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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview with Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels; Sandusky Verdict Imminent
Aired June 22, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, a cable anchorman at war with his country, his bosses and even himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR: YouTube, YouTube, YouTube.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, you're just a crazy guy shouting YouTube. Just say you understand.
DANIELS: I understand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Could it really happen? I'll ask the star of "The Newsroom", Jeff Daniels, what he thinks of the real thing, and if he's tempted to take my chair.
Also, his boss, the genius Aaron Sorkin, and find out if he thinks cable news can handle the truth.
Plus, Mr. Cool himself, LL Cool J opens up about fame, family and that prayer for Whitney Houston at the Grammys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LL COOL J, ACTOR/MUSICIAN: I could not see going out on stage and having a party without first finding some sort of peace with what took place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: He also reveals why he's rapping again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: King of the rap world.
LL COOL J: You really are. They're talking about you in every club.
(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
A big story tonight: truth, power and the media colliding like never before in "The Newsroom." Aaron Sorkin gave us "The West Wing" and "The Social Network." Now, he's taking aim at cable news. I'll talk to him at the moment.
I'll also talk to Jeff Daniels, who plays the cynical anchorman and find out who he based his character on.
Plus, the hit maker with a hit show, LL Cool J, one of my favorite guests, joins me again. This time, he's opening up about his private life. What it really means to be a role model.
MORGAN: But first, the big story, HBO's "The Newsroom."
With me now, the show's writer and creator, Aaron Sorkin, and star, Jeff Daniels.
Welcome to you both.
So I was at the -- the premier of "The Newsroom" in New York, a very grandiose affair, with all the great and good of the media there, lots of cable news anchors recognize to see how accurate this was.
And I think it's fair to say the general consensus was it was pretty darned accurate. People really enjoyed it. I found it a -- a very sort of prescient, thrilling reality check, for me, for what it's like to see it through the prism of your character, Jeff.
But I'm curious about your motives here. I'm an unashamed "West Wing" fan. I've said this many times on the show. And it's a great privilege to have you here.
But what are you trying to achieve with the cable news genre, if anything?
AARON SORKIN, WRITER: I -- I'm only trying to achieve one thing. I've got one goal and that's to entertain the audience for an hour.
We shoot our show on Stage Seven Sunset Gower Studios. That's the same stage where they shot "The Monkees." And we are going to the exact same thing.
MORGAN: But are you, though, because I always think underneath all this -- you say all this stuff, but I think underneath it, you do like to make a point. I mean, some of the criticism of it in the reviews I've seen is not centered, really, around the show or Jeff or anything else, it's always about what they call Sorkinism (ph), that somehow this is some offensive new term for some of the more polemic stuff that you put in these shows, which is really enjoy, but I -- I suspect some people don't.
But tell me about that. Tell me about that criticism you get.
SORKIN: Well, I -- I do enjoy it. I -- first of all, I enjoy language very much. I -- I've -- it sounds like music to me. And I enjoy oratory. And that's the reason for the long speeches.
I grew up in a family where anyone who said one word when they could have used 10 just wasn't trying had enough.
SORKIN: And I was the dumbest kid in my family. So I'd sit at the dinner table just listening to fantastic arguments like I was watching a -- a tennis match. And I grew to really like that.
I just -- I love the sound to -- the sound of a point really well made, of somebody saying, but you haven't thought of it this way, but think about that, but what if this were to happen?
And as a writer, I grew up just wanting to imitate that sound.
MORGAN: There's a fantastic speech right at the start of episode one that your character Will makes, Jeff. And it's a real tour de force. He's trapped in this boring, convention, all with students. And then he's goaded by the moderator into finally letting rip with what he really thinks.
Let's watch a bit of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: I didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last eve election. And we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America's not the greatest country in the world anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It was fascinating watching the room reaction, all these hard-edged newsmen, Aaron, because a lot of them were sort of nodding along with that, because it was a great speech and a classic, if you don't mind me saying, Sorkinism and -- and it --
SORKIN: I don't mind.
MORGAN: -- at its very best. But -- because it really made you think, because you rattled off all these statistics about where America is not number one anymore and made the point, it used to be a great country and it could be a great country again, but right now, it's not the greatest country in the world.
Let me ask you a difficult question. When you said it, did you believe it yourself?
DANIELS: It was interesting to do the speech, to work on the speech. That came late. I mean, there were some drafts where it wasn't there, where it was -- there was something that happened at Northwestern that -- that was referred to. And then I think it was one of the last couple of drafts before the pilot.
SORKIN: It was the last thing written.
DANIES: Here comes the pi -- here comes the speech, let's see it. And I remember reading it going, you may not like it, you may disagree with it, you know, you -- for those who are patriotic and wave the flag and don't want to hear it, but there's nothing in it that's not true.
And that went all the way -- each phrase, each thing that Aaron has Will say, it's all true. Sorry to tell you, but it's true.
That -- so that really resonated with me. And to be able to say that, to be able to take words like the way this guy can put them together and throw it at the lens, throw it at an audience, it's -- it's -- for an actor, it's gold.
MORGAN: Yes, but it seems to me you're doing, with Will's character, who's the cable news anchor, kind of what you did with President Bartlet. You know, he -- he makes these great speeches and makes these great moments when he's sitting at his desk or wherever he may be, and over time, you start to speak for what America should be like. It's a better world, if you like.
It's -- it's -- and so that's way -- where I sort of take issue with you slightly devaluing your -- what your objective is here, because I -- I actually believe you do have a slightly higher calling with these things.
SORKIN: Well, I -- listen, I do -- my point with devaluing is -- is simply that a -- this show wasn't asking anyone to eat its vegetables at all. But really its spirit is screwball comedy. It's a romantic comedy.
It's heightened reality. It's idealistic. It's swashbuckling.
And we do just want people to have fun for an hour.
But I'm writing about things I really, you know, believe in. And one of them is I'm a patriot and I love America. That word patriot, at least in my lifetime, has been defined over a different way, as just somebody who flies a flag in front of their house and that if you, for instance, criticize America, if you give the speech that Jeff gives at the beginning of the show, that makes you anti-American.
And that's something, on "The West Wing" and on this show, that -- that we fight against.
MORGAN: I mean, Aaron, you said, I feel like a lot of news outlets have abdicated their responsibility. I've met people that want to carry that torch of Edward R. Murrow.
I suppose critics would say, look, you've got to live in the real world here a little bit, in the sense that if you go too highfalutin with your news coverage, if you try and do it in the purest sense, what your character does in this show, it doesn't rate, especially if there's not big breaking news.
And I can tell you for a hard, unpalatable fact, that that is true.
SORKIN: No, I know it's true. But the good news is --
MORGAN: And it's -- it's hard.
So how do you tackle that?
If it's -- now you've had your toes dipped in our waters for a while, if you were running a news network, what would you do?
SORKIN: Well, first, let me just backup a little bit and say I don't have to live in the real world. I'm a fiction writer.
SORKIN: So, I get to write a -- you know, a Democratic administration that can get things done and I get to write about a very idealistic newsroom, where these guys reach unrealistically high, so they fall down a lot. But we're still rooting for them anyway.
But there's no question that the antagonist in this show is -- doesn't come so much in the form of a person, although that's the role Jane Fonda plays and that's the role that Chris Messina plays. It's ratings, that -- that if we have a problem in this country with the news, it's at least as much the consumer's fault as it is the provider's fault.
But this show doesn't live in the real world. It seems like it does, because it's set against the backdrop of real news events. We never do fictional news on the show. It's all real.
The characters are all fictional and not based on anybody. I know you're going to get to that question.
SORKIN: -- but it's -- they're -- they -- they're constantly referencing Don Quixote, "Brigadoon" and Camelot. And the name of the cable station is Atlantis and its parent company is Atlantis. And these are all imaginary lost cities.
DANIELS: Unabashedly romantic and idealistic.
DANIELS: That's the -- I mean he excels in that. And that's -- it's the happy ending. It's the show -- swashbuckling, he said.
You know, that's -- that's what we're doing. And -- and Aaron told me, when we started this, he goes, by the way, if you're in here to be likable all the time and, you know, you're -- it ain't going to work that way, because you're going to fail. Will is going to fail miserably.
And we do. Over the first season, it is a struggle, just like the struggle a lot of these TV journalists say they're going through every day.
MORGAN: And Will is a -- a quite spectacular (EXPLETIVE DELETED) from time to time, as well, which is why --
DANIELS: Thank you.
MORGAN: -- why I like him so much.
DANIELS: Thank you very much.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break.
We'll come back and talk more about Will the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and Aaron the genius.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People don't come here looking for handouts. We are a nation of strivers and climbers and entrepreneurs, the hardest working people on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: President Obama speaking in Florida today.
I'm back now with Jeff Daniels and "The Newsroom's" creator, Aaron Sorkin.
The hardest people on earth -- is he slightly deluded, President Obama -- I mean just taking up from your character's speech at the start of the first episode? Are Americans still the hardest working people on earth?
SORKIN: Well, I have no idea. I've -- I've never tested how hard other people in the world work. But it's -- it's good oratory --
MORGAN: You didn't write the speech though?
SORKIN: No, I didn't.
(LAUGHTER) SORKIN: And -- but, Jon Favreau, not the actor, but the president's speechwriter, would tell you that Barack Obama is the best writer in any room that Barack Obama is in. I always smile when people have a problem with the -- with the teleprompter. I mean he's the guy who wrote what's on the teleprompter.
Let's watch how this speech goes on, because it's quite interesting what he then said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And nobody personified these American values, these American traits, more than the Latino community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: He's fairly shameless. I mean I would have thought -- I mean that a -- again, you could expect that to pop up in "The West Wing" at some stage as a campaign message.
But I mean for a president to be standing there today deliberately pandering like that to the Latino community at a Latino conference?
MORGAN: Am I being too cynical here?
SORKIN: No, no, of course you're not.
SORKIN: Listen, he's -- he's at a Latino conference. Governor Romney spoke there yesterday, I think. And they both need the Latino vote.
But I will say that I -- it's -- it's nicer hearing that than hearing about the lazy Mexicans who come here who are draining our resources -
MORGAN: That's true.
SORKIN: -- selling drugs and shooting guns. You know, you get up at 6:00 in the morning and see who's waiting at the bus stops. Any time a new hotel opens in town, see who's snaking around the block three times waiting for a job.
MORGAN: Have you ruined it, basically, for every American president by making Bartlet so likable, principled, and everything else that he was?
Have you basically ruined it? Do all of them now get unfairly compared to Bartlet?
MORGAN: Because I've seen polls that Bartlet --
SORKIN: It --
MORGAN: -- would have been made president time and again.
SORKIN: Yes, the --
MORGAN: -- their way.
SORKIN: Again, I have the benefit of fiction. I don't just get to decide what Bartlet says, I get to decide what everybody else says and does, too, so.
SORKIN: It's a lot easier for Bartlet than for a real president.
MORGAN: Jeff, what is it like to -- to work as an actor with someone like Aaron's words, because he's famously, he -- he strives over everything himself. This is absolutely his stand on almost every word that you will be, in the end, acting.
DANIELS: Every word, yes. I mean it -- you memorize every word and that's the drill. I was doing a movie with Meryl Streep once and -- "The Hours." And we were going to walk into a doorway -- through a doorway.
And the director, Stephen Daldry, said -- we had David Hare was the screenwriter. And -- and they said, Meryl, just say a couple of things coming through the door.
She goes, what, I have to write it, too?
DANIELS: And I had never -- I'd never heard an actor say that. And he had David Hare sitting over there. And David came up with two lines. That's for -- she was -- why do I have to write it?
And that's how you feel. You've got Aaron Sorkin. You've got a singular voice. You don't have a committee. You don't have executives noting in the depth and you feel like somebody -- you don't have three or four writers on it. He's got every word on it.
SORKIN: And by the same token, when I'm writing it, I get to know that Jeff is going to be playing it, that Emily is going to be playing it, that Tom Sadoski, John Gallagher, Sam Waterston, that these people are going to be playing it.
So I can say, you know what, you don't need a half page speech here. It's going to happen on Jeff's face when he lights the cigarette. MORGAN: I read an interview with you a few years ago and you were talking -- it was after the -- the drugs bust thing that happened to you.
And you were talking about just this -- you like to just disappear on your own. You know, at the time, it would be with drugs. But --
MORGAN: -- but you would -- you wanted to go to Vegas on your own rather than go with other people.
MORGAN: And just have a -- a night in a clean hotel room, as you put it. I mean that is a strange thing to do.
But what -- why do you like that solitude?
SORKIN: Well, I liked it then because of the drug use. I didn't party with other people. It was -- I never did drugs with other people. I only did it by myself.
But now, solitude is about writing, because so much of that process is thinking about what you're going to write before you write it. And I'm also a father now. So, you know, when I'm not working, I like to spend my time with my daughter.
MORGAN: And did you let The Beatles do your best stuff on the drugs?
SORKIN: You know what? I don't --
SORKIN: -- the last thing I want to do is make drugs sound good to anybody. But, you know, Bill Maher once said that, you know, drugs sure haven't hurt his record collection.
SORKIN: And I don't think I did do my best stuff while I was high. But even if I had, if I was writing at Shakespeare level high and the hackiest hack level straight, I'll take not being high and a hack.
MORGAN: Have you arrived at a good place in your life now, do you think?
SORKIN: Yes. I've --
MORGAN: The hard way, maybe, but you have?
SORKIN: I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Like I said, I'm -- I love being a father. I get paid to do exactly what I love doing, exactly what I'd love to do for free. And I get to work with the greatest people in my industry.
MORGAN: And without wishing to be too intrusive here -- and you are -- according to the photographs I saw after the premier, you are dating a beautiful woman from "Sex and the City."
Is this true?
SORKIN: Every so often, I'm a single man. But every so often, an otherwise brilliant woman will have a short lapse of judgment --
SORKIN: -- and agree to go out on a date with me and that's what happened with Kristin Davis, who was nice enough to be my date for the L.A. premier the other night.
That's where --
MORGAN: Well, but you make a very nice couple.
SORKIN: Thanks. We'll see what happens.
MORGAN: Let's take a hurried break.
And when we come back, Jeff, I want to talk to you about the fact that you were compared to be the new Cary Grant.
DANIELS: Oh, good.
MORGAN: I want to know how that's going for you.
DANIELS: It's going well. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: (INAUDIBLE) contract anymore. It's a 156-week contract that gives me the opportunity to fire you 155 times at the end of each week. We'll wait a few months to make sure it's not a story Bill Carter can shove up my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you get my contract changed?
DANIELS: I gave the network back some money off my salary?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much money?
DANIELS: A million dollars a year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You get back $1 million a year?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You paid $1 million to be able to fire me anytime you want?
DANIELS: Three million dollars. Not any time I want. Just the end of each week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: We're back with Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin to talk more about "The Newsroom" from which that clip was taken.
And, actually, I love your character. I think you've just landed -- I'm sure you feel that way as an actor -- that this is one of the good --
DANIELS: With very good money, yes.
MORGAN: A great role, isn't it?
DANIELS: Yes. Oh, it is.
MORGAN: So much you can go to with him.
What's Emily Mortimer like to work with?
DANIELS: She's a dream. She's a -- she's an incredible foil for -- if that's even the word -- for Will. Through Will's bluster and his screaming and yelling and treating everybody as if they're, you know, peasants, when the smoke clears, Emily is still standing there going, "Are you done?"
And then she comes right in. And she -- she can -- she knows him better than he knows himself.
He is still, for reasons that will develop over the season, mad -- he's madly in love with her and hates her guts at the same time.
MORGAN: Well, they've clearly had a fling before, right?
DANIELS: Yes. Yes.
MORGAN: This is the obvious --
DANIELS: Off-camera, she's a dream. She's a pro. She works so hard.
And the chemistry we have is just two actors listening to each other in front of the camera. And she's -- she's just beautiful to work with.
MORGAN: The worrying thing I felt -- and I said this to you the moment I came out and bumped into you I said, the trouble is, you're going to put us all out of business, because you're so good. The new Will, when he gets reborn as this kind of cynical, charging firebrand. And it's prompted this big debate about who you base this on -- well, I suppose who you base this on.
Lots of names have been thrown in. Is it a hybrid? Or is there one particular, you know --
SORKIN: Not a --
MORGAN: Keith Olbermann has been probably throwing his own hat in the ring, but --
SORKIN: Yes, it's -- the character is entirely a product of my imagination and then Jeff's imagination. This person doesn't exist on TV.
Will McAvoy is a moderate Republican who says that he's from a town outside -- a town outside Lincoln, Nebraska. He is pro-life. He supports the Arizona immigration bill.
And he's become famous and successful for assiduously hugging the middle of the road and not bothering anybody. So --
SORKIN: -- if I was trying to --
MORGAN: -- mad as hell?
SORKIN: -- base it on Keith Olbermann, I missed.
MORGAN: Now, Jeff, you were, in the '80s, we've got a "GQ" cover to show, because it asked a great question, "Is Jeff Daniels The Next Cary Grant?"
There it is.
DANIELS: That's a great question?
DANIELS: That's -- that's the -- oh, boy.
MORGAN: To which the answer was?
(LAUGHTER) DANIELS: No, I believe -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there was only one Cary Grant. And I think Woody had said it. Woody had kind of mentioned that there are elements of what he does in "The Purple Rose of Cairo," that, you know, are of that kind of Cary Grant way of acting, or some such --
MORGAN: You had a great line about it, actually. You said, "I was aware that I don't have the looks for that movie star thing. When you put the camera on me, it just sucks the lens (INAUDIBLE) to me. So whatever career I'm going to have will be because I'm an actor and a good actor."
DANIELS: Yes, I'll stand by that.
DANIELS: Yes. Yes, you know?
SORKIN: I actually think he's the new Spencer Tracy.
SORKIN: And that's who, you know, any time I write something and it comes time to cast it and you sit around with the casting directors to talk about who you're looking for, you know, I always ask if Spencer Tracy is available. He --
SORKIN: -- he never is and --
SORKIN: -- and then we -- and then we try to fill the role. And it's so -- it's impossible to find Jeff Daniels in Hollywood.
There is only one. He's the only person that we wanted to play the role. It would be an entirely different show if he wasn't playing it.
And we were lucky to land him.
MORGAN: What do -- what do you think is the art of great acting?
I mean you've written for great actors.
MORGAN: And you've been a great actor. What is the art of great acting, other than listening?
SORKIN: Listening is a bit part of it. And I think it depends what actor you're talking about.
I can tell you that there are some things that an actor can't fake. An actor can't fake smart. An actor can't fake funny. So if you need those things, you need to find somebody who's smart and funny.
You were talking about Emily a moment ago. And this really remarkable and winning performance that she gives.
I don't write a lot of description in the scripts, but when her character enters, I just -- I describe it a little bit as someone who doesn't need to act tough, because she is tough.
And that frees her up to be kind of silly and goofy and be who she is. And that exactly who Emily is. You know, there's -- there's -- she doesn't feel like she's a woman in a man's world.
MORGAN: No, she's -- she's a great character.
And, Jeff, when you look around now in the firmament of great actors, who, for you, stands out, male or female, right now as pound for pound a great actor?
DANIELS: You know, Meryl. Meryl Streep is the go-to for me. And I've told her. I've been lucky to do a couple of movies with her. And she's come to theater things that I've been in.
I said I steal from you all the time. She's the best moment to moment, present.
Sam Waterston came up with that word about Meryl. She's present. And she never gets ahead of herself. Each take is different. And you feel like she's not only acting, but reacting to what you're doing.
And that's the key. Too many actors, you know, act in front of a mirror. You know, it's, you know, I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille, which is, you know, I'm right here.
MORGAN: Yes, yes.
DANIELS: And the closer it gets, the more you make it about the other person.
MORGAN: I've got two contemporary questions to ask you.
One for you, Jeff, is that there was a remake of "Dumb and Dumber" that's supposed to be coming out that's now apparently not. What can you tell me about that?
DANIELS: What have you heard?
MORGAN: That Jim Carey buggered off.
DANIELS: : Buggered off. I know this. I know that the four of us, the Farrelly Brothers, Jim and myself, would all love to do it. Especially Jim. Jim's wanted to do it for a year and a half. We've hit some bumps in the road. My hope is that while I completely agree with Jim's stance on it, that he's, you know, frustrated and throwing up his hands -- my hope is that there's a happy ending and we get to do it.
MORGAN: Because you did gross 250 million dollars.
DANIELS: : Million or billion? Yeah.
DANIELS: It has the potential to be seen by a couple of people, let me put it that way.
MORGAN: I've got to ask you about Facebook, whether you own any of the stock.
SORKIN: You know what, I didn't. And I should have -- really, I should have bought one share of stock just for sentimental value. I forgot to. But maybe I will now. And maybe -- I don't really know how this works. Maybe if the street sees me buying Facebook, suddenly there will be a rush to buy the shares.
MORGAN: It's actually been edging up --
SORKIN: Starting to do well?
MORGAN: Yeah, starting to creep back to where it was before.
SORKIN: Oh, damn, I can't take credit for it.
MORGAN: No, you may have missed the boat again.
SORKIN: I'll figure out a way.
MORGAN: Aaron Sorkin, thank you so much. Jeff Daniels, thank you so much. It airs, "Newsroom," Sunday on HBO. Time?
SORKIN: 10:00 p.m.
MORGAN: 10:00 p.m. It's terrific show. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Worried about my own future, obviously. Worried that Will is going to come and sit in this chair, and everyone's going to go, yeah, he's better than the real thing. For now, I'm prepared to help you promote it. Thank you, gentlemen.
DANIELS: Thanks so much.
MORGAN: Coming up next, LL Cool J stops by with a surprise for his fans. And he all talks about that prayer for Whitney Houston.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Piers, we just received word a little while ago that the jury in the Jerry Sandusky case has, indeed, reached a verdict. They have been deliberating over the course of two days, roughly 20 hours and 57 minutes, when finally the judge was informed that the jury has a verdict.
This is a trial that has gone on for nine days and resulted in a number of witnesses, as jurors in this case trying to decide the fate of Jerry Sandusky. And indeed, now they have. This is a man who, of course, turned a community on its ear, as well as Penn State University, when charges were announced against him many months ago.
This has been quite an event that has turned a community on its ear. Not only that, but the school itself, a school that is very well respected, as well with a football program that is so well thought of. But this has really turned things around. This is the decision we have been waiting for, Piers.
MORGAN: Susan, thank you very much. Let's update people. Breaking news. A verdict has been reached in the sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky. We just got word that the verdict is due imminently. CNN's Susan Candiotti has been addressing us from outside the Sandusky courtroom.
Susan, how would you describe the mood of the massed ranks of the media there? What is the general sense of the way the week has gone and the likely verdict here?
CANDIOTTI: Well, I'll tell you, the mood right now around here is electric. There's no other way to describe it. This area of course filled with news media who have been covering this trial throughout. But you also have a lot of people from this community who are waiting to hear what this verdict is.
Earlier this day, a very unusual thing happened. One of the defense attorneys, the lead defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky, was sort of unofficially holding court in the courtroom while the jury was deliberating. And as a group of reporters started talking with him, he said -- he was asked for his prediction, and whether he would be surprised or shocked if his client were acquitted of all the charges.
And he said in so many words, Jo Amendola, I would have a heart attack if my client was found not guilty, acquitted of all the charges in this case. Of course there's been riveting testimony throughout, very powerful testimony from eight alleged victims who have accused Jerry Sandusky of a number of sex abuse allegations.
In all, he originally was charged with 52 counts. But the judge eliminated some of them. So now it is down to 48 charges, 48 counts, among 10 alleged victims. Of course, as I mentioned, some of the most powerful evidence in this case came from the alleged victims themselves. But not only that, you not only had accusations from these people who testified that they were abused over the course of 15 years, but you also had very powerful testimony from two eyewitnesses, people who said they stumbled upon a sexual abuse attack or at least saw something going on in the Penn State campus. In one case, the assistant graduate student, Mike McQueary.
And the jury looked over his testimony today. They also looked over the testimony of another so-called witness. And this was a janitor, a janitor who had said that he saw Jerry Sandusky and a little boy leaving a locker room shower late at night. And then within about 10 minutes of that time, this janitor testified that a co-worker of his told him that he had saw -- he had seen something that was terribly shocking to him.
He was so shook up, this janitor testified, that he thought the man was going to have a heart attack. Jurors asked a question about that as well. Because it was considered hearsay evidence and circumstantial. And they wanted to have the instructions read back to them by the judge in the courtroom about how to treat that.
So these are two key events that happened during the day time today. That seemed to indicate to us -- it may have indicated they have really gone -- they were making a lot of progress, because Mike McQueary's testimony involved victim number two. All of these counts are listed one by one by one. The janitor's testimony involved alleged victim number eight. So that might have indicated, being that there were 10 alleged victims in all, that they were really making a lot of progress throughout the day.
Now, just a little while ago, we learned that the verdict was in. We also understood Jerry Sandusky, the defendant in this case, is on his way to the courthouse now. Piers.
MORGAN: Susan, thanks very much. Let's update people who are tuning in. We're waiting for the breaking news. There is a verdict now in the Jerry Sandusky case that we are expecting imminently. I don't know what the verdict is, but we know the jury's been out for 20 hours. They spent the whole day today, into the night, after dinner, deliberating. I've been joined by Lisa Bloom. Lisa, what do you make of what's going on there?
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: First of all, this makes sense that this is the time for this verdict. This is a sequestered jury. It's a Friday night. If they don't come back with a verdict now, they're going to spend a weekend together. So it makes a lot of sense. They've had enough time I think to really review and synthesize the evidence. No one can accuse them of coming to a snap judgment.
MORGAN: The stuff they've asked for today has been very particular. It's been very focused on, if you like, the third party direct eyewitness testimony that they'd heard. In other words, not the victims themselves, most of whom were young boys at the time. This is about the adults who witnessed and what they witnessed. How significant is that do you think?
BLOOM: Well, that's an important point. But yourself in the jury's seat. You discount a little bit the accusers who come into court. And you discount a little bit the defense, because it seems as though they each have a story to tell. But how do you contend with a third party witness who says, I saw this man with a child behaving inappropriately? That's the kind of witness a jury really latches on to.
This isn't a case with a lot of documentary evidence, with photos, with videos, with, you know, pieces of paper. So that's the strongest evidence. And I think it's a good sign they were focusing on that.
MORGAN: We're being joined by Alan Dershowitz, top legal expert. Alan, what do you make of this development? Given they've been out for 20 hours, do you think this is a significant move in terms of a likely conviction?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, obviously, there were a lot of counts to consider. So 20 hours is not a long time. It really is reading tea leaves. The O.J. Simpson case --
MORGAN: Alan, let me just stop you just for one second. We're looking I think at live pictures of Jerry Sandusky and his wife Dottie arriving at the court tonight, presumably to get the verdict in person. That is happening as I speak. Just to remind viewers tuning in, we're waiting for the breaking news. There is a verdict in the Jerry Sandusky case that we're expecting imminently.
Going back now to Alan Dershowitz. Alan, just tell me again, if they've been out 20 hours, they were very specific in what they asked for -- it was the -- maybe the adult testimony Wanted to go over that again, poor over in their minds whether that corroborated, I guess, in their heads, what they had heard from all the young victims. Would you think, given the time that they'd been out and what they'd been asking for, that a guilty verdict is more likely?
DERSHOWITZ: I think a guilty verdict is more likely based on the evidence, the fact that there was triangulation of evidence. There was an eyewitness. There were victim's testimony. And there was' corroboration. Twenty hours generally is consistent with a guilty verdict. Remember in the O.J. Simpson case, very short deliberation, acquittal. So it really is reading tea leaves.
And -- but the pattern generally is when you get a very quick verdict in a case that's like this one, black and white, either he did it or he didn't do it, generally it will be a conviction, but you can't be sure.
MORGAN: Alan, stand by for now. Let's go back to Susan Candiotti, who's outside the court. Susan, obviously fevered ranks of the media waiting here. We've seen Jerry Sandusky and his wife just arriving. Must be pretty electric, the atmosphere, I guess.
CANDIOTTI: Oh, yes. I wish I could turn the camera around but we're in such a closed-in spot right now. This area, which is a grassy lawn, a lawn in front of the courthouse here, is filled with spectators, people who have been, you know, lingering around all day and into the night to see what was going to happen. And there had been -- there always are rumors. How long will it take? Do you think it will happen tonight?
And one of your guests indicated, remember, this is a jury that has been sequestered. It's only the second day, really. But, you know, they have a likelihood of working straight through the weekend if they didn't come up with a verdict. And they certainly were prepared to do that. But for two days, they have worked straight through. Our understanding was working through at least a couple of dinners that we have.
We're talking about seven women and five men. And the makeup of this jury is especially interesting, because seven of them have direct ties to Penn State or indirect ties. Either they went to school there, their spouse did, went to school there. Their -- they know someone who works there or they are professors there.
And you also have someone who actually had a tie to one of the witnesses in this case, someone who knew Mike McQueary's father. Yet the judge questioned them, said can you put all this aside and be -- and be open to all the information before rendering a fair verdict? And each one of these people said that they could. And the prosecutors didn't want jurors from this area , but the judge said he was going to do it this way.
And this trial has been one of the fastest ones on record. Originally, we thought it might go on for three weeks to a month. He's managed to pull things together in nine days. Both sides presenting their case in a very short period of time.
MORGAN: It's certainly fascinating, the breakdown of that jury. It could add, again, to the unpredictability of this verdict. Although people have been assuming that there may be a guilty verdict, when you look at the links in that jury and the local state and the feelings that we remember when all this broke at the time and the attitude towards Joe Paterno, the great hero down there, you know, it's a very -- it's a very complex situation down there.
And I don't think anyone could say for certain what this verdict's going to be. Let's go now to Buzz Bissinger, the author of "Friday Night Lights." His book is a hard look at America's football culture. He has very strong feelings about the Sandusky case.
Buzz, obviously, we're expecting a verdict very, very soon. Would you be confident that there will be a guilty verdict here?
BUZZ BISSINGER, AUTHOR, "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS": Yes. I covered the courts for "the Philadelphia Enquirer." It's where I want to pull surprise. It's not to brag. I'm positive the verdict is guilty. Everything about this case has been quick and clean. Twenty hours is not a long time. They've been very, very methodical.
They knew they were close to a verdict. Otherwise, they wouldn't come back Friday night. Mr. Sandusky is a monster and has been guilty ever since the first victim testified. The defense did not cross examine well. Amendola has been nothing but a showman. I've never heard of a lawyer who basically has incriminated his own client by handing him the phone, which is what he did with Bob Costas.
Costas, as a matter of fact, thought he would only talk to Amendola. I know this for a fact. Amendola said, hey, do you want to talk to Jerry Sandusky? That's the kind of lawyer that he is. He calls it "All My Children." He thinks he's funny. The only testimony they had was really his wife. And what do you expect his wife to say? And she corroborates that he's in the basement. He's doing this. He's doing that.
The man is a predator. My concern is that when he is found guilty, that all the cameras will go away and the root problem, which is the culture of football at Penn State, and how it ruled that university, nothing will be done.
MORGAN: That is a serious concern. I think also the nature of the hero worship, which went to somebody like Joe Paterno, who clearly was involved in covering this up, I think also is a lasting stain on the reputation down there. Let's go now to Lisa Friel. She's the former chief of the Manhattan D.A. sex crimes unit. She's in New York.
Lisa, the general feeling from the legal experts I've spoken to is that we're probably heading towards a guilty verdict, given the time the jury's been out and the kind of questions they've been asking. Would you agree with that?
LISA FRIEL, FORMER MANHATTAN D.A.: Yeah, I would. Generally, a fast verdict is a guilty verdict. I agree with Alan about the O.J. verdict was an exception to that. It was shocking because of that. But I would expect that this is a guilty verdict as well.
MORGAN: Can you see any way that the defense could win the day here? Is there anything about the way that they have performed in the week? I mean, I think that Sandusky's lead attorney there, his behavior again today, saying he'd have a heart attack if his client was fully acquitted, quite extraordinary statements on the back of his soap opera jokes earlier in the week.
To me, completely inappropriate. Have you ever heard anyone in such a serious case, in such a lead position, behaving in such a frivolous manner?
FRIEL: I have to tell you, I've never heard of any defense attorney making those kinds of comments about his client's probable guilt when a jury was out in a not serious case. More or less a case of this seriousness. I was shocked when I heard that today.
MORGAN: We're watching, again, these earlier pictures of Jerry Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, arriving at the court to hear the verdict. We are expecting it in the next few moments, few minutes maybe. The jury has been out for hours. Today is the fifth month anniversary of the death of Joe Paterno.
And it is a complicated case. I've still got Lisa Bloom here. Lisa, the general consensus seems to be that we are looking at a guilty verdict. But of course it could go another way, because the relationship between Penn State and the people involved and the jurors, who all have strange connections, it's not as easy to call as it may be if it was completely divorced.
BLOOM: Listen, I'm a die-hard believer in our judicial system, I'm not going to call him a predator until a jury does. I'm not going to call him guilty until the jury does. If the jury acquits him, I'm going to respect that verdict. We can all second guess what happened, but we weren't in the courtroom. This wasn't even a televised trial.
So we didn't see the witnesses testify. And that's so important that the jury did that and that we respect their verdict. I will say, though, that I've represented many victims of child sexual abuse over the years in my practice in civil cases. And I've seen a sea change in our attitudes toward them, whereas 15, 20 years ago, no one ever wanted to believe that children were sexually abused by a respected authority figure.
Now people believe it. They get it because so many people have come out and spoken about their experiences. I wouldn't be concerned that he's prominent in the community. I also respect these jurors and trust them enough to come to the right decision.
MORGAN: Yes, and it seems to me that witness after witness had certainly an aura of credibility about their testimony.
BLOOM: Eight accusers. How do you get around eight? You can get around one. You can get around two. How do you get around eight men coming in, obviously under extraordinary pain. People tend to lie the other way. They're really victims and they say that they weren't, right? They don't tend to lie and say that they are. That certainly can happen. That's why we have the system, to sort all that out. But eight young men, isn't that really the bottom line in this case? How do you get around that?
MORGAN: Also, yesterday we had this extraordinary bombshell of Jerry Sandusky's adopted son breaking silence to say that he too had been abused. It was remarkable timing. It came too late for the jury to factor that in.
BLOOM: But did it? But did it? Because they're sequestered. But what does sequestration mean in the day when everybody has an iPad and a phone?
MORGAN: Let's cut to this. It's quite an interesting point. What are they actually allowed to use? Can they keep their phones and computers?
BLOOM: Well, that depends. Susan Candiotti may have a clearer answer on that. Usually no. You're not supposed to have any computer. But you can have phone calls with loved one.
MORGAN: Let's go to Susan on that point. Susan Candiotti, back at the courtroom there, on this question of the sequestering, many people have said to me it's not likely that this jury have been unable to hear that fact that the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky claimed he too was abused. What do you know about the way he was being sequestered. Is there a complete ban on any technology, any phones, any computers, any television?
CANDIOTTI: Piers, nothing at all. They cannot have a phone. They can't watch TV. There are no newspapers. Computers, forget about it. In fact, the judge even told them time and again, look, when you leave here tonight and you're going to the hotel, you can't call home. If you want to get a message to someone, you talk to someone on our staff here, and they'll be happy to make the phone call for you.
So they're completely cut off from the outside world. So when that revelation was made yesterday that Matt Sandusky, the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky, was now coming forward to say that he had been abused, theoretically, there is no way that the jury should be able to know that information.
Now, somehow could they? I don't see it being possible in this particular case. But remember, before this, they weren't sequestered. This judge allowed this jury to go home each and every day during the trial, with the strict admonition that when you go home, you're not supposed to talk about this case with anybody. You're not supposed to watch television or read the newspaper.
That was probably the bigger danger if everybody was supposed to stick to that rule. If they didn't, they were supposed to let the judge know about it. But during the sequestration, they are not supposed to know about anything, Piers.
MORGAN: You're looking at live pictures outside the courtroom. Jerry Sandusky is inside now with his wife, Dottie. We are awaiting a verdict. We know that the jury has reached a verdict and we are expecting imminently and the general consensus is that it is probably going to be a guilty verdict, but nothing is a certainty in this case.
Let me go back to Lisa Bloom. Obviously a lot of tension there. A lot of mounting excitement that this may be over, we may get justice and so on. If it goes the wrong way, as far as most people, if we get an O.J. Simpson on our hands --
BLOOM: That's assuming that an acquittal is the wrong way. That was the assumption in the Casey Anthony case, for example.
MORGAN: Right, I was going to ask you that point, really. I mean, the court of public opinion has sat with Jerry Sandusky, as it did with Casey Anthony, as it did with O.J. Simpson. Is it important to remind people to focus on the justice system and respect it, whatever the verdict is?
BLOOM: It's very important. Because if you we don't believe in this country that just because the police level an accusation, someone is guilty. We all have the right to go in and defend ourselves. If we make that assumption that you're guilty just because charges have been brought, we're sunk.
MORGAN: Lisa, let me just stop you there. I'm going to go straight to the phone now, as Michael Boni. He's the attorney for victim number one, who was one of the witnesses that gave evidence this week. He's on the phone. Mr. Boni, what is your reaction to this development? We're expecting a verdict any moment.
MICHAEL BONI, ATTORNEY: Yes, I'm waiting with bated breath, as you can imagine, representing victim one and his mother. I feel, as many others have said, that the rapidity with which this jury has reached makes it all but certain it should be a guilty verdict. I am watching the show now and waiting along with you, Piers, to see what happens.
MORGAN: It would be a major shock, I think, if Jerry Sandusky was acquitted. Even his own lead attorney has said today, in a remarkably flippant comment, that he would have a heart attack if Jerry Sandusky was fully acquitted. So there is this consensus of opinion that he's going to be found guilty.
But it would be a hammer blow to your client and to the other young men if he was to be acquitted, wouldn't it?
BONI: I don't think it would be a hammer blow, no. Remember that the standard of proof in a civil case is much more lenient than it is in a criminal case. Remember, the O.J. Simpson case, where he was acquitted and yet find liable in a civil action because all you need is to win with a preponderance of the evidence. Here you need a unanimous verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.
Would it be upsetting? Of course it would be. We hope that justice is served and this man is put away for life. That's our ultimate priority right now. But a hammer blow, I think, overstates it.
MORGAN: Mr. Boni, thank you for now. Let's go to Dr. Janet Taylor, who is a psychologist. She's in New York. Dr. Janet, what is your reaction to what is unfurling at the court room?
DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHOLOGIST: Like every one else, I'm waiting with bated breath. But for the sake of the survivors of this horrible incident, I do hope that justice prevails and that, frankly, a guilty verdict is found.
MORGAN: Let's go back to Susan Candiotti. She's outside the courtroom. This is the breaking news of an imminent verdict in the Jerry Sandusky case. Susan, bring us up to speed with exactly what's happening.
CANDIOTTI: I'll tell you, all people have gathered on the lawn in front of the courthouse. Not only news media, the people in this community as well. Time and again, whenever I've asked anyone what do you think is going to happen, they -- you know, they give their opinions. They think that this has been a terrible, terrible thing for all of them in this community and in this city in particular to have to endure.
They just want it to be over and done with. They want to try to get things back to normal. They want Penn State's reputation repaired as best they can. And mostly you also still hear them talk about coach Joe Paterno, who, remember, when this happened, he was one of the people that Mike McQueary went to and reported something back in 2001. And he later said in an interview, one of the last ones -- the last one he granted before he passed away five months ago this day, that he said I wish I could have done more or would have done more. So this is really a night of great anticipation in this area.
MORGAN: And Susan, just talk me through what the likely timing of the verdict was going to be? How will this work?
CANDIOTTI: That's very important. This judge has been -- has a very tight rein on everything. So the doors are going to be locked when that jury comes in. We have no television coverage and we will have to wait until everything is done, before he unlocks the doors and lets people Tweet and e-mail their messages out about what the verdict is.
MORGAN: It's going to be dramatic and it is expected very eminently. We are -- just bringing you up to speed now, the breaking news that the Jerry Sandusky case is reaching a dramatic conclusion. The jury have reached a verdict after 20 hours of deliberations. We are expecting that verdict to come at any moment, although, as Susan Candiotti just said, it will be held in secret in the court. And the first we will know is when the judge is satisfied that he has finished his process.
We're going to go now live to Anders Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?`