Return to Transcripts main page


Boston Hit with Snow; Americans Dealing with Storm; Four Arrested in Hoffman Investigation; Seinfeld on Diversity in Comedy; Sochi Still Building

Aired February 5, 2014 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Blitzer, thank you very much.

Great to be with you all on this Wednesday. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We start the hour with this. Nearly one million customers in the northeast are without power as this harsh winter storm dumps heavy snow and ice and freezing rain. Look at the pictures for yourself. The worst outages are in Philadelphia, where ice coated power lines causing huge problems there. Nearly 600,000 people are without power. Crews are working on those downed power lines. Outages in the Philly area, they are expected to rise, so that's an issue.

The Northeast getting socked with up to one foot of snow. Yes, this doesn't look very fun, trying to push this car. State of emergency declared for both New Jersey and New York. So far, more than 2,700 flights are canceled across the United States. And in Boston specifically, about two inches of snow is falling there per hour.

Look at this. Just to explain to you how rough this is, this is a snow plow right there out there trying to help people. The snow plow got stuck -- this is a Boston parking lot -- as it tried to clear the wet, heavy snow. A snow plow defeated in Boston. It is that bad.

Don Lemon is live for us in Boston.

And, Don, I have seen you with kids. I have seen you with dogs. But this is serious stuff where you are.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is serious. They were lucky here, though. I'll take this off. Brooke, I had this up real quick because it's coming in from this way, right, and it's stinging. At first it was really fluffy and you could just walk around without a hat on and it wouldn't get wet because it was really fluffy stuff. Now it's a changeover. It's turning into ice. And as it comes in, it kind of stings your face.

Yes, they're really lucky here in Massachusetts because they don't really have much -- many power outages, the Boston area, and they're used to the snow. So many people are taking it in stride. I'm just going to show you around a little bit before I start walking.

BALDWIN: OK. LEMON: There are some of the bobcats, some of the snow plows that were out a little bit earlier and they've been coming back and forth. But we're in Christopher Columbus Park. And if you spin around the other way, you'll see one of the bigger plows. There we go. Don't want to give you a --

BALDWIN: Getting dizzy. Getting dizzy.

LEMON: There we go.

BALDWIN: There we go.

LEMON: Getting dizzy, yes.

And so, there you go, there you see it.

So I'm going to walk. But, Brooke, look, it's pretty fluffy stuff, right? But then they said, you know, maybe eight to 10 inches. But I -- to get to the bottom of this, for me, this is more than a foot in order to get to some grass here. So, a lot of snow. A couple of people without power here. Not as many as -- in some of the states around the -- in the northeast. Non-especially government employees have to stay home. It's a partial state of emergency here. But again, Brooke, you spent a lot of time here. This is Boston.

BALDWIN: They know how to do snow.

LEMON: They're used to this stuff. People like Chris -- hey, Chris -- who is it, Chris and Lexy are out here. Chris, you're used to this stuff, right?

Pretty much. Well, they can't hear you. Come here -- Lexy loves snowballs. Watch this. Come here, Lexy. Ready? Go! Go get it, girl! Yeah.

BALDWIN: She's doing just fine in the snow. They know snow. They can handle snow.


BALDWIN: But still --

LEMON: You're doing all right?

CHRIS: I'm doing good, yes.

LEMON: Is this a snow day for you?

CHRIS: It's a work from home day, yes.

LEMON: He's going to tell the people at work, this is his lunch break.

BALDWIN: All right.

CHRIS: Working hard, but, yes, on a lunch break/dog break.

BALDWIN: Lexy like caught that snowball.

LEMON: Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Lexy.

Back to you, Brooke. Hey, Brooke, I'm going to throw this in for you. Lexy! You ready? Get this!

BALDWIN: Don Lemon (INAUDIBLE). I give you Don Lemon. Don, we're going to pull away from you there in Boston.

LEMON: See ya.

BALDWIN: More than 120 million Americans all the way from New England to the Midwest, they're bundling up to cope with the snow, the ice, the freezing temperatures. Let me show you this video. This toddler helped his dad shovel snow in the driveway of their home. This is Brattleboro, Vermont. Look at this little guy and his little shovel. I-Reporter Caleb Clark (ph) made the video this morning of his son Shaw (ph). They got about 12 inches of snow there. So cute stuff. Not cute if you're trying to drive in it. Jennifer Gray joining me now.

I mean just seeing Don in Boston, they're still going to get hit for several more hours.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Yes, several more hours. It's still coming down in Boston. You can see it is starting to wrap up. So they are getting little breaks. But the overall picture still getting snow and even some sleet on the outskirts of Boston.

Moving out of Philly and New York right now, we still have those winter storm warnings in place, anywhere from New York City, Boston, even on into Maine. And that will last through this afternoon. Additional snowfall totals, we're looking at maybe two to four inches in Boston. Could see a little bit more right around Portland, up the I-95 corridors, for the next couple of hours. Not much ice accumulations as of this afternoon.

But what the problem is going to be, Brooke, temperatures are above freezing right now in New York City. They're going to plummet tonight. So anything that has melted, the roadways, all of this ice is going to just freeze overnight. So it is going to be dangerous travel, especially along the I-95 corridor. You know we get the slushy conditions and then overnight it's all going to freeze. So it is going to be pretty nasty for the morning commute.

BALDWIN: We know you're keeping your eye on it for us. Jennifer Gray, thank you very much.

All right, let me move on to this and a number of developments this afternoon to share with you with regard to that investigation into the death of Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, including the arrests of four people police believe are connected to the drugs found in Hoffman's Manhattan apartment.

We are also learning today that police found the actor's personal journal on a TV stand right there in his living room and preliminary tests show the heroin found in Hoffman's home the day his body was discovered did not contain fentanyl. There was some fentanyl laced heroin out in some of the cities. That is not what he was taking. Apparently that's a powerful narcotic, part of that heroin that's killed a lot of people on the East Coast.

Tonight, the Marquee lights on brought will be dimmed for one minute, 7:45 p.m. Eastern, in memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who graced the stage several times. Right now, let's get you to CNN's Jason Carroll, reporting on last night's arrests in New York.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A night time drug raid on a downtown apartment building not far from where Philip Seymour Hoffman lived. A tip leads police to search three apartments in the building. According to law enforcement, inside they find 300 baggies of heroin, possibly other drugs. The heroin brands labeled "black list" and "red bull," not the same type found in Hoffman's apartment, which were called "ace of spades" and "ace of hearts." Four now under arrest all facing various charges including criminal possession of a controlled substance. A law enforcement source saying they found the largest amount of drugs in Robert Vineberg's apartment. CNN has learned his cell phone did have Hoffman's phone number stored in it.

CHRIS, NEIGHBOR: He's honestly the -- one of the nicest people I've ever met. Smart. He goes out of his way to be nice. Knows everything about film, music, art, literature. A great guy.

CARROLL: Investigators still trying to determine if any of them sold drugs to Hoffman. If so, they could be looking at more serious charges. Possible prosecution under the so-called felony murder rule, which can be applied when someone dies after the commission of a felony. It happened in the John Belushi case to Cathy Smith. Smith served 15 months behind bars for injecting Belushi with a fatal dose of heroin and cocaine in 1982.

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The problem with it is that the felony murder rule, you attempt to apply it to a drug dealing situation, the defense is, well, I may have given him the drug, but they overused it, they didn't use it the right way, they were on other drugs.

CARROLL: Still unclear what led Hoffman, who had struggled with addiction, to relapse. Insight may come from his journal, which police found at his home in addition to the heroin and prescription drugs. John Arundel, a publisher, knew something was wrong when he saw Hoffman at last month's Sundance Film Festival. This is his picture from Sundance.

JOHN ARUNDEL, MAGAZINE PUBLISHER: He said, you don't recognize me. And at that point I said -- I said, well, should I know you? And he said, well, I'm a heroin addict. And at that point, you know, seeing the shock and awe on my face, he took off his cap and I immediately recognized him. But as he was walking off, he said, I just got out of rehab.


BALDWIN: Jason Carroll joins me now.

And so, Jason, let's begin with the four arrests overnight. What happens next to them legally speaking?

CARROLL: Well, we're waiting for their first court appearance, Brooke, and that's expected to happen at some time today. And during that appearance, quite possibly bail will be set. They may end up entering a plea. The judge will find out if they need representation. All of that expected to happen sometime later today.

Also getting word in from the medical examiner, because there have been a lot of questions about how exactly -- what was the cause of death. And we have a quote here now coming from the medical examiner saying the cause and manner of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is pending as we await further studies including toxicology tests, but so far the exam proved to be what they say was, quote, "inconclusive." So they're still waiting for toxicology test results to come in before they can give -- can determine an exact cause of death in terms of what happened to Hoffman.

BALDWIN: OK. Jason Carroll, keep us posted. Thank you very much.

CARROLL: You bet.

BALDWIN: Good (ph) work on that one.

Coming up, we are one day before the Winter Olympic games. The host city, quite frankly, isn't ready. Not even close. On top of that, dogs are reportedly being killed? This is a mess. We will take you there live.

Plus, Jerry Seinfeld makes some waves after being asked about a lack of diversity in his web show. Seinfeld says comedy and political correctness don't mix. I'll speak live with the comedian. Stay with me.


BALDWIN: Jerry Seinfeld, tell us what you really think -- what you really think about diversity on your show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have noticed that most of the guests are mostly white males of the 22 episodes that you've had.

JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: Yes, let's get into that.


SEINFELD: Take a look over here, Peter. What do you see? A lot of -- a lot of whities. What's going on here?


SEINFELD: Oh, this really pisses me off, but go ahead. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no, no, I --

SEINFELD: It really pisses me off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's OK. I'm --

SEINFELD: Go head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you made a comment on the Tina Fey episode that I thought was interesting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I'd like to get your thoughts on a little bit more. You said -- you were talking to her and you said something about the female comedians, it's a struggle for them to balance their feminine projections with a comedic goals.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And on the context of comedy, not gender diversity, I just want to know what you meant by that.

SEINFELD: Well, I was kind of curious what it's like to be a woman in comedy as opposed to a man. There is a little bit of a difference and I thought that might be an interesting thing to discuss from her perspective. She's so successful at it. And I was just wondering how she looked at it, if she even thought about it. And she kind of gave me the answer, which is, yes, you do have to think about that, but, you know, it's just another thing to think about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Well, fair enough. Now you --

SEINFELD: But there were a lot of things about -- comedians are cautioned at the beginning. The first 10 I did I think were all white males and people were writing all about that which I --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, part of the reason why I asked that, people had tweeted at me, when I said I'm interviewing with Jerry Seinfeld, you know, ask him about the gender diversity on his show.

SEINFELD: Yes, I mean it -- people think it's the census or something. I mean this has got to represent the actual pie chart of America.


Who cares. It's just funny. You know, funny is the world that I live in. You're funny, I'm interested. You're not funny, I'm not interested.


SEINFELD: And I have no interest in agenda or race or anything like that, but everyone else is kind of -- with their little calculating, is this the exact right mix? You know, I think that's -- to me it's anti-comedy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

SEINFELD: It's anti-comedy. It's more about, you know, PC nonsense --


SEINFELD: Than are you making us laugh or not?



BALDWIN: So that is Jerry Seinfeld on comedy and diversity. He comes right out and says he just doesn't give a rip.

Joining me now from Los Angeles, comedian Alonzo Bodden, winner of the grand prize in the TV series "Last Comic Standing."

So, Alonzo, nice to see you. Welcome.

ALONZO BODDEN, COMEDIAN: Thank you. Thank you. Good to be here.

BALDWIN: So we have a lot of ground to cover, but just, out of the gate, what was your gut reaction, as concisely as you can, to what you just heard?

BODDEN: Well, my gut reaction upon hearing it, I can see where people might mix up what Jerry was saying. But I think his show, I always looked at that as more of like his friends that he's talking to. So I don't think Jerry -- you know, Jerry has, obviously he has some black comics who are friends, maybe some women comics who are friends, but it seems to be maybe the majority of his friends are white male comics. I didn't see his show as something being cast like a network comedy.

BALDWIN: So, i mean, do you -- does it bother you in your gut then that if these are his friends or not that is' just, for the most part, a bunch of white people?

BODDEN: Well, it's his show. This is a different situation than, for example, "SNL." You know, "Saturday Night Live," that's a network show where, you know, there's auditions and there's casting and so on. And they have an agenda or -- for their show. Whereas with Jerry, I just always thought, this is a web series. It's like -- I mean it would be a pot cast if it wasn't for the fact that Jerry's so famous. So the fact that he has his friends on doesn't seem unusual to me.

I don't think Jerry has an agenda one way or the other. And on the other hand, you know, Jerry has no idea what it's like to be a black comedian or a Latino comedian or a woman. So he doesn't know that you have to burst through certain barriers.

BALDWIN: Yes. Let me -- let me then flip the script for you who perhaps knows a thing or two about that. What if you, Alonzo, had a web series? You know, I would presume that it maybe would be a diverse group of folks. I have no idea. But let's say you invited a bunch of your friends. Let's say a bunch of your friends happen to be African- American. Do you think you would be under fire the same way Jerry Seinfeld is?

BODDEN: Well, I would hope so. I wish this many people would talk about my opinions.


BODDEN: All kidding aside, I -- you know, let's -- I don't think so. I don't think it would be as big of a deal if I did it or, you know, on a bigger name scale, say if Chris Rock did it and he did 10 shows --

BALDWIN: Tyler Perry. I mean you could keep going. You don't think so?

BODDEN: Yes, I don't think it would be as -- considered as big a deal. I just -- you know, I think this question is bigger than Jerry Seinfeld's comedy show. I think the question of diversity -- for example, I hosted a diversity showcase here in Hollywood once for networks and my problem with that was they had no job to give, no intention of putting someone on the show. It was kind of like, well, we just want to see 10 minority comics. And then -- and then -- so they -- so that they could say they did it to satisfy, you know, any union requirements or protests.

BALDWIN: A kind of quota or something like that.

BODDEN: Right.

BALDWIN: Sure. Sure.

BODDEN: But they didn't have any intention of putting anyone on the air. I -- that concerns me more than Jerry Seinfeld.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you this because we have heard also Seinfeld in the clip say that political correctness is anti-comedy. When Jerry Seinfeld said that comedy by its very nature is politically incorrect, do you think he has a point there?

BODDEN: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, when comics talk to comics, we say things that would shock the general population. You know, if I'm joking with a Mexican comic and we joke about being illegal or something like that, like obviously that's not politically correct. What Jerry is saying is, I think he wishes the world were, I don't know, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, when people didn't look at whether or not you were a black comic or a Latino comic or a woman comic or white comic and you were just funny.

But the reality is, in this world we live in today, it makes a difference.

BALDWIN: That isn't the situation. Yes.

BODDEN: It makes a difference.

BALDWIN: It's still a thing. BODDEN: And people know it. They absolutely know it. And as a comic, you know it when you walk into that audition that they're look at you with a stereotype. I'm a black comic. They look at a black comic and they're like, oh, he's from the hood, he's going to be doing ghetto comedy and so on and -- or looking at a woman, she's going to do comedy about her boyfriend or something like that.

And it's just not true, but they can't look past those stereotypes.

BALDWIN: Here's to eventually all of us being able to do that. Alonzo Bodden, thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.

BODDEN: We'll make it. And we'll get Jerry. I love "Cars." I want to be on his show.

BALDWIN: I love this, Jerry -- are we friends with Jerry? We're on a first name basis with Jerry. We'll work on that, you and I, Alonzo. Thank you so much.

BODDEN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Coming up, we have to talk about the Olympics opening ceremonies for the winter games Friday. We're one day away from competition. Is the city ready? Some people are saying it's "no." Wait until you hear and see what is happening in that city.

Also, Clay Aiken, the "American Idol" star, trying his hand at politics. And he will join me live for his first national interview. Stay here.


BALDWIN: Seven years in the making and the Sochi Winter Olympic games are still in the making. Several construction projects remain undone, flowers unplanted, hotel rooms unfinished. Oh, take a look at the tweets from reporters and crews on the scene. In fact, our sports producer, Harry Reekie, says, quote, "this is the one hotel room of 11 reserved Sochi 2014 have given us so far, shambles." This reporter from "Chicago Tribune" tweets this about her hotel water problems. Quote, "water restored, sort of. On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like." The hotel had told her that the water was too dangerous to use to wash her face.

Still, that torch is on schedule, there it is, arriving today in all its glory as planned in the Russian resort town. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Sochi.

And, Nick Paton Walsh, I don't know what your hotel room looks like, but competition is, hello, tomorrow!

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I should probably keep CNN's own internal hotel issues inside the corporation, but certainly we've been around a number of other places that we've been seeing. And just earlier on I spoke to a couple of American tourists. One of them had to actually pull her bath away from the wall of the bathroom saying it had flooded the floor there as well. (INAUDIBLE) a number of the hotels still in construction.

Now, I should say, to the benefit of the organizers here, things, it does seem, have improved substantially in the last 24 to 48 hours. A lot of the complaining has resulted in action. And some of the places we've been to where there were problems before, that seems to have no longer necessarily be the case.

But, of course, you know, this is a huge disparity between people expecting five-star treatment, paying an absolute fortune for hotels and tickets here. And, of course, the Russian acceptance of the norm where brown water, which we had in our hotel five days ago, in fact isn't something you necessarily get too scared of.


BALDWIN: OK. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you, and crew. Keep us posted. Thanks.

You know this guy. His first steps on the national stage involved music. But now Clay Aiken, who finished second on "American Idol," today announcing his run for Congress. Why? Well, he says he's not too happy with the Republican congresswoman in his district, among other things. And guess who's standing by live? Clay Aiken, for his first big national interview since the announcement very early this morning. Don't miss this. That's next.