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Health Care Reform Summit; 'The Hurt Locker'

Aired February 25, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, it was an all day slug fest -- President Obama and Republican critics clashing over health care reform.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because we're not campaigning anymore. The election is over.


KING: Tempers and taunts on display. Now the debate continues as Doctors Bill Frist and Howard Dean Duke it out right here.

Plus, killer whales -- performers or predators?

Who's at fault for a trainer's death, the whale or the captors?

Animal activist Bob Barker tells us what he thinks.

And then, "The Hurt Locker" -- highlights from the real life hell lived by soldiers who defuse bombs. The Oscar nominated film's director and star take us into this dangerous and deadly world of explosives.


Good evening.

President Obama, members of his cabinet, members of Congress both sides of the aisle, held a lengthy televised summit on health care reform today.

Here's a little of the style and substance of a highly charged meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill -- this 2,700 page bill will bankrupt our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're wrong about your bill, it would increase premiums, I believe. You say it wouldn't.

OBAMA: I'm pretty certain I'm not wrong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm dead in that insurance market if I have to switch policies or switch companies.

OBAMA: Let me just make this point, John, because we're not campaigning anymore. The election is over. The (INAUDIBLE)...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I -- I'm reminded of that every day.

OBAMA: Well, I -- yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're entitled to your opinions, but not your own facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.

OBAMA: Politics, I think, ended up trumping practical common sense.


KING: With us are two distinguished Americans -- one a former governor, one a former senator and both physicians.

Both in Washington, Dr. Howard Dean, former chairman, Democratic National Committee, former governor of Vermont, author of "Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Health Care Reform."

And Dr. Bill Frist, former Republican senator from Tennessee. He was Senate majority leader. He's a heart and lung transplant surgeon and author of "A Heart to Serve: The Passion to Bring Health, Hope and Healing."

We start with Dr. Dean.

What, if anything, did the health care summit accomplish, Howard?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I thought it was refreshing to have people in the same room who had been at each other's throat for a year actually talking mostly policy -- some politics, but mostly policy. I think that was a good thing for both the Republicans and the president.

KING: What do you think, Bill?

BILL FRIST, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, first of all, it was amazing to me, after having spent 12 years here, six years with President Clinton, six years with President Bush, having been majority leader, I saw nothing like that, to have the president of the United States spend seven hours moderating, in a very fair fashion, some really good ideas from both sides of the aisles. I thought it was very, very impressive.

Politically, I think it accomplished absolutely nothing -- very important for America, very important for the process, very important for the understanding of -- of the American people of how Washington works. But nothing's been changed compared to where we started at 8:00 this morning.

DEAN: Well, I don't quite...

KING: Howard, any minds changed...

DEAN: I don't quite agree with that.

KING: -- do you think?

DEAN: I'll tell you why.

KING: Why?

DEAN: I think what the president wanted -- set out to do what he -- and did do what he set out to do, which was to show that there was commonality between the Republican and the Democratic position. That's a subtle way of undermining the Republicans who don't want to pass anything.

And so I think that, hmmm, I don't want to get into a big partisan fight here, but I think the president absolutely accomplished what he said he wanted to do.

I also noticed something which is unusual, and that was the Republicans were not all on message. The ones in the room did very well. But then the television kept cutting the people outside the room who were doing the partisan talking points. And I thought that was tough for the Republicans. So I think...

KING: All right. Doctor...

DEAN: -- you know, I think, something was accomplished. I think this is going to make it easier for the president to ultimately passed -- health care passed. And his case is going to be the Republicans aren't interested in helping us.

KING: Bill, if you...

FRIST: Yes, but that's not...

KING: If you would have been there today, Bill, is there a key point that you would have added or made?

FRIST: You know, I think one of the beautiful things about is that all of the issues were discussed. There are basically two issues, the cost issue, where Republicans are, I think, are very strong; where I think the American people are probably grounded more. And then there's the access issue, which wasn't covered quite as much. It was $3 million the Republicans were going to cover versus $18 million or $20 million of what the Democrats were going to cover.

The one thing I would have added, because the comprehensive health care bill that's on the table doesn't do it and that is really transform how you get value out of medicine, how you get results, how you get outcomes, how you change the way medicine is practiced to make it less wasteful, to cut that 30 percent of waste out of it.

There's nothing in the bill that changes the way medicine is practiced and thus, it comes to this value equation that ultimately explains both the cost issue, as well as the access issue.

DEAN: That is absolutely true. That's one thing Bill and I absolutely agree on. If you want to change what we do here, you've got to stop paying us the way you pay us. If you keep paying us to do things to you, we're going to do a lot of things to you. And that's one of biggest problems. You pay hospitals, you pay doctors by the procedure and you ought to pay us by the result.

KING: Howard, are we -- are we going to get a weakened measure?

DEAN: I don't know. This is a weak measure. Bill and I were talking. Bill is now to my left. I think we ought to get rid of the individual mandate, because I don't think it's necessary and it makes people mad. It makes Republicans mad and it makes Democrats mad.

And I think you ought to have some form of a public option, which would come in the form of an expansion of Medicare to some number of people who are under 65, so that somebody can get insurance right after this bill is signed.

Because if you go into this election in 2010 and 2012 without doing much for increasing the number of insured people in this country, which is what this bill doesn't do much for, I think the Democrats are going to pay a huge price.

So a little public option, get rid of the mandate, everybody's a little happier, pass the bill.

KING: Bill, is some kind of health care reform better than none at all?

FRIST: Absolutely...

KING: Both sides were kind of suggesting today, let's do something.

FRIST: Well, you know, they were, Larry, absolutely. We've got 30 million people uninsured in this country and that's too many in a country that is as rich as -- as ours. We've got health care costs going up three times faster than inflation. That can't be sustained. We've got entitlement programs that, Medicare and Medicaid, that are out of control and are going to go bankrupt eventually. So we've got to get health care done.

I think today did signal formally the end of any consideration or serious consideration of comprehensive health care reform today. I think it's dead. I think it came across.

At the end of the president's comments today -- and, again. I thought he did a very, very good job and very fair job -- he said we're not going to take baby steps. So I think the idea of scaling back to something that -- that Governor Dean just mentioned or having a series of incremental steps occur over the next year is very unlikely, according to the president. Comprehensive health care reform is dead. I think the president, after six weeks, he basically signaled at the end, he's going to move on to jobs, the economy, other issues where maybe he'll be more successful.

KING: And, Howard, obviously, I guess, public -- the public option is gone, right?

DEAN: I don't think so. I mean I -- I continue to argue. We -- we had 59 votes for a Medicare expansion in the House to people under 65 -- I mean, excuse me, in the Senate. We were very, very close. In fact, Ed -- Joe Lieberman said he was going to vote for it then changed his mind. Otherwise, that would have passed.

So I still think we could have some meaningful comprehensive health care reform. The president is going to try to get something through. I think that's good.

KING: Yes.

DEAN: And the other reason I think it's good is for political reasons. People want to see a strong president. I -- I commend the president for coming back and not giving up on this.

KING: In...

DEAN: People don't like presidents that give up and he didn't.

KING: In the weeks ahead, we'll be seeing lots of both of you -- two distinguished Americans, Doctors Howard Dean and Bill Frist.

So what, if anything, was accomplished by today's meeting?

We'll talk about it with our panel, next.


KING: Let's meet our distinguished panel.

Old friend, Ben Stein, economist, best-selling author.

Dr. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Bernadine Healey, health reporter, former president of the American Red Cross.

And Dr. Paul Song, the radiation oncologist and a member of Physicians for A National Health Program.

How do you think that went today, Ben?

BEN STEIN, COLUMNIST, "FORTUNE": I thought it was a very impressive show. I thought it was a show of civility and intelligence. I thought the points of view were put across.

What I think was sort of kept away, in addition to the points that the two doctors before us just made, was, basically, at the end of the day, if there's going to be a health plan, it's going to involve higher income people paying money to lower income people. And I think that is sort of being sugar-coated.

We've got to, I think, wrap our minds around the fact that if we are really going to take care of everyone in this country, there's going to have to be higher taxes for it on well-to-do people.

KING: Dr. Song, what did you think of today?

DR. PAUL SONG, RADIATION ONCOLOGIST: Well, I think the problem is while there was a lot of good talk today and discussion, the problem is that if you look at the Senate bill, it's not even scheduled to take place until 2014. And the House bill isn't going to take -- go into effect until 2013.

In that time, over 45,000 Americans are going to die each year because they're uninsured. The number of medical related bankruptcies is going to increase by over 50 percent.

So a lot of people are going to be suffering and lost during this time that we're debating over actual reform.

KING: Dr. Healy, do you think progress was made today?

DR. BERNADINE HEALY, HEALTH EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": I don't think progress was made today, but I think there was a much clearer definition of where -- where the two sides were. I think there's also a very sobering recognition that they are far apart. And even though, in the beginning, there was a lot of talk, gee, we're really almost there -- I think Senator Baucus said there are not many differences. I think by the end of the day, it was perfectly evident that there are huge differences and that there's a good chance that the president was going to have to go this alone, if he's going to go.

KING: Dr. Rohack, do you expect some bill to come out of all of this?

DR. J. JAMES ROHACK, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, we know that the status quo is unacceptable. And I think it was clear in that room. People recognize we need to do something and stalemate really isn't good for the American public.

Physicians across America will continue to see our patients, but it's going to be very difficult when they don't have health insurance. They come to us sicker, they die younger and using the emergency room as an access point that everybody's paying for.

So we really need to be focused on what we can do to make sure that patients and doctors can continue to get the care that the doctor feels is best for their patient.

KING: Ben, your point about well off people helping poor people, isn't that as American as cherry pie? STEIN: I -- it is as American as apple pie. And I think it's an extremely good idea. But I don't think that the president wants to admit that's what's going to have to happen. There is going to have to be a subsidy from high income people to low income people. This is the idea that President Nixon had back in 1973.

KING: Yes.

STEIN: And I think it's a darned good idea.

KING: Dr. Song, do you expect a bill out of all of this?

SONG: I do. But unlike in 1994, when President Clinton did the bill behind closed doors and then gave it to Congress, President Obama made the mistake of giving this to Congress and allowing them to write it from the beginning. And the problem with that is you have 3,300 health care lobbyists for 535 members of Congress -- so roughly six lobbyists for one member of Congress. And they were spending $1.4 million a day -- roughly more than that was spent on the Kerry/Bush election. And in doing so, that's why this bill looks like it was written by the insurance industry.

KING: So money talks, is what you're saying?

SONG: Absolutely.

KING: Let's take a break and come back with more on this edition of LARRY


Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we've been saying is let's scrap the bill. Let's start with a clean sheet of paper on those things that we can agree on.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: As we sit around this table, I think we should be mindful of what they do when they sit around their kitchen table. What we do here must be relevant to their lives. And for them, they don't have time for us to start over.


KING: Dr. Healy, do you agree with the president that they can't start over?

HEALY: No, actually I don't, because I think that -- I think that they have an obligation to -- to be very concrete with the American public. And I think that what is not coming out is the fact that it's not clear what they're going to start over, over. And the reality is that we're not talking about the fact that this bill is about taking a lot of money out of Medicare -- and Medicare, people don't know what that's going to mean to them. It is about putting a lot of people into Medicaid -- 15 million people into Medicaid at $15,000 a head. We don't know what that's going to happen at the level of the patient and the doctor.

And I was a little disappointed in the discussion today in that the patient was never mentioned and -- and how the patient would be pushed around on this chess board.

KING: Dr. Rohack, as president of the AMA, does -- does it annoy you, for want of a better word, that this rich nation has never had a national insurance plan?

ROHACK: Well, the American Medical Association believes that we need to have a pluralistic system, that is, a robust private sector that allows innovation, but a public sector safety net. And what drives us is the tax code. And we know that right now, the tax code is the advantage to the employers. And when employers don't provide health insurance, the individual market becomes unaffordable for individuals to provide it.

So the AMA feels very strongly that we need to make sure that every American has affordable, quality health insurance coverage.

And then we can also look at how do we reduce the unnecessary cost to pay for it -- defensive medicine and the administrative waste that right now drives up health care costs both for the insurer, the doctor and the hospital, as well as the patient.

KING: All right.

Ben Stein, are we ever going to see it?

STEIN: Oh, I think we'll see it eventually. But I don't think we need to smash the whole system and start afresh, the way President Obama tried to do it. I go back again and again to saying the problem is poor people who don't have health insurance.

KING: I know, but...

STEIN: Why don't we just give them money to have health insurance?

I don't think we're ever going to get the waste out of the system. I've been hearing about getting waste out of government expenditures and medical expenditures my whole life. They never do it. It just gets worse and worse. It's never going to stop.

Let's just give poor people money to buy insurance policies and let them not die and let them not be sick.

KING: The Nixon plan.

Do you like that, Dr. Song?

SONG: Well, I like the idea... KING: That was the Nixon plan.

SONG: -- the idea of giving low income people access to buy health insurance. But the problem is, with the current health care system, you don't have competition and these health care insurance industries operate as a monopoly, where they take 30 cents of every dollar away from patient care. And in doing so, you -- you end up giving patients no choice in what they ultimately can get for really good care for themselves.

KING: We'll have all of our panel back in the nights ahead, as we look at this very important topic.

Thank you all.

We now know the exact cause of the death in that killer whale tragedy. But there are other questions to answer. And we'll talk to Jack Hanna and Bob Barker about it next.


KING: The Orange County, Florida Sheriff's Office says the medical examiner has ruled that Dawn Brancheau most likely died from multiple traumatic injuries and drowning yesterday, that after one of SeaWorld's killer whales pulled her into a pool behind Shamu Stadium. According to the Sheriff's Office, all evidence and witness statements indicates that her death was a tragic accident.

Bob Barker and Jack Hanna are with us.

But first, let's go to Julie Scardina, the animal ambassador for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.

She knew Dawn Brancheau very well.

Well, what -- what, if anything, can the -- can the SeaWorld attraction do about this, Julie?


well, right now, now we're obviously concentrating on, you know, sending our thoughts and prayers and any support that Dawn's family needs to them. And we're sending our deepest sympathies to them, of course. And on top of that, we're doing an investigation into exactly what happened so that we can determine what steps to take next.

KING: Is SeaWorld closed?

SCARDINA: No. SeaWorld is open, although we're not doing the Shamu shows currently right now.

KING: Do you think it will be a while before they come back?

SCARDINA: Well, that's hard for me to determine right now. Certainly, it's going to depend on, you know, what is found. And there are a lot of internal experts, as well as external experts, that are going to be consulted. So all that process will be in the works over the next few days, weeks and -- and, potentially, months, depending on exactly what happened.

KING: Thanks.

SCARDINA: You know, I knew Dawn and -- and she was such a passionate trainer. And I knew she loved those whales. So I know it will come to a good conclusion in terms of, you know, what it meant to her.

KING: I hope so.

Thank you, Julie Scardina.

All right, let's meet our panel.

In West Palm Beach, Jack, Hanna, director emeritus, the Columbus Zoo and host of "Into the Wild."

On the phone, our old friend, Bob Barker, former famed they've game show host best known for his years on "The Price is Right" and a long time animal rights activist.

And Ingrid Newkirk is president of PETA. That's People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Jack Hanna is probably outnumbered here two to one.

We'll start with Bob.

You've sent a letter to the owners of SeaWorld urging them to set up a firm and rapid plan to release all of its orcas and other marine mammals to sanctuaries.

Why do you feel that's the best response to yesterday's tragedy?

BOB BARKER, ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, I don't believe whales belong in these tiny tanks that they are kept in. I think that they belong in the ocean where that -- where nature intended for them to be.

These thanks, for a whale, are about like having one of us in a bathtub, told that we have to learn some tricks and if we do our tricks well enough, that we will be fed.

And I -- I think that it's animal suffering for a whale to be in the tanks in the first place. And to have to learn these ridiculous tricks and perform for the entertainment of man is a total disrespect for the whales.

KING: Jack Hanna, how do you respond?

JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO, KNEW WHALE VICTIM: Well, I respond by saying, first off, that Dawn was a friend and I'm sorry about the loss. I'm still getting over that.

But as far as Mr. Barker, I admire your work for spaying and neutering animals.

I really do admire you for that.

However, when statements are made in your letter, which is right here, which are mostly totally inaccurate, especially the statement that says, "The only thing people learn from visiting the SeaWorld theme park is how miserable life is for the animals held there."

But over 12 million people visited the SeaWorld parks last year and over 90 percent of the folks said that it was the most incredible experience of their life.

And, also, when you talk about the whales that are there, 95 percent or so of the whales there were born at SeaWorld. And so that says something. Like most -- 99 percent of our animals at zoological parks are born in other zoological parks. We don't go out and pluck them from the wild.

But the work that SeaWorld has done -- and, by the way, Larry, 60 something million dollars was spent last year by SeaWorld -- one year -- on the killer whales and other animals, marine mammals in that park, plus the many, many hundreds and thousands of animals that they released to the wild.

If it wasn't for SeaWorld, animals like the manatee in Florida might not even be in existence right now. And so I know what SeaWorld does. I go there as a visitor. I go there as a person who loves to watch that park...


HANNA: -- and see what they do.

KING: Ingrid, don't you think the public loves this, though?

We've had this tragedy, but doesn't the public respond to this?

INGRID NEWKIRK, PRESIDENT, PETA: Let me say, Larry, that there are two victims here -- this whale, who was captured in the wild when he was two years old and has spent a quarter of a century in this bathtub-like existence, as Bob says. He's a male whale. He's raging with hormones. He wants to swim. He wants to mate. He wants to have freedom, like all living creatures.

And they are treated like wined up toys, because this is an amusement park. And the only reason they have them is because they do bring people in who want to see a large animal up close. If I were a parent, I would run screaming from this place, not only because my child might see a trainer killed, but might come away with the idea that this is all right -- an acceptable way to keep animals. And it isn't.

As Bob said, they belong in the wild.

KING: All right. Let me get a break and come back.

HANNA: Well, the...

KING: Again, we've outnumbered Jack two to one, so we'll give him a little edge here when we return.

Don't go away.


KING: Bob Barker, how do you respond to what Jack Hanna said Sea World being, in large part, beneficial to the creatures?

BARKER: I can't understand how he could possibly say that being confined in this tiny tank was beneficial to this whale. And I've been told that the whale has taken part in the death of two other humans. And the question I've been asked most often is, why in the world was this whale in the tank? Why was it continued part of this so-called show?

KING: Good point. Jack?

HANNA: Well, first off, let me say that Ingrid -- I wish that Ingrid -- your passion, which is totally different than mine, and my passion could ever be put together with the zoological world. No telling what difference we could make.

I don't know if Ingrid has children or not. But 180 million people last year, Larry, went to our zoos and aquariums, 180 million people. Ingrid has about two million members. We have tens of millions of members. That speaks for itself.

The education, Ingrid, that we do for folks in the Sea World parks is something that has to be done. As you well know, Ingrid, in the wild -- and Bob -- what's happening in the world right now, the creatures out there suffering because of pollution, because of all man-made things we have done.

The zoological park now -- by the way, 99 percent of our animals, as I said before, were born in our zoos. We have to continue that. Bob keeps to referring to these as tanks. These are habitats. By the way, the whale has already bred at Sea World and produced many needed killer whales at those parks. That's very valuable to the Sea World parks, as the research they're doing there to find out about the killer whale in the wild.

God help us if ever the Sea Worlds were to go away, because they know more about the killer whales than Ingrid, myself and any parks put together. They know about the killer whale in the wild and --

KING: How about his point, Jack, that if that whale killed before, why keep them in the tank?

HANNA: Larry, Larry, it has killed before. Larry, didn't our astronauts go up in the space shuttle and we lost them when they came back? It was a terrible thing. Wasn't it? They went right back up in space, didn't they? Because we want to learn from space. We want to help mankind. That's what Sea World does and what we all do. Our business, Larry, is called the killer whale. These are dangerous animals. Yes, we know that, Larry. We know that, Bob. We know that, Ingrid. This young lady sacrificed her life and she would be sitting here today saying that she'd do it again for the great work she's done and Sea World has done to educate tens of millions of people over the last 46 years.

Larry, out of two million plus encounters with these whales, Larry, this is the first time this has happened at a Sea World park with a trainer.

KING: Ingrid, do you want to close Sea World?

NEWKIRK: Absolutely. This is actually the third human being this one particular whale has killed. One of his sons killed another trainer in Spain last year. And I believe that Sea World has helped kill these trainers, because they've known that for the sake of profit they wanted to keep on with these shows. I hope they get sued from here to Mozambique because money is what they understand. These animals are swimming in their own diluted urine. Nothing that they do is natural.

HANNA: Larry, that's a lie. That's a total outright falsity.

NEWKIRK: Where does their urine go, Jack? -

HANNA: Where does it go? Ingrid, how much --


KING: We only have 20 seconds left.

NEWKIRK: The time has passed. It's the 21st century. Animals out of chains, animals out of marine marks.

KING: I want to apologize to everybody that we have so limited time tonight. We will do more on this next week. We'll have you back, Jack, I promise. We don't have enough time tonight. I really apologize.

It's time to meet our CNN hero of the week. In a tiny Colombian village, a teacher and father is finding a productive way to use his spare time. He's combating illiteracy where kids can't get to school. He's doing it in a unique way. Watch.


LUIS SORIANO, CNN HERO (through translator): In the villages, life goes on in a stationary way. Reading has shown me things I won't see in my lifetime. My name is Luis Soriano. My classroom is not traditional.

My (SPANISH) consists of books placed on saddles on top of my donkeys. It's not easy to travel through this valleys. You sit on a donkey for five or eight hours, he get very tired. We go to places where child has to work or ride a donkey for up to 40 minutes to reach the closest school. When they learn how to read, the child discovers a new world, like I did.

These children need it. Of course, they want to learn. That's what keeps motivating me to ride.


KING: Want to know what it's like to defuse bombs during wartime? We'll talk to the "Hurt Locker's" director, star and screen writer about it, and to a man who has real life on the job experience. You don't want to miss this, next.


KING: Welcome back. "The Hurt Locker" is nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, best original screen play, best actor. It recently won six BAFTA Awards, including best picture, best director, best original screen play. Director Kathryn Bigelow won the Director Guild's top prize.

She joins us tonight, along with the screenwriter Mark Boal, and star, Jeremy Renner. They, too, are nominated for Academy Awards. Also with us, Jim O'Neil, who served as an explosive ordinance disposal tech and an officer for 18 years.

"The Hurt Locker" is an intense, edge of your seat drama about soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, disarming bombs. Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your shot 2:00, dude has a phone. Make him put it down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put down the phone!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, guys, talk to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the phone! Drop your phone! Burn your -- Put down the cell phone! Drop your phone!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it down. Go get it!


KING: This movie, as I said publicly, is unbelievable, one of the greatest war movies ever made. With us, Jim O'Neil, who actually did this kind of stuff for real, and Vick, one of our top security men who is decked out in what these guys wear.

Before we talk about the movie, Jim, show us this suit. Describe it.

JIM O'NEIL, EXPLOSIVE ORDINANCE DISPOSAL TECH: Thanks. This is a typical bomb suit that you're going to be finding working with the IED teams, the counter-IED teams in Iraq and Afghanistan today. It's also used in the continental United States with plenty of bomb squads, as well as many other foreign countries.

It basically consists of three pieces. You got the leggings, which are held up by suspenders. Underneath, the protective jacket. Then the final piece, and probably one of the most important, the helmet. Keeps your --

KING: Head on.

O'NEIL: Head on. Thank you.

KING: What does it protect you from?

O'NEIL: It protects against blast and it also protects against thermal and it also protects against fragmentation.

KING: How hot is it in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty hot in here.

KING: It's got to be pretty rough in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, 120, 130 degrees.

O'NEIL: It's pretty rough. During the winter -- during the summertime, when the temperatures are in the 100s, 110, 120 -- take a walk outside sometime when it's in the 100s in a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt and just get a taste. This thing is 65 pounds.

KING: How much does this cost?

O'NEIL: This is about 21,000 dollars.

KING: What's the material?

O'NEIL: I'm not sure exactly what the material is, Larry.

KING: Nothing I've felt before.

O'NEIL: I wouldn't make your suits out of it.

KING: Do you have to work out to wear this?

O'NEIL: You have to be in very good shape to wear it. Not only the heat, but just the weight of the suit, walking a long distance. You have to have fairly good cardio, and know how to pace yourself.

KING: This is a volunteer service. Why did you volunteer?

O'NEIL: It was the right thing to do. It suited my personality. The guys who I met who I was talking before I went into EOD were the type of guys I wanted to be hanging around with.

KING: What theater war were you in?

O'NEIL: I was in Desert Storm, where I did most of my action. KING: Did you ever come close to buying it?

O'NEIL: Well, yeah, couple times. But it's just move on.

KING: What are the rewards of this service?

O'NEIL: The rewards are a knowledge of a job well done, first off. The second thing is the knowledge that you actually, through your own personal efforts and training and professionalism, saved a life. The biggest thing the most EOD techs are committed to is saving a life. They're willing to risk theirs, walk down range to try to save another person, while exposing themselves to the danger.

KING: You've experienced it, worn this uniform, been in the -- what did you expect of the movie?

O'NEIL: I had no expectations of the movie. When we first received the movie to watch, we went in there with a clean slate, not knowing what to expect. We didn't hear much about it. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The people that we watched the movie with, 30 or 40 other techs, shared the thought. It was very entertaining. It was great to see the movie. It was great to have the profession exposed in a way like that.

KING: Are the people who do this adrenaline junkies?


KING: What kind of person is it?

O'NEIL: We have a person who is committed to a purpose and a mission and has to be involved with something that seems worthwhile. And, again, you get back to saving that life. It's almost like the firemen and policemen mentality.

KING: Thank you, Vick. Courage.

When we come back, "Hurt Locker's" been cleaning up at the awards shows. We'll talk about the film's Oscar chances and meet the other talented people involved ahead.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back! Get back!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's too many locks. There's too many. I can't do it. I can't get it off. I'm sorry. OK? You understand? I'm sorry. You hear me? I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Get down, now!

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: There's one sure thing watching this film, you will not go get popcorn during the showing. With us are Kathryn Bigelow, the brilliant director, who is nominated for best director for her job with this, Jeremy Renner, the star of "The Hurt Locker" -- he plays SSG William James, nominated best actor -- Mark Boal, brilliant screen play, nominated for best original screenplay, and Jim O'Neil, executive director of EOD Memorial Foundation, remains with us. How did you come to put this together, Kathryn?

KATHRYN BIGELOW, DIRECTOR, "THE HURT LOCKER": I was very lucky to be -- to know Mark Bowl, who was on a journalistic embed in Baghdad in the winter of 2004, and when he came back, he brought back such moving stories of both the chaos and tragedy of war, and the human cost that he observed. And then he wrote this magnificent screenplay, very courageous piece. We were both determined to make it.

KING: Some people might see it and say, they're surprised a woman directed this, right? You've heard that, I'm sure.

BIGELOW: I've heard that, yes.

KING: Do you resent that when you hear it in.

BIGELOW: I don't resent it. I just feel -- I think of myself as a film maker. I long for day when there's no modifier in front of it.

KING: Well, you're a brilliant film maker, period. Jeremy, how did you get the part?

JEREMY RENNER, ACTOR: I talked to her over the phone. I was in London. I didn't know it at the time. But she had seen a movie I did prior. It was this thing called "Dahmer." I played Jeffrey Dahmer. I didn't know this. But we ended up talking. I kept telling her why -- and my thoughts and feelings about the character, the role. And one of my first questions to her was, how do you want the audience to feel at the end of the movie when he walks off? Just got into it.

And I don't know, it was one of those things where I could smell her smile over the phone. It was just -- we really hit it off over the phone. I finally had to come meet this kid. He wasn't quite so convinced that Jeffrey Dahmer could play Will James.

KING: Did you like the screenplay right away?

RENNER: Oh, yeah. Just one of those -- just one of those once in a lifetime opportunities I think. Yeah, when you have a wonderful story about EOD and -- that I didn't know anything about.

KING: Did anything trigger the writing? An instance, something occur in which said, I want to do something with this?

MARK BOAL, SCREENWRITER, "THE HURT LOCKER": I had written the script and then Jeremy came on-board. After meeting him, I thought, I really have to make this part better and give it more --

KING: Really? BOAL: Because he has such range as an actor and the part was -- I thought it was good, but it didn't have all the humor that he can do and it didn't have some of the surprise. And so I kind of tried to add some of that in there to take advantage of him.

KING: What, Jim, is a "Hurt Locker"?

O'NEIL: It's a term used when you find yourself in a not too good of a situation, and you have a really good chance of getting hurt. So they call it the hurt locker.

KING: Like you're locked in?

O'NEIL: Yes, sir.

KING: Did you always buy that title, Kathryn? There are some who said, what does it mean?

BIGELOW: I loved it from the beginning. The minute he mentioned it, I thought it was perfect. It's enigmatic and yet it's provocative. And there is -- you know, it's --

KING: It's caught on, right?

BIGELOW: Yes, absolutely.

KING: What was it like to work in that suit?

RENNER: What do you think it's like?

KING: Terrible.

RENNER: Terrible. Yeah. It was a love/hate relationship with it. It informed me of so many things with the character, who he was. And I couldn't have done it any other way. But it was -- it was tough. It gave me so much respect for what these guys do. You know, I wasn't squatting over high explosives. And so I'll never really kind of complain about it. Was it difficult? Yeah.

KING: Was the finished product, Mark, everything you envisioned?

BOAL: It was more than that. I mean, it was what I envisioned and so much more. To see an actor take the part and really bring it to life, and to see what Kathryn did with it, it was the experience of a lifetime that it came out the way it did.

KING: And, Jim, as you said earlier, you didn't know what to expect, right?

O'NEIL: Didn't know what to expect. It was actually very, very well surprised at the end result.

KING: We're going to take a break and come back and more. We're going to show you a scene with Jeremy Renner in it, right after this.


RENNER: See any wires? Any smoke?


RENNER: How do you know it's a bomb?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car has been parked illegally. The suspension is sagging. There's definitely something heavy in the trunk.

RENNER: Why don't you walk over there and peek inside and tell me what you see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want me to go close to it?

RENNER: Yeah. I'm kidding. I'm kidding.


KING: "The Hurt Locker" is, as we said, wildly intense. Let's take a look at the Academy Award nominee -- you might win it -- Jeremy Renner, in action. Watch.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's he doing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

RENNER: There's enough bag in here to send us all to Jesus. If I'm going to die, I'm going to die comfortable.


KING: Where did you film this, Kathryn?

BIGELOW: We filmed it in the Middle East, in and around the city of Amman, Jordan. It was very hot, middle of summer, 115 Degrees average temperature. That suit made it very -- a very punishing experience for Jeremy.

KING: Were you there during the shooting, Mark?

BOAL: I was. Fortunately, I was in an air-conditioned car as often as possible. I was watching.

RENNER: I don't blame you. I would have been, too.

KING: The powers that be in Jordan cooperated then?

BIGELOW: Very much so. It was a very generous place to shoot.

KING: There's nothing political in this, right? It does not take a stand pro-war or against war?

RENNER: You're asking me?

KING: Yeah.

RENNER: I don't think so at all. I don't personally see there's a -- it's a cinema. We're telling a story about three characters doing a really interesting job. It happens to touch on something that's relevant. But I think this is why the movie succeeds, because it allows the audience to feel and think what they want to think and feel.

KING: Did you learn anything about explosives?

RENNER: Yes, a lot.

KING: Do you think you could disarm one?

RENNER: I wouldn't even try to. If your microphone was an IED, I would say run, Larry, run. I mean --

O'NEIL: I would, too.

RENNER: He would, too.

KING: Do you wonder why people like Jim did what he did?

RENNER: That was the first question I had to ask, always, to get to the truth of what fuels a human being to want to do that. He captured, I think, a lot of what I heard in my experiences with EOD.

KING: In writing it, Mark, you talked to these people. What's the common thread between them?

BOAL: Well, honesty, because they are entrusted with a lot of classified information. And also I think a high tolerance for risk. And most of all, probably, the ability to think under pressure. It's one thing to be able to figure out a circuit board, but another thing to be able to do that when someone's shooting at you, or when the circuit board might blow up. So it's really probably a combination of those three things.

KING: What is the biggest challenge in directing it, Kathryn?

BIGELOW: Well, probably putting all the moving parts together, and then in the Middle East, in the summer, and trying to get, for instance, black powder in through various -- like across Syria and into Jordan. And it was just a very -- it was a very complicated shoot, just from the logistical standpoint. That was probably the most difficult.

BOAL: Getting the money wasn't easy, either.

KING: This is not an expensive film, is it?

BOAL: Relative. More money than any of us had in the bank. None of the Hollywood financiers wanted to make it. So we had a lot of doors slammed in our faces before we were able to find someone willing to take the risk.

KING: Frankly --

BOAL: Frankly, I don't blame them, by the way. I'm not saying that with resentment. It was what it was.

KING: Based on the title, and generally the fact this was an unknown factor, are you surprised at all the buzz that this movie is getting?

BIGELOW: Well, I'm surprised and thrilled and it's so gratifying.

KING: You've won awards already. People are picking. You're not a long shot anymore to win best picture.

BIGELOW: Well, it's really exciting. I think it's almost surreal, is a very accurate way of putting it. None of us expected this when we were shooting this film. We were just working on a project we cared deeply about, and a story we care deeply about, about men who arguably have the most dangerous job in the world.

KING: They do.

BIGELOW: To have this happen I think is just profoundly gratifying.

KING: Jim, do you think it will get people in service to volunteer for this? Or not?

O'NEIL: I don't think it will deter anybody. I hope this isn't the only reason they think they want to do this type of job. They have to understand what the risk and the perils are. And they have to understand what the commitment and the training and the level of, you know, intense work is. It's just not -- it would be like somebody watching "Top Gun" and wanting to be a pilot. You have to understand what you're getting into before you want to do it.

KING: Is directing action war scenes more difficult than others, Kathryn? Different?

BIGELOW: Well, directing a film that is based ongoing conflict --

KING: Still going.

BIGELOW: Which is still going -- and I think that was all very -- was extremely meaningful to us. I think we wanted to handle it -- handle the courage of the men and women who are still in the feel with as much honor as we could, and respect as we could.

KING: Congratulations to all of you. You're all winners. It's impossible to compare.

RENNER: Yes, we are.

KING: You really are.

BOAL: We won so long ago.

KING: Kathryn Bigelow, Jeremy Renner, Mark Boal, and Jim O'Neil, the former -- what do we call you? People who do what you do are --

O'NEIL: EOD Techs.

KING: EOD Techs.

BIGELOW: Explosive Ordinance Disposal.

O'NEIL: Or, Every One's Divorced.


KING: Same thing! Good luck to "The Hurt Locker's" Oscar nominees. We shall keep close tabs on this and I urge you to see this movie.