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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Ringing in the New Year; Hussein Buried in the Middle of the Night; Services Honoring President Ford; Final Farewell to James Brown

Aired December 31, 2006 - 07:00   ET

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


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: "Now in the News," Happy New Year. Not for most of you, but in some parts of the South Pacific at least. People across the globe, of course, ringing in the new year today.
And be sure to stay right here with CNN. We'll bring you many of those celebrations as they happen throughout the day.

Executed, now buried. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was buried in the middle of the night in the town where he was born just outside of Tikrit, and now new grainy video images that you're looking at has emerged showing Hussein exchanging taunts with onlookers at the gallows. More of the footage and the story minutes away.

And the nation honors its 38th president. Gerald Ford lies in state at the U.S. State Capitol -- or the U.S. Capitol. Members of the public can continue paying their respects later this morning. In a ceremony yesterday, Ford was remembered as a man called to heal the nation from the turmoil of Watergate.

MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: Under lockdown this morning. Dozens of inmates were hospitalized after a fight between two men turned into a massive riot in a California prison. It took police a couple of hours to control the 800 or so inmates involved in the fighting. The prison is in Chino, California. That's about 40 miles from Los Angeles.

And pack patience, because you can expect delays this final day of the year from Texas, north across the Plains. Turbulent weather is snarling traffic, and travel plans at airports and on the highways as well. Hundreds of stranded motorists have been rescued in southeastern Colorado, where snowdrifts reached 10 feet in some spots. Coming up in 10 minutes, airport woes in Texas.

Now let's check in with Bonnie Schneider. She has a quick check of your weather.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HOLMES: Witness to the execution. You are there for Saddam Hussein's final moments. New video and audio of the former dictator's death by hanging.

All the details coming up in just a few moments.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is December 31st.

Where has the year gone?

LONG: I don't know. Did you get everything done that you wanted to get done?

HOLMES: No, I've got some stuff I've got to do today to wrap up the year.

LONG: OK.

HOLMES: But yes, the last day of 2006.

Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

LONG: Good morning. I'm Melissa Long, in today for Betty.

It is a couple of minutes after 7:00 in the morning here in the East, 4:00 in the morning in California.

Thanks for starting your morning with us.

HOLMES: Yes. And again, Happy New Year for a lot of folks.

LONG: Happy New Year, actually, for a place known as Christmas Island. Actually, it happened a couple of hours ago. And they were celebrating in London.

That's the name of the biggest port city there. And it's Christmas Island. The Christmas, of course, the local pronunciation.

The island has the distinction of being the first place on earth to see 2007.

Happy New Year.

HOLMES: Happy New Year.

Meanwhile, right now, more people in the South Pacific ringing in the new year as well. It's midnight now in places like Suva in Fiji, or the Majuro in the Marshall Islands. And you can't forget Funafuti, Tarawa. These are some vacation places here.

LONG: I am so impressed.

HOLMES: Yes. And Nauru, which was once named Pleasant Island, which sounds like a good place to be right now.

LONG: You vacationed in all those spots?

HOLMES: One on the list I still need to get to.

LONG: That's your resolution.

HOLMES: Yes.

LONG: Got it. All right.

Back here on the East Coast of the U.S., we're still about 17 hours away from popping the champagne corks. About a million people will spend this New Year's Eve in Times Square watching the ball drop, of course.

So what's going on there now? Let's check in live with CNN's Ines Ferre.

Good morning and Happy New Year.

Good morning, Melissa.

And we're ready to go here. There aren't many people here right now, but tonight this place is expected to be packed.

Now, security will be tight here in Times Square. Police will be patrolling the streets, the subways, the rooftops. You're also going to have some surveillance helicopters up above, and also some bomb- sniffing dogs.

But starting at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon, vehicle traffic will be closed here in Times Square. People will start coming in through security checkpoints. And they're asking folks to come early to enjoy the festivities, to enjoy the performances.

And this year, you're going to have, guess what, Melissa, more confetti. Three and a half tons of confetti that's going to be thrown throughout the night from several buildings here in Times Square. Ad this year they're called word fetti, because some of them have words written on them like "hope," "peace," "celebrate" and that kind of thing.

And I'm telling you, this is just an excellent, awesome place to be in Times Square on New Year's Eve. I've covered this for several years now, and the energy here, the people are just so happy. They're ecstatic to be here. It's going to be a blast -- Melissa.

LONG: Yes. And I think the only problem you may have if you get there as early as 3:30 in the afternoon, it's going to be a long time before you get to the ladies' room or the men's room.

FERRE: That's right. No portable bathrooms here, no public bathrooms here in Times Square. So people shouldn't drink much before they come here.

HOLMES: Right. Right. Right.

LONG: Ines Ferre, live from Times Square.

Thank you so much. Happy New Year to you.

FERRE: You, too.

LONG: Thank you. And we have a New Year's theme for our e-mail question this morning. Do you happen to have a New Year's resolution? Or maybe this: Maybe you have an idea for a resolution for someone else?

Well, e-mail us your thoughts, weekends@cnn.com. We will share some of your responses on the air a little built later in the newscast.

HOLMES: It happened in the dead of night, Saddam Hussein buried. No fuss, no fanfare, just a small group present. Also, new images of his execution surfaced.

CNN's Cal Perry reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAL PERRY, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Iraqis waking up this morning to the end of an era. Saddam Hussein buried in his hometown near to the town of Tikrit at about 4:00 a.m. this morning. We understand it was a very small ceremony. We understand less than a hundred people in attendance. The ceremony itself taking less than two hours to complete.

All of this less than 24 hours after the former dictator was executed by the current Iraqi government. Everyone in the world now familiar, of course, with the very grainy, the very gruesome video leaked from a cell phone showing Saddam Hussein with a noose around his neck. Moments before his death, those in the room heckling the former dictator, saying to him over and over again, "Muqtada, Muqtada," referring, of course, to Muqtada al-Sadr, the very powerful leader of the Mehdi militia here in Iraq.

Now, Saddam Hussein, ending his life exactly as he began his trial, exactly as he reigned Iraq for more than two decades, turning to the crowd, saying to them in a very sarcastic voice, "Muqtada."

So Saddam Hussein has not only been executed, but now he has been buried. The end of an era here in Iraq. The question remaining, will this make a difference, will it stop the violence in Iraq?

Yesterday the violence continued. More than 60 people were killed across the country. Today Iraqis waking up hoping that this is not only the end of Saddam Hussein, but the end of sectarian violence here in Iraq.

Cal Perry, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: Remembering President Gerald Ford with this glowing tribute on the ski slopes of Vail, Colorado. Beautiful music, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," as hundreds of skiers carrying torches snaked down the mountainside last night.

Why Vail, Colorado? Well, Ford began skiing, visiting that resort back in 1968. He had a summer home in nearby Beaver Creek. The body of the former president lies in state at the U.S. Capitol this morning. Hundreds filed past the flag-draped casket after it arrived at the Capitol on Saturday. The public viewing will resume a little later in the morning.

CNN's Gary Nurenberg has more now on the services honoring President Ford.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After a nearly coast-to-coast flight over the country he loved, the plane carrying the 38th president of the United States landed at Andrews Air Force base Saturday evening. Gerald Ford's family stood on the tarmac, watching as his casket was carried past honorary pallbearers, including Vice President Cheney, to the Hearse that would drive by landmarks from his life.

Alexandria, Virginia, where the Ford family lived for 19 years before moving to the White House, a brief pause at the World War II Memorial, acknowledgement of his naval service in that war, acknowledgement of his generation. A wave from Mrs. Ford.

THERON NEWSOME, U.S. NAVY (RET.): He would appreciate what came -- what happened here tonight. I knew his wife did. She was waving to our latest.

NURENBERG: Eagle Scouts were there. Gerald Ford was one of them. So were women whose lives were changed when he signed legislation opening American military academies to women.

COL. YVONNE CHILLS, U.S. AIR FORCE: This meant a great deal. I applied with the first class of women to the United States Air Force Academy. So it opened up a door for me that I didn't know existed before.

NURENBERG: After the pause at the World War II Memorial, the Hearse took Mr. Ford to the Capitol, where he began his congressional career in 1949.

The former president was taken to the Capitol using the entrance to the House of Representatives where he became minority leader. Mrs. Ford standing at the top of those 45 steps following the casket to the door of the House chamber where it briefly rested. Mrs. Ford's composure broke before the casket was carried to the rotunda of the Capitol where it was placed on the catafalque that once bore Abraham Lincoln's remains.

Gerald Ford never realized his dream of becoming speaker of the House but was eulogized by a speaker of the House who praised Ford's leadership of a shaken country in the days following Watergate.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: In the summer of 1974, America didn't need a philosopher king or a warrior prince, an aloof aristocrat, a populist firebrand. We needed a healer. We needed a rock. We needed honesty and candor and courage. We needed Gerald Ford.

NURENBERG: Vice President Cheney remembered those days.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a time to every purpose under heaven. In the years of Gerald Rudolph Ford, it was a time to heal. There is also in life a time to part, when those who are dear to us must go their way.

And so for now, Mr. President, farewell.

NURENBERG: The chamber was hushed as Mrs. Ford ended the service kneeling at her husband's casket. Friends, officials and family members filed by before the public was allowed to enter, many waiting in the December night for their chance to pay tribute.

(on camera): Gerald Ford was not that aloof aristocrat or philosopher king that Speaker Hastert said we didn't need in a post- Nixon America. He was perhaps most than most really perceived as a man of the people, and now some of those people will have the opportunity to pay their final respects as Mr. Ford lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda. His funeral is Tuesday at the National Cathedral.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: The ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda proceeded even after a mourner collapsed during the opening hymn. Eighty-four-year-old William Broomfield is a former Michigan representative who served with Ford in Congress. He was attended to by Senator Bill Frist, who is also a doctor. Frist later indicated that the former congressman was OK.

Well, the good news here, Denver is out of the woods, it seems.

HOLMES: It seems.

LONG: But now the storm has moved into the Great Plains, with apparently consequences for thousands of people. We have the full story coming up in just about five minutes.

HOLMES: We haven't seen Hammer move like that in years, have we? There was a lot of singing, a lot of dancing, a lot of good music, and there was a surprise guest.

We should just stick with Hammer here for a second.

LONG: Look at that dancing.

HOLMES: Yes. This is a final public viewing of the "Godfather of Soul," James Brown. This was yesterday.

Our report in about 35 minutes coming up here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING. LONG: T.J., I don't know what you store in your closet, but you'd probably run, too, just like these people, because they saw 15- foot-long python.

HOLMES: Oh, wow.

LONG: Ooh, don't watch if you happen to be terrified of snakes.

HOLMES: Oh, wow.

LONG: The slithering details coming up in about 13 minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Now taking a look at some other stories making news "Across America."

This picture's making some news. Pretty interesting. Take a look here.

Probably no need to explain to you that something probably gone awry here. Something's not right.

A plane with a bit of a problem on a runway at the airport in Van Nuys, California. Investigators trying to figure out exactly how it ended up like that. And we would be curious to know ourselves.

So let us know when you figure that one out.

LONG: Plant City, Florida, a woman is suspected of running a kind of shoplifting ring, using her children to steal. Our affiliate WFTS quotes police who say the woman rounded up her kids, had them help her steal around $500 worth of merchandise from a local Wal-Mart. The children, if you're curious, range in age from 2 years old to 10.

HOLMES: Well, zero visibility, that's what's greeting many motorists traveling across the Plains from New Mexico through to the Dakotas. Colorado's Interstate 25 closed between Pueblo and the New Mexico state line. At daylight, the Colorado National Guard hopes to continue searching for stranded motorists.

LONG: Take a look at the Land of Enchantment. It's New Mexico.

New Mexico police there have been telling police to stay off the roads because of, you see, the poor weather conditions. This latest storm forced the cancellation of numerous airline flights into Albuquerque. The airport reporting a record 10 and a half inches of snow.

HOLMES: Ooh.

And planes are flying again this morning in Texas, but for a long time over the weekend passengers were either stuck on the tarmac or stranded outside the terminals. The delays triggered by Friday's storms.

Debbie Denmon of our affiliate station WFAA has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBBIE DENMON, REPORTER, WFAA (voice over): The line at American Airlines moved at a snail's pace. Most passengers waited in line for two hours just to reach the ticket counter. Some got tired of standing.

(on camera): That looks pretty comfortable.

STACY WELP, PASSENGER: It is comfortable. It's a makeshift chair.

DENMON (voice over): She has reason to be upbeat, because her scheduled flight to Indiana will depart on time. Others were not so fortunate. Friday's turbulent weather caused hundreds of canceled flights Friday and Saturday...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our flight is canceled.

DENMON: ... and affected a range of people.

BOB GILMOUR, PASSENGER'S SON: I thought they would at least take care of the wheelchair people, elderly people. You know, maybe people with very young children. I mean, where do they stay? Or where would she stay if we weren't here?

DENMON (on camera): Not everyone got to wait in the comfort of a terminal. Some were trapped on their planes for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had to sit in Shreveport for four -- three and a half hours.

DENMON: On the tarmac?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the tarmac. Could not get off the plane or anything.

DENMON: How frustrating was that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, babies -- you know that means if we're sitting on the runways the toilets can't work either. So imagine that smell. We could not wait to get the heck out of there.

OK? Hello? Finally. And now, I'm glad it stopped raining. Maybe we can get out of here now.

DENMON (voice over): One man showed us where he called American Airlines' 1-800 51 times since being stranded Friday night and couldn't get through. Clay here, he says it got worse.

CLAY HEERY, PASSENGER: The thing I thought that was totally egregious was the fact that the airport personnel, the American Airlines airport personnel, took off their I.D. tags so they could not be identified when they were talking to people. DENMON: This sign, "These may not fly," is ironic considering the passengers may not make it either. American Airlines says this was one of the first storms AA has seen as far as getting planes in the airplane.

Debbie Denmon, Channel 8 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And our Bonnie Schneider keeping an eye on the weather for us.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LONG: A lot of people logging on to the Web this morning to get up to date before the end of the year.

NICOLE LAPIN, CNN PIPELINE ANCHOR: Yes, certainly. A lot of people -- a lot of stories around the world today. And here are some of the most popular on CNN.com right now.

It's actually a very interesting story about a woman who is the oldest woman to give birth, ever. She was a 67-year-old woman and she's from Spain. And she actually beats the record of a 66-year-old woman who had held the record before that.

So we'll tell you about that coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: And this just in to CNN on this final day of the year. Police in Thailand are telling CNN that at least seven bombs have exploded in Bangkok. The wire reports say at least 12 people are hurt. It is coming up on 7:30 in the evening Sunday, 12 hours ahead of us here in the East.

We're checking on this story. We'll bring you more information as soon as we get it.

HOLMES: All right. Nicole Lapin back here to tell us how folks are wrapping up the year online.

What are they liking today?

LAPIN: A lot of people liking those different stories today. Here are some of the most popular stories on the Web right now. A lot of things coming in from all around the world, but here are some of the things you're clicking on right now.

At this ornate hospital in Barcelona, Spain, a brand-new record for the oldest woman to give birth. It was set this weekend, 67 years old.

HOLMES: Sounds (ph) like a good idea.

LAPIN: This woman gave birth to twins yesterday. And the previous record, that was held by a 66-year-old woman.

All right, T.J., let's take you back stateside right now.

A woman in Florida found a big surprise in her closet. Yes. A 16-foot albino python.

Hello. There you go. Apparently, her roommate left it behind while she was renting a room.

HOLMES: Yes, she forgot something.

LAPIN: Yes. Yes, just a little something in her closet.

HOLMES: You can forget that. You can overlook that.

LAPIN: And pig races in Texas not necessarily something new. But the fact that they're happening outside a mosque is a little unique. Pork, of course, prohibited in a Muslim diet.

A man was apparently unhappy with the mosque going up right next door because he thought it would make him move. So he staged pig races in order to protest.

HOLMES: Oh, wow.

LAPIN: Well, mosque officials eventually said they didn't want him to go, but he's continuing his antics anyway, including selling sausages during prayer time.

HOLMES: Oh, wow.

LAPIN: So you can read more about these stories at cnn.com/mostpopular.

HOLMES: These are things people are interested in. We've got serious things going on in the world.

LAPIN: Numbers -- numbers don't lie.

LONG: Yes, I'm surprised you don't have stories on how to keep your resolutions.

LAPIN: Right.

LONG: Those have got to be on that list somewhere.

LAPIN: Yes. Well, these are the ones people love the most. And we're watching.

HOLMES: Pythons.

LAPIN: We know. We know what you're clicking on.

LONG: A resolution to clean out your closet.

LAPIN: There you go. There you go. LONG: There you go. Spring cleaning in the winter.

LAPIN: Perfect.

HOLMES: All right, Nicole. Thank you.

LAPIN: Sure.

LONG: Thanks, Nicole.

Still to come this morning on CNN SUNDAY, we have some new video of the last minutes of the execution of Saddam Hussein. We will show you the former dictator engaged in a verbal dispute with his guards. That heated exchange coming up in about five minutes.

HOLMES: Plus, Cuba's Fidel Castro is hitting Havana's airwaves with a special address. His message when we go global in about eight minutes here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: An update now on a breaking news story this morning.

Police in Thailand telling CNN that at least seven bombs have exploded in the capital city of Bangkok. At least 12 people are hurt.

Now, these explosions come just six hours before midnight there, as Thai residents are obviously preparing to celebrate New Year's Eve.

As we get more information we'll continue to bring it to you this morning.

And speaking of getting ready for the new year, it's just about time to ring in '07, as you know. In fact, it's already the new year in places like Fiji, Tonga, parts of New Zealand.

Keep it right here. We will bring you live coverage of the celebrations in Sydney, Australia, coming up in just about 30 minutes from now.

Nice.

Executed and now buried. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was buried in the middle of the night in the town where he was born just outside Tikrit. And this new grainy video emerging now, showing Hussein exchanging taunts with onlookers at the gallows.

More of the footage and more on the story just minutes away.

HOLMES: The nation honors its 38th president. Gerald Ford lying in state at the U.S. Capitol. A live look at the Capitol here. Members of the public can continue paying their respects later this morning. In a ceremony yesterday, Ford was remembered as a man called to heal the nation from the turmoil of Watergate.

Under lockdown this morning. Dozens of inmates were hospitalized after a fight between two men turned into a massive riot in a California prison. It took place about two hours to control the 800 or so inmates involved in the fighting. The prison is in Chino, California, which is about 40 miles from Los Angeles.

And from the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is the last day of the year. The last day of 2006.

Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

LONG: Good morning. I'm Melissa Long, in today for Betty.

Maybe she's working on New Year's resolutions, cramming to get them all in, right, from last year?

HOLMES: I doubt it.

LONG: No?

HOLMES: We all know what Betty's doing on this New Year's Eve.

LONG: It's 7:33 in the morning here in Atlanta, the East Coast, 11:33 in Australia. Sydney, they're getting ready to celebrate the new year.

HOLMES: Yes. Is that right -- do we have the time right? It's coming up to the top of the hour for us?

LONG: Yes.

HOLMES: No, not right? Yes. OK.

Different opinions.

LONG: Which watch are you looking at?

HOLMES: I don't know. I need to get this thing right.

But thank you all for starting your day with us. And a Happy New Year here.

But we will start now in Iraq, where, of course, buried in the dead of night, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein laid to rest in his hometown.

Dozens of relatives and other mourners gathered after his burial. Some calling his execution a crime. Hussein was buried in a religious compound near Tikrit, north of Baghdad. His burial site is near his sons' graves. They, you may remember, were killed in a battle with American forces in 2003.

It's been more than 24 hours since Saddam Hussein's death in Baghdad, and so far images of his final moments have been limited to two pieces of silent video, until now.

Here's CNN's Carol Lin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The last moments of Saddam Hussein's life. Witnesses describe the death chamber as loud, chaotic, filled with chatter and shouting. We now know that is true.

We've seen a new video of the execution, one that's popping up on several Internet sites. You're about to see it, too.

It was recorded by hand, clearly not with a professional camera. Probably a cell phone. We don't know who shot it, who released it, or whether the Iraqi government approves.

You'll see and hear Hussein's executioners taunting him, chanting support for Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and a defiant Hussein, repeating their taunts sarcastically. Our translators provided the subtitles.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FMR. IRAQI DICTATOR (through translator): Prayers be upon the Prophet Mohammad and on his family. And glorify the mighty and curse his enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada...

HUSSEIN: Muqtada. Is this how you show your bravery as men?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight to hell.

HUSSEIN: Is this the bravery of Arabs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Long live Mohammad Baqir Sadr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight to hell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, I am begging you not to. The man is being executed.

HUSSEIN: I bear witness that there is no God but God and that Mohammad is the messenger of God.

And I bear witness that there is no God but God...

LIN: We stopped the video at the precise moment Saddam Hussein drops through a trap door beneath his feet and the rope around his neck tightens. There's a few more seconds of shouting, and chanting, and then a close-up of Saddam Hussein's face.

Carol Lin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: "Going Global" now with some other stories happening around the world.

A new message to share with you from Castro. Cuban state media are releasing a message it's attributing to the ailing leader Fidel Castro. And in it, Castro thanks the Cuban people for their affection and support. Castro is not seen. A radio announcer reading the message stated it was written by the Cuban president.

In Somalia, thousands flee as heavily-armed Ethiopian troops close in on the last remaining stronghold of the militant Islamic movement. The Associated Press now reporting Somalia's prime minister says the suspects in the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies are sheltered in the Islamic movement's stronghold.

And in Indonesia, rescue boats picked up scores of exhausted survivors from a ferry that capsized Friday in Java Sea. And they are also recovering dozens of bodies. Around 400 people remain missing.

HOLMES: And we do want to give you an update here. We're now getting word from authorities in Thailand that it was four bombings. We were just telling you about reportedly seven, we told you about just a short time ago. That was word from the police a short time ago.

Now they are updating that figure, and now saying it was actually four bombs that exploded in the capital of Bangkok there. Of course, people getting ready for New Year's celebrations, 12 hours ahead of us of us, I believe, from here on the East Coast. So about 7:40 in the p.m. there right now.

But again, these four bombs now, reportedly, at least 12 people hurt. But that's something we're keeping an eye on. We just wanted to bring you that latest information. And as that updates we will bring that to you.

Meanwhile, we'll move on here and talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the same yesterday, same today. But how it's being delivered is changing.

LONG: It's a spirit of hip hop in this morning's "Faces of Faith" coming up in about three minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Yes, this ain't grandma's gospel, but the message is the same. In this morning's "Faces of Faith," spreading the good word hip hop style.

CNN's Carol Lin has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIN (voice over): Hip hop isn't just music, it's a movement. A musical genre that incorporates diverse elements of ethnicity, art and urban life. It's both celebrated and criticized for its influence on an impression al generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): Why would I be afraid of simple Satan...

LIN: But it's so influential that gospel artists use hip hop as a platform to, well, spread the gospel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, I need for you to be patient with me this morning.

LIN: "The Spirit of Hip Hop" is a radio show working to bridge the gap between the church and the streets by bringing the church to the streets.

BISHOP DALE C. BRONNER, WORD OF FAITH WORSHIP CATHEDRAL: This gap existed during the time of Jesus between the Scribes and the Pharisees and Jesus. Jesus didn't primarily do his ministry in the synagogue. He did it in the street, on the mountainside. He did it where the people were.

LIN: The message from the spirit of hip hop is that the church and the hip hop generation are not at odds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say the hip hop generation is dead. I say you're alive. They say hip hop is of the devil. I say it's not the case. They say that you're cursed, I say that you're blessed.

LIN: Critics aren't exactly screaming "Hallelujah!" The say associating the gospel with a culture that is often cynical about religion is crossing the line.

Not so, says John Gray.

JOHN GRAY, COMEDIAN, SINGER: There's a way to be relevant and communicate the message with integrity without compromise, and that's what tonight is about, saying we understand you, and we want and value you.

LIN: The spirit of hip hop goes on the road with events like The Exodus, which is a hip hop festival, a soul-stirring revival and youth rally rolled into one.

GRIFF, HOT 107.9: My oldest son is 6'1", wears a 13 shoe, his voice is deeper than mine, but he always walks around the house asking me kid stuff. "Dad, can I have some milk?" "Yeah. Get some."

LIN: Young men and women by the thousands are invited to become Christian disciples.

CORY "COCO BROTHER" CONDREY, HOT 107.9: It's all about souls. That's what it's about. If people aren't getting saved -- man, I was walking out, and they just told me 7,000 folks just got saved. That's what I just heard on the intercom system as I was walking here.

LIN: The spirit of hip hop found its home on Atlanta's 107.9 FM station nearly two years ago. Host Cory "Coco Brother" Condrey started off with a three-hour time slot on Sunday mornings. By popular demand, the show expanded to six hours on Sundays and an hour each weekday morning. It's now nationally syndicated with an audience of 10 million.

CONDREY: The older generation will call us Generation X. And once you speak, you can actually curse the thing. And the thing about it tonight was about freedom. That's what Exodus in the book of the bible is all about. It's all about freedom. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

CONDREY: So, right now, that's the bridge. When this man right here grabs on to myself, he's now bridging the gap between one generation to another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank Jesus. Thank Jesus.

CONDREY: He wants your worship. He wants your worship.

LIN: Carol Lin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: There was a surprise guest at the last public viewing for James Brown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: I've never seen a performer perform like James Brown. And right then and there, I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of James Brown.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LONG: The self-proclaimed "King of Pop" paying tribute to the "Godfather of Soul." Our report in about four minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: A final farewell to James Brown. A packed house of fans clapped, they danced, shouted and sang in a tribute to James Brown in his hometown, Augusta, Georgia. Pop singer Michael Jackson was among those eulogizing Brown.

CNN's Sibila Vargas reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was a packed house for James Brown as more than 8,000 fans came to their feet to pay their final respects to a music legend. In a golden casket, Brown took center stage one last time at the arena that shares his name. Billed a "home-going celebration," gospel, funk and soul stars came together to pay tribute to their colleague and friend.

Daughter Denise Brown channeled her father's spirit alongside M.C. Hammer. But it was a surprise appearance by Michael Jackson that nearly brought down the house.

REV. AL SHARPTON, SINGER'S FRIEND: Michael came for you today, Mr. Brown.

VARGAS: The "King of Pop" kept it brief, and to the point.

JACKSON: James Brown is my greatest inspiration.

James Brown, I shall miss you. And I love you so much. And thank you for everything. God bless you.

And I love you.

VARGAS: Long-time partner Tomi Rae Hynie serenaded her music man, then said an emotional good-bye.

Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke about Brown's passion and determination and implored the crowd to pay Brown honor.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: On your feet and show your love for James Brown. Put your hands together. Show your love for his singing, for his dancing, for his message, for his music, for his generosity.

Put your hands together. Put your hands together.

Let me hear you scream. Let me hear you scream. Let me hear you scream!

Show your love. Let me hear you scream like you really mean it.

VARGAS: And Reverend Al Sharpton, who led the service, summarized the iconic singer's essence.

SHARPTON: James Brown was a man's man, and he stood up like a man, he lived like a man, and on Christmas Day he died like a man.

VARGAS: There was one last surprise for James Brown, a man who never graduated from high school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hereby bestow on Mr. James Brown the degree Doctor of Humane Letters with all rights, privileges, responsibilities thereto appertaining.

VARGAS: A fitting farewell for the man who came to be known as the hardest-working man in show business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Brown. You can get your rest now. We'll never forget you. And we won't let the world forget you.

Sleep on. We'll see you in the morning.

VARGAS: Sibila Vargas, CNN, Augusta, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Yes.

LONG: A beautiful song to wrap up that ceremony.

HOLMES: Yes, that's gorgeous. And they didn't want to call it a funeral. Called it a celebration.

LONG: A celebration.

HOLMES: And it certainly was yesterday.

We do want to switch now and head over to weather. And some weather to talk about. A lot of people got New Year's plans...

LONG: Yes.

HOLMES: ... and going to rain on that parade for a lot of folks.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LONG: As you know, it's the last day of the year. Hope you know this, right?

HOLMES: Yes.

LONG: In some parts of the world it's already 2007.

HOLMES: I'm aware, yes.

LONG: Right now we're bringing you -- actually, we're counting down.

HOLMES: Yes, still counting.

LONG: We're waiting for the famous New Year's fireworks from Sydney, Australia. That's just a few minutes away, about five minutes away from now.

HOLMES: Yes. Some -- some other places keeping an eye on as they inch closer to the new year. Seoul, Tokyo, it's two hours away there, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. It's midnight in Hong Kong. And Baghdad, eight hours ahead of us. So U.S. troops there will be ringing in the new year at 4:00 p.m.

And there's always a good show in the City of Lights. We'll see the celebration in Paris at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And we're keeping an eye on all that stuff for you.

LONG: That's a wonderfully romantic place to ring in the new year.

HOLMES: Yes.

LONG: Well, midnight is midnight in Times Square. And that's where our own Anderson Cooper will be spending the evening. And you can join Anderson there, along with special guests the Goo Goo Dolls from Buffalo, New York; B-52s as well.

Anderson Cooper's New Year's Eve special begins tonight 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

HOLMES: All right.

Now we want -- we were talking about Sydney, Australia. We want to take a picture there, where things are starting to heat up just a bit.

You see some performances going on, just minutes away from midnight there. They always, as you know, put on a huge, spectacular fireworks show over the world famous Sydney Opera House.

We're going to have more from Australia at the top of the hour.

LONG: That is a beautiful view of the harbor...

HOLMES: Yes.

LONG: ... with the harbor bridge, and that icon of Australia, really, the Opera House.

HOLMES: We should go sometime.

LONG: Yes. Are you asking me?

HOLMES: We should Yes, we should go.

LONG: Are you going to pick up the tickets?

HOLMES: Next year I will pay.

LONG: OK.

HENRY: We can roll.

LONG: Cool.

Everybody else invited?

HOLMES: I'm just kidding. I'm just playing. That's one of my resolutions, is to not lie so much next year.

LONG: It's a good resolution to have.

We'll talk about that coming up a little later in the morning.

A special edition of "HOUSE CALL" is straight ahead.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a preview.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.

We've got a special hour-long edition of "HOUSE CALL" coming up this morning.

Starting at 8:00 a.m., we're counting down the top medical stories of the year and looking at how those stories could affect your health and health care in 2007. From cancer breakthroughs to the safety of food on your table, and the government legislating your diet, all of that's coming up at 8:00 a.m.

HOLMES: That's at 8:00 a.m. But then at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani among some of the big names eying the White House. Who will run, who will win? Well, we're going to ask somebody who hopefully has the answers.

The Amazing Kreskin will join us with his predictions for 2007.

LONG: And resolutions for the new year. T.J. said he's not going to lie as much.

HOLMES: Yes, I'm not going to lie so much next year.

LONG: Do you have one? Or do you have a resolution that you think somebody else should have?

E-mail us, weekends@cnn.com.

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