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Brad Pitt Interview/Holiday Concert Number Two

Aired December 21, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Celine Dion headlines an all star salute to the holidays.

James Blunt.



KING: Michael Bolton and others are here to celebrate the season with a special hour of song.

And Brad Pitt delivers on a promise. He's back with an update on his Make It Right campaign.

It's next and it's only on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening and welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

As we look forward to the coming holidays, we have a major Christmas program planned for you, including some wonderful singing, including Celine Dion, by the way.

But we begin by going to a place familiar to us now, the New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward.

Standing by is Brad Pitt, the Oscar nominated actor and producer, the founder of Make It Right, the Web site of which is -- Make It Right NOLA -- that's New Orleans, Louisiana -- .org. He launched that idea, Make It Right, on this program on December 3rd. That was the day it all began.

So the obvious first question -- first, thanks for being with us -- is how are you doing?

BRAD PITT: We're doing great. And thanks for checking in with us again. We are at 52 homes so far adopted. You know, our initial goal was 150. If you look behind me, there's a few of the houses that have been righted at this point. We still have 98 to go in the next two weeks. So we're still asking the folks of America and the foundations and corporations to check out the Web site and see if they can help out in any way. And we'd certainly like to thank the people who have been involved so far.

KING: The total amount of money needed is $6.8 million?

PITT: Well, 98 homes -- it's more like, roughly -- my bad math -- more like $13 something million.

KING: Are you surprised...

PITT: We're thinking big.

KING: Is what you've gotten so far what you expected, more than you expected or, frankly, less than you expected?

PITT: I -- really, Larry, I had no idea. And what I found and what I believed in is that once people started hearing the story down here and understanding the plight of the families still here in limbo, that they would get involved. And that's what we've had. And we've had responses from people at all spectrums of the scale.

We had -- Will Farrell and his wife this week adopted a house. We had an anonymous adoption last night of a million dollars, which is great fun. And Laurence Fishburne has come in. And it's just been -- it's really, really nice and really supportive. And, again, this is what we do best, when we see, you know, other people in need -- we come to their -- we come to the aid. So it's been great to be a part of.

KING: Did you get a good reaction after your appearance here?

PITT: My mom was very pleased.

KING: No, did you raise...

PITT: She said she thought I needed a shave.


PITT: We did. We got a great spike and a lot of hits. And, again, we cannot thank you enough, because you're helping make this work.

KING: Now, briefly, before we discuss a couple of other things and get into the Christmas spirit, will you tell us what this is all about -- how you conceived it -- for those that don't know, because there's always new viewers.

PITT: Well, this is -- this is, again, is to help be a catalyst for the rebuilding effort here that has just been stalled. You know, people here suffered what I would say is a great injustice the night and the week the levees failed. And that injustice is continuing. People are caught in limbo here. They don't have clear direction back home. They want to come back home. These are people who in -- who worked all their lives, invested theirselves and their families and their homes. And now that has all been wiped out and don't have a good shot at returning. And this is designed to help them do so.

So we brought in some of the greatest minds in architecture to deal with the challenges here. And there's some great solutions. And now this program is meant to help them meet the gap. It's just not a -- it's just not a blind charity. This is -- the families here will be investing what they have and this program is to help them meet the gap to build a quality successful, sustainable, safe home.

KING: And you personally got into this because?

PITT: Well, again, I just -- you know, I saw the need here. I know some people that know a lot about building and thought that we could help shake some things up here -- because I didn't see it happening, you know, from the top down. So that's why I got involved.

And, again, this is -- you have to understand the frustration and, again, this situation of limbo -- the state of limbo these families are in as they go into the third holiday season. And just knowing if that was me and this was my plight, how much it would mean for me to have someone to come in and give a hand. And that's all this is -- just giving someone a hand.

KING: Now, yesterday there was a tornado warning in New Orleans.

Do things like that worry you?

PITT: Right. Yes. Well, you know, I grew up in a tornado zone and now I live in an earthquake zone in L.A. or a hurricane zone here. So, you know, it's something -- you know, Mother Nature is -- makes the rules and we do the best we can to meet those challenges. But, you know, we're going to live where we want to live. And there are people that are deeply dedicated to this place -- seventh generational families, people who raised their kids in this very spot, people who lost family relatives and family members in this very spot. And, you know, it's my belief that's the -- that's up to the individual's choice where they want to live.

KING: I know.

But when you see a thing like a tornado warning, does it give you pause about how your buildings are going to be built?

PITT: Oh, I see. Yes, well, this is one of the first questions, you know, we had to address was safety. What we understood is people are definitely coming back, so how can we help them build safety?

KING: Right.

PITT: And so some of the standards and challenges the architects dealt with was certainly height requirements. These homes will be up to five to eight feet. Standards for building that will -- that can sustain itself against a hurricane and to what degree -- so the strongest building methods. And in case one were to get caught in the house, there's backup generators. There's access to the roofs, so we never see what we saw before.

KING: Yes.

All right, this I want to get right and I want you to comment on it. There was a protest at city hall in New Orleans yesterday. I'm sure you knew about it. Residents protested the demolition of housing projects. Police used chemical spray and stun guns on them. The housing issues are still a hot button in the area. HUD wants to demolish the buildings -- most of them damaged by Katrina -- so developers can take advantage of tax credits and build new, middle become neighborhoods.

Where do you stand?

PITT: Well, I think -- I think their goal is mixed income, is what they said. Now, you know, I don't know much of the details. What yesterday certainly reflects is the frustration and the helplessness that families are facing here. And, again, you know, it's been two - and-a-half years now.

And, again, I don't know the details. I know there was some arguments that these places created crime. I didn't hear anyone -- I didn't hear anyone -- I didn't hear the argument that answers that for me, is that you've got to address education, you've got to address health, you've got to address opportunities.

And until you address that, what do you expect is going to be there?

So I don't know that the issue is just about the housing itself. But, again, I don't know enough. What I do know is that -- that this tells you what an open nerve this place still is. And as hopeful and as great spirit as the people maintain here, you know, they need some help.

KING: And, boy, were they angry.

PITT: Yes. Yes. Well, listen, you know, to have lost everything, to be living in substandard buildings -- or if you can call them that -- maybe trailers, to not be able to get to your family. I mean this -- the suicide rates, depression rates are at an all time high. You know, this needs some attention.

KING: A couple of other things and then I'll repeat the address for everybody.

You are going to -- are you going to spend Christmas in New Orleans?

PITT: I'm loath to say so, because I don't want to invite more paparazzi here. But, yes. Yes, I will.

KING: What are the...

PITT: I will admit that.

KING: What are the Brad Pitt Christmas traditions?

Do you open the gifts the night before...

PITT: Well, you know...

KING: ...the morning of? PITT: We picked out the tree and we've decorated the tree. And now we're getting gifts for each other -- understanding that Christmas is -- that it is about getting gifts for others, not just getting them. So we've been working on that one. And that's it. That's where we are right now.

KING: When you have children from different countries, are there different traditions involved?

PITT: Well, we're trying to incorporate Kwanzaa and other traditions that we're just learning about ourselves. But, yes, we -- we hope to be a multi-ceremonial family, as well.

KING: Now, you are -- there's a couple of other quick things.

You were a choir boy, were you not?


I don't know if...


A choir boy?

I did -- growing up in my elementary age, I was in the church choir, yes. This is true. But I will -- I want to say, to everyone's pleasure, I will not be singing for your holiday show.



PITT: And this is a good thing.

KING: You're not going to be part of that, huh, hard as we try?

PITT: I'm not going to do it.

We wanted...

KING: We had you scheduled to do "O Tannenbaum".

PITT: You really don't want that, I'm telling you.


PITT: There's not a musical bone in my body -- just great appreciation.

KING: Congratulations.

"A Mighty Heart," which you produced, has been nominated for both Golden Globe and SAG Awards for Angela's performs and for the film. It was a great movie.

PITT: Great. Thank you, much. Yes, we're very proud of it. I'm proud of Casey, also, for "Jesse James."

KING: Do you have any New Year's resolutions, Brad?

PITT: No, I try to stay away from that. I usually end up breaking them, so I just abstain.


KING: Thanks again.

And, Brad, again, the address -- or the -- you can click right into MakeItRightNola -- all one word -- .org -- to help this fantastic cause.

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas, Brad.

Thanks so much.

PITT: Thanks a lot back at you.

Thank you much.

KING: When we come back, a musical extravaganza for the holidays -- Celine Dion, James Blunt and Michael Bolton are all coming up. Stick around. You don't want to miss it






KING: Just in time for our holiday celebration, the wonderful Celine Dion has two great musical items available. First, her new album, "Taking Chances" is heating up the charts. There you see its cover. And then "Celine Dion: A New Day Live in Las Vegas". It's a deluxe, five-hour DVD commemorating that historic five-year sold out run of her record-breaking Las Vegas concert.

Are you glad it's over?

CELINE DION: I can't say that I'm glad it's over, because it's been such an amazing journey. We fell in love with each other and a wonderful cast -- so many wonderful people. So I have to say, Larry, it was a very emotional night that last Saturday night, after five years of spending such an amazing journey. So it was difficult.

But I think every good thing has to have an end. And it's difficult, but it's -- the good thing about it is that I'm not stopping and retiring and go home and wait and think about it and be like, oh, gosh, I miss it so much. I'm still in Las Vegas. We are in an arena and we're rehearsing to go back on tour. We're not stopping. KING: Ticket sales and merchandise for this show grossed around a half a billion dollars.

DION: $723 -- a show that we're very proud of and you know what?

The amounts of the money and the numbers you just said are very impressive. But I have to say that I am very, very thankful for the people who believed in us since day one. It's -- it was an amazing experience. So thanks to everybody from Franco to the rest of the people here in Las Vegas -- everybody who believed in us for five years. It was wonderful.

KING: Are you going to keep living there?

DION: We're keeping our house here. You know, we're keeping our home here. Rene Charles grew up here. He was a year old when we moved in. It's his home. We're going to keep it. And I have to say that there's a lot of movement going on right now, because we're keeping our house here and, at the same time, we're going to be traveling around the world.

We're starting February 14th in South Africa and then we'll go to Dubai. We'll go to Japan. We'll go to Australia, China. We'll go -- we'll be going to Europe. And in August, we'll be in the United States and Canada. So we're going to be doing a world tour for one full year. I'm bringing my mom, my son, Rene, of course.

So it's like we're taking -- we're taking the best of both worlds. The stability for the last five years was amazing and being back on the road again is a wonderful thing, as well.

KING: A full load.

"The New Day: Live in Las Vegas" -- that is -- well, if we get that DVD, do we see your complete show?

DION: You're going to see more than a complete show. The most amazing thing about this DVD is that you show the complete show on stage. And what I was amazed when I watched that, because I knew there was cameras everywhere -- when I watched it myself -- is that while I'm performing every song, there's a show backstage. You have no idea how many things is happening while I -- for example, while I sing "Because You Loved Me," what the dancers are doing, what the -- everything, all the decors, all the preparation for the next song, what's going on behind the stage, under the stage, above the stage. It's such an amazing show, as well.

So there's a show going on backstage that you see on this DVD, as well. There's lots of stuff going on.

KING: And the new album "Taking Chances" already climbing up the charts -- both out simultaneously.

I know that you're going to be doing that -- you're going to be doing two songs for us in just in a minute -- "The Christmas Song," the wonderful Mel Torme tune. And you're also going to be doing the title song from that album.

DION: Yes. I'm very thankful for the fans to -- to receive this album the way that they're receiving it right now...

KING: Boy, are they.

DION: ...because I haven't been recording for a little while. I've been in -- away from the industry for a little bit.

So coming back from this -- with this album is a wonderful feeling for me. And I have to say, also, to sing "The Christmas Song" to you today is a big thrill.

KING: It's our thrill to have you.

Two songs. And we begin with Celine Dion and a brilliant rendition of Nat King Cole's original recording -- the Mel Torme tune -- "The Christmas Song."

Here is the lovely, talented Celine Dion.

DION: Happy Holidays.

KING: Same to you, dear.



KING: As part of our festive holiday, we are featuring many great talents, one of which is Michael Bolton, one of my favorite people, the multiple Grammy winner. He has sold more than 50 million records and his new album is "A Swinging Christmas." Tell me about -- Big band, huh, Michael?

MICHAEL BOLTON, SINGER: It was a lot of fun. First of all, great to see you Larry.

KING: Same here.

BOLTON: It's big band in the kind of Nelson Riddle vein of music. Big dance, swing, feel good, got a lot of bounce. Classic Christmas songs with a feel good Jazz element to it. It was a lot of fun recording it.

KING: Did you record it in the summer?

BOLTON: Yes, you know how we do our Christmas records. It's a funny thing. My daughters put a bunch of sleighs and things that we put under the trees around my studio right in front of the microphone so it would feel like Christmas. But there's something funny about singing "Walking In a Winter Wonderland" in July. But we have to do it to get the record out by Christmas.

KING: You've been engaged to the "Desperate Housewives" star Nicolette Sheridan since March of last year. Have we got a date yet? BOLTON: We don't have a date. We need a location first. Do you have an ideas?

KING: Budapest. Why don't you just get married?

BOLTON: I was just there in Budapest, and I think there's something about the chanting that goes on in the morning that's a little unnerving for me. I'm serious, we really have a feeling that we're going to find this incredible place and say, OK, now when? We're doing great. She's working -- minus the strike, which is -- we hate the strike happening, but it is allowing her to travel with me. And we've just been to Europe and just gotten back to New York.

But we're both working a lot. So we're doing very, very well. Engaged, having a great time. So that's not the first and foremost thing on our mind. We're kind of living like a married couple right now.

KING: There were rumors she was pregnant. Any truth to that?

BOLTON: No. There were, but my daughter was the first one to tell me. She said, is there anything you want to talk to me about? We've been through this so much with tabloids making into the main stream that we always love to learn about ourselves in the news. But no kids on the way that I can -- that I know about now anyway.

KING: What are your holiday plans?

BOLTON: We're going to take off -- Nicolette and I are going to take some time off and take a badly needed break, you know, just shut this brain off and give myself some voice rest. I have a couple more shows in Europe, and doing a clash with a choir show, which is all week coming up. And then I need a break and so does she. So we're going to go to warm weather.

KING: From the new album, Michael is going to sing one of my favorite Christmas songs, you mentioned it early, "Winter Wonderland." Michael, thank you so much for joining us and being part of this.

BOLTON: It's a pleasure. Love to see you. Great seeing you. You look great and I'll see you again in the new year.

KING: Here's Michael Bolton from "A Swinging Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland."



KING: The wonderful Celine Dion. And now she closes out her part of our Christmas celebration with the title song of her new run away hit album "Taking Chances." Here's Celine again.


KING: During tonight's program, you've heard music from "Let it Snow, Baby, Let in Rain, Dear," a holiday album by the band Reliant K. NPR called it one of the most appealing, fun Christmas disks of the year. Special thanks to the guys at Reliant K and to Bobby Gale (ph) at Capitol Records for letting us use their terrific music.


KING: They are the alternative rock band Angels and Airwaves. Their new album is "I Empire," and it debuted at number nine on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart; 66,000 copies sold in its first week. We're happy to meet them tonight. They are Tom Dulong, the singer and guitarist, David Kennedy, another guitarist, Adam Willard, the drummer, and Matt Wacter (ph), the bassist. You were with Blink 182, right?


KING: How did this group form?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we got together like most bands, a bunch of friends and we all grew up listening to the same kind of music and we grew up as skateboard kids in the same area. So we just very normal.

KING: You're all about the same age?


KING: Matt, you were with 30 Seconds to Mars. Why did you leave them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty seconds were up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my calling. It was kind of just -- you know, just had run its course for me. I just wanted to spend more time with my family and decided quickly that I wanted to play in a band again. So, Tom called me up and said we need a bass player. So --

KING: This is your second album, right?


KING: Tell us about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's the second part of the first record. The first record was very linear, I guess. We went out and started playing shows very quickly. I think we decided we had quite a bit more personality and a lot more of a story to tell. So we felt like we needed to get back in the studio quickly to finish the story. This is the second part of that first record.

KING: Adam, how did you come up with the name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Angels and Airwaves?

KING: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're coming up with the name of a band, it was kind of a chance to start over for all of us. It was one of those things that you keep saying it and nobody was really sure what we wanted to call it, because we wanted it to be something very unique that no other band can be named, Angels and Airwaves. So we kept saying it around the studio, and it finally just stuck. Somebody said it and we're like, that's it.

KING: Tom, are you touring now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we just got back, doing a bunch of festival shows here during the holiday season, and we'll be going back out in the first week of February, North American tour. And we wanted to make sure it was going to be the coldest it could possibly be when we go out there.

KING: So you're going to Montreal in December and January?


KING: You guys are terrific and the audience is going to hear how terrific. Thank you all very much. The group is Angels and Airwaves. And from their new album "I Empire," they perform "Everything's Magic." Enjoy.



KING: And now an Italian treat. Tenor Andrea Bocelli gives us a taste of his new album, "Vivere." Tonight he's performing, Verlisamo Stele (ph).


KING: Hey, we certainly hope you enjoyed our musical holiday extravaganza. We sure loved having them here. And, if you haven't been to our website lately, check it out, You can find out what's coming up on our show, or download our podcast, all at From all of us here, happy holidays, have a great weekend.