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Debbie Reynolds Dies Day After Her Daughter; Times Square Braces For Massive Celebration; Crime and Justice Stories in 2016; History of Rock Band Chicago

Aired December 29, 2016 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:07] DEBBIE REYNOLDS, ACTRESS: Oh, well, I'm late for my manicure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll meet for dinner at 8:00.

REYNOLDS: Oh, reminds me of a song. She gets too hungry for dinner at 8:00.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I forgot how great she was in this role. That was Debbie Reynolds as Grace's mom in the hit T.V. show "Will and Grace." It was just one and was a small role in relative terms -- in terms of her long and storied and celebrated career in Hollywood. The legendary actress, singer and dancer, she died yesterday at the age of 84 as she and her family at the very same time just beginning to grieve the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who died just the day before her.

Fans of Hollywood's golden era and of musicals along with "Star Wars'" fans all mourning the loss of two iconic performers who inspired people on screen and off. Of course Carrie Fisher also was very brutally honest, was brutally honest candid and witty writer. Her relationship with her mother inspired a lot of her material.

Joining me now, former "People Magazine" editor Larry Hackett and Tony Taconne who directed Carrie Fisher's play "Wishful Drinking." Guys, thank you so much for being here.

Larry, we are talking just a moment ago, it's, it's unbelievable that you lose both of these stars one right after the other, one day apart. What do you make of it?

LARRY HACKETT, FORMER PEOPLE MAGAZINE EDITOR: Well, there's nothing I can do to embellish the irony and the kind of storybook nature of this. I mean, the tragedy is going to be felt all over the place. Yesterday, when I was talking about Carrie Fisher, I said one of the things that connected her to people is that, yes, she was the child of Hollywood royalty. Yes, she lived a life that unlikely the ones that you and I lived. However, it was in her work and her writing that you could become relatable to her, right? He talked about her mother. She talked about her struggles. That's what made the ordinary person relate to them. What happened yesterday is going to be one of those things that people will relate to. The idea of a mother dying, call it heartbreak, whatever it may be, but dying as she was trying to bury her daughter is something any family can relate to.

So, yes, she was famous and yes we knew her for 70 years. That's what makes it the more poignant. We saw this family grow up. You know, celebrity is one of those kinds of things where you think you know them. It's kind of like your neighbor or your friend.

So when things like this happen, had it happened to your cousin or a friend of yours down the street, you'd feel the same way. It's just so unbelievably shocking knowing what they've gone through. The ups and downs of their life. For it to end like this, so publicly at the end of the year that we've all been talking about is just, you know, it's almost too unbelievable, and there's nothing that I can do to underline it than say, you know, everyone's going to think about this. It wasn't -- in the end, it's going to be -- God forgive me, but her greatest act. It will be the -- and it will be remembered forever.

BOLDUAN: From Debbie Reynolds to her daughter. Tony, you know, you knew, I still say know, you knew Carrie Fisher so well. You directed her in her hit show "Wishful Drinking." Where is your head and your heart? I was -- we were actually planning to speak with you yesterday and we didn't have -- we ended up having to postpone it until today. I was going to ask you where is your head and your heart about Carrie Fisher. And then today, where is your head and your heart not just about Carrie Fisher but about Debbie Reynolds?

TONY TACONNE, DIRECTOR, "WISHFUL DRINKING": Well, as Larry said, it's somewhat overwhelming. You know, they were in some ways married at the hip. They had gone through a long periods of estrangement. They -- Carrie had worked very hard to re-embrace her family and her mom. And, you know, they became extremely, extremely close. And, you know, as has been mentioned here, you know, the term, you know, heartbreak in this case is literalized. You know, it's a, it's a shocking and -- it's a really sad day.

BOLDUAN: Do you have a best memory with both of those iconic stars --

TACONNE: Well, yeah. I mean, Carrie's obviously been lauded for her fierce honesty. And the first time that I met her we were, you know, thinking about each other in terms of whether or not we're going to work with each other. And so I went to her house where her mother also lives. You know, like in the same -- the property.

And so, we read through the script and Carrie said, "What do you think?" I said, "Well, it's hysterical obviously, it's really funny. But I think we can work on structural issues." And there's some, there's some acting work that I think, you know, that we can really get after here. And she said, "Have you seen 'Star Wars'? I'm not much of an actress". I mean, and it was disarming. She was like -- and she meant it. She's like, you know. And I said, "Well, you know, maybe we can work through that." She said, "No, I don't think so". So, you know, her self-awareness of what she was good at and what she wasn't good at was astonishing.

[12:35:12] As for Debbie -- I mean, the first audience that we had in Berkeley, the night before Carrie fell ill. And she called her mom and Debbie came right up and they did what they liked to do. They went shopping. And there was a kind of therapeutic aspect to that. And then I had a conversation with Debbie for about half an hour, you know, about, about illness and about frailty, and about her concern for her daughter, who obviously had suffered through a number of illnesses in her life. And so she was very, very concerned as any mom would be, and this particular mom and daughter had been through so much with each other. They had bonded around some kind of shared endurance if you will.

BOLDUAN: That's a really wonderful way of putting it. We actually have a clip. I will try to get it in for us and I want your take Larry. This is Debbie speaking with Oprah Winfrey back in 2011 about the ups and downs that she had -- she and her daughter had in their relationship.


REYNOLDS: When she was doing a film, she had collapsed on the set and they had taken her to Cedars Sinai. Of course I was terrified on that. It was pouring rain so you can just picture in the car with the rain smashing against the windshield and you're crying like mad and you don't know if your daughter's going to be alive when you get there. There have been a few times when I thought that I was going to lose Carrie. I've had to walk through a lot of my tears, but she's worth it.


BOLDUAN: A mother's love. They're very candid, Larry.

HACKETT: Just that story, the idea, you know, if someone else told that from Hollywood, the emphasis might be on other elements. Instead, she's talking about the rain and driving the car and trying to get there. Anybody can relate to that.


HACKETT: That's storytelling. That's what's goes on and that's this connection that I was talking about earlier on, the idea that yes, they're famous and yes we know them, but they're just like anybody else.

BOLDUAN: And they're going through a real true family trauma right now that we all can relate to unfortunately.

HACKETT: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Larry, thank you so much. Tony, thank you. It's great to meet you.

TACCONE: Of course. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Coming up for us, in just two days, about a million people will be jamming into New York's Time Square to ring in the New Year, of course. Check your calendar. So what's being done to keep the celebration safe and secure? Getting an update from police. We'll bring you that live next.


[12:40:25] BOLDUAN: Just two days until we put 2016 behind us and, like every year, that means about 1 million people will pack into New York's Times Square for America's most famous New Year's eve party. CNN's Brynn Gingras is in Times Square right now where they're getting ready for the big party and that also means getting ready for the security situation. Brynn, what do you know?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kate, getting ready. They started getting ready actually when the ball dropped this time last year. So this is a whole year process that they continue to just build upon as they get new information from things happening overseas and here in the U.S. as well according to the NYPD. And some of the new things that they talked about today, things that we've never seen going into the protection of Times Square this year, 65 sand trucks.

Now, of course that's going to ring a bell to you because we saw these vehicles that committed these terrorist attacks in Nice and in Berlin. These sand trucks are going to be all around the perimeter of Times Square as well as 100 barrier trucks which are just department vehicles that are blocking streets so cars cannot get into this area once they shut it down. They're also going to be shutting down streets at certain time, more streets this year. Again, so cars cannot get through here.

So these are lessons that they are continuing to learn from events that are happening overseas and then putting into place right away here in Times Square for this huge event. As you mentioned, over a million people are expected to come here. And the commissioners certainly made a promise to all those people who are planning to come out.


COMMISSIONER JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE: If you're coming down to Times Square, rest assured that it will be a safe venue. The NYPD along with our law enforcement partners will make sure we do our absolute best to keep people safe.


GINGRAS: And of course, we're talking about multilayers of security. And that's -- it's such the key when it comes to the NYPD. They are the people that have the heavily armed -- who are heavily armed. And then they have the people that are in plain clothes, Kate. They have people who for the past couple of weeks have been going into hotels, going into parking garages, visiting truck rental centers, doing things to prepare for this night on Saturday. Again, multilayer and it is a completely secure area. And that's the promise come Saturday, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Brynn, great to see you. Thanks so much. Two days to go. We'll be there. And we will be there.

We'll see the programming note for you. Be sure to tune in to CNN on New Year's Eve as Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin bring in the New Year from Time Square beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Once again, could only imagine what trouble those two are going to get into this time.

Ahead for us, the Mexican drug cartel kingpin known as "El Chapo", he's behind bars right now. His brazen escape though from prison and then he's recapture was one of the biggest crime stories of 2016. We're going to count down the top ten of those crime stories that grabbed the headlines just ahead.


[12:46:24] BOLDUAN: Home grown terror, a drug epidemic hitting almost every corner of the country, and the capture of a notorious drug lord. Crime and justice in the year 2016, Jean Casarez takes a look back at some of the biggest stories and worst criminals of the year.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not going anywhere. We're here to do a job.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A 41-day occupation of the Federal Wild Life Refuge in Oregon ended when four remaining protesters finally surrendered. One of the leading occupiers was killed the month before, heightening tensions. The armed occupiers frustrated with the Feds over land right issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world's most wanted drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman captured.

CASAREZ: Mexican Navy Special Forces captured notorious drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in a pre-dawn raid. Six months earlier, he broke out of a Mexican prison through a hole in his shower stall that led to a tunnel. This was his second escape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heroin is the devil.

CASAREZ: Law enforcement facing a natural heroin epidemic. Ohio police posting this picture to demonstrate the devastating impact on families.

CHIEF JOHN LANE, EAST LIVERPOOL, OHIO POLICE: People do not understand what this drug's doing and how it affects families overall. And the little kids are get caught up in this.

CASAREZ: And the video of a couple overdosing going viral. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I found myself unable to put the heroin down. It's devastation, its pain, its anguish.

CASAREZ: The addiction beginning for some with prescription drugs. The crisis made even worse this year by deadlier drugs. 2016 showed an increase in fentanyl related deaths and overdoses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could make a billion gun arrests a year and it's not going to make a difference.

CASAREZ: More than 700 homicides in Chicago as of December, the worst year for murders in two decades. There are an average of 82 shootings per week.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger.

CASAREZ: Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was released from prison after three months. He was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The move angered the public and the victim's heart wrenching statement seen by millions.

Apple refuses to comply with a California judge's order to help the FBI retrieve information from the iPhone of San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook. The phone was unlocked by a third party but Apple's refusal set a precedent for future cases that tech companies asserting their constitutional rights may refuse to comply with a court subpoena power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been an explosion that's taking place in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

CASAREZ: The act of a lone wolf terrorist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody get off the street.

CASAREZ: 29 injured, no one was killed. Two other devices found in New Jersey. This one detonated by the bomb squad. 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami was captured after a shootout days later with police in New Jersey.

In February, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the outspoken conservative voice, the longest serving justice, died in his sleep. Who would appoint his replacement and what impact will that have became front page news in this election year. President Obama's attempt to replace him blocked by Republicans. The next justice will be appointed by President-elect Trump.

[12:50:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me get his head up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please don't tell me he's dead.

CASAREZ: Police shootings and race relations dominated the conversation, reaching a crescendo for four days in July.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a gun.

CASAREZ: Alton Sterling shot by police in Louisiana, Philando Castille shot by police in Minnesota, both died from their wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just four cops down.

CASAREZ: And then in Dallas in the evening hours of July 8th, 12 police officers shot, 5 killed during protests as a gunman ambushed police. It ended when a bomb squad robot killed the gunman after negotiations failed.

DAVID BROWN, FORMER DALLAS POLICE CHIEF: This must stop. This divisiveness between our police and our citizens.

CASAREZ: It was the deadliest single incident for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11. Other shootings of and by police officers would follow, reigniting the national debate about law enforcement in the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can hear the shotguns closer and I looked over and he shoots the girl next to me. And I'm just there laying down and thinking, I'm next, I'm dead.

CASAREZ: The deadliest mass shooting in America, 49 killed, 53 wounded during a gunman's rampage inside Orlando's Pulse Nightclub in June. Killer, Omar Mateen telling police he was a soldier of ISIS, was killed after a three-hour standoff with police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the victims who died were under the age of 40, young men and women full of dreams and full plans.


BOLDUAN: Jean, thank you so much for that.

We are continuing to follow breaking news. A ceasefire to go into effect in Syria in just hours. Will it hold? Are there assurances.

Also ahead on CNN, President-elect Donald Trump's incoming White House spokesman will be joining us live. What will the president-elect do about that war-torn nation and America's relationship with Russia who brokered that ceasefire deal? We'll be right back.


[12:55:26] BOLDUAN: On New Year's Day, the latest CNN Film explores the hit band, Chicago. The group's 50 years topping the charts. It started like in 1967 with hit after hit spanning decades. Chicago remains one of most legendary groups in rock and roll history. Here is a sneak peek of the film.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She came in with his big entourage and she dropped her brush right off my feet and she went, hey (inaudible), pick up the brush. And I said, pick up your own brush. When you get done with that, after you pick it up, apologize to me that you talked to me that way. Well, she picked up the brush and she said, I'm sorry.

And that was the start of a thing where she hung with us and she showed us what she did to command on the stage. Well, probably she could really handle people and we went on the tour, the last big tour on the west coast. That was the last tour that Big Brother and the holding company with Janis Joplin did. We saw their last show.


BOLDUAN: That's pretty awesome. Joining me now, Walter Parazaider, a saxophonist is the founding member of Chicago. Walt, it is great to see you and great to meet you.

WALTER PARAZAIDER, FOUNDING MEMBER OF CHICAGO: It's great to be seen and I have to say at this hour, there would have been a time that when we would do something like this, we'd stay up all night and walk in the studio and fall flat on our face. So you know what, I'm awake and those days are past.

BOLDUAN: That sounds like my typical Monday. That's how I roll into the studio every, every Monday morning. So Walt, what did you think when they came to you about a CNN documentary about Chicago?

PARAZAIDER: I like your style.

BOLDUAN: Did you think it was -- did you think I was serious when we said, we want to look at Chicago, we want to follow Chicago's success for a full documentary?

PARAZAIDER: Well, it's something that came about, if I have time to say it. We were thinking about this so good five years ago and then put it into effect about three years ago. And the real purpose of -- there's just so many urban legends and people that were in the band that were saying this happened and that, this one started the band, this one sabotaged the band or whatever. When you see this documentary which you were all gracious enough to put on your fine station, you're going to know the real story of how we started our band from start to finish, and there's no finish yet, and I can only say you ain't seen nothing yet.

BOLDUAN: That's a good tease. What do you attribute to Chicago's success? Fifty-plus -- 50 years in the business, you're still rocking, you're still touring today. What's the secret?

PARAZAIDER: It's the love of music. You know, it's a brotherhood. And the people that have come by from the start were dedicated to try to be -- we want to make the best band possible. And we were asked later on -- I think I was asked later on, what would you like to be known as. And I took part of a John Lennon retort and I said, you know, I'd like to be known as a good little rock and roll band with horns.

And I think we've achieved that. And three of the horn players, we've been together 49 years, Robert Lamm has been with us the whole time. So we've kept the essence of the band and the core of the band together and it's -- we have a tremendous respect for each other. Even though we can fight like cats and dogs, like brothers in a marriage.

BOLDUAN: So what does 2017 hold for Chicago?

PARAZAIDER: So you know what, it's a lot of fun. Pardon me?

BOLDUAN: What does 2017 hold for you guys?

PARAZAIDER: I didn't catch that.

BOLDUAN: Guys, can you drop the sound. I think he's having a hard time hearing over that. What does 2017 hold for you guys, Walt?

PARAZAIDER: Well, the things -- what do you think we have left?

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

PARAZAIDER: Is that what --

BOLDUAN: What more you gonna give us?

PARAZAIDER: I'm -- yeah, I'm, I'm missing out on something here with my ear piece to tell you the truth.

[13:00:05] BOLDUAN: I think we're having -- unfortunately, I think we're having audio technical difficulties with Walt. But Walt Parazaider, great to meet you. Thank you so much. We're all be watching and enjoying this documentary along with you. Be sure to tune in Sunday night at 8:00 for, Now More Than Ever: The History --