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JOY BEHAR SHOW

9/11: A Nation Remembers; Memories of 9/11; Interview With Liza Minnelli; Interview with 9/11 Survivors Lauren Manning and Michael Hingson; Interview With Denis Leary

Aired September 9, 2011 - 22:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a special edition of the JOY BEHAR SHOW. Ten years later, Joy looks back at 9/11. Has the nation fully healed? Are we safer today?

Joy talks about those issues with Meredith Vieira, who was with Joy on that Tuesday morning a decade ago. She`ll also speak to New York icon Liza Minnelli who helped lift the nation with song.

And Joy talks to Denis Leary about the emergency workers who died that day and whose hit show "Rescue Me" was inspired by the tragic events of 9/11. Join Joy as the nation looks back on a decade of fear, heroism, and healing.

JOY BEHAR, HLN HOST: It`s been ten years since the World Trade Center attacks, but in some ways it feels like yesterday. Like most of you, I remember exactly where I was when the planes hit.

Joining me today to share their memories and feelings are three other people you may know: Liza Minnelli, Denis Leary, and Meredith Vieira. I was with Meredith on that fateful morning and she joins me now.

You know, people are talking about where they were. It`s sort of like the Kennedy assassination --

MEREDITH VIEIRA, FORMER HOST, "TODAY": Absolutely.

BEHAR: -- where were you that day. And you always remember exactly where you were when something like that happens. And you and I were together.

VIEIRA: Yes. We were in hair and make-up --

BEHAR: We were in hair and make-up.

VIEIRA: -- preparing for "The View". I remember that when the first plane hit, we said to Bill Getty, executive producer, should we be talking about this on the show? At that point people thought it was a little plane that hit the Trade Center. Nobody really knew. He said, I think this may be too local.

You know, we were all trying to piece things together. Then I -- I remember that second we saw the second plane hit. And it was just -- it didn`t even sink in. Did you have that feeling like it was -- it was like --

BEHAR: What is this?

VIEIRA: What is this? Exactly. And we were told everybody to go -- to leave, we were going to be pre-empted and just to go home, be with your family, whatever. I remember getting in the car -- and I live outside of the city. And my kids were outside of the city. And I called my husband who was in the city working.

I said, you`re leaving me and he said, I don`t want to leave. I said, please, I want to get the kids from school --

BEHAR: He didn`t want to go?

VIEIRA: No, he didn`t want to go. Then they were closing all the bridges and tunnels. The guy who would drive me in to "The View" every day, Carlos, said, "I will get you to your kids` school." He knew every back road and he got me to the Bronx where the kids were in school.

I`ll never forget going upstairs. And in the principal`s office, there was a boy, high school age -- my kids were, I think Ben was Seventh grade at that point. I think Gabey was Fifth and Lily was third. He was crying. His parents were in that building and he had no idea whether they were alive or not. And just that image just --

BEHAR: Do you know if they made it?

VIEIRA: I do not believe they did.

BEHAR: Oh, that`s sad.

VIEIRA: So I think a couple of kids lost parents that day.

BEHAR: Oh, my God. You know, we were talking --

You talk to people who survived it and they`re burned and they -- and people jumped --

VIEIRA: What did you do?

BEHAR: I got on the phone and called my daughter who was on a plane.

VIEIRA: That`s right.

BEHAR: You immediately think of your children. As you said, I thought well, the bridges are going to be closed. We won`t be able to get home. If the planes are still taking off, I don`t want her on a plane.

It`s just a horror. It was a nightmare -- a total nightmare. It`s been said it just kept reverberating for weeks and weeks. I was saying -- I`ve been saying on the air in various places how scared everyone was.

VIEIRA: Very scared. Scared that something else was going to happen. Why should it stop after this?

BEHAR: Yes.

VIEIRA: Because who would have thought that that would happen in this country? I don`t think we ever thought of ourselves as being as vulnerable as we were.

BEHAR: No. We were in fool`s paradise, I think.

VIEIRA: Right.

BEHAR: In that sense. And then for weeks and months you were hearing about how -- they only learned -- these terrorists only learned to take off in a plane. They never learned to land, and nobody picked that up.

VIEIRA: I think they have. Yes, why wouldn`t they learn that?

BEHAR: And they got through security so easily. So you knew that there were holes in the security system in the country. So it kept you scared and on your toes and worried about getting on a plane or getting -- going through a tunnel. You know, for years I didn`t go through the tunnels to Jersey.

VIEIRA: Really? Because you were scared of being trapped in there should something happen? Yes.

BEHAR: Yes.

VIEIRA: And then there were a lot of pieces that are being done where reporters were going through security with things in bags to show how easy it was to get something through, even -- so that made you even more anxious.

BEHAR: Do you feel safe now? Do you feel secure?

VIEIRA: I don`t think I`ll ever feel totally secure again. I think that that just did a number on so many of us. But -- and I think that when we had all the color code, it got confusing to people.

BEHAR: Oh, remember that?

VIEIRA: Yes. So I think that was like a false sense of security. But you know, you can`t live your life in fear every day. You won`t walk out of your house. So to that extent, I -- I try to be vigilant in terms of looking around me. I really believe if you see something, it is important to report it.

BEHAR: Say it.

VIEIRA: To say it. But I don`t want to run scared. I just don`t want to. In fact, that night -- it was interesting, the night of 9/11, my middle guy, Gabe, he had these two girls -- he`s a baker. And he loved baking cakes, and he was making a pizza like a dessert pizza. And two of these little girls were coming over.

At first I thought, I don`t think I want to do that tonight. And then I thought, no, because kids didn`t understand the magnitude of it. And he had these girls out. They were outside, we were watching the coverage. They were laughing, and in an odd way, it was important to me to understand that life was going on.

BEHAR: Right.

VIEIRA: And that there was -- you had to hold on to that or you would just fall into such a sense of despair as we did anyway. But I needed that. I needed that little bit of joy --

BEHAR: Yes. The children.

VIEIRA: -- yes, from those kids -- the innocence.

BEHAR: Sherri Shepherd was telling me that she did a comedy night. And the place was packed. All the comedy rooms were packed. I don`t know about New York, she wasn`t in New York. People wanted to laugh that night and have some kind of semblance of sanity.

VIEIRA: Exactly. And remember when we came back, not knowing -- we were tip-toeing through "The View" in the beginning, because you want to have fun with your audience, they need it. But you didn`t know when it would be appropriate to reintroduce that kind of levity.

BEHAR: Right. Then David Letterman, he did something --

VIEIRA: Did he break the ice?

BEHAR: He broke the ice. But you know, a lot of people -- we were talking also about how -- I said something about how I started eating. I must have put on like eight pounds or something in the next couple of years, few years. Luckily Jenny Craig saved the day. But I --

VIEIRA: It was that nervous --

BEHAR: I just was eating. A lot of people put on weight because it was like -- you had in the back of your minds, we`re going to die -- might as well enjoy the lasagna.

VIEIRA: Right. Exactly. Exactly.

BEHAR: There was a lot of that.

VIEIRA: Yes.

BEHAR: And then other people fell -- decided to get married or have children or -- or decided not to have children. Major decisions were being made based on that incident.

VIEIRA: Yes. I didn`t think I made any major decisions. I think I was fairly overprotective of my kids for a while.

BEHAR: Of course.

VIEIRA: I didn`t let them out of my sight. I wanted to know where they were.

BEHAR: Well, you know, my daughter then went to school in Canada, and I was glad to send her to Canada.

VIEIRA: You thought she`d be safer there.

BEHAR: Normally I`d be like, oh my God. No, go to Canada. They don`t seem to be interested in Canada.

VIEIRA: Well, the logic`s a little weird, but I get it. Yes.

BEHAR: So what about Obama? Do you think that -- first of all, he caught Osama bin Laden and killed him -- I think it is phenomenal.

VIEIRA: Yes.

BEHAR: And you know, he`s in trouble right now with the economy. People have to remember that particular thing. Do you feel more secure with him?

VIEIRA: Do I feel more secure with him? I -- I don`t really attach security to a person like that.

BEHAR: No?

VIEIRA: No.

BEHAR: Even though he caught the guy.

VIEIRA: Yes, but that -- yes, he did. But those people that had been training to do that are -- I mean I think we need to focus on them, as well. I think it`s great that it happened on Obama`s watch. I think a lot of people thought he would not be as on top of terror and terrorism as Bush had been.

BEHAR: Yes.

VIEIRA: That this guy was not going to be tough. I think that he`s demonstrated that he is tough and he made it a point from the beginning that he wanted to get that guy. So they did. And I think that`s great.

BEHAR: And he basically has disrupted the al Qaeda, you know, network. And now they`re worried about lone killers like the thing that happened in Norway and just crazy suicide bomber in the middle of Times Square and like that.

VIEIRA: That`s exactly right; individuals here and there doing their own little self-destruction wherever it is. And I think that`s what they think the next thing will be in the States. It`s not going to be the big attacks like 9/11. It`s going to be a lot of little ones.

BEHAR: Well, the thing about a suicide bomber is, what are you supposed to do with something like that? You know, this is what Israel`s constantly dealing with, I think.

VIEIRA: Right.

BEHAR: Are you willing to die for your cause? There`s nothing we can -- how can we stop that?

VIEIRA: Exactly. It somebody wants to do it, they`ll find a way to do it.

BEHAR: I don`t feel scared lately. I don`t feel as scared. I mean, you know, I just don`t. I don`t know. Maybe I`m in denial.

It was so great to see you.

VIEIRA: It`s great to see you.

BEHAR: Ok. Next up, Liza Minelli.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, Liza Minnelli tells Joy what it was like to sing "New York, New York", to a packed audience of New Yorkers days after September 11th.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEHAR: Ten days after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center Liza Minnelli sang an unforgettable rendition of "New York, New York" before a Mets baseball game at Shea Stadium. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZA MINNELLI, SINGER/ACTRESS: If I can make it there I`ll make it anywhere. It`s up to you New York, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEHAR: Joining me now to talk about that day and 9/11 is the one and only Liza Minnelli. Welcome to the show, Liza.

MINNELLI: Hi, Joy.

BEHAR: Great to see you.

You know, I`m watching that, and it really is touching to see those guys actually singing. And they had just really been through the biggest trauma of their lives.

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: And you brought such spirit and joy to the event. Isn`t that nice? It`s a lovely feeling.

MINNELLI: Yes it was extraordinary what happened.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: Because they asked me to go out there and to sing. And I said, of course. Everybody in the city did everything.

BEHAR: Right.

MINNELLI: That they were asked to do. And I went out, and I went to go on with everybody else, Diana Ross and all of these lovely people. And they said, no, we`re saving you. I said, for what? They said, the seventh inning. I said, ok.

And just kind of did what they tell me. They told me to do. But when I got up there, the words became different to me. It became an anthem. It became about this city and it was everybody in that stadium at that moment was no longer, you know, an audience or other stars or anything. Everybody was a New Yorker.

BEHAR: I know. And you know, it`s funny because sometimes New York gets -- has gotten a bad rap in past, you know.

MINNELLI: Yes, I know.

BEHAR: They think we`re pushy and we`re loud and we`re aggressive and annoying and blah, blah, blah, blah. And yet everybody loved New York at that time because they saw how the people came together afterwards. How, you know, we didn`t act like victims. We just moved on, and people like you and others were out there cheering everyone on.

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: It was a great time for the city, I think, in that sense --

(CROSSTALK)

MINNELLI: I do.

BEHAR: -- in the sense, in that sense even though it was a horrible time right before then. So --

(CROSSTALK)

MINNELLI: Yes but you know people who don`t like New York --

(CROSSTALK)

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: -- it`s interesting, they should come here if they can and walk along the street and realize that everybody in New York -- it`s great. Everybody on the street looks like they have a mission.

BEHAR: That`s true.

MINNELLI: They are going somewhere.

BEHAR: Yes, yes.

MINNELLI: So they`re not being rude, they`re just going somewhere.

BEHAR: They`re busy. We`re just busy. Yes.

MINNELLI: It`s kind -- that`s what I love about it.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: It`s everybody is -- is living their life.

BEHAR: And I think that New Yorkers are misunderstood because besides just that, I think that we are very friendly.

MINNELLI: Indeed.

BEHAR: Very friendly people.

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: They`ll give you -- they`ll give you -- directions, if you ask any New Yorker, they`ll tell you -- they`ll tell you where to go.

MINNELLI: True.

BEHAR: Now where were you on September 11th?

MINNELLI: I was sitting in bed, and the phone rang. And it was Sam Harris, a wonderful singer.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: On the phone. And he said, turn on the television quickly. And -- and I turned it on.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: And "Towering Inferno" was on.

So I said, yes, "Towering Inferno." So he said --

(CROSSTALK)

BEHAR: That`s what he thought it was.

MINNELLI: -- he said, change the channel.

And I changed them all. And it wasn`t "Towering Inferno" --

(CROSSTALK)

BEHAR: And it was all --

MINNELLI: It was us.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: And I saw the second plane hit. And what it did to us -- you know, people in the other states say, oh, that must have been terrible. But I don`t think they realized what it -- what we thought was going to happen.

BEHAR: Uh-huh.

MINNELLI: It opened up the possibilities of being vulnerable.

BEHAR: Oh my God, I know.

MINNELLI: And the wrong kind of vulnerable.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: So when people went to clean things up, and everybody went, everybody, there was every race, you know, every color. All people -- who sometimes didn`t talk to each other -- enemies, they were down there working, and they were working together.

BEHAR: Yes, right. Yes.

MINNELLI: And I don`t know, I just found it so extraordinary. And I was just so proud it was --

(CROSSTALK)

BEHAR: It was a frightening day --

MINNELLI: Of this country and this state.

BEHAR: Yes. We -- we --

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: But I was frightened that day. My daughter was --

(CROSSTALK)

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: -- was on a plane. She was about to go to her school in Canada.

MINNELLI: Oh.

BEHAR: And she was sitting on the tarmac. And I couldn`t -- they had said, oh, other planes could be attacked. And I tried -- I called her up on her cell phone. She happened to pick it up. I said, "Get off the plane right now."

(CROSSTALK)

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: And so she said to the stewardess, "I have to get off the plane." And they said, "You can`t get off the plane." And she said, "My mother said I have to get off." I said, "You tell them you`re getting off." They let her off, they let her off the plane. I mean, I said, "Get in the cab and go to Brooklyn, wherever you have to go."

I mean it was just so anxiety-provoking that day. You didn`t know what was going to happen.

MINNELLI: And also --

(CROSSTALK)

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: -- the next time we had a blackout in New York --

BEHAR: Scary.

MINNELLI: People are on the subway, and I have friends who were on the subway. Everything stopped, everything went black. And nobody moved. As opposed to what`s going on, what`s happening, for Lord`s sake, start this damn thing --

(CROSSTALK)

BEHAR: Yes. Yes, yes.

MINNELLI: -- all just a -- absolute silence. That was really frightening.

BEHAR: Well, because they were -- they were scared.

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: And they kind of -- just --

MINNELLI: But -- the energy of this city is so extraordinary.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: Because New York -- we come from everywhere.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: I was born in Hollywood. But I`m a New Yorker.

BEHAR: Right. You`re a New Yorker.

MINNELLI: Absolutely.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: And that song, my song --

BEHAR: Your song. It`s your song.

MINNELLI: Is our anthem now.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: You know?

BEHAR: That`s true.

MINNELLI: And I think of it every time I sing it.

BEHAR: I took those attacks personally as a New Yorker, did you?

MINNELLI: I just was frightened --

BEHAR: As an American, of course. But also --

(CROSSTALK)

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: -- as a New Yorker. You come here and do this to us.

MINNELLI: Well, I thought, you come anywhere and do it to any part of America. But I was so frightened I was stunned into absolute immobility. And then you start going and you go down there and you help and you do what you have to do.

BEHAR: Yes.

There was a lot of talk about healing after the attacks; people going back to their -- to their life. Was it hard for you to go back to your normal life after that?

MINNELLI: I felt like I had to do more. I felt like I had to be part of the healing by helping through what I did if I could.

BEHAR: Yes, yes.

MINNELLI: You know, by saying, it`s so -- come on, we can -- because most of my songs are feisty.

BEHAR: Well, "New York, New York" is a feisty song --

MINNELLI: Sure.

BEHAR: -- but it had an extra powerful meaning. I remember driving into Pennsylvania right afterwards. There were signs saying, "We are all New Yorkers."

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: And it just gives me chills right now to even talk about it. Ok.

MINNELLI: It was quite extraordinary to be here.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: Really extraordinary.

BEHAR: We`re going to take a little break.

Next, the number-one reason Liza says that she`ll never move out of New York. Stay with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still ahead, Denis Leary talks about the emergency workers lost on 9/11.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEHAR: I`m back with Liza Minnelli, and we`re continuing our conversation about September 11th. You say you will always be a New Yorker, but you were not born here.

MINNELLI: No.

BEHAR: You came here when you were 15 years old?

MINNELLI: I was born in Hollywood. And I remember we came here once when I was little -- my father took me to see a version of "The King and I".

BEHAR: The great director Vincent Minnelli for those of you who don`t know.

MINNELLI: Yes. And I thought, how wonderful. Then I kind of forgot about it. And I came back again. I was going school and everything. And I wanted to be an ice skater. That`s what I wanted to be. A professional dancing you know, beautifully on the ice and so forth.

And I saw "Bye-Bye Birdie", and I saw those kids up there having such fun. And I thought, maybe that`s what I want to do. From that moment on, that`s what I wanted to do.

BEHAR: And you did.

MINNELLI: So I came back. My parents let me come here for supposedly a summer to study. I said what if I get a job? They said, well, you know, we`ll talk about it then. I said, if I get a job, I have to honor that, right? They said, yes, but we`ll talk -- and I got a job.

BEHAR: What kind of a job did you get?

MINNELLI: I got a job doing scenery. I did scenery. I did anything I could do. I learned from the bottom up because it all fascinated me so. And then, you know, I started doing shows.

BEHAR: And you became Liza Minnelli with a z. I know that you go all over the place. You were in France recently. I know your itinerary because I know your assistant. She tells me, oh, she went here, she went there.

Do you -- is it your perception that people think of us differently since 9/11 around the world, think of the United States?

MINNELLI: Yes. But they look at us like, so -- now you know.

BEHAR: Now, you know what it`s like to be --

MINNELLI: Yes. Because most everybody`s been through it. London --

BEHAR: That`s right, they have a lot of trouble in London.

MINNELLI: Paris. I mean, World War II. We got nothing. So --

BEHAR: I see.

MINNELLI: It`s almost like --

BEHAR: We lost our innocence that day in terms -- we never really were attacked on our soil except for Pearl Harbor, of course. But it never happened to us before. That day was like, uh-oh.

MINNELLI: Well, it was so crazy because it was a suicide mission.

BEHAR: Yes. Well, that`s the problem --

MINNELLI: And that, too, you think -- wait a minute. And I knew people that were on the plane that was headed for Washington.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: Terrifying.

BEHAR: Yes.

MINNELLI: You know, my friend Lisa Berenson (ph) lost her sister.

BEHAR: She was on one of the planes?

MINNELLI: She was on the plane going to Washington.

BEHAR: I`m so sorry to hear that. Isn`t that awful?

MINNELLI: Really terrible.

BEHAR: We`re talking about this, this week a lot.

MINNELLI: Yes.

BEHAR: And it was a very sad day. But we`re here, and we`re here to talk about it some more, I guess.

MINNELLI: And it`s time to remember. It`s time to remember how really wonderful we are.

BEHAR: Right.

MINNELLI: What we can do from here up for each other. It`s that. Here -- let me help you.

BEHAR: Right.

MINNELLI: To each other and to the whole country.

BEHAR: Ok Liza. Thanks so much.

MINNELLI: Honey, thank you.

BEHAR: And Liza will be showcasing material from her newest CD, "Confessions", during her fall U.S. Tour. Go to officiallizaminnelli.com for dates.

And we`ll be right back.

MINNELLI: You have to see this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up next, two 9/11 survivors share their amazing stories with Joy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEHAR: On 9/11, we saw humanity at its worst and its best. In the midst of the terror and chaos and destruction, survivors and heroes emerged. Two of them are here with me today. Lauren Manning, who was entering the North Tower of the World Trade Center when a fireball exploded, setting her on fire and leaving her with burns on over 80 percent of her body. She tells her story of hope and healing in her book, "Unmeasured Strength.

Also, Michael Hingson, who was born blind, and was working on the 78th floor of tower one of the World Trade Center when the plane hit. He was led to safety by his guide dog, Roselle. He tells his story in his book, "Thunder Dog."

Welcome to the show, guys.

LAUREN MANNING, 9/11 SURVIVOR: Thank you.

MICHAEL HINGSON, 9/11 SURVIVOR: Thank you. Good to be here.

BEHAR: Michael, you worked on the 78th floor of the trade center. What do you remember about that morning?

HINGSON: I remember when the plane first hit the building, we heard an explosion. There was a shuddering of the building, and then it began to tip. And literally like a big spring, it just kept tipping and tipping and tipping. And a colleague of mine in the office with me, David Frank, and I both said good-bye to each other because we thought we were going to take a 78-floor plunge to the street. And then the building stopped and came back.

BEHAR: Oh my God. You thought you were just going to go down with the building?

HINGSON: We thought we were going down. We had no idea why, because we were on the south side of the building, 18 floors below where the plane hit. So none of us had any clue as to what really happened.

BEHAR: So what did you think happened? What was your instinct?

HINGSON: You know, we speculated about everything from something hit the building to an explosion but we didn`t know. We had absolutely no clue, except that after the building straightened, my colleague saw fire and smoke above us and he kept shouting, "I see fire and smoke, and there are millions of pieces of burning paper falling outside the window." And I heard the debris falling outside the window, but I didn`t smell smoke. And it was my job as the person who was in charge of the office to get people out.

I had a clue that nobody else did, which was mainly that my guide dog, Roselle, was sitting next to me, and not moving at all. Just yawning and wagging her tail. She wasn`t indicating that she felt nervous in any way. So I knew from that, we could get people out or at least we can make a stab at getting people out and not worry about it. And so I was finally able to get people to focus, and we left.

BEHAR: Oh, that`s interesting, the dog.

MANNING: Amazing.

HINGSON: It`s all about information. And I had that information that nobody else was observing. That helped a great deal in getting us all to the stairs. We got the office cleared, and then David and I swept the office one final time and left ourselves.

BEHAR: OK. What happened when you got out?

HINGSON: We saw fire in tower two. David saw the flames high up in the building. And we were just told to leave the complex. We had gotten out through a door as far away from the towers as we could be, not knowing that tower two had even been hit. So we were headed up Broadway when we stopped, I tried to call my wife, I had called her while inside the tower. And then called her as -- actually I describe all of this in "Thunder Dog." I called her -- tried to call again to tell her that we were OK. About that time, tower two came crashing down. So we were 100 yards away from a 400-yard-tall building that was collapsing.

Everyone turned and ran for their lives. So when the building collapsed, everyone just was running. No one was helping anyone. But Roselle and I continued to focus. We turned around and ran back the way we came, got to Fulton Street, took a right turn and kept running. I actually caught up to David who had run. We were engulfed in the dust cloud, and then we went into a subway station, the Fulton Street station, just to get out of the air.

BEHAR: And Lauren, you worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.

MANNING: Yes.

BEHAR: Which got hit badly in the disaster. And you were running late for work so you went into the building. Tell the story. You tell it.

MANNING: I was running late that morning, and I guess through piece of blind luck, good luck and bad luck, I pulled up to the carport in a cab. And as I got out, I pushed through the doors, and --

BEHAR: Nothing yet? There was nothing --

MANNING: Nothing yet. I was veering left toward the elevator bank. And there was suddenly this tremendous quaking feeling, and the entire building shook and seemed to shift. A moment later, it seemed to stop. But immediately following, it was a piercing whistle. And probably within a second or two the fuel had ignited, descended through the elevator shafts and blew out, enveloping me.

And I turned to run, and two women that I`d seen coming in were like me also on fire. And I struggled to get to the door. But there`s that idea of backdraft with fires -- we hear the term. And I was being pulled back toward it. And eventually it released, and as I was pushing through, I basically got thrown out onto the sidewalk and scrambled to run across.

BEHAR: So there were two other women also on fire with you?

MANNING: That I saw there. And certainly as I ran out, there were others running out. And I was there for quite a while longer on the bank across the street, and so I witnessed many people coming out through various ways, upper floors, the ground floor of the building, you know, all mayhem had broken loose.

BEHAR: You ran to some grassy spot, right?

MANNING: There is a grassy, small hilled area near the World Financial Center. And I knew, as we all do through training, fire, you drop and roll. And I figured that was my only shot. I ran across the highway, started to drop and roll. And a wonderful good Samaritan came running up. There were a few people that did, to try to help those that made it to the embankment. And I was certainly helped. And we then began what was the long wait to finally get on an EMS vehicle.

BEHAR: You were burned over 80 percent of your body.

MANNING: Yeah. It was -- the duration of time that I spent there and then getting to the initial hospital and trying to control the burn -- basically it was boiling water being poured over and over, just continues to penetrate.

BEHAR: It`s just everybody`s major fear, you know, that you experienced. Besides the terror of what had happened, but to be burned is just the worst fear I think of -- right? Michael?

HINGSON: Absolutely.

BEHAR: It`s the number-one fear I think people might have about how the suffering -- and the pain involved. Were you -- the pain sounds like it might have been so horrendous. Tell me about the pain a little bit.

MANNING: It was -- really I reached beyond a classic definition of any sense of agony. And it was only through seeing the vision of my son that I decided to live. It would have been far easier certainly to let go. And in my instance, I -- I can`t obviously speak for anyone else, and I hope very few ever have to experience anything the way I did, never again, but you basically have to take yourself out of it. You have to remove mentally yourself from what is going and try to exist on a different plane. I was not truly able to do that, but to the extent I was, I was able to keep myself breathing and extremely lucid until, you know, many hours later I was finally intubated.

BEHAR: The miracle of both stories is that you`re both sitting here with me, that you both survived. That you, Michael, you have a thriving business that you`re doing right now. You have a new child, I understand?

MANNING: Yes. We welcomed our son Jagger Thomas almost two years ago after many, many years of disappointment and trying. Certainly September 11 has taught far more, and I think that`s the message in what Michael and I have both done. You know, one tough day does not define who we are. We can move beyond it.

BEHAR: Right. Last word, Michael, before I go.

HINGSON: You definitely have to move forward when something like this happens. I think too many people are still paralyzed by fair. What I do now, you mentioned a new business, I talk about this, I travel and do public speeches and keynote addresses. And it`s all about moving forward, which is, of course, the first command of using a guide dog. But we have to move on, we can`t let ourselves be paralyzed by fear. And we can`t be angry from it. We have to deal with it and go on and learn lessons from it.

BEHAR: Well, you two are definitely role models for those ideas. Thank you so much for sharing the stories with us. We appreciate it so much.

MANNING: Thank you, Joy.

BEHAR: OK.

HINGSON: Thank you.

BEHAR: Lauren`s book is called "Unmeasured Strength." And Michael`s book is called "Thunder Dog." We`ll be right back with Denis Leary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEHAR: In the years after 9/11, TV and film wasn`t sure how to handle the events of that day. Denis Leary`s hit show "Rescue Me" embraced it, telling the story of New York City firefighters and their lives in the aftermath of 9/11. So we`re here right now with co-creator Denis Leary.

So, Denis, everybody was avoiding doing 9/11 shows, you know, at that time because it was really touchy. But you embraced it.

LEARY: Yes.

BEHAR: Why did you feel that you could take that risk?

LEARY: My cousin was a firefighter in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. He was killed in a warehouse fire up there in December of `99, along with five other firefighters. One of whom was also a guy that we grew up with, who was in my class in school, Tommy Spencer (ph). And also it was in our old neighborhood, and a lot of the firefighters, the guys I grew up with and went to school with, a lot of them became cops and firemen. So when they were looking for those bodies in that particular tragedy, I mean, there must have been at least 40 of the kids I grew up with who were firefighters.

BEHAR: Unbelievable.

LEARY: So I was kind of surrounded by that. And one of my oldest friends here in New York is a firefighter for the FDNY. So I wanted to do a movie at first about it. I didn`t want to do it about the Worcester fire because that was too close to my -- my own heart and my family. And I was toying with the idea. And I was talking to Peter Tolan, who was my partner on this TV show called "The Job" that we did and saying let`s do a movie. And the more we talked about it and the more we thought about it, the more we realized it would be a terrific television series. And we decided to just write the script and see how it came out.

So we wrote it, and I don`t think we really expected anybody to want to take it on. And at the time, USA and HBO were interested in it, but FX was a brand new network. They had the show "The Shield"--

BEHAR: Yeah, great show, "The Shield."

LEARY: Great show, yes. So I mean, in retrospect, I`m so glad that we took the meeting with them and met them because -- I just can`t say enough about John Landgraf, the head of that network, and the people, his marketing people.

BEHAR: And it was a risk that actually did --

LEARY: It was great.

BEHAR: Paid off.

LEARY: And creatively, they let us do whatever we wanted to. And they were great guides in terms of how they wanted the story to be told. I can`t say enough about their marketing department. I mean, they --

BEHAR: They`re good.

LEARY: Yes. They were great.

BEHAR: You know, the last episode that you shot, you shot that a while ago.

LEARY: Yes.

BEHAR: So now since then, President Obama has managed to capture Osama bin Laden. Did you regret that you couldn`t do an episode on that?

LEARY: No, because the finale, the final two episodes of the show, really deal with at one point we go down to ground zero in present day, even though we shot it a year ago. The guys and Tommy Gavin, my character, it`s more about loss and grief for them and survivor`s guilt. And how they feel -- and we actually discuss revenge.

So the thing about revenge is it doesn`t really replace the people that have been taken away.

BEHAR: That`s the problem.

LEARY: Yes. I don`t know, my partner, Peter Tolan, said if we had known that Osama was going to be captured and killed, knowing "Rescue Me," we probably would have done a page of Osama jokes. We weren`t really -- we weren`t after that. We were more interested in how the guys deal with ten years later, you know, and the public, you know, celebration of it, you know.

BEHAR: What do you think about that? I mean, Obama, President Obama taking a lot of hits lately, a lot of hits. His poll numbers are down.

LEARY: Yep.

BEHAR: People are mad at him. And yet he doesn`t seem to get any kind of, you know, any kind of real great credit for -- for killing Osama bin Laden. Also, the way he handled Libya. It`s interesting, he`s good at that. And yet people are still -- they don`t want him in there anymore, apparently.

LEARY: Well, I mean, people -- it`s all about the jobs and the economy. And I just like the fact that he`s not coming out and saying that God`s talking to him.

BEHAR: No, no. He --

LEARY: That`s always a good sign.

BEHAR: He`s a rational person.

LEARY: Yes. He`s a rational person.

BEHAR: Yes.

LEARY: So you know, I have no crystal ball. I like what he`s doing, and I like the way he`s handled himself so far. Obviously, with this many people out of work, that`s a big problem.

BEHAR: I think that 9/11, you know, was a tipping point for the country, we all know that. And it really had a lot of ripple effect, you know, in the economy, too. So this is what the problems are we have now. You know --

LEARY: You`re talking to the wrong guy. I flunked math twice in high school. So --

BEHAR: OK, we`re not --

LEARY: The only reason I`m here is because the nuns wanted me out of the school. So they basically gave me D`s so I would get out of there. But I know nothing about math.

BEHAR: That`s right. But your kids were small. How old -- your latest one went to college. Your kids were small on 9/11.

LEARY: Yes, my son was 11, and -- 10, about to turn 11. And my daughter was -- was 8. Yes, they were very small.

BEHAR: And so how did you explain to an 8-year-old what happened?

LEARY: You know, it wasn`t easy. They were sent home from school that day. They were up in the country. And, you know, that`s such a devastating event and it affects so many people. And if you remember, there was at least four or five days before any kids went back to school. And --

BEHAR: Yes.

LEARY: And when they did, the teachers spoke to them about it. But - -

BEHAR: Were they scared?

LEARY: They were very scared. Yes. They didn`t really -- it`s hard for kids to really grasp why, and you know, you try to protect them as much as you can, but you can`t, because it was everywhere.

BEHAR: Right.

LEARY: And in my kids` case, they grew up in New York City when they were small. So they knew those buildings. And they had -- they had been through the thing in Worcester with my cousin dying, and they`d been to that funeral mass. They were aware of death then.

BEHAR: It`s a lot.

LEARY: Yes. It was a lot.

BEHAR: For an 8-year-old. My God.

LEARY: Yes. Tough time.

BEHAR: You know, you tweeted something that was interesting. You said firefighters who worked at ground zero, 19 percent more likely to get cancer and 100 percent more likely not to get invited to 9/11 memorial next week. Now, you know, so go ahead, what do you say about that?

LEARY: I tweeted another tweet, which was that the firefighters were not invited to the memorial next -- this coming week.

BEHAR: Yes.

LEARY: But you know, they weren`t invited down on that day. But they showed up anyways.

BEHAR: Yes.

LEARY: Listen, I understand the numbers, I understand that there`s going to be a lot of people down there. I just find it very hard to believe you can`t find some way -- not just with the firefighters but with the police, as well, to have --

BEHAR: The first responders.

LEARY: To have those guys represented.

BEHAR: Well, Bloomberg, I was talking to Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. And he was saying the first day is for the families.

LEARY: I understand.

BEHAR: Then day two we`ll have everybody else. And we will have a ceremony for the first responders. So does that sort of alleviate the --

LEARY: It alleviates the pain to a certain extent. I still think, and maybe they`ve changed it, I don`t know. I hope I`m up to date on this. But I think you could at least take a sampling of guys, whether you want to go with chiefs or lieutenants or a mixture of firefighters and officers, and have them down there, you know.

BEHAR: Yes. Right.

LEARY: You know, I just -- and the same thing with the police. I mean, those guys -- I think there`s a kind of a thing in this country that happens which I don`t understand, where the military and our first responders are supposedly appreciated when they show up to save all of us - -

BEHAR: When they`re giving.

LEARY: When they`re giving. And then as soon as it becomes their service is done, they have to fight for their health rights, they have to fight for the right to be represented, they have to fight for pay raises. I just --

BEHAR: I think it`s one of the disgraces of the country, frankly.

LEARY: It`s a disgrace every single time it happens. And the only reason that health bill for the people who were down at ground zero got passed is because Jon Stewart did that episode of his show that kind of shamed them into it.

BEHAR: Bravo, Jon Stewart.

LEARY: Which is astonishing.

BEHAR: I love it when comedians make a difference.

LEARY: Yeah, me too.

BEHAR: OK, we`re going to be back with some more from Denis Leary. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEHAR: We`re back with Denis Leary. Tell me about the firefighter foundation that you--

LEARY: Leary Firefighters Foundation, www.learyfirefighters.org. We raise money for departments all over the country, including New York. You can specifically send money for the New York department. And we build and buy equipment and training facilities for these departments. In New Orleans we bought them 16 boats. We rebuilt 33 fire houses. Here we have the first high rise simulator in the history of the FDNY, which has been up and running about three and a half, four years now.

So you give us the money. The money literally gets spent within six months. It`s an ongoing process, because every fire department in America, every urban fire department needs help financially. And so it`s something that`s very dear to my heart, and people respond -- every time I mention it I get more money, because people love firefighters.

BEHAR: OK. That`s good. You want to say it again, the?

LEARY: Learyfirefighters.org. Do you even have to say www? You don`t need to do it anymore.

BEHAR: No. That`s so 2010.

LEARY: That`s really it.

BEHAR: Now, "Rescue Me," your show, it was a drama, but it had a lot of funny things in it. What`s your take on humor and 9/11?

LEARY: Well, I remember, after it happened, I had already scheduled an event -- something I do every year for the Cam Neeley foundation, which helps to cure cancer. We do a thing called Comics Come Home up in Boston. It`s in its seventeenth year now.

I forget what year it was then, but we had a show scheduled about three weeks after 9/11, an annual show, and we were all a little concerned, comedians coming from all over the country. And that night -- so it`s three weeks later in front of 5,000 people in this theater in Boston. I opened up and I did a bunch of Osama bin Laden material. And then after me Lenny Clarke (ph) did some. And I think the only person who didn`t that night was Steven Wright, because he doesn`t do that kind of stuff in his act.

The jokes killed. They -- the audience exploded. And the reasoning of course we know as comedians is that people came to laugh that night, and it was probably the first time they had laughed about 9/11.

BEHAR: It`s a relief.

LEARY: I remember a network executive saying to me at the time or a movie executive saying this is going to alter the way people feel about comedies. And I was like, what are you talking about? They`re going to need to laugh more than ever. If anything, they are going to be looking to laugh. And he was full of fear. But the live audience that night was just -- it was unbelievable.

BEHAR: Well, the pain.

(CROSSTALK)

LEARY: That`s what we`re supposed to do.

BEHAR: Yes. We always try to make our mothers laugh.

LEARY: I know. That`s how it starts, right?

BEHAR: Denis, I can`t tell you how lovely it`s been to see you.

LEARY: So this is done.

BEHAR: I`m done, yes.

LEARY: So now when -- is there going to be a wedding reception?

BEHAR: When`s the divorce?

LEARY: When`s the divorce? Is there going to be some kind of a party or something?

BEHAR: No. We did that already.

LEARY: You did?

BEHAR: We had a small party, a little bit, you know, a dinner. Not a big deal. That`s enough. Right? I`m not into that whole thing. I did it already when I was 22. Now I`m 42 and I don`t have to -- shut up!

Thank you, Denis Leary, my darling Denis. Thank you for coming and thank you all for watching. Good night, everybody.

END