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Senate Voted for Criminal Justice Reform, First Step Act; Steve Coogan and John Reilly's New Film, "Stan and Ollie". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 19, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here is what's coming up.
A Christmas miracle, a bipartisan success works its way through Congress. Why Democrats and Republicans are coming together to pass criminal justice
Then, having a laugh with actors John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan. How they became the iconic comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy, in the new film, "Stan and
Plus, leading the charge against climate change, we take a lap around the world with "New York Times" journalists, Somini Sengupta.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Now, after years of hyper partisanship in Congress, this week marked one of the first across the aisle trumps of the Trump era, as the Senate
overwhelmingly voted for criminal justice reform, it is called the First Step Act.
It made strange bedfellows of progressive Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren and conservative super donors the Koch Brothers. The law is also
expected to pass the House. It would give judges flexibility when it comes to mandatory minimum sentencing as well as boosting efforts to rehabilitate
Currently, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the entire world. Latest numbers showing that more than 2 million people are
behind bars in the U.S. with African-Americans disproportionately represented.
Joining me now is the senior vice president and general counsel for Koch Industries, Mark Holden, and former Obama staffer, Van Jones, who along
with Kim Kardashian West was brought in by President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on a successful campaign to persuade the president to bag
Gentlemen, welcome to the program.
MARK HOLDEN, SENIOR VP AND GENERAL COUNSEL, KOCH INDUSTRIES: Thank you. Good to be here.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's nice to be here.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you know, this is a big hype that's going on. Should I be worried about anything? I mean, is everything there that meets the eye?
JONES: Yes. , you know,, it's funny. I think people -- we've gotten so conditioned, and I think rightfully so, expect nothing but bad stuff and
worse stuff from the Trump administration, especially those of us on the left, such that the idea that he could do 99 things bad but still do one
thing good, most people can't get their brains wrapped around.
But this is one of those things. It's a Christmas miracle. It is not that you have to see it to believe it, you actually have to believe it to see
it. Do you believe that ordinary people can come together and do good for people at the bottom or not? If you believe that, welcome to America
AMANPOUR: So, Mark Holden, you know, we wanted to report good news, we want to report successes when they happen. But what on earth brought the
super conservative, Koch Brothers, into this particular aspect of social reform, let's face it?
HOLDEN: Yes. I don't -- well, Charles and David are super people. I don't know if they're super conservative, they're actually classical
liberals. But what brought us to the table are pretty much the same type of thing that brought Van and his team to the table. We believe in
fundamental liberty, we believe in fairness, we believe in equal justice, we believe in second chances and we believe in breaking barriers to
opportunity for everybody, particularly the least advantaged.
And if you look at our criminal justice system, what's been going in the last 30 or 40 years, it's been a huge poverty trap and it hasn't made us
safer overtime, we've wasted a lot of money, we've wasted a lot of human potential as well. And what we've learned though in the last 10 to 15
years with the success of all the states, like Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Delaware, you name it, that you can keep people safe and also make
sure that they're getting rehabilitated while in prison. And when they come out, they're less violent, they're less trouble, they're more
productive, they don't hurt anybody else, so you save a lot of money.
So, in a red state like Texas, in the past 10 years they've close down eight prisons, saved over $4 billion and they have a crime rate that we
haven't seen since the mid-1960s. So, that's what we want and it needs to happen at the federal level, in particular, they need to get on board,
they're way behind. But this First Step Act is a really good start.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you did say less money and saving money and all the rest. So, that goes to a little bit of a small government, a motivation
perhaps from your side, but I'll dig down deep in a moment.
Just for our viewers, for the sake of all of our understanding, Van, what exactly does this act do? What does this bill now do?
JONES: Great. Listen, it lets 100 percent of the people who are locked up come home earlier if they stay out of trouble, it gives the incentive for
people to just stay out of trouble, it gives 100 percent of the women who are locked up their freedom not to be shackled and otherwise, mistreated
when they're having babies and stuff like that, it makes 100 percent of the people who are locked up to be kept closer to their families and otherwise.
And then for half of the people who are locked up, it gives them the opportunity to get job ready and earn the right to come home even sooner.
It also cleans up some of the really bad mandatory minimums that happened during the crack era in a retroactive way, so a couple 1,000 people can
come home. They're sitting there based on outdated sentences.
But let me just say this, the left and right have come together on this for principled reasons. Conservatives in this country who believe in limited
government, who believe -- who are Christian conservatives who believe in dignity and second chances for people and redemption, who are libertarians
and don't want the government eating up a bunch of rights, they are offended by this mass incarceration.
Those of us on the left who care about social justice and racial justice and those issues, we are also are offended. So, I have not stopped being a
progressive and he has not stopped being a libertarian.
If you have any principles at all, they would be offended by what is happening with mass incarceration in United States. And so, all of us are
just standing on our own principles more firmly and standing together.
AMANPOUR: Well, interestingly, Van, you know, some people go back to the Clinton administration with the three strikes and you're out and the
incredible volume of prisoners, and particularly young Black men filling up the jails. So, it is something that both administrations have to account
I want to ask you, Mark, though because, again, we've talked about drug offenses and others that may not require life imprisonment. Let's just
play a little bit of a back and forth with our PBS colleagues on one of -- just one particular issue and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY SHANK, SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON: I was charged with conspiracy, I was also given three separate charges of possession with
intent to distribute, cocaine, crack and marijuana, but these were all estimations that somehow turned into actual weight.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: So, this is because the person you were involved with at the time, he was dealing drugs and conspiracy,
meaning you knew about it?
SREENIVASAN: You didn't have to be doing it but you get his charges anyway?
SHANK: Yes. And he was he was deceased, so they had nobody to charge. I was the only one left, so they charged me with it. I was initially
indicted in 2002 and my case was dismissed. I went ahead and moved on with my life, got married, had kids. And six years later, the federal
government came and indicted me and I was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Wow. So, federal job drug charges. I see you both shaking your heads because it's so patiently unfair.
So, Mark, I understand that you spent some time as a prison guard. So, you are incredibly, you know, from ground level, versed in all of this. So,
does this new bill cure, fix that kind of issue that Cindy had?
HOLDEN: Well, it did could, depending. It sounds like she would be eligible for the expanded drug safety valve (ph), particularly as a first-
time nonviolent offender. But yes, I worked in a prison when I was in college to pay for college and Boston, Massachusetts is my hometown. And
it was a very eye-opening experience.
It was in the early 1980s, I worked there for about two years and it was the start of the war on drugs and a lot of my friends were locked up and
their lives were ruined because of drugs, they made some bad choices but we had no rehabilitation programs, there was, you know, no such thing as
hiring the formerly incarcerated. We had a lock him up, throw away the key and then let him out and then put him back in type of society, and we've
had that for too long.
So, what's happened in the sensing reform bills is going to help these issues. But the drug conspiracy thing is a big deal.
HOLDEN: And we need to look at that and it needs to be based not on the fact that you might have been in a meeting, it should be based on what your
actual role was in the alleged conspiracy. So, someone like the woman who was just speaking, she shouldn't be getting any time at all, if any,
especially when they dismissed her case, it sounded like to begin with.
And people who are kingpin, sure, put them away. The problem is the war on drugs has been a massive failure and we still, to this day, are trying to
fight it. And what we need to do is look at the criminal elements within that and treat them as crimes and treat them proportionately for what they.
But by and large, a lot of other people, it's either a public health issue or poverty issue or an issue where someone's got a substance abuse issue,
mental health issue or maybe they just need a chance. They come from a place where they don't have good schools, good programs, any mentoring,
let's not just lock them up.
We're too way too anxious, way too alarmist around criminal -- on these criminal justice issues just to lock people up as the first step and it
shouldn't be that way. There are people who need to be in prison, some for a long time, but most don't. And those who are in prison, they need to be
rehabilitated. Because I tell you what, what I learned over the years working in a prison and, what, the last 10 or 15 years working on these
issues, people can succeed if we allow them to get a second chance.
AMANPOUR: OK. That's a really important point. I -- you know, I'm just staggered. You say this woman shouldn't have spent any time of jail,
probably, and yet she was sentenced at least to 15 years. I mean, it is staggering. And this is actually in a front around the world. People look
at the United States and are staggered by the prison population.
So, let me ask Van. Because as with this administration, a lot is personal and we all know that under the Obama administration this was prevented from
going through, you know, to the Senate, I believe, and yet, because of the personal intervention from Jared Kushner, the president's advisor and son-
in-law, who brought you on and, you know, you got this together, because he also had prison in his family,, with his father having gone to prison.
So, let me just run this bit of an interview you did with Jared in October and we'll talk about it/
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And then somebody in the meeting said to him, you know, "When you campaigned you
said that you're going to fight for the forgotten men and women of this country and there's nobody more forgotten or under represented than the
people in person." And look, I talk to the president all the time and I know sometimes when I tell him something and he's listening but he's not
really wanting to listen to me, I know when he's listening to me and it penetrates, I could tell right then that that really hit him in his heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I think it's extraordinary really. Tell me a little bit more about the White House meetings? Because famously, Kim Kardashian West came
to the White House, there was Alice Johnson who the president pardoned. What was it -- what was going through the president's mind when it came to,
you know, releasing people who had been sentenced as hard criminals?
JONES: Well, fear, initially. You know, it was an honor to get a chance to have these discussions or be a part of this process. And fear, there's
a concern that almost all politicians in the U.S. have, if they do something on this issue, they're helping a constituency that in some states
can't even vote, they don't make campaign contributions, And yet, if you make a mistake and the wrong person gets out and does something foolish,
then you could lose your political career, and Donald Trump was not exempt from that fear at all.
And so, a big part of what Kim Kardashian and myself and others were doing were kind of getting his head wrapped around the importance of using his
influence to take action in any way and also helping him to understand that this is not crazy. Texas, Georgia, even Mississippi, red states with
hardcore conservative governors have moved and taken action and proven you can reduce the incarcerated population. And by so doing, bring down the
Because when you have big swollen prison populations, people who shouldn't be there in the first place wind up coming home bitter and not better and
you're making the problem worse. And so, he finally got comfort with it.
Jared, because his father went to prison, he was passionate about this issue in a way that he wouldn't have been. But he's not exceptional in
that regard. Most of the people who fought the hardest or people who either themselves had gone to prison or who had a family member or a loved
one. Even Koch Industries, part of their passion is because they saw one of their employees get caught up in some nonsense and that woke them up.
Jessica Jackson from "#cut50" who's a heroic leader from the left, her first husband went to prison. David Safavian, a heroic here on the right
with the American Conservative Union, he went to prison and he came out as a conservative fighting on these issues.
So, this issue of mass incarceration has touched so many people and so many families that you now have a lot of people, not just Jared Kushner who feel
personally that something has to change.
JONES: And that's why we were able to win.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, there's no doubt that something had to change and it's really interesting to see this process and to see actually how
politicians when it's this important and for whatever personal reasons that everybody can gather around it makes a difference.
So, let me just ask you, Mark, to flesh out what Van was just saying. Because, obviously, there are cynics who wonder why the Koch Brothers are
getting into this or Koch Industry, Koch Foundation. I mean, you know, is it to better your image? Is it because of this, what you think, consider a
sort of a travesty of justice during an environmental prosecution back in 2000?
HOLDEN: It's to remove these barriers to opportunity for everybody, all Americans, and that's what happens in our criminal justice system. We have
a two-tiered system, as Bryan Stevenson says, the rich and guilty get a better deal and the poor and innocent.
HOLDEN: And so, what we need to do is make sure that we have a system that serves all of us and we should not have the resources-based system. You
mentioned Koch, we had a case from long ago, our employees were exonerated. We were able to fight back against the government. But if you're a middle
class, working class, if you're someone who is, you know, the least among us, living in really desperate circumstances --
JONES: Forget it.
HOLDEN: -- you can't do it, you cannot fight the federal government or the state government. And it becomes this situation where once you're in the
system and you don't have resources and you don't have support, you're pretty much branded for life with the scarlet letter F, and that is
completely unfair. So, that's why we're very focused on all aspects --
AMANPOUR: Because it's --
JONES: And look, we've got to get past this. There's something that's going on now where people on both sides assume that if you're a
progressive, every conservative is up to no good, if you're a conservative, every liberal is just a race baiting, you know, person who wants to just,
you know, take you down for no reason.
And what we found in this process over the past nine months is that the probably in the United States is different than we thought. The problem is
not that we have too many awful people on the other side who are dumb and mean, the problem is we have too many awesome people on all sides who just
don't know each other, don't know how to talk to each other and have not found a way to work together.
So, we are -- this process has changed my mind about what's wrong. Yes, there are some mean dumb people on both sides, but we have a super
abundance of good people who just have not found a way to work together and this process -- I now can say I have actual friends. And I don't just mean
this is a great political alliance, I mean, actual friends who I care about at a personal level and who I believe in and who I can trust, at least on
this issue, to do what they say and to say what they do -- I mean, and to tell you what they mean and to do what they say.
So, there's some medicine here for this sick system that is coming out of this very unlikely fight. And, you know, I no longer question -- second
guess, you know, the conservatives and the libertarians in this. We have been in a battleground together now and I -- this is an authentic movement
on both sides.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you this then, you talk about mean dumb people on all sides, and let's face it, part of the fact that it hasn't
happened yet was because of opposition within the Republican party, as I mentioned, and some are still strongly opposed like Senator Tom Cotton.
I'm going to play this soundbite and have you talk about it, Mark and Van.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM COTTON, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: They're releasing thousands of serious repeat, in some cases, violent offenders within weeks or months of this
bill being passed. It's almost certain that they're going to commit terrible crimes. In the future, you're slashing sentences for drug dealers
and other offenders by up to half and you're sending a message that we are taking for granted the gains that we've made, as you cited, from the crime
in the 70s and 80s when we finally got tough on crime, we extended prison sentences, we have truth in sentencing laws, we took away the discretion
that liberal judges had. I worry very much that this will mean dangerous streets for our communities and our families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Mark, can you address that in 30 seconds?
HOLDEN: Yes. I disagree with what Senator Cotton said, with all due respect, and look at -- he should look at his home state and what they're
doing there and we should look at the states that we were talking about --
JONES: Georgia, Texas.
HOLDEN: -- Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi and the list goes on and on and on and on. We now know that what works is a system where
people are allowed to get better while in prison, be rehabilitated. It's not about punitive measures. And when they get out, they can get a second
HOLDEN: And we're hopeful that overtime, recidivism rates go down and it makes everybody safer. So, what Senator Cotton is talking about is not
what's in the bill and hopefully, it never happens.
JONES: And it's not what's working in America right now.
AMANPOUR: OK. Van, in 20 seconds, if this is about 10 percent of the federal prison inmate, what about the rest of the 90 percent of the inmates
around the country?
JONES: And that's the great thing about this, everybody goes, "Well, you're just focusing on the federal system," and only 10 percent of people
locked up are in the federal system, the other 90 percent are in the state system. But guess what, we've already had three governors call and say
they want to do the same thing in their states that we did at the federal level.
So, what you're going to see is a trickle down immediately next year as other governors and other states pick this up. This is a breakthrough
that's going to lead to other breakthroughs and I'm proud today. For the first time in a long time, I'm proud of our political system because some
decency and wisdom is now punching through.
AMANPOUR: Well, Van and Mark, thank you so much. This has really being a pleasure to see success. Thank you very much indeed.
And from one dynamic duo to another, we shift tunes a little bit and shift gears with funnymen Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly. They join us for a
walk down memory lane and into the comedy Hall of Fame with their new film "Stan and Ollie." It is of course about the legendary Laurel and Hardy who
were on a tour of Britain in the 1950s as they struggle to keep their act together.
When I spoke to them recently, Coogan and Reilly told me what it was like to fill their iconic bowler hats and why they firmly believe this tale is a
bit of an antidote for these times.
John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan, welcome to the program.
JOHN C. REILLY, ACTOR, "STAN AND OLLIE": Thank you very much
STEVE COOGAN, ACTOR, "STAN AND OLLIE": Nice to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, what, sort of, you know, enticed you to do Laurel and Hardy? I mean, are they still relevant?
REILLY: Well, I think they're very much still relevant. What enticed me was our great director, Jon Baird, who offered me this role in the first
place. It was very intimidating and like some very big shoes to fill because I do think they're very much still relevant. In fact, I think,
Christiane, after this interview, if you watch one of the shorts from the early 30s, I guarantee you will laugh out loud at least one time. So, that
shows you the relevancy right there.
COOGAN: Yes. I concur with John completely. Laurel and Hardy's humor, I think, transcends fashion and time. And is more relevant than -- much
comedy that came after it. It's very accessible, it has a good heart, it's -- you know, it lifts people up, it's not denigrating, it's has a --
REILLY: There's a universality to it.
COOGAN: Universality to it and it has a real great affection for the human race. And it may seem -- people often say, "Oh, is it innocent," it's not
innocent, it's quite subtle a lot of it. And people also forget that it was -- Laurel and Hardy was globally successful during the Great Depression
in America and during the rise of fascism in Europe. You know, you don't know -- see any of that when you watch it but you need to know that's the
background against which it was hugely successful.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And I was going to say an amazing antidote to our times, which are incredibly fractious, incredibly, I don't know, hate filled,
tense, stressful, trivialized. But when you mention that they rose during an even more dangerous period in history, it really does make you stop and
think. I mean, 1937 I think is about where they started and it's remarkable.
I want to play a part, a little clip that we have which shows them sort of at the beginning of their career, it's after this long, long opening
tracking shot and Laurel and Hardy end up talking to the producer about their sort of artistic demands. Here's the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANNY HUSTON, ACTOR, "STAN AND OLLIE": What are you looking for, Stan?
COOGAN: I'm looking for a fair price for a Laurel and Hardy picture and you know it. Our picture sell all around the world and we haven't got a
HUSTON: That's because you keep getting divorced.
COOGAN: No, it's because you're a cheapskate who got rich off our backs.
REILLY: Oh, come now, Stan.
COOGAN: Yes. He's a cheapskate, a (INAUDIBLE) and a parvenu.
REILLY: A parvenu?
COOGAN: He thinks because my contracts up and yours isn't that I won't be able to go anyplace else and I have to take what he's offering.
HUSTON: Wait, wait, wait. What's a parvenu?
COOGAN: Well, it's someone who started out with nothing, got rich but has no class. Look it up in the dictionary, Hal, there's a picture of you.
HUSTON: Oh, you think you're some sort of smart ass, huh? Well, guess what, I'm smarter.
COOGAN: Has he told you yet? We're setting up on our own.
REILLY: Hal, it might be best if you could see a way to a small raise.
HUSTON: You're setting up on your own, huh? Well, how about this, Babe is still under contract with me and I ain't releasing him.
COOGAN: You can't have Hardy without Laurel.
HUSTON: That's what you think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, so they try to play hardball but then what happened? Pick up the story?
REILLY: Well, what happened was Hal Roach based their contract six months apart. And so, any time one of them complained, he said, "Well, I'll just
got another fat guy or I'll just get another skinny guy." And so, he played them against each other like that.
And what happened was, Stan finally got fed up and Stan did get them a deal at "20th Century Fox" but I already had 6 more months of this contract and
there's the rub, that's one of the essential kind of like difficult parts of their friendship is when Oliver had to continue working for Hal without
And, yes, we explore that betrayal in the film, it's one of the few moments of conflict between Stan and Ollie.
COOGAN: Yes. I mean, the shots the -- a tour they did of Europe and Britain in the 1950s when they were already washed up and as well how
people deal with having been at the top of their game and then suddenly they are forgotten and rejected and they trying to earn a few shekels
touring around Britain to pay the rent.
REILLY: Yes. I myself often think of (INAUDIBLE) career if my film career ever dries up. If there's one thing I can always do, I can always sing a
couple songs and make some folks laugh.
COOGAN: What, I think, is a heartwarming and uplifting about it though, Christiane, is that when they finished touring Europe, they still love
comedy, they still love the ability to make people laugh. And this film, for us, is a -- it's a love letter to those who toil to make us laugh
because however -- so the throw away and ephemeral and disposable rule and silly the comedy along Hardy seems, the work and craft that goes on behind
the scenes that we look at is staggering.
And it occurred to me that, you know, that in our salute to Stan and Ollie, what we're recognizing is something that only really occurred to me when we
were rehearsing this movie, which is the ability to make a whole group of people laugh at the same time, people from different religions, creeds,
political viewpoints, that's what they were able to do, that's an incredibly powerful thing when you look at it from that perspective,
because in a moment when they all laugh, at that moment, everyone's differences recede.
REILLY: And the beautiful thing about this, the time that we set the film in is that at this kind of twilight of their careers when they could have
been at home collecting Social Security or pension or whatever, they were still trying to engage with their fans and they still felt obligated to
bring the special joy that only they could bring.
So, you see in our film the great personal cost of that, of that kind of devotion to your craft.
AMANPOUR: And what's kind of remarkable is it seems that they go out and they play all these stages and theaters and they really, really loved
there, but they're not so appreciated by the industry. Is that right?
REILLY: Right. They were finding it really difficult to get movie work. In some ways after World War II, the world had kind of moved on past the
sort of sweet humanism of Laurel and Hardy and it's more kind of exceptionalist American smart aleck, a very verbal caustic sort of humor
came in with Abbott and Costello and some other actors, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
But yes, they couldn't -- they can get arrested in America. And so, what they did was they went out and sought the people that still love them and
they were offered this tour by this guy Delfont and they did a few of them actually. We focused on their last one.
But they went where they were loved. And at first it was -- the irony was at first, audiences couldn't even believe that they were there. They is --
they thought they had just receded from existence, you know. So, they would almost -- we make a joke of it in the film, people coming to the Box
Office and saying, "Who is playing Laurel and Hardy?" And the Box Office telling people, "No, it's them. It's them. Just buy the ticket. It
really is them."
So, that's what sort of happened on these tours, people caught on like, "Oh, my gosh. We can still go see Laurel and Hardy." And by the end, they
were very embraced by those theater audiences. But the sad thing is they didn't quite get their due as film artists while they were alive.
AMANPOUR: Your director has also said it's a little like a love story. I mean, the love story between Stan and Ollie, the deep friendship, the fact
that they stayed together through thick and thin and artistic differences and contract differences.
COOGAN: Yes. It is a love story and it's -- you know, I think it acts as a metaphor for, you know, these people who have spent so many years working
with each other, they have fallen out and they've had their differences. But the one thing is they still -- they're still there for each other
despite -- even the in both their private lives and in their movies, their funny movies.
However, whatever sort of bad luck or misfortune befalls Stan, usually Ollie, neither of them have a deserts each other, they all stay with each
other through --
REILLY: And it seems to be kind of the metamessage of Laurel and Hardy's work but also the message of our film for our world right now is that even
though human beings can be difficult and argumentative and get you into trouble, they're still worth loving, everyone is worth love and dignity and
that's a still a very appealing message to me.
COOGAN: I think people responded to the movie, Christiane, because of this underlying goodness. There's a kind of a -- these days and cynical time
there's the view that, you know, to be positive or try and find the hope in humanity is naive or somehow dumb. And this movie shows that there's a
kind of a -- there's a hunger, there's a sort of a thirst for something which is, you know, life affirming, which I think this film is.
AMANPOUR: I just want to play a clip actually. Because the one that we showed is from, you know, the famous film "Way Out West." And we're going
to actually play the real Laurel and Hardy singing the song that you then sort of reenact in the film. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVER HARDY, ACTOR: In the blue ridge mountains of Virginia, on the trail of the lonesome pine,
STAN LAUREL, ACTOR: In the blue ridge mountains of Virginia, on the trail of the lonesome pine. In the pale moonshine, our hearts entwine, where she
carved her name and I carved mine. Oh, June, like the mountains I'm blue, like the pine, I am lonesome for
[13:30:00] In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia on the trail of the lonesome pine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, equally entertaining was watching you to chit chat amongst yourself and reenact while we were playing the tape. Can you give me a
little rendition? I mean are you up for it?
COOGAN: It's so early here in New York. Well, I mean, you know, it's -- I can scratch my head like this in lots of places and apologize.
AMANPOUR: Was it daunting to try to pull that off?
COOGAN: It was.
REILLY: It was.
COOGAN: It was. We did -- for that number, for that Lonesome Pine number and for the Way Out West dance, we took a very forensic approach. We tried
to recreate it as exactly as we could, mistakes a little and, you know, Chamblee moments included. But that's really not the meat of our film.
The heart of the film is this emotional biography. You know, the relationship between these two men.
Because this tour and with these tours, that's the time when Laurel and Hardy learned to love each other as human beings. When they actually
finally saw the person next to them and love them beyond the acts or beyond what they were doing together as a partnership, just seeing the human
being. Because when they were in their heyday, they're very different people.
And Oliver would go off. And his life, he had a very kind of like wine, women, and song so the life enjoying the fruits of Hollywood. And Stan was
a workaholic. So they very rarely socialized in their heyday. So it's a really evocative time to set the film and --
AMANPOUR: And it's really interesting because, at the end, we see -- well, in the film, we see that Stan and Ollie go to judge a bathing suit contest
and Ollie is not very well.
COOGAN: A real thing they did.
AMANPOUR: So tell us about that because it leads again to a real bonding.
REILLY: Well, Oliver is over struggling with his health as he did in real life during these tours. He passed away shortly after this last tour. So
yes, in our film, we go to one of these publicity events and we've just had a big fight the night before. And then you think like maybe this is it for
them, they finally had it with each other. And then there's a health crisis, a big health crisis with Oliver. It's an existential crisis for
the act and it's a real reckoning moment when Stan and Ollie have to, you know, they have to put aside the whatever the petty disagreement of that
argument was about and realize the larger -- a larger human truth with each other.
REILLY: And it's a beautiful moment. I have to say it makes me tear up, not because of my own performance but because I'm remembering what it must
have been like for these two geniuses. What were you going to say, Steve?
COOGAN: No, I think that you said it so eloquently, John. I couldn't possibly add to it.
AMANPOUR: But Stan got into bed with Laurel and sort of comforted him, right?
AMANPOUR: I mean with Ollie.
COOGAN: Yes. And that was a very -- those moments of poignancy were very real for John and I when we were doing. It felt authentic. And we had a
long rehearsal period where John and I had to learn these routines and sketches and the physicality of how these guys moved. But what happened
during that process is that John and I obviously got to know each other. And we got to experience some of what Laurel and Hardy would have done
because they themselves would have had to rehearse and work intensively on these things.
So it was like physically and metaphorically stepping into the shoes of these guys. And that eventually bonds you. That's an experience John and
I went on a journey together. And so when those poignant moments happen, they feel real. They could as easily be between John and myself as they
are between Laurel and Hardy and that's why there's a -- both those of things are coalescence things.
REILLY: Yes, we've been clowns ourselves for quite a while.
AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed. Yes, I was going to say you --
REILLY: Performers for a long time now and we understand what it's like to have sore knees and a sweaty brow and sitting backstage and having someone
talk to us about ticket sales. So in some ways, it was -- they were very big shoes to fill. In other ways, they were very familiar shoes to fill
AMANPOUR: You both have done quite a lot of comedy in your films and in your past. But there were a lot of prosthetics used. I don't know.
Perhaps, Steve Coogan, you're more sort of look like the actual, you know, Laurel. But you John, you had to do a lot of prosthetics, right, to get
into the roundness of Ollie.
REILLY: Well, we both were prosthetic pieces. Steve's chin was elongated and his ears were made longer. And actually, if you look at our faces,
Oliver and myself, at first you think like, oh, no, they're very different. But, in fact, I'm just sort of a [13:35:00] skinnier version of Oliver in
some ways with blue eyes. So when you expand my proportions, you know, I'm the right height. My ears are very similar to his.
COOGAN: I'm the right height too. We had to switch eye colors. That was the only thing.
REILLY: Yes. So it was very clever. Mark Coulier is an award-winning makeup artist who designed the prosthetics for the film. You know he took
-- he very brilliantly took what parts of us already looked like them and altered the parts that didn't so that -- I don't know. I felt like -- I
never felt like the prosthetic was getting in the way of the performance. It was just there. It was something I could use but it was up to me to
project the soul of this person. I wasn't behind the mask.
COOGAN: We were anxious about the prosthetics and we had to do some tests before John and I were convinced that it was the right way to go. But Mark
was so skilled that it's almost invisible. And as you say, it doesn't distract at all. You don't really notice. You don't become aware of it.
AMANPOUR: Yours were almost invisible Steve as Laurel. But John, I keep wanting to call you Oliver. You were in a big fat suit. I mean only your
eyes and your hands were your own, right, for showing?
REILLY: Well, this sort of the center of my face was my own and the insides of my hands but that's about it. Yes, I had prosthetic pieces at
my arms and all around my face creating that, you know, that weight. And then, yes, a fat suit which I had them add extra weights too so it would
always feel like the heft of that. I didn't want to just look like, you know, someone floating around in a foam bubble.
But I have to say, you know, people are dazzled by the exterior of the work of the artist who made us look so much like them. But to me, the process
was an internal process of finding the romantic inside this guy, this big man. You know inside, he had a heart of a poet. He was a really beautiful
guy. So what the makeup and the costume did was it allowed us through that first portal, you know, it allowed us to -- the courage to pass to that
first portal of transformation and say like, "Well, at least I look like him." Now I have to find the inner heart of these guys and that's
something that both Steve and I had to do in equal measure.
AMANPOUR: I don't know how you perceive it but is Laurel the sort of the secondary character in the on-stage act? Because in real life, it turned
out that Laurel was the main writer, the much more sort of powerful creative voice.
COOGAN: Yes. That -- there's certainly some truth in that. Ostensibly, the on-screen persona, Oliver is kind of in charge.
COOGAN: And --
REILLY: It's almost like another one of the Laurel and Hardy meta jokes behind -- you know, like they played with that all the time, you know. The
opposite being -- something appearing one way and the truth of it being the opposite.
REILLY: Over and over, they play with that contrast joke. And yes, behind the scenes, Stan was doing all the work. He was writing, he was a shadow,
COOGAN: Yes. We always said that Stanley lived to work and Oliver worked to live. And that meant that Oliver had a more enjoyable, probably on
balance, happier life than Stan Laurel who subjugated himself to his work like many artists and many geniuses, genii I should say. His work subsumes
them and their personal life and happiness ultimately is put -- is sacrificed on the altar of that creativity.
AMANPOUR: So finally, what is next for you two gentlemen? I mean presumably separately, what's the next film?
REILLY: We're actually constantly talking about finding something else together because we really enjoy being together.
REILLY: I've come to really love Steve so I hope we do find something soon.
COOGAN: I'm sure we will.
REILLY: Well, you have a Stan personality.
COOGAN: We'll figure something out.
AMANPOUR: Yes, OK. Well, we'll see you on the other side of the next one but this is wonderful. Thank you both so much. Steve Coogan, John C.
Reilly, thank you for being with us.
REILLY: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And the movie releases in the United States next week.
Now, climate change has dominated the headlines this year. Wildfires devastating California. Yellow vests anger at a carbon tax in France.
Schoolchildren protesting by cutting class from Sweden to Australia.
But what about nations not making headlines like Vietnam or Somalia? How are they bearing the brunt of the ticking climate clock? Our next guest,
Somini Sengupta reports on the human toll of climate change from all corners of the globe. She is part of [13:40:00] "The New York Times" team
dedicated to climate coverage. So as the year wraps up, Somini took our Michel Martin on a global climate tour.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Somini Sengupta, thank you so much for talking with us.
SOMINI SENGUPTA: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: "The New York Times" is one of the only news organizations to have a team dedicated to covering climate change. Why is that?
SENGUPTA, INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: We have a team dedicated to covering climate because it's a really important issue
for our audience. And this year in 20, you've seen that our coverage has done really three kinds of stories. We have explained the science of
climate change. We have borne witness to the impact of climate change on the lives of ordinary people all over the world. And we have doggedly
probed, investigated what the U.S. government is doing.
MARTIN: This whole argument that there actually is an argument, when did "The Times" decided that that has to be over? Because in mainstream
journalism, the way that most of us deal with things that are sticky or uncomfortable is to make everything a matter of opinion, right. To say,
well, some people think this and some people think that. And "The Times" has just said enough with that, we're going to establish this is a fact and
we're going to deal with it as it is a fact. When did that happen and why do you think that's important?
SENGUPTA: You know, there's -- the simplest way to explain this is there is no debate among scientists about what happens when we inject greenhouse
gases into the atmosphere. You inject greenhouse gases, the average temperature rises. That's not really a matter of debate. The science is
very clear about that and so our coverage is very clear about that.
There can be debates about what policy measures you take. But on the actual science of how climate change impacts the planet, there is
scientific consensus including in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which consists of hundreds of scientists from all over the
world, including the United States. So you know, we don't think it helps the public, it doesn't help our readers to not get it straight.
MARTIN: What are the biggest climate change stories of the year?
SENGUPTA: I am part of a team of roughly a dozen reporters and editors. And so we have looked, for example, at the human toll of climate change in
all kinds of ways. So we've written about -- I went to Northern Kenya not so long ago to write about pastoralist communities who for generations made
their living raising animals.
But because the droughts have gotten so severe, so prolonged, repeated year after year, and that definitely has a climate change fingerprint. That I
was talking to men and women who are saying, "You know one week, I wake up and five of my animals are dead. Next week, 10 of my animals are dead. By
the end of the season, I've lost my herd. I borrow some money. I replenish my herd. Next year, the same thing happens." So it's a way of
life and livelihoods that are threatened among some of the poorest people in the world.
MARTIN: You're talking about whole communities.
SENGUPTA: Whole communities. Some of whom are the most vulnerable. Some of whom have a very small carbon footprint, right. Let's face it. They
are not driving cars. Some of them don't have access to electricity. So we have covered those kinds of stories all over the world.
My colleague went up to Canada to write about how backyard skating rinks, ice skating rinks were fading. This is also -- you know, it's a way of
life. We've done a whole series about our shared cultural heritage and the risk that climate change poses.
There's fantastic stories about Easter Island which is a very small island off the coast of Chile with ancient stone carvings that are now facing the
risk of sea rise and eroding away. The Cedars of Lebanon also being endangered by climate change as the heating up of that area.
So we've looked at how individual lives are changing. We've looked at how communities are being affected. We've looked at the economic costs. Sea
rise, of course, affects coastal cities. Some of our most important cities around the world. Stock markets and airports are on that coast. So many
of your viewers will have flown into Shanghai or Rome or San Francisco, New York. All of these are barely five meters above sea level. And we've
written about how that's going to be affected if you have a rising sea.
MARTIN: How many of the world's conflicts in the current moment are tied to climate change would you say?
SENGUPTA: It's extremely difficult to draw a straight line between climate change and conflict. However, if climate change exacerbates water scarcity
[13:45:00] or just the ability to grow food, it will lead to -- it is likely to lead to some forced displacement of people. It could lead to
The clearest example that I can refer to is perhaps Somalia. After recurrent years of drought, many Somalis had to leave their homeland. They
had to, you know, find --
MARTIN: Find somewhere to go.
SENGUPTA: Find somewhere to go, find new ways of making a living. Al- Shabab certainly took advantage of that.
MARTIN: But there is a major growing consensus in the international community about the need to deal with this. I mean there was just this
major meeting that just wrapped up in Poland.
SENGUPTA: Oh, absolutely. So we are three years after the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was an aspirational global accord whereby
every country around the world recognized first that climate change is a reality. And that everyone, every country should do their part to ratchet
down greenhouse gas emissions. These were voluntary pledges.
Every country said, "OK, by this year, we're going to ratchet down our emissions" or "We're going to peak our emissions. If we're a growing
country, we're going to peak our emissions and then we're going to bring them down." Where do we stand on that right now? Well, two of the biggest
economies, also the biggest emitters, China and the United States, grew their emissions in 2018, kept rising. Even as the science got sharper and
sharper, right. Even as the scientists kept saying, "Wait, you know, this train is already, you know, hurtling towards the cliff."
MARTIN: So when you say the science got sharper, what do you mean?
SENGUPTA: The scientists understand much better the risks of climate change. There was a landmark report that my colleague wrote about earlier
this year about what happens if the current trajectory of emissions goes up at this current pace. We have continued since the beginning of the
industrial age to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Temperatures have already risen since the start of the industrial era.
There's this very cool story that one of my colleagues worked on where you can hit your hometown at the year of your birth and see how many hot days,
like days above 90 degrees, there were in your hometown at the year of your birth, how many there are now, and how many scientists are projecting to be
there when you're 80.
And that's just a really incredibly stark way to see what's happening even in our lifetimes in places that we recognize. So earlier this year, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put out what to me was really just a very stark report that showed if our emissions continue at this
current trajectory by 2040, the world faces much more heightened risks of severe droughts, much more extremes in rainfall. So both too much rain,
too little rain, wildfires, coastal flooding because of sea level rise by the year 2040.
2040 is my lifetime. I have a 10-year-old kid. 2040 is when, you know, she's just kind of establishing herself, right, as an adult. Scientists
also said this is not inevitable. None of this is inevitable. There are things that we can do to bend the curve but that has to be done really
So three years after the Paris agreement, where are we in bending the curve even as scientists have been warning us, ringing the alarm bells? Well, as
one scientist sad in the big international talks in Poland, he said, "Look, scientists have been raising the alarm but world leaders, presidents, and
prime ministers keep hitting the snooze button."
MARTIN: Why do you think though some people still advance this argument that there is an argument about it? Like what is that about?
SENGUPTA: There are powerful industrial interests. There are powerful industries with interests in fossil fuels continuing to play the role that
they have. I went and traveled recently to do a story about coal and coals abiding influence in the world. It's still -- it has fired the modern age
of course, right. I mean everything around us, the modern industrial era is fueled by coal but it's also the dirtiest fossil fuel around.
And we are now at the point where we know, scientists know, they are very clear on this that the [13:50:00] way to avert the worst effects of climate
change is to get the world off of coal. And yet there are very powerful interests that keep us invested in coal. It still accounts for 40 percent
of global electricity. I was in Vietnam where both Chinese and Japanese companies were competing to promote coal in Vietnam, a fast-growing
economy. It's a powerful incumbent. It's hard to knock it off its pedestal
MARTIN: And what about the United States? I mean what role do you think the United States is playing in the climate change?
SENGUPTA: In a big picture.
MARTIN: In a big picture conversation right now.
SENGUPTA: Yes. On coal, I just want to point out that in the United States, coal consumption has markedly declined in part because of the
abundance of natural gas. But as my colleagues have shown, there has been a real effort to rollback, for example, the Clean Power Plan which would
force old -- the older, most polluting coal plants to shut down. Overall, the United States has, of course, announced its intention to pull out of
the Paris Climate Agreement.
And just to be clear, the Paris Climate Agreement is not other countries telling each country what to do, but each country voluntarily setting its
own pledges on how to bring down emissions. The U.S. has said it is not its interest. This administration has said it intends to pull out of the
Paris Agreement but that actual exit doesn't take place until 2020. It's just the way, you know, the agreement is crafted.
This year, the United States sent a delegation to these international talks in Poland and promoted fossil fuels at a side event but also took part in
the negotiations because United States States still remains in the negotiations. There is a great deal of concern about the Trump
administration's position that it will not contribute the kinds of money that the United States was expected to contribute to help poor countries
deal with the effects of climate change.
Most importantly, what you're seeing at home is the rollback of a host of environmental protections. And we did a story not long ago that showed 76
separate environmental rules that the Trump administration has pulled back on. And it includes things like, you know oil and gas companies not having
to report their methane emissions anymore, for example, or rolling back fuel efficiency standards. And, of course, the Clean Power Plan.
MARTIN: I was curious though if you've ever spoken to anybody who's deeply connected with those industries and ask them what planet they think they're
going to live on if the policies that they continue to defend and brace continue?
SENGUPTA: My colleagues have done incredible work drawing the line between particular environmental rollbacks that this administration has pursued and
the interests of industries. And they've done incredible work showing that ties the former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, for example, to coal
interest. The current EPA administrator is, of course, a former coal lobbyist. And so my colleagues have done incredibly dogged work on that.
It's also the case that there are many industries, many sectors that are now realizing that there is public pressure. There is shareholder
pressure. There is policy pressure to ratchet down their own greenhouse gas emissions. And we're seeing that from shipping companies and fast food
companies and lots of other company to at least set targets.
Now, the proof is in the pudding. Are they going to be able to retool their businesses fast enough to save us from this brink of catastrophic
MARTIN: Somini Sengupta, thank you so much for talking with us.
SENGUPTA: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And tomorrow, we'll dive deeper into climate policy, especially around the new generation of elected leaders and the young activists trying
to drive climate to the top of the agenda. And top tech journalist Kara Swisher will join us with her take on the latest Facebook revelations.
But that's it for now. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast. See us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.