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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Brad Pitt in New Orleans
Aired December 5, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Brad Pitt -- the man.
BRAD PITT, ACTOR: We want to build homes.
KING: His mission...
PITT: We're going to get this place rebuilt.
KING: Our conversation.
PITT: Hey, you're good at this. You've done this before.
KING: Brad Pitt for the hour -- it's exclusive and it's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Brad Pitt.
Finally, after all these years, we have obtained the services of Mr. Pitt -- on a very important occasion, by the way. This is the debut of an extraordinary charity to help a much-needed project.
Thank you so much for doing this.
PITT: Yes. Thanks for having me and having all of us here.
KING: How did you get this -- first of all, why did you come to New Orleans in the first place?
PITT: I just always had a love for this place. I mean it's really like no other city we have. It's got its own unique vitality and it's the home of Mardi Gras and -- I mean, where else can you do something as silly as this and people really enjoy it?
KING: And we're going to talk about that.
PITT: It's great for (INAUDIBLE).
KING: But I mean did you come here before Katrina?
PITT: Yes. I've been here since -- coming here since '94. I came here then for a film. But I lived here for about three months and really fell in love with the place. And it's been a nice home for myself and my family.
KING: The people are like no people in America. There's something about the people of New Orleans. I mean...
PITT: They -- I mean, you come here, you'll meet seventh generational families here, people that -- they are not leaving. They love this place and it's very important to them.
KING: So where do you -- you live here?
PITT: We live in a few -- I mean, we're a pretty nomadic family, as you can imagine.
KING: How do you work that?
PITT: But, yes, we have a base here.
KING: How do you work being nomadic in this kind of society?
PITT: We pack up the kids. We've got our system and it's truly a mobile unit. And we plop down here and we can plug into a school here and (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: Then you go to Los Angeles (INAUDIBLE)?
PITT: Los Angeles -- we're there right now for a month here while Angie is working. And then we'll be back through here and...
KING: Does the film dictate where you live?
PITT: A little bit.
KING: So where -- what are you going to do...
PITT: The film or whatever we're focusing on, yes.
KING: All right, so you came here out of a love for New Orleans not...
KING: So now Katrina happens.
KING: Then what?
How soon after that did you come?
PITT: A few months after. I was out filming "Jesse James" in Calgary when the storm hit. And it was talking to people at the first Clinton Global Initiative -- we were talking about the lack of -- or the help that was needed with the rebuilding effort. And I knew -- I know a little bit about building. And I certainly know people who know a lot about building. And could we start putting these people together, and, you know, help the good folks here get -- you know, rebuild their communities.
KING: So you wanted to get involved from the start?
KING: OK. So, first of all, isn't it a blight on somebody -- city, state, federal -- that this Ninth Ward ain't any better?
PITT: Well, no question. I mean but it -- you know, the Ninth Ward has got a lot of attention. And we're starting here because it seems to have the least -- or the most difficulty of coming back. But this is -- this is everywhere. You -- to see the extent of the damage and the extent of the people -- the extent of the lack of movement is -- I mean, this goes on for parish after parish after parish.
We're hoping we can take -- start here as a nucleus, but we can keep expanding on this throughout New Orleans and the Gulf Coast itself.
KING: OK, Brad, what do we want to do here?
PITT: We want to build homes, OK?
So I'll back up. You know, we started on this project probably a year ago. And myself, Bill McDonough -- who's one of the premier thinkers, a green designer, intelligent building techniques and really a tremendous author of the new paradigm.
We start -- what we did is we called in 13 of the best minds in architecture that could take on sustainability, affordability, safety -- because this will flood again -- and still be true to the aesthetic nature of the culture. We call it MakeItRight.
KING: A good idea because it's wrong, right?
Someone has done something wrong.
PITT: Well, it certainly illuminated the fact that there's a portion of our society that we're overlooking, that we're not taking care of. And so that's -- that's -- that's where it started from. It started from a gentleman I had met who was in his 70s, I believe, and was telling me how he had done everything right, according to the American dream -- getting a job and saving for a house and buying the house and raising his family and sending his kids off to school from that house -- and then it all being wiped out.
And you have to imagine, if everything you own is completely wiped out and insurance is not covering it. And you put on top of that, that -- you know, this -- it wasn't just -- you can't call this an act of God. This was a man-made failures. This should not have happened. These were levee failures. This was mistakes with destroying the barriers that once protected this city.
I mean and when you look at it from that perspective, the people are set up. Now, I don't it's -- it was a dastardly, evil move on someone's part. It was a chain of events that culminated into this horrific event...
PITT: But it can be fixed.
KING: And now we have MakeItRightNola.org.
KING: Now, that's all one word -- MakeItRight. Nola is New Orleans, Louisiana. MakeItRightNola.org is the Web site you go to.
PITT: That's right. OK, so we're...
KING: For anything, right?
PITT: That's right. We're trying to send people to the Web site, because what we now have here are -- we can get families into homes by the end of summer. We -- you're going to see this community start to come back. And where we need help is we need America to come together like they did directly after the storm and help the families here meet that financing gap to build properly, to build safely.
And that's what we're trying to do here. So we're -- we are asking for foundations, for community groups, church groups...
KING: Rich people...
PITT: ... Corporations -- yes, high net worth individuals -- to come in and adopt a house. We're calling this -- this pink, which I'll explain back here, the adopt-a-house campaign -- and to adopt a house, adopt 10 houses, adopt a little piece of a house. But for every $150,000 that comes in, a family will move into one of these new homes.
And in the process, this will become on of the greenest communities in the U.S., which will be exciting.
KING: That is just a phenomenal idea.
PITT: Yes, it's really (INAUDIBLE).
KING: We're going to take a break and come right back.
KING: Brad Pitt is our guest.
Now the Web site is MakeItRightNola -- that's News Orleans -- MakeItRightNola.org. That's all one word. You can go to that Web site to contribute, to learn more, to get more information. You couldn't help a worthier cause.
We'll be right back with Brad Pitt in New Orleans.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't tell me 40,000 people have come in here. They're not here.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: We want help!
PITT: All of this was unnecessary. It didn't need to happen. And we feel that there is a responsibility to right that wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
We're in New Orleans. We're in Ninth Ward. In fact, we may be sitting -- this was obviously something.
PITT: This would have at one time been someone's house.
KING: It could have been a house...
PITT: Yes, it's hard to imagine...
KING: ...or a driveway, too.
PITT: ...that within -- on that night, within under 20 minutes this place had a -- the break was right over there and there would have been a surge of water that eventually climbed to 20 feet.
KING: OK, explain the pink.
PITT: OK. This is what we're calling the adopt-a-house campaign. It's part art installation, part act of social disobedience.
PITT: but it's really meant to work as a fundraising component. And we were looking for something that was -- that was loud and would get a lot of attention and that was also hopeful.
So what you see here is -- as you see these blocks scattered across this section of the Lower Ninth to represent the houses that were destroyed, the homes that were destroyed. And what we're hoping to do is, as a house gets adopted -- and this is going to be up for five, six weeks, five-and-a-half weeks -- as a home gets adopted, we will right that house and we will put it back on its foundation.
So, hopefully, this will be an art installation that will be constantly evolving. And by the end of this -- by the end of this five-and-a-half weeks, we hope to have a symbolically -- a symbolic neighborhood put back together. And that's the goal.
And these things -- these things are -- it's a beautiful driving tour at night. It also works as kind of a gift to the city. It's all lit up from within at night. It's quite a beautiful experience.
KING: Whose idea was that?
KING: It's novel.
PITT: Well, you know, I -- it's my fault. It's my fault.
KING: It's your idea.
PITT: But, you know, I took from Christo some of the works that...
PITT: ... Had done at that time.
KING: Why not green?
PITT: We thought about it. But...
KING: Bright green.
PITT: It just felt like pink screamed the loudest.
KING: It does that. And it's a great idea because it, obviously, it serves on many levels...
PITT: Yes, I...
KING: ...even just P.R.
PITT: I think there's a beautiful story to it. And at night, as I say, the story continues. It glows from within which, to me, represents the heart of the house, the family. And you will also see -- what we have to remember here, that in this very spot, as far as the location, that there were over -- or there was nearly 1,000 deaths.
So there are almost 1,000 -- or roughly 1,000 lights that are scattered across the ground. It's a beautiful tribute, I think.
KING: You kicked this off with $5 million of your own, right?
PITT: Yes, I did. Yes, I did, because -- because I know we can do this. I believe it should be done. There's -- I will -- I'll debate anyone for on the reasons why we should be rebuilding here. There are multiple reasons, but no better reason than when you meet the families -- the families who are trying to get back, families who have been dispersed, families without a really clear-cut direction on how to do it or not do it or to relocate.
But, also, because I believe in the potential here to advance the practice of what I call intelligent building.
KING: So if somebody -- some wealthy person, of our viewers, were to give a check for $150,000...
PITT: That would be...
KING: That would be building a house.
KING: that would be a house.
PITT: They are putting a family in a house. They are returning a family to their neighborhood. Done. It's done.
KING: All right.
PITT: And I also want to say that this is also set up where people can contribute at all levels. It's set up, if you go to the Web site...
KING: You can give $5.
PITT: You can buy -- you can buy the tip of the corner of the house. You can adopt that section. Or you can adopt a solar panel and give it to someone for the holidays as a...
KING: And you said earlier...
PITT: ...and give it to them in their name or ...
KING: ...homes will be here this summer?
PITT: ... A low-flush toilet. That's right.
KING: Homes will be here this summer?
PITT: By the end of the summer, you will see homes finished and you will see families moving in.
KING: All right.
How do you answer those who suggest that rebuilding in New Orleans could be folly given the city's vulnerability?
In fact, after Katrina, it was a senator -- I forget who -- if you were planning the country, you wouldn't build in New Orleans. It's just too hazardous. PITT: I don't -- listen, we need a whole segment to talk about this. But I mean, for those very reasons, you shouldn't be building in San Francisco, you shouldn't be living in Tornado Alley. I mean, these are...
PITT: These are -- Miami, certainly. And let's not forget the Netherlands are 27 feet under -- you know, below sea level. This right here where we're sitting is like -- it is like two to five feet, as far as I understand it, right here. It's not that difficult to deal with.
KING: I'm told that last year, you partnered with Global Green USA, sponsoring a competition to design a net zero energy affordable housing development for the Holy Cross Neighborhood in the Lower Ninth.
PITT: That's right. We started there.
KING: What's the status?
PITT: We made 75 percent. We were able to cut the inhabitants' utility bills by 75 percent. We didn't make zero yet, but we're working on it.
KING: What was the winning design?
PITT: I'm sorry?
KING: Was there a winning design?
PITT: Yes. This was an international competition. And some young guys won it out of New York. And it's really cool. It's going up now. It's worth a visit.
KING: Has this has affected your interest in this -- your own lifestyle?
It's effect -- did you practice this?
PITT: Oh yes. Oh yes, sure. I'm putting in a water capture system at -- in our home in L.A. Right now and incorporating solar. And, yes, I think it's really exciting, this idea that we can insert ourselves into the ecosystem, this idea that within nature, there's no concept of waste is mind-boggling to me. Anything that's discarded becomes fuel or becomes food for something else. And that we can be -- we can be living that same way.
And then, you know, it just sounds smart to me. It's fun. But on top of that, it sounds respectful to the people around us and respectful to the world. And then you want to get into the politics and dependency on oil. It's a no-brainer for me.
And don't forget, if you want to help, it's MakeItRightNola.org. That's all one word -- MakeItRightNola.org. You can call in now.
We'll be back -- well, call in in a little while so you can hear the rest of this.
We'll be right back with Brad Pitt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Families are scattered everywhere. My family is everywhere. So that's my big hurdle -- just -- just wishing I had the family I had before the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's things you can't (INAUDIBLE), you know? And it took so long for different things to come back together. And it still is not completely (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
We're in the Ninth Ward, where once stood many homes and driveways and people living. Brad can tell you what -- what once was here.
PITT: Right. And -- and will be again.
KING: Well put.
PITT: A sustainable community.
KING: What -- what defines home for you?
PITT: A family. It's all family. You talk to the people here and they'll talk about a -- they'll tell you about a front porch culture, where neighbors helped neighbors -- a lot of barbecues, sitting on the front porch and stories and music. And that's it. It's family and friends, period.
KING: I am told that Hillary Clinton announced today support for this project.
PITT: That's fantastic. That's great.
KING: And I would imagine you'd call on the other candidates, too.
PITT: Well, I'll do exactly that. We've -- I was really pleased to see we had already been shown interest from Senator Clinton's campaign and also from Senator Obama's campaign. And that makes me hopeful.
And, yes, I might as well be so forward as to challenge them all to adopt a house here. But, more importantly, I hope -- I hope this becomes and is one of -- one of the major issues in this campaign, because it's -- it's -- all the issues are right here that they need to be -- need to be dealt with.
And I hope it's used not so much as a -- as a -- as a whipping stick for the past administration, but really used for the proving ground -- an opportunity to -- to address these issues of health care and education reform. And it's all here. And it needs it. So if you can make it work here, it works.
KING: Are you supporting anyone, by the way?
PITT: I'm still -- you know, I'm still -- I lean -- I'm still -- I'm still listening. Yes, I'm still listening.
KING: How have you handled the kind of spotlight you've handled?
How do you, Brad, deal with that?
PITT: Well, I -- you know, I duck and jive. Keep moving. Just keep my head down a lot.
KING: I mean...
PITT: That's been my -- that's been my modus operandus. But -- but for something like this, I -- I feel very fortunate to have it and then I can direct it this way.
KING: How about the attention afforded your children -- good or bad?
PITT: Truthfully, I worry about that. I'm very concerned about that. They call out my kids by names and shove cameras in their faces. And I really believe there should be laws against that. I mean, my kids believe that any time you go outside the house, it's just a wall of photographers and people that take your picture. That is their view of the world. And I -- I worry about the effect it will have on them. But -- but we'll do our best and...
KING: You know, there are many, many laws protecting minors in many areas.
Why not one like this, if you're under certain age, no...
PITT: Yes, I would love to see it. I mean I think -- I think it should be. I think it's truly out of hand. They didn't ask for this.
KING: Do you guess what it might -- how it might affect their growing up?
PITT: Sure. I think about it -- I think about it a lot. But, you know, we'll make them as strong and respectful individuals as we can.
KING: The children who are adopted...
KING: ...Bob Considine -- the late Bob Considine was a columnist in Chicago. He wrote a great line once -- one of the best lines I ever read. He wrote: "I have four children. Two are adopted. I forget which two."
PITT: Ha! That's...
KING: Isn't that a great line?
PITT: Yes. That's great. That's great. It is so true. They are as much my blood as I am theirs. And they are brothers and sisters. And I look at this -- it's -- one of them came from Ethiopia and one from Vietnam and one from Cambodia and one was born in Namibia. And they are -- they are brothers and sisters. And they have fun. And they squabble and they fight, just like any other family. It's...
KING: And they're all the same to you, right?
PITT: It makes me so proud.
What about Zahara from Ethiopia?
KING: What is she like?
I mean, that's an interesting country.
PITT: Well, again, I'm going to -- it is a very interesting country and also a place that could use focus and assistance -- and they say the birthplace of mankind, as far as we know it right now. The oldest...
PITT: ...the oldest lineage of humanity.
But, well, here's where I'm going to start being private about my kids.
PITT: But she is an absolute delight. She -- I just can't see life without her.
KING: One other thing about your kids.
How did you bang, bang?
Maddox, Zahara, Pax and Shiloh -- that is not Jane/Mary.
PITT: No. We -- I can't -- I can't tell you anything more than it just felt right. And... KING: They just fell out of the air?
PITT: Yes. It just kind of -- we stumbled on it and after much deliberation and -- when it felt right, it felt right. I can't explain it.
KING: No -- out of nowhere?
PITT: Can anyone?
KING: Do you want more children?
PITT: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.
PITT: Yes, we're just getting started.
KING: Four and you're just getting started?
PITT: We'll see. We'll, you know, we'll probably crap out somewhere. I don't know. But, yes, we're not done.
KING: Doesn't it hit a point where there's too many?
In fact, there are some who would say people shouldn't have more than...
PITT: Well, we're, you know -- we -- we are -- we're fortunate that we can give them -- we have time to give them attention and -- and protect their upbringing. And we'll know when -- when we should stop. But I see it as such a positive right now.
KING: The biggest problem when both parents are successful in the same field?
PITT: I'm sure -- I'm sure that...
KING: You must have problems.
PITT: ...a weight on our kids. But, hopefully, you know, I'll probably be -- probably have worn out my welcome by the time they're old enough to really realize. And it'll -- it won't be that -- that important or overshadowing.
KING: How about the effect on life, though, your own life? And...
PITT: How so?
KING: ...Angelina's life. Well, she gets a film offer to do a film in Paris. You've got a film offer to do a film in Brazil.
PITT: Oh, we...
KING: You have four children.
PITT: Yes, we take turns.
KING: She likes her script. You like your script.
PITT: No, we -- we just -- we keep the brood together. That's a law of ours. So we'll take turns and make sure we get time off in between for everyone.
KING: Our guest is Brad Pitt.
Now, again, I'm going to be -- keep giving this to you because it's very, very important. The Web site is MakeItRightNola.org -- M-A- K-E-I-T-R-I-G-H-T-N-O-L-A dot org for information and contributions.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTOR: A relationship is -- is not about having fun together. It's not about hiding behind each other and trying to protect each other. But it's about having a shared view of what you want to create and what you want to do in this world.
I need to feel strongly with Brad about how we raise our children, about what we think is right and wrong in the world, what we think is worth fighting for. And if you have that same view, then you can go through anything. I mean you -- when you die one day, you look back at your life and you went on the right journey together and the same journey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Brad Pitt.
We're all here involved in the MakeItRight Campaign to build houses here in the Ninth Ward to change this district that has been literally demolished into something -- wouldn't it be great to come back here in a couple of years?
PITT: And see it (ph) thriving again. But not only here, St. Bernard Parish next door and the other parishes over here. I would love to see that.
KING: Any schools here?
PITT: Yeah. Right over here. MLK. Martin Luther King. It's up and running and in beautiful shape.
KING: That's good.
PITT: Yeah, it's great. Yeah, it's great.
KING: They were without one for a while. PITT: Yeah.
KING: A couple of quick personal things. You don't want to answer you don't have to.
KING: And then I'll go back to this. What is Angelina like as a mother? She's been on this program a lot. I've known her a long time.
PITT: It's the -- I think it's the greatest gift that I can give my kids is that she is -- that they have such a fantastic mother. Dedicated, kids first. Really inventive and great fun for them and very, very protective.
KING: What was it like to work with her?
PITT: Well, apparently it was great fun. We got on all right.
KING: But what was it like? When you are getting emotionally involved with someone you are working with ...
PITT: That came after, Larry. That came after.
But she is a woman of strong opinion and very specific beliefs and a great voice, I respect it, great intelligence.
KING: Fight a lot?
PITT: No, not really. Challenge each other a lot. Have good fun with that.
KING: And how do you like being a father? It's the hardest job in the world.
PITT: The hardest job in the world. The most rewarding job in the world. There's something to -- with the long days in here, we're out here as soon as the sun comes out and to come home and have dinner with your kids and have to discipline one of them who is out of line and still have the energy for that is -- I can't explain the fulfillment of that, but it is everything.
KING: Whatever is important is in second place. Nothing matches fatherhood.
PITT: I haven't found it, no.
KING: Do you get a personal reward out of this?
PITT: Yeah. Sure. I mean.
KING: A personal kick to Brad Pitt?
PITT: Yeah. Because I -- I can see and I -- the question people usually ask is how do I help, how do I help? How can I help? People want to help. It's in our nature. It's who we are as Americans and here walking around it I saw potential. I saw how and by bringing in a lot of people who really knew how.
And now there's hundreds of people working on this and we're going out to the people at home and asking you to help us and get involved with this thing and really begin a movement and I'm telling you, I'm telling you, we're getting people in homes. We'll all be building homes, putting families in homes and the only question is how big can it go?
KING: Some celebrities get involved in a project, get it going and then goodbye. Are you long haul here?
PITT: I can't speak to that but this is -- certainly has to be a long haul project for it to work and there is no turning back.
KING: So do you grab the lapels of your friends and have you been ...
KING: Here he comes.
PITT: I'm a little shy to do that but in the instance, no, I'll be doing exactly that.
KING: How does Angelina feel about this?
PITT: Well, of course -- you know her to be one of the great leaders as far as helping and changing and shaping up the world as we know it. So yeah, she's been nothing but supportive, of course.
KING: How long do you want to keep on acting?
PITT: I don't know. I always see it as a -- really a -- I see it becoming less and less of a focus as I get older. I think it's really more of a younger man, younger woman's game. But I'll come in and play the ...
KING: Do you want to be a 65-year-old character actor some day?
PITT: I'd like to drop in if I'm still invited every few years or so. Look at Newman. I like the way Newman does it. He's got such elegance and class to it all.
KING: What a way he ...
PITT: Yeah. Yeah.
KING: How about theater?
PITT: I -- that was never my calling as they say. So at this point, I'd rather -- it takes so much time there's just other things I'd rather be doing.
KING: You were, though, a journalism major. PITT: I was a journalism major.
KING: At one of the best journalism schools in the world.
PITT: That's right.
PITT: University of Missouri. Mm-hmm. I didn't graduate, though. I'm a credit and a half short or something like that.
KING: Why are you not a journalist? Look how much rewarding it is. You could go chasing these people that chase you.
PITT: Right. Right. I don't know. I stumbled this way and it worked out.
KING: By the way, in a little while Brad will be giving us a little tour. We're going to do a little walking tour. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PITT: You keep seeing the lists of all the road blocks that we're going to encounter and have yet to encounter, it would appear to daunting. But to people like Charles and everyone else on the ground. I mean there's literally hundred of people now involved in this that this thing is working. It will get done. It's a big project, but there's no reason why we -- when I say we, I mean America, can't get it all done. We can get this going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PITT: So the plan here is to start with 150 homes -- 150 homes that follow the criteria that I mentioned before. To build those 150 homes, I need the help of the American people. We need the help of the American people. We need to all join together to do this. But the point is, it is possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Brad Pitt. It's makeitrightnola.org. We'll keep repeating that because it's very important. We're in the Ninth Ward, a ward that we hope is totally rebuilt in a fairly short period of time. We're with Brad Pitt, the Oscar-nominated actor and producer as well.
Did you dabble in architecture?
PITT: I do now. It's always been a love of mine and it was that love that brought me here and led me and others to reach out to the architects that we did to work on ... KING: So you participate, then, with the ...
PITT: Yeah. I do a little of that. I do a little of that. And hope there's some time to build in the future.
KING: That means that you like geometry.
PITT: That's right. I do like geometry, very much.
KING: Oh my God. A friend said the only reason you take geometry is to learn you have to do things in life you don't want to do.
PITT: Really? That's hilarious. I mean, I jonesed on it.
KING: Geometry is architecture.
PITT: Yeah, I liked it.
KING: So you want to help design these homes.
PITT: I think I should stay out this first round. I think that -- it would be a bit egotistical of me to think I could do that but -- so instead we called on the great minds to come here and answer these problems.
KING: This will be a green home?
PITT: This will be -- this, I'm telling you, will be one of the greenest communities in the U.S.
KING: Meaning solar panels?
PITT: Oh yes. Another great thing about the installation here is all these materials here are nontoxic. This paint that you see here, it will be reused in chairs and umbrellas and nothing goes to waste here. Nothing goes to waste. It is all lit by solar panels and those panels are the very panels that will end up on a family's home. So there is not an ounce of waste in what you see out there.
KING: Will it be protected against the next Katrina?
PITT: Well, that's the hope. And that's the plan. The levees are certainly better than they've been. There still needs to be work going on. It's supposed to go on to 2011. The wetlands now being addressed. MR-GOs being shut down, which became a conduit for exacerbating the strength of the storm. And we're building this with the strongest methods that are known today. So people want to be here, be back here, have the best shot that they will ever have.
KING: In a little while, Mr. McDonough who you have spoken so ecstatically about ...
KING: ... will be joining us. Back with some more moments with Brad Pitt, a little more on movies, and then we'll meet the aforementioned Mr. McDonough. Don't go away.
KING: We're going to do the walk through as promised with Brad Pitt. Joining us is Charles Allen III. He's president of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, assistant director for external relations, the center for a bioenvironmental research at Tulane and Xavier Universities.
PITT: Yes, Charles has been here from the very beginning and been just a tremendous help and has shown tremendous leadership in shaping this and finding out this project with what shape it would become, and is really one of the leaders in the future of New Orleans.
KING: Tulane and Xavier both in New Orleans.
CHARLES ALLEN, HOLY CROSS NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Exactly, exactly.
KING: Now we're walking. Houses were once there, I would imagine, that we're walking.
ALLEN: House, Larry, churches, businesses. I mean this was a thriving community, once upon a time. I mean there's tremendous work that still needs to be done, and I must say we in this coalition -- we are ready to get with this project, make it right, and make it happen.
KING: Brad, it looks Herculean.
PITT: This -- I mean, we've talked about it. You keep seeing the lists of all the road blocks that we're going to encounter and have yet to encounter, it would appear to daunting. But to people like Charles and everyone else on the ground. I mean there's literally hundred of people now involved in this that this thing is working. It will get done.
KING: What's this?
ALLEN: This is going to be a Herculean project ahead of us, but for those of who are here Larry, we're like pioneers on the frontier here, and we're committed to this work. This is our community.
KING: We talked about this before. Can you imagine what this must have been like?
PITT: No, no I can't. And it's a big project, but there's no reason why we -- when I say we, I mean America, can't get it all done. We can get this built.
ALLEN: Muck and wood and everything just thrown around.
KING: Somebody lived in here.
ALLEN: Oh yes, somebody lived in here. Children were once here. Their neighbors were there. With time, we're going to make this right.
KING: Let's hope. The way to get it done is with makeitrightnola.org. I sure hope tons of people call that.
ALLEN: We do too, man. We appreciate this good attention you're giving this work down here.
PITT: Yes, and again, we've set our initial goal at 150, but there are thousands and thousands and thousands of homes that need to be rebuilt and can. We can do it. We're just going to need the support.
ALLEN: But there may be some changes along the way. Along as we communicate and realize at the same time what those changes are, we can make the necessary adjustments because you know, this has never happened to anybody before in a community like this.
PITT: Charles, the question is, why rebuild it? Why should people come back? I mean, how do you answer that?
ALLEN: Just like L.A., this is not picking up itself and moving away from the fault. People are there because they've invested their hearts and they've invested their lives. It's their homes. Same story here. But we don't just want to rebuild this community the way it was. We want to rebuild it better, smaller, more energy efficient, sustainable. We want to learn some lessons from Katrina and Rita, OK? Those are the silver linings, we feel, to this whole story. And this could be a model and a good example for how a community's recovery post a major disaster.
KING: Reverend, where was your house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right where you're standing.
KING: Right here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here.
KING: How many rooms?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and den.
KING: Did you come back and see it after?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we were able to get back in November when as you know, Rita hit, in the areas where we flooded. And then we were able to come back in November of '05.
PITT: How long have you lived here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been here 35 years.
KING: That must have been terrible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was. Especially when we had just renovated.
KING: Goodness. And then you come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To nothing. We never were able to get back into it because of excessive damage, never able to get anything from it.
KING: Where are you living now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tuskegee, Alabama.
KING: That's where you went in November?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE : Yes, yes.
KING: Would you come back here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. We are coming back. Yes, we are coming back.
PITT: You told a story about bringing your father here to see the area for the first time after the devastation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we were able to come back for the first time in November of '05, we brought my dad with us because we took him out with us. And when we got back, he said he loved to see the house and when we were driving back to Tuskegee, he said I feel like crying. And I said well daddy, if you want to cry go ahead and cry. And then he said, all my life, I worked on a house that I no longer have. He said, I have nothing to leave for my children, nothing for my grandchildren. I said but your children, all your children have their own. But he said, but my grandchildren. And I said, well your grandchildren are grown. But my great grandchildren. He said, I have nothing to leave for them. And that was his heart (ph), to leave something for his great grandkids and he had nothing. And people would call him and tell him, Mr. Green, I spotted your house at such and such a place. And he would try to get back down here to find his house. And he came back and couldn't find a house. And came back in January to go to live with his sister for a little while, and that's when he died.
KING: But you'll live on to see his house live.
PITT: This is why we're here.
KING: Is there going to be a house built right here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His house is right around the corner from us.
KING: Can we put one here?
PITT: Yes, this is the location, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.
KING: Are you going to name this area something else?
PITT: No, it can't change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lower Ninth.
PITT: It's the Lower Ninth and it will always be so.
KING: It will always be Lower Ninth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the saying is, it's the Lower Nine where we don't mind dying. And we had quite a few to die in the storm.
KING: And you've got a lot to thank Mr. Pitt for.
PITT: No, listen it's been the community and the hundreds of people working on this. And this is truly a group effort on the ground. All hands on deck king of scenery.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE with Brad Pitt. We are now joined in our remaining moments with Brad and William McDonough. His architectural firm, William McDonough and Partners, is part of the core Make It Right team that was assembled by Pitt. He's a leader in the sustainable development movement. He's been hailed as a hero of the planet by "Time" magazine. He's the author of this book, Mr. McDonough is, "Cradle to Cradle." The book is made not of paper, but of plastic. As Brad says, you can put this book in your bathtub. Why, I don't know, but you can put it in your bathtub.
PITT: You can read it in your bathtub, pull it out and drop it in and it'll be in exactly the same condition.
KING: And how did you select him?
PITT: You know, Bill, in my eyes, is one of the great thinkers of the new paradigm of how we need to build. And it came from two stats that actually came from Bill's research, and Bill's book, is that 40 to 45 percent of all our pollution comes from our buildings -- our building is the culprit, and that we need to readdress how we go about our buildings, how we think about our buildings.
The second one was that 97 percent of everything that we purchase ends up in a dump, that we throw away, as trash. And Bill came up with, really, the premier direction in thinking on how to address this. So I'd like to turn it over to Bill. He's much more eloquent than I am.
KING: Why'd you get involved, Bill?
WILLIAM MCDONOUGH, ARCHITECT: The phone call that we had, when we started this, was one of those calls that sort of changes your life. Brad expressed his concern for this area. It was so genuine and so promising and so full of hope that it was impossible for us not to just say we'd do everything we could to help.
KING: What does "Cradle to Cradle" mean?
MCDONOUGH: "Cradle to Cradle" was a design philosophy that I've developed with a German chemist named Michael Braungart. And essentially it looks at the systems of human production and, instead of saying cradle to grave, where we make things and then throw them away, we do cradle to cradle, things that are designed to come back, either to soil, to regenerate it, or are designed to come back to industry forever.
So things like cloth might go back to the soil -- they should be designed to be safe in the soil, not pollute it. And things like these tents, or the pink houses here, are designed as what we call technical nutrients. These are materials that are designed to go back into industrial systems forever, safely.
KING: Brad, is Bill in charge?
PITT: Bill is one of our voices. I mean, he's certainly our quality control. The idea here was, after all of this suffering and loss, can we actually provide a better home for people who lost everything? And really, you know, for green technology to work, it has to work on all economic levels. And this, for us, has been a great proving ground.
I mean, the idea that they're going to be living in -- with healthy materials and are going to have their utility bills knocked down to just a portion of what they were before are huge, huge benefits.
But what you've also got to understand is, this is inevitable. This is where we're going. It's just a matter of how soon we get there, when we wake up and get there. But that's the only direction we have.
KING: I asked Brad earlier -- I'll ask you: Those who say this is folly, because Katrina's coming again and this area is ripe --
MCDONOUGH: One of the first questions we that asked ourselves is, should we build here at all, as builders. And it became very clear very quickly that it would be cynical to think that the people who were here wouldn't return. And so the question became, how do we let them return with dignity?
KING: Because that's what it's about, Bill, isn't it -- people, is what it's about.
MCDONOUGH: Yes, it's about people. People and dignity, and returning with dignity. Waiting two years and having a situation that looks like this isn't dignified. It really does beg the question, can we offer better, as a culture and a society? And I think that's Brad's challenge to all of us.
KING: It's a shame.
MCDONOUGH: It's a shame.
PITT: There's hope, too. It's moving. It can move now.
KING: Hope we help, Brad.
PITT: All right.
KING: Brad, Bill -- an honor meeting you.
MCDONOUGH: Me, too.
PITT: Thank you, much.
KING: Brad Pitt, Bill McDonough -- and again, if you want to help, the Web site is makeitrightnola -- all one word -- makeitrightnola.org.
PITT: Thank you. Thank you, much.
KING: It's tough. The last time I was in this city, I was king of Bacchus at Mardi Gras in 2001. And to come back and see what devastation here in such a great town with great people is really sad. But it's taken people like Brad Pitt and Bill McDonough who are going to get it done. And we hope that you help. I'll be writing my check tomorrow morning. Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360." Good night.
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