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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Olympics Opening Ceremonies Begin; Robyn Doolittle's Talks Book on Mayor Rob Ford; New Plan for Hoffman Part in "Hunger Games"; Bad News on New Jobs Report.
Aired February 7, 2014 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NIC PATON-WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pretty racy videos featuring lesbian kisses. First on the stage, holding hands and did a rendition of their song, they're not going to get us as part of the warm-up act. The reason they weren't able to pay attention us because of the heavy criticism of Russia's human rights records against gays and homophobia, which has caused some boycotting by these games of certain individuals. The real question in Russia is what the appearance of tattoo will do to soften that criticism? Tattoo, themselves, they aren't gay and aren't particularly supportive of gay rights. Many of them said the lesbian kiss was simply to attract attention. Certainly, it did.
Right now, we are seeing the ceremony on the way. We had the remarkably stirring Russian national anthem, one of the best. We have seen a lot of ceremony on stage. Vladimir Putin has taken the stage, didn't say much. Helicopters packing the sky above me for security. A deep anxiety perhaps right now.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is prime time right there. These are images from inside the stadium. Don't go freaking out you are missing the opening. NBC puts it on tape and tape delays it, so that during America's prime time, they can watch it later tonight. There was some talk about not being able to sell out the stadium, that there are empty seats. Did that play out? Did they not fill the stadium or do we know at this point?
PATON-WALSH: We don't know how full it was. It looks pretty full when you look at the pictures. Certainly, this morning, you can buy a ticket. I could have bought a ticket this morning for 50,000 rubles, a lot of money, $1600 ruffle. Earlier today, I was told about one American tourist that they were going for $600. They appear to have been sold out. It was hard to get hold of the ticket once you have bought it online in time for the ceremony. It raises the larger question here. All these security fears we have been talking about dents American attendance. An indication that may be the case. One pretty substantial American tour company saying that the people bringing here are mostly the families of athletes. Only a sixth of the people they are bringing here are actually fans. That's born out by a lot of what we saw in the warm-ups with the games go around in the venues. Not a lot of people who you might call international fans. That same tour agency telling moo he they have 1,000 tickets they bought to sell on to American tourists. They have to get rid of them quickly. It is early days, too soon to cast judgment on whether there will be less national guests than expected. Perhaps a worrying sign of all the talk about safety -- Ashleigh?
BANFIELD: I am only going to dispute the stirring Russian national anthem but it is nothing compared to the old Soviet national anthem that I just got chills when I listened to, probably for all sorts of other reasons.
Nic Paton-Walsh, great to see you.
I know, right? One of the great -- Nic, enjoy the time you have there. You are a lucky guy and a great guy, very deserving.
Is there such a thing -- let me start this again.
Is there such a thing as too much security when it comes to Sochi? I ask that because this next thing is a bit weird. You should know the Russian deputy prime minister has set off of a bit of an uproar about that aimed at Sochi hotels not being ready or messy or water problems. Dmitry Kozak was accusing Western journalists of sabotaging their own rooms to make Russia look bad. How does he know this? Kozak said -- and I'm going to quote him directly -- "We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day." Think about that for a moment. We have surveillance video from the hotels. Does that mean they can see you when they are turning on the showers over there? Inside the bathroom, there is surveillance video? Eke. An aide told the "Wall Street Journal" that there is no surveillance in hotel rooms or bathrooms occupied by guests. I'm not sure what he means when he said we have that surveillance video. Something to think about certainly if you are heading over there anyway.
President Obama is not going to go to Sochi but the cheerleader-in- chief did do this. He issued a video message to Team USA. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We couldn't be prouder of you. We can't wait to see what you accomplish in the next few weeks. We're also proud of everything you've done to get this far. You have worked tirelessly, practicing day after day for years to become some of the finest athletes in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: The United States delegation does include two openly gay athletes in protest of that new Russian law we have been talking about, propaganda, about nontraditional sexual relations. That's something that's been in great dispute, whether any of the athletes would make any kind of displays in order to protest that. So we have a lot still ahead.
In the meantime, I just want you to take a look at this book. The title is "Crazy Town." If you saw a book like that, I know I would just buy it for the title and you find out it is about the Toronto mayor, the crack smoker. Then, I would buy two. The reason is there is a lot of stuff in there you don't know about yet. The person that wrote it actually saw the video. Her name is Robyn Doolittle. She is going to join me live about the last year of covering this man, the circus that surrounds him and where it is going from here. Did I say she has seen the video? It is next.
BANFIELD: Guess what. Toronto has officially celebrated Bob Marley Day. This is not a joke amidst so much head-scratching news to emerge from that city courtesy of its crack-smoking mayor. Another stupid headline. Rob Ford has made a useless proclamation in the name of reggae. Mayor Ford used one of the only remaining powers he had left to give Bob Marley with his own day. Please, we are in the wake of something pretty serious. Mayor Ford, ever since you admitted to smoking crack and being in a drunken stupor when you did it and knocking a city official to the floor, alleged blackmail, and this list of infractions go on and on. Sir, you have been a perennial joke.
And my guess is that Robyn Doolittle doesn't find much of it very funny. That's because she's a "Toronto Star" reporter who has actually seen the mysterious video of the mayor with a crack pipe and drug dealers, using a gay slur to describe a popular Canadian politician. She has written a new book since this whole mess opened, "Crazy Town: The Rob Ford story." She is live with me today.
Every time I go over this list -- it is a truncated list. I still can't believe we are talking about an elected official in the fourth largest city in North America. Since you are one of only three people who has witnessed this video of the crack smoking, could you just remind me again what it looked like and what you saw?
ROBYN DOOLITTLE, REPORTER, TORONTO STAR & AUTHOR: It was last May, 2013, I, along with my colleague, Kevin Donovan, saw a video viewed by "Gawker," editor, John Cook. The clip is about 90 seconds long. It the mayor of Toronto, quite obviously him. He is sitting by himself. He has made homophobic and racial slurring and clearly sneaking out of what looks like a crack pipe.
BANFIELD: In your book, you were dealing with the devilish concept of having to pay the drug dealers to get the video. At the same time, trying to reconcile the fact that you had seen something that the rest of Toronto, and I dare say, North America deserved to see as well. Do you still feel like you made the right decision? Nobody else has been able to see this.
DOOLITTLE: That's one of the more interesting parts in the book is detailing the debate and the balancing of those issues that you talk about, the conversations that were happening in the "Toronto Star's" newsroom for those six weeks. We were trying to decide whether to buy this footage and grappling with those issues that these were drug dealers that came to us. They said they were drug dealers. They said, we'll give you this footage for $100,000. It is worth noting that nothing bad has ever happened in Canada before. It is not typical you would ever pay anything more than a few thousand dollars at most for something. But we are balancing that against this idea of --
BANFIELD: What you were seeing.
BANFIELD: What you were seeing.
BANFIELD: Let me ask you this. I was reading -- oftentimes when publishers send out the books, they send out one page of the notes. There was something on it I didn't note. I am going to quote it. It says, "Those close to the Fords say they often compare themselves with the Kennedys and believe they were born to lead." I nearly choked on my bagel. Do the Canadians think that they are anything akin to Camelot, the Fords?
DOOLITTLE: The key is the Fords believe themselves to be a political dynasty. I document that in the book, especially in the early chapters. Rob Ford's father was a member of provincial parliament. His brother is a city councilor. Rob Ford is the mayor. His brother, Doug, plans to run provincially. Those close to him say he wants to be the premiere of Ontario, akin to the governor. And then there could be another Ford on the ballot.
BANFIELD: Every time I see a poll be conducted in the metro area, it seems his popularity either hasn't been affected or it is remarkably high. He has a 45 percent approval rating, 55 percent disapproval rating. Is this man going to be reelected in 2014? Is he actually going to be mayor again and what does that say about the other candidates?
DOOLITTLE: So much has been made of the approval rating. There is a lot of debate here about him. Most believe his approval rating is in and around 40 percent, which is still high. Most people point out just because someone is approving of his administration, doesn't necessarily mean they are approving of the man. I argue, though, that it is obviously significant that this group of the population is willing to overlook all of these transgressions and still put a check mark beside Rob Ford's name. Going into the next election will be really difficult to see what happens, whether someone may be a little more on the straight and narrow can champion Rob Ford's agenda. The big thing hurting the mayor is he is still not getting help for his issues. We had two incidents last month where he popped up on video looking unmayoral. One at a Vancouver bar and another at a Toronto fast-food restaurant where he was speaking Jamaican. He was obviously on some sort of substance.
BANFIELD: Two a month, that's pretty good in terms of his track record. I'm going to say this, Robyn, there is still some time. That video could surface and people might feel what you feel deep in your gut. I am going to tell you this. That is really telling stuff. You are very descriptive of what it made you feel as a person and feel as a person to witness what you saw on that video. That is being lost in all the rhetoric and the jokes and the comedy over this story.
I appreciate the book and the story. You are doing some great work. Keep doing it.
DOOLITTLE: Thank you.
BANFIELD: Thanks a lot.
Robyn Doolittle joining us live. The book is called "Crazy Town." Says it all, doesn't it?
The late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is a key player in the hugely popular "Hunger Games" movie. But he died before a very important scene could be filmed for the next installment in the series. The producers say they have a plan. They can still finish the movie. We are going to show you how.
BANFIELD: The Australian navy, thank god, has busted a drug smuggling ship off the coast of Tanzania and the cargo, 780 pounds of heroin. And they destroyed it. There they are, dumping it. So basically, that 780 pounds of heroin that will never make its way through a needle and into the arms of people around the world. The authorities estimate that its street value is about $630 million. So that's $630 million that will never make its way into the pockets of the dealers who are really at the forefront of insisting that that scourge, that deadly scourge, continues to kill.
And on that topic, family and friends of Philip Seymour Hoffman are saying good-bye to the actor today because his funeral is being held in Manhattan. A funeral one day after his girlfriend and their three children and a parade of Hollywood celebrities attended his wake. The Oscar-winning star died last weekend as you will know by now of an apparent heroin overdose. Hoffman was still in the midst of filming the conclusion of a very popular movie "The Hunger Games" series but he died before he could finish his work, and his character had reportedly a very important scene left to complete.
Our Casey Wian is live from Los Angeles.
Casey, the producers think they can pull this off. They think they can save this franchise. What are they going to do?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We want to stress, Ashleigh, that the producer lions gate and the studio lions gate have not said how they're going to finish this film. It's a week since fill Philip Seymour Hoffman died, but they do have many different options available to them. You probably aren't old enough to remember this, but I am. Back in the early 1970s there's a martial arts action hero named Bruce Lee who died before one of his movies was completed. Well, they used a stand-in, a look-alike, to complete his remaining scenes. 20 years later, back in 1994, his son, Brandon Lee, died in an on-set accident during the filming of the movie "The Crow." At that time, they took an image of his face and digitally superimposed that over a body double to complete those remaining scenes. That's kind of the cheaper way to do it, those two options, but now the technology is really to the point where you can actually digitally re- create --
WIAN: -- an entire actor. If you think about the film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," 52 minutes of that film was Brad Pitt, his head, all of his facial expressions, with makeup, digitally superimposed over a much smaller actor's body. That was really sort of the state of the art what can be done with this kind of technology. And then back in 2012, you may remember the Coachella Music Festival when Tupac Shakur, who died many years ago, sort of magically appeared onstage with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
BANFIELD: I remember that.
WIAN: It was a realistic performance and emblematic of the kinds of things Hollywood can do to replace these actors who are not available, so we'll have to see how they actually figure this one out. It's just a matter of how much time and money they want to spend -- Ashleigh?
BANFIELD: I think it's fair to say while they may be able to finish the job and get that project done, it is never going to be the same as the magic that that man just bled out of his DNA every single time he was on the screen.
Casey Wian, good to see you. Thank you, sir. Have a good weekend.
Casey, by the way, is going to continue his work today. He's got a lot more ahead on tonight's "OutFront" with Erin Burnett starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern time on that story. And a lot of people love that franchise. They'll have great reporting tonight for sure.
Something else we wait on every single month, the beginning of the month, we want to know how many people got jobs last month, how many people are out of those unemployment lines and back into the workforce, because that's what's killing our economy right now. And today, I got the numbers for you. Are they anything near what we expected? That's next.
BANFIELD: The White House says another underwhelming jobs report that was released this morning is a reminder that the economy still faces challenges. The U.S. added just 113,000 new jobs in January and if you're following along and playing the game that is a lot fewer than were expected. I think we were looking at 178,000, hoping the report would be around there. But the report also says that 10 million people remain unemployed with more than three million Americans being out of work for six months or longer.
Wolf Blitzer joins me now live from Washington.
Let the spin begin, because while that sounds bad, the unemployment rate actually dropped and it's at a five-year low, and, yes, there's more work to be done, but both sides will chew on this for, oh, at least a day.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: The chewing is going on. The spinning is going on big time over the last three hours since 8:30 a.m. eastern since the numbers were released. And when you point out the unemployment rate has gone from 6.7 to 6.6, it's the lowest since the start of this great recession, it was 2009 at its peak the unemployment rate was 10 percent so there's been steady improvement but it's certainly not where it should be, and unfortunately a lot of those people have simply dropped out of the workforce. One of the interesting statistics, Ashleigh, is that only 63 percent of the American people either have a job or are looking for a job. Meaning, a lot of people have just given up looking for a job, and that's the lowest level, it matches the lowest level, going back to 1978, when Jimmy Carter was president and we were going through some pretty severe economic times as well. So, 113,000 jobs is certainly good as far as creating some jobs, but you really need, 200,000, 250,000 jobs a month to really make a dent in the unemployment given the growth in the population.
BANFIELD: Look, the unemployment rate, even though it dropped a little -- I've only got a couple of seconds left, Wolf -- the Democrats won't be able to use that unemployment rate anymore if it means nothing because there are so many people who don't qualify even being a number, even though they're still unemployed.
BLITZER: And there's a 1.7 million who need extended unemployment benefits right now. And as recently as yesterday, the Senate couldn't break that filibuster to extend at least three months, unemployment benefits for them. So there's a lot of problems right now. The president has a full agenda, the Republicans have a full agenda, and we'll be covering it all.
BANFIELD: Boy, oh, boy. That means you can't go home early today, so I'll tell everybody, Wolf, that you'll be working at 1:00 p.m. eastern time and 5:00 eastern time. You can join Wolf twice a day, highly recommended, must-see TV, if I can steal that line.
Hey, another note for us as well. If you like to join our show at 11:00 a.m., change it up next week, folks. Starting on Monday, we're moving to 12:00 p.m., noontime. It's a lunch show now, so do join us on Monday at 12:00.
Have yourself a wonderful weekend. Thanks for being with us today.
AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Security is high. Everyone is watching as the opening --