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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Mubarak Sentenced: Life in Prison; Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee; Explaining the Numbers and Meaning of the Monthly Jobs Report; New Type of Baseball Glove; Zimmerman must Surrender by Sunday; Government Weighs Retail Option; Fly Fishing with Reynolds; A Young Filmmaker's Big Break
Aired June 2, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks for starting your morning with us. We have got much more news ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING which starts right now.
From CNN and the worldwide headquarters here in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. I'm Rob Marciano in today for Randi Kaye.
The job reports says the country added 69,000 jobs in May, but what does that mean for the economy and your wallet? We'll explain.
Complicit in killing. That's the verdict from an Egyptian court for notorious dictator Hosni Mubarak, sentenced to life in prison. Mubarak is the first leader put on trial for his crimes during the Arab spring. We'll have a live update.
And 1,000 ships, a million people, Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee kicks off today. We have team coverage bringing you one of the biggest royal celebrations in modern history.
Let's get you up on the news.
Investors ran for cover Friday when the May jobs report came short of expectations. The Dow Jones dropped 275 points, wiping out all the year's gains. As investors fled stocks, they moved the bonds sending the 10-year U.S. Treasury note to a record 1.5 percent.
And to Syria, world leaders scratching their heads unable to come up with a solution. Today the Arab League takes up the crisis. The league's earlier monetary mission failed to end the bloodshed. At the same time Moscow and Washington are still fighting over Russia's arms trade with Syria. The U.S. says Russia is supplying Syria with weapons. Moscow denies the claims.
And George Zimmerman is headed back to jail, maybe as early as today. He's been free on bail for weeks now after pleading not guilty to murdering Trayvon Martin. A Florida circuit judge said Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about their finances when the bail was set in April.
First, let's get you back to Syria. It may be a final show of defiance by Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak. He's been refusing to leave the chopper that transferred him to a maximum security prison just a short time ago in Egypt. An interior minister spokesman says they will give him some time to prepare before he has to go inside.
Earlier today, the ailing former leader was wheeled into the court on a gurney where he heard his fate. He was found guilty of ordering the killing of unarmed Arab spring protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRANSLATOR: The ruling of the court that we sentence the accused without the decision of the second defendant. First to punish Hosni Mubarak with life imprisonment for the charges that was given in his participation in the acts of murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Mubarak's former interior minister was also found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, but the former president two sons and six of his top former aides were acquitted. That sparked an uproar inside and outside the courtroom.
Furious protesters called the verdict illegitimate and chanted, "the people want to topple the regime." Some fought with the former president's supporters. Outside the building, some demonstrators remained calm, but other pro-Mubarak supporters threw stones at police.
While security is very tight right now, we've got some live pictures coming out of there. About 5,000 officers and recruits have been deployed. Huge crowds have gathered outside the court for what many call Egypt's trial of the century. While there was anger at the verdicts, there were also celebrations.
And to merry old England we go. They're getting a little more festive this weekend as Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee officially gets under way. Brooke Baldwin is taking us on tour.
But first, good morning, London. Good to see you.
MARCIANO: Who wouldn't celebrate when you see a picture of Rob Marciano? I mean, I often do. I'm sure you do, too. Let's talk about a different celebration altogether. We're talking about England. England is rolling out the royal red carpet this weekend. Take a look at this beautiful video. In honor of the second longest reigning monarch in British history, we're talking of course about Queen Elizabeth II. The queen's Diamond Jubilee has royal watchers, retailers, pretty much everyone, in a very festive mood.
CNN's Brooke Baldwin is in the center of it all, lucky devil, in London.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's almost like a party atmosphere here in London along Regent Street. You can see union jacks hanging from building to building really as far as the eye can see. I want you to see this. Her majesty completely made of Legos. Everything in the store windows is the color of the union jack, every store. It's the white, it's the blue, it's the red.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The atmosphere is just much happier than what it normally is. Flags everywhere. It's just really, really brilliant and everyone is so happy. That's the main thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year we have the Olympics, the jubilee and I don't know, the euro football as well is coming up, Wimbledon. There's so much going on. It's just good to be British this year.
BALDWIN: It's all the corgis because the queen loves her corgis. Corgis, of course, on the Diamond Jubilee. Look, there's the cab, the union jack cab right there. Here at Henley's (ph) toy store, they have the union jack flag. You can actually hear the national an anthem, bears, the queen on a bag, pocketbook, even key chains. It is everything Diamond Jubilee.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: We're excited because she's the second queen to be on the throne that long.
BALDWIN: You're exactly right. Do you know who the first queen was?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Queen Victoria.
BALDWIN: Brilliant. You know way more than a lot of other people I think about the queen. What does the queen mean to you?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: She is really important because she looks after everybody and makes sure that everyone is safe.
BALDWIN: I did manage to find some members of the royal family. Catherine, how do we feel about her majesty, 60 years on the throne? Just walking here around the streets of London you can tell that this Diamond Jubilee is going to be one huge party. Brooke Baldwin, CNN, London.
MARCIANO: We all need assignments like that. That's pretty incredible. If you're excited about the Diamond Jubilee as so many of us happen to be, then I know you're going to want a souvenir to commemorate this incredible event. We've got a dear friend with us, Nadia Bilchik. What do we have here? First and foremost, people are wondering what the heck this is doing on the table.
NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: This is the queen's signature drink and you and I are going to partake in gin, Dubonnet rouge which is a French red wine aperitif, a little lemon. She has it with two blocks of ice and that is what they call the zara (ph) or the queen's favorite signature cocktail. Cheers, Reynolds.
MARCIANO: Is this the real deal?
BILCHIK: Of course it is, Reynolds. Enjoy. If we are coherent after this -- MARCIANO: You got to be kidding me. This tastes like water. It's not the real deal. Seriously, it's not.
BILCHIK: There's lots of other amazing memorabilia. For example, this chess set, now the chess set we are seeing comes from the royal collection shop and it is hand crafted. It is quite magnificent. You're seeing pictures of London now and of course the flags and all kinds of things so you can buy the chess set in London and, for example, you've got the queen who is wearing the sovereign robes. You've got the (INAUDIBLE) modeled after round towers of the Windsor Castle and the pawns of choir boys in St. George's chapel and you can buy it at the royal collection shop for around $469.
MARCIANO: What a bargain. What an incredible bargain to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. It looks like something you wouldn't want to play with. It looks like you'd mess it up. It's beautiful.
BILCHIK: It's absolutely beautiful. My favorite of course is the (INAUDIBLE) lingerie collection.
BILCHIK: And you have everything from flirty French knickers. They based it on the 1950s. Of course Queen Elizabeth became queen in 1952 when she was just 25 years old and it's inspired by that era. So everything from girdles to lovely knickers and they call it the jubilee lingerie collection especially for you, Reynolds.
MARCIANO: What's in this drink? We've gone from a chess set to seeing some very attractive people walking in Piccadilly Circus wearing lingerie. That's incredible.
BILCHIK: Even better, I'm taking you to shoes and not just any shoes.
MARCIANO: Well, of course.
BILCHIK: (INAUDIBLE) And these shoes have around 3,000 (INAUDIBLE) crystals. You are looking it at the ones with the full regalia of crystals and those are around $4,600. And the ones that are slightly less ornate and just have the crystals at the back are around $2,293. And just to tell you, there are only 10 pairs on sale in Harrods.
MARCIANO: You'd better hurry. You'd better hurry. Quickly, what kind of crystals were they?
BILCHIK: (INAUDIBLE) crystal.
MARCIANO: Thank heavens because if it was some other kind of crystal, we wouldn't be looking at those. It's got to be that kind.
BILCHIK: Say it fast after you've had the glass of -
MARCIANO: Indeed I will.
BILCHIK: And then the jelly mold, I mean people think broadly of queen's memorabilia. We have the jelly mold which comes in all kinds of colors. And they make jelly or Jell-O in the image of the queen. (INAUDIBLE) imagination have no bounds.
MARCIANO: Some people want statues. Others want to have a nice bronzed sculpture. You know you've arrived, you've know you've made your impact when you have it made out of Jell-O.
BILCHIK: But there's absolutely everything. One of my favorite, the same person who made the Jell-O mode, she also made what she called sick bags for the jubilee and she says, if you want to get thrown up.
BILCHIK: Every type of jubilee memorabilia is available for this year. So cheers for a gin Dubonnet rouge and a lemon twist to Queen Elizabeth II.
MARCIANO: Absolutely. I hear you. My gosh, after covering everything from seeing the molds, the shoes, to the chess set and then the lingerie, let's just keep drinking this stuff. It's amazing. Unbelievable. Wow. I hear you.
OK, folks. We got more coming up. The celebrations of course begin on CNN tomorrow. Join Piers Morgan and Brooke Baldwin. They're going to be live from, where else, London for a royal extravaganza on Sunday. It's all getting under way at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. This is strong. Seriously, good stuff.
So the country just added 69,000 jobs last month according to a new jobs report. But these numbers can be misleading. Tom Foreman is coming up next. He's going to give us an explanation.
MARCIANO: Welcome back.
This month the jobs report says the country added 69,000 jobs in May, but what do these numbers even mean? Every month we get a report and it tells us if unemployment is up or down, but it's not that simple.
Tom Foreman breaks it all down as CNN explains unemployment.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Like an economic heartbeat, the unemployment rate is one of the most closely watched indicators of the country's financial health. So how exactly is it calculated? Out of the more than 300 million people in America, when you take out the children, retired folks and others, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says about half of us have jobs and another 13 million or so are unemployed. That number does not come from the number of unemployment checks being issued as many people imagine.
Instead, every month since 1940 the Federal government has conducted a survey of 50,000 to 60,000 households asking people about their income, their race, their education and what kind of jobs they do or do not hold. Everyone over 16 is classified in one of three ways, employed, meaning that person has a job, unemployed, meaning he or she is available for work and looking for a job but cannot find one or, three, out of the workforce meaning this person is not seeking work. The Feds then take the math from that sample, apply it to the entire population and voila, there is the unemployment rate.
But beyond that, critics complain there are basic flaws in the system. For example, if you stop actively seeking work, you are no longer considered unemployed. That's a problem because in a really bad economy a lot of folks might just give up looking for some period of time even though they still want jobs. That could artificially lower the unemployment rate even as actual unemployment is as bad or worse than ever.
Another problem for the government, a job is a job is a job is a job. So if somebody loses $100,000 a year position and is now flipping burgers for minimum wage, he's considered just as employed as he was before.
MARCIANO: Well, if you have an idea you'd like CNN to break down, e- mail it to cnn.com and we'll explain it.
UCLA is defending its decision to offer the son of a multimillionaire a full football scholarship. We're talking about P. Diddy's son. He says he deserves it. What do you think? Our Twitter page is blowing up on the topic. Join in on the conversation at Rob Marciano, CNN. We'll be right back.
MARCIANO: We asked you this morning what you thought about P. Diddy's son getting a full football scholarship to play at UCLA. People have been outraged that the son of a multimillionaire hip-hop mogul is getting that money, but other people say, well, he deserves it.
Dana tweets me, "The son earned his scholarship. Maybe dad could sponsor two students who need financial help."
Another person writes, "Absolutely not. Kids from rich backgrounds are already at an advantage. It's the poor that need supporting."
And this tweet says, "Yes, it's fair, he earned that scholarship."
George Zimmerman is ordered back to jail, the death of Trayvon Martin. The judge is revoking his bond. I'll talk about the new development with our legal contributor. But first, Cooperstown, New York, is trying to change the game of baseball by changing the baseball glove. Joe Carter tries it on in this week's start small, think big.
JOE CARTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Cooperstown, New York, the baseball hall of fame chronicles the game's storied past, but it's also where one man is looking to make his stitch in baseball history, by reworking an icon of the game, the glove. How does your glove differ from traditional leather glove? SCOTT CARPENTER, CARPENTER GLOVES: This is the first non-leather glove ever to be used in a major league baseball game.
CARTER: Scott Carpenter uses all synthetic materials to make his gloves and he sews each one together by hand allowing him to custom build each glove specifically to the size of a player's hand.
CARPENTER: Baseball gloves are the most personal sports equipment that you can have, the way that it molds to your hand and it becomes an extension of your hand. You really want that personalized fit.
CARTER: So I'd love to try it. Do you want to go outside and play catch?
CARPENTER: Let's play ball.
CARTER: Feels good. The synthetic material is stronger and lighter than leather giving the glove an extra advantage to players.
CARPENTER: A lot of defense in baseball is about having a quick glove. And so you can imagine if you get a bad hop, the only feature of a glove that's going to help you get your glove over in time to catch that bad hop is lighter, faster, versus heavier, slower.
CARTER: It's a game-changing idea. Joe Carter, Cooperstown, New York.
MARCIANO: Good morning. I'm Rob Marciano in today for Randi Kaye. Here's what's going on across the country. An 11-year-old boy attended President Obama's rally on a school day in Minnesota. He was shocked when the president offered to write him an excused absence note.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYLER SULLIVAN, 11-YEAR-OLD STUDENT: Really? He's going to really write me an excuse note? Mr. Ackerman, please excuse Tyler. He was with me, Barack Obama. And then I kind of want to brag at school and tell them, look at what I got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: That's pretty good show and tell right there. Tyler Sullivan was in the front row of the VIP area so he also got to shake the president's hand. He says he was already excused from class and no worries.
And in California a little league concession stand was victim to a snack attack. Police say three adults and a teen-age girl raided the stand and left a Hansel and Gretel like trail of chips, cookies and candy behind. The trail led to a house a few blocks away. Police say they found the snack bar's register inside the home. The suspects were arrested, accused of burglary. And a Seattle truck driver is being called a hero after he ran to the rescue of a baby in a runaway stroller. There it is right there. Jeff Blackburn says he saw the stroller start rolling down the hill away from the mother and was worried it would roll into a busy intersection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF BLACKBURN, GARBAGE TRUCK DRIVER: I hit the brake and jumped out of the truck and tried to run over and grab it. Luckily, when I was honking the horn there was a FedEx truck that was coming through the intersection and he stopped as he heard my horn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: He says the baby boy was smiling when he got to him but the mother, as you can imagine, was frantic and really kind of shook up.
To Florida now where Trayvon Martin's killer was until yesterday, or until tomorrow afternoon, he has got to turn himself in basically. The judge has revoked bail or bond in the Zimmerman case. Prosecutors say he, quote, misrepresented and misled, deceived the court during his April bond hearing when he said he was broke. But in fact, he had $135,000 in donations from a website he set up as a defense fund.
Let's bring in an attorney and CNN legal contributor Paul Callan.
Paul, did you see this coming?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, Rob.
MARCIANO: Did you see this coming?
CALLAN: Well, no, I didn't see it coming actually and it's really a surprise because you got to remember a couple of things. First, the judge already knew about the PayPal problem when he set the bail originally. Remember, it came up that there was money in the account and the lawyer tried to explain it away it to the judge and so no problem.
He was granted the bond. So for him now to revoke the bond, very, very surprising. But, the judge found that he had lied and his wife conspired in the lie about what was going on with the PayPal account. So that's a big blow to the defense.
MARCIANO: I bet. After hearing arguments on the motion to revoke bail, listen to what the judge had to say. Well, regardless, the prosecution, as you said, argued that he lied.
And so as you mentioned, this is a huge blow to the Zimmerman case. What happens now? He turns himself in today or tomorrow, that you have this -- do they lock him up until they schedule another bond hearing and then he has to post it again, or will they even allow that?
CALLAN: Well, I don't know that they will allow it. What will probably happen -- he will be locked up and what will probably happen is his attorney will take an appeal and hope that a higher court will order that bond in some amount, maybe a higher amount, be set.
But I think the thing that Zimmerman has got to be worried about is that since the judge said he and his wife deliberately deceived the court and lied to the court about the PayPal account, which is this defense account that had a lot of money in it at the time the bond was set, this is the same judge who may be hearing the "stand your ground" hearing evidence, what they call the immunity evidence.
He has the right to dismiss the whole case if he believes Zimmerman acted in self-defense. But that claim is based on Zimmerman's own testimony and the judge has now called him a liar. So this thing goes way beyond the fact that he's getting put back in jail, which is bad enough. You have to wonder now has he turned the judge against him?
So it's the first major setback, I think, for the defense. They were kind of on a roll for a while. They've been doing well in terms of the evidence that's been coming out. But I think this is a setback for the defense.
MARCIANO: And quickly, Paul, before we move on to our other case here, another item that both lawyers, both sides wanted, was to keep some of the evidence from discovery out of the public eye. It looks like the judge says, you know, my hands are tied. It's a pretty liberal state as far as the public seeing what it sees.
So we're going to see a lot of this stuff before it even goes to trial, aren't we?
CALLAN: We're going to see a huge amount. You know Florida is one of the most public states in terms of televising trials, forcing the release of information in advance of trial. Some other parts of the United States, you really don't get the press coverage, and the public isn't allowed to see the process.
So we're going to get a really close look at what the evidence is and how this case is going to be tried unless, of course, an appellate court steps in and tries to shut down the flow of information.
So for those who like to watch the process closely, it's potentially going to be a good case to watch.
MARCIANO: It is interesting.
Now to our other case now Paul, prosecutors in the John Edwards trial had to prove that he funneled about $1 million in campaign donations from two wealthy donors to cover up an affair. The defense argued that it was never campaign money but a personal gift to help a friend.
Listen to what Edwards said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: So Paul, you know, the jury obviously believed him, but I think five of the six counts were dropped as far as the mistrial goes, only one came to a verdict. Should the government have even tried this case?
CALLAN: Well, that's a good question. I mean, a lot of people, a lot of legal experts in this field have said, no, it never should have been brought. The major problem the government had was the Federal Elections Commission which usually looks at these campaign finance violations, they or at least some of their representatives, publicly said there's no crime here. As a matter of fact, there might not even be a civil case against Edwards.
And then the Department of Justice brought a case against him. That would be kind of like the IRS saying we've looked at the tax return and everything looks ok and then the Department of Justice says, no, we're going to indict you for tax fraud. So you rarely see two branches of government disagreeing like that.
But, that being said, Rob, he was only acquitted on one count, out of seven. The jury hung on all of the other counts, and that means that there were jurors, a block of jurors, most probably, who thought he was guilty on those other counts, on those six counts.
So I don't know that the Department of Justice is ready to throw in the towel on this just yet. They're probably evaluating it internally. There are reports that they may drop it. But I've got to tell you, most of the time they retry cases after a mistrial and statistically they usually get a conviction the second time around.
Remember Governor Blagojevich in Illinois. He's doing time in Illinois now as a result of that second trial because he had a hung jury on his first one with only a one-count finding by the jury. So we'll have to see what happens.
MARCIANO: We may see this. It's not over, it sounds like. All right, Paul Callan thanks as always for your expertise.
CALLAN: Nice being with you, Rob.
Well jurors in the John Edwards trial are breaking their silence finally. In an interview last night with my colleague Anderson Cooper, the jurors explained how they arrived at their decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All three of you believe that he was guilty on some of the charges. Why do you -- what did you think he was guilty of? Do you know?
DAVID RECCHION, JURY FORENSIC, EDWARDS TRIAL: You know as it related to him being guilty, I think the charges were very clearly defined by the prosecution and the instructions were defined by the judge.
So we applied the rule of law based on the judge, Judge Eagles and also the evidence that was able to support, at least in my opinion, in some of the cases where there was guilt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: All right. Switching gears, I've got a secret for you in today's "Travel Insider". If you want to know where Reynolds Wolf is when he's not doing weather or spending time with his -- his wife and beautiful kids, he's usually on a river somewhere in America fly- fishing.
In fact, Reynolds, I'm so jealous you got to -- you got to go to beautiful Montana to hit some of those beautiful cold trout streams. And what did you -- what did you -- did you catch anything good?
REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. You know I mean, it's a lot of fun. I am a fly fisherman. Not a very good one but I do fly fish and try to fly fish any place I possibly can. It's a wonderful way to spend some time especially after these incredible animals, these -- the trout. The thing is there's a wide variety of them especially out in the West and they are just -- they're magnificent animals and catching them is really a great deal of fun.
Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF: And to get the perfect gear we turn to Brad Richie of Madison River Outfitters. Brad, what is the stuff we need before we hit the river?
BRAD RICHIE, MADISON RIVER OUTFITTER: Ok. The first thing is a rod and reel. You need waders. Of course waders are all waterproof to keep you dry and comfortable. Boots and flies. You also need a license.
WOLF: Well, we're at the river and we're geared up. But we need one more thing. We need a guide. And thankfully Josh (inaudible) is with us from Fire Hole Ranch. Josh what's the plan for today?
JOSH: We're going to start out imitating small aquatic insects and we'll see how it progresses throughout the day. And let's go fishing.
You just follow it.
WOLF: Here, here hit him, I got him. I got him.
WOLF: Here we go. We're going to catch and release, but he doesn't know that. I mean this fish is fighting for its life.
WOLF: This looks like a cubby. It's actually a brown trout. Oh, my goodness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF: This is up on the Ruby River in Montana and the great thing about these animals, I mean, these things have been evolving for millions of years and they're just magnificent. And -- and sure, it's great to catch and bring them in. But the best part of all, the true glory of it is setting them free. But watching them swim away.
MARCIANO: They are just gorgeous, gorgeous.
WOLF: They are truly amazing animals and they are -- the ones we normally have up in that part of the world usually, of course, the cutthroat. You have brown trout, a rainbow trout, and then brook trout. If you have the opportunity to get out there, by all means, do so. It is certainly a great way to spend an afternoon and certainly a great way to -- to get addicted to a wonderful hobby.
WOLF: Well I know your heart -- your heart is buried in those streams out there. And as a man of science too I know you like getting out there and seeing nature's beauty for itself.
WOLF: Let's go some time.
MARCIANO: I'd love to. I've been telling you to teach me how to fly fish. I guess we've got to maybe head north of Atlanta.
WOLF: A little bit.
MARCIANO: All right, pal. Great stuff.
WOLF: You bet.
MARCIANO: Talk about a lucky break, a well deserved one maybe, yes. But he's only been out of college a few years and he just wrapped up his very first short film. But wait until you hear the A-Lister he snagged for the lead role.
MARCIANO: There she is, Lady Liberty. Not a bad morning in New York City after kind of a wet start. Welcome back. It's 40 minutes after the hour. You're watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
Well, many of you out there may remember your first big break in life. Perhaps it was an incredible job offer or maybe your first big promotion. Well my next guest certainly won't forget his either.
Meet Benjamin Leavitt an up and coming film director whose very first film, first film boasts very big star. That's right, two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey plays the lead role in "The Ventriloquist"; the short film premiers tonight in New York. So let's talk about how a fresh-faced first time writer and director scored such a -- such big break. Ben Leavitt joins me live now to talk about it. Ben, I mean, how did you react when you knew you were going to be writing for and directing Kevin Spacey?
BEN LEAVITT, WINNER, JAMESON FIRST SHOT FILM COMPETITION: It was a pretty -- a pretty amazing experience. You know a friend of mine told me about the Jameson First Cut, First Shot Competition only about a week and a half before the deadline. And once I heard about it and that there was an opportunity to direct Kevin Spacey, I jumped on it and -- and just started writing furiously and got something written and it was -- it was an incredible experience.
MARCIANO: What was the process that made this happen so our viewers can be aware?
LEAVITT: I'm sorry? Say again.
MARCIANO: What was the process, a contest, you wrote --
LEAVITT: Yes it was -- it was a contest called the Jameson First Shot Competition. And there are -- you know there are three winners, one from Russia, one from the United States, and one from South Africa. And they choose the best scripts and you know the winner gets to make their film and it stars Kevin Spacey. And it's ridiculous and it's amazing, and I'm really thrilled with how well the film turned out.
MARCIANO: So tell me about I mean, your first day of working with Kevin Spacey. I mean were you star struck? I mean were you just blown away? What is -- what was going through your head and -- and stomach at that point?
LEAVITT: The first time I met him was for rehearsal and, you know, for the first few minutes I was -- I was a little bit intimidated, just because he's such a phenomenal actor. And I've worked with many actors before but none of that caliber, obviously.
But he -- he was very gracious and -- and put me at ease very quickly. And you know I -- I understood very quickly that he knew the kind of film that I wanted to make. And so we were very much on the same page and it became really a great collaboration right off the bat.
MARCIANO: We're showing pictures of you and Mr. Spacey and his -- his puppet. Tell us about "The Ventriloquist."
LEAVITT: So "The Ventriloquist" is about a -- a lonely ventriloquist who has a very unruly puppet and it kind of traces the end of their relationship and -- and he has to kind of face the world by himself.
MARCIANO: And how is Kevin as a ventriloquist artist?
LEAVITT: He's pretty good. He -- he spent about two weeks, I think, just working with the puppet and learning the mechanics of it. And you know -- that kind of dedication I was just blown away. I mean just the fact that he would put that much time into a short film like this. And he got -- he got very good at it very quickly. MARCIANO: Were there any times when -- you know how directors can be in Hollywood. I mean, they can get pretty fired up with their actors and you know kind of stronghold them. Was there a time you had to get into Mr. Spacey's face and -- and tell him you know here is what I need you to do, I need you more and more emotion, I need, I need this, I need you to be you know throw your voice better? Anything like that?
LEAVITT: Well -- well the thing -- I think that's Kevin Spacey is yelling at me.
The thing is Kevin is a really good actor and you know for the most part it was -- there wasn't a lot of directing I had to do. I mean there was -- you know we talked beforehand and have a discussion about each scene. And then it was just a matter of making small tweaks, you know maybe spend a little more time doing this or something like that. But you know he was really, really a pleasure to direct.
MARCIANO: You must have learned a lot. I mean what are some of the big things that you learned?
LEAVITT: Always know what you want. That is the key. You know it's a -- and even if you don't know what you want, at least just pretend you do. Just you know just have the --
MARCIANO: Fake it until you make it.
LEAVITT: Exactly. Exactly. I think that's really, really important.
MARCIANO: So what's this moment like for you? I mean the premiere is tonight. I mean your life must be crazy now.
LEAVITT: It's -- it's been pretty nutty, yes. It premieres tonight and then people can go see the film on Jameson Whiskey's YouTube page. And that's what I'm really excited about that just everybody out there can go see this film on YouTube very easily. But I'm really excited for the premiere. It's a -- it's going to be -- it's going to be a scene.
MARCIANO: You know, these big-time actors and directors, once they have a premiere, they're already working on the next big feature film. You got anything cooking?
LEAVITT: I am currently writing a script, so I do have something in the works, but mum's the word at this point.
MARCIANO: Ok. All right. You have the Hollywood secrecy as well.
MARCIANO: I'm sure you'll be quite busy and in high demand. Benjamin, thank you.
I know you're going to switch chairs. I can hear Kevin Spacey yelling at you in the back. He's going to have his chance along with producer Dana Brunetti. We're going to talk to them just after the break. We'll be right back.
LEAVITT: Great. Thank you.
MARCIANO: Welcome back.
Before the break we introduced you to the winner of an international short film competition put on in large part by actor Kevin Spacey. His film is called "The Ventriloquist". Now, the star of the film joins me along with the film producer and president of Trigger Street Production, Dana Brunetti.
Good morning to both of you.
Kevin, I heard you basically heckling your direct on the side of the set there before the break. I don't know if that was determinedly so but certainly you've earned that right.
Tell me about Ben. He wrote and directed this film that you're in. What about his writing jumped out at you?
KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: First of all, I've never done a ventriloquist. I've never worked with a dummy or a puppet, as you might call it. I'm working with one now, Dana.
MARCIANO: You did just in that way. I was --
SPACEY: First of all, it was -- for me, a great exercise because I'd never done it. I've always been fascinated by it. I went and looked at some of the old like "Twilight Zone" episodes where the dummies start to take on personalities of their own. I think Anthony Hopkins did a pretty good film many, many years ago in which he played a ventriloquist.
So number one it was interesting because of all the three films, and I know you've already heard we did this competition in three different territories. I was looking for, you know, really distinctive, three different parts and three different movies with sort of different tones that, A, would give me something to do where a young director could really actually direct me.
And I just thought Ben's script -- the idea, was very, very clever. I thought it was funny. And it gave me a chance to in the voice of Mr. Higgins, as we call him in the film, although his real name is Kenny. I got a chance to sort of revive my great mentor and idol Jack Lemmon. So it's sort of a little bit of a Jack Lemmon voice for Mr. Higgins.
MARCIANO: It's always nice to nod a mentor and I'm sure you do a fantastic job. We're excited to see it. It seems like a role that may very well be right up your alley.
Dana, I want to ask you. You're the producer. You started this production company that, I guess the goal is kind of to discover undiscovered talent. I mean how tough is it for a young director or an actor, what may be, to get their first break? How difficult is it?
DANA BRUNETTE, PRODUCER, "THE VENTRILOQUIST": It's extremely difficult for anybody to break into this business, as a lot of businesses. But we've always worked to try to open up new avenues for filmmakers to be able to get exposure to their work or get a shot to basically get out and reach an audience that hopefully leads to other productions and other opportunities for them.
MARCIANO: And how successful has it been? You've been around almost ten years now, right?
BRUNETTI: Yes. We started with triggerstreet.com, which is an offshoot of our production company which is a platform for aspiring filmmakers and writers. It's been very successful. It's still going. A lot of people have gotten a lot of exposure and a lot of opportunities from it.
MARCIANO: Kevin, you mentioned Don Lemon. I'm sorry, Jack Lemmon.
SPACEY: Doesn't he work here?
MARCIANO: He does. You'll see him later tonight.
SPACEY: Where is Soledad, by the way?
MARCIANO: She's not a weekend player but I'll tell her you said "hello".
MARCIANO: So Jack Lemmon, you mentioned is one of your mentors. You're a two-time Oscar winner, you must be feeling now the need to mentor some of the young talent coming up. Do you find that in your soul now?
SPACEY: It's been a big part of my life for, you know, actually the better part of the last ten years. I moved to London in 2003 to start a theater company at the Old Vic, and we had a program there called Old Vic New Voices, which is all about supporting and nurturing and encouraging emerging artists whether they be actors, or writers, or producers, or directors.
And as Dana said, when TriggerStreet.com started now nearly a decade ago, the whole idea really stems frankly from a philosophy that Jack Lemmon passed down to me, which is that if you'd done well in the business, you want them to do well. And I've done better than I could have possibly hoped.
It is your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down. So it's actually an incredibly satisfying feeling to be able to give opportunities to those who are starting out in the business in very much the same way that opportunities were given to me when I was starting out.
The greatest pleasure that I can have is to either see these young, these three young filmmakers working on the set every day or we just did over the past couple of weeks the premiere of the South African filmmaker in Johannesburg and then last weekend we were in Moscow to premiere the Russian filmmaker's short film.
And so tonight I'm very excited to be able to be there with Benjamin and watch his premiere happen tonight.
MARCIANO: Excellent. Dana, I want to know are everyday folks going to be able to see this at some point? I know this is kind of a niche flick.
BRUNETTI: Yes, they can see the two that have previously screened and premiered already on the YouTube site, youtube.com/Jameson Whiskey and then tonight I believe after 9:00 p.m. Eastern time you'll be able to watch Ben's film.
MARCIANO: Perfect. You know one great thing about the Internet, if you don't live in a big city to see some of this extraordinary work, you can get it right at home. All right. Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, thanks very much and good luck tonight in the project.
SPACEY: Stop drinking this early, Rob.
MARCIANO: Yes. That's the next segment. Stick around.
All right, guys.
SPACEY: Thanks, man.
MARCIANO: Hey, listen, we're reading your tweets. We have some great feedback. We're going to talk about it next.
MARCIANO: We're not implying anything by that song, by the way, but we do want to you tweet. We asked you this morning what you thought about P. Diddy's son getting a full football scholarship to play at UCLA. People have been outraged that the son of a hip-hop mogul is getting that money. But other people say he deserved it.
Dana tweets that "The son earned his scholarship. Maybe dad could sponsor two students who need financial help." Ok.
Another person writes, "Absolutely not. Kids from rich backgrounds are already at an advantage. It's the poor that need supporting."
And Karen said "If his dad wasn't P. Diddy would anyone care? Leave the kid alone. He earned it."
Well, if you're buried in student loan debt, maybe you can learn a lesson or two from a man who paid off $90,000 in student loans in less than a year. He'll join me live around 9:10 a.m.
MARCIANO: Welcome back. Here's Christine Romans with a preview of today's "YOUR BOTTOM LINE".
CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST, "YOUR BOTTOM LINE": Good morning, Rob.
Extended unemployment benefits are running out for tens of thousands of Americans years after the jobless crisis began. Is now finally the right time to pull back on the unprecedented amount of help being handed out?
Plus, does a smaller class mean a better education for your child? The bottom line on whether class size matters. And voters turnout among Latinos could be as high as 12 million come November. Democrats assume that vote belongs to them, but we'll double digit Latino unemployment and the president's aggressive stance on deportations cost him the support he needs.
That's all coming up at 9:30 a.m. Eastern -- Rob.