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Trump Administration Defends Family Separations; Nielsen: I Didn't Create A Policy To Separate Families; Trump: Democrats Are At Fault For Separating Families; Report: Naturalized Citizens At Risk For Application Lies; Kinhua: Kim Jong-Un To Visit China This Week; U.S.-South Korea Call Off August Military Exercises; Merkel Has Two Weeks To Reach Migration Deal; Fires Scorch Gaza. Aired 12m-1a ET
Aired June 19, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the U.S. president digs in defending his policy of forced family separation at the U.S. border despite growing criticism and outrage that is inhumane and simply un- American.
Strutting the globe, Kim Jong-un takes another international trip. The once reclusive leader heading back to Beijing.
And flying a kite to attack Israel, the low-tech weapons Palestinians are now using to hit Israelis near the border with Gaza.
Hello. It's great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
When the Trump administration talks about zero tolerance at the border and forcibly separates children from their parents, this is what happens.
VAUSE: The recording was made last week inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility obtained by the investigative non-profit group, ProPublica. Since the Trump administration announced the policy back in April, at least 2,000 children have been taken from their families and placed in detention facilities.
Critics are calling the family separations inhumane. They say it's un-American. It's (inaudible) on child abuse, but the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen insists the children are being treated well and the president is digging in. He says the policy is needed to protect the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. Won't be. You look at what's happening in Europe, look at what's happening in other places, we can't allow that to happen to the United States, not on my watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Alison Leal Parker is the managing director of the U.S. program for Human Rights Watch. She joins us live from Oakland in California. Alison, thanks for coming in. We heard from the U.N. high commissioner. He's the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, just another person who's spoken out against the Trump/Sessions policy of family separations. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZEID RA'AD AL-HUSSEIN, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: In the United States, I'm deeply concerned by recently adopted policies which punish children for their parents' actions. In the past six weeks, nearly 2,000 children have been forcibly separated from their parents. The American Association of Pediatrics has called this cruel practice government sanctioned child abuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Right now, does this Trump/Sessions policy of forced family separation break any international laws? Is it in defiance of any international agreements or covenants?
ALISON LEAL PARKER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, U.S. PROGRAM, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: It is indeed. This policy is a choice by this administration, not required by U.S. laws in any means. And it's a policy that runs contrary to the refugee convention, which is very clear that no refugee should be prosecuted for entering a country unlawfully.
That doesn't mean that the individuals can't be dealt with in a legal process, but they shouldn't be criminally prosecuted. That's what's happening right now. Another factor that's at the front for us is the fact that children must always be treated in a manner that's in their best interests.
And that is not, obviously, happening in this policy where we see 5- year-olds sobbing for their mothers, 2-year-olds taken care of by teenagers, having their diapers changed by people they don't know. Sleeping on cold floors. Wailing because they don't know what's happening next, where they are, or where their parents are.
VAUSE: What about the fact that this Trump/Sessions policy has been specifically designed as a form of punishment or deterrent. It was outlined in documents obtained by CNN under the heading prosecution initiative.
[00:05:03] Basically, they don't look at, you know, the policy itself as a deterrent, but they basically said the full impact of what they're doing, this policy initiative will not be fully realized in two to three weeks following public messaging.
However, some migrants already under way may temporary halt to determine the effects of the new policy. So, in other words, they knew that this is going to be the end result. That it was going to be cruel and that it will get through, and now we are hoping that it would bring down the numbers. The numbers went up. Do any other governments around the world engage in this type of cruelty as a means of deterrence?
PARKER: The simple answer is no. The Trump administration is an outlier amongst advanced democracies. No other government is forcibly separating parents from their children. Other governments, like the Netherlands do sometimes detain asylum seekers, but they keep families together.
Even Australia, which has a very reprehensible policy in its treatment of asylum seekers holding them in deplorable conditions on remote islands like Nauru (ph) and Papua New Guinea, still Australia keeps families together. This administration can change this policy and it should do so immediately, and it represents a very serious human rights crisis.
VAUSE: I don't know if you listen to Talk Back Radio in the U.S. but on Monday the conservative commentator, Rush Limbaugh, defended this Trump/Sessions immigration policy. This is a quick byte of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: This is all about asylum seekers, folks. It's about people attempting to invade our country, not immigrate here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, the thing about Rush is very good at articulating what the president and his supporters believe. In this case asylum is not a legal, valid process. Is that the sense you have?
PARKER: I think there's definitely truth in that. That is what they seem to believe. However, what's so crazy about this policy is that it's distracting prosecutors on the border from real public safety threats. They don't want to be spending their time prosecuting people for a misdemeanor offense and separating families.
They need to focus on other threats to the country and those threats are not these families coming with small children. The attempt to undermine the credibility of these asylum seekers I have to say is not unique to this administration, although it has taken it to a new level.
But the reality is, Human Rights Watch has investigated conditions in the countries that these countries are fleeing from, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and these conditions are serious conditions of violence, persecution of direct and individualized threats against people's lives. They're fleeing for their lives. Deterrence is not going to work.
VAUSE: At the same time, as we have this sort of policy of family separation. The Trump administration is making it harder for asylum seekers to simply obtain asylum by narrowing the definition of who's entitled to asylum, and also making it difficult physically to reach an international port, which is where you have to file your request.
PARKER: That's correct. This administration is cracking down on all sides. On a long-standing international principle that people fleeing actual persecution are refugees and they should have their status recognized.
That doesn't mean that every migrant who attempts to enter the country illegally is a genuine refugee, and we have procedures to determine who is. This administration is paying no attention to those procedures and is lumping everyone together and obviously harming families and children at the same time.
VAUSE: I think they were saying like 200,000 applications for asylum in 2016 and about 20,000 applications were successful. Alison, thank you. Appreciate it.
PARKER: My pleasure. Thank you.
VAUSE: Let's bring in our panel here in Los Angeles, Talk Radio host, Ethan Bearman, Republican strategist, Luis Alvarado.
Luis, as awful as the images that we've seen, as cruel and heartless as this policy is, there's a chunk of the Trump base, they like it. They want to see these people turned away. They think asylum is a scam.
LUIS ALVARADO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This is basically a self- inflicted Katrina. It's a disaster politically. There will be consequences. I think they measured the consequences and they're perfectly fine with it. It's collateral damage to them for the fight that they see.
It's important for the position of nationalism, being protectionist, and that's basically what this small group of Republicans, because not all Republicans as we've seen today, are in agreement with the president and Jeff Sessions and these policies.
VAUSE: The secretary of Homeland Security had a train wreck of a news conference on Monday. Apparently defending the indefensible is pretty hard. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[00:10:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you intending for this to play out as it is playing out? Are you intending for parents to be separated from their children? Are you intending to send a message?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I find that offensive. No. Because why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps it's a deterrent.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: You know, Ethan, personally offensive. I mean, it seems so hard to believe. You know, CNN obtained those documents from the Department of Homeland Security, titled persecution initiative. Wrongly predicted there would be a quick fall off in the number of asylum seekers, the numbers have gone the other way. It's pretty clear if this wasn't the goal of the policy they knew this was the outcome.
ETHAN BEARMAN, TALK RADIO HOST: There's no question. Keep in mind, it was General Kelly almost a year and a half ago now when he was the head of the DHS who said this is what we are going to do. They've been planning, preparing, and now they're executing this plan, which is absolutely abhorrent, it's immoral, it's wrong.
And I would add to something, not all Republicans are on board with this. Every living first lady of the United States of America has come out and said this must end including Laura Bush who doesn't speak about political things.
VAUSE: Never said a word and notably Melania Trump as well has weighed in. We also heard from Nielsen talking about how well the children were being treated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIELSEN: We have high standards, we give them meals, education, medical care, there's videos, TVs. I've visited the detention centers myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Sounds awesome. Luis, they could be staying at the Ritz in Montecarlo, and that's going to do nothing to erase the trauma of being separated from your mom and dad.
ALVARADO: A golden cage is still a cage at the end of the day.
VAUSE: It's not even a golden cage.
ALVARADON: Well, you know, in their mind, they think that's what they're providing. But there's nothing like the warmth sense of a loved one who is going to hold you and hug you. You know, that ping- pong tables that they saw is not going to go and hug a child and give them the nurturing sense of security that they truly need. Let's be understanding here, a line has been crossed by this administration. It's been crossed --
VAUSE: We've heard that so many times before, though.
ALVARADO: No. This is different. I've never seen a reaction to anything that this administration has done like I'm seeing today, and it's not over yet. I think America has finally woken up. The question is, will our representatives on the Hill do the same thing and find the courage and represent the constituents, which they took an oath to represent. VAUSE: Ethan, I think what terrifies me in some respect is what will they do next? Because each time they cross the line, then they cross the line now, they've gone too far, and then they cross another line, and then it gets from bad to worse to even worse.
BEARMAN: What's next is an actual deportation force. I do believe that is the case. I've been arguing about this since before the election. Trump was very clear he wants a deportation force. This is the step before a deportation force where they actually go out and send ICE agents across the United States and do much greater sweeps and round as many people up as they possible can --
VAUSE: The Muslim registry.
BEARMAN: Same concept as well.
VAUSE: Any question about the treatment of minors was meant to be answered by a 1997 court ruling, which has three mandates. First the detention treaty as brief as possible with immediate efforts being taken to find a parent, relative or qualified adult with whom the child could live.
Second, the children should be treated with dignity and respect that recognize the vulnerabilities that accompany childhood. And third, the detention should be in the least restrictive facility possible -- a facility less like a jail than a day care. Luis, those chain link fences I haven't seen them in any day care centers.
ALVARADO: I can't bear to think the thought of a family member or a child of my family being incarcerated in those conditions. It's mind boggling that such pain has been inflicted on these children. For this administration, for my party as a Republican, to stand by and accept this policy as American as the future of this country is completely against anything that I stand for.
VAUSE: What's bizarre is that Donald Trump keeps going out and insisting he's implementing a law which was passed by Democrats and he can't do anything about it. Here he is again today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I say it's very strongly the Democrats' fault. They are really obstructionists and they are obstructing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, Ethan, what's really bizarre about this, the president is committed to following an imaginary law, which doesn't exist to the letter while ignoring policy standards which is set by a court ruling back in 1997.
BEARMAN: It's beyond. This is the worst of the worst I have heard many Trump supporters today talking about things like, it's like a summer camp, taking what DHS Secretary Neilsen said. It's like a summer camp. [00:15:12] Summer camps where the employees if you saw the job posting to go work at this detention facility, it's basically a prison guard. These are children. There's nobody there to deal with the psychological consequence of ripping a child away from their parent.
We have a president who wants to turn this into another one of his weird political ball games where it's the Democrats, no, it was you who chose to implement a new policy and your attorney general was running around the country proud of it up until today.
VAUSE: This law can't be changed because it's the Democrats and we need the Democrats numbers, they put the law forward. You know, so here's a civics lesson for the president.
VAUSE: You know, Luis, the Republicans, they control the House, the Senate, the White House, if the president and the Republicans wanted to change the law, they could. The Democrats are ready.
ALVARADO: There's a vote tomorrow.
ALVARADO: On an immigration bill, and I think in their minds they thought this was going to be a catalyst for him to get his money for his wall and there would be --
VAUSE: The kids are being held hostage for the wall.
ALVARADO: Yes. At the end of day that is the strategy they subscribe to. I think it's hurting them. It's exploding in their faces. Right now, as we sit here, I'm sure there are strategy meetings happening. What's going to happen tomorrow, the vote, how do they spin when they don't pass it through the House.
VAUSE: OK, what's interesting, though, it's not just asylum seekers being targeted by this administration, green card holders are next. According to the "Washington Examiner," The Trump administration is creating an office within the Homeland Security Department to strip immigrants of their naturalized citizenship or green card status if they are discovered to have lied on formal applications about their immigration status."
Ethan, so by targeting 20 million green card holders, including me, it's essentially taking away the assumption of permanence.
BEARMAN: Yes. It's cruel and unusual punishment. I'm going to be curious to see if that actually will hold up under a court of law in terms of due process. Because a green card holder is anybody who's here undocumented. We do have process that applies to them that's been upheld all the way up to the Supreme Court, and to just viciously go after green card holders, that's like beyond now.
VAUSE: It's 20 million people.
BEARMAN: And U.S. citizens who were actually --
VAUSE: You'll be next. Anyone who defies whatever law the Trump administration decides warrants a stripping of your citizenship. The mandate is to go after those who deliberately lied not those who made an honest mistake, but that is so fuzzy.
I'll give you an example. Question 26 of the green card applications, have you ever committed a crime of any kind, even if you were not arrested or charged for that crime. Is that a crime under current U.S. law, previous law, is that a crime in the country you're coming from? I mean, this is so vague and nebulous, you could really get done here.
ALVARADO: You stole the cookie from your mom's cabinet.
BEARMAN: That's a crime.
VAUSE: This could be used in so many different ways if this actually comes to pass.
BEARMAN: It will be. This is again what some of us warned about and everybody is like Trump's not such a bad guy, everything is going to be just fine. We saw this coming with his rhetoric from the day he started his campaign. This is what he and his supporters want.
This is what happens when you court white nationalists, supremacists say they are fine people on both sides of the Charlottesville march. When you start attacking the Mexicans are sending us their rapists, and there's my African-American in the audience. This is appealing to the worst in people, the darkest side, the union shadow as it's called. It's bad for America and bad for the world as a whole.
VAUSE: Luis, last word, should we have seen this coming?
ALVARADO: Yes, we should have.
VAUSE: What should we have done about it?
ALVARADO: We should have stood up and spoken up, and say, you know, we look at history -- Mr. Rice, my high school history teacher said he who forgets history is doomed to repeat it. Exactly. If you go back in history, you see those people who said this doesn't pertain to me, I shouldn't get involved, are the ones that ultimately responsible for the government that we have today.
VAUSE: OK. It's a depressing day, but it's good to talk to you. Both of you, thank you so much.
OK, while North Korea may be basking in its newfound friendship with the U.S., its leader paying his respects to his northern neighbor. We'll have details on that in just a moment.
And an annual military exercise, it's now off. Ahead, the U.S. and South Korea make good on President Trump's pledge to Kim Jong-un. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Just weeks after starting a new relationship with the United States, Kim Jong-un is planning a trip to see one of his oldest allies, China. Flying to Beijing now, Matt Rivers. Matt, this announcement was made by China state media, no surprise it didn't come with a lot of details. But what are the expectations for this one, a third meeting in just a couple of months.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we know that Kim Jong-un is here. There has been video released by Reuters actually of the convoy making its way to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, which is where foreign leaders usually go.
We know that Kim Jong-un left Pyongyang this morning. That's how we kind of got word about this. There's plane watchers that are saying there was a specially outfitted plane heading to Pyongyang to Beijing. It prompted a lot of speculation that Kim Jong-un was coming here.
As you know, John, these visits are never publicly announced in advance. We only usually know when Kim Jong-un arrives, but he is here. We know he's going to be here today, tomorrow and then go back to Pyongyang.
And the visit isn't necessarily a huge surprise given that this is the third time these leaders have met in the last several months. We were actually expecting Xi Jinping to maybe go to Pyongyang for the third visit, but as is the case, Kim Jong-un coming here to Beijing.
And look, they're going to talk about that summit, about what Kim Jong-un spoke with about the ongoing nuclear program with Donald Trump, what denuclearization means in the eyes of the Kim Jong-un regime.
And China, as they have done over the past several months, you can expect Xi Jinping to really continue to push their strategic interests on Kim Jong-un. And make sure that Kim Jong-un in these negotiations going forward is representing Chinese interests at that table.
VAUSE: He's getting around these days like never before, the North Korean leader. Matt, good to see you. Thank you.
It is official, the U.S. and South Korea are calling off an annual joint military exercise that was scheduled for this August. Making good on President Trump's pledge to end what he called wargames during his summit with the North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un.
Alexandra Field is in Seoul, South Korea. She joins me now live. So, Alex, there was obviously a lot of shock when Donald Trump first made this announcement. No one was too sure what it meant, but I guess now we do.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, shock and surprise. Now the work is being done to decipher what exactly the president meant because there are implications here on a number of levels, John. These particular exercises which were scheduled to take place in August have been going on for some 40 years.
They're meant to be defensive in nature and defense officials have always said that they're about maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
[00:25:11] now the president has called them off and the Pentagon is implementing that. These are diplomatic implications here because these are joint exercises with South Korea, but also involve a number of other countries that participate every year.
It seemed when the president made that surprise announcement during the presser after his meeting with Kim Jong-un that he had surprised even some of his allies, including South Korea, which said that they were working to understand what exactly the president meant.
And now it seems his defense officials were left in the same position. So, there were some practical implications here as well. Defense officials now have to translate this statement that the president made to put an end to war games into policy or at least military guidance because war games simply aren't a military term.
So, the Pentagon now says that what they intend to do is to stop all planning for the August exercises. There are two major military exercises that take place each year between the U.S. and South Korea.
These exercises which were scheduled for August and also exercises that happen in the springtime. The Pentagon is saying that no further decisions have been made beyond the August exercises. There will be a meeting at the Pentagon later this week to try and determine what the future could look like.
South Korean defense officials said they're working closely with the United States to try and determine what the next steps are. None of that is clear at this point because again war games not a military term but something the president said needed to be stopped because he believes that they're provocative and simply not appropriate at a time when he's trying to negotiate with North Korea -- John.
VAUSE: They're also legal under international law unlike North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Alex, thank you. Good to see you.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has two weeks to reach an agreement with fellow European Union leaders on a new migration policy, but it could be just a temporary reprieve from a simmering rebellion back home within her own ruling coalition.
The Conservative Christian Social Union Party wants to tighten restrictions on migrants entering Germany. The chancellor has acknowledged she is under pressure which could cost her the leadership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): That's why we believe that uncoordinated rejections at our borders as a country at the heart of Europe could lead to negative domino effects, which could also be to Germany's detriment, and ultimately lead to the question of European unity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The U.S. president has stepped into the fray with the tweet, the people of Germany are turning against their leadership on migration as it's rocking the already the U.S.-Berlin coalition. He added this, "Crime in Germany is way up," that's wrong for the president, crime in Germany is the lowest it's been since the early 1990s.
Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., a low-tech threat in the form of fire kites that's putting Israel on high alert.
JOHN VAUSE: You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angles I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour. Donald Trump again falsely blaming Democrats for a policy of his administration specifically designed to separate immigrant families at the U.S. border. The president says the U.S. will not be coming a migrant camp or refugee holding facility. Critics say the policy borders on child abuse. U.S. and South Korea suspending annual military exercises that were planned for this August. That's after president Trump vowed to end what he called war games. The summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has two weeks to reach agreement with the E.U. on a new immigration policy or face the possibility of her coalition government collapsing. Her parties junior partner wants kinder restrictions, while the balance seekers (ph) trying to enter Germany. (Inaudible) is creating fires and serious concerns in Israel. CNN's Ian Lee reports on this latest threat floating over the boarder Gaza.
IAN LEE: A brush fire scorches a forest in Southern Israel. Firefighters battle the blaze but no matter how hard they try they can't extinguish the cause. Hundreds of kites and balloons from Gaza that carry this fire storm. Fires like these have caused over $2 million dollars in damages. And when I speak to firefighters they say that number is likely to rise as they battle between 20 to 30 blazes a day. Nearby farmers work the fields. They keep a weary eye. Hundreds of acres of farm land have been reduced to ash. So far no one has been hurt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You need to keep alert. The fire can whip up without you knowing. If your trapped in squalls in the middle of the squall field you could be burned to death or suffocate from the smoke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: Israel recently retaliated against what they call terror kites and balloons. With the air force striking nine targets in Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If anyone believes that these daily routine of kites and fires in the South of Israel is just going to keep happening, they are wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: The kites will continue, at least that what Gazans say. It doesn't take much, some sticks and plastic and a bag of dried plants and coal. A low tech weapon challenging Israel's high tech defenses. They're part of larger month long protest movement along the border with Israel in which over 100 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My message to Israel is to stop threatening protestors and kite makers because no matter what you do, even if you target us with rockets, we will not stop. Our protestors will be strong (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: When the kites are ready the wind drifts them across into Israel. Kamikaze drones try to knock them down with limited success. And this is where Gazan's hope those kites land, here in dry fields that can quickly turn into a brush fire. Raining fire from above, all the while stoking tensions along the fence dividing Gaza and Israel. Ian Lee, CNN in Kissufim, Israel.
VAUSE: When we come back here on News Room L.A. the hot lines are familiar but the casts are quite different. The female movie reboots Friend, more on that in just a moment.
VAUSE: Calling anybody who would like to work in space as a new member of the military of the - the U.S. military actually. It's a new military force which president Donald Trump says is necessary for the United States to have dominance in space. At a meeting with his national space council on Monday he said that he wants the Pentagon to set up a brand new force of branch of the armed forces, Space Force.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: But not so fast, creating a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces would require congressional approval that maybe tough to get because some in congress just don't actually see the need for it. Hollywood is down for remakes. If something worked it's repackaged with a new cast and there's hope for a similar success on original. Oceans' 8 is the latest in a recent trend of rebooting movies with women in the previous roles played by men. The all female remakes are appearing during the me too movement but reactions can be a little bit mixed. Some find it empowering, others maybe just annoying retrends (ph). Well for a closer look at all of this Rebecca Sun joins us now, she a senior reporter for the Hollywood Reporter. Good to see you.
REBECCA SUN, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER : You as well.
VAUSE: OK so it's not just Oceans 8 because all of this started about two years ago with the Ghostbusters reboot and of course you know that was Melissa McCarthy and there was a whole lot of hate on that movie ...
VAUSE: ... because people say it's nothing like the original. But now what was the one of sort of like a genre over Oceans 8. there's a new version of Back to School it's called Life of the Party starring Melissa McCarthy playing what Rodney Dangerfield did. And there's a remake of Overboard which is the original Goldy Hawn as the high society snob, Kurt Russell was the working class single parent, those are also being flipped. And there's also a whole bunch of other ones in the works, what do we've got. What Women Want, Dirty Rotten Spandrels, Lord of the Flies, Splash, What about Bob.
OK clearly (ph) loves the reboot because they have no originality and they'll have to use things over, over and over again but is there something more to this?
SUN: Well I mean I think there's two trends here. One is definitely Hollywood loves a reboot and you can see on TV, you know the next fall seasons going to have Magnum PI on it. Last season we had a new MacGyver, we had a Lethal Weapon. And so there - it's easy to trade on existing intellectual property and not have to seek a risk. Right with telling a new story that people might not have an existing fan base for. But certainly this is a really good time to go and you can call it course correction or you can call it expanding new opportunities for a community of people who didn't have an opportunity to star in all of those movies back in the 80's and 90's.
VAUSE: What is it - I read - sort of about this in the New York Times and there's one line which kind of seemed to sum up the problems and the challenges. Someone wrote these reboots women to relive men's stories instead of fabricating their own. And they're subtly expected to fid these old films to neutralize their sexism and infuse then with feminism, to rebuild them into good movies with good politics too. They have to do everything the men did except backwards and with ideals. Play on the whole you know ...
SUN: Right, that's a great line.
VAUSE: ... backwards in heels. So there's so many expectations on these movies there's not a lot of room for the movie to be a good movie. Is it?
SUN: Sometimes you can see that. I mean I think that some criticism of Ghostbusters or with Oceans is that it to lavishly (ph) has to hold to certain tropes, you know you have to have - OK I need the Brad Pitt equivalent, I may need the George Clooney equivalent and that sort of and so on down the line. You know but on the other hand I don't think that Amanda has his quote in there was necessarily a bad thing. I mean I think it's great if you have the opportunity to correct certain things that were blind spots before, I don't think it's bad to - you know sort of reverse the ...
VAUSE: Fix the wreck load (ph) again. And it certainly is - one of the points that some critics have made is that the reboot still exist in the shadow of a man.
SUN: That can sometimes be the case. I mean again sometimes it's sort of self fulfilling prophecy because like with Ghostbusters for example people were so - some people were so apposed to it that there's was no way that script - they wouldn't even admit that that was a good movie even if they actually felt that it was.
VAUSE: It was bizarre.
SUN: And certainly, there's always a risk in rebooting (ph) any property, it doesn't matter if it's gender flipped or not, people always love the original. This is why there's so much fearer (ph) over like episodes seven and eight of Star Wars. People liked episodes four and five.
VAUSE: OK. Of course, Ghost Busters was not the first gender flipped reboot. If we want to find out the very first one, I think, let's go all the way back to 1982, Michelle Fifer (ph) would odd -- (inaudible)
SUN: Oh my gosh.
VAUSE: This is the worst career decision of her life.
(VIDEO CLIP BEGINS)
(VIDEO CLIP ENDS)
VAUSE: OK. Yes, it was the never to be talked about sequel, Grease 2. What was interesting though is that Michelle Fifer (ph) played Stephanie (ph) which was the original Danny (ph) but the bad guy...
SUN: The biker chick.
VAUSE: The rebel without a cause character. And then there was the (inaudible) was played by some guy who I never saw before.
SUN: Oh, Maxwell Caufield (ph).
VAUSE: Never heard of him again. You know, and it was really interesting. Two guy (ph) how they introduced Michelle Fifer (ph) in the film.
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VAUSE: OK. It was awful, it was so bad. And I guess -- I guess the point this is that they -- all the best intentions in the world of you breaking the record, righting the wrongs, getting rid of misogyny, getting rid of the sexism, but if the movie sucks, it sucks.
SUN: If it sucks, you can't blame it on the fact that Danny (ph) was girl this time.
SUN: It's just because of the writing and the hoakyness (ph). And actually, I think with Grease 2, it was because it was just a craving cash grab.
VAUSE: Oh, was it?
SUN: The reason too -- too popular is that they made a sequel when it didn't really beg for one.
VAUSE: (Inaudible) if you ever look at Grease, that was one of the most -- the messages that come out of Grease is like -- so the worst messages that Hollywood has ever put out.
SUN: The lyrics to Summer Night are...
VAUSE: (Inaudible) smoking leather pants wearing fluffy (ph) head woman to the man. And that was incredibly successful. But again, yes, so the thing is you calculate the wrongs, if you like. If the movie is still bad.
SUN: I think it always has to go back to story. You could -- I mean, anything with lofty societal ideals, but if you don't have a good story, if you don't have characters that make sense. Then it doesn't matter. All your good intentions do not matter. At the end of the day, audiences just want a good story.
VAUSE: Yes, absolutely. Rebecca, thank you. I'm going to go watch Grease 2 again, I think when we get through.
SUN: I liked it.
VAUSE: No you did not. No one liked it. That's impossible. Thanks Rebecca. And thank you for watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. And then we'll be back at the top of the hour with a lot more news from around the world. You're watching CNN.