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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Jackson Family Angry; Eddie Murphy Backing Out as Oscar Host; Obama White House Inner Circle; Interview With Darrell Hammond
Aired November 9, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, outrage -- the Jackson family busts NBC for buying Conrad Murray's story. I'll ask Jermaine Jackson why he finds the whole thing sickening.
Also, a senior member of President Obama's inner circle on his biggest frustration.
DAN PFEIFFER, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This president came to Washington wanting to change politics here and change the political tone and bring people together. And he's been frustrated by his inability to do that.
MORGAN: And an extraordinarily emotional and revealing interview with Darrell Hammond. The dark, dangerous side of the "Saturday Night Live" funny man.
DARRELL HAMMOND, COMEDIAN: And it was pretty damn bad. You know, it involved being taken from there in a straitjacket.
MORGAN: His childhood with an abusive mother and a troubled father.
Why did you feel differently about your father?
HAMMOND: I think because he -- he tried.
MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. It's been a long two years for Michael Jackson's family, but now with the conviction of Dr. Conrad Murray on involuntary manslaughter charges, they're speaking out and they're angry about a documentary about Michael's doctor.
Jermaine Jackson is of course Michael's older brother and the author of "You Are Not Alone."
Jermaine, the family understandably pretty incensed by the revelation that Conrad Murray has been cooperating with this documentary for several years, apparently. Tell me how you all feel.
JERMAINE JACKSON, AUTHOR, "YOU ARE NOT ALONE": We're very angry. We're angry because Dr. Murray is a liar and he had his chance in court, he was tried by 12 jurors and they found him guilty. So anything he says is really irrelevant. He had his chance to stand up. He is a coward. He's a liar. He didn't stand up in court. And plus, this had to be for money, because that's -- he must have been paid big to do this.
MORGAN: There are lots of different reports. Apparently, officially, he got paid $1 to do this. But the -- apparently the networks have been asked to put up as much as $1 million for the footage. So clearly the truth hasn't quite emerged yet about who's paid what.
JACKSON: See, stuff like this, this is why I wrote the book. I wrote the book because I want people to remember Michael, the human being, and not all the negative things about his death. But for Conrad Murray to -- I can't believe -- we're going to court, waiting for a verdict, he was doing a documentary. That is ridiculous.
MORGAN: Cynics will say, you know, who maybe are not massive fans of Michael Jackson, will say, come on, Jermaine, you're doing a book about your brother. He's entitled to have his say.
JACKSON: Wait, wait, wait.
MORGAN: What would you say to that?
JACKSON: I can't believe that they gave me stick for writing a book that's the truth and I stopped before the verdict. I stopped before the trial. I'm telling the truth about my brother. I'm defending my brother.
What's coming out of Conrad Murray's mouth is lies. He had his chance in court. He should have stood up. He's a coward. He's a liar. And the fans shouldn't even worry about this because 12 jurors unanimously found him guilty. So whatever he says is irrelevant. We don't care. We want to move on and focus on the person, the beautiful person that Michael was.
And that's why this book was written.
MORGAN: The family has written to NBC, I believe, today demanding clarification of exactly how much money they paid for the documentary. If it turns out that Conrad Murray has made large sums of money or is intending to, what will the family do about this?
JACKSON: Who cares about the money? The money is not important. What's going to come out of his mouth is lies. The money is not important. What's going to come out of his mouth is lies. He had his chance. He had his chance in court, and he did not stand up. He is a coward, Piers. He's a coward. He's a liar. We don't care.
MORGAN: Is it part of you, Jermaine, not -- I mean, obviously, we had this very emotional interview before about six weeks ago when you didn't know how the trial was going to go. You feared the worst. You feared your brother's reputation would be smeared.
I'm not sure that the worst fears were realized, but certainly your conviction then that Conrad Murray had effectively caused the death of your brother has been borne out by the verdict. JACKSON: I think Conrad Murray got what he deserved. I don't like the charge. If you ask me the question how do I feel after the verdict, I feel the same way before the verdict. I just -- because I feel that Conrad Murray is the finger to a bigger hand. And the fact that he did not care for my brother.
He got what he deserved. But the charges should have been much greater. The charges were weak. I mean, you can go into a hospital and steal propofol and probably get more time than he got.
MORGAN: Should a network, NBC, or anybody else, be airing this documentary, do you think?
JACKSON: No. No, because here's a guy who's a liar. The jury, the system has found him guilty. Why would they want to -- says a lot about the networks. This is MSNBC. I'm sorry. This is trash. This is bull crap. He should not -- listen, I really don't want to give that much light to it because it's not important what he says. It's irrelevant. It's irrelevant. He's found guilty. These 12 jurors unanimously found him guilty.
MORGAN: Is there a part of you, Jermaine or your family, curious to hear what he has to say?
MORGAN: Even though he didn't say it in court.
JACKSON: Not at all. Not at all.
MORGAN: I mean one line is --
JACKSON: How do you -- how do you order four gallons of propofol and say you're trying to wean my brother off of it? How do you say, well, maybe it was an accident? Why didn't you call 911? So what's going to come out of his mouth?
MORGAN: We asked NBC to comment. They declined to comment about this. I would imagine that they're considering, I guess, the reaction from the family.
JACKSON: Because it's wrong. It's wrong. And we shouldn't -- I really don't want to bring that much light to it because that's not what's important. What's important is that we celebrate Michael's life and we remember the good things, the good things that he's contributed to the world.
MORGAN: What sentence do you think he should get? Obviously the maximum is four years.
JACKSON: Put it like this, if they gave him all the time in the world, it's not going to bring my brother back. It's not.
MORGAN: I want to play you a clip from the moment that he was convicted, because you -- most the family were there. I want to see what you all were feeling in that moment. Let's just watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury in the above-entitled action, find the defendant, Conrad Robert Murray, guilty of the crime of involuntary manslaughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: In that moment, what did you all feel?
JACKSON: What I was feeling, I felt the same, because this is just a process we're going through. There's a lot of questions that the family had before this trial started, and we were hoping to get answers. There's still a lot of answers -- questions that needs to be answered.
MORGAN: I mean the key thing, Jermaine, I think, if I can just throw something at you which I think is really, really fascinating that came out today, one of the jurors went public and said there were three reasons that they convicted him unanimously, as you said, all 12.
One was his failure to call 911 immediately. Second, his failure to have backup medical equipment. And thirdly for leaving the room. She said that the combination of these things almost certainly meant that Michael died when he could have been saved.
Now that's a pretty dramatic thing for the jury to say. I mean that's directly saying his actions killed Michael.
JACKSON: Yes. So why are they interested in hearing what he has to say in a documentary? I'm just livid because I can't believe that while we were going home during the trial he was filming a documentary and it had to be for money. But to -- I think the jurors are right. They made the right decision. His negligence, his inability to take care of my brother. At the same time, he's the finger to a bigger hand. And there are lot of questions that we need answers to.
MORGAN: There were two -- there were two things that happened in the trial, which I would imagine from the family's point of view, were deeply distressing. One was the issuing of the photograph of Michael after he died.
How did you -- how did you react to that when you knew that was happening?
JACKSON: I felt for my mother. I felt for my mother because to see your son dead on the bed, I thought it was crazy to even show these photos. What was he thinking to take Michael during the time when he was sedated and for people to think, well, he's an addict because of the way he's talking.
Michael was sedated. And still he's thinking about children, building a children's hospital, and for those who had questions whether he was this child molester, which is so ridiculous to think that, his intentions were to take care of children. MORGAN: You mentioned that the recordings -- I just want to play a little bit of that recording because it was very shocking, I mean, to me, to his fans, to the family, to hear Michael like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, POP ICON: My performances will be up there helping my children and always be my dream. I love them. I love them because I didn't have a childhood. I had no childhood. I feel their pain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Piers, that's someone who's sedated. To play this, I don't know whether it was the prosecution's decision to play this, but what came out of this is to show his feelings for children.
MORGAN: Had you ever heard Michael like that?
JACKSON: Never heard him like that.
MORGAN: Had any of the family ever heard?
JACKSON: Never, ever, ever.
MORGAN: Because I was so shocked when I heard this.
JACKSON: Never. What was his intention to tape this? What are they going to do?
MORGAN: Well, what did you think they were?
JACKSON: He was probably going to use it.
MORGAN: Why would anyone tape him like that?
JACKSON: Because he's a liar. He's a -- why? Look at what he's done.
MORGAN: Well, Jermaine, I wish you all the very best, you and your family. It's been an incredibly difficult few weeks for you. And I'm just glad that you got some kind of justice even if you feel probably not enough.
JACKSON: Yes. Thank you.
MORGAN: Thank you, Jermaine.
Hollywood is buzzing tonight over the news Eddie Murphy is dropping out as host of the Oscars. Murphy's buddy, producer Brett Rattner, quit under fire over his public use of an anti-gay slur over the weekend.
The Academy says he'll be replaced by Brian Grazer. And I talked by coincidence to Rattner, Grazer and Ben Stiller just a few days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And you're doing the Oscars.
BRETT RATTNER, PRODUCER: I'm producing the Oscar, yes.
MORGAN: And he is hosting the Oscars.
RATTNER: Yes. Yes.
MORGAN: A recipe for comedic carnage if ever I've seen one.
RATTNER: Well, you know, Brian is a good friend and I said, Brian, you know, if you were producing the Oscars, what would you do? And Brian said, well, think about in the past, the best host, the three best hosts that have ever existed have been Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, and Billy Crystal. So basically he was saying to me, go get a comedian.
MORGAN: And I certainly agree.
RATTNER: And I happened -- and I happened to be looking at Eddie Murphy every day working.
MORGAN: Was Ben not available?
RATTNER: Ben wasn't -- no.
BEN STILLER, COMEDIAN: This was after he wrapped the movie.
RATTNER: Ben is busy filming multiple movies.
STILLER: Yes, and also Eddie is -- I mean, he is a brilliant stand-up comedian who hasn't done stand-up for, what, 20-something years? And that is --
MORGAN: And it's a big moment. The Oscars.
MORGAN: I mean it could be one of the great comebacks of all time.
RATTNER: It could. Right. We think it will be.
MORGAN: I mean I saw an interview he did with you. Very funny, saying it's going to be the worst Oscars ever. You know, sort of saying, I'm going to urinate over everyone there.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Well, members of the Academy, I'm available. In fact, my schedule just cleared a bit because I can exclusively reveal that I'm leaving "America's Got Talent." I've been a judge since the show began six years ago and loved every single second. But discovered that juggling, to my surprise, really is a bit more difficult than I thought.
So I'm going to focus on what will be a huge year here at CNN with the upcoming election. I'd like to thank NBC, Free Mantle and my great friend, Simon Cowell, for giving me such a wonderful opportunity on that amazing show.
And I want to congratulate Sharon, Howie, and Nick, who will doubtless be very relieved to learn they no longer have to work with me.
Coming up after the break, my White House interview with a member of the inner circle. What are the president's frustrations and what are his chances of being re-elected?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: We're one year away from the presidential election. With high unemployment and economic anxiety, President Obama is in for the political fight of his life.
And I'm here now with his communications chief, Dan Pfeiffer, to ask him what the plan is.
Dan, very nice surroundings you have here.
PFEIFFER: Thank you. Welcome to the White House.
MORGAN: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.
Here we are, we're a year away, and whatever you say to me now we both know you're getting into election mode. Where do you think things are from the White House point of view as we sit?
PFEIFFER: I think we are headed for a very close, hard-fought election, and the thing is I would have said the same thing to you about how close this election would be the week that bin Laden was killed and we're creating 200,000 jobs a month as I would say now when we're having a little bit tougher of an economic situation.
It's a polarized country. We've been through some very tough times, some of the toughest years this country has seen in decades. So it's going to be a close election. But I'm confident the president will win.
MORGAN: What is extraordinary about the president is his demeanor. You know, as all around is in chaos, the president has always maintained a confident and assured demeanor.
Does he know something we don't? Or is he just quite cool under pressure?
PFEIFFER: Well, he is quite cool under pressure. It's one of the reasons he got elected, because when the financial system was on the verge of collapse late in the 2008 campaign, he demonstrated his capacity to deal with difficult issues with a clear, steady approach.
And I think that's benefited him as he's made some very tough decisions here in the White House, whether it's domestic decisions about whether we're going to take the really -- politically unpopular decision to save the auto industry, the decision-making he had to make the night that he ordered the operation to get bin Laden, the decisions about the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war.
That's benefited him. And he has a great confidence in the American people's capacity to understand that the challenges we have and the approach we need to do, to judge things more than just the politics in the moment but what's in the long-term interests of the country.
MORGAN: But despite all that, you're still getting whacked around by the media, you're still getting whacked around by the public. There are protesters just down the road here and at Wall Street and every major city in America. There's a lot of dissatisfaction out there.
How much can you blame on George Bush? And how much do you guys have to take it on the chin now for the actions that you've taken?
PFEIFFER: Well, I think it's important to understand the mess this president inherited, to understand we didn't get into the mess overnight, we're not going to get out of it overnight. It's not just the financial crisis of 2008. It's been a decade-long economic crisis for the middle class where wages have stagnated, college has gotten more expensive, health care has gotten more expensive.
So as -- the American people have been suffering for a long time. So people need to understand what we inherited. They also have to understand this president's plan to get us out of this. And that's what he's been articulating with the American Jobs Act. And that's what a lot of his next campaign is going to be about.
MORGAN: Is he disappointed that he hasn't been able to do more in the first term.
PFEIFFER: Of course. There's very important things he wants to do that he hasn't been able to do. They've been caught up in partisanship gridlock. He wishes he could -- there are more things we could be doing to help people get jobs and help middle-class families. That's what his jobs act is about. It's what he's been pushing for around the country. He wishes he could do those things.
Dealing with, you know, comprehensive immigration reform, things we've pushed for and he wants to do we haven't been able to get through, which is why it's so important in our view that he gets re- elected because there's more work to do. The projects that we started in 2008 isn't going to be over in four years. We got more work to do.
MORGAN: President Clinton has been out and about this week. He's promoting his new book. He has a firm plan there to get America back to work. Is it helpful to have a former Democrat president who's so popular out there giving his version of how to get America back to work, or would you rather he just kept it quiet a bit?
PFEIFFER: No --
MORGAN: Do it privately to the president?
PFEIFFER: Well, he does it privately and publicly, and it's helpful in both cases. The president -- you know, if you look at what's in President Clinton's book, there is -- there is essentially 95 to 99 percent agreement with the agenda that President Obama is putting forward, whether it's putting construction workers back to work, building schools, putting construction workers back to work, making buildings more energy efficient, cutting taxes for the middle class.
All those things that President Clinton and President Obama agree with. Actually I think it's helpful, even though the press always like to focus on the 1 to 5 percent difference between President Clinton and President Obama. Sort of the hangover of the 2008 campaign. I think it's helpful because it shows you have President Clinton who presided over unprecedented prosperity in this country, creating 22 million jobs, you know, President Obama who's promising to put forth the sorts of policies that President Clinton did, uplift the middle class, created a more fair economy. So I think it's helpful.
MORGAN: Do you think the election will almost certainly now be fought not just on the economy but specifically on jobs? And do you think that if the job figures come down significantly between now and then your chances are dramatically higher of getting re-elected?
And conversely, if they go up from where we are now, if they go much higher than, say, 9.5 percent or something, that you'd be in real trouble?
PFEIFFER: Well, they say the economy is all -- the better the economy is, the better it is for the incumbent president. That's always been true. And it's jobs -- if the unemployment rate goes significantly down, that will be helpful to this president. And if it goes up, obviously, that would be unhelpful.
But politics is art, not science. You know I saw this article in "The New York Times" magazine which put in an equation that said if GDP is this and the president's approval rating is this and the outcome will be Y.
MORGAN: Well, the headline was, "Obama's Toast."
PFEIFFER: Yes. And --
MORGAN: Where I come from, that isn't good.
MORGAN: President Clinton also made a point in his book where he says that actually if the American public genuinely believe, that one of the reasons why President Obama has not been able to achieve more is because of the intransigence of the Republicans and their deliberate policy of obstruction at every turn, then actually that would be a vote winner for President Obama.
PFEIFFER: I think you're beginning to see the American people recognize what's standing in the way of progress on the economy. They know the president has the American Jobs Act, a very specific plan, commonsense ideas to grow the economy and create jobs. And they know the Republicans are standing in the way.
I think there have been two or three polls that have come out in the last few days which has showed a majority of Americans think that the Republicans are blocking the -- blocking economic progress for political reasons, either defeat this president or help their own political prospects. And so I think that that will be something that -- whoever the eventual Republican nominee will have to answer for.
MORGAN: Let's take a little break and come back and talk to you about Republicans. I want to know who you most fear. And it'll probably be the name you don't tell is the one you really think.
MORGAN: Back with White House communications chief Dan Pfeiffer.
Dan, let's turn to the Republicans.
MORGAN: Because they're clearly revving up now to choose their nominees. It's been a very brutal process. We've seen five different people leading the field, only to then fall back again.
What do you make of their battle so far?
PFEIFFER: Well, I think it speaks to real uncertainty on their side about who the right candidate is. And you can see this tension between folks who -- the Tea Party, which has a lot of the energy and is driving a lot of the campaign, has fuelled the candidacies of people like Herman Cain and Congresswoman Bachmann, and the rest of the party.
And that tension has been at the heart of a lot of the problems the Republican Party has had over the last year.
MORGAN: Who -- and try and be honest here. Who do you most fear? Who would you least like to face? For whatever reason.
PFEIFFER: Now if I answer that question, I'm essentially giving a massive fundraising boost to whoever the person is. (LAUGHTER)
PFEIFFER: Whether I'm honest or not.
MORGAN: Or you're killing it off.
PFEIFFER: Yes. Either one.
PFEIFFER: I don't know what the effect would be but it wouldn't be good for President Obama, so I can't answer that question.
MORGAN: OK. Let's just go through some of them. Talk about Herman Cain. Obviously, he came out of nowhere. He used to sell pizzas. He's not a politician in any conventional sense. And in the last 10 days he's been the center of this huge scandal.
What do you make of Herman Cain as a character? Do you think he'll survive the scandal? And what do you think of the prospect potentially of a black American against a black American in an American presidential race, which has never happened before?
PFEIFFER: I'm not an expert on Republican primary politics. Obviously, Herman Cain has united some -- some dormant enthusiasm of the Republican Party. He's reached levels in the polls that no other candidate has reached, certainly not Governor Romney or Governor Perry.
And so I think that speaks to his candidacy, you know, whether I'll leave it to others and Republican primary voters of which I'm still not one to decide how all this recent -- the recent allegations affect his candidacy.
I do think that there is something to be said for the fact that if the election were held today and you believe some of these polls you would have an African-American president running against an African-American standard-bearer for the Republican Party, and that speaks to a lot of progress in this country.
And I think it's a powerful symbol of the fact that we're talking about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, we're talking about his 10-year Godfather's Pizza, and also we're not talking about his race, we're not talking about President Obama's race, we're talking about their record. I think it's a great thing.
MORGAN: Mitt Romney has been the frontrunner for a long time but appears to be almost plateauing in his polling with his own party. What does the president think of Mitt Romney?
PFEIFFER: Well, I think, you know, he's always appreciated Mitt Romney's -- Governor Romney's leadership in passing his health care bill in Massachusetts. You know, as we've mentioned --
MORGAN: And every time you say that you know you cost him about another 200,000 votes from his own party, of course. (LAUGHTER)
PFEIFFER: I may say it again in here. But --
PFEIFFER: You know, that was a -- you know, as the president has said, it was a model for what we did nationally. And Governor Romney has a long record. He's going to have to defend that record. He's taken positions on both sides of every issue for a long period of time. And that will be the question.
MORGAN: The president is a very good debater. He's a very good campaigner. Presumably his absolute dream would be an opponent like Rick Perry.
PFEIFFER: Rick -- you know, Rick Perry has -- Governor Perry has a very different record from this president. It would be an election of -- it's a big election about big issues. He is a -- he's been the least consistent in his -- in his very right-wing views and he stands by them, and so that will be an interesting debate.
MORGAN: Newt Gingrich has begun to get a bit of traction in the polls and is a formidable political figure, obviously, and has a lot of history on his side. He has said if he does get the nomination, he'd like to have seven three-hour debates with the president.
I can't imagine the president has that time in his schedule.
PFEIFFER: Well, I think -- I think you're probably right that 21 hours of debating is probably more than any -- this president or any president could fit into their very busy schedule. And I can only imagine in this day and age they would be -- you guys would stop covering them -- midway through the first one.
MORGAN: You've been a stoic defender of the president, as we would expect. You're employed by him to be so. If you were being candid and critical and revealing perhaps some of the conversations you've had with the president where things haven't gone well, on your scorecard for the first term, where do you beat yourself up the most? Where do you think you have been least successful?
PFEIFFER: Well, I think -- you know, this president came to Washington wanting to change politics here and change the political tone and bring people together. And he has said this publicly. He has been frustrated by his inability to do that. Now you need -- it takes two to tango and you need a willing partner. But what we wanted to do when we came in, we talked this in the campaign all the time, was break out of the ideological partisan divide that has kept us from doing big things in this country over the last decade or so. We wanted to fix that problem.
And we haven't -- h has not been able to do that to the degree he wanted to do it.
MORGAN: Funny that the president fought the last election on hope and change. What are the kind of words you would like to see as a cornerstone of the next campaign which have perhaps a better chance of overall success?
PFEIFFER: Yes, someone jokingly said to us the other day that our bumper sticker should be: "Bin Laden's dead, G.M.'s alive," which I think that would be a great bumper sticker and maybe the campaign would sell t-shirts to that effect. But it speaks to the president's character, his capacity to make tough decisions.
And I think we will defend vigorously the change this president has brought. He's change where the focus is in this country, that we're now focused -- you know, we have rules of the road for Wall Street. We're going to fight for the middle class. He's given them tax cuts. He's ended "don't ask, don't tell" -- we've done big things. And we will defend those things and we're going to have a debate with the Republican where is we go from here.
MORGAN: But will it come down to basically -- "I will get America back to work" as an election pledge, a look in his eyes and either believe him or believe his opponent?
PFEIFFER: That's a part of it, but it's more than just the Americans who aren't working. It's about the middle class in this country who work hard, play by the rules, and have been hurting through no fault of their own, while they've seen Wall Street, corporations and the wealthiest succeed tremendously over the last decade.
The question is who fights for them. This president, we used to say during the campaign, as someone who made it clear that he would run through walls for the middle class. That's the whole campaign in 2012 and that's the kind of president he'll be.
MORGAN: Dan Pfeiffer, thank you very much.
PFIEFFER: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: When we come back, an extraordinary and very emotional interview with Darrell Hammond, the dark side of the "Saturday Night Live" funny man.
MORGAN: I've interviewed many comedians on this show and always had a suspicion that there's been dark stuff in their lives that makes them chase humor and a laugh. I've never had anything quite like this.
Darrell Hammond from "Saturday Night Live".
When I finished your book, it was one of the most, I don't know, moving, inspiring, in many ways, depressing, sad --
DARRELL HAMMOND, COMEDIAN: Yes.
MORGAN: -- shocking things. -- HAMMOND: Yes.
MORGAN: -- I think I've ever read.
MORGAN: Did you feel that when you finished it, that you -- when you closed the book and thought, that's my life?
HAMMOND: Yes, I did. I thought -- I thought it was probably going to be a little bit -- a little bit too dark for people to handle. But, look, it's my story and I told it the best that I could.
MORGAN: There's -- there's a quote there, which I think probably sums everything up in terms of what happened to you as a young man. "I'm three or four years old. My mother is holding me close to her with one arm. In her free hand, she holds a serrated steak knife."
MORGAN: "Slowly, she sticks it into the center of my tongue to make an incision about one quarter inch to one half inch long."
MORGAN: And I couldn't believe what I was reading.
MORGAN: Because I just thought of you as this funny guy who does Donald Trump and Bill Clinton on "Saturday Night Live." And then I'm reading this thinking, why would your mother do this?
What effect would that have on you?
What -- what's that done to your life?
HAMMOND: Well, it's -- that's a lot -- that's a lot of -- that's a lot to think about.
What's it done to my life? I spent most of my life, I guess, recovering from moments like that, you know?
MORGAN: And it went on. I mean she hit you in the stomach with a hammer.
MORGAN: She gave you electric shocks. I mean she basically tortured you.
HAMMOND: Yes. MORGAN: Your father is a war veteran and an alcoholic who just wants to end his life. And you're just surrounded with this unrelenting misery.
MORGAN: It seems.
MORGAN: Do you remember it vividly or have you been able to --
HAMMOND: I don't -- I don't. I mean I really only put in the book about five or 10 minutes of the first 18 years of my life. I don't remember all of it. You know, I've been to lots and lots of shrinks and I've been to some pretty august institutions who were telling me that we can't handle this case here, you know.
But it's not like I'm the only person in the United States or on this planet that has to enter into an agreement with a perpetrator to remain quiet. It does happen, you know?
MORGAN: Do you have any theories yourself about why your mother --
HAMMOND: Because the same thing happened to her, I think.
MORGAN: She'd been abused?
HAMMOND: I think she was abused. I think -- I did take pains in the book to point out that I did spend some time meditating over that idea that my mother had once been very innocent, just like everybody else, you know?
I had this sort of vivid dream about that one night. And it -- and I took it to heart, you know? I was trying to find a way to not be angry about my life anymore, you know?
MORGAN: As you got older, what was your relationship with your mother like?
HAMMOND: Well, I -- I called her and said I'm -- I'm in therapy for trauma and child abuse and -- and worse. And she dropped her Southern accent and in a very husky tone and deliberately and permanently said don't ever call here again and hung up.
MORGAN: What age were you then?
HAMMOND: I was already on "Saturday Night Live." So I was getting up there already, you know?
I think that the thing about -- it -- what I wanted to write about was when a victim to some kind of abuse stays quiet -- agrees to stay quiet about it. And that's -- that's kind of what happened in our house. You know, I mean, you think that it's because, A, they could make it much worse on you, but, B, really, your mom might abandon you if you -- if you confront her on this.
And that's -- it ended up with -- it ended up being what happened and then I --
MORGAN: Did you have any more contact with her?
HAMMOND: Not until her death bed.
MORGAN: And how did that make you feel, when she died?
HAMMOND: I felt nothing. I was very moved by my father, you know?
MORGAN: Well, it's not surprising to me that you're so emotional about this.
HAMMOND: I didn't feel anything. You know, I didn't feel anything at all. I -- I felt like I'd never met her, you know? She was a very gifted and confusing and attractive type of person who knew how to work the room that she was in to convince the people in the room that they were right about Jesus and things -- good things were on the way, you know?
MORGAN: Why did you feel differently about your father?
HAMMOND: I think because he -- he tried. MORGAN: And because he'd been through -- through so much in the war.
HAMMOND: Yes. I -- I think he tried to apologize and explain himself.
HAMMOND: Can I have a nap -- a tissue or something?
MORGAN: Yes, sure.
HAMMOND: He tried as best he could. I mean he -- the best that he could was put war medals on his chest when he was dying. I mean, I got these and these and here's what happened and here's who I was while I was alive. I wasn't so good at a lot of stuff, you know?
MORGAN: Was he aware of what your mother was doing?
HAMMOND: I don't think so. He -- he was never there, you know.
MORGAN: He was apologetic for his own negligence toward you?
HAMMOND: For not -- for not being there as good as he wanted to be.
Yes. It's not being as good as he wanted to be, yes. I think that, you know, he was genuinely obsessed with the war that he had fought in Europe and he never ever recovered from it and I'm not sure he ever really did. I think he saw things there that he thought were cautionary tales of what can happen on earth, yes. I mean he was afraid to go to church for a long time, you know, because I guess he killed a lot of people.
MORGAN: I mean, when I see you now, never having met you before, I can see that this, you know, all the time, you must have been living with this kind of searing pain through all this.
How did you juggle it?
HAMMOND: Well, when I got old enough, I started drinking, you know?
When I left my parents' home, when I was 19, I went to the University of Florida. And within 24 hours, I was in the mental health department and within 20 minutes I was being told by the director there that they didn't have what I needed there. I mean, this is a massive university, you know?
So, it -- I just -- they loaded me up on drugs, anti-psychotics, all kinds of weird drugs. And -- and I drank. And that's how I survived for a long time.
MORGAN: We're going to take a break and get into "Saturday Night Live," which, I guess, in many ways, has saved you. I mean this came --
MORGAN: -- along at a time when you needed something.
MORGAN: It will be interesting to see how you feel about that.
HAMMOND: Thank you so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
HAMMOND: Who can propel America out of this economic free-fall and put us back on track? I tell them Barack Obama is the only Democratic nominee for president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement.
HAMMOND: I don't think I could be any more clear. I belong to the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is also in the Democratic Party. And I'm not a party wrecker. I love parties.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: That was Darrell Hammond's impeccable impersonation of Bill Clinton on "Saturday Night Live." I mean, I guess Bill Clinton became the -- you know, the standard bearing Hammond impression.
HAMMOND: I guess so.
MORGAN: Although there were other great ones. Donald Trump, Ted Koppel, Sean Connery.
Which was your favorite?
HAMMOND: I guess Clinton is the one that -- that you get the most mileage out of. He's the one that people care about the most. I mean, I've had people ask me to do Clinton in the most bizarre possible --
MORGAN: Come on.
MORGAN: I want to hear that.
HAMMOND: Are you kidding me? Like getting a colonoscopy.
HAMMOND: Oh, sure.
MORGAN: While you're having a --
HAMMOND: Oh --
MORGAN: -- colonoscopy?
HAMMOND: No, just right before it. Like they're just getting ready to insert that object in that place that God never designed for that object --
HAMMOND: -- and I mean the woman like puts the needle in my arm and she starts to -- and she starts it so that you can feel the medication starting to come in. They're going to move me to twilight. And just before I'm about to black out, she leans and she goes, "What would Clinton say?"
HAMMOND: I mean sort of --
HAMMOND: What is a nice girl like you --
(LAUGHTER) HAMMOND: -- doing in a place like this?
MORGAN: So you -- you do it, you say?
HAMMOND: Once in a while.
MORGAN: You're going to wish you'd never said that, because now everywhere you go or however embarrassing, you're going to be asked to do the Clinton.
HAMMOND: Oh, you know, yes, sure. I mean, but really, just before a colonoscopy, I think that's the most extreme example.
MORGAN: It's the only chance she was ever going to get here in life.
HAMMOND: What would Clinton say?
HAMMOND: Wow! Really?
MORGAN: My favorite was Donald Trump. And that's only because I love Donald Trump.
MORGAN: So can I have a bit of Trump, please?
HAMMOND: Trump? Gosh, what a -- what was the line I used to do?
I'm Donald Trump.
Well, you know, Trump is -- home base with Mr. Trump is -- is this.
You know, like you're over there going so, I was over there at "SNL" yesterday and we had a sandwich and then we went over and we went to a game. And the whole time he's going --
HAMMOND: And then he starts, like going -- I remember this one time --
HAMMOND: You know, but it's -- this is the -- there's just this. You know?
MORGAN: I think we should play you something now, got a tribute to you --
MORGAN: -- from the great man. HAMMOND: All right.
MORGAN: Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: So, I'm interviewing Darrell Hammond, who does a very good Donald Trump, I have to say.
What do you make of his impression?
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Well, he's been amazing. He was on "Saturday Night Live" for years. And, really, I don't think anybody ever hit me like him. But I think he's amazing. He's a great guy and he has me down to a T -- and others. But people think he does it the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Some rare praise, indeed.
HAMMOND: Super fly.
MORGAN: But, actually, your head cut in there. I mean, you could be brothers.
HAMMOND: You know, well, I have this bland face that the makeup artists say you can paint on, because they say that you can't make everyone look like someone, but you can always make me. I mean, look it, it's very bland. And then it just can be transformed around.
MORGAN: Where go you get the ability to do impressions from, do you think?
HAMMOND: I guess from my mom. My mom was great at it.
HAMMOND: Really good. I think really good, yes. We used to do --
MORGAN: Wow! But after all we've discussed, that's fascinating.
HAMMOND: Yes, it transported her. It -- it -- it mesmerized her to talk like other people and --
MORGAN: Who would she do?
HAMMOND: Coaches, teachers, people in the neighborhood.
MORGAN: Anyone -- anyone that she picked up?
HAMMOND: She was -- yes, pretty incredible and --
MORGAN: And would make you laugh?
HAMMOND: Yes. No. I didn't laugh too much. I just realized that she was being transported and you -- her state could be changed by doing my seven or eight-year-old version of Paul Scofield and Ralph Richardson in "A Christmas Carol".
HAMMOND: It just would change her. I mean, and -- and in the same way playing Tchaikovsky's "Sixth Symphony" transported her. I mean, her eyes would get dreamy and trippy.
MORGAN: She was very talented, as well as being very damaged.
HAMMOND: I mean, you know, growing up in the '50s in the South and you're a woman, I don't care what color you were, you might as well be, you know, horror if you have any aspirations of showing all your colors and being everything that God made you to be. I mean, it's a hellish life. It could have been, I think.
MORGAN: Do you think she was that and your father being the way he was, was she incredibly frustrated as well as being --
HAMMOND: Well, she did say that the only reason she got married was because her father was going to, quote, "beat the living daylights out of her." I mean, those were prearranged existences with moral checklists and here's how you live. Here's where you go to church. This is what Jesus is. This is the kind of job you have. These are the kind of sports you have. These are the hand gestures you use.
Innately, she understood all of that and she knew how to make the room about the other person and not about herself.
MORGAN: Have you been able to forgive her in your mind?
HAMMOND: Yes. I've been able to stop dwelling on it and hating on it. And I've been able -- I mean once I reached the point where I realized that she had once been an innocent little girl, it seemed to me that that's when the flashbacks stopped. That's when the -- the nightmares stopped. That's when the cutting stopped. That's when people, instead of being on seven medications, I was reduced to one or two, you know?
I mean --
MORGAN: Was she --
HAMMOND: -- it happened fast.
MORGAN: I mean, do you -- you're talking about cutting. I mean you self-harmed a lot. You did it while you were on "Saturday Night Live".
MORGAN: You took cocaine. You even got to crack at one stage. HAMMOND: But not on air. I never went on high.
MORGAN: Well, I was going to ask you, were you ever high when you were on the air?
HAMMOND: No. Never.
MORGAN: This was just during --
HAMMOND: I would not fly that airplane on -- under the influence. It's ridiculous.
MORGAN: You were never tempted?
HAMMOND: No. It's too hard.
MORGAN: I've seen some people do it.
HAMMOND: Well --
MORGAN: They get this -- they get it right. It's pretty amazing.
HAMMOND: I know. Not me, baby. No one liked to imbibe more than me, but I wasn't going to walk out there in front of millions of people and -- and have to hit my marks under the influence. It's ridiculous.
MORGAN: Are you clean now?
MORGAN: You don't drink or take drugs at all?
HAMMOND: Well, I haven't done as well as I wanted to with that. But it's been going pretty well.
MORGAN: Let's take another break and come back.
I want to talk to you about how you got back on your feet, you left "Saturday Night Live," you've got a whole new world ahead of you and what you intend to do with it.
HAMMOND: Thank you.
MORGAN: I'm back now with Darrell Hammond.
Darrell, it's been a roller coaster interview, to put it mildly -- for me and for you, I think.
Tell me about your life now.
Are you happy? Are you happier than you've been before? HAMMOND: I think so. I think sometimes I even have good nights, yes, sure. I'm a lot happier than I was. I mean, I -- I am involved with groups that deal with the things that I've been through and that's the best part of my life.
MORGAN: Do you think your "Saturday Night Live" costars will be shocked by this book?
HAMMOND: I don't know. I -- there must have been rumors floating around, you know, back when I was melting down once a week over there.
MORGAN: Did they know about your background? Did they know about your mother and stuff?
HAMMOND: I don't know. I know that Lorne did and, you know, the producers over there knew, you know? I mean, they went pretty far out of their way to help me. I think on some level they understood that, as you mentioned off the air, that probably the job saved my life.
And, also, you know, we did have a discussion after one particularly virulent event where we said, you know, if this happens again, you can't be on the show anymore. You know, we did have one of those discussions.
MORGAN: How bad was the incident?
HAMMOND: It was pretty damned bad. You know, it involved being taken from there in a straitjacket, you know? And who wants to --
MORGAN: From the studio?
HAMMOND: Actually from -- I think that on the book it says the offices, I was taken to the office -- this actually was a clinic underneath the theater, yes.
MORGAN: I mean, again, it's this extraordinary kind of parallel life going on --
MORGAN: -- where I just know you, like most people --
MORGAN: -- as the guy that does "The Donald".
MORGAN: And then I'm reading this stuff going wow!
HAMMOND: Yes. MORGAN: How could this have been going on with this guy, who just seems like he's the happiest, funniest guy you'd ever meet?
HAMMOND: It did. I don't know how. You know, I've been to enough hospitals that I don't know. I don't know if I could have paid for all of that, to be honest with you, without, you know, "SNL" money.
MORGAN: What are you doing, career-wise, now?
HAMMOND: Well, I'm doing "Are We There Yet?" -- the Ice Cube sitcom on WTBS. I'll be doing that next season. I'm doing -- I have a movie with Johnny Knoxville called "Scoutmasters." I'm going to start working with Will Farrell's Internet company, "Funny Or Die." And I think that's a lot right there.
MORGAN: What ambitions do you have professionally and personally?
HAMMOND: I just want to play Truman Capote on Broadway.
MORGAN: You'd be great as Truman Capote.
HAMMOND: Well, you know, I did him this summer.
HAMMOND: I did him this summer and it seemed to go pretty well and I got some pretty good reviews. I did almost everything I wanted to do except play Truman Capote. Yes.
And, look, you know, a guy like Trump, I wouldn't mind doing a job with him some time. I like him a lot.
MORGAN: I could probably fix that for you.
HAMMOND: I wish you would.
MORGAN: I could see you and Donald working very well together.
HAMMOND: I'd love that.
MORGAN: Can you imagine in the morning -- morning, morning --
HAMMOND: Except he's a foot taller than me and --
HAMMOND: -- which is kind of difficult. I look like a mini me version of him.
MORGAN: I can imagine the joy of walking in and hearing him go, "You are a special, special guy."
HAMMOND: You know, the first time I met him, I didn't get a "hey, how are you, I'm Donald." I got a -- "You're going to make big money because of me, big money because of me."
MORGAN: You've got to love "The Donald".
HAMMOND: You've got to.
MORGAN: Darrell, it's been a real pleasure.
HAMMOND: Thank you so much.
MORGAN: And it's -- it's a very inspiring book, in many ways.
HAMMOND: Thank you.
MORGAN: And I hope people read it in that way.
HAMMOND: I hope so.
MORGAN: Thank you very much.
HAMMOND: My pleasure.
MORGAN: That's all for us tonight.
"A.C. 360" starts now.