give you a look at your headlines. A North Carolina man who's suspected to having ties to ISIS militants was arrested at a New York airport. 44-year-old Donald Ray Morgan is being held without bond. He was returning from a trip overseas when FBI agents arrested him earlier this month on a federal firearms possession charge. Officials say Morgan's recent Twitter rants may -- suggest that he may have had ties to Islamic terrorists.

The FBI director is sounding the alarm about ISIS militants and their threat to the United States. Speaking at an FBI field office, James Comey warned about so-called home grown terrorists who use the internet to connect with other people interested in a holy war. Comey says the FBI and other agencies have arrested several police in the U.S. this year -- people, rather -- in the U.S. this year on charges that they discussed going abroad to join terrorist groups.

An update now for you on the fatal car crash, the race car crash involving superstar driver Tony Stewart. The Ontario County sheriff in upstate New York says there's no evidence of criminal behavior or any probable cause of a criminal act when Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. Saturday. But he added this is still an open investigation. An autopsy found Ward died from massive blunt trauma.

The United States Postal Service reported a $2 billion loss for the quarter ending in June. That is up from the $740 million loss from the same period last year. But the USPS also said they had a 2 percent gain in revenue thanks to increased rates and package delivery. The post office cut costs in recent years, reducing the number of letter carriers and consolidating mail processing centers.

When's the last time you put a stamp on a letter and mailed it?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I still like a handwritten thank you note. I think there's something to it. But the fact that I can note that, it's a dying breed.

PEREIRA: That's a vintage-y retro thing.

BOLDUAN: It's very vintage of me.

BERMAN: There are still bills to pay.


BOLDUAN: And the post office has been plagued for years. Congress has been trying to work it out but, shocker, they haven't been able to figure it out yet.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to have much more on the passing of Robin Williams. But also ahead, a second night of chaos to talk about in a St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by police. The FBI is now investigating. We're going to have the very latest on that.

And much more on the life and legacy of Robin Williams. We'll talk with one of his friends coming up.


ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: Good morning, Vietnam! Hey, this is not a test. This is rock 'n' roll. Time to rock it from the Delta to the DMZ. Is that me, or does that sound like an Elvis Presley movie? Viva Da Nang. Oh, viva, Da Nang.



BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. The FBI has now launched its own investigation into the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen in Missouri. 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson over the weekend. The tensions in that town continue to escalate. Overnight, more gunfire rang out on the streets. Police employed tear gas in areas to disburse these large crowds. This as Reverend Al Sharpton travels to Ferguson to meet with the Brown family today.

CNN's George Howell has more.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tempers player on the streets of Ferguson on the second night of unrest over the death of Michael Brown. Police in riot gear facing off with protesters, firing tear gas canisters, yelling at them to move. Protests during the day remained peaceful, but here, anger and frustration linger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?

CROWD: Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want it?


HOWELL: This community outraged and demanding answers for what some believe was an unprovoked attack on an unarmed teenager.


HOWELL: The FBI is now launching an investigation into the racially charged shooting to parallel the police investigation following the massive outcry from community leaders to get involved. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their baby was executed in broad daylight. And

that's why people are so outraged. That's why people are frustrated. Because they're saying yet again, one of our children executed before he even becomes a man.

HOWELL: A recent high school graduate, the 18-year-old was shot and killed by police Saturday, the spot where he fell marked this memorial. The circumstances surrounding his death are still in dispute. Police say Brown assaulted the officer in his car trying to take his gun, but witnesses say the teen was surrendering with his hands in the air when the officer opened fire.

What's not known is exactly what transpired in those moments before the fatal shots and why his grieving parents tell CNN's Don Lemon they want justice for their gentle giant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never a day we think we'll be planning a funeral. We was waiting on his first day of school. And they robbed us of that. Just because my son is a 6'4 black male walking down a city street does not mean he fit the profile for anything other than just walking down that street. That's all he was doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son don't have justice. And we don't have no peace. If he has no justice, we won't get no peace.

HOWELL: An autopsy on Brown is now complete, but findings have not yet been made public. Neither has the officer's name, the six-year veteran now on paid administrative lead while the investigation into what led up to this shooting continues.

George Howell, CNN, Ferguson, Missouri.


BOLDUAN: Talked about it, calm during the day and then the unrest begins at night. The calm needs to continue. We'll continue on that story obviously.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, more of the continuing coverage of the death of Robin Williams. We're going to take a look at his Hollywood legacy as well as his long battle with depression and substance abuse.


WILLIAMS: Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Don't be resigned to that. Break out. Don't just walk up like lemmings. Look around you. There, there you go, Mr. Pitts. Thank you. Yes.




WILLIAMS: Hi, would you like to be my friend for life? What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bug off, creep.

WILLIAMS: Oh, you're a very interesting specimen. What's your name?


WILLIAMS: Wow, deja vu, I just met your brother.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY once again. That was a clip of Robin Williams in of course the hit show "Mork and Mindy." This morning the world is really still trying to come to terms with the comedic genius's death that happened just yesterday. It's believed he committed suicide after a battle with his depression. Despite the loss, Williams will be remembered just as much for his quickfire wit as well as his many dramatic talents.

Let's talk more about Williams' career and his legacy with Kate Coyne, senior editor for "People" magazine, and Christopher John Farley, a senior editor for "The Wall Street Journal". Good morning, guys.


BOLDUAN: I would never think we'd be sitting here to talk about the death of Robin Williams. It's really unbelievable. What do you make of it? What do you make of what made him so unique, Christopher?

FARLEY: Well, I think that one of the things that made him so unique, he came up at a time when comedy icons were becoming rock stars, were filling stadiums. Steve Martin playing King Tut. But what made him different is people didn't expected him to just go and play his greatest hits and play his greatest jokes like "Free Berg". They expected him to do something magic. They expected to get something different they'd never seen before. Even if they'd heard him on record, even if they'd heard some of his jokes before, he was something fresh and new and that's what made him stand out among other comedians who were just telling the same old jokes over and over again.

BOLDUAN: And the outpouring of love has really been, I think, something to note. I mean, it spanned from politicians to fellow entertainers to just any -- everyone has a memory of a Robin Williams moment.

KATE COYNE, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE": It seems as though if you knew him, you loved him. Really, what he was able to do -- so many comedians, this is becoming a cliche almost, are thought to have a certain kind of darkness that fuels their comedy. And obviously Robin Williams was very outspoken about the depression he suffered for a long time, the addictions that went hand in hand with that depression. But those who knew him, worked with him, colleagues, someone I spoke

to last night, I mean, they all to a one said he was the most generous, kind hearted, with a capacity for joy, man that they had ever known. That he was the sort of person that would say, "How are you?" but not just mean it as a throwaway sentence, that he would genuinely want to stop and know how are you doing? How are you feeling? What is going on you? He wanted to know people. He had a profound ability to connect with just about everybody who he came into contact with.

BOLDUAN: And that seemed to really translate on stage or in front of the camera. Because no matter what his jokes were, if you're talking about his comedy, they never seemed to offend. "The New York Times" noted that this morning and that really stuck with me.

FARLEY: And he also expanded what comics were expected to be able to do on screen. I mean, here's a guy -- I remember seeing him in "Waiting for Godot" on Broadway with Steve Martin. To me, it's not really a funny play all the time. The way they performed it, he found the humor in very bleak subject matter. He was able to expand material and take it to places that maybe you wouldn't expect. And he did that on screen as well.

And other comics have tried, have tried to have serious movie careers. He's a guy who's exceeded doing it. He could do funny roles. He could do serious roles. And he could make money at the box office to the tune of $3 billion for his movies in total at the box office in the United States, $5 billion worldwide. Few other actors can make that claim. Funny, serious, and a money-maker.

BOLDUAN: And you talk about his ability to cross over, to do the funny and to do the dramatic, the serious, very well. One of those roles is in "Good Will Hunting", the role he won his Oscar for. Let's take a listen just a bit.


WILLIAMS: Those little idiosyncrasies that only I know about. That's what made her my wife. And she had the goods on me too. She knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections but they're not. That's the good stuff.


BOLDUAN: He was so real.

COYNE: He was. And actually, that scene has been shown a lot over the last 24 hours, but it's notable that right before that line, he tells a little joke that has Matt Damon's character in stitches and is laughing, and I think it's a great example of what Christopher's talking about. Because even in his most dramatic roles, that joy, that spirit, that humor, that wit, he worked it in. He found a way even if it wasn't necessarily in the script because he did improv, a lot of his most hilarious moments.

It found its way into everything he did, on screen and off. People who knew him said that he could always make you laugh, he could always bring a smile to your face. And even in the most dramatic moments on screen, that was also the case.

BOLDUAN: And of course that makes you then wonder how do you square the impossibility of someone who can bring so much joy, and who seemed to get joy out of making people laugh and to bringing his performance to people, how can he lose this battle to his inner demons like this?

FARLEY: Look, they're in his work. Watch his standup. He talks about addiction, he talks about cocaine, he talks about alcohol. It's there in his movies. "What Dreams May Come" deals with depression and suicide and death. In the movies like "World's Greatest Dad"; also deals with similar kinds of subjects.

So this was a guy exploring some of these subjects in his work. It's weird when someone passes on, sometimes what they're actually talking about suddenly snaps into focus, and you realize, oh, these are things he's actually been grappling with all the time. And maybe it wasn't such a shock; it's certainly sad but it's there if people care to really pay close attention.

BOLDUAN: And as you noted, Kate, he talked -- you both noted -- he talked about this. It's not like this was some private struggle that finally just came to light. But did anyone get any idea that he was in such trouble?

COYNE: Well, the struggles he suffered have been profound because there's really three issues at play here. There was the depression, there was the addiction, and something that's getting overlooked somewhat is the open heart surgery. I mean, this is a man who had severe heart problems. And he underwent a grueling surgery and a grueling recovery from that. And that physiologically really took a toll on him.

So he was also struggle with that for quite some time. And when you put all those three things together and you consider the fact just last month he did return to a rehabilitation type of facility for ongoing maintenance of his sobriety, as he said at the time, that really pointed to the fact that things were becoming troubling for him, clearly. I mean, this is not as though it came right after his Oscar win or right at a time -- his show was recently canceled. That has to be a blow. He returns to rehab. I mean, it's clear that there was a darkness encroaching. And it seems clearly to have overtaken him.

FARLEY: And yet the hits kept oncoming for him. I remember, the guy was a star since the '70s. I remember doing a story on "Awakenings" in the '90s and coming out later this year you'll have of coures the sequel to "Night at the Museum" that's been a huge blockbuster hit for him. This guy has been -- he has had big, major projects throughout -- all the way from the '70s until today. Few other stars can say that.

BOLDUAN: Do you have a favorite Robin Williams moment or a favorite Robin Williams film that you think he's going to be most remembered for. FARLEY: I think -- I don't know if he's going to be most remembered

for this film, but "Dead Poets Society", it's a film I just watched a few weeks ago with my son. It's a film you can watch over and over again. It holds up. It's inspirational. But you can name so many. "Awakenings", "Aladdin" -- again, there are few celebrities where you can name many projects that you could name as your favorite.

BOLDUAN: That you even personally love. I absolutely agree.

COYNE: I mean, "Dead Poets Society" is tremendous. It's interesting because Apple, about six months ago, rolled out an ad campaign in which they used a segment from "Dead Poets Society", they used Robin Williams voice reciting the Walt Whitman poem, "Oh me, oh life." And his voice is as iconic as that poem, that message, what he espoused in that film.

It's a fictional character, of course, but I think that that role, John Keating in "Dead Poets Society", speaks so well -- as well as Sean Maguire in "Good Will Hunting" -- to the sort of depth, empathy, compassion, spirit, that Robin Williams had as a man as well as a performer.

BOLDUAN: And so unique, as you are pointing out, some more of his dramatic roles. He is so known for his comedy, but he's also so known for those dramatic roles. He truly is a unique character that will never, never be matched. We can all say that.

Christopher, great to see you. Kate, thanks to much.

We're following a lot of news this morning. Let's get right to it.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): This morning, remembering a legend.

WILLIAMS: Good morning, Vietnam!

BOLDUAN: Robin Williams has died. New details on his death as this stunning announcement sends shock waves through Hollywood and around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a legend. It's unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: Friends and family react and remember the man as we all celebrate the laughter, the tears, and the memories he left behind.

BERMAN: Showdown in Iraq. A power struggle as a replacement for the current prime minister is chosen, but Nouri al Maliki is not stepping aside without a fight. This as CNN rides along on a terrifying and heartbreaking mission to rescue people trapped by ISIS militants.

PEREIRA: Outrage in Missouri. More protests erupt in a small town over the shooting death of a young black man by a police officer.

POLICE OFFICER: This is your warning -- leave the area. Disperse. PEREIRA: Tear gas fired at demonstrators demanding to know what really happened the night of the shooting. With the FBI now investigating, will the truth come out?

BOLDUAN: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


BOLDUAN (on camera): Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. John Berman is here with us. Chris is off today.

This morning, we're faced with one of the saddest ironies of many people's lifetimes. The sudden death of Robin Williams. He made people laugh like few in history, but his loss has also triggered shock and disbelief. Millions are asking mow a man known for such comedy could have been so overcome by severe depression that he apparently took his own life.

BERMAN: The reaction pretty overwhelming so far. The Laugh Factor in L.A. where Williams inspired countless comedians paying tribute to the icon on its marquee with a message, "Rest in peace. Make God laugh."

Just a microcosm of the response from fans who knew Williams from a distance, and the stars really who knew him well.

Dan Simon near Robin Williams' home in California with more this morning. Good morning, Dan.

DAN SIMONS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Robin Williams, a permanent fixture here in the San Francisco bay area, most recently moving to the town of Tiburon. You can see behind me at the family house a growing makeshift memorial here.