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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Connecticut Expands Amber Alert System; Puppet Musical Gets Six Tony Nods; Tips on Making Desserts on the Grill

Aired May 23, 2004 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOPHIA CHOI, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. This is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Glad you're spending time with us. I'm Sophia Choi.
THOMAS ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Thomas Roberts. Appreciate you starting your day with us.

Here is what is coming up for you this hour. Time to fill up and shell out the bucks. So, how about a hybrid? Hybrid car? We're going to tell you what's out there and how these fuel-efficient vehicles actually work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): The Internet is really, really great ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): For porn!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: OK, so is this Sesame Streets for adults? Some would say, yes. The creators would say no. "Avenue Q" has puppets, plenty of songs and now this Broadway musical has a bunch of Tony nominations as well. We're going to talk to the masterminds behind the hottest ticket on Broadway.

You know what? It's almost summertime. That is time for chillin' and grillin'. We've got new menu items for you hot off the grill.

First here's what's happening at this hour.

CHOI: Police say at least five people are dead and three others injured after a ceiling collapsed at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Witnesses say they heard a loud noise just before a crack opened up in the ceiling.

As the area was being evacuated, tons of concrete, glass and steel, girders tumbled on to the jet way. The accident happened in a newly constructed section of the terminal. Several vehicles on the tarmac were crushed.

Iran says it did not receive classified U.S. intelligence about Iraq from Ahmed Chalabi. Some of the U.S. accused Chalabi, a member of Iraq's Governing Council, of passing sensitive information to Iran. An Iranian official calls the accusations, quote, "baseless". Moammar Gadhafi says Arab leaders are out of touch with every day Arabs. The Libyan leader made those comments at Arab League Summit in Tunisia. Gadhafi walked out of a meeting yesterday frustrated the league would not consider his proposal for a single Palestinian Israeli state.

ROBERTS: We'll begin this hour at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Earlier this morning a section of the vaulted roof at a new terminal collapsed with deadly consequences. CNN's Jim Bittermann is there and he filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The accident occurred just minutes before 7 o'clock this morning, when part of the roof of terminal 2-E, out here at the airport, collapsed. A number of people were on the jet way, and the roof collapsed on to the jet way and pancaked on to the tarmac, where it hit a number of air France vehicles.

Now, in some ways it was fortunate more people were not killed or injured in this because there were -- the terminal at that point in time was practically empty, but this is the end of a long holiday weekend here and a few hours later and the terminal would have been packed with passengers.

In any case, authorities are investigating the cause. This is the newest terminal to be built out here as the airport director said, it was the pride of the airports of Paris. So kind of unusual that less than one year after its opening, that this would -- this new construction would collapse like this.

And there's bound to be months of investigation ahead to determine exactly what caused this collapse.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHOI: Artillery barrages led the way this morning as U.S. and Iraqi troops stormed into the town of Kufa in central Iraq. The coalition forces killed 16 fighters loyal to firebrand Cleric Muqtada Al Sadr and seized weapons and ammunition stashed in a mosque. CNN's Jane Arraf files this exclusive report from Kufa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF (voice over): We're driving through the streets of darkened Kufa shortly after artillery fired into the city for the first time by U.S. forces. The lights went out all over Kufa. Driving down these darkened streets, you can hear mortars being fired from either side. This is the biggest operation into this area since U.S. forces began fighting the Mahdi militia.

LT. COL. PAT WHITE, U.S. ARMY: We immediately received contact both in the north and the south as we crossed into Kufa. A number of RPG gunners established what we call bunker systems. We employed artillery fighters and also used aerial gunship, the AC-130, for precision fire so we wouldn't damage the mosque.

ARRAF: This is the Al Salam (ph) Mosque. It's on the north side of Kufa. U.S. forces came in here, they said it was surrounded by Mahdi militia and there were militia members inside. Weapons in the mosque, they say, they found.

Now, this was a joint operation, according to U.S. forces, with the new Iraqi Special Forces who came in at the forefront of this. They say they came in, they received fire from the Mahdi militia, and they killed 12 of them in the perimeter, four or five of them inside.

The weapons cache, rocket propelled grenade launchers, mortar tubes, and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition for AK-47s. They say the operation here is intended as a show of force to deny safe haven to the Mahdi militia in Kufa and in Najaf.

As for going after Muqtada Al Sadr, the radical Shia leader himself, they say they're not doing that yet.

Jane Arraf, CNN, reporting from Kufa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHOI: What's happening in Iraq is high on President Bush's mind as he prepares for what's billed as a major speech tomorrow night. The president will address an audience at the Army's War College. His speech will focus on the planned transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30th.

Mr. Bush will speak at 8 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific, and CNN will carry his remarks live.

When he gives the speech the president may still wear bandages on abrasions he suffered yesterday when he fell off a bicycle at his Texas ranch. Treated at the scene by his physician, Mr. Bush got back on the bike and rode home.

Apparently undaunted by his own spill from a bike this month John Kerry went bicycle shopping in Belmont, Massachusetts. The senator took one of the bikes for a test ride yesterday, but it's unclear if he put any money down.

Told about Mr. Bush's accident, Kerry said -- and we're quoting here - "I hope he's OK. Didn't know the president rode a bike."

ROBERTS: Well wishes, exchanged back and forth, I'm sure of that.

CHOI: Exactly.

(WEATHER BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHOI: A bad weather weekend in parts of the Midwest, as we've been reporting. The latest hit, Nebraska, with 19 tornadoes cited there. Several homes were destroyed and the governor declared a state of emergency now. The heaviest damage is reported in the town of Hallam and reporting for us there, Dana Dyksterhauis of WOWT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA DYKSTERHUIS, WOWT REPORTER (on camera): There is no doubt this is a community in disarray. It is a small town to begin with but now families when they return will have virtually nothing to return to.

(voice over): It's the place several hundred people call home, leveled in a matter of minutes. Nothing was left untouched in Hallam, Nebraska, when a tornado ripped through Saturday night. Thomas Richy was home when the tornado hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Loud freight train sound. You hear people say it and that's what it was. It was just a freight train sound. Went down in the basement and just waited and prayed.

DYKSTERHUIS: Survivors like Richy were evacuated from the town to nearby Lincoln. Bus load by bus load, families wait for loved ones. Inside, volunteers check people in, hoping to have everyone accounted for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lot of them lost their homes. Lot of them don't have anything to go to. A lot don't have their homes to go back. A lot of pets missing. Their houses are completely gone. So lot of -- lot of broken hearts.

DYKSTERHUIS: Like Patty Axtel (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was praying for my horses. So I'm just hoping that they're OK. But -- and that everybody else is OK. And we we're OK.

DYKSTERHUIS: But like everyone else in the town of Hallam, are wondering what's left of home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DYKSTERHUIS: You're taking a live look at the hearts of Hallam, Nebraska. You can see the damage a little bit better in the daylight. However, we can tell you we are being kept a safe distance away because state patrol tells us are there some propane leaks in the area. Obviously, that's the least of the town's worries looking at the damage.

Residents have not been able to return home yet to figure out what has been lost and what can be saved. And word is that there has been one fatality and the search isn't over yet.

CHOI: Dana, thanks so much for that.

And we'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHOI: Glad you're back with us on this Sunday morning. We've been talking this morning about gas prices and summer travel. AAA says a record number of people will be hitting the highways this Memorial Day, but with gas prices reaching record levels, can average Americans really afford the price of travel?

One sector of the auto industry is feeling the pinch of rising costs, and as CNN's Chris Huntington reports, it's looking for ways to recapture those customers now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As gas prices go through the roof, SUVs are sticking to the show room floors. And now automakers are offering substantial rebates to move those monsters off the lot. Cause and effect, or just coincidence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly they have to be concerned about SUVs, which is a primary profit center for them. Oil prices are likely to continue to remain high, perhaps throughout the summer.

HUNTINGTON: According to industry analyst AutoData, U.S. sales of large SUVs fell 15 percent last month, compared to the some period a year ago. Some models were particularly hard hit.

Ford Expedition sales fell 33 percent, while sales of the Hummer H2 and Chevy Suburban each fell 21 percent. General Motors says its overall SUV sales are up from a year ago and insist that rising gas prices have nothing to do with certain models slumping or the new rebates.

GM is now offering $5,000 cash back on 2004 Chevy Blazers, Suburbans and Trailblazers, as well as some of its big GMC models. DaimlerChrysler also says the cost of gas has nothing to do with inspiring a $4500 rebate now available on Dodge Durangos.

Ford concedes higher gas prices are a factor and have hurt SUV sales and led to rebates such as $2,000 to $3,000 back on Explorer, Expeditions, and Excursions.

(on camera): SUVs account for about 40 percent of all the new passenger cars sold in the United States, but they account for about 60 percent of the automakers' profits. And the Big Three are not about to let rising gas prices mess up that equation.

Chris Huntington, CNN Financial News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: As the price of gas is climbing, the popularity of hybrid engine vehicles, that's taking off. There's not enough to go around. So buyers could be paying a premium. There's a waiting list for the Toyota Prius and a dealer may add up to $6,000 to an invoice price.

On the other hand, the Honda Insight could cost less than $20,000. But the Insight is phased out in favor of the hybrid Honda Civic.

OK, so if you get your hands on a hybrid, is it going to save you that much money over regular cars that get good mileage? Here is a five-year comparison of the Honda Civic and Civic Hybrid. Looking at the price, the depreciation, financing and fuel costs. As you can see, there's less than a thousand dollars difference over that five-year period.

So now that we've explained some of the financial benefits, the ups and lows of the hybrids, are they the right choice for you? Joining us from Buffalo, New York, is Auto Expert Lauren Fix; she currently hosts "DIY Automotive", on the Do-It-Yourself Network.

Lauren, great to have you with us. Good morning.

LAUREN FIX, HOST, "DIY AUTOMOTIVE": Good morning, Thomas.

ROBERTS: So we talked about the differences price wise, but give everybody a little background on the concept of the hybrid and how they work?

FIX: The hybrid is a couple different ways that work. Toyota's is an electric and gas motor, and that is something that one will assist the other. Where Honda has a completely different design where they use the gas motor to get the car started, and the electric would support it as it gets to the higher speeds to have better fuel economy.

Now, also as the Ford Escape is coming out, and that's going to be a different design. There's tons of new designs coming out, Mitsubishi has a new Eclipse that is coming out in the next year. That will also be yet another hybrid. Lots of new designs coming out, and all of this is good for us, but unfortunately, there are some negatives on that, too. That is the insurance angle.

ROBERTS: Lauren, we'll get to that in one second. Wanted to ask you about the production of these vehicles. Are car manufacturers limiting the production, to kind of create the frenzy for people to get a hold of these vehicles or they just don't know yet if they're going to take off and if they overproduce them they're stuck with a hefty bill for these cars sitting on the lot?

FIX: I think it's a combination. They want to offer these hybrid cars, they want to help out consumers. There is a draw for it. Consumers are calling for it. Right now, like you said, the Toyota Prius has a nine to 12 month waiting list.

I called our local dealer. They're not taking orders. Because they just can't get them in fast enough. So Toyota is trying to fill the pipeline to supply the vehicles. Where I called the Honda dealership and they have three on the floor there, ready to be sold. They are selling them. I think it's going to become more and more popular.

And that's something that the manufacturers are aware of and that's why all the manufacturers had concept vehicles at the New York and Detroit auto shows. They were hybrids, saying this is coming, but it's going to be about a year.

ROBERTS: We saw earlier, though, the little equation we put together about the value of the vehicle, depreciation, gas over a five-year period of time. You mentioned insurance, also want to ask you about what's it like to routinely maintain this car? What's the expense in that?

FIX: That's the problem. There is no numbers. The vehicles have been out a little over a year and when I went to try to get some insurance rates, so we had something more juicy to talk about. I found something quite interesting. When you go to insure this vehicle it's listed in the rate books, but when trying to get one written, if you bought one today, you have to check with your insurance company.

Some companies aren't writing them and the reason is they don't know what's going to happen if a car is in a collision what it's going to cost. There are no numbers and there is no history. I guess it would be like in 1910, you bought a vehicle that wouldn't have anything done either.

ROBERTS: So there's no research to support crash testing. What about the combination, and maybe this is a silly question, but having gas and electric within the same vehicle, aren't there safety concerns with that?

FIX: No, the only safety concern I was able to find what happens to do with the maintenance. When the new Ford dealerships are signing up four the new Escape hybrid, I was told by a local dealer that they actually have to have a fiberglass hook, so the mechanics don't get fried by the batteries.

But as far as for you as the driver there are no safety concerns. These are well, laid out vehicles, they have all gone through pre- crash tests. They have air bags. These are great vehicles. It is the future. There's certainly nothing negative about owning it.

What they don't know is how much it's going to cost to repair it, number one. And what the maintenance fees are going to be. Obviously, changing your tires and being car care aware and changing the oil, and all that is going to be the most intelligent thing any how.

ROBERTS: So, the mechanics in high demand, just as the vehicles are.

FIX: Right.

ROBERTS: Lauren, we appreciate your time this morning. Lauren Fix of "DIY Automotive," on the Do-It-Yourself Network.

Take care.

FIX: Thank you.

CHOI: And the price of oil and gas is the subject of our e-mail question this morning. Are the high costs affecting your travel plans this summer? Our address is wam@cnn.com. And we're reading your replies throughout this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHOI: Poker has moved out of the back room and into the main stream. With the popularity boom has come dozen of celebrity games, charity games and made-for-TV poker showdowns. There's still one tournament that captures the attention of all serious poker players. And is that the World Series of Poker. So let's go to Sin City, Las Vegas, where our guest, Vince Burgio, is getting ready for day two of the World Series of Poker Finals.

Thanks for joining us.

VINCE BURGIO, PROFESSIONAL POKER PLAYER: My pleasure.

CHOI: So, Vince, what's the deal with poker? Why's it so popular?

VINCE: Well, I think there's two or three reasons, about four our five years ago, they came out with a movie with Matt Damon and Ed Norton called "Rounders". And a lot of young people watched that and got interested in poker.

And then right after that, the Internet sites, poker Internet sites, came about. And then they started televising the poker events, such as the World Series with the little different twist where they would show the whole cards of the players and that really caught the fascination of the TV viewing public.

CHOI: Yeah. Especially since they have celebrities at some of these games. What do you have to do to qualify for the World Series of poker?

BURGIO: Well, you have to come up with $10,000.

CHOI: Whew! That's a lot of money to win money. I guess you have to spend money to win money, huh?

BURGIO: Well, yes, but there are different ways to get into it. You can get in what you call little mini satellites, where you can win a seat for maybe as little as $30, $40 on the Internet.

CHOI: So what are your chances of winning this whole thing? And are you going to share if you do?

(LAUGHTER)

BURGIO: Well, this year they have 2500 entrants, so theoretically speaking your chances are 1 in 2500. Of course, the professional players probably have a lot better chance. And the amateurs will probably have less chance. CHOI: So you're a pro, not a novice. What do you pros think about novices?

BURGIO: Well, you know, we welcome them into the poker world, and it's great to have them come and play with us.

CHOI: After all they bring that same $10,000, don't they?

BURGIO: They sure do. And some of them can be pretty rough. Last year, an amateur named Chris Moneymaker won $2, 500,000. And this year the winner will win $5 million.

CHOI: Wow! Vince Burgio, good luck to you.

BURGIO: Thank you very much.

CHOI: Take care and have fun in Vegas.

BURGIO: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Time for a quick look at the headlines. We start in Paris where at least five people are dead and three others injured after a ceiling collapsed at Charles de Gaulle airport. Witnesses say they heard a loud noise just before a crack opened up in the ceiling. As evacuations were underway tons of concrete glass and steel girders caved in on the jet way.

In Iraq U.S. troops stormed a mosque In Kufa over night killing 16 insurgents. Troops seized a large cache of weapons and ammunitions, including assault rifles, RPGs and rocket launchers inside a mosque.

Would you know what to do if someone took your child? It is something that no parent wants to think about, but if it does happen, these people are ready to respond.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHOI: Brushing off the grill and getting ideas for the upcoming barbecue on Memorial Day weekend. Well, don't just stop with dinner. We've got some grill desserts, yes desserts, for you just ahead.

Welcome back. Tasty treats for you in just a moment. But first, these headlines.

ROBERTS: Storms damaged the town of Hallam, Nebraska, and our affiliate reporter on the scene now reports one person killed. Nineteen tornado sightings were reported yesterday in Nebraska, and heavy rains spawned widespread flash flooding. The governor declared a state of emergency.

Winds gusting up to 65 miles per hour are keeping firefighters at bay in the Galinas Mountains (ph) of New Mexico. So far the wildfires have burned more than 4,000 acres and destroyed one house. And airborne tankers, they had to be grounded due to the high winds.

In Minneapolis, the show went on even after a featured circus performer fell some 35 feet to the concrete floor in front of a very startled crowd. Ringling Brothers aerialist Dessi Espana died several hours later. Circus officials, that is, say she was working without a net or a safety harness when she fell.

CHOI: The Amber Alert system has been a lifesaver, literally, for abducted children, and now the state of Connecticut is kicking off a new effort to enhance its system.

As CNN's Alina Cho reports, the new program is the first of its kind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fill out your application.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The process may not be easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say cheese?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, Mommy!

CHO: But parents agree it's worth the trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very sad and it's very scary, and it worries me that something may potentially happen. And I want to have that access to that information immediately.

CHO: This week Connecticut became the first state in the nation to launch Amber Alert child I.D. cards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being quick is essential in successfully recovering an abducted child.

CHO: Signing up is free and easy. Parents fill out a form, get their children weighed and measured. And then the all-important photo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. That's a beautiful smile.

CHO: The information is stored in a secure database that only police have access to, giving authorities a way to distribute the data within ten minutes if a child is abducted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've noticed Amber Alerts that have been put out across the country, there's rarely a photograph immediately. The photograph comes hours later.

CHO: Parents also can carry around the wallet-sized photo I.D.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the purpose of this, to make sure that both parents have a card.

CHO: Allowing them to call in the information if their child is lost during a trip. (on camera) Police say parents of kidnapped children often don't have recent photos of their kids, and many don't know their child's height or weight.

Also, when a child disappears, parents often panic and forget to tell police important details.

LT. WAYNE RIOUX, CONNECTICUT STATE TROOPER, AMBER ALERT STATE COORDINATOR: You'll be spending all kinds of time, running around looking for pictures, looking for this.

CHO (voice-over): More than 1,200 children already have been photographed. Hundreds more will sign up here, especially since police have set up shop at a local firehouse next to a ball field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today it's going to be a very successful day. We're really kind of backed up here.

CHO (on camera): You're looking at a long day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're looking at a very long day, but it's worth it.

CHO (voice-over): A home run.

Alina Cho, CNN, New Fairfield, Connecticut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore adds another major award to his mantle.

Moore's film, "Fahrenheit 911", won the Cannes Film Festival's top prize, the Golden Palm Award. The documentary is a scathing critique of the Bush administration following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Thank you. Thank you. What have you done? I -- I'm -- I'm completely overwhelmed by this. Merci.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Disney drew attention earlier this year by refusing to distribute "Fahrenheit 911" during an election year. It was set to open on July 2.

Well, stay with us, everybody. You know, it's a very popular place to be these days, and no way, it's not Sesame Street. We're going to take you to "Avenue Q." It's one of Broadway's hottest hits, takes an offbeat look at the life of 20-somethings.

And we get to talk to the Tony nominated director, as well as the producer, when CNN SUNDAY MORNING returns.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHOI: Our morning e-mail question, the price of oil and gas affects the entire travel industry. Will those higher costs change your mind about your summer vacation? Our address is WAM@CNN.com. And we will be reading your comments in about 15 minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): The Internet is really, really great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): For porn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): I've got a fast connection, so I don't have to wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): For porn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Brings a smile to your face, right? It's one of the season's biggest Broadway hits. It's "Avenue Q," a musical with puppets living next door to humans in a neighborhood with mostly young people who are trying to start out their professional careers.

We've got an out of work comedian, a kindergarten teaching assistant, a college grad with some big dreams. And then, to mix it all up, no subject that is really off limits.

You know, "Avenue Q" is already a really tough ticket to get and with its Tony nominations, it's almost impossible to buy a seat.

The show is nominated in six categories. Here they are. Best musical, best book of a musical, best original score. John Tartaglia got the nod for best performance by a leading actor in a musical. You see him there.

Stephanie D'Abruzzo is nominated for best performance by a leading actress, and the show got a nod for best direction of a musical as well. A mouthful here.

So how do you get a ticket for such a hot show? Guess you have to know somebody. Even if you do know somebody, you probably might not get a seat as well, because we know the director, Jason Moore. He joins us this morning from New York, as well as the show's producer, Kevin McCollum.

Guys, great to see you.

JASON MOORE, DIRECTOR, "AVENUE Q": Good to see you.

KEVIN MCCOLLUM, PRODUCER, "AVENUE Q": Thanks for having us. ROBERTS: You're welcome. Jason, want to start with you. Talk about the experience here. This is your first time out on Broadway. You get yourself attracted to this big show, and here you have a hit on your hands. How did you do it?

MOORE: I just kept working. It's been such an exciting thing. This is why I did it. He hired me.

MCCOLLUM: I just listen to you.

ROBERTS: We can see the synergy back at work here.

Kevin, for you, though, being the producer, you're the one that has the tough job of pretty much getting the financial backing.

So when you go out and try and pitch the idea that it's going to be puppets, humans and some racy dialogue, did you scare off potential backers when you would give them the pitch?

MCCOLLUM: I don't think so. I think the great thing about puppets is they can speak honestly about many, many things.

And I was so excited about the material. It is one of the funniest, most inventive musicals I've ever had at pleasure to be a part of.

And our success is a result of everybody, including the investors and traditional theatergoers, as well as people who have never been to Broadway, embracing a real, real, wonderfully funny, tuneful musical, which is one of the most successful musicals we've had this season.

ROBERTS: Jason, as the director you are the one that goes ahead and casts all the people. So how do you find Broadway puppeteers? Because there's not a show like it on Broadway. So the people out there hard to find?

MOORE: That was one of our most difficult challenges, actually. We had to go to children's television, that world, to find puppeteers who had been trained.

Puppetry is a really tough skill that the best ones make it look easy. We found them early, and we developed the show around their skills. Now we're in the process of finding actors and trying to teach them to puppeteer, which is a difficult task.

ROBERTS: Kevin, what do you say to people, though, that equate this to, you know, a "Sesame Street" on steroids and a little bit racy?

MCCOLLUM: No, it's much more than that.

It is actually a real musical comedy, because it tells the struggle of these 20-somethings who try to come to New York and make their way, find their purpose, and deal with real life issues.

So it's really the kind of musical that you get out of the theater and you really call your friends and say, "I don't know how to describe it. You see the puppeteers with the puppet. You see the people, and all I know is it's the funniest thing I've seen."

And I think it's one of the reasons just last month we recouped and we're in profits, and the investors and the audiences are just loving it.

ROBERTS: Jason, were you surprised to be embraced so well by the theater community, especially now that the show gets six Tony nominations?

MOORE: You know, it's been sort of a dream come true for all of us, because we started with this little teeny, downtown show in a theater that had 100 seats, and now we've moved uptown to Broadway. It's sort of all of our dreams.

And it's been a thrill to see that audiences across all age groups and backgrounds have embraced the show like they have.

ROBERTS: And Kevin, who's your biggest competition this year?

MCCOLLUM: Biggest competition? We're so different, and we're such a breath of fresh air to the Broadway community, that it's great that we are completely unique and completely in our own sort of category of theatrical entertainment.

So the great news is Broadway's thriving, people are coming to see the shows. Our entire creative team that's been nominated are first-timers to Broadway, and I think that proves we're a breath of fresh air.

ROBERTS: Jason, I know this is your first time to do a Broadway show. But what's the life span of a show like "Avenue Q"? Can it last for years to come?

MOORE: It can. That's part of his job. And we're hoping we're going to have a national tour that's going to go out to cities across America next year, and we hope that it has a long, long life. I think it definitely will.

ROBERTS: I understand that Rod, one of the characters in the show, he is a gay Republican with a crush on Hugh Jackman. So is there going to be any trouble at the Tony Awards because Hugh Jackman is hosting?

MCCOLLUM: Well, I think he has a crush on Hugh Jackman. Doesn't Rod have a crush on Hugh Jackman?

MOORE: He does. I think you'll find him near his seat probably during the performance.

MCCOLLUM: But Rod is a fan of Barbaras Bush and Streisand. So he covers it all.

ROBERTS: He doesn't discriminate.

MCCOLLUM: No, not at all.

ROBERTS: Well, guys, we wish you the best of luck. The Tonys are actually going to air coming up in June. Jason Moore and Kevin McCollum from "Avenue Q." Best of luck, gentlemen.

MCCOLLUM: Thank you.

MOORE: Thank you.

ROBERTS: OK. And if you want to watch the show that most of the "Avenue Q" crew will likely be watching next month, tune in for the Tonys. It's going to be June 6. It's the 58th annual awards, airing on CBS.

OK, everybody. Stay with us. Set the table and call the kids, because we're ready to eat. We're going to get a taste of something different on the grill for the Memorial Day holiday, coming up.

And we're going to see if it's going to rain on your picnic today. Good morning, Las Vegas. Your complete weather forecast in about five minutes.

CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Time now for a quick check of our top stories.

It's like a scene after an earthquake. That's how one witness describes the collapse of a terminal ceiling at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. The collapse of tons of concrete, steel and glass killed at least five people.

Rescue crews are using sniffer dogs to search the rubble.

And back here in the U.S., Nebraska is under a state of emergency this morning after damaging storms made their way through the Midwest. One fatality is reported in Nebraska after 19 tornadoes and flash floods hit the state.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: All right, everybody. You know, weather depending, you might be hitting the grill today to prepare a Sunday afternoon meal. But did you ever think about putting your dessert on the grill?

We check in with Sophia. She's got a special guest who's going to teach us just how to do it.

Hey, Sophia.

CHOI: Hi there, Thomas.

You know, almost everybody has done maybe hot dogs, hamburgers, perhaps even pork chops, maybe a steak on the grill.

But today we've got something really special for you, something that I've really actually never heard of.

Meet Julianna Grimes-Bosture (ph). She's with "Cooking Light" magazine, and she's going to talk about grilling desserts. Yes, desserts on the grill.

JULIANNA GRIMES-BOSTURE, "COOKING LIGHT" MAGAZINE: We have desserts on the grill today.

CHOI: What is that about? I've never even heard of it.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: It's really easy and really quick. A great idea.

What I'm doing today is a cornmeal pound cake with a fruit salsa. So the actual grilling part is the pound cake.

You know what? The beauty is here, make your pound cake ahead, even days ahead, and slice it.

I like the shape of these triangles, so I make a large slice, cut that in half on the diagonal, use just about a tea teaspoon of butter on each piece of pound cake and put that on the grill for maybe a minute and a half or so.

Think of toasting in your oven. It's the same thing, same idea. We're just using the grill to do that today.

CHOI: All right. And I want to remind people out there that we do have the entire recipe on CNN.com, in case you guys want it out there.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Right.

CHOI: Fruits do well on the grill?

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Fruits are another option. I think cakes, quick breads, things like that are wonderful toasted on the grill.

Also fruits. I've got peaches. Just cut the peaches in half, take the seed out. Any of the large stone fruits work well: plums, nectarines.

In this case I would serve these, maybe with just a dab of creme fresh.

You could also chop your grilled peaches and put them in an ice cream for some extra flavor. Use it with maybe caramel sauce and drizzle that over your cake with your grilled peaches.

CHOI: Great.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Makes a wonderful dessert really easy.

CHOI: Nice idea. So do you have to sit here and watch it, you know, like when you're making hamburgers you kind of have to sit over the grill? GRIMES-BOSTURE: Well, the good news is, it's really fun to be outside with your friends and to be around the grill, and this is quick. So about a minute and a half on these cake slices.

So you probably do want to stand and watch, just to make sure you don't have any flare ups on the grill and so forth.

CHOI: What about the difference between having a gas grill and charcoal? Which is better?

GRIMES-BOSTURE: You know, I love both of them. And whatever someone has at home will work. Both will do the trick. I like gas grills for grilling desserts, because you have a little more control over the temperature of the grill.

CHOI: And talking about the temperature, how hot should it be for something like this?

GRIMES-BOSTURE: With -- just the same as when you're doing savory applications on the grill, things that are quick cooking are over high heat for the most part.

So you want to do this over a fairly hot flame, maybe 400 degrees or so if you have a thermometer on your grill, and like I said maybe two minutes on the cake.

With the peaches, again just looking to get a little golden brown and get a pretty grill mark on those peaches, you're not necessarily looking to cook them through.

CHOI: Exactly.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: That's what you're after.

And now I have a fruit salsa. I'm going to mix this up really quick, and then we'll take a taste of our pound cake.

CHOI: OK. That's my favorite part, by the way.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: The tasting?

CHOI: Yes.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Great. Great.

It's a kiwi and strawberry salsa today, and we're using fresh basil. And what you would do at home is stir in sugar, just a touch of salt. That was mixed with my sugar. I have white balsamic vinegar. You want sort of that sweet and mild acidity that you get from balsamic vinegar. But...

CHOI: We might want to hurry, because I'm told we have, like, 45 seconds left. And please don't cheat me out of my taste.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: We've got to get to the taste.

CHOI: That's right.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Our half and half. Let me stir this all together, and we'll take our fruit salad over to the plate.

CHOI: OK.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Here's our grilled pound cake. Here's what it looks like. You want to serve it nice and warm. And...

CHOI: Those grill marks are just beautiful.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Isn't that nice.

CHOI: That's a nice presentation. Now let me tell you how it tastes, OK?

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Let's here hear the report.

CHOI: OK.

It has a little smoky flavor. Nice. Very nice.

Thank you so much for being here, Julianna.

GRIMES-BOSTURE: Thanks for having me.

CHOI: I hate to talk with my mouth full, but it is so delicious -- Thomas.

ROBERTS: Sophia, don't forget.

CHOI: You're missing something.

ROBERTS: I want a piece. Bring it back, all right.

CHOI: I will. I will.

ROBERTS: All right. Everybody, stay with us.

You know, they sold everything they had and bought an RV and then they hit the road. And we've been following the Spry family on their journey across America. Coming up, get an update on where and when they go next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Plenty more to come on CNN today. Straight ahead, it's INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Then at 11 a.m., "CNN LIVE SUNDAY." And then at 11:30 for you, "RELIABLE SOURCE" with special guest Tim Russert. We get his take on presidents, politics and the prisoner abuse scandal. Also talk about his new book.

CHOI: They're in search of the American dream. We introduced you to the Spry family last weekend. They packed up and left California's Silicon Valley earlier this month in search of somewhere more serene. But their destination remains unknown.

We followed them along the way as they headed east with stops in Vegas, Sedona, and yesterday they set up camp in Austin, Texas.

Before that, though, the Grand Canyon was an exciting pit stop. In fact, here right now is a picture of their son, Ryan, as he contemplates the beautiful view there.

Another highlight from last week a visit to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The Sprys spent a few days before packing up and pushing further east. Eventually, it was on to Texas, and yesterday afternoon, they arrived in Austin.

Here's a note from Colleen to our CNN viewers, by the way.

"We're in Austin now, and the 290 into Austin -- or 290 into Austin is just beautiful with rolling hills, trees and wildflowers. What a great drive! And the little towns are so quaint. The open space and horses I'm seeing, I'm already thinking this is a possibility to live life and enjoy! I love a country style setting, but have missed Target. I spotted a Target close by and will be going there tomorrow morning."

Everybody needs Target.

And here's a note from their son Ryan.

"When we made it to the top of the Schelly Road lookout, I threw some rocks over the edge and watched them disappear. As I was throwing rocks close to the edge, but not too close, my mom had me by the shirt and I began to cry 'Let me go'. The one man asked what I was afraid of and I said, 'Nothing but my mom is afraid of heights and won't let me see my rocks disappear off the cliffs'."

ROBERTS: Of course, we're going to keep you updated on the progress of their little adventure as they search for the American dream.

If you'd like to track the Sprys on your own or contact them, here's their web page. It's www.lovetohavefun.com. And it sounds like they are having fun. They made some progress since last week, too.

CHOI: They sure have. They've been all over the place.

ROBERTS: Trucked along.

CHOI: And we're going to keep watching them. And talking about...

ROBERTS: Trucking along.

CHOI: ... trucking along, we've got a lot of e-mails from you all morning long. We've been asking you for your thoughts on our e- mail question, will the high cost of traveling affect your vacation stay? And the high cost being from gas prices, pretty much. ROBERTS: This first one coming into us from Tammy in White Oak, Texas, saying, "I'm leaving on vacation Wednesday, driving from Texas to Michigan. The gas prices are affecting not only how long I will be gone, but where I will go once I get there, but also what route I will take to get there. I am having to map out a route with the cheapest gas prices."

CHOI: And this comes from Paul in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, "You're darn right gas prices have messed up my vacation plans. I am staying home now because I can't afford to pay twice as much per gallon as I did last year. I was looking forward to spending my 'tax cut' money on this trip, and now it has been spent just buying gas to get to work."

ROBERTS: Real quickly, I think we have time for one more from John saying, "I don't care how much the gas prices go up. I won't buckle under to them. I'm not changing my travel plans one bit."

CHOI: That's the guy.

ROBERTS: So John is sticking to his guns, and he's going to go on vacation.

Well, that does it for us here this morning. Thanks for joining us. "INSIDE POLITICS" Sunday is up next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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