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Undercover Probe Reveals Sneaky Car Dealer Tactics; Christian Entertainment Business Surging

Aired February 21, 2004 - 13:00   ET


JACK CAFFERTY, HOST, IN THE MONEY: Coming up on IN THE MONEY, Oval Office politics. We'll look at the big issues on the table as the Bush campaign gets ready to fight for a second term.
Plus, bum steers, find out about the tricks that some car salesmen use to get your name on the dotted line. And also coming up, the Cross and the cash register. With the controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ" set to open on, Ash Wednesday, next week, we will look at the booming business of Christian entertainment.

First though, here's a quick check of the news headlines.


ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital, this is IN THE MONEY.

CAFFERTY: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up today on today's edition of IN THE MONEY, President George Bush, Take Two, his campaign team working out their strategy now for trying to win a second term. We'll look at some scenarios for a possible Republican battle plan for November.

And the blacktop jungle. It takes a car salesman to tell you how a car salesman works. We will hear from a guy who got the lowdown by going undercover.

Faith, hope and cold hard cash, from TV to books and movies, Christian entertainment is bringing in big bucks. We will check the bottom line for you.

Joining me today, two familiar faces here on the program, CNN Correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine Editor-at-Large Andy Serwer.

When they packed Leone Helmsley off to prison, for tax evasion, there was a quote she left behind, that will live forever. Only the little people pay taxes.


CAFFERTY: If Martha Stewart winds up going to where Leona Helmsley went, there is a quote that came out during the trial this week that may equal that thing about little people paying taxes. SERWER: Yes, I think you're talking about, "Isn't it nice to have brokers who tell you things," referring to Sam Waksal selling stock. I think the end is getting near for Martha Stewart. I was talking to Jeff Toobin, about this, our legal correspondent, he said jury deliberations maybe even next week.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it was Mariana Pasternak, that you were talking about. A close friend who used to talk to Martha Stewart on a daily basis. Then we also had Jeff Skilling in handcuffs.

CAFFERTY: My faith in the system partially restored by seeing that worm in handcuffs.

LISOVICZ: The CEO who went to Washington and said he had done nothing wrong. He knew nothing about improper accounting practices, financial transactions at Enron that resulted in the biggest corporate bankruptcy this nation has ever known.

But you know, for all the happiness that Washington may be feeling, that shareholders may be feeling, remember this, when a company goes bankrupt the shareholders are last in line. If they get anything out of this it will be pennies on the dollar. So, there's still a lot of people who lost their savings and lost their jobs. It's a real tragedy.

SERWER: I think, Jack, you are a little off, he's not a worm, he's the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle.

CAFFERTY: That's true.

SERWER: I mean, this guy -- what's interesting is it will be a very complicated case. He's defiant to the end. I like the little note that he didn't want to wear a tie or belt because he did not want to give prosecutors the satisfaction of removing it.

He says he is innocent. We've known this stuff is going to be difficult. Let's watch the government take us through this. And, you know, put this guy away.

LISOVICZ: And remember, it comes a month after the CFO pleaded guilty. So, I don't think it is any coincidence, two years past, the CEO has not been implicated, the CFO make a plea, a month later Jeff Skilling walks out (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SERWER: Boom! Gotcha!

CAFFERTY: We shall see.

On to a two-man race as the presidential candidates head towards Super Tuesday. John Kerry has the lead, after taking first place in Wisconsin, but John Edwards is said to be gaining ground.

Is he really? We'll talk about that later.

Proving he can get voters off the fence and out to the polls. He did get a lot of undecided and cross-over Republican votes in Wisconsin, but that's a state that holds open an primary where voters are free to cross over.

There are more primary battles ahead, CNN political analyst Carlos Watson in Mountain View, California now, with more.

Nice to see you, Carlos.

I'm looking at the polls here in New York, a state that will provide 300 plus delegates in the race. John Kerry is the pick of 66 percent of the Democratic voters. John Edwards is the pick of 14 percent. Do we have a creation of the news media here? It looks to me to be pretty one-sided.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right now it does. Certainly, if you talk to the Kerry campaign, they'd say what contest? We are 16-2. The other guy is 1-17. Why are we even having a conversation?

There is a slim chance, though, for Edwards. If Edwards were to win in places like New York, Ohio, and Georgia, which he has targeted, there certainly would be huge momentum. You probably would see him on the cover of a number of major magazines.

He would go into a series of March 9 contests. There are four contests in the South including Texas and Florida with real momentum. If he came out of March 2 and March 9 having picked up something like 700 delegates, it would be a battle. We would go on to Illinois, Pennsylvania and even his home state of North Carolina and see what happens.

But, again, I think that's unlikely.

CAFFERTY: What's that old phrase, if frogs have wings they wouldn't bump their butts when they jump.

I looked at a poll by the University of Cincinnati. You mentioned Ohio, John Kerry, 45 percent, John Edwards, 14 percent. Edwards says he will not compete in California. Isn't this much adieu about the media looking for a game?

WATSON: It largely is. Edwards has an opportunity, though, in California this upcoming Thursday, arguably, where there will be a debate, which we are co-sponsoring along with "The L.A. Times".

Assuming everything goes as planned and Kerry and Edwards both show up for it, he has a chance to take a poke at Kerry. Who knows if that will work. You will remember in a more lopsided contest 20 years ago, in 1984, Walter Mondale scored real points against what seemed like the invincible Ronald Reagan. And believe it or not, the race closed to two points. A significant debate performance can make a difference.

CAFFERTY: All right. Carlos Watson, joining us from California with a look ahead to Super Tuesday and a little bit of speculation on how much of a threat John Edwards is to John Kerry at this point. Carlos, thank you for being with us. I appreciate it.

WATSON: Good to see you.

CAFFERTY: The Bush campaign has two potential challengers, but just one mission -- making sure that President Bush stays president. Joining us with some thoughts about how the Bush team may accomplish that mission is Chris Wilson of Wilson Research Strategies. He's a Republican strategist joining us from Washington, D.C.

Chris, good to have you with us.


CAFFERTY: As we get ready to unveil the general election campaign, polls indicate that President Bush, if the election were held right now, would lose by double digits to both John Kerry and John Edwards.

Now, granted, his powder is dry, he has not fired a shot yet. This was not the case if you looked at polls as recently as a month or six weeks ago. How much trouble is President Bush in at this point?

WILSON: One thing you have to remember, Jack, is the fact of the matter is every single president running for reelection since 1972 has trailed in the polls. The fact of the matter is President Bush right now is doing better than Ronald Reagan was in 1984, at the same time.

Let's remember that former President Bush trailed Mike Dukakis significantly going all the way into August. I would say, he has a lead right now, that's pretty insignificant.

I'm a big college football fan, the most popular guy on campus is always the second string quarterback. Right now, that is what John Kerry is playing, he's playing the second string quarterback. Whenever he steps up there, and actually has to take a snap, the fact of the matter is his numbers will collapse and President Bush will get reelected.

LISOVICZ: OK, good point. We are way off from the election, but there are still issues that may be very sensitive for the Bush White House. One of them is jobs. We have seen this little dance in the last week and a half, where you have his own economic adviser saying there will be 2.6 million jobs created by the end of the year, and then you see the president and some of his top people backing off on this. What is that all about?

WILSON: I think looking into the forward, as someone who has a degree in economics, it's difficult to look at the future and say how many jobs will be created. It's a really challenging operation.

So, let's look at the past and see how many jobs have been created. The fact of the matter is unemployment has had the fastest drop over the past seven months that it has happened in over a decade. Almost 400,000 jobs have been created since the summer. I think those are significant recoveries when we go back to the hit the economy took on September 11.

The fact of the matter is the economy was in a tailspin because of what this country went through. Right now, the gross domestic product has had the fastest increase in almost 20 years. The economy is coming back and consumer confidence is at an 18-month high.

You look at expectations regarding the economy and jobs, they are at a 20-year high. The fact of the matter is the economy actually, the future of the economy, looks good looking back at the past six months and projecting that forward, that looks pretty good for the president.

SERWER: Chris, I'll not going to ask you whether you think your team is LSU or Southern Cal. We will save that for another day.


CAFFERTY: Very good.

SERWER: Another point is, I'm not sure you are old enough to remember, challengers are not always ahead. Because Barry Goldwater, I don't think was ever ahead, neither was George McGovern.


WILSON: That is also true.

SERWER: But let me ask you what are some key battleground states? Obviously, the last election so incredibly close. A lot of people saying it will be a rerun more or less. Where will you guys going to be focusing you're attention?

WILSON: You have to start in Florida. There's no question about that. That's pretty simple. I think you are going to see a lot of efforts down there.

But if you look back over the last couple of years, you have seen Republicans really solidify those states that appear red on the maps that you all show on election night. The red states have gotten redder and the blue states are actually a little bit purple right now.

Bush has really made a significant effort in improving and bringing those states into line that he should have won last time and in some states where it was close, again, Florida, New Mexico, some states up in the Northwestern part of the United States. Those are the areas where you we will see some heavy competition.

Let's look back at 2002, it was the first time in history that a president picked up seats for his own party in a mid-term election and only the second time that the party in power picked up seats in the House in a mid-term election. Things are looking pretty good when you look at historical trends right now, that Bush is working his way into.

CAFFERTY: The consensus, conventional wisdom is, is it is going to be a very close election. All the polls indicate the country is fairly seriously divided over many issues that make the front pages of the paper on a daily basis.

President Bush has a ton of money in his war chest. He's in a position to saturate the airwaves across the country with television commercials. Give me a sense of what his campaign is likely to feature when it does begin to unfold? What will he run on?

WILSON: Well, I think, again, his record.

The fact is let's look at John Kerry, too. Because as you just talked about in the last segment, the fact of the matter is, John Kerry has a fairly significant lead over Edwards. Now, I think Edwards will come on stronger and do better in those states than polls show, but it's likely that Kerry will be the nominee.

Let's look at -- this is a man who has railed against special interests, yet you can find three instances where he has made nominations, appointed people to positions either immediately before or immediately after receiving a contribution from them.

This is a man who has benefited from companies moving overseas, financially. There is a lot of hypocrisy coming out of the John Kerry campaign. I think that is going to be pointed out and when the American public learns more about John Kerry, I'm not so sure it will be as close of an election as you are hearing from a lot of pundits right now.

LISOVICZ: I think, one thing we all can agree on, it will be a tough race.


LISOVICZ: Chris Wilson, Republican strategist for Wilson Research Strategies, thanks for joining us.

WILSON: Thanks for having me.

LISOVICZ: Repeat after me -- I will not touch the remote. I will not touch the remote. Coming up -- the digital soapbox. The web is changing the way we look at presidential candidates. See why your mouth is turning into a political animal.

Plus, how to tell a shark from a salesman. We will hear from a guy who learned how car dealers work by working in a dealership himself.

And in God they trust. The Christian entertainment market is huge and growing. Find out why religion is moving out of church and into the mainstream.


LISOVICZ: Presidential elections never fail to surprise us, but this year the Internet has influenced politics in a way few would have imagined. It was online donations that filled Howard Dean's campaign coffers and helped to make him an early front-runner -- at least temporarily. And cyberspace proved a fast and cheap way to circulate that doctored photograph of current Democratic front-runner, John Kerry, at a Vietnam protest rally. Joining to us talk about how technology influences politics is Esther Dyson, who has written extensively on the topic. She is the chairwoman of Edventure Holdings.



LISOVICZ: Good to meet you in person. I'm always reading you online.

First of all, can we just talk about money here? Because the Democrats, in particular, have been railing about special interests, you saw these huge amounts of money in small donations to Howard Dean's campaign. Has it leveled the playing field?

DYSON: It's leveled some part of the playing field. What the money really did was in addition to Howard Dean the ability to advertise, it gave him credibility. Until you actually have polls or votes, how do you figure out who is ahead?

When you see the end-of-quarter numbers on the money raised, that really -- he might have had credible out in the sticks, but that gave him credibility in the eyes of the people in Washington and in the eyes of the media. Oh, my gosh, this guy can raise money. He must be for real

LISOVICZ: A lot of free publicity as a result.

CAFFERTY: How quickly will that credibility, though, possibly be destroyed by his rapid burn-out and disappearance from the stage? He was white hot for a minute. And like a comet, disappeared into the dark like that.

DYSON: You can't -- there's two things here. There's the message and then there is the man.

CAFFERTY: But one may impact the other long-term, right?

DYSON: It's an old saying in advertising -- good advertising spoils bad products really quickly.



DYSON: So the guy got visibility, and the Internet helped him do that, the Internet helped him raise money. Then, what did he do with the visibility? That --

CAFFERTY: That's my question. Down the road when the next guy comes along and looks to the Internet to do the kind of thing Howard Dean did, is there going to be an acidic taste in the mouths of people who bought into this the first time around and saw it blow up rather quickly.

DYSON: There will be some. Again, I'd look at the candidate himself, or herself, rather than at the means of raising funding. The thing that was exciting about Dean was he did reach out to a different audience.

In some sense the Dean campaign wasn't about the campaign, it was about the fellowship, the getting people involved, most of them had never been involved in politics before. That was really exciting. Then it might have been he was the wrong guy to follow. But the ability to move beyond the one-way media and go and get people engaged in soliciting each other -- sort of like viral marketing for politics.

CAFFERTY: That's an interesting way to put it.

SERWER: Let me ask you about the quality of information on the web. I write online, you write online, Matt Drudge writes online. Why do people seem to believe online information is better, you know, it seems to have this thing out there that people want to believe. I think it's shoddier stuff a lot of times.

DYSON: A lot of it, it's like cocktail party conversation.

SERWER: Right.

DYSON: It depends on who are you listening to at the cocktail party? People know when they go to a newsstand or know when they look in "TVGuide" or look at their TV screen and see the logos, they know whom to believe.

On the Internet they don't have that sense yet. It's like going to a new country. You don't know how to read the signs or the culture. The kids know, the grown ups many of them still don't. They are kind of lost. They say, well, it's in print, it must be true. But, there are brand names on the Internet, they're just not as known yet, and there are bloggers who some of them are credible, some aren't.

LISOVICZ: And Esther, that is really the dark side of the Internet. Because you have seen for instance the "Drudge Report", where he was talking about a possible investigation by other media, which just had these very vague links to John Kerry and another woman. And then we had the doctored photograph. You can almost do anything with technology these days. That's a little scary.

DYSON: You can almost do anything off the Internet, too. It's the Internet is a good distribution medium. It's good for the truth; it's good for not the truth. It's good for communications between people. So, again, we need to have a better sense of skepticism when we look at that stuff.

SERWER: What about online voting? How far are we from that?

DYSON: I'm not a big fan of online voting.

SERWER: Why not? You can sit at home, it would probably increase turnout or turn-in. I wanted to sit there and vote and be done with it.

DYSON: Yes, I don't think that's good. Actually, I kind of like the notion that it should take a bit of effort to vote. You should think about who you vote for. And also what you don't want is a country that is run by polls or referendum. The reason we have representative government is because we elect these people to spend a little time thinking that the issues, sometimes we don't have the time to do that.

And, the other thing is, everybody will vote for lower taxes and more benefits. Someone needs to go and sit in the room and talk to other people,, ideally with the public watching, and say if we lower the taxes, these are the benefits we need to give up. How do we figure out how to construct policy? What people want is not what they can get.

SERWER: Right, right. Well, OK, we'll be watching that issue.

Esther Dyson, chairwoman of Edventure Holdings, thanks for joining us.

DYSON: Thank you.

SERWER: Up ahead on IN THE MONEY: Busy signals as Cingular gets on the line with AT&T Wireless. We'll look at whether the merger will make the mobile phone sector more narrow.

And later, find out how fear and hope keep the auto dealership game in high gear as we talk to a journalist who went undercover as a salesman.

Plus, what would Jesus watch? Find out how the Christian entertainment market is turning belief into bucks.


LISOVICZ: In our "Money Minute", this week, former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling has been charged with fraud and insider trading. Skilling turned himself in Thursday to face 35 charges connected with the collapse of the energy trading giant. Skilling pleaded not guilty to each count. Skilling faces up to life in prison and $80 million in fines, if convicted.

Martha Stewart may take the stand in her own defense sometime next week in her obstruction of justice trial. This week Stewart's defense suffered a set back when one of her best friends testified that Martha Stewart knew Sam Waksal was selling his stake in ImClone before she decided to sell her own shares. Stewart has claimed she sold her shares based on a pre-existing stop/loss order.

And Kermit meets Mickey. Disney is buying The Muppets from the Henson Family. The Magic Kingdom wrapped up deal for an undisclosed sum just after rejecting a hostile takeover bid from Comcast. Disney tried to buy The Muppets way back when, in 1990, but that deal fell apart shortly after Jim Henson died that same year. SERWER: Hey, Susan, Cingular won the bidding war for AT&T Wireless this week by putting up $41 billion to close the deal. That offer beat out Britain's Vodafone and will make Cingular the number one mobile phone company in America. AT&T spun off its wireless unit in 2001, not the best time to be taking your company public, was it?

But this latest merger is making some investors believe that a new era of tech and wireless sector mergers could be on the way. So that makes AT&T Wireless and the entire wireless sector our stock or "Stocks of the Week".

You know, AT&T Wireless -- not a happy story. It really has not been. The stock went down, and the service is not at all good according to J.D. Power & Associates, according to "Consumer Reports. I should know because it's my service.

CAFFERTY: And you don't like it?

SERWER: I don't like it. It's not that good.

LISOVICZ: But don't they have a lot of business customers and that is what makes it attractive as a takeover target?

SERWER: They have a lot of customers that's for sure.

CAFFERTY: Isn't it ironic way back a long time ago when we were all much younger they broke up the Bell Telephone Company in order to increase competition and help consumers? Now there's concern that if these wireless companies continue to do deals, it will subtract from the options that consumers have. Could drive up prices. The question is, will the regulators allow this to do through untouched, do you think?

SERWER: Well, you know, I don't really buy that whole thing about prices being hurt, Jack. And consumers being hurt, I mean, because, first of all you still have Sprint, Nextel, Verizon and T- Mobile, out there. So there are a lot of choices. And the big thing out there is voiceover Internet protocol, Voiceover IP, or as I call it, Internet telepathy -- Internet telephony!

And this whole thing, there's a huge, there are two things I know about. One, we have no idea where it's going. But, two, voice -- making telephone calls over the Internet will drive prices way down.


SERWER: I mean, it practically costs nothing.

LISOVICZ: But you know, it's interesting because consumer advocates don't like the deal. They say one of the reasons why mobile phone rates have come down is because there was so much competition. They are against it.

On the other hand, you have to say, if you put these two players together, the network will probably be better. You probably know at least one or two people who travel a lot on business and they have more than one cell phone because the other cell phone carrier does not work in one region or another. This, at least, should improve the network.

SERWER: GSM, CDMA, we won't get into those letters and initials, but overseas it's a big problem.

CAFFERTY: "Stock of the Week"? Do you buy the stock based on the deal that was announced, or no?

SERWER: Well, the stock will be bought up at $15, it is close to that. So, I don't know about that. The best thing to buy would have been Nextel, last year. That would have been the best stock to buy. But there is still some room ahead for this one.

CAFFERTY: All right.

As we continue, more to come on IN THE MONEY. Here's what's next. We will put you inside the mind of a car salesman. There's a trip you want to take?

Yes, you do want to go there, because we will find out how the game works from the inside courtesy of a guy who went undercover to play it.

And where God and mammon meet. We will look at the booming business in Christian entertainment. Stick around, we'll be back.


CAFFERTY: On the list of job titles that might make your brain switch on the hazard lights, car salesman could be just a little south of telemarketer.

Let's say it up front: there are plenty of honest car sales people and dealerships out there.


CAFFERTY: But they're not all like that. And our next guest found out firsthand.

The car information web site sent one of its editors out to work as a salesman at two different car dealerships. He got through it with his soul intact and now he joins us from Los Angeles to talk more about it.

Philip Reed is consumer advice editor at

Philip, nice to have you with us.

REED: Thank you for having me.

CAFFERTY: What's the worst thing you found out about being a car salesman?

REED: Well, the worst thing? Where do I start, you know? Actually, one of the worst things is that you're required to really manipulate people almost from the very first moment that you make contact with them on the car lot.

You're always trying to get them to a situation where you can control them so that when you begin negotiating you can control that, too, and maximize the profit.

SERWER: Philip, I'm real interested in this, because Susan Lisovicz said I'd make a really good car salesman.

LISOVICZ: You dress like one.

CAFFERTY: Be careful.

SERWER: Thank you.

REED: What's she trying to tell you?

SERWER: Yes, I don't even want to go there.


SERWER: Let me talk a little bit about pricing. Because I thought this whole world was supposed to be getting a lot better as far as getting ripped off at car lots. You know, there's a lot of information on the Internet.

REED: Sure.

SERWER: My insurance company provides information. Car Max (ph) has some non-haggle pricing. Hasn't it gotten better?

REED: Yes, definitely it has gotten better. And my comparison is that it's almost like a game show, because it kind of depends on which door you choose.

What I'm saying is that if you walk onto the car lot you're going to be greeted by a car salesman who may have been in the business for ten years or so, and there's definitely old school and it will be the same old game.

But if you take the second door and go through the Internet or the fleet department or one of the sources that you named, then yes, absolutely, it's a kinder gentler world out there.

LISOVICZ: Philip, I want to follow up on something you were saying to Jack, which is you try to manipulate the customer as soon as they walk onto the lot, and it starts with something as subtle as the handshake.

REED: Yes.

LISOVICZ: Can you explain that and talk about some of the other -- some of the other skills that you learned.

REED: "Skills," I'll put that in quotes.

LISOVICZ: Yes. I did, too.

REED: OK. Well, the first thing, I was taught on the car lot was what they call the car lot handshake, which is that you -- as you shake hands with them you sort of exert a subtle pulling pressure towards you, which is sort of indicative of, you know, you have to see, then, how they react to this.

You're a little bit like a stage hypnotist. You're trying to figure out whether they're suggestible and whether they're going to be able to be led through the process. So that would be the first thing that you do.

And then immediately after that, you would chat with them for a few moments, and then you would suddenly say follow me. You turn around and try to walk into a sales room in the dealership without even having looked at any cars.

Sit down and find out what their down payment is, what their monthly payment is, what they want to buy, where they live and their telephone numbers before you even look at cars.

Now, if they follow you through this process, you know you're probably going to be able to sell them a car.

CAFFERTY: Let me ask you where this reputation of car salesmen comes from. Because it doesn't sound to me like it's any different than a guy trying to sell me an insurance policy or a house or a suit or anything else that I go in and I'm in a position to argue a little price and look at quality on.

Where does this awful reputation of car salesmen come from?

REED: Well, you know, this is just my own guess, because I spent a lot of time thinking about this, but I think it started with horse traders.

It's no different than a guy who had a horse, and the horse was lame, and they tried to cover it up long enough to make the sale. So I think it had its roots in that.

More recently though, I know after World War II there were many more buyers than there were cars available to be sold.

So the car salesmen had their pick of the customer. And they just wanted to make sure that the customer had a lot of money before they stuck them in the car, and they didn't deal with the people that didn't have money. And that environment has sort of pervaded to the current situation.

But you know, you make an absolutely accurate point, which is the tricks of the trade in car salesmen are used in many, many other fields. So I felt like I was being prepared for, you know, just about anything.

CAFFERTY: Now, you can go out and sell anything, right?

REED: Yes, that's right.

SERWER: Phil, let me ask you a question.

REED: Sure.

SERWER: Say I was going to a lot and buying a $20,000 car. What kind of price variation? I mean, how bad do people get ripped off in that kind of a scenario?

REED: You know, it's really pretty sad. You can -- the difference between a good car deal and a bad car deal can sometimes be as much as $3,000.


REED: Three or four thousand dollars. And it's horrible to think that two people can go into the same dealership and buy the same car and pay roughly $3,000 difference on that car.

And the question is why? Well, it's, you know, information and their ability to negotiate.

LISOVICZ: And one of the tactics for a salesman, Philip, right, is to try to make the deal that day. So the best, really, offense for a consumer is to shop around and not to be in a hurry.

REED: Yes. Well, you should absolutely never be in a hurry. You should always retain your able to walk out of the dealership if you don't like what they're doing to you. And I don't mean price either.

I mean, if you're just feeling uncomfortable you should leave, because it's only going to get worse as the deal, you know, deepens.

LISOVICZ: Philip Reed, we know that you're a terrific journalist. Were you a good used car salesman?

REED: You know, I sort of had the ability to make people feel comfortable, which is always the beginning of a good deal. But I couldn't really drop the hammer on them and get tough about price because I -- I was too much of a consumer advocate for that.

LISOVICZ: You had a conscious and you are a consumer advice editor at

REED: That's right.

LISOVICZ: Philip Reed, thank you so much for joining us.

REED: My pleasure. Thank you.

LISOVICZ: A lot more to come on IN THE MONEY. Next, Mel Gibson's "Passion" may be controversial, but it's almost likely to become a box office hit. We'll take a look at the huge Christian entertainment history.

And curb appeal. Just because you can't drive your car anymore doesn't mean it can't still be a work of art. We'll show you our fun site of the week.


SERWER: The controversial new Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion of the Christ," opens next week.

And given all the buzz around the film, it's expected to do a big box office business. In fact, observers expect the movie to bring in at least $50 million in its opening weekend.

"The Passion" is just the latest offering in a growing business of Christian entertainment, from books to the box office.

Joining us today to talk about this boom is Bill Anderson, CEO of CBA, or formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association.

Welcome, Bill.

BILL ANDERSON, CEO, CBA: Thank you. It's good to be here.

SERWER: Just exactly how big is this business and how much is it growing? I mean, obviously, it's been around for awhile.

ANDERSON: Well, it has been around for decades. Presently, the industry is about $4.2 billion in total sales. And that's up from about $1 billion in 1980.

LISOVICZ: Bill, how -- how much is this growth attributed to the times that we live in? I remember talking to some religious booksellers in the aftermath of 9/11, and they said that their sales were going through the roof. People just looking for something to give them solace at this terrible time in our lives.

And it's still a very dangerous world, and people are still very jittery. So how much is that playing into the total business?

ANDERSON: Well, it definitely has a hand in that, I'm sure, because people are looking for security and purpose in life, as well as meaning in life. So it's sort of a combination of that sense of security, but also how do I improve my life? How do I integrate my faith into my life and live out my values?

CAFFERTY: What sort of bounce, for want of a better word, would the industry overall expect from "The Passion of the Christ"?

This Mel Gibson movie is generating buzz like I don't remember, certainly for a religious movie, in a very long time. Traditionally, in fact, religious movies don't do that well. There have been a few exceptions over the years, "The Ten Commandments," "The Robe," but usually they don't do that well.

This thing is expected to be the second biggest grossing film of the year, behind "The Lord of the Rings." Somebody said that, between domestic and overseas sales, it should ring up something north of $200 million.

What kind of residual effect across the industry -- books, music, et cetera -- could be expected from that kind of attention suddenly being focused on a religious piece of entertainment?

ANDERSON: Well, we certainly expect a great deal of interest in not only in the movie, but then as you point out, in religious products that would help a person understand what they just saw.

You know, in the wake of September 11, we saw a real spike in our sense of appreciation for the firefighters and the law enforcement and military, because we had a fresh glimpse of what they do and what that means to us.

And I anticipate that coming out of the movie we're going to see people asking the question, "Who is this Jesus that died on the cross for our sins and rose again? I want to know more about that kind of a savior."

And so our people, our stores are wanting to be ready with the kinds of books and Bibles and materials that will help people get their questions answered.

SERWER: Bill, I want to ask you a bit about whether or not Christian books and Christian music, Christian movies are divisive. Why does it either have to be Christian or non-Christian? I'm thinking of some music acts in particular that seem to straddle that.

For instance, the rock group Creed, they sort of have a Christian motif, sometimes. They say they're spiritual, and yet, they're not calling themselves Christian. They want to appeal to all manner of people.

Are the Christian markets, the Christian media, is that divisive in your mind?

ANDERSON: I don't think so. I think there are really two different tracks there. One is the track of a person as an artist or as an author who wants to write or sing the Christian message.

And it's the lyric in the music that makes it Christian. It's not the tune. And it's the perspective of the book, whether that's biblically based.

And then, on the other track are Christian authors and artists who want to be a Christian who makes books, who writes books on any given subject, or a Christian who wants to perform in the entertainment industry, either as an artist or as a filmmaker.

LISOVICZ: You know, Bill, when you market to people on religious-based items, there's a certain vulnerability, like -- sort of like selling sugary cereals to kids during kids' programming.

And with the growth of the Christian marketing, there have been some questionable items. Like, one of the things we've heard about lately are these fake crucifix nails.

I mean, is there any sort of kind of regulation that can prevent some things from really -- really tapping into this? The vulnerability of consumers?

ANDERSON: Well, I think the regulation is in the consumer. And we have found the American consumer is a tough jury.

People are voting with their feet and with their hard-earned dollars. These are discretionary dollars that they are laying down for books and music and videos. And some will find that they want some kind of memorabilia or jewelry that helps them remember decisions they've made.

But by and large, the American public is a pretty tough jury, and products that don't make the cut with the consumer don't make it on the shelf for very long.

LISOVICZ: But there's no watchdogs to speak of?

ANDERSON: No, it's really free enterprise. It's the American way of free enterprise in the open marketplace.

LISOVICZ: Bill Anderson, president and CEO of CBA, formerly the Christian Booksellers Association.

Thanks for joining us.

ANDERSON: Thank you for the opportunity.

LISOVICZ: Coming up, remember the Yugo? Web master Allen Wastler will show you what some enterprising artists did to their old models.

CAFFERTY: Look at that.

LISOVICZ: The fun site of the week.

And it's -- and if you don't like something you've seen on our program, don't take it out on your car. You can e-mail us instead at And we'll take your compliments, too.

CAFFERTY: And money. If want to send money we'll take that.

LISOVICZ: Or your cars.



CAFFERTY: Well, the knives are out for the leading Internet search engine.

Our web master, Allen Wastler, has the latest on plans to unseat Google -- oh no! -- as the top dog. And he's also got the fun site of the week, which is about those Yugos. How are you doing? What's this thing about Google?

We'd have to change the language and everything. Now it's just "Google it."


CAFFERTY: Google it.

WASTLER: Google is the number one search engine, OK? But now, Yahoo!, which has sort of ceded some of that territory, now they're saying, "No, no, no, no. We want some of that back."

And Google is going, "Oh, yes? I'll show you something. I'll fix it over here."

And so they're two squaring off here.

Now you've got to ask why are you doing that? OK. It's a search engine. You just go, you type in, I want to find shoes, and it seems pretty straightforward. What's the big diff? Right?

They have found, in the last couple years, an excellent way to make money.

SERWER: How do search engines make money?

WASTLER: They put sponsored links, and each search engine has it's own variation of it.


WASTLER: Essentially, when you type "shoes," they have a bunch of people willing to pay saying, "Hey, you want shoes?"

CAFFERTY: Buy my shoes.

WASTLER: "Buy these shoes."


WASTLER: Now, you say all right, so how much money is that? It's serious money. Think about this. One in five people who goes to a search engine is thinking shopping. "I want to go buy something."

CAFFERTY: Looking to buy something. I didn't know that.

WASTLER: Last year, about $53 billion was spent on the Internet, all right? That grew 20 percent from the previous year.


WASTLER: So if you can get all these people who sooner or later are going to use a search engine (singing) we're in the money.

LISOVICZ: You lose the credibility -- I mean, one of the things that you like about going to the search engine is just give me the research.

WASTLER: And that's one of the ways they're competing. When I was saying, the businesses...

LISOVICZ: You don't want a bias. You don't want a commercial bias.

WASTLER: Some will come up and say, "Well, here are your straightforward things. And if you're interested, we've got some sponsored links over here."


WASTLER: Others are more like, well, you know...

SERWER: Have you ever put Jack Cafferty's name into Google?

WASTLER: From time to time.

SERWER: Try it sometime.

CAFFERTY: You don't want to be going and doing that.

LISOVICZ: Pages and pages.

CAFFERTY: Let's move on to something else, like maybe we'll talk about those Yugos.

WASTLER: The Yugos.

CAFFERTY: Where I go, Yugo.

WASTLER: You were talking about cars before, you know, and a salesman will tell you anything. He'll tell you the car can do anything.


WASTLER: Yes, but what about a car as a work of art? We've got here -- Here's a Yugo as a confessional, which might be good.


SERWER: Car dealership.

WASTLER: You like that? How about a Yugo as a toaster? That would work even better.

You want a little entertainment in your life, Jack? Yugo as movie theater, OK.

CAFFERTY: Small. Small movie theater.

WASTLER: Well, small movie theater. And you might need a bath and shower that you got there. Or...

CAFFERTY: Who are these people, Allan? Who are these people?

WASTLER: Here is the port-a-potty Yugo.

CAFFERTY: Who are these people?

SERWER: These people have a problem.

WASTLER: There's a little Eden.

CAFFERTY: Thank you, sir.

WASTLER: Our fun site of the week.

CAFFERTY: As we continue, we're going to read some of your comments, and you can tell us what you think by dropping us an e-mail. Our address is

First, Susan has this week's edition of "Money and Family."

LISOVICZ: Do you plan on applying for financial aid in a couple years when your child heads off to college? If so, here are some steps you can take now to adjust your assets and maximize your aid potential.

First, trim any assets held in your child's name, in particular custodial accounts, like UGMA's or UTMA's. Aid officers will argue that up to 35 percent of these accounts should go toward tuition.

But you can legally reduce that money by using some of it to pay for your child's summer camp, tutoring, school trips or car.

When it comes to assets in the parents' name, aid officers will argue that approximately 5.6 percent should go toward your child's college tuition. To reduce cash in your name, you can give up to $11,000 each to grandparents or other relatives outside your household, who could then help pay college expenses.

Remember, aid officers can't touch the assets of your extended family.

You can also increase your 401(k) or IRA contributions to their maximum amount. Colleges won't expect you to use retirement savings to pay for your share of tuition.

I'm Susan Lisovicz for "Money and Family."


CAFFERTY: Time to get to your answers to our question about office romance.

Floyd from Ohio wrote this: "I was in an office romance ten years ago, we were both young college lecturers and saw each other daily. That was nice when we were dating but very uncomfortable when the relationship ended. Luckily, I found someone else and I'm happily married now." SERWER: At work, no doubt.


Stephanie wrote this: "It's important to keep office romances quiet. My boyfriend and I kept our relationship so under wraps that when we were engaged most people didn't even know we were friends. We've been married for seven years."

And Bert from Pennsylvania checks in with "My girlfriend and I both work for the same company but in different cities. We corresponded by the Internet for months. Unfortunately, an article about our e-mail relationship appeared in 'The New York Times'..."


CAFFERTY: "... and I was reprimanded for using company property for personal reasons."

Now, for our e-mail question of this week: "What was your very worst car buying or leasing experience?" Send your answers to

And check out our show page on the web. It's at That's where you can learn more about the program, get the fun site address and find out Andy Serwer's shoe size.

LISOVICZ: Big foot.

SERWER: There we go. Right there.

How about getting busted by "The New York Times" in an office romance? How did that happen? I mean, that's so busted.

LISOVICZ: That's good journalism. But you are the product of a very happily...

SERWER: Yes. I don't know if I'm the product of. I am involved in an office romance...

LISOVICZ: Office romance.

SERWER: ... that went right.

CAFFERTY: My sense is that must have been a fairly high-profile couple. Because "The New York Times" is not likely to arbitrarily write about some e-mail correspondence between Ken and Barbie in Dayton and Columbus, Ohio. Must have been somebody that maybe...

SERWER: Ken and Barbie are breaking up, I think, too.

CAFFERTY: Let me go back to this Google thing for one second. We didn't mention, they are going to come as an IPO, when? Next year maybe? Later this year?

SERWER: Is that delayed now, again? Because they were talking spring before.

WASTLER: Big buzz going on that sooner or later they're going to IPO and everybody is just waiting for it. Because you know, they don't reveal their numbers, but most people estimate they make about $1 billion in revenue a year.

So you're talking hefty money, a lot of people interested.

SERWER: Big company.

CAFFERTY: But as you mentioned, Yahoo! and also Microsoft looking to get into the same business. So it will bear some watching.

All right. That's the ball game for this week. Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. Thanks to the gang, CNN's national correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer. I don't know his shoe size. I know, though, that none of us could fill his shoes.

And managing editor Allen Wastler.

Join us tomorrow -- it's getting so deep here. Join us tomorrow at 3 p.m. Eastern Time when we'll discuss whether gay marriage could end up as a major factor in the presidential elections. My opinion is it won't, but we're going to talk about it anyway. That's tomorrow at 3 right here on CNN.

See you then. Have a great weekend.


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