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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With the Entire Cast of CBS "60 Minutes"

Aired June 14, 2004 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE WALLACE, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Mike Wallace.

ED BRADLEY, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Bradley.

MORLEY SAFER, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Morley Safer.

LESLEY STAHL, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Lesley Stahl.

STEVE KROFT, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Steve Kroft.

BOB SIMON, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bob Simon.

DON HEWITT, CREATOR, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: And I'm Don Hewitt, and I created "60 Minutes."

WALLACE: He sure did. Our story all in the next 60 minutes on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: The word "great" gets bandied around a lot, but it sure applies to CBS's "60 Minutes." Seems "60 Minutes" has been a part of our lives forever. We've got all of them, except Andy Rooney, here tonight. And we hope that you enjoy the next hour, as we salute Don Hewitt, who's leaving the post as exec producer.

But before we get into that -- last week, the death of Ronald Reagan. How did you react? Let's go around the horn. Don?

HEWITT: I -- I thrilled to hear all the wonderful things that were said about him. I know he's controversial. I liked him doing something.

KING: Mike?

WALLACE: Me, too.

KING: Same thing? You liked him.

WALLACE: Absolutely the same thing.

KING: Ed?

BRADLEY: I think Mike had probably the best relationship with him because he knew Mrs. Reagan before Ronald Reagan did. And I thought it was interesting watching, even more than Reagan, his interview with her about him. It just shed insight and freshness that I didn't see through the weekend.

KING: It was not, Morley, a shocking story.

SAFER: Hardly a shocking story. I must confess, I sense slightly from my colleagues I think the -- this excess of adulatory commentary ad nauseam, quite honestly, for anyone, let alone as man as -- who had many faults and...

WALLACE: Unlike the rest of us.

(LAUGHTER)

SAFER: There was this kind of extraordinary outpouring, not by the public, but by reporters who should know better.

KING: Lesley?

STAHL: You know, I think it was a tribute to the innate quality that he had, which was a real, honest sweetness. And I covered his presidency. And he could disarm the entire press corps. He could disarm angry mayors walking in to see him and give him a piece of their mind when he was trying to cut their budgets. He disarmed the Congress. He disarmed Gorbachev.

KING: In other words, you could not dislike him?

STAHL: You could not -- well, you know. You couldn't...

KING: You could disagree, but you could not dislike.

STAHL: You could totally disagree, and you could feel that, as a reporter, your role was to be tough. But you -- it was beyond not disliking. It wasn't that. It was more positive. He just made you love him. He was sweet.

KING: Steve, was the story bigger than you expected it to be?

KROFT: No, it's about what I expected. I think that the one thing that I most admire him -- whether you agree with his policy or not, I think he was a great leader. I think he had the ability, which is increasingly rare in politicians, to have a vision, to be able to articulate policies and get the government to enforce them, instead of having people in the bureaucracies telling you what you should do. I think he had a very clear decision -- or a very clear vision of America, and I think he was able to lead the country in a direction.

KING: Bob?

SIMON: I knew him less than anyone else at this table because I was overseas all the time he was president. And I saw him make what I thought were mistakes. I thought Beirut was a mistake, the involvement of American troops in Beirut. But we've made bigger mistakes since. And seeing him on television the last few days, I'd forgotten just how eloquent he was and how much we miss that kind of eloquence.

KING: Were you surprised, Mike, at the incredible apparent public reaction?

WALLACE: No, I...

KING: The lines of people waiting four-and-a-half, five hours?

WALLACE: I wasn't surprised. When was the last time we had a president Americans loved?

HEWITT: Franklin Roosevelt.

(CROSSTALK)

STAHL: And of course, not all Americans loved him, Mike.

WALLACE: Hmm?

STAHL: Not all Americans loved him.

WALLACE: Oh, no. But Lesley, he was -- America loves him now, admires him now. America's attitude about Nancy Reagan, the so-called "dragon lady," turned around.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: You turned it around.

(LAUGHTER)

STAHL: No, that's really true. That's really true. I've never seen such a dramatic change in a public figure as Nancy Reagan has accomplished over the last couple of years.

SAFER: You see what I mean? It continues.

STAHL: No, but this is true about Nancy Reagan.

SAFER: I mean, there's -- no -- faultless, a saint of a man. I mean, if you listen to these guys.

KING: I don't think they're saying that.

BRADLEY: He wasn't someone without fault. He was not someone who was a saint, but he was -- he had a vision, as Steve said. He had a simple idea of what he wanted to do, and he -- and he followed that path to get it done. And I think after four years of President Bush, eight years of President Clinton, and then three years into the second Bush administration, people look back on that simplicity that he had and the way he was able to communicate his ideas. And I think people revere that kind of thing.

SAFER: You talk about a vision, and it's some kind of abstract, vague idea. Did his vision include extraordinary deficits? Did his vision include the cutting of the budgets for education and a back of the hand in terms of...

KING: Are you saying, Morley...

SAFER: ... public education...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... history will not be kind to him?

SAFER: No, I don't think history particularly will be kind.

KING: You don't?

SAFER: They'll talk about all that superficial stuff that all of you have been talking about. But when it gets down to the real substance, I don't think history has any reason to be kind to him.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Morley is seldom wrong, Larry...

HEWITT: I disagree with that.

WALLACE: Morley is seldom wrong...

SAFER: Thank you, Mike.

WALLACE: ... but he's never in doubt.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Wasn't Eisenhower loved?

HEWITT: Eisenhower was loved. Yes, Eisenhower was loved.

KING: Roosevelt was enormously loved. Kennedy, it was shock and love.

HEWITT: Kennedy was loved. Eisenhower was loved. FDR was loved. Harry Truman was admired. I mean, you know, and there were a couple in between...

KING: Johnson was...

HEWITT: ... who -- you know...

(CROSSTALK)

STAHL: Harry Truman was admired after he was...

KROFT: And they all become more loved once they leave the office, I think.

STAHL: ... after he was president.

(CROSSTALK) KING: Yes. All ex-presidents are more loved.

BRADLEY: It's the same thing with Reagan. He is admired more today than he was when he left office. His last year in office, his poll numbers were not very high.

KING: In fact, Bob, has any president decreased since leaving office? I don't think so, right?

SIMON: I'm thinking. Not really. Not really. But the thing is that he was very controversial when he was president. And now we've buried him, and this is a time when you don't remember the controversy, you remember the charm and the debonair...

KING: Did "60 Minutes" do a lot on him? We played a piece with Rather the other night.

HEWITT: Yes. Yes. I don't think this is about Ronald Reagan. I think this is about a country that's hungry for nostalgia. And it just so happened that Ronald Reagan's death and America's hunger for nostalgia coincided, and I think that's why there's been so much coverage, and that's why it's gone on and on, Morley. And I don't think it's as much about the guy as it is about us and our hunger for another time.

(CROSSTALK)

SAFER: ... a time that never existed, by the way.

KING: Nixon was rehabilitated and went out as an esteemed kind of world leader, right?

KROFT: Right. I think it's partly respect for the office that Americans have.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: No?

STAHL: I think it is about Reagan. And I do think that his personal qualities make people look back and smile and remember the affability and a time when we didn't have people at each other's throats to the extent that we do today. And I think it -- you know, we used to do polls when he was president, and we would ask about the issues. And his issues weren't necessarily popular. When he call the Soviet Union an "evil empire," people didn't like it. They thought he was a war monger. They didn't like his budget cuts. Ketchup was a vegetable. People didn't like that. So he had all these negatives. And then they would ask about his personal qualities. Do you think he's a strong leader? Do you like him being president? And all these polls would flip the other way.

KING: All right...

STAHL: It goes to him as a person.

KING: We're going to get a break and...

HEWITT: You just reinforced what I said. There's a nostalgia for that, that nobody has been able to come up with that kind of feeling.

KING: All right, we're going to take a break...

HEWITT: In a long time.

KING: ... and then come back and talk about nostalgia -- speak of Don Hewitt and the nostalgia of "60 Minutes."

SAFER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) speak of little else.

KING: Or as some humorist once said this week, nostalgia is not what it used to be. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: We've heard the presidency called the loneliest job in the world, a splendid misery, whatever. And I have never sensed that you've been the least bit miserable or the least bit lonely in this job. Why hasn't this job weighed as heavily on you as it has on some other occupants of this Oval Office?

RONALD WILSON REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Mike, I don't know what the answer to that would be. Well, maybe none of them had a Nancy. But I came here with the belief that this country, the people, were kind of hungering for a -- I'll call it a spiritual revival. The whole thing of the '60s and the rioting, and so forth, and the disillusionment with Vietnam, it seemed that the people had kind of lost faith in the destiny of this country and all. And I came here with, as I say, plans and set out to implement them. No, we didn't get everything we asked for. But you don't fall back in defeat, you just lay low and wait...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEWITT: It was horse and buggy. It was so horse and buggy that...

STAHL: And fun, right?

HEWITT: Fun. But nobody knew what he was doing. But you didn't care because who had a television set?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are, as newcomers to this medium, rather impressed by the whole thing, impressed, for example, that I can turn to Don Hewitt here and say, Don, will you push a button and bring in the "Atlantic Post?"

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Andy Rooney couldn't be with us tonight, but here's a little thought from Rooney about Hewitt. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDY ROONEY, CO-EDITOR, CORRESPONDENT: I'd like to be there with all of you tonight, Larry. Although to tell you the truth, I'd rather be where I am without you. And I'd like to say something amusing about Don's departure from "60 Minutes," but for me, there's nothing amusing about it. Not clear to me why he's going, where he's going or what he's going to do when he gets there. I don't even know who told him to go.

If you don't know Don Hewitt very well and expect to hear words of wisdom from his lips tonight, comparable in excellence to his reputation as a producer, you'll be disappointed. No one could explain what Don does so well. And he explains himself worst of all. He's a kind of idiot savant of broadcasting, flying by the seat of his pants in a control room and edit room or careening around the hallways adjacent to his office.

As producer of "60 Minutes," Don took advice from no one, gave advice to everyone. For its first 35 years, he had his hands all over every piece that ever appeared on "60 Minutes." It's going to be a lot easier without him. The broadcast greatness in a sea of television mediocrity can only be explained by his inexplicable genius. The rest of us hoped it was us, but we knew it was him. That's all I wanted to say about Don Hewitt, and there's nothing funny about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You going out kicking?

HEWITT: I'm going to leave right now. I can live with that.

KING: That was wonderful.

HEWITT: Yes. You won't hear it from them.

KING: You sorry to go?

HEWITT: Sure.

KING: Sorry to see him go, Mike?

WALLACE: Of course.

KING: Ed?

BRADLEY: Oh, you bet.

KING: Anyone here think this "60 Minutes" -- this is a good idea? Nobody. But the show goes on, and nothing is forever, right? Still a great show?

HEWITT: And will continue to be a good show. These guys will make sure of that.

KING: All right, let's discuss him and what made him. Morley, we'll start with you. Why is Don Hewitt a great producer? What is a great producer.

SAFER: Well, I think a great producer is, first of all, totally, absolutely, 1,000 percent engaged with not just the story at hand, the line, the commas, the everything. That's total engagement. And second is a much more difficult-to-define kind of thing. It's a nose.

KING: A nose?

SAFER: Well, it's a [DELETED]-detector is what it is.

(LAUGHTER)

KROFT: Oh, there goes his license!

(LAUGHTER)

STAHL: Early in the show!

KING: It's cable. It's cable. It's all right.

SAFER: Seriously. And what's so -- what's -- it's great that he has that detector. What is so appalling about all of our imitators over the years is the extraordinary extent to which they lack one. So it's -- and you know, I think we're very good. I think we're awfully good. Everything that tries to imitate us makes us look even better.

KING: Ed, what makes him...

BRADLEY: Well, you know, I think, as Andy said in that piece, Don is an idiot savant...

(LAUGHTER)

BRADLEY: ... of broadcasting. And I mean that as a compliment because whatever piece you bring to him, in whatever shape, 99 times out of 100 he can make it better. In all of the years I've been at "60 Minutes," I had one piece where he said at the end of the screening, "you know, I thought I could fix anything...

(LAUGHTER)

BRADLEY: ... but I can't do anything with this one. But every other piece, it was better when it left the room than when we brought it in."

KING: Lesley?

STAHL: Absolutely. And I think we'll all tell you that, that Don would look at a piece, which you very often thought was an A-plus -- this piece can't get better. You don't want to bring Hewitt a piece that you don't think is all there. And he'll find a way to notch it up. And when people say why is "60 Minutes" better, it's that notch up that Don...

KING: Did he see every piece?

STAHL: Every piece. Every single piece. Somehow, Hewitt's stamp is on every piece. Some need more. Like, the one you didn't get on probably needed total Don...

BRADLEY: Needed to be re-shot.

(LAUGHTER)

STAHL: Don would...

BRADLEY: Needed another subject.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Mike?

STAHL: But Don had a way of just making it and bringing it to A- plus-plus -- all of our pieces.

KING: Mike?

WALLACE: Everything everybody said is absolutely right. But how he did it from time to time was a pain in the back.

HEWITT: Oh, boy!

WALLACE: The...

KING: In other words, it wasn't always fun.

WALLACE: It was not always fun.

HEWITT: It was fun for me.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What about you, Steve, young man on the totem pole?

KROFT: I think it's always been fun. I mean, people occasionally will remark about, I think as a result of this documentary that was done for "American Masters" on PBS a number of years ago about the fights -- the fights are inconsequential. They last while they're going along. They're volatile, and they're over five minutes later. And there's this rapprochement.

The thing that I think that, after giving it some thought today, because we all have to give toasts to him -- and I think it's his originality. I mean, I've never met anybody like him before in my entire life. And I don't think any of us have. I mean, he's part Walter Burns right off the front page and part George Mertz (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

KROFT: The complete combination.

KING: And Bob, you're the...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You're the newest member of the cast, right?

SIMON: I'm a kid. I used to say that my two favorite places in the world were "60 Minutes" and my father-in-law's old-age home because they're the only places in the world where I'm called "young man." Now my father-in-law has passed on, so this is exclusively my favorite place in the world.

KING: So you knew all about him, heard all about him. He was obviously an institution in the business.

SIMON: Yes. You can hear all about Don, but that doesn't mean he won't surprise you instantly.

KING: He did?

SIMON: The first story I did, I did from overseas. And I was in the Middle East, and I fed the story in by satellite and fed the studio and the narration and everything was all put together, and Don approved it, so it was ready to go. And then I was woken up by a phone call at 4:00 in the morning. And guess who? It was Don, who wanted a word change. And I said, "well, what did you call about?" He said, "that was it, just that word change." I said, "OK," went back to sleep. And then for the next couple of years, whenever the phone would ring between 2:00 and 5:00 in the morning I would just answer it and say, "Hello Don."

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: And I think the difference between Don and -- geez, and just about everyone else I know, is that at a certain point, when you've been working on a piece a long time, say, OK, good enough. I mean, maybe I could make it better, but I'm so sick of this story, I don't want to look at it again, I don't want to see it again, I just want it to go away, on television, if possible. But good enough was never good enough for Don. He just kept on plugging until the last minute.

KING: We'll be back for more. As we go to break, some historical moments from "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KROFT: This is not exactly legal, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?

KROFT: This is not exactly legal, right? What's the down side? I want to know what the down side is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not exactly legal, no. (LAUGHTER)

BRADLEY: So he's not putting on when he's doing...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. This actually happens. That's the hard parts. You have to sort of...

(LAUGHTER)

SAFER: Tell me something. "The Great One" -- where did that come from?

JACKIE GLEASON, ACTOR: Well, Orson Welles called me "The Great One" first. And then Lucy started to call me that. And I'm really not offended by it.

SAFER: Did you ever really believe it?

GLEASON: You just saw me play pool, didn't you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was television like back in the Stone Age?

HEWITT: It was like a bunch of kids playing with Play-Dough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by. Punch Chicago!

HEWITT: We had no idea what we were doing in the early days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a feeling somebody goofed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody goofed is right!

HEWITT: Could we just have maybe 10, 15 minutes of just Lesley just sitting, talking to him in a conversation?

BORIS YELTSIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): No, we're going to take a shower.

HEWITT: Can we do it later, maybe?

YELTSIN (through translator): We can't talk during the shower.

HEWITT: No, no. What about after the shower?

On my wall in my office, I've got pictures with Reagan, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter. I need one with you. May I?

I think, at some point, you have to be as candid as you know how, and then from there on, you say, I said it on "60 Minutes." If you want to know what I think or say on this subject, go get a tape and run it again. I've said it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you do, Mike, that other magazine shows don't do?

WALLACE: It's built around character. He did a book about it called "Tell Me a Story." It was a story. It was a story. And he loosed us, this whole crowd, on stories.

KING: So you're first storytellers.

WALLACE: First storytellers. Let me, however, enter a caveat about that. The -- you see, the -- he looks pretty good for a man his age, right? Look at all the rest of us! We are on airplanes all day long, every day. He never leaves the premises!

HEWITT: I don't travel. These guys travel, and they get older every minute because they're on airlines.

KING: But what makes the show...

STAHL: I'll tell you some other reason that I think distinguishes us, and that is that we pick our own stories. And therefore, we're committed to them in a way that someone who is assigned a story isn't. Now, Don doesn't approve all our stories, but about 99 percent of them.

KING: So you have an idea, you come to him.

STAHL: Right.

KING: He says go.

STAHL: He almost always says go. Sometimes he says, "are you kidding?"

KING: What percentage of the "go's" get on?

STAHL: Oh, all of them. Once you start filming...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Once you...

STAHL: Well, except from Ed.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Steve, what do you think you do?

KROFT: I think it's the -- I think that -- I hate to use this after we were talking about Ronald Reagan. I think that Don has a vision, and the vision is about telling stories. And he is the best storyteller on the show. He can always take it and make it into a story. And you may have it organized a certain way, but he knows how to maybe pull a thread and jigger things around and start at the beginning and, obviously, end up at the -- what seems like the logical ending, and it should have been seen at the very beginning.

KING: How much is format? "Tick, tick, tick," 12-minute pieces, three of them, Rooney closes.

SIMON: I think the Rooney close is crucial. I don't think the format is that critical. There are many ways of telling a story. And Don built the show on telling stories through characters, and that's the essence of it. And nobody gets on "60 Minutes" who doesn't have something to say and is not -- doesn't say it in an interesting way, which I think is the essence of this show. There are lots of stars out there, lots of celebrities who do not get on "60 Minutes." They get on other shows, but they don't get on "60 Minutes" because they may be celebrities, but they're boring. Whereas people who have something to say who've never been seen before will walk right onto the show.

HEWITT: The essential thing about "60 Minutes" that makes it what it is -- it's the only news organization on earth that has no assignment desk. There is no assignment in it. No story has ever been assigned. You guys come up with your own ideas, and that's 90 percent of why this thing works. The other part is that -- David Westin at ABC once said to me -- president of ABC -- he said, "are you telling the truth when you say you have never seen a minute-by-minute Nielsen?" I said, "never. No one's ever showed me one. I've never been before a focus group." And if you talk to the people who work at other networks, they are required to do minute-by-minute Nielsens to see where the stories peak, where the audience was most -- we are dependent on them. They're my audience. And if it appeals to them, it appeals to me.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with more. We're only halfway through our tribute to Don Hewitt and a look at the extraordinary program that is "60 Minutes." We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBRA STREISAND: Putting on the...

WALLACE: You're going to be looking in this direction.

STREISAND: Yes.

WALLACE: So I (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

STREISAND: What -- can I see the difference if you put that one lightbulb on right there? Come in closer in the back camera. I think you're better in this camera because this is a little too far over.

WALLACE: You would love to control this piece.

STREISAND: Absolutely! Are you kidding?

LENA HORNE, SINGER: If a lady treats other people as she'd like to be treated, then she's allowed to go and roll in the grass, if she wants to.

BRADLEY: Even if she's 64.

HORNE: Even if she's 64. Particularly then.

KROFT: One of the things that I learned in doing the research for this story was the fact that you got lots of kids.

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Yes. I like kids, you know?

KROFT: How many do you have?

EASTWOOD: I have a few.

(LAUGHTER)

KROFT: Seven kids with five women, right? Not all of them you were married to.

EASTWOOD: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I doubt it. I doubt it. I think if left to his own devices he might have, you know, ended up hosting "Unsolved Mysteries" on TV.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE AMANPOUR, CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT: Don, I'm here in Normandy and then on my way to Iraq. I wish I could be there with you and all the others tonight. But I just wanted to say that, just the notion of working, even as a contributor to "60 Minutes" for all these eight years, to work for you and the incredible cast that you have assembled, I really thought eight years ago that I had died and gone to journalism heaven, because I know what you mean to the world of television, to have created television news as we know it, to have created the most successful television news program in history.

And for me to have been part of that was an incredible, incredible privilege. And at the same time, to have worked for Ted Turner, who really created an information revolution with CNN, to work for two real innovators and visionaries of our profession was more, certainly, than I could have expected, and I think more than any one journalist could hope for in their lifetime. So I love you. I thank you, and I hope to see you very soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was Christiane Amanpour from overseas praising and kind of loving Don Hewitt. Now why did you take on someone who still remains contracted to CNN? HEWITT: Well...

KING: A break from pattern.

HEWITT: Yes, but the only way you could get her. And when Mike did the story on her, I said, "wow, she's more than just a story for us. She should be here. She's one of us." And the only way to do it was to make a deal with CNN to use her five times a year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she wanted to come over.

HEWITT: And she wanted to come over badly. And it's contractual that we have to introduce her as Christiane Amanpour of CNN.

KING: Is it going to be hard dealing with someone else? Steve?

KROFT: I think it's going to be the easiest possible transition we could have.

KING: Because?

KROFT: Simply because we all know Jeff Fager. We've all worked with Jeff...

KING: Not someone from the outside.

KROFT: Right. Certainly, Morley and I have worked with him. I think we all know him and Mike has -- we've all had some contact with him doing pieces for "60 minutes II." He grew up at "60 Minutes." He understands the syntax and the grammar. He hears Don's voice in his head as we all do whether Don's on the floor or not. So in terms of the transition you couldn't figure out an easier one.

KING: Are you proud of him?

HEWITT: Yes.

KING: You ought to be.

HEWITT: Yes, sure am.

KING: Mike, you look forward to working with him?

WALLACE: Jeff. It's so much easier working with, Jeff. I mean, you talk about pussycat blood on the floor. With this guy -- he just -- you know, he's easy.

KING: But will he be good?

WALLACE: I think he's going to be good. But, we'll see.

KING: Ed?

BRADLEY: I think that the broadcast that we did the weekend that Ronald Reagan died was an example of what Jeff Fager could do in pulling pieces together and putting on a broadcast. I watched much of the coverage Saturday and Sunday on all of the networks and when I watched "60 Minutes" on Sunday night I saw something that was fresh. I saw something that I hadn't seen. And I think that was, in part, in tribute to what Jeff was able to do.

WALLACE: And partially because of him. Because all -- most of the stories that went forward that night...

KING: His stories, right?

WALLACE: Were his stories.

KING: But it's a new stamp, isn't it, Lesley?

STAHL: Inevitably. And I don't think we know how that's going to look on the air. But, you know, I came on and I was new. And Bob joined us, and we have to do this. It's done. And I like Jeff a lot. And I think it's going to be great.

KING: Bob, do you fear rock groups?

SIMON: No. I don't think -- I don't think -- listen, the people who are at the network -- they're doing very well.

And they're doing very well because they know their stuff. And I'm sure they find places for rock groups on the network. But not "60 Minutes." They don't want to destroy...

BRADLEY: We've had rock groups on "60 Minutes" but they work. We did the Rolling Stones. We did them twice and it worked for us. We did...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're almost as old as we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did them when they were 60 and when they were 70.

BRADLEY: We did Little Richard. And Don said to someone in print, "I don't know why Bradley is doing that story on Little Richard." I went to him, I said, "look, do you want to be critical? Talk to me. I don't want to read about it in the paper." And I was really angry. And then several weeks later we had the screening and the lights came up, and Don said, "boy, was I wrong. This is a good piece. But look, you want to take this and you want to put that there. You want to move this." Which is what he does.

STAHL: You can't deny that there has been a huge sea change in the business where all our bosses care about is the demographic. And the demographic is much younger than the average age of our viewer.

KING: So what do you do?

STAHL: So I think if people say they are concerned that there will be some kind of pressure to change the kind of pieces we do, I think we're all worried about that. I'm worried about that.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with our remaining moments as we salute Don Hewitt and "60 Minutes." Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each time they come back to the stage they do it more successfully than anyone before. Yet, what initially created the most attention this time was not the size of their show or the quality of their music. It was their age. Jagger is 51. Drummer Charlie Watts, 53. Guitarist Ron Wood is 47. And Keith Richards is 50.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: Our perception of reality roams in a giving day. From the light to the heavy, from warmth to menace. And if this broadcast does what we hope it will do, it will report reality.

SAFER: It seems to us that the idea of a flexible attitude has its attractions. All art is the rearrangement of previous perceptions. And we don't claim this is anything more than that or even that journalism is an art, for that matter. But we do think this is sort of a new approach. We realize, of course, that new approaches are not always instantly accepted.

WALLACE: We'll see. I'm Mike Wallace.

REASONER: We will, indeed. I'm Harry Reasoner. "60 Minutes" will be back two weeks from tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What are you going to do?

HEWITT: I'm going to take the show on the road. I got 19 road company shows coming up.

KING: Called "30 Minutes"?

HEWITT: Going to call, "30 Boston Minutes," "30 New York Minutes," "30 San Francisco Minutes."

KING: And how is it going to play?

When's it going to play?

HEWITT: Whenever the local station wants to run it. And if I can find anybody, even one tenth as good as anybody at this table, I got a hit.

KING: So it's a CBS production for local affiliates?

Yes. Yes. For their own stations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're traveling on commercial airplanes? HEWITT: No, I'm going to try to make a deal where they get me there. I want to be like Larry. I want a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I don't want to sit in here...

KING: Why don't you fly them private?

HEWITT: No, these...

STAHL: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: It's not my budget. I'm -- but I was going to design this one differently.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: I remember when we had to sit in the back of the plane. Seriously. And I mean economy. And the crews, the camera people...

HEWITT: They had open cockpits in planes then.

WALLACE: The crews had it in their contract that they got first class. And they'd from time to time send nuts back to the correspondents sitting there.

KING: We have limited time.

You have a favorite moment, Steve?

KROFT: There are too many to remember and single one out.

KING: Lesley.

STAHL: I remember my first piece, Don looked at it, and said, "why would anybody care?"

KING: Morley? Favorite piece, no?

Too many, Ed?

BRADLEY: All you got here is here come the monks. Wait a minute, here come some more monks. That's a piece that never got on the air.

KING: Bob.

SIMON: I remember a Harry Reasoner piece on the French Foreign Legion that just for me was the quintessential "60 Minutes."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Harry had a lot to do. A lot to do with this broadcast.

KING: Oh, he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the beginning. KING: Now Mike. I'll tell you, Mike did a piece on me and he was so nice. You said to me, I was so nice to you, I'm going to kill the next three people.

STAHL: You know, I can't go anywhere where people don't march up to me and I think oh, they recognize me. And they start screaming at me about some piece you did, Mike.

KING: Did you -- Did you buy the image of Mr. Mean?

WALLACE: Of course.

KING: Because you're not a mean guy.

(CROSSTALK)

SAFER: Would you believe that people stop me and him in airports and call us Reasoner.

KING: Really?

Where did that mean thing come from?

WALLACE: Because he cast us.

KING: Oh.

WALLACE: The white hat was on Harry Reasoner. The black hat was on me, right?

BRADLEY: But you come by it naturally. You were always wearing it.

KING: Did you enjoy it more when you could slam someone?

WALLACE: Say again?

KING: Did you enjoy it more when you could slam someone, really?

WALLACE: Of course. Of course. That's not a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you?

WALLACE: It's not a question. No.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Larry doesn't slam. It's not a question of slamming. It's a question of -- seriously, of going, asking the unexpected, even if abrasive, question.

KING: You like the "got you"?

WALLACE: Sure.

BRADLEY: Forgive me, Mom. (CROSSTALK)

SIMON: Mike Wallace's producer called me one night a couple of years ago and said, Bob Anderson, and said that I just discovered the most frightening sentence in the English language. He went up to a guy in a diner and said, good evening, I'd like you to meet Mike Wallace.

STAHL: Don loves it when we're out of character. He loves it when we do pieces that show Mike with Tina Turner. That was so unexpected. And so everybody gets to know us as one thing. And then he loves...

KING: When was your last piece?

HEWITT: What was my -- I don't know. They all blend together.

KING: I mean, the last piece you did.

HEWITT: I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: Zinni. Zinni, I guess. No, I didn't do it.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: That's the other thing. I don't do them. They do them. And...

KING: What was the last thing you looked at that went on the air?

HEWITT: I probably -- Anthony Zinni, who is like dynamite. I mean, he's one hell of a guy.

KROFT: He's been a great boss. He's been a great boss. You can challenge him. You can fight him. The only thing you cannot do is bore him in the screening room. That is the one thing that is not allowed.

KING: Do any of you think of retiring, Mike?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike.

WALLACE: To what?

KING: Ed.

BRADLEY: Not in the immediate future.

SAFER: The only -- I am now theoretically working half-time. But I'm only doing that so I can do other stuff. I mean, there's no -- idea of retirement is...

KING: I see. BRADLEY: But his idea is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). His idea of working half-time, he comes into my office one day and he says, look I'm doing this piece I got to finish up for "60 Minutes." I'm crashing a piece for "60 Minutes 2" and then I'm doing a piece for Sunday morning. I said Morley, that's half-time?

KING: Steve, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KROFT: I don't want to work until I'm 86. That's for sure.

KING: You don't want to?

KROFT: I will at some point retire.

KING: And Mr. Simon?

SIMON: I want to be alive at 86 and I want to be working and I want to be just like Mike.

STAHL: I want to be older than Mike.

KING: I want to be all of you. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lesley, you too.

KING: I love you, Don.

HEWITT: Thank you, too.

KING: Don, you and Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, Morley Safer, Lesley Stall, Steve Croft, Bob Simon and with us by tape Christiane Amanpour and Andy Rooney. I'll be back in a couple of minutes. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We hope you enjoyed this as much as I did in hosting this. What an honor to meet this great crew of people and have them with us.

Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" is next. See you tomorrow night, good night.

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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