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Debbie Reynolds Dies at 84; Kerry, Netanyahu Clash Over Path to Peace. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 07:00   ET


LEMON: CNN's Paul Vercammen is live with that in Los Angeles this morning. Good morning, Paul.

[07:00:05] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Don, perhaps William Shatner putting it best, saying that he is heartbroken. And also, he thought his grieving was done for 2016.

So yesterday, Debbie Reynolds is rushed to Cedar-Sinai Hospital, according to Todd Fisher. That's her son and Carrie Fisher's brother.

And then he said in a statement that, in the morning, Debbie Reynolds had expressed that she missed Carrie. And then, that moment she [SIC] says, "She's with Carrie now."


DEBBIE REYNOLDS, ACTRESS/SINGER (singing): We're alone now, and I'm singing my song for you.

VERCAMMEN (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. Her star officially launched just a few years later after a spirited performance opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O'Conner in 1952's "Singing in the Rain."

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

(singing): Tammy, Tammy.

VERCAMMEN: Other notable roles followed, including 1957's "Tammy and the Bachelor," which resulted in her No. 1 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.

REYNOLDS (singing): I'm going to learn to read and write!

VERCAMMEN: Beloved on screen, 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, who died just one day before her mother.

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 really was really a simple little girl, and that's what I was. And he fell madly in love with Elizabeth. And now I understand. You know, so many years later, and it's in the past.

VERCAMMEN: Her second and third marriages also ended in divorce, each time causing Reynolds financial pain.

However, she had been quietly 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 an auction for $4.6 million.

She also never quit performing. Though she stepped away from film for much of her career, Reynolds continued to entertain on Broadway stages and in Las Vegas nightclubs.

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

Her wide array of work was recognized in 2015 when the Screen Actors Guild honored Reynolds with a lifetime achievement award.

Reynolds said she loved every minute she spent in show business in her 2013 autobiography, "Unsinkable." She credited the love she had for her friends and family for her personal and professional resiliency.

REYNOLDS: I paid 20,000 bucks for this sucker.

VERCAMMEN: And 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.


VERCAMMEN: And fitting, it seems, to read from her last Facebook post: "Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I'm grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to the next stop. Love, Carrie's mother." And right now it almost seems like there's some sort of celebrity superstar express elevator to heaven, Don and Poppy.

LEMON: Absolutely.

HARLOW: What a year it's been. Thank you so much, Paul Vercammen.

Let's discuss this all of this with J.D. Heyman, deputy editor of "People" magazine. Their cover story this week pays tribute to another celebrity death, George Michael. Also with us Nischelle Turner, "Entertainment Tonight" host and CNN


Nischelle, let me begin with you, and let's put up the statement from Debbie Reynolds' son and Carrie's brother, Todd Fisher. "My mother passed away a short time ago. She spoke to me this morning and said she missed Carrie. She's with Carrie now."

If it's possible to die from a broken heart, this is it.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think it is. I think it is. I mean, we've seen situations like this happen before. Whether it was, you know, a husband and wife that may have been together for a very long time; and one of them passes, and then, you know, a few hours later or the next day, the other one does, because they say they just couldn't live without one another.

And I've been saying this all morning. But I think it's worth repeating. These two earned their relationship. They earned each other. You know, they were estranged. They had a lot of issues throughout their lives. But they earned their way back to really loving each other.

[07:05:07] In the hour that I was waiting to come back on with you guys, I watched one of the video clips from "Bright Lights," the documentary that was made about the two of them that will debut on HBO in March. And it was very, very sweet, because it was just showing, you know, Carrie cooking for her mother and walking the food over next door, because they lived right next door to each other, separated by a hill. And she walked in, and Debbie Reynolds was sitting on the floor talking on the cell phone. And she's joking with her and getting on her, because she's, like, "That cell phone was from the '90s. Get a new one."

It was just really special and great to watch. It really was beautiful.

LEMON: Carrie also said that Debbie, her mom, would call and say, "Hi, this is Debbie, your mother."

And she said, "I know who you are."

J.D., speaking of their relationship, this was -- I want to put this up. This is Debbie Reynolds, her last tweet, when she said -- she said, "Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next step. Love, Carrie's mother."

They were really close as mother and daughter.

J.D. HEYMAN, DEPUTY EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Oh, yes. This was one of the great mother/daughter relationships of Hollywood. And they were incredibly close. They had, as we were just talking about, a fractious relationship at times. It wasn't easy. They both had humor and insight about it. It's not easy having a movie star for a mother. It's not easy having

a really brilliant, creative daughter sometimes. And they -- you know, they worked it out over time.

And I spoke to Carrie Fisher this spring when she was promoting the documentary that will air on HBO. And, you know, this was sort of the foundational relationship of her life. This was the defining relationship.

And they were very different women, very different. And Debbie was a Hollywood studio, you know, MGM kind of star. And she had the diction and the sort of old Hollywood polish. And Carrie was very direct, wry survivor.

LEMON: Underneath that, I think they were very much alike.

HEYMAN: Well, they were both very tough. And I think that was a quality they shared.

HARLOW: Let's listen to what Debbie Reynolds said to Oprah not long ago, back in 2011, about their strained relationship at times.


REYNOLDS: It's very hard when your child doesn't want to talk to you but when you want to talk to them and you want to touch them; you want to hold them. It was a total estrangement. She didn't talk to me for probably ten years. So that was a very -- that was the most difficult time of all.


HARLOW: Nischelle, I'm struck by how honest about struggle both of these stars were.

TURNER: Yes. And thank goodness.

HARLOW: They didn't cover up the tough stuff.

TURNER: Yes, thank goodness. Both of these ladies had a lot of moxie. You know, they both were made of some good stuff; and I think that J.D. spoke to it really, really well when he said, you know, they were very different.

And I think probably a lot of their struggle did come from the fact that Debbie Reynolds was -- you know, she was always the perky one in the movie. She was this light, this the sunshine, this blonde, golden, you know, beautiful Hollywood "it" girl.

And then along comes Carrie who, you know, is battling a lot of internal issues. Bipolar disorder. She was battling alcoholism, and she lived out loud that way.

So the two of them being mother and daughter. But being in the same industry, which they called the family business, show business. And kind of going the same path, of course, there's going to be friction in that space.

But I do think that the narrative of reconciliation and love and at the end of the day an unseparable [SIC] and unspeakable bond is something that we should all should sit with and really think about. Because it's made me really, really think over the past 24 hours, you know, about the two of them.

LEMON: Growing up in the spotlight is extremely difficult as we see with child stars. Right, just the child stars. But when you have a famous mother, as well, that adds, you know, another layer on top of it. Here's Carrie Fisher talking about that.


CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS/WRITER: My mother would get up in the morning as my mother; and then she would go into this big closet she had. And you'd go in on this end, and there would be the shirts and the shoes and maybe some slacks. Then you'd turn left and it's skirts and dresses. And out the other end probably nightgowns and robes. She'd go in on this end as my mom, and she'd come out the other end as Debbie Reynolds. It was like a car wash for celebrities.


LEMON: It shows you the reality, you know, is often different than what -- you put in front of them.

HEYMAN: The thing that made Carrie Fisher brilliant was that she had real insight into what it was like to grow up with -- you know, movie stars are narcissists. I mean, they are -- they are largely about themselves for a lot of their, you know, life. And that's not easy.

And Debbie was devoted to Carrie. But it wasn't necessarily an easy relationship. And it's hard as a child to not -- have a parent who can suck the air out of the room to having that kind of charisma and energy and beauty.

And the brilliance of her was that she had the intellectual insight and the humor to give us some insight into that and to kind of find a way to use that.

I mean, to tell you the truth, what they were both brilliant about was the fact that they were so show business that they used everything. They used that as material; and they were able to promote that in a way that was very appealing.

HARLOW: As Nischelle said when we were talking about Carrie Fisher's death, they brought their whole selves.

TURNER: yes.

HARLOW: And guys, we were just saying we can't imagine what your newsrooms are like this week. I mean, you've got George Michael. You've got Carrie Fisher. You've got Debbie Reynolds. I mean, let's just look at the year it has been in terms of celebrity deaths.

LEMON: Zsa-Zsa Gabor, Alan Thicke...

HARLOW: This is just some of them.

LEMON: ... Prince, Mohammad Ali, Florence Henderson. That just happened a short time ago.

HEYMAN: yes.

LEMON: I mean, my goodness.

HEYMAN: It's crazy, actually. I can't remember a situation like this over this holiday, particularly. It's unbelievable.

HARLOW: Guys, thank you very much. Nischelle, always appreciate the insight from both of you.

LEMON: We want to get...

TURNER: I don't want to see you guys tomorrow. I miss you, but I don't want to see you tomorrow.

LEMON: We love you, but don't come back, thank you. No reason to come back, we hope. Thank you, we really appreciate it.

Need to get to some breaking news now. This is coming out of Russia. Russia President Vladimir Putin announcing a cease-fire in the civil war between the Syrian government and the rebel opposition. The cease-fire goes into effect at midnight in Syria. Measures to control the cease-fire and a declaration to enter into peace talks have also been agreed upon. We're following this story very closely for you. We'll bring you any new developments as we get them -- Poppy.

HARLOW: In the meantime, Israeli prime minister and secretary of state John Kerry, well, they have squared off in these dueling speeches yesterday over the Mideast peace process. Kerry blasting Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of undermining a two-state solution. Netanyahu firing back, saying Kerry was paying, quote, "lip service" to the Palestinian attacks.

Our Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem with more.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke for quite a while in English, that statement directed immediately at Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama. He said -- and he has says -- settlements are not the obstacle to peace, which bucks the international consensus that we just saw at the U.N. Security Council. The question: how low, how bad, how strained can this relationship get between Netanyahu and Kerry in its final weeks?


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Friends need to tell each other the hard truths.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Secretary of State John Kerry issuing a stern warning that a two-state solution is now in jeopardy.

KERRY: The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

LIEBERMANN: Kerry blasting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of undermining peace efforts.

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.

LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu firing back, calling the speech a disappointment and a biased attack that paid lip service to terror attacks by Palestinians.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders.

LIEBERMANN: Despite repeated denials, Netanyahu again accusing the U.S. of orchestrating Friday's United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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

LIEBERMANN: Kerry vehemently defending the Obama administration's refusal to veto the U.N. resolution.

KERRY: No American administration has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama's. We cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.

LIEBERMANN: President-elect Donald Trump weighing in on Kerry's speech from Florida.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to have peace. I think it set us back, but we're going to see what happens after January 20, right?


LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu says he'll work with President-elect Donald Trump to try to repeal the Security Council resolution and the damage it has done. Netanyahu urged President Barack Obama not to make any more moves on the peace process.

Poppy, it might not be the U.S. that he's concerned about at this point. There are other countries that may try something, even in the final days of the Obama administration.

HARLOW: Exactly. Oren Liebermann, live for us in Jerusalem. Thank you very much, Oren.

The Israeli government says it is looking forward to working with President-elect Trump. Netanyahu tweeting exactly that yesterday. Has the prime minister spoken directly with Trump this week? We ask his spokesman, next.


[07:18:48] LEMON: The secretary of state, John Kerry, says a two- state solution in the Middle East is in serious jeopardy due to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

U.S./Israeli relations have hit rock bottom over the path to peace. We're going to discuss now with the spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. And that's David Keyes, and he joins us now.

David, thank you. I appreciate your time this morning.


LEMON: John Kerry said that you're essentially building on what would become a Palestinian state, which means building settlements. It tears down the two-state solution. Is Israel still committed to a two-state solution?

KEYES: The prime minister remains absolutely committed to a solution of two states for two peoples. And Jews living in the West Bank does not prejudice that outcome in any way.

What was so disappointing about Secretary Kerry's speech was that it didn't really deal with the core issue of why this conflict continues to rage. And that has precisely nothing to do with the presence of Jews in the West Bank and everything to do with the Palestinian leadership's continued refusal to recognize a Jewish state.

Israel's prime minister has called on President Abbas to meet literally hundreds of times for direct peace talks. He even invited him to speak in the Knesset. And unfortunately, President Abbas said no to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state; no to direct relations; and no to condemning the horrific hate speech against Jews and Israelis that's a daily occurrence on Palestinian media.

[07:20:13] So instead of focusing on the actual barriers to peace, this has basically done a bait and switch where people think -- (AUDIO/VIDEO GAP)

LEMON: We have a problem with our satellite there. Can we get David Keyes back? Is he back? He's back.

OK. So, Mr. Keyes, I think you got the last part of your statement out. Sorry, we had a little glitch in the satellite there. And so to that end, talking about recognizing Israel. Your education minister said absolutely no to a Palestinian state. Your justice minister called a Palestinian state ISIS-stan or Hamastan. Your agriculture minister opposes the Palestinian state. How do you intend to pursue peace with that kind of a government?

KEYES: Well, because in this government, even though there's a diversity of voices, the prime minister is called the prime minister for a reason. And he supports two states for two peoples. And the vast majority of Israelis yearn for an end to this conflict.

I think that if the Palestinians wanted a state, they could have had it a long time ago. But every time they've been offered a state, as happened in 1947 and 1937, ten years before, and 2000 and 2008. Every time they were offered, they said no. And the reason is simple, because the conflict is not about the creation of a Palestinian state. It's about the existence of a Jewish state.

And I can quote Palestinian ministers saying precisely that, as well. And I can, you know, tick down the list from Nabil Shath (ph), who said, "We will never accept two states for two peoples," to President Abbas, who said, "We will never accept a Jewish state" to Farouk Adoumi (ph) to Baz Azaki (ph), on and on down the list; to Sultan Abu Anan (ph), who actually said, "Slit the throat of every Israeli wherever you find them."

LEMON: And now...

KEYES: That is the real barrier to peace. Not a democratic and liberal Israel that has had its hand extended to peace, for peace from day one.

LEMON: So I want to ask you this. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, says peace negotiations can begin as soon as the building stops. Is that enough? Is that enough reason to stop the building?

KEYES: Well, the building actually was stopped by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Abbas didn't take that too seriously. And that's because the issue isn't actually the settlements or the presence of Jews.

Which actually links back to this outrageous U.N. Security Council resolution, which has the audacity to call the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory. And I think a good question for you to ask administration officials is will they veto any future resolution at the Security Council dealing with Israel, because we know this was put...

LEMON: Mr. Keyes, you will know that you are the only nation in the world that supports that view.

And I want to -- I want to play this. This is John Kerry yesterday speaking of a "New York Times" headline from a Republican president back in 1987. Listen to this.


KERRY: Let me read you the lead paragraph from a "New York Times" story dated December 23. I quote: "With the United States abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution today strongly deploring Israel's handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories." That story was not written last week. It was written December 23, 1987.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So, Secretary Kerry has said that the Obama administration has

been very supportive of Israel. You heard the headline there. It could have been written today.

The question is, all this anger and bluster and posturing, is it a deflection that Israel does not support -- no longer supports a two- state solution?

KEYES: It's absolutely not a deflection, and the prime minister continues to state -- to support two states for two peoples.

That headline could have been written decades ago, as it was. But two wrongs don't make a right. And what also could have been a few decades ago is the Palestinian rejection of any Jewish state.

All you have to do is turn on Palestinian television and look at Palestinian maps. Look at the fact that the Palestinian leadership is actually paying anyone who murders an Israeli a monthly salary to know what's truly the barrier to peace here.

So, the administration should be asked in no uncertain terms, will they veto any future resolutions against Israel at the United Nations? And the answer to that should be an unequivocal yes, they should veto it. Because friends don't take friends to the Security Council.

We can have a disagreement about that. But let us focus on the core issues of Palestinian rejectionism so that these two parties, Israelis and Palestinians, can come together and forge a lasting peace based off mutual recognition so that everyone in this region can have a future of hope and a future of peace. We deserve no less than that.

LEMON: In our short time left -- I don't mean to cut you off. We have a short time left here. But what I want to ask you is, when the incoming president has expressed his full support for Israel and, again, he is, you know, putting it out on Twitter. My question is, when was the last time the current president and Benjamin Netanyahu spoke?

KEYES: Well, I don't have the precise minute of their last conversation, but they've spoken many, many times over the years. They've met many times over the years. Israel's deeply appreciative of the military assistance President Obama...

LEMON: But recently?

KEYES: ... sent to Israel. That doesn't mean that we have to agree on everything. We've been in touch with the current administration and the incoming administration, as is only natural.

But it's very disappointing to see this departure from U.S. policy, this abandonment of Israel at the U.N. and the highlighting of what amounts to tangential issues to peace.

Peace can be forged when, at long last, the Palestinians recognize our very right to exist and no longer call Tel Aviv a settlement.

LEMON: So the question is, does Israel support...

KEYES: Let us focus on the issues that unite so that we can forge a lasting peace.

LEMON: Does Israel support an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, in Gaza and East Jerusalem that has equal sovereign to Israel, Mr. Keyes?

KEYES: These are the final status issues which need to be worked out between the parties. I can't negotiate right now live on CNN. That's for President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to sit down and work out all of these difficult issues.

But you can't work out difficult issues if the other party won't even sit down with you. Ramallah is a few minutes away from here. And I would much rather be there right now, negotiating peace with a Palestinian leader, than talking to you, no offense. But unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has said no to literally hundreds of calls for peace. What a travesty.

LEMON: They did say that they would sit down if the building stopped.

KEYES: This rejectionism -- I understand that. They've said a lot of things. And when the building did stop, it didn't bring them to the table. And when Israel took out every single settlement from Gaza, it didn't bring them to the table. That's because that is not the issue. And I hope that we can find common ground in the near future.

LEMON: OK. David Keyes, we're out of time. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Appreciate your time.

KEYES: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Coming up in our next hour, we're going to get reaction from an official with the Palestinian Authority.

HARLOW: Right. We'll have that official react to Don's interview just now with David Keyes. That's ahead.

Also, this: the U.S. could announce as early, we're learning, as today Russia's punishment for hacking into the U.S. election process. But the president-elect says, we should go on with our lives. Move ahead. We're past this. We'll discuss what that means and what happens next.