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Carrie Fisher, "Star Wars" Princess Leia, Dead at 60; Soon: Obama, Japan's Abe Visit Pearl Harbor Memorial; Israel Advances Plans For New Homes in Jerusalem; Trump Taps Ex-Bush Official To Be Security Adviser. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired December 27, 2016 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:02] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: CNN Stephanie Elam takes a look back at her life.


FISHER: I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDETN: Carrie Fisher won the hearts of generations as Princess Leia in arguably the most beloved movie franchise ever "Star Wars."

Princess on screen, Hollywood royalty off it, with a sharp wit and sharper pen. Fisher was born in Beverly Hills. Mother, actress Debbie Reynolds. Father, singer Eddie Fisher.

CARRIE FISHER, AMERICAN ACTRESS: I was primarily brought up by my mother but I saw my father.

ELAM: Fisher definitely wove her experiences as a showbiz kid who struggled with addiction into the best-selling comedic novel "Postcards from the Edge."

FISHER: I was writing different takes on obsession so I think of that as sort of the edge and I thought of in the car one day driving back from Palm Springs with the music up loud.

ELAM: Fisher turned her acclaimed to book into a movie starring Meryl Streep as a recovering addict embroiled in constant often funny mother daughter drama.

FISHER: Remember my 17th birthday party when you lifted your skirt up in front of all those people including my guy Michael ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not lift my skirt up. It twirled up!

ELAM: Fisher poked fun at the absurdities of showbiz life and all manner of self-medication, including taking pills to control her emotions.

FISHER: Any mood stabilizer is a weight gainer, so whether you feel better but then you're fat, so what you gain is a loss. It's just -- it's not a good situation.

ELAM: Fisher spoke about being bipolar and often turned pain into humor, also writing "Wishful Drinking" and "Shockaholic." There's seemed no lack of material. After all, Elizabeth Taylor became her stepmother when Eddie Fisher remarried. Fisher was briefly married to singer Paul Simon in the 1980s. Years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Billy Catherine, from her relationship with agent Brian Lord. She debuted in the acclaimed film "Shampoo."

FISHER: I'm nothing like my mother.

ELAM: In between the "Star Wars" movies, Fisher landed a mishmash of movie roles, Some Stinkers, Under the Rainbow, Hollywood Vice Squad,

FISHER: Don't you have names for every part of your body?

ELAM: Received praise for "Soap Dish."

FISHER: I think we found our waiter.

ELAM: And played Meg Ryan's wisecracking friend in "When Harry Met Sally."

FISHER: Someone is staring at you in personal growth.

ELAM: But nothing could, would, or perhaps should loom larger on screen than Fisher in "Star Wars."

FISHER: It transported you. It was extraordinary entertainment film making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like the princess?

FISHER: I have her over sometimes. She's a little bitchy, you know?


ELAM: Nearly 40 years after making "Star Wars" she wrote a book based on her diaries and for the first time revealed an intense affair with the real Han Solo, Harrison Ford. It was Han and Leia during the week and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend, she wrote, Ford has not commented. Fisher spent a lifetime trying to separate the princess from the person, one wisecrack at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always felt like I was restricted because I was bigger than life and twice as unpleasant.


SAVIDGE: There's no question that Carrie Fisher was undoubtedly rocketed into fame with her portrayal of tough-talking Princess Leia in "Star Wars."


FORD: Come on, admit it, sometimes you think I'm all right. FISHER: Occasionally, maybe, when you aren't acting like a scoundrel.

FORD: Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that.

FISHER: Stop that.

FORD: Stop what?

FISHER: Stop that, my hands are dirty.

FORD: My hands are dirty, too, what are you afraid off?

FISHER: Afraid?

FORD: You're trembling.

FISHER: I'm not trembling.

FORD: You like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life.

FISHER: I happen to like nice men.

FORD: I'm a nice man.

FISHER: No, you're not, you ...


SAVIDGE: Joining me now, CNN Paul Vercammen from Los Angeles and Scott Mantz Film Critic for "Access Hollywood", also joining us on the telephone, is "Entertainment Tonight" host and CNN Contributor Nischelle Turner.

Paul, let me start with you. She had a heart attack on the plane that we knew, last week. What are we learning about the circumstances of her death?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, from what we understand she never recovered from the massive heart attack she suffered about 20 minutes from landing in Los Angeles on her flight from London. She had been at the UCLA Hospital and the family revealing this morning that she died at 8:55. And, of course, Martin, reaction from Hollywood now pouring fourth.

Mark Hamill among others were co-star tweeting out just a simple terms "no words, and devastated." It included quiet a nice picture of the two of them well before "Star Wars" with "Catch Fire", became the international phenomenon that it is.

[14:05:00] And another one of her co-stars Anthony Daniels (inaudible) he tweeted "I thought I got what I wanted under the tree. I didn't and despite of so many thoughts and prayers of so many, I am very, very sad." Martin.

SAVIDGE: You know, Scott, I feel like I just saw her, I guess many people do because, you know, she just recently appeared in one of the "Star Wars" movie. She was interviewed and before she recently wrapped up filming of "Star Wars" Episode 8. So, I'm wondering, you know, what kind of stress was she under, perhaps, or how did she come across to you?

SCOTT MANTZ, FILM CRITIC, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: Well, she came across to me as someone very with it, very sharp and very, very honest. When I interviewed her a year ago for "The Force Awakens" which was Episode 7, she had her dog Gary right on her lap during the entire interview. She was extremely honest during the interview. You could tell she had a love-hate affair with Princess Leia because it was the role that made her famous. It was the role she couldn't escape.

But, you know, she was someone who people want to, she was a great script Doctor, as she mentioned in a (inaudible). She wrote so many books, "Postcards from the Edge" was based on her life with her mother with Debbie Reynolds.

The last time I saw Carrie Fisher was back in September at the Telluride Film Festival. She was there to support the documentary "Bright Lights" which is the movie about her relationship with her mother Debbie Reynolds. Talk about a rocky relationship. They love each other. But she was very with it, very healthy, very on. And again, he beloved dog, Gary, was with her the entire time during the festival and, again, during the interview that we had on camera for "Access Hollywood" her dog was right on her lap.

The dog was part of the interview, very, very funny, very honest. In a refreshing way because it's not something you get in this town.

SAVIDGE: All right. And I believe it's the honesty that many people love about the way she spoke in her own life.

MANTZ: Absolutely.

SAVIDGE: Nischelle, I want to ask you ...


SAVIDGE: Her portrayal of the princess is of course the one we most remember but she had so much depth in her work in so many ways that people may not have been aware of.

TURNER: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, she was -- she had numerous guest stars on television shows, she was also a script writer. They kind of call her the "script doctor". She would come in and fix, you know, different scripts. She was a working actress. I mean, she stayed working.

Scott mentioned this and it's very true. She had this very much of a love-hate relationship with Princess Leia. She said in her book "Wishful Drinking" back in 2008 and George Lucas ruined her life in the best possible way because he made her a superstar but he made her a star that she could never escape from.

We also talked a lot about -- Carrie Fisher talked a lot about being an advocate for mental health awareness. I mean, she did all of these things in Hollywood but she was also very open and honest about her struggles with bipolar disorder. She spoke out for the community. She was also open about her struggles with alcoholism. She was a very honest woman. Scott also mentioned her dog Gary was always by her side.

We also do know and we've reported at "Entertainment Tonight" that her dog Gary was there with her in the hospital. Her dog Gary had a Twitter account and he has tweeted this morning the condolences that Carrie has now passed away. He also spoke about, you know, her relationship with her mother that it was an often rocky relationship and Debbie Reynolds didn't just put out a statement thanking everyone who has given her daughter good wishes and she said thank you to everyone who's embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. She's grateful for the thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop and she signed it "Love Carrie's Mother."

SAVIDGE: All right. You know, again, getting back to the sincerity and honesty that -- when she spoke about addictions and problems that many people would not like to make public, here's an interview with Larry King, 1990, talking about that.


LARRY KING, TELEVISON AND RADIO HOST: Do you know why you were an addict, Carrie? Is that explainable?

FISHER: No. Well, I don't know. I mean, I think -- my father is or was one. He just got out of Betty Ford and I'm -- I was very like him in my tastes. I liked -- I didn't like illegal drugs, I liked legal drugs so I liked medicine because I liked the philosophy of it. You're going to feel better when you take two or eight of these. And I always wanted to feel better and one of the side effects of Percodan is euphoria and I thought that was a side effect that I could easily live with. It doesn't matter that the rest of them that follow that are palpitations, heart attack and death. I couldn't get over euphoria.

KING: Are you now over euphoria?

FISHER: I'm dysphoric now. Am I over the need to be euphoric? Yeah, or I'll have to find other methods because the route I took led the rehab but now I just drive with the radio up very loud or do a relaxing talk show when I really want to feel great and like myself.

[14:10:08] KING: Is it day to day ...

FISHER: Absolutely.

KING: Kitty Dukakis is going to be with us Monday and she ends her book by saying, "It's still day to day difficult". Is it day to day difficult for you?

FISHER: Well, sometimes it can be minute to minute. Some of the days aren't that difficult and some of them are worse. Sometimes I want an IV hookup everywhere that I am. But, you know, if you can't have it, you just have to sort of put your head down and move through those feelings and hope you're building the right kind of character.


SAVIDGE: You can get a sense of her remarkable sense of humor there in that clip as she really she talks to Larry King. Scott, I'm wondering that honesty that comes through in a world that's most they make believe seems so unique, especially to her.

MANTZ: Well, that definitely it was unique. And for people of my generation, the generation X. I was eight years old when I saw "Star Wars" for the first time. So for my generation and really every generation that followed especially with the release of "The Force Awakens" last year, so many, people have discovered Princess Leia and they fell in love with her on-screen character and it's kind of shocking to see her in interviews being so honest about her relationship with her mother, about her struggles with bipolar disorder, about her addiction to pills and alcohol.

But she has been very open with about in her books but when you see her as Princess Leia, you know, this strong female character, one of the only strong female characters in the original trilogy, if not the only one, I think you see her in all these interviews, it's like two completely different people and you really see why she could have been trapped by the fame but she got with Princess Leia. But to everyone who discovered her as Princess Leia, she will always be our princess all over the world and the force will be with her always.

SAVIDGE: And, Scott, maybe this is myth but I had heard that George Lucas was not initially sort of sold on her tough attitude as a princess. Let's fix it up until then princesses had been rather soft. She had a different portrayal.

MANTZ: Well, she did have very different portrayal and George Lucas was all apprehensive in the beginning. He was not immediately sold on Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. And he even told her to like slim down over a little bit before they started shooting the original film.

But, boy, did she take over that movie. The movie was about Luke Skywalker and Han Solo but it was really about Princess Leia because she was such a strong female character. And in 1977 when that movie first came out in May, on May 25th, that was a very, very big deal. It was a trailblazing role, it was a ground breaking role and that's the reason why Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia still resonates so strongly to these days.

So in the end, Carrie Fisher was right to play the character the way she did because look at how many people just fell in love with the strength of that character.

SAVIDGE: Exactly. Well put, Scott Mantz, and also I thanks too Nischelle Turner and Paul Vercammen, for helping us reflect back on the life of Carrie Fisher. Thank you.

MANTZ: Thank you. SAVIDGE: Next, tensions is rising -- that is between the United States and one of its strongest allies, Israel, after the nation's latest move that critics say flies in the face of that controversial U.N. resolution. Plus straight ahead, history is about to happen that shows the healing that can come from war. President Obama and Japan's Prime Minister are about to visit the attack site that drew America into World War II.


[14:17:00] SAVIDGE: Welcome back, very soon a movement some say the world needs to see now more than ever. Two nations once at war return to the site where their conflict began, together, this time in peace.

For the first time, the leader of Japan will visit the USS Arizona Memorial t Pearl Harbor. He'll be with president Obama. The memorial is the final resting place for hundreds of sailors and marines killed in the 1941 attack that drew America into World War II.

CNN's Athena Jones has a preview of the historic event.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Today kicks off with a bilateral meeting between the president and prime minister followed by a wreath laying ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial. Later, the two leaders will deliver remarks focused on the power of reconciliation. It's the historic visit one witness to the Peal Harbor attack I spoke with is welcoming.


Ninety five year-old Robert Lee says he's glad to see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe making this trip.

ROBERT LEE, PEARL HARBOR ATTACK WITNESS: I think it's the greatest thing in the world. I think we've already gone through quiet a bit of healing.

JONES: He remembers well day of Japan surprise attack 75 years ago when more than 2,400 people lost their lives.

LEE: It's very vivid in my memory, very much so.

JONES: Still a young man, just two years out of high school ROTC, he looked on from his bedroom, later dashing to his front lawn as Japanese bombers flew low over his home, headed for battleship row.

LEE: I grabbed my 22-caliber target rifle and shot all 16 .22-caliber lead them -- lead shots ...

JONES: At the plane?

LEE: At the plane.

JONES: Thinking that it would work.

LEE: Of course not, no! It could scarcely kill a mouse. JONES: He watched as the USS Arizona just a mile away, exploded.

LEE: It was that orange, red orange color about three seconds and then it exploded. The fire went up hundreds of feet from this -- from the whole ship and the crackling of the fire was overwhelming.

JONES: As those who could fought back, Lee helped to wash the oil off sailors who jumped to safety, their ships under attack. Later helping transport the injured to treatment facilities.

By midnight, he had joined the military, serving domestically throughout the war. It was a long emotional day that left Lee angry, but he isn't angry anymore.

LEE: Hate is the greatest destroyer of anyone. The idea that you can harbor hate will destroy you.

JONES: It's that understanding the president celebrated at Hiroshima.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Since that fateful day we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.

[14:20:08] JONES: A message Prime Minister Abe is certain to echo as he pays tribute at this watery grave, now a sacred site.


JONES: The prime minister will offer prayers for those who lost their lives in the attack but don't expect an apology. His will be a forward-looking speech. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: Athena Jones, thank you very much. We'll look forward to that moment in history.

From the current president acknowledging the nation's past to the next president getting ready for the nation's future. President-elect Donald Trump just announced a new pick for his White House team and it's for a newly formed position involving homeland security.

Let's get to senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny for the details on this. And he's in Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump has been holding meetings at his Mar-a-Lago resort. And, Jeff, tell us about the latest pick and explain how Trump has elevated this position.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Martin, Donald Trump is reaching into the George W. Bush administration as he looks for and appoints someone in charge of homeland security, counter terrorism and cyber security.

Now, it's not a new position. President Obama, of course, has had someone in that position. Her name is Lisa Monaco. She's had -- she's been overseeing these responsibilities as well but what it appears that the Trump team is doing is elevating Thomas Bossert to be an equal with retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, but of course was named as national security adviser.

Now essentially, one of them will be in charge of threats to the homeland and one of them will be in charge of threats internationally and overseas. Now, of course, there's a lot of overlap in this. Not as much of an expansion of the role under the Obama administration but simply separating the offices as they used to be in the Bush administration. In any case here more interestingly, Martin, Thomas Bossert is a veteran of the Bush administration. And he was a strong proponent of the Iraq war, something that Donald Trump, of course was so, he campaigned against after initially supporting it at the time.

But on the campaign trail he railed against the Bush administration support of the Iraq war. And Thomas Bossert wrote just last year this in the "Washington Times," let's take look at it. He said, "To be clear, the use of military force against Iraq and Afghanistan was and remains just." So, of course the Iraq were not front and center of this conversation any longer but it was ten years ago this week, Martin, that Saddam Hussein was executed. So certainly, Donald Trump tapping someone who he has a difference of views with to serve as one of his key advisers in the west wing.

SAVIDGE: Yeah, very interesting points. All right, Jeff, stay there for a moment because we also want to bring into this conversation Shelby Holiday. She's politics and business reporter for the "Wall Street Journal." And, Shelby, Trump is also making news again on Twitter. Here's just one example. "The world was gloomy before I won. There was no hope, now the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars." Do you think, Shelby, he can take credit for the holiday spending and a surge in the stock market?

SHELBY HOLIDAY, POLITICS AND BUSINESS REPORTER WALL STREET JOURNAL: That was a pretty -- that was a big tweet. I don't know if he can take all of the credit but certainly the market is up. Investors are very excited about the proposals for lower taxes, fewer regulations. Businesses are, you know, announcing they're planning to hire more people now and things are really looking up. But can Trump actually take credit for all of the economy? Can he say that it was a gloomy, doomy world? Absolutely not.


HOLIDAY: As we saw under Obama, jobs -- more people have jobs, the unemployment number is at a low, the fed is raising rates again. So, you know, it's a Trump's tweet, you could take it at face value, I suppose to.

SAVIDGE: It could also be the companies are speculating that he will be good on the words he's said and so they're getting ready for what they hope will be an improved economy.

Meanwhile, moving on to foreign affairs, Trump has set his sights now on the United Nations, the target of Israel after a resolution to condemned Israeli settlements and disputed territory. And here's another Trump tweet quote, "The United Nations has such a great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad." How do you think the members of the United Nations are going to take this one?

HOLIDAY: Not well and the United Nations -- some members of the United Nations, some officials, have been very critical of Donald Trump even before the election calling him out for his statements about using terror, killing the families of terrorists, building a wall. You know, Donald Trump and some United Nations officials haven't gotten along anyway. So this could be Donald Trump's counter punching.

It could also be Donald Trump, you know, threatening the United Nations but if you talk to people who are experts on this, I was just speaking to our "Wall Street Journal" reporter on the United Nations. Trump being combative with the United Nations would not serve the United States well. It is not a club where they go talk about happy things. They've been discussing Syria, North Korea, very serious issues throughout the year. It's a really -- they're dealing with really tough issues. And if Donald Trump could do something it would be withdraw a funding.

However, that gap would be likely filled by China or other U.N. members and any of the permanent members could overrule. They could veto Donald Trump's actions if he wants to actually, you know, try to negotiate or play hardball with the United Nations. So this is a path that he should tread lightly on and a lot of people are saying this is cause for concern.

SAVIDGE: Yea. It's often the United Nations; I'm saying, choice of many people like to criticize often because they don't fully understand it. But anyway, moving on, Jeff, newly named White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump's use of Twitter will be quote "really exciting part of Trump's presidency". Do you think that Trump's tweets are going to make Spicer's job harder or easier? And I think I already know the answer to that but go ahead.

ZELENY: I mean, Martin, it seems it would make his job more difficult, usually the press secretary of the White House is the face and the voice of any administration. The question I guess will be at what times of the day, how often and more importantly what the president-elect will say in social media on his own. You know, he has his own channel essentially, we've not seen this a bit of uncharted territory here.

Of course, his advisers or his supporters rather love to see the tweets from him. But I think the real question is and even some of Donald Trump's own advisors know that the, you know, the complications of this, of sending out policy signals is the real issue. He's already had to clean up and explain several things he said on Twitter just in the last couple weeks alone, certainly since he's been elected here. So I think Sean Spicer may be right on the exciting part, I'm not sure if he's right on the fact that it won't make his job a little bit more difficult.

SAVIDGE: Right because I could see the President tweeting out something immediately after his press secretary has said something and well, it becomes a round-robin. Let's talk about CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent, that's Jim Sciutto. He's interviewed Senator Lindsey Graham and John McCain and Senator Graham says that when it comes to Putin and Russia's interference with the U.S. election, we talked a lot about this, nearly the entire senate disagrees with the President-elect. Listen.


JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He's had multiple opportunities, and do want you to answer, Senator Graham, to both before and after the election to accept that assessment and yet he's doubled and tripled down on talking about a cozier relationship with Putin, denying the intelligence community's assessment. What are you going to do Senator Graham and Senator McCain if he doesn't change his tune in effect on Russia?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: There are 100 United States senators. Amy Klobuchar is on this trip with us. She's a Democrat from Minnesota. I would say that 99 of us believe the Russians did this and we're going to do something about it along with Senator McCain, after this trip is over.

We will have the hearings and we're going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election. And they're doing it all over the world, not just in the United States. Estonia has hit all the time. They're interfering in elections and democratic country's efforts to self-determination all over the world. It's just not in our backyard.


SAVIDGE: Shelby, do you see President-elect Trump coming around on Russia? I mean, what happens if he continues to cast doubt?

HOLIDAY: At this point, we don't see him coming around on Russia, at least not to the stand point of these Republicans in Congress. That makes Donald Trump's cabinet -- his cabinet extremely interesting. Will they be more friendly towards Russia? For example, Rex Tillerson, his pick for secretary of state has a relationship with Putin.

We're not sure if he will be friendlier towards Russia at this point. But there are also people in Donald Trump's cabinet like retired General James Mattis who have taken a pretty hard stance against Russia's interference in Ukraine, for example. There are people in Trump's cabinet who are not so friendly to Russia. And I think that those are the people who could influence Donald Trump and his perspective towards Putin and towards Russia.

SAVIDGE: All right. We will see. Shelby Holiday, Jeff Zeleny, thank you both for joining us.

HOLIDAY: Thanks.

SAVIDGE: Still ahead, actress and writer Carrie Fisher died today at the age of 60. Up next, we'll look back at her life and hear her thoughts and remembrances from her friends and family. Stay with us.