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Actress Debbie Reynolds Dies at 84; Kerry: Israeli Settlements Threating Two-State Solution; Trump, Obama Trade Barbs, Then Talk It Out. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:27] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: You are looking at Debbie Reynolds star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This symbol of entertainment excellence is now the proof of love fans have for a Tinsel Town legend.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Mourners have been leaving tributes of flowers and more since learning the beloved actress died at the age of 84.

CHURCH: From CNN headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

VANIER: And i'm Cyril Vanier.

Debbie Reynolds' death comes just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died. Emergency crews rushed Reynolds to the hospital on Wednesday. She had been having trouble breathing.

CHURCH: Reynolds was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the '50s and '60s, though she never stopped performing.

Stephanie Elam has more.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Singer, dancer, actress -- Debbie Reynolds was a Hollywood triple threat and America's sweetheart. Her film career began at the age of 16 after being spotted in a beauty pageant.


ELAM: Her star officially launched a few years later after a spirited performance opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in 1952's "Singing in the Rain."

REYNOLDS: They picked me to put me in "Singing in the Rain" and they locked me in a studio and, for three months, I had five teachers, one for tap, ballet, jazz, modern. And I just worked, worked, worked until I'd just fall apart.


ELAM: Other notable roles followed, including 1957's "Tammy and the Bachelor," which resulted in her number-one hit song "Tammy." She played opposite Gregory Peck in "How the West was Won." And her performance in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" earned her an Oscar nomination.


ELAM: At times, Reynolds' life off-screen overshadowed her success. She had two children with her first husband, Crooner Eddie Fisher, Producer Todd Fisher and actress and author, Carrie Fisher.

In 1959, the marriage ended in a highly-publicized divorce when Fisher left Reynolds to marry her close friend, Elizabeth Taylor, a painful betrayal.

Reynolds was able to joke about the scandal years later.

REYNOLDS: I was a Girl Scout. I was a simple little girl and that's what I was. He fell madly in love with Elizabeth. Now I understand so many years later. And it's in the past.

ELAM: Her second and third marriages ended in divorce, each time causing Reynolds financial pain. However, she had quietly been collecting Hollywood memorabilia over the years that would prove to be a wise investment.

In 2011, Reynolds sold Marilyn Monroe's white subway dress at auction for $4.6 million.


ELAM: She also never quit performing.

Though she stepped away from film much of her career, Reynolds continued to entertain on Broadway stages and in Las Vegas nightclubs.

REYNOLDS: All I need --

ELAM: In addition, Reynolds had several TV roles over the years, notably playing Liberace's mother in the 2013 Emmy-winning TV movie, "Behind the Candelabra."

Her wide array of work was recognized in 2015 when the Screen Actors Guild honored Reynolds with the Lifetime Achievement Award.


ELAM: Reynolds says she loved every minute in show business. In her 2013 autobiography, "Unsinkable."

She credited the love she had for her friends and family for her professional and personal resiliency. REYNOLDS: I paid 20,000 bucks for this sucker.

ELAM: It is that spark and sense of humor, along with her talent, that Reynolds will be remembered for.

REYNOLDS: I love you. Good night, everybody. Thank you.


CHURCH: She was so special.

Reynolds death is a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away. Their relationship was often tumultuous. And every up and down happened in the public eye.

VANIER: But the love between them was clear, especially in recent years. Here they were at the premier of Fisher's one-woman show, "Wishful Drinking." That was in 2010.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you proud of your daughter?

CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS & AUTHOR: Are you proud of me?

REYNOLDS: I'm very proud of my daughter. She is wonderfully gifted and very special daughter and great talent. No wishful thinking here.


[02:05:04] CHURCH: And entertainment journalist, Holland Reid, is here with us to talk about this.

Of course, everyone remembers Debbie Reynolds in "Singing in the Rain." Right?


CHURCH: And "Good Morning, Good Morning."

Let's have a listen to her song.

REID: Absolutely.




CHURCH: When I see this, I can't believe she was not a dancer before she did this movie. She was 19 years old. Amazing.

REID: Not a dancer. 19 years old, handpicked by Gene Kelly himself. Mastering soft shoe for the first time in a major role, 19-years-old, much like her daughter, Carrie Fisher, 19, in "Star Wars" when she made her mark on Hollywood. But such a light. I mean, energetic. She was the wholesome, young ingenue of Hollywood of her time. She wasn't a bad girl. She often said she was very different from a lot of the young women coming up in Hollywood.

VANIER: She was a Girl Scout, right?

REID: Girl Scout and, later, started the charity organization that wanted to promote a better image of people in Hollywood. You didn't just sleep with everybody, get divorced, and make a scandal of yourself. You actually were a professional. That was something she did that was hand in hand with mental illness in Hollywood.

She was just a light, just a light, a talented light, with so many awards, other than -- not Oscar under her name, but she got a humanitarian award, in 2015. But she was nominated for -- oh, gosh, "Molly Brown. It's slipping my mind right now --


CHURCH: "The Unsinkable."

REID: Yes, "Unsinkable," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."


VANIER: She got nominations across the board.

REID: She got nominations across the board. A phenomenal talent. One of the best of her time and a wonderful, beautiful, long career because she loved what she did.


VANIER: Her career -- she says it herself -- was so important to her. She said it to Larry King, CNN's Larry King a while back.


REYNOLDS: You have to be very strong. You have to be religious, or have your own faith of some kind because you can't let it get you down. The failure that happens to you, the rejection is pretty tough sometimes. You have to stay really strong and hang in there, believe in yourself. And you know that you're really good and you have to know that your fans love you.


VANIER: Some people say your family life, personal life and the career ebbs and flows up and down. For her, it was the other way around.

REID: She embraced Hollywood. That was part of her rock, part of her religion, so to speak. She went with it, I would say. Ironically, her daughter was the rebel that was a little more anti-Hollywood, in a sense. But she loved what she did. She absolutely embraced all of the aspects of Hollywood, the fame, pressure. Like she said, the rejection. You have to have thick skin in this industry. And you have to learn that no means no only for that moment and to push through. She was a woman that really lived by that rule.

CHURCH: We think it is harder because of social media now but it was difficult. The tabloids were tough before the Internet.

REID: Lies spread like wildfire. Now we hear rumors of celebrities dying or this person is doing this, but back then, it was a small-knit community where that kind of rumor would circle around or the lies would be told or the pressure, whether rejection or people not getting a role. It was a smaller community. It still traveled pretty fast.

I think even -- with it not -- she wasn't able to defend herself in a public way growing up as our stars are able to do now. So, I guess there are apples and oranges here. Nonetheless, she handled it so well. We handled it so well that we had her in her career. She didn't stop until she was 84 years old.

CHURCH: And she had to deal with that public scandal when Eddie Fisher, her husband, ran off with Elizabeth Taylor. Such an awful thing to deal with, but she did it.

REID: She absolutely did it. I tried to look up -- I typed in "Debbie Reynolds scandal," and that was the only thing that came up, which I thought was very impressive. I'm not saying it had nothing to do with her. It wasn't something that she did, but something that happened to her. But for her to have integrity and class to go on and approach Elizabeth Taylor later on and reconcile their friendship --


REID: -- and go to Elizabeth Taylor's birthday party and to show up at her events and awards. Nobody is doing that today.

So, take note, Hollywood.


REID: You don't have to unfollow your enemies. You can actually make friends with them and have long-lasting friendships, as she did.

[02:10:04] CHURCH: Holland Reid, always a pleasure to have you here.

REID: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: Thank you for coming on.

VANIER: Holland, thanks a lot.

And we will have more reaction to the death of Debbie Reynolds later this hour. You can find out about her life and career at

CHURCH: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israel's settlements are threatening the two-state solution for peace in the Middle East.

VANIER: Kerry has less than a month left in office but he said he could not, in good conscience, do nothing or say nothing about the stalled peace process.

CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, has the details.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The status quo is leading towards one-state and perpetual occupation.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a lengthy and deeply personal final plea, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strong warning to Israel that a two-state solution was in jeopardy, directing his aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

KERRY: The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.

LABOTT: At the same time, defending U.S. support of Israel.

KERRY: No American administration has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama's.

LABOTT: Netanyahu quickly called the speech a biased attack that only paid lip service to Palestinian terror.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: What he did was he spent most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace.

LABOTT: Kerry's message comes amid a bitter war of words between the U.S. and Israel after Washington refused to veto a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements, allowing it to pass.

KERRY: Some seem to believe the U.S. friendship means the U.S. Must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles.

LABOTT: Israel says it has proof Washington secretly orchestrated the vote and will show it to President-elect Trump when he takes office in a few weeks.

NETANYAHU: We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced, and brought this resolution.

LABOTT: Kerry denied the claims, and framed the vote as an effort to save Israel from a policy that threatened its future as a Jewish state.

KERRY: We reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. On the contrary. It is not this resolution that is isolating Israel, it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. And virtually, every country in the world other than Israel opposes settlements.

LABOTT: In his four years of secretary of state, a deal between Israelis and Palestinians has escaped Kerry. But in a recent interview with CNN, he rejected the idea that he failed.

KERRY: I didn't fail. We didn't fail. The United States didn't fail. We put what I think is still the solution on the table, but the parties --

LABOTT: Even before Kerry spoke, both President-elect Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu criticized the Obama administration. Trump tweeting, "We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. Stay strong, Israel. January 20th is fast approaching."

Netanyahu responded, "President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel."

(on camera): And Prime Minister Netanyahu is warning about further moves at the U.N. Israeli officials very concerned about a new U.N. Security Council resolution coming out of Kerry's ideas or an upcoming peace conference in Paris next month. Meanwhile, President-elect Trump is working with the incoming Congress to defund the U.N. if the vote on settlements is not overturned.

Elise Labott, CNN, the State Department.


CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about this is Aaron David Miller. He's a Middle East analyst, author, and negotiator. He's advised Republican and Democratic presidents. He is now with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Thank you for joining us.

You have written many speeches yourself on Middle East peace, for Republicans and Democrats. Have you ever witnessed one that is as strongly worded as this with such a direct warning toward Israel?

AARON DAVID MILLER, MIDDLE EAST ANAYST & AUTHOR & FELLOW, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: A lot of passion and emotion and a lot of investment. It is significant, Rosemary, that it was the secretary of state and not the president who delivered this speech. In years past, whether the Clinton parameters, Reagan initiative, it was critically important as a legacy, it's usually the president who spoke. Here, I think, president's message was delivered with the abstention of the Security Council, and I think the White House left it to the secretary to deliver this speech and take the next hit.

So, no, I think this is unprecedented in many respects, including the fact it was delivered what you may prescribe as five minutes to midnight, with less than three weeks to go in the administration.

CHURCH: Interesting. And in his speech, John Kerry said a two-state solution is in jeopardy, and while Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly supports a two-state solution, it doesn't appear to be his agenda. Do you agree with that? [02:15:18] MILLER: I think the prime minister is not ready to accept

a set of terms on the core issues that meet Palestinian demands and requirements and, frankly, you know, vice-versa. This process is comatose, dead, but maybe not dead and buried. In large part, because neither of us, nor Benjamin Netanyahu, are prepared to make the core decisions or at least bring them close enough so an effective mediator can bridge the gaps. You can't bridge the Grand Canyon, and that's with we are on issues, borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, end of claims. All of these issues, accompanied by a fundamental profound lack of trust and confidence, between Israelis and Palestinian, has put the two-state solution in what I would describe as mortal jeopardy. And it doesn't look, to me, given the incoming administration, that much will be done to revive it.

CHURCH: Right. Indeed. John Kerry also said that no American administration has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama's. Is that the case?

MILLER: You know, even while there's been dysfunction and tension between American presidents and Israeli prime ministers going back to -- well, going back to Begin and Carter, the U.S.-Israeli security relationship in the past 30 years has essentially moved forward. I'd support the notion that this administration, even amidst the dysfunction and tension and arguments over settlements, Iran, and the presumed Israeli peace, on the security side, yeah, I mean, this is a fact that's been acknowledged by the prime minister himself. It's been a fraught relationship from the beginning. I characterize it as a soap opera. And it is fitting, at the end of it, it should be -- bring a lot more soap.

CHURCH: Of course, this comes at a time when the relationship between the United States and Israel is probably at one of its most tense. Israel still insisting it has proof the U.S. orchestrated the U.N. Security Council vote against it on settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. What evidence would they have? Is it possible the U.S. was involved behind the scenes in pushing this and orchestrating this resolution?

MILLER: My view is if you -- unless you were living in a cave somewhere, for the last six to eight months, there have been any number of signals conveyed by any number of officials that, toward the end of the term, this administration would either push for a very ambitious Security Council resolution, which included the parameters for what might constitute the American view of a Palestinian state, or the secretary of state or perhaps the president would give a speech. I think basically the administration was determined to leave its fingerprints and its mark on this issue. In large part, because I think they know where this is going. I think they understand the two- state solution, as we've known it, even the fiction of maintaining the negotiating process to promote it is in mortal peril. I think they felt compelled to shape a frame of reference, which would lead unmistakably the notion that they analyzed the problem correctly, and there wasn't much they could do about it.

As far as collusion, look, whether or not the administration jumped on a moving train, or whether or not they drove the train out of the station, frankly, in my judgment, is irrelevant. If Israelis have proof that somehow the United States was instrumental in fabricating, conceiving, orchestrating, negotiating this resolution, then let them lay it out. It's simply not going to change the basic reality.

And frankly, i'm not even sure it is relevant. In three weeks, we, in this country, and in the capital, in Washington, we are going to witness the creation of a new reality. That's going to have profound implications, not just for American relief policy but for American foreign policy generally. We are talking about old business here, Rosemary, and I think, frankly, we'd all be advised to orient ourselves towards the new realities that are coming.

CHURCH: As you point out, come January 20, we will see what kind of impact Trump's transition will have.

Many thanks to you, Aaron David Miller for joining us. Always a pleasure to talk to you.

MILLER: Thank you, Rosemary.

[02:20:07] VANIER: Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, a surprise phone call from Hawaii appears to have patched things up between Donald Trump and President Obama. What they talked about, when we come back.




VANIER: Welcome back. Donald Trump appears to have smoothed things over with President Obama. The commander-in-chief called Trump at his resort in Florida on Wednesday after a few days of bitter back and forth.

CHURCH: They have long had a contentious relationship but seem to be on good terms right after Trump's election victory last month.

This is what the president-elect had to say late Wednesday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: i'm getting along very well with him other than a couple of statements that I responded to. We talked about it and smiled about it. And nobody's ever going to know because we're never going against each other in that way. No, but he was -- it was a great conversation.


VANIER: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has more on the complicated relationship between the president and his successor.


TRUMP: It was a great honor being with you and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.

02:25:04] SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So much for the pleasantries. Donald Trump today blasting President Obama on Twitter: "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O. Statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition. Not."

But this afternoon, Trump seemed to have changed his mind, saying the transition was going smoothly.

TRUMP: Very good.

MALVEAUX: Trump and Obama had been careful to avoid personal criticism of one another in the weeks after the election, but the combative tone emerged this week after Obama claimed he could have beaten Trump if he could have run for a third term.

BARACK OBAMA, PRSEIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I -- if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American public to rally behind it.

MALVEAUX: Trump counterpunched, tweeting, "President Obama said he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that, but I say no way. Jobs leaving, ISIS, et cetera."

But just days after the bruising election, the two appeared seemingly cordial.

OBAMAA: We have done everything we can to make sure that they are successful, as I promised, and that will continue.

TRUMP: I never met him before but we had - we had a very good chemistry going. I found him to be terrific. I found him to be very smart and very nice.

MALVEAUX: Since then, the two have had several phone conversations. And today, Trump's in-coming press secretary, Sean Spicer, tried to downplay the public bickering.

SEAN SPICER, TRUMP'S INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They continue to talk -- I don't know the last time they did -- as they -- as the inauguration gets closer. Both the current president and his team have been very helpful and generous with their time as far as the actual transition.

TRUMP: Three important things.

MALVEAUX: Today, between close-door meetings, Trump made several brief appearances at his Mar-a-Lago resort. While Obama is vacationing, Trump is claiming cred for the country's positive economic outlook, saying, "The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index surged nearly four points, to 113.7, the highest level in more than 15 years. Thanks, Donald."

(on camera): White House aides say the president will not back down from his own record of accomplishments, despite what Trump is claiming credit for. As he noted in his last press conference this year, unemployment is at 4.6 percent, a nine-year-low, and economic growth is at 3.5 percent high, and his approval rating almost 50 percent.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, with the death of Debbie Reynolds just a day after her daughter passed away, we talked with a psychologist about death by heartbreak.



[02:31:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Cyril Vanier.


Let's check the headlines for you this hour.


VANIER: Back to Debbie Reynolds whose career spanned seven decades and touched countless lives.

CHURCH: Her breakout role was in the 1952 musical "Singing in the Rain." She played a struggling chorus girl who becomes a star. And her smash "Good Morning" lives on to this day.




VANIER: She stayed in the spotlight for the rest of her life. For many, she was a link to a bygone era of Hollywood.


CHURCH: Joining me to talk about the legacy of Debbie Reynolds is Matthew Belloni, the executive editor of "The Hollywood Reporter."

Thank you for joining us.


CHURCH: The death of a child is every parent's nightmare. The passing of Debbie Reynolds the day after the death of her daughter is heartbreaking and tragic. But they had their ups and downs, didn't they?

BELLONI: Absolutely. This is a family that's not only lived through a lot of public and private troubles but they have done so and incorporated it in to their public persona and careers. If you look at Carrie Fisher's auto buy graphical novel postcards from the edge, that was written in response to her tumultuous relationship with her mother. Carrie Fisher wrote a memoir, "postcards from the edge" that was then dramatized in the film version. It hasn't always been a pleasant they had made up and come to an understanding in recent years. And they both participated in a documentary about their lives and work together that will air on HBO next year.

CHURCH: Of course, like her daughter, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds wasn't only an actress, was she? She was a singer, dancer, businesswoman, film historian. But will she be known best for her leading role in "Singing in the Rain" will that define her as Princess Leia defines Carrie Fisher?

BELLONI: I think Debbie Reynolds will be probably remembered for "Singing in the Rain." She got an Oscar for her performance in the unsinkable molly brown but most remember her for being a singer, dancer, performer in "Singing in the Rain." Much the way that Carrie Fisher will probably be remembered for "Star Wars" even though she was an accomplished writer, screen writer and performer as well.

CHURCH: And Debbie Reynolds of course was part of Hollywood royalty. She married Eddie Fisher in 1955, Carrie's father, of course. Four years later, he ran off with Reynolds' best friend, Elizabeth Taylor. It was a massive scandal at the time. How did Reynolds cope with that?

[02:35:07] BELLONI: This was a huge scandal at a time before the Internet and the tabloid culture emerged. If it happened today it would break the internet. It was a major deal in the late '50s and Debbie Reynolds coped with it ok. She did not speak to Elizabeth Taylor for many years but when they were on a cruise together she had dinner together and had a good laugh about it.

CHURCH: And how will Debbie Reynolds be remembered? What will be her legacy?

BELLONI: I think she will be remembered as part of a legacy of old Hollywood. She was a star when the star system was really at its most powerful. She was made a star in the movie musical, which gave launch to Hollywood. And she managed to last for decades and decades in film, on the stage, as a recording artist. She had a number one single and an NBC television show. She became a businesswoman with Hollywood memorabilia. She had her own museum at one point. I think she will be one of the last remaining connections to that old Hollywood system.

CHURCH: I think you are right.

Matthew Belloni, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.


CHURCH: What makes Reynolds' death all the more heartbreaking is her death came just a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died.

VANIER: TV personality, Al Roker, sent out a tweet saying, "My daughter asked if it is possible to die from a broken heart. Well, I think that Debbie Reynolds knew her daughter needed her and God granted her wish."

CHURCH: All right. Let's talk with psychologist, Erik Fisher. He is joining us via skype from Destin, Florida.

The sentiment from the tweet from Al Roker is incredible, isn't it? A lot of people are talking about Debbie Reynolds dying of a broken heart. There is a thing called Broken Heart Syndrome, which a lot of health issues play in to that. But tell us about that.

DR. ERIK FISHER, PSYCHOLOGIST: What you have to look at is, often when a spouse dies, often when the wife dies, it is not uncommon for a husband to die after that. When we look at the broken heart, we have to look at the neuro chemicals released in high-stress situations. Debbie Reynolds had some advanced age. Often, there is an underlying issue and stress can be a prescient. What I tell people, sometimes people come in to your life for a reason, season or lifetime. When I work with parents or children, I teach parents their child is their greatest teacher and they learn from each other. The impact of what Debbie may have learned from Carrie and her life experience, that may have felt they completed what they need to teach each other and do and she may have felt her life is complete in some ways.

VANIER: As I hear that, I can't help but think as a parent how you react when you are burying your child. As a parent, you never -- you hope you will never have to do that.

My question is, what could you tell our viewers, those who had the misfortune of experiencing the same thing?

FISHER: I lost my brother when I was 8 years old and saw my parents and how they had to survive the loss of a son. It's something that -- what they did, they had to pick up their life and keep going. When we look at the situation, we look at how Carrie grew to respect her mother. She said, "My mother taught me how to thrive." For Carrie, in going through the issues with bipolar, she saw her mother as an inspiration.

What happens is sometimes when we see somebody we idolize their life events we feel lost and don't know what to do and even when we lose a child we may not know what to do and feel what's our purpose? We have to realize our purpose is to continue to live and leave a legacy toward people that connected with us so we cannot only have them remember them and live their life in a way they know they would have wanted us to live our lives. And that's the best advice we can get sometimes.

I saw my parents go and continue to live their life for us and that's a difficult thing to do sometimes but the sun will come up tomorrow and pretty soon there are many suns that have come up since we lost our children and we keep persevering.

CHURCH: That advice is great for so many people. And I know people who have lost their husbands and they are waiting it out. They are not living a fulfilled life. A lot of things play in to that depression and all of the issues that affect so many people. It is difficult to say to somebody, to be positive and move forward. It is not as simple as that?

[02:40:10] FISHER: No, it's not. Grieving is a process. Grieving is something we go through. It can last -- I often tell people their grief will last as long as, in some ways, they choose to let it last. We need to continue to live our life for our highest good. Ask yourself, how would the person who is no longer living want you to live your life. Would they want you waiting for that time to die or would they want you to live it to the fullest so when you have completed this you can else you have done something. I ask people are you living to die or dying to live. That's a key question to look at.

And I think what Carrie did for the world of people with bipolar disorders is she gave to them someone to look to in ways that had done the most with what they had. See your life, if you experience bipolar disorder, to go on and thrive, to see we have our challenges and obstacles, and we can turn obstacles in to opportunities in life if we look at it from a different perspective.

CHURCH: Carrie Fisher was a hero for those people suffering mental illness. And her mother, Debbie Reynolds, so positive and such an incredible woman. Two heroic women. Sad day, indeed.

Erik, appreciate it.

FISHER: Thank you.

CHURCH: Thank you for talking to us. Appreciate it.

FISHER: Thank you.

VANIER: Many celebrities are reacting to Reynolds' passing. Filmmaker and Actor Albert Brooks tweeted, "Debbie Reynolds, a legend and my movie mom. I can't believe this happened one day after Carrie. My heart goes out to Billie."

CHURCH: Joan Collins shared a picture saying, "Truly heartbroken to hear Debbie Reynolds has died. She was a wonderfully warm friend and colleague. Praying for Todd and Billie."

VANIER: William Shatner tweeted, "Debbie Reynolds was last of Hollywood royalty. It breaks my heart that she is gone. I hoped my grieving was done for 2016."

CHURCH: Bette Midler said, "Debbie Reynolds has just died. This is too hard to comprehend. Beautiful, talented, devoted to her craft. She follows Carrie." VANIER: Next to come on CNN NEWSROOM, President Obama's signature

achievement will likely under fire as soon as he is out of office. We will look at the agenda of the new Republican-led Congress.


[02:45:52] VANIER: One of the first orders of business for the next U.S. Congress is revisiting the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

CHURCH: Republicans have vowed to scrap the law if they can get enough Democrats to go along.

CNN's Manu Raju has the latest.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): For the first time in a dozen years, Republicans will control all of Washington. And they're plotting an ambitious agenda on Capitol Hill, a sweeping rewrite of the tax code, new infrastructure projects, a ninth Supreme Court justice, and their top goal, a repeal of President Barack Obama's signature legacy item, Obamacare.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the new year.

RAJU: Republican leaders privately acknowledge it won't be easy, especially repealing it without a clear plan to replace it, and in the aftermath of surging enrollment numbers for Obamacare.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happens to the 20 million people that have health insurance? Are you going to just kick them off and, suddenly, they don't have health insurance?

RAJU: Next month, the Republicans will try to pass a budget, a process that will allow them to repeal much of Obamacare, including subsidies to buy health insurance and an expansion of Medicaid, all on a party line vote in the Senate.

But some key aspects of the law cannot be repealed through the budget process, including prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and the mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance.

Conservatives are determined to scrap the law are already warning of a revolt if President-elect Trump accepts anything short of a full repeal.

(on camera): If he pursues amending Obamacare, how would you respond?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to agree with that.

RAJU (voice-over): The process to replace Obamacare will be even tougher, because Republicans will need to overcome a Senate filibuster, meaning they need the support of at least eight Democrats to enact a new health care law.

But the new Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, is already warning his party won't help the GOP replace the law.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY), INCOMING SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Just repealing Obamacare, even though they have nothing to put in its place, and saying they will do it sometimes down the road, will cause huge calamity from one end of America to the other. They don't know what to do. They are like the dog that caught the bus.

RAJU: To ensure people don't lose their coverage, GOP leaders say Congress will effectively delay the repeal from taking effect until legislation is approved to replace the law, a process that could take years.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There needs to be a reasonable transition period so people don't have the rug pulled out from under them.

RAJU: That approach is only bound to cause tension with top conservatives who want immediate action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I think health care will be better and cost less when Obamacare is gone. Why take three years to get rid of it?

RAJU (on camera): Now, Republican officials say they are looking at a smaller health care bills that they hope can win Democratic support. Aside from that, there is a huge fight looming over reforming the tax code for corporations and individuals, and that issue is expected to dominate action on the Hill for much of next year. Adding to that, a slew of major confirmation fights, including Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, and you can see that Trump's agenda could be filled with huge accomplishments or it could get bogged down quickly in capital gridlock.

Manu Raju, CNN, Washington.


[02:49:38] CHURCH: Donald Trump's inauguration is a few weeks away. Ahead, why some Rockettes aren't head over heels about performing.







VANIER: We've heard a lot in the past few weeks about artists who will or will not perform at Donald Trump's inauguration next month. CHURCH: Now, some members of a renowned dance troupe booked for the

party are threatening a boycott.

CNN's Brynn Gingras reports.


TRUMP: Let's see the bells. OK.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump and the Radio City Rockettes, both New York City icons.


GINGRAS: But the Rockettes are kicking up a controversy over the upcoming presidential inauguration.

One dancer speaking out after feeling pressured to perform at the ceremony for a candidate she does not support. Quote, "We do a lot of events but no events that could cause trauma, and doing this would cause trauma for some people." That said in a Marie Claire exclusive report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Emotionally, people were crying on stage.

GINGRAS: According to the Marie Claire correspondent, some of the dancers were initially told they had no choice but to perform in the event. Word of the performance created a firestorm within the Rockettes organization and on social media.

Marie Claire reports the backlash changed the minds of the Rockettes management. The dancers' union said it would be voluntary.

Madison Square Garden, who employs the dancers, added, quote, "We have more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of artists have wanted to participate in the inauguration and she's upset the Rockettes have. That makes it seem as if they stand by him and his policies.

[02:55:12] GINGRAS: With dancers facing criticism from some Trump supporters, others favor the boycott, like this former Rockette who appeared on "Democracy Now."

AUTUMN WITHERS, FORMER ROCKETTE: The Rockettes represent a legacy of strong, intelligence, and classy women. To associate this with Mr. Trump, who has a history of degrading women, objectifying women, in my opinion, really tarnishes what the Rockettes embody and stand for.

ANNOUNCER: The Radio City Rockettes.


GINGRAS: The famous dancers were all on board for George W. Bush's celebration, both in 2001 and 2005. This year, they are not the only ones wanting to skip out. Sources

tell CNN President-elect Trump's transition team is having a tough time booking talent.

Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


VANIER: We will break for a few minutes. I'm Cyril Vanier. You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM.

CHURCH: i'm Rosemary Church.

We are back with another hour after this very short break. Don't go anywhere.


[03:00:07] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHURCH: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta --