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Sen. Duckworth: A woman of many firsts; Andrew Lloyd Webber's life of music

Aired March 7, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, she has fought for her country on the frontlines and in Congress and in the battles of female

equality. We explore of woman of many firsts, US Democratic Senator and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth.

Also ahead, what makes a great musical? Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on his new memoir "Unmasked" and how he transformed Evita, Phantom and

"Joseph" into global phenomena.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

As President Trump says the United States is prepared to go hard either way toward negotiations for peace or confrontation over North Korean nukes, the

US Senator Tammy Duckworth has recently returned from the Korean Peninsula with this frightening assessment that we are closer to war than anybody


Duckworth knows all too well the cost of war. Her family has served the country going all the way back to the American Revolution and she herself

fought in Iraq where an insurgent attack caused her to lose both legs and partial use of one arm.

Duckworth is a woman of many firsts. She is the first member of Congress born in Thailand, the first Asian-American to represent Illinois, the first

female double amputee of the Iraq War and soon she'll make history again as the first sitting senator to give birth.

Senator and former Lieutenant Colonel Duckworth joins me now from Washington. And welcome to the program.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you. It's good to be on.

AMANPOUR: I mean, that is some introduction. That's nothing to do with my words and everything to do with all your achievements and accomplishments.

It is extraordinary.

Just before I get into your life story, though, I want to ask you about the news of North Korea because, as a senator, you've just been there. And as

a veteran, you know a lot about war and the drums of war.

Firstly, what do you make of the recent developments? And does that assuage your concerns somewhat?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I wouldn't say it assuaged my concerns, Christiane. I think it is a hopeful sign and I certainly would support diplomatic talks,

but North Korea has done this before, in that they don't actually cease their research and development of their nuclear weaponry even during

diplomatic negotiations.

I would feel much better if, as part of entering into any type of negotiations, they agreed to freeze any further development into ballistic

missile technology and into their nuclear capabilities. Let's make that a starting point.

AMANPOUR: OK. They themselves said that they would freeze tests should there be negotiations, but I understand that you think they should freeze

all R&D. OK.

What about when they say that we want to do this, but we need our security guaranteed. It's never very specific. What do you think it means to

guarantee their security?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I don't know what they mean by it, to be perfectly honest. North Korea is a nation that, a lot of times, you feel like you're

just reading smoke signals from them and we don't have a lot of channels, communications with them.

I don't think that there is any danger of the South or US forces invading anytime soon. I think they may be referring to our president's statements

where he has said he would be in support of some sort of a first strike capability.

It's why, I and some of my colleagues have - have actually introduced legislation to prohibit the president from using a first strike option,

especially with the use of nuclear weapons unprovoked.

So, I don't see that we in the United States would do that, but I'm not quite what the North are talking about.

AMANPOUR: Sometimes they say that they want all the US presidents removed from there. Do you think that's even a possibility from a military point

of view or a political point of view?

DUCKWORTH: I don't think it's a possibility. I think the keystone of South Korean security and American interests in the region is their

existence of the joint forces Korea, of the partnership that is an ironclad alliance between the United States and the South Korean forces and also

with our allies in Japan as well.

[14:05:00] Remember, this is about more than just a Korean peninsula. This is about the entire region. US forces are not going anywhere anytime soon.

And if anything, we are going to be supportive of plussing up the resources, so that the US forces in theater are able to do the job if

they're called upon to do so.

AMANPOUR: Sen. Duckworth, before you were Lieutenant Colonel Duckworth and you were in the Iraq War. And as I said, in 2004, you suffered a

terrible accident when the insurgents basically attacked your helicopter with a grenade and you've lost both your legs and the partial use of one


Tell me what that experience did for you as a person and how did get you into politics?

DUCKWORTH: Well, it wasn't an accident because they were aiming. So, listen, I -

AMANPOUR: I think I said an attack. I know it's not an accident. I'm sorry, it's an attack.

DUCKWORTH: No, it's OK. I went to war as a helicopter pilot with the belief that I would either die in combat or come home OK. I did not expect

to come home as badly wounded as I was.

And having survived it and having had my buddies who saved me and carried me out of that dusty feud in Iraq, I feel like I got a second chance at

life. And that led to this whole new life that I have because there I was, a helicopter pilot with no legs halfway through my military career and I

wanted to keep serving my country.

And I was looking for a new mission. And that new mission became veterans and being an advocate for veterans, which then led into me wanting to be in

the United States Congress because I remembered what the drums of war sounded like in the run-up to the Iraq War, which I didn't support. I was

proud to serve in it, but I personally did not support it. And I didn't want to see that happen again.

And that's what I'm seeing happening towards North Korea where I see people who have never served or folks who have a Hollywood understanding of what

war is like are the first ones to say, well, we're just launching missiles and who don't understand the true costs.

So, I feel like it's my mission in life to be here to talk about what the costs of war are. And if that is justifiable and it's in my nation's

interest, then, of course, I will support it, but I'm not going to let this nation blunder into another war like we did in Iraq.

AMANPOUR: Well, on that note, you say Hollywood ideas of what war is. And I have to, at this point, say that you have a nickname for the president.

I believe you call him cadet bone spurs.

DUCKWORTH: I do. I feel like he's something of a bully and he makes up these nicknames for other people. So, I thought he should have a little

taste of his own medicine. He was a cadet in a prep school and his bone spurs that kept him out of service in Vietnam.

He doesn't even remember what foot it was in. So, I think cadet bone spurs is an apt moniker for our president.

AMANPOUR: Well, moving swiftly along, as I listed all your incredible achievements and yours firsts, you are also the first sitting senator to

have a baby while in office.

I mean, OK, that's great. But after all that you've done, are you surprised by the incredible reaction this has received?

DUCKWORTH: I am absolutely flabbergasted by the reaction. I thought that the announcement - we actually told one reporter - was going to be quiet -

OK, she's going to have a baby, she's going to have to take some time off for maternity leave. And the feedback has just been quite amazing.

And then, for me to find out that there are issues with the United States Senate's rules where I may not be able to vote or bring my child on to the

floor of the Senate when I need to vote because we ban children from the floor.

I thought, wow, I feel like I'm living in a 19th century instead of the 21st and we need to make some of these changes.

AMANPOUR: So, what are you going to do? Because I know you're trying to achieve these changes. You do not want to be absent from key votes. Your

party doesn't want a prominent Democratic senator to be absent from key game-changing votes. What are you going to do? You're going to have to

face a decision.

DUCKWORTH: Well, I'm working with leadership right now. And my leadership of the Democratic Party have been very supportive. We're going to request

a rules change, so that during the first year of this child's life, whether you are a woman or a man, whether you're breast-feeding or not, or you've

adopted or something, you should be able to bring that child on to the floor and continue to do your job.

I mean, this is ridiculous. We're in 2018 and we're still dealing with this in the United States of America. We're better than that. And,

certainly, this speaks to the problems we have in this country with the need for family leave and certainly more family-friendly legislation in

this country.

AMANPOUR: I mean, you're fortunate because of your job that you will get paid maternity leave. I believe it's 12 weeks. But you know, obviously,

because you lobby against it that the United States is one of only two countries in the world that doesn't offer general paid maternity leave.

And it's very troubling to a lot of women, as you must know. How are you going to be able to change that?

[14:10:00] The president campaigned on maternity leave. His daughter is very prominent about maternity leave. She is now working with the

Republican Senator Marco Rubio on this issue. Do you believe that it will achieve a change?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I'm still waiting for the president and his daughter to actually come through with something. In the meantime, I am cosponsoring

legislation for paid family leave, not just maternity, but family leave.

I myself have those 12 weeks of maternity leaves because I offer it to my office. I'm one of the few offices that offers 12 weeks of family leave to

men or women. So, that's why I have it, but not everybody does.

It's an economic issue, not just a family issue as far as I'm concerned.

AMANPOUR: Well, when you say an economic issue, what do you mean? Are you talking about if women are kept out of the workforce, it's harmful not just

to them, but to society?

DUCKWORTH: I think our nation suffers when women, or men, are kept out of the workforce. We lose some of the best talents who could remain at their

jobs if they were supported.

And it's not just for young - the birth of a child, it's to take care of your family members as well. With the birth of a child, that child has

better health outcomes and lower medical bills if they actually get the full support of their parents in those first months of life. And so, it is

crazy that in United States of America that we don't have paid family leave.

And we see time and again from our Fortune 500 companies that have generous family leave policies that they do much better retention of employees, they

do much better competitiveness and we need to think of this as a national economic issue here.

AMANPOUR: Well, Sen. Duckworth, talking about voting, we are understanding that you now have to rush from here to actually cast a vote,

so we thank you very much for joining us this evening.

DUCKWORTH: Thanks for having me on.

AMANPOUR: And if Sen. Duckworth hadn't had to rush off, we were going to play her the following sound bite.

It's from Jacinda Ardern, who is the new prime minister of New Zealand. And it turns out she too will be the first New Zealand prime minister to

have a baby while in office.

Only when she was recently asked about that in a joint interview with her husband, the reaction from the interviewer caused a massive backlash on

social media. Take a look and see what you think.


CHARLES WOOLEY, HOST, "60 MINUTES": There is one really important political question that I want to ask you, and that is what exactly is the

date that the baby's due?


WOOLEY: It's interesting how much people have been counting back to the conception as it were.

CLARKE GAYFORD, HUSBAND OF JACINDA ARDERN: Having produced six children, it doesn't amaze me that people can have children. Why shouldn't a child

be conceived during an election campaign?

WOOLEY: Not why - I'm not asking why it shouldn't.

ARDERN: But I should add that the election was done. Yes.

GAYFORD: It was over.

ARDERN: It was over. Not that we need to get into those details.


AMANPOUR: Indeed. Not that they needed to get into those details. And many women were highly offended about that line of questioning. And we

wonder what's Sen. Duckworth might have thought of that.

Anyway, we will now leave behind political theater to meet a man who has made a real theater his home for decades.

From Broadway to the West End to countless countries all over the world, somehow there always seems to be an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical running.

From Phantoms to Technicolor Dreamcoats, how did he conquer this world?

His latest "School of Rock" is yet another hit for the man who has found inspiration in everything from the Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron to the

cat poems of T.S. Eliot.


AMANPOUR: So, with that, he has known the heights of success, but also the depths of despair as well, all recounted in his new memoir "Unmasked". But

it only tells half his story. I got some of the rest of it when he came here to the studio recently.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, you have done umpteen musicals. In fact, I think you made history earlier this year by having four on at the same time on Broadway.

WEBBER: Yes. I mean, unbelievable thing for me because I was always a huge fan of Richard Rodgers and Rodgers and Hammerstein when I was a kid.

I mean, it was their record that I equaled and it's kind of overwhelming really.

AMANPOUR: Which is your favorite ever musical, ever?

[14:15:00] WEBBER: It's completely impossible to answer that. I mean, I was lucky. When I was a kid, I saw four great musicals in one Christmas

holiday. It's "My Fair Lady", "Drury Lane", I saw "Gigi" on film, I saw "West Side Story" at Her Majesty's Theatre. You see, I can even remember

the theaters. And then, I saw "South Pacific" as a film.

Now, I'm going to have to admit that somewhere deep, deep inside me, "South Pacific" is the thing that I still would most return to.

AMANPOUR: Not one of your own?

WEBBER: Certainly not.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, what is the difference between doing all these musicals and writing your book. Your first book is "Unmasked". It's your

memoir, but it only goes up to "Phantom of the Opera", the first night of "The Phantom of the Opera", which was in the 80.

WEBBER: Which is long enough as the book is in my view.

AMANPOUR: It's already 500 pages.

WEBBER: It's more than that. I enjoyed writing it up to a point. I don't enjoy, frankly, looking back at my career because I'd like to move forward,

but anyway.

AMANPOUR: Is that the difficult part of it?

WEBBER: No, the difficult part of it actually was the - really is the bits I kind of don't want to write about. I'll never write a second book

because my career had a bit of a dip after that. And it's when you have a bit of a dip that you find out who your true friends are, or not, and I

don't want to write about that. If I ever do another one, there'll be a volume three, but not a volume two.

AMANPOUR: OK. At this point, it calls for a clip. We're going to put a clip out from Phantom of the Opera and then we'll talk about it.


AMANPOUR: How do you know that songs like that, for instance, are going to become anthemic and songs for the ages?

WEBBER: Well, you don't. I think the truth is that, with a musical, you've got to have a great story. A great story can carry an OK score, or

musical score, which is average.

A great musical score can't carry on OK story. That's the thing that I've learned to my cost and also to my gain over my career. But the one thing I

do know is that the story and the musical has got to be everything.

AMANPOUR: What inspired you to get into the musical business? I know your parents, certainly your father, was a musician?

WEBBER: My father was a classical musician. He was also a composer. He was the director of the London College of Music in London and that was a

great kind of family background for me to have been in one sense.

I had an aunt who was wonderfully and deliciously politically incorrect. My Aunty Vi.


WEBBER: My Aunty Vi.

AMANPOUR: Who the book is dedicated to.

WEBBER: Indeed, yes. Who was a very, very naughty person in many, many ways, but a wonderful, wonderful theatrical person and who, in many ways,

kind of taught me the other side of me, which is a little bit of a sense of humor.

So, anyway, I had a kind of very mixed background, but the one thing about my background is that all kinds of music were acceptable.

AMANPOUR: What inspired you about "Joseph" and then "Jesus Christ Superstar", I mean, two major biblical stories.

WEBBER: "Joseph" was written by Tim Rice and myself for an end-of-term school concert. We had to think of what we were going to do for kids?

What would be a story that would appeal to them? And the brief was that every child in the school had to somehow take part.

But the story of "Joseph" is a great one because it's about redemption at the end. It's got a real heart. It's about Joseph, his brothers. They

reject him. He then finds them again. It's a very simple primal story.

AMANPOUR: Let's see "Jesus Christ Superstar".


AMANPOUR: How did you manage to get a religious rock music?

WEBBER: Everybody thought it was the worst idea in history. And what happened was, we had a single called "Superstar", which was the "Jesus

Christ Superstar". It came out in a couple of countries around the world, obscure ones in those days for singles, like Brazil and Holland. And it

was a vague hit. Complete bomb in Britain and America.

[14:20:08] And then, a record company said we would be interested in recording the whole thing. And it was that that led to the stage show

because nobody was interested in the stage show, but we made the album of it first.

AMANPOUR: I also read that there were moments in your childhood where you bought a whole load of aspirins, you were somewhat depressed at some point.

WEBBER: No, at various times. I guess when I was at boarding school, I did get depressed, yes. And it's not something that I particularly want to

dwell on, but I did have moments where I thought everything was crashing in. I suppose like kind of a lot of adolescents do.

And the one thing that kept me afloat really was - really, in one case, my love of architecture and the beauty of a particular place that I went to

when I was feeling very low.

And the other thing, I guess, was - in the end, I was so frustrated. I wanted to get out and I was still at school and I was sort of hemmed in and

it just seemed to me like ludicrously now - I mean, ludicrously now, that everything was kind of falling in on me. But, of course, it wasn't.

But, I guess, like a lot of kids feel that way.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And not a lot of kids are able to talk - it's actually kind of empowering for young boys maybe or people to listen to you,

somebody who has achieved so much.

WEBBER: Yes. I think depression is something that I think every artist has. Certainly, when I started out, nobody was interested in musicals of

my generation at all.

I mean, if you said that you like musical theater, you were considered to be a complete moron. And when I was a kid and if you mention Rodgers and

Hammerstein, people laughed.

AMANPOUR: So, what gave you the strength to keep pushing forward?

WEBBER: The fact of the matter is that if you know what you want to do in life, you're incredibly lucky. If you're lucky enough to be able to do it

in life, then you're doubly lucky. But if you able to have a career out of it to the extent that I have, the only thing you can do is to try and give

it back.

I mean, you have to - I really, really - the one thing I really want to do is to make sure that my enthusiasm for musicals passes on to another

generation in every way that I know how. It may sound silly, but that's what I really believe.

AMANPOUR: But aren't you - don't you just feel so incredibly justified when you see that one of the biggest things on stage right now is

"Hamilton". I know it's not yours, but it's still musical.

WEBBER: Well, I was lucky enough to see its second preview when it was downtown in New York. And I said at that time, I think the rare occasion

that I tweet, I mean, it's very, very unusual for me because I understand how to do it, but I did tweet that I thought it was the most extraordinary

thing that I had seen.

And we not only have "Hamilton", which sounds like an unlikely idea. I mean, the idea of an American founder father and hip hop doesn't sound

immediately like the greatest idea for a musical, just why it's a good one.

Then you've got "Dear Evan Hansen", which, of course, sounds like just not a good idea because it's about social media and rejection; therefore, it's

a good idea.

Then you've got "Come from Away" about planes coming into Gander, not necessarily a good idea; therefore, a good idea.

Even worse idea, the idea of an Egyptian band, military band turning up in Tel Aviv.

AMANPOUR: "The Band's Visit".

WEBBER: "The Band's Visit". Great idea. Yes, fantastic music. I mean, the moment where the band plays is one of those moments you get in up your

seat and you say, yes, this is what musicals are all about.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to go back in time, though, to "Evita" because you did win an Oscar for the song in "Evita". Yes. But I'm probably not going to

play that clip. And, in fact, I'm going to play the film version of "Evita". So, let's have a little clip.


AMANPOUR: I mean, that really was remarkable. And Madonna did the film. Patti LuPone was on Broadway.

WEBBER: Well, Patti LuPone premiered it on Broadway. She also did the performance at the Grammys, which was extraordinary. I mean, breathtaking.

AMANPOUR: What is your next big project? What is the next big musical you'd like to do?

WEBBER: I know what I'd like to do. I wish I could tell you, but I can't.

AMANPOUR: But is it on the drawing board?

WEBBER: It is on the drawing board, but it involves talking to one or two people, who I need to, as it were, get their permission.

A musical takes three years minimum to get on stage. "Hamilton" was six years, nowadays with the cost of getting something on Broadway, which is

where I'd like to work again after "School of Rock". You've got to be absolutely sure because it's so expensive to get a musical on now.

[14:25:00] I need to be absolutely sure that anything I write now is not going to be in any way uncomfortable for the people I think it might be

about and they are actually around.

And I might very well not do it. I mean, I've done so many shows over the last few years or ideas, I presume, where I haven't, in the end, gone on

with them.

AMANPOUR: Well, it sounds intriguing. Andrew Lloyd Webber, thank you very much indeed.

WEBBER: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So, two guests tonight with incredible personal stories of perseverance against all odds.

And that is it for our program. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online anytime at and, of course, you can

follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching. And goodnight from London.