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Trump Claims End of American Decline in his State of the Union; American Workers Not Thriving Says Michigan Governor; Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), is Interviewed About America's Economy; "American Utopia" by David Byrne Adapted in Broadway Show; David Byrne, Musician, is Interviewed about "American Utopia;" Interview With Fran Drescher; Interview With David Byrne. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 5, 2020 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Trump touts a booming economy in his State of the Union address. Responding for the Democrats, the governor of Michigan tells me that is not
what she's seeing in her swing state.
Then a different take.
David Byrne's "American Utopia", I speak to the former talking heads front man about his Broadway hit and his incredible career.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're coming out as break.
FRAN DRESCHER, ACTOR: We're here, we're broke, get used to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: America's favorite nanny, Fran Drescher, returns in the new sitcom "Indebted".
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
The president's Senate impeachment trial is nearly over and Trump celebrated the night before with a triumphal State of the Union address
come reelection rally. Claiming the end of American decline, Trump took credit for delivering a blue-collar boom. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs, 5 million more than government experts projected during the previous administration.
The unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century.
And very incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, the nearly 90-minute address was peppered with divisive talk and actions, starting with President Trump refusing House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi's handshake and ended with her tearing up a copy of his speech immediately after it was over.
All of this taking place as Democrats try to soldier on after the fiasco of the Iowa Caucus results. The governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer,
delivered the Democratic Party's response to the president's address. And she says American workers are not thriving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): American workers are hurting, in my own state, our neighbors in Wisconsin and Ohio, Pennsylvania and all over the
country. Wages have stagnated while CEO pay has skyrocketed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Gretchen Whitmer was elected in 2018 in this key battleground state and she tells me the Democrats are going to have to up
their game if they are to persuade voters that the president's economic boasts don't actually match up to their reality.
Governor Whitmer, welcome to the program.
WHITMER: Thank you. I'm so glad to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just first ask you, because a lot of the commentary around the State of the Union has been how unusual it has been and how
theatrical, but how incredibly it played to Donald Trump's strength, the showmanship, you know, all of the things that he does frankly very, very
WHITMER: Well, it was. It was 90 minutes of theatre. It was complete fiction. But, you know, he is the master of a reality show. The sad truth,
though, is that this is our reality and that's really what I was trying to convey in my response to, you know, draft -- to write a response to -- in
the best of circumstances with someone who is rational and predictable, is difficult enough.
But with this president in this environment in the midst of an impeachment trial, it was a challenge. I wasn't particularly surprised by what he did,
but you're right, there was a lot of showmanship. That is -- that's something he's always brought to the table.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I am really interested to hear you talk and admit this challenge in -- as a Democratic governor, as the Democratic Party, frankly,
not quite knowing how to challenge and respond in a way that kind of resonates. So, we've heard that the president obviously used his opening
arguments when everybody probably was tuned in to talk about, you know, the great American comeback, the booming economy, the rock-bottom unemployment,
You then responded by saying when the president says, the economy is strong, my question is strong for whom? Strong for the wealthy? Who are
reaping the rewards from tax cuts they don't need? The America economy needs to be a different kind of strong. So, OK, that's you fact-checking
the president. But is it working and will it work? You know, just before the State of the Union, his popularity was up at record 49 percent for him.
That's the highest for him.
WHITMER: So, you know, part of what I was communicating is our economy isn't just supposed to be strong for the wealthy. I mean, that's who Donald
Trump has protected and been fighting for.
It needs to be strong for, you know, the single mom who is taking on extra hours to pay for her daughter's soccer cleats, it strong for the teacher
that is paying money out of her own pocket to bring supplies in the school and strong for the small business owner who is trying to make payroll. And
frankly, strong for the farmer and auto worker who are in a state of anxiety every time a tweet comes out of the White House.
We need to be focused on the fundamentals for the American public, ensuring that everyone has a real path into a good life, whether it's through a
union apprenticeship or a community college certificate or a four-year degree without taking on a lifetime of debt.
This economy, I knew he would boast about the economy and the Dow, but the fact of the matter is, when you are working two jobs and still can't meet
your monthly expenses at the end of the month, what's happening on Wall Street has no impact on your ability to take care of your family and get
ahead. And that's really what I was speaking to.
It was 90 minutes of fiction when he talks about ensuring that we are an inclusive country. This is the one that takes to Twitter to run down his
fellow Americans. This is someone who has erected walls and caged children. And I think that, you know, we really need truth. We need to have action.
And people should judge their leaders, not by what they say, but by what they do.
AMANPOUR: Governor, it's interesting you just brought up the inclusive, because he did use that phrase several times. And again, not an accident.
It's a very well-crafted speech to his base, and as many of you have commented, it's like a re-election pep rally. And he is obviously trying to
appeal to the African-Americans, the Hispanic Latino community and all those. And he goes on and on about how he's raised their living standards,
their wages and et cetera.
Given that that's going to be a really necessary demographic for the Democrats to win in 2020, how do you actually confront that? How do you
actually put the Democrat point of view across?
WHITMER: Well, with the truth. Just by with the truth. You know, any successes that we've had in closing some of those gaps, the foundation that
was laid by President Obama. This president has worked to undermine a lot of the work of the previous administration. I mean, he's been in office for
three years and he attacked Barack Obama numerous times in that 90-minute speech.
You know, this is really, I think, a fundamental truth that people in this country are dealing with, the anxiety of are my kids going to have a better
life than I am, are they going to get the education that they need, is the water that's coming out of their tap clean and safe for them, are they
going to have a path into a skill that gets them into a good job?
Every parent, you know, expects our government to work as hard as we do, but also expects and hopes that our kids have a higher quality of life than
we do. And right now, as a result of the last three years, that's really very much in question, whether it's our moral standing in the world and
geopolitical ways or it's here at home when it comes to infrastructure that is crumbling and not supporting our American economy. These are the
failings of this administration that our kids will be paying for, that everyone in this country is paying a price for now.
And so, this, I think, is the important message that Democrats need to be taking to the people. We have an agenda that ensures that everyone has
access to affordable, quality health care.
AMANPOUR: Famously in your campaign, you said, I think -- I'm going to probably get it wrong, but, fix the darn highways. I mean, that was one of
your action campaign slogans. Infrastructure is something that's clearly really difficult. The president did promise it. It hasn't happened. I just
wonder whether you think it will happen. Because it requires, I think, elected officials to actually raise taxes and sort of, you know, get money
into the coffers to do that. And of course, last night nobody mentioned the massive ballooning deficit. I think it's kind of at record highs right now,
neither President Trump, nor you in your rebuttal.
WHITMER: Yes. I appreciate you raising that point. I mean, as I think about the kids of our country, the deficit is something I am worried about
as well. Climate change, you know, there are so many pieces that I would have included in my 10-minute rebuttal to a 90-minute, you know, work of
fiction, but the fact of the matter is I wanted to stay focused on the core fundamentals that people are worried about in our country.
You know, this presidency I think has done nothing on infrastructure. They've talked a lot about it, but they haven't done anything. And that's
why you see Democratic and Republican governors across the country trying to fix our infrastructure crisis because we've had no help from Washington,
I highlighted J.B. Pritzker in Illinois who is moving forward. I highlighted Phil Murphy in New Jersey cleaning up water and replacing led
pipes. These are the things that people in our country demand. I did run on a slogan. It was actually fixing the damn roads. And I talked about it that
way because that's how people in Michigan talked to me about the frustration they have when they have to replace tires or have cracked
windshields. It steals money from rent or from groceries or child care. This is a fundamental that is hurting Americans across the country. When we
invest in infrastructure, everyone benefits.
AMANPOUR: So, very quickly I want to ask you, you are governor of a very important swing state. We all know the story of Michigan in 2016 that went
for President Trump, Wisconsin as well. It was quite, you know, knife edge and nonetheless it did. So, what do Democrats have to do to avoid that
happening again in 2020?
WHITMER: Well, first and foremost, I think my friend Tony Evers, the governor of Wisconsin, would tell you that it's focusing on these inner
table issues. It's the fundamentals. If you are working two jobs and can't keep your head above water taking care of your family, you don't have
energy to think about all the other stuff that is going on in this country or to fact-check the president. You want to know that your leaders are
going to deliver.
And that's why I highlighted what Democratic governors are doing across our country. We should be judged by our actions, not by the narrative. And so,
I think that that's really something that's very important. As I look to 2020 election, I know that the lesson that I took away from 2018 is it is
so crucial that we stay tethered to the things that matter to the voters.
I went to all 83 counties in the State of Michigan and this is a big state, two peninsulas and it's a massive amount of territory to cover. But I did
that because everyone is important. And when you show up and listen to people, you know what matters to voters. And I think that's what's so
important and that's the advice that I'm giving to everyone who is running.
This blue-collar boom or whatever the president called it, it's very -- it's just -- it's not substantive. It's not real. People are worried. A
tweet out of the White House can, you know, send aluminum and steel prices soaring or can drop the value of our soybeans. So, farmers and auto workers
alike have anxiety because this president is so careless with how he focuses on issues. That's part of the message, too.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about the issue that clearly worked in 2018 midterms and I think that you're hoping that you can harness that for the
2020 and it's a legitimate issue for the majority of people in the country, and that's health care.
As you know, the president has made a lot of hay over, you know, the technical failures and the sort of chaos in the Iowa Caucus, first in the
nation contest for the Democratic race. And he's also using, no matter what happens, this idea of socialist Democrats as a campaign slogan against his
opponents. And he used that last night in terms of health care. Just listen to what he said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 132 lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our health care system, wiping out the private health
insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans. To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know, we will never let socialism destroy
American health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What does it mean for the president's ability to paint the Democrats as socialists who want to take away, you know, 180 million happy
Americans' health care?
WHITMER: Well, that is absolutely ridiculous, that the president went on television last night and said that he is the one fighting for health care.
From day one in this administration, they have filed lawsuit after lawsuit to rip away protections from the Affordable Care Act, to take away
protections for people with preexisting conditions.
The fact of the matter is that every Democrat running for president has embraced increasing access to quality, affordable health care. Every single
one of them. Lawsuit after lawsuit by this president and Republicans in Washington, D.C. has been waged to take away health care from Americans in
this country. It's pretty simple. Democrats are fighting for better health care. Republicans are trying to take it away.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you a little bit about the optics and the tone and what you're going to have to do as a party to regroup if you're going
to successfully contest 2020. What we've had is the president, as we speak, is going to be acquitted by the Senate. We've had an impeachment that went
several months of people's time and energy and focus.
Before that, we had a year or more of the Russia investigation. No matter what the actual facts are, the fact is that the president came out
unscathed and he is able to portray that for his own political advantage and he survives.
I just want to read you -- because I want you to answer this -- what one of the comments has been about your speech and your rebuttal last night.
Essentially, according to the co-founder of "Vox" news site, the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, probably made a smart choice by trying to give
an earnest policy speech in her response to the State of the Union, rather than one addressing the president's crimes or the blood-soaked demagoguery
of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in Trump's speech on Tuesday night. The problem is that it was also a boring speech.
Now, I'm sorry to say that. Not my words. But many people are concerned and worried, many Democrats are worried, that the Democrats are playing by the
rules in the face of a president who is very skillfully playing a totally insurgent campaign and insurgent presidency, and by their own account, a
totally nontraditional disruptive game.
WHITMER: Well, you know, I guess I would rather be called smart, but a little bit boring, than really interesting and downright dangerous, and I
think that's the difference here. I do acknowledge that Democrats need to work hard to earn the support of Americans. There's no question about that.
And you know what? American people deserve leaders who are going to work hard and going to stay focused on the things that really matter. But in
this day and age of this destructive kind of rhetoric coming out of the White House, I'm going to stay focused and I think my fellow Democrats
should as well.
What does the future of our country look like? And when I think about that, I think about my kids and children all across this country who need leaders
that are going to preserve our moral standing in the world, who aren't going to leave them with debt that they'll never recover from, that will
ensure they've got a real path to a good life here and clean water. That they have autonomy over their bodies. These, I think, are the issues that
are so crucial to Americans and we're going to continue to press forward and I'm going to encourage my fellow Democrats to stay tethered to those
Certainly, you know, if there's -- if they, you know, want to expand our base, we need to actually talk to the American people and not play Trump's
AMANPOUR: And finally, just the horse race, Governor. What do you make of the centrist, more moderate, more establishment candidate in your party
coming, as far as we know, fairly poorly, about fourth in the Iowa Caucus, and the young mayor of South Bend looking like he's far at the top, and if
he's not, it's Bernie Sanders? So, the progressive and the moderate wing are vying for the top but the establishment candidate is not doing as well.
WHITMER: Well, I think at the end of the day, no matter how this shakes out, that the party is going to unify around our candidate. There's no
question that any one of the candidates running on the Democratic ticket would be a vast improvement on, you know, Donald Trump. And so, I believe
that we will coalesce.
I ran -- you know, I am a very progressive Democrat, but I was -- you know, ran in a primary with people who questioned whether or not that was true.
It doesn't matter, because at the end of the day what unites us is a heck of a lot stronger than what divides us. And I believe that we are making
strides, but we're one state down and maybe not, we're actually one state behind us. There's 49 more to go. There's a lot of work ahead and no one
should take any particular state, especially Michigan, for granted in this race.
AMANPOUR: Governor Whitmer, thank you very much for joining us.
WHITMER: Thank you. Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Now, as fate would have it, I was unable to watch the State of the Union live, but for a very good reason, as I was preparing for my next
interview at a Broadway show, which as it happens, is a wonderful antidote to partisan politics. It is "American Utopia" by the legendary musician,
David Byrne. It's all about hope and connection between people and it rocks.
Byrne, of course, headed the cult classic Talking Heads band which influenced generations of performers and music lovers with hits like
"Burning Down the House" and "Psycho Killer". The band split-up in the '90s and "American Utopia" is Byrne's first solo album of many years. Here's a
clip of the adapted Broadway show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The show is a tribute to a quirky complicated America as David Byrne sees it and he's joining me on the program.
Welcome to the program.
DAVID BYRNE, CREATOR, "DAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIA": Thank you. Good to be here.
AMANPOUR: So "American Utopia", it might sound a little sort of, you know, off kilter really in this, as we've described, partisan and kind of toxic
atmosphere. But you say it without any irony. I mean, you're quite careful to say this is not an ironic statement.
BYRNE: Yes. It's not meant ironically. It's meant to be -- well, as a friend from London who saw the show early on said, well, the utopia is
right there on stage. We see it. We see what's possible. We see what can be or what we can aspire to. And it's not just like empty words. It's like
there it is, there's evidence.
AMANPOUR: So, tell us, because for those of us that haven't seen it, I mean, I saw it and I really feel the same way. I mean, you took some very
important themes and highlighted them. Give me one of them. The utopia, what do you see on the stage? You talk about your band, for instance.
BYRNE: Yes, the band is from a lot of different places all over the world. There's people from different races, different genders, yes, all that. It's
very mixed up in a way I feel like that's America. That's the America that I know. That's the America that I think what America stands for.
AMANPOUR: You're an immigrant yourself.
BYRNE: I'm an immigrant myself. I mentioned that. I mentioned that my parents brought me over from Scotland when I was little and that we've all
made homes here. And look, here we are on a Broadway stage.
AMANPOUR: It is amazing and it's got such great reviews. And I just wonder what kind of reaction you get from the audience, from people who come back
and see you. Well, what do they say about what you're trying to say and what you are saying there?
BYRNE: They tell me that it's -- well, they tell me that it gives them home, that it's atonic (ph), that it's something that they need right now,
this sort of thing, which could make it sound like it's just like, oh, this is going to cheer you up. This is like a happy little thing.
We hit on a lot of issues, we talk about a lot of things that are kind of dark and -- but in the end, we kind of show you that here we are, we're
together in this.
AMANPOUR: See, I think that's really interesting because, as you say, a lot of the music is very up and you make -- you know, you just sit there
and you can hear the connection and the hope and the utopia, as you put it. But as you've just touched on, there are issues that are very dark and one
of them, I just want you to explain, you asked Janelle Monae for permission to sing her song, essentially in English, it's, what the hell are you
talking about, but it's called -- what is --
BYRNE: "Hell You Talmbout."
AMANPOUR: Which is street talk, correct?
BYRNE: Yes, yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And this is -- describe it. Describe what it is, because it's got audience participation, which I didn't expect.
BYRNE: Yes. It's a song that she sang at the Women's March years ago and I heard a recording of it and I thought it was incredibly moving. And
essentially, it's like a drum march kind of rhythm, drum line kind of thing with a kind of gospel shout. And basically, it's just asking people to
remember the names of these young people who have been killed, murdered, as many would say. And --
AMANPOUR: Police violence?
BYRNE: Yes. Police violence. And it doesn't say anything else. It doesn't point fingers. It just says remember their names.
AMANPOUR: Say their names and we say their names.
BYRNE: Yes, the audience does that. And so, it's not us kind of assaulting the audience or accusing people. It's saying just remember this. Remember
this, remember these lives that have been taken.
AMANPOUR: And you also, you know, again mention, and it's very interesting, because you say, have you seen in the lobby, we've got these
big signs that say register to vote. Why did you decide to do that?
BYRNE: I've been doing that for a long time. Voter turnout, as I mentioned in the show, the turnout for the 2016 election was the best it had been in
decades in the United States. And it was 55 percent, which to me is still kind of pathetic. I'm personally in favor of mandatory voting.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Like the Australians do and it's very successful.
BYRNE: Yes, the Australians do it, they do it in Brazil, they do it in other places. It's not perfect. Some people don't vote and they just pay
the fine. But overall, it does better. And the idea that everyone has a voice is a big start at fixing a lot of things.
AMANPOUR: So, for those who will remember you, obviously, from the "Talking Heads," this is a very different -- not just theatrical, but stage
performance. I mean, you know, I watched you as a "Talking Head" and then, you know, as people would describe it, your body movement was very sort of
rigid, you were kind of rooted to the floor in front of the mic and it was very different. Here, you look much more expansive, your movement is much
more joyful or unbridled. What's happened in the interim?
BYRNE: You know, we get older -- and it's not just age, but it's kind of like as time goes by, we change as people. We're not the same people we
were 20, 30 -- I don't know how long it is, years ago.
AMANPOUR: About 40-ish.
BYRNE: Yes, 40 years ago. And it's -- yes. There's things that get lost, there's qualities that get lost. Some of that kind of angst and rigidity is
kind of charming in a way and the fact that it's not entirely there anymore. It might be seen as a loss. But there's other things that get
AMANPOUR: Well, you actually also, I think, saying something. I think you were talking about, back then, stripping away, I think, the actual sort of
-- I don't know, the prescribed notions of what it meant to be on stage.
BYRNE: Oh, yes.
AMANPOUR: The stripped-back nature of the music and the performance in the '80s.
BYRNE: In the early days, yes, I wanted to strip everything back and say, OK, we're not going to have any received notions, we're not going to dress
like rock stars, we're not going to move like rock stars, we're not going to do all the things that maybe we're supposed to do. We're going to start
from nothing, take everything down, start from nothing, and let's build things, add things on that really feel like they belong to us.
AMANPOUR: See, you're still not dressed like a rock star. You've always really worn the suit and you're still wearing it and you wear it in
"American Utopia" as well. Does the suit say something? It was a feature in the film. Start making sense.
BYRNE: Very early on in my career, I tried wearing a suit on stage and I bought a very cheap suit at an outlet downtown. And in a rock club it gets
very, very sweaty. So, I threw it in the washing machine and it just shrunk.
BYRNE: And I realized, at this stage in my career this is not a very practical thing. But the idea was I wanted to look like every man. I wanted
to look like I wasn't wearing what you would expect a performer --
AMANPOUR: You weren't Elton John, let's say, in terms of stage presence.
BYRNE: No, I wasn't Elton John. But I wanted to look like -- I wanted my outfit to disappear. It's not possible, I was deceiving myself. But I
wanted my outfit to disappear. And so, that what I was saying, what I was doing, the music would be what you paid attention to, not the other kinds
of trappings. I learned better, that you can't make things disappear.
AMANPOUR: Yes, maybe. You made your shyness maybe disappear. I -- you know, in reading about you and listening to previous interviews, I was
quite surprised to hear how shy you were as a child, and obviously, how not you are now. Tell me about the shyness and what the stage meant for you.
BYRNE: Yes, I was very shy as a child, as a young adult, performing. I would do -- be my crazy self on stage and then retreat and kind of not talk
to anyone afterwards or go into a corner, all those kinds of things.
To a lot of people, that seems like, how could you do that? How could you be on stage if you're shy? But that explains it exactly. That became my
outlet, my way to kind of put myself out in the world, to say what I had to say, to communicate to people, to announce my existence. And then I could
And gradually, I think by playing music, my career, working with musicians, performing, the joy of performing and music, I think it started to change.
It's sort of like I invented my own therapy.
BYRNE: And, over the years, it worked.
So, that leads me to, obviously, the Talking Heads. You founded this group with your other members there, and then it kind of broke up somewhat
Why did it -- why was it acrimonious, the breakup? And Tina Weymouth, who was the bassist, right?
BYRNE: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: She had something like, David Byrne doesn't react emotionally. He doesn't react emotionally with us.
Tell me about what was going on. Do you accept that?
BYRNE: I don't remember exactly, but she might have -- there might be a grain of truth to that.
I can accept that I may have been a somewhat colder, less understanding person than I was -- than I am now. A lot of people say this, but I tend to
think that it's true, that I think a lot of our parting was very musical.
I had gotten very interested in Latin and Brazilian rhythms and all this kind of thing, which meant that I really had to work with other kinds of
musicians, which I did.
AMANPOUR: And you not only did that. I mean, you scored the original score for "The Last Emperor." You won an Oscar for that. You have got all sorts
of other interests, including, I mean, I know that you biked over here.
You are a fervent biker, in terms of bicycle. Tell me what that -- is it just the climate? Is it exercise? Is it your head? What is it? Because you
also have -- I think you're trying to -- you have got a charity for that, like, Bike Rack, you started?
BYRNE: Oh, I did some Bike Racks for the city and for the Academy of Music in Brooklyn and different places.
I started biking quite a while ago as just a way of getting around in New York. It seemed very practical, a little risky. It's gotten easier. There's
more secure bike lanes now.
You can get from one place to another in a very kind of protected way that you couldn't before. But I found it just a joy, the kind of -- this idea of
floating under your own power and the wind in your face, and you can stop and look at things or examine stuff or go into a shop, or whatever it might
be, whenever you want.
You feel like it's just you floating through all this -- not through heavy traffic, I hope.
AMANPOUR: It's good for your mind?
BYRNE: Yes, I found it really good for my mind. It cleared my mind on my way to work in the morning going to an office or whatever. It kind of
clears your mind or you -- and, at the same time, you're kind of thinking about what you're going to do that day.
It's like when you sleep on an idea and you wake up and you have the solution. It does a little bit of that. Of course, there's other benefits,
like your carbon footprint and all that kind of stuff. But, to me, that's not the reason I did it. I do it because it feels good.
AMANPOUR: I want to play a little clip that we have of -- I mean, it's a long time ago now. It was a performance you did on "The South Bank Show."
And it's a classic Talking Heads, "Psycho Killer."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BYRNE: That's good enough.
AMANPOUR: That's all there is. So that was a little clip.
What do you feel when you see that? Do you miss the Talking Heads? I know your life is massively full and you have gone on to a whole extended
career. Do you miss that?
BYRNE: No, not so much. I mean, I have gone on to do a lot of things. The fact that now I have ended up on Broadway with a show that is incredibly
emotional, which I thought, me? Me do something incredibly emotional? Look where you have come to.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me. That's interesting, because I did bring that up a moment ago.
But you and obviously -- just plucking it out of the air, we're talking Bruce Springsteen, Madonna. Big stadium fillers are now in later years
doing smaller, intimate gatherings. What does that mean for you? What sort of different vibe do you get from that?
BYRNE: There's a much more intimate connection. There's a much more -- a closer connection with the audience.
And they feel closer to us as performers. For me, it gives me an opportunity kind of to take things a little slower, step by step, tell a
story, take the audience on a journey, whereas with a big concert it's kind of like entertainment and celebration and everybody have a good time.
But in this, you can kind of connect the dots and take people from one thing to another, where it actually leads somewhere.
AMANPOUR: To really tell the story.
And it will be interesting, because Spike Lee, as we know, has filmed this. But can you tell us a little bit? Is it just the stage performance? Is it
more of a -- what's it going to look like and when is it coming out?
BYRNE: I can't --
AMANPOUR: You can't tell us?
BYRNE: I don't know exactly what it's going to look like. But I --
AMANPOUR: Is it a feature or a doc?
BYRNE: It's -- I don't know. I guess, technically, it's a documentary.
BYRNE: It's really focused on the performance. It's really focused on the show. There's a few extraneous elements, but not very many.
AMANPOUR: That's exciting. So what else is next for you?
BYRNE: I have a couple of things I'm working on. Thank you for asking.
BYRNE: I guess it's what's called solutions-journalism project.
BYRNE: Called Reasons to be Cheerful.
BYRNE: We're very small, but we're doing work and putting out articles and posts and things like that of successful initiatives that we find around
AMANPOUR: So, give me an example.
BYRNE: Oh, OK.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you see something and then you match it with something cheerful; is that right?
BYRNE: Well, we -- it's generally some sort of -- some problem in the world, and we found -- find a place that has found a solution to that and
we want to make that known.
But here's -- so, for instance, I think the last two pieces that I wrote were on housing. Housing is a huge issue in London, New York, San
Francisco, you name it, housing, homelessness, all these kinds of things.
So I asked some people. And they said, OK, you should check out Vienna and Singapore, two different -- very different places, very different
approaches to this. But both of them in their own ways have kind of solved the housing problem. And in the process, they solve other problems. For
instance, Vienna -- it's a long story, but in --
AMANPOUR: And we have only got 30 seconds.
In solving the housing problem, housing for everyone in the city, they have also made it so that you can't tell how wealthy someone is by their
BYRNE: Everything is -- everyone is mixed up.
AMANPOUR: We're going to look out for that, Reasons to be Cheerful. It's a very good way to end.
David Byrne, "American Utopia," thank you so much, indeed.
And, just to mention, Byrne is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, as well as, I mentioned, an Oscar winner.
Let us turn now to the Actress Fran Drescher. She is best known for playing the iconic Fran Fine in the '90s hit sitcom "The Nanny."
Now she's back on our TV screens with the new comedy show "Indebted," about two parents who move in with their son after blowing their life savings.
Along with her comedy career, Drescher focuses her time on a nonprofit organization called Cancer Schmancer, which was founded in 2007, after she
herself was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
She talks to our contributor Ana Cabrera about advocating for health care and about her own harrowing sexual assault.
ANA CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CONTRIBUTOR: Let's start with this new prime-time show of yours, "Indebted." Tell us about it.
FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS: Well, it's a charming show about a loving family. Baby boomer couple goes bust and has to move in with their millennial son
and his young family.
CABRERA: And you're the baby boomer mom?
DRESCHER: Yes, of course.
And so that's kind of the premise of the show. And it's a little bit of a role reversal, because the parents are a little more of the adolescent and
the son is more of the parent. So it's, who is the parent and who is the kid?
And it's, I think, a very interesting way to show the typical middle-aged couple. The parent and grandparent, the matriarch of the family is very
loving, but very immature. And --
CABRERA: And there's three generations to take a look at.
DRESCHER: Yes, wears great clothes, loves spending money, loves giving away money, to a fault.
DRESCHER: And --
CABRERA: Well, we have a clip, so hold your thought.
CABRERA: And we will discuss on the other side.
DRESCHER: OK, great.
CABRERA: Let's show it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "INDEBTED")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I can't believe all of this time you have had no money.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes, you should have just told us the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Remember how you lied to us about being gay for so long?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You mean when I was in the closet?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes. Now, why didn't you just tell us?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Because I was uncomfortable and scared and confused.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Exactly, like us.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: And so now we're coming out as broke.
DRESCHER: We're here, we're broke, get used to it.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: This is not the same situation.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Everything is going to be fine. We're going to downsize and sell the house before we lose it.
DRESCHER: Yes, we're hoping Dave will renovate our house as beautifully as he did yours, and then we can sell it for double.
You're insanely talented. Everyone's talking about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Do you have as much fun playing that character as it looks like?
DRESCHER: I do. I really enjoy it. I love playing immature people. I love playing light-hearted, loving people.
I really -- we laugh all the time on the set. And we're in gratitude that we have a job where we can be so -- you know, have so much fun.
CABRERA: With a show like "Indebted," is the goal just to make people laugh, to sort of be cathartic and escape from reality, or is it really to
help people reflect on their own realities and their relationships and family dynamics?
DRESCHER: Well, in all of the shows that I ever produced, like "The Nanny," I always like to have a global message. And the global message of
"The Nanny" was, it doesn't matter what you look like or what you sound like; it's what's in your heart that counts.
And every episode had to somehow speak to that global message. And when we did "Happily Divorced," that global message was that everybody has a right
to live an authentic life.
And so every episode kind of spoke to that, even subtly. It gives you a goalpost of what you're writing towards. In this show, because I'm not the
writer or creator of it, which I haven't actually done that in over a quarter-of-a-century, so it's a little bit of a new experience, and,
frankly, a little bit challenging, because, obviously, I have my own ideas and opinions about things, but I do try and talk to my writer/producers and
get them to ground it in some kind of real feelings and emotions.
And I think that it's important, because, when you're sitting at home, I love to make people laugh. I think that is really medicinal. I want people
to have an escape. I think that television is visual eye candy, and we have to satisfy that on every different level.
But then on some -- you know, there has to be a little bit of depth. And, for me, this is a family that is learning to live together. And with every
time that we try and build ourselves up, so that we can move out and get back to our own independent lives, and fail, or the hope of that begins to
fade, we're back to once again trying to figure out how we're all going to live together.
CABRERA: You're obviously still the nanny we all fell in love with in the '90s. And I understand there may be "The Nanny" coming to Broadway?
DRESCHER: Yes, "The Nanny" musical.
And I'm so relieved that I have an opportunity now to talk about it in a limited way, but, you know, we have been sort of keeping it a secret for a
while, until we closed deals with our music team and our director and our lead producers.
And so Peter and I are really thrilled to see this new kind of manifestation of the series.
CABRERA: You have such a unique voice, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE NANNY")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: May I see your resume, please?
DRESCHER: Oh, yes, sure.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Crayon?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Of course. And what a lovely shade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And that's part of what makes you stand out. It makes you so memorable. Did you always embrace it?
DRESCHER: Well, when I was first starting out in the business, I was advised to try and correct my speech, so that I could play more of a
variety of roles.
And I actually did take some lessons to learn how to speak differently. But then I kind of lost my sense of humor. And, at some point, I just made
peace with the fact that I will be playing different people in different life situations that all are funneled through this big persona that is Fran
And that's OK with me. I really -- more than having diverse characters, I would rather diversify my talents by being a writer, a producer, a
CABRERA: You mentioned that you and Peter are working on this production of "The Nanny" for Broadway.
Peter Marc Jacobson was your first husband. You were married for about 20 years.
CABRERA: And at the time, while you were married, you were co-creators and co-writers of "The Nanny," which was obviously such a hit.
CABRERA: What is that like being married to your co-creator, your business partner? What was that like?
DRESCHER: Well, you know, I think that -- I don't know what it would really be like today, but, then, I think we both didn't know ourselves as
well and needed to figure things out.
I wouldn't recommend it, really, because it consumed our lives. And we had to kind of try and make rules not to always be talking about the show. If
we were in bed, if we were eating, you know, it was like we just took the show with us through every facet of our life.
And that became too all-consuming, and I think unhealthy for the relationship. But, you know, there were other things. I think that, because
we had met when we were 15 and became very co-dependent, rather than experience independence at that tender age, when you're supposed to be
backpacking through Europe, going away to college, learning who you are, dating different people.
We never did that. We met when we were 15, we became best friends, we fell in love, we became high school sweethearts, and that was basically it. By
21, we were already married. So, as romantic a notion as marrying your high school sweetheart may be, I really wouldn't recommend that either, unless
you take that break to figure out who you are, so, when you come together, you understand that, you know, you need to make room for the other burn to
You need to give the other person space to grow. And we really didn't understand that at all. I very easily can become very absorbed in the man I
love's energy. And I see this with my parents.
My mom is very, very nurturing to my dad and takes very good care of him, but almost to a fault. I don't think she takes care of herself as well as
she takes care of him.
And I'm always the one that's trying to get her to realize that that's not in her best interest. But she's a '50s gal. She cooks, he eats. You know,
it's kind of that simple.
CABRERA: That wasn't necessarily what was going on, though, for you in your relationship?
DRESCHER: -- happening in reverse.
I was becoming a big star, and I had a big appetite for travel, for culture. I wanted to learn art collecting. I wanted to get involved in
politics. I wanted to do a lot of things. I wanted to meet interesting people.
And I think that Peter was a little threatened by all that if it didn't include him. He didn't really give me a lot of room to grow on my own
separate and apart from him.
And, later on, years later, because now I very affectionately regard him as my gay ex-husband, he had realized that he was trying to control his true
orientation, and that kind of spilled over into controlling me as well. And that became a little bit suffocating for me, which, ultimately, you know,
made me realize that I have to get out to find who I am, because he won't let me do it within the relationship.
CABRERA: And it was after you divorced that he came out as gay, as I understand it, right?
CABRERA: How did that come about?
DRESCHER: During the relationship, he went into therapy because, you know, we had been victims of a violent crime, him, me and my girlfriend one
night. And it was a very ill-fated night.
CABRERA: You have spoken publicly about this. You were raped.
DRESCHER: Yes. And I have written about it too.
CABRERA: At gunpoint in a home invasion situation.
DRESCHER: Yes, from -- by a man we didn't know and his brother. And he was on parole.
So it's very disheartening to think that he was incarcerated, and then he was let go, and then he went on a rampage. And I was, you know, not the
only woman that he had raped. My girlfriend was there and she was raped, too, while Peter was tied up and blindfolded.
But I ended up, because I have a photographic memory, helping the police do these -- the artist sketch of what he looked like. And based off of that,
they were able to apprehend him.
And I have at least the closure, which a lot of women, sadly, do not have. But I do, that, you know, he's locked away now for good, and will never do
that again, and I don't have to think I see him every time I turn a corner.
CABRERA: I can only imagine sort of the lasting pain that that causes for somebody to be assaulted in such a violent way. I know it took you 10 years
to publicly speak about what happened, right? Why did it take so long?
DRESCHER: Well, I think what happened was, I had written about it in the book "Enter Whining."
I wasn't really famous. It wasn't like anybody was that interested in what was going on in the life and times of Fran Drescher, not until "The Nanny."
When I did "The Nanny," I wrote what became "The New York Times" bestseller "Enter Whining."
In that book, I wrote a chapter called "Bad Things Happen to Good People."
And I cannot tell you how many women have asked me to sign that chapter, because it means a lot to them that somebody like me could show that, you
know, life can go on, you can somehow put yourself back together and create a new normal.
You're never the same person that you were before that experience, but, I mean, it informs every aspect of my life and always will.
But talking about it, turning your pain into purpose, is very healing and helps to, you know, help other people, too. And the things that happened to
me, I feel like -- I feel an obligation to talk about it publicly because I feel like I got famous first, and then, you know, had a platform to
influence other people for the greater good.
CABRERA: You are also a cancer survivor. As I understand it, it took eight doctors and two years..
DRESCHER: Yes, get a proper diagnosis.
CABRERA: -- to determine that you had uterine cancer?
I was misdiagnosed, because I was actually too young and too thin for the average woman who gets uterine cancer. But 25 percent, or one in four of
us, are young and thin, so it seems to me that, you know, doctor number one, who said I was too young for an endometrial biopsy, should have just
given it to me.
It's a simple two-minute test that she could have done in her office. But doctors tend to be bludgeoned by big business health insurance to go the
least expensive route of diagnostic testing. And many of them subscribe to the philosophy, if you hear hooves galloping, don't look for a zebra, it's
probably a horse.
So, for all intents and purposes, it seemed like I was perimenopausal, because I was kind of at the right age for that. But, truth be told, I
wasn't. I had cancer, and I was being mistreated for a perimenopausal condition that I didn't have.
And I started to realize that there are many grave illnesses that, at the earliest, most curable stage, what I call the whisper stage, mimics far
more benign illnesses.
So if you happen to be dealing with a doctor who isn't trying to rule out the zebra because they're so convinced it's got to be a horse, then you're
going to slip through the cracks.
And I was lucky, because, even after two years and eight doctors, I was still in stage one, because uterine cancer happens to be very slow-growing.
I always say to people, save your Christmas club account for tests that insurance won't pay for, because the best gift you can give your friends
and family is a long and healthy life.
CABRERA: And I know that that's the mission of your Cancer Schmancer foundation is to help raise awareness of that whole --
DRESCHER: And, you see, there was -- immediately after the cancer, silver linings started to kick in, because I was still in this mode after the rape
that I had to be the strong one and not really give into my pain.
I -- it was hard for me even to share it with my parents. I had to have my sister tell them, because I never wanted to cause them stress. It was so
hard for me to tell them. I had her tell them.
And then, over the years, between the rape and the cancer -- and, frankly I think part of the cancer was because I held in the pain from the rape, so
it's almost poetic that I should get a gynecologic cancer, of all things.
But by the time I had the cancer, I had already been in therapy, very serious therapy.
DRESCHER: And I decided that, should anything bad ever happen to me again, I'm going to handle it completely different. I'm going to talk about it.
I'm going to ask people for help. I'm going to pick up that phone and have the courage to call my parents, no matter how heartbreaking it's going to
be for them.
CABRERA: It's OK to be vulnerable.
DRESCHER: I'm not going to pick up cigarettes again. I did that after the rape.
I had quit smoking. That night, I started smoking again. And I thought, what am I doing? I'm hurting myself even more, and using it as an excuse.
But, over the course of those, you know, 10 years, I had really grown a lot as a human being. And so the cancer was my opportunity to ask for help. It
was my opportunity to learn how to become a more well-rounded woman, to be more inclusive, to say to somebody, you know, I need help.
DRESCHER: I need you to carry me. I can't do this alone.
I never was able to say that ever.
CABRERA: And I think so many women feel that way. You have to carry it all on your shoulders. You don't want to come across as weak.
So, you're giving everybody out there permission.
Thank you for being very authentic and real with us.
DRESCHER: My pleasure.
CABRERA: It's a pleasure to talk with you, Fran Drescher. Really appreciate it. Thank you.
DRESCHER: Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And "Indebted" premieres on NBC tomorrow.
And, finally, in the frantic search to slow and stop the deadly coronavirus, a leading British scientist has made a breakthrough in finding
Robin Shattock heads the Infection and Immunity College at Imperial College London. He's dramatically reduced the time it takes to develop a vaccine
from two to three years to just 14 days. This vaccine will be ready to treat any current victims, but it will be invaluable, of course, if there's
another coronavirus outbreak.
And that's it for now.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from New York.