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Trump and Kim Jong-un's Second Summit; Interview with Former Chief of Northeast Asia Division, U.S. State Department, Robert Carlin; Musical Film Inspired After 9/11, "Come from Away"; Interview with Creators, David Hein and Irene Sankoff. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 26, 2019 - 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's what's coming up.
Trump and Kim meet again. Robert Carlin who helped negotiate the last week deal under the Clinton administration joins us about whether the two
leaders now really mean business.
Then, crafting a feel-good musical from the ashes of 9/11, Canada's come from away, arrives in London's West End after scoring a major hit on
Broadway. And I speak to the show's creators, David Hein and Irene Sankoff.
Plus, one of the kremlin's most prominent critics, Russian investigative journalist, Yevgenia Albats, speaks with Michel Martin.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Vietnam is about to have its coming out party and it's a big one. This week, the Capital Hanoi will host President Trump and the North Korean
leader, Kim Jong-un's second summit.
Much like with the historic meeting in Singapore last year, Washington is hoping this host nation, Communist with a thriving capitalist economy, will
persuade Kim of the wonders for him on the horizon if he just forsakes his nuclear weapons in return for the end of sanctions and the economic
renaissance of North Korea.
Importantly, Chairman Kim has kept to his pledge not to test nuclear weapons or long-range ballistic missiles. And the remarkable change in
tone and dialogue between the two leaders themselves continues.
But what will it all mean around the critical negotiating table? Mr. Trump can ill afford to walk away from a second summit without some form of
concrete results and Mr. Kim can't afford to look like he's getting little in return.
Fortunately, there is quite recent history to learn from. Robert Carlin took part in negotiations with North Korea throughout Bill Clinton's
presidency, and they did come to a nuclear agreement that did in fact hold for nearly a decade.
Now, he's a consultant to CBS News and Carlin told me the debate over the word denuclearization misses the point. He sees reason for some optimism
ahead of the second summit.
Robert Carlin, welcome to the program.
ROBERT CARLIN, FORMER CHIEF OF NORTHEAST ASIA DIVISION, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Thank you. Glad to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, this second summit is about to get underway and people have got conflicting reports on how successful the first one was. Critics say,
"Oh, well, the president came back with good atmospherics but nothing concrete." Others say, "Well, actually, some of what's transpired is quite
concrete." Where do you stand in what's been achieved so far?
CARLIN: I think the first summit achieved what it had to achieve. It was the first time a U.S. president has met with the leader of North Korea. We
needed to get some principles down on paper, which would help point the direction for the subsequent talks, and that's what we did.
AMANPOUR: A lot is being made of the issue of denuclearization, both sides use that term and seem to mean different things. You have just come out
with a paper that you read -- that you've written along with others, including the great expert, Siegfried Hecker, on North Korea nukes, you
yourself have been at the table under the Clinton administration on this very difficult issue. What should we expect from a U.S. point of view and
a North Korean point of view denuclearization to mean?
CARLIN: We want to see the North Koreans cap their program, stop producing more material to make bombs, then we want to see them begin to dismantle
The North Koreans haven't committed to do anything yet but they've started the process, at least, on capping the lethality of the program. That's
pretty important. The next steps are what they're going to ask of us and we're not sure, they haven't really put things on the table.
AMANPOUR: So, when you say it's a pretty big deal that they've sort of capped the lethality of their equipment, do you mean, specifically, that
they have not continued to test and improve the delivery systems, that they have not continued to test the nuclear devices? Is that what you
CARLIN: That's exactly right. If they don't test any more, they probably can't perfect a hydrogen weapon. A hydrogen with weapon is significantly
more destructive than a normal atom bomb and we don't want them to get to that stage.
AMANPOUR: What do you think is the logical expectation from this next round of summitry? We already know the two principals, the leaders, have
developed what appears to be a fairly decent personal relationship. What has to happen out of this summit to indicate that something is moving, the
ball is moving down the field?
CARLIN: We're in a little bit of a pickle that we've put ourselves in. That is, in the normal process of negotiations, you don't have to have a
deliverable at the end of every meeting. Things develop in the meetings over time, you make progress but you don't have a final outcome at the end
of each meeting. And so, you have chance -- you have a chance for ideas to sort of grow and compromises to be reached.
Since we're at the summit and because of the political pressures, there's really a -- as you know, there's a big, big push that something has to come
out of this meeting, something concrete.
Well, what would naturally emerge, given the fact that we really haven't had that many meetings and we haven't had a chance to chew over these
things or poke and prod at the different options. The most likely things, it seems to me, are the easiest, which is what we should be attacked -- we
should be tackling right away anyway, possibility of an end of war declaration are some wording to that effect. That's important. It
addresses one of the three things that the Singapore summit had listed.
The possibility of some sort of sanctions relief moderating. I don't know how we're going to phrase it. We're not going to say we're lifting
sanctions, but is there some way to tweak it.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you to explore the meaningfulness of what Kim Jong-un has already done. Well, we've talked about the freeze on nuclear
testing and ballistic missile testing. We saw that just before the last summit, they blew up some tunnels that were meant to be their testing
areas. How much has he done and how much of that is verifiable and how much has the U.S. done in return?
CARLIN: Kim pledged in April of last year that they would have no more nuclear or long-range missile tests. That's very easy to monitor with our
technical platforms and they haven't done either. That's important. Again, because of lethality of the program.
Has also put on the table the possibility of allowing us Yongbyon and dismantling it, disabling it then dismantling it. That's a pretty
important step. I know some people toss that off as unimportant because they say Yongbyon is an old facility, it isn't worth anything. I beg to
differ. Yongbyon is the only place they produce plutonium and another component of a hydrogen weapon, tritium. If Yongbyon is shutdown, they
can't produce either one. That's very important.
People say, "Well, they've got another enrichment facility somewhere in the country." Yes, they probably do and eventually we're going to have to get
to it. But if we don't get to it right away and yet we do shut down the enrichment facility in Yongbyon, that's very important, that's progress.
We're not going to get the final prize right away. We need to move towards it and we need to be realistic in what we can get and what we should be
satisfied helps protect the national security interests.
AMANPOUR: So, you've been, as I say, at the table, you've been in these close negotiations under the Clinton administration, you obviously watch
what's been going on since. President Trump, you know, talked to Kim Jong- un about the possibilities of an economic revival in his country if he changed his ways. He said that he believes that Kim Jong-un, you know, was
interested in that.
There are two questions. I'm going to play President -- let me first play President Trump's soundbite on this and we'll talk about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I really believe that North Korea can be a tremendous economic power when this is solved. Their location between
Russia, China and South Korea is unbelievable. I think that North Korea and Chairman Kim have some very positive things in mind and we'll soon find
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what is your assessment of how much the economic and the future sort of prizes dangling out there means to Kim Jong-un versus what
others in the intelligence assess and that is nothing is more important than regime survival and for that, they need to keep their nuclear options
on the table?
CARLIN: Two points. To address the second thing that you raise. The Intelligence Community is making a judgment. They don't know that. It's a
judgment that they're making based on what they think is a lot of pieces of paper that cross their desk.
I don't necessarily know that that's true. What I do know is that we have evidence Kim Jong-un has been working on his economy from the day he took
over. He has new ideas. He won't -- he'll -- I doubt if he'll ever use the term reform but he's been making big changes in order to revive the
economy. And I think that beginning in last year when he announced that the new strategic line is everything for the economy is something that he's
been adhering to and therefore, it feeds into the negotiations with the U.S.
It isn't as if the Trump administration suddenly invented this, this is a door that the North Koreans have unlocked and opened up for us to explore,
to see how far we can use progress in that area to get the things that we want in the area of denuclearization.
AMANPOUR: But there seems to be differing views of this summitry within President Trump's own administration and his close national security
officials. We all know that John Bolton is very much more hawkish on all of this, including the idea of lifting any sanctions or delivering, you
know, anything to North Korea until the whole package is sealed, if it ever is.
What do you make of that fact, particularly at a time when a confidential U.N. report says that North Korea's sanctions are failing, Pyongyang
defying them with massive increase in illegal ship to ship transfers of petroleum products and coal as well?
CARLIN: This gap in the administration isn't new, we had it under the Clinton administration as well. There are always intensely skeptical parts
of the administration, they're always pushing back against people who want to move ahead with negotiations. So, I don't find it unusual.
I don't -- I think some people overrate what sanctions have done. I think they -- I have no doubt that they entered into Kim Jong-un's calculations.
I never thought that that's what brought him to the table. My view, based on the evidence that I saw, was that he made a decision several years ago
that he was going to develop his nuclear program up to a point and then pivot.
AMANPOUR: So, you're talking about pivoting to his economy and potentially to opening up and having a different relationship with the rest of the
The other question is, and you've written quite a lot about this, the whole process of negotiations is very little understood in the United States. I
mean, we've been struck by whatever it was in -- under the Clinton administration or under the Obama administration with Iran or now, into the
Trump administration. Hardliners distain the idea of compromising negotiations and its sort of, for them, a zero-sum game. We have to win
everything otherwise we win nothing.
You've written about process, about the impatience of Americans when it comes to these negotiations. Tell me about that. Tell me about the inside
around the table situation, the realistic one.
CARLIN: We're sitting down with a country that is not conquered by the United States. It has its own national security interests, regime
interests, whatever. And so, we simply can't sit down and dictate or slam our notebooks on the table and leave when they don't automatically agree to
everything we want. We have to figure out ways to probe, to find out what they're actually willing to give and what they expect from us, and that
takes some time. It takes good diplomacy. It takes, as I say, speaking precisely and listening carefully.
It doesn't take forever. It's not a process by which they speak endlessly, wear us down and get away with whatever they want. That's a phony
narrative that some people put forth. We've got the agreed framework in only four meetings.
AMANPOUR: You're talking about in the Clinton administration, which, again --
CARLIN: That's right.
AMANPOUR: -- put parameters around their military and nuclear programs.
CARLIN: That's correct. Very important agreement, it lasted for many years, it completely froze their program in Yongbyon, it had international
inspectors there 365 days a year. So, we made a lot of progress and we opened the door to more progress, not just on nuclear but a lot of
different things with the North Koreans with that agreement.
If you don't sit and talk, if you're not prepared to listen, if you're not prepared to understand that you've got to compromise in some ways, then
you're going to end up with what we had the last two administrations, 16 years of failed policy.
AMANPOUR: You mean the George W. Bush administration and indeed the Obama administration.
CARLIN: That's correct. The North Koreans went from zero nuclear weapons to about 30 or more in the last 16 years.
AMANPOUR: Let me play another soundbite, and this is from the commander of U.S. forces in the region, Korean peninsula region. Because, of course,
one of the other issues is President Trump was criticized for agreeing to stop joint military exercises and, of course, they have been quite
dramatically scaled back between the U.S. and South Korea. Let's just play what the commander has said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT ABRAMS, GENERAL, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES KOREA: I remain clear eyed about the fact that despite a reduction in tensions along the DMZ and a
sensation of strategic provocations coupled with public statements of intent to denuclearize, little to no verifiable change has occurred in
North Korea's military capabilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Analyze what he just said.
CARLIN: He just said that the threat from North Korea, the conventional threat, I suppose, hasn't changed, and that's exactly right. On the other
hand, we can make some changes in our own posture and join exercise cycles with the South Koreans that don't significantly degrade our ability to deal
with that threat.
It's important to understand, there is a narrative out there that the North Koreans only want to get the U.S. troops off the Korean peninsula. I think
that's dead wrong.
CARLIN: I think we've got a lot of evidence, going back many years, that the North Koreans want U.S. troops to remain, they want us to remain as a
buffer against Chinese and maybe eventually Russian influence, that they see U.S. troops on the peninsula as a way to keep the U.S. committed to a
relationship with them.
So, I think people have it wrong. I don't think they pay attention to what the North Koreans have said over the years, and it's an important component
if we're going to understand their strategic view of how to proceed.
AMANPOUR: Really interesting. Anyway, they'll be lost to report on when we get to Hanoi and what's this summit.
Robert Carlin, thank you very much indeed.
CARLIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we turn next to real meat and potatoes optimism, a good new story that emerge from the tragedy of America's worst national nightmare
since World War II. It's to be found in a musical that was inspired by the day after 9/11.
"Come from Away" tells the true story of Gander, a remote Canadian town in Newfoundland whose residents welcome more than 6,000 airline passengers
from around the world who were stranded there when U.S. airspace was closed right after the Twin Towers attacks.
The story is about welcoming strangers during a time of need and great danger. And the Canadian show has achieved worldwide success from its hit
run on Broadway to now, in London's West End.
Creators is David Hein and Irene Irene Sankoff told me about the surprising global power of its message.
Welcome, David and Irene.
IRENE SANKOFF, CREATOR, "COME FROM AWAY": Thank you.
DAVID HEIN, CREATOR, "COME FROM AWAY": Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, this play has gone from strength to strength, you've had in Canada, on Broadway and now, in the West and in London. That's a big deal.
Just first, how does that make you feel?
SANKOFF: Sort of -- it's surreal --
SANKOFF: -- and a little overwhelmed.
HEIN: It's incredible.
AMANPOUR: Did you ever have any idea that this story would resonate so incredibly, powerfully?
HEIN: No. Well --
SANKOFF: We hope so.
SANKOFF: I mean, it's a wonderful story and it's extraordinary what these people did, welcoming all these people in. But I think, at first, we were
mostly thinking the Canadian high schools will be forced to perform it.
AMANPOUR: Yes. School drama lessons.
SANKOFF: Yes. Exactly.
SANKOFF: Exactly. With Canadian contents. So --
HEIN: I think a testament though to this story. I mean, right now, it's a story about people coming together despite their differences, about, you
know, in response to a tragedy, responding with kindness and it's, you know, certainly been a good story for us and it feels like it's an
important story to tell right now.
AMANPOUR: So, let's just go back to the beginning. Just give me the sort of nuts and bolts around the story. We know, all of us who were around
during 9/11, we know that the U.S. airspace was closed, that planes couldn't come in, they couldn't take off, there were planes already in the
air circling where were they to go, they went to?
SANKOFF: They went to Canada.
SANKOFF: Over 200 planes were landed across Canada and 38 of those went to a town called Gander, Newfoundland and nearly doubled the population in an
instance. And what was amazing is that not only did they accept the planes, not knowing who was on them, not knowing what to expect, but they
let people off of the planes, into their community buildings, stop school for the entire time that the people were there and said, "You know what,
that's not good enough. You don't look comfortable. Why don't you come home with me and stay for dinner? And then, you know what, don't go back
(INAUDIBLE), just stay overnight here and I we'll sleep in a guest room and wash your clothes for you while you freshen up in our shower."
So, it's something you would not even think of doing on a regular basis.
AMANPOUR: And it went on for a while, it wasn't just an overnight trip.
HEIN: Yes, it was five days. And what's incredible is what happened in response to that kindness is, you know, the mayor of the town said that on
the first day they had 7,000 strangers of the tarmac, by the middle of the week they had 7,000 friends and by the end of the week, they said goodbye
to 7,000 family members. And it's really incredible, you know, because we talk a lot about what the kindness of what these people did but was also
quite brave, you know, in the days right after 9/11, bringing people, strangers who they didn't know who were on those planes into their homes
and the result of that is this incredible community it was built. It was really wonderful.
AMANPOUR: And just to, again, emphasize, this was Canadian hospitality and Canadians coming to the rescue of their ally to the south and neighbor to
the south, the United States. So, when it opened on Broadway, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was there.
HEIN: Yes, he was. And he brought a number of delegates from around the world and, in fact, he brought the president's daughter as well.
AMANPOUR: Ivanka Trump?
HEIN: Ivanka Trump. And it was this -- it's incredible to have the prime minister of your country respond to a piece that you wrote to say, "This is
exactly what we're saying about cross border collaboration and working together and partnership."
AMANPOUR: I mean, the story is that he cried, he was very, very moved.
SANKOFF: Yes, yes. That's what Madam Gregoire Trudeau told us, is that he was crying, yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But just because -- I wasn't going to go into the politics right now. But you mention it was during the U.N. General Assembly, he did
bring a whole load of delegates to the United Nations and he did bring President Trump's daughter and advisor to the president, at a time when not
only relations between Canada and the USA fraught but the idea of accepting the other, of welcoming strangers, foreigners, refugees, whoever they are,
is a major big deal and a very fraught contention in the United States.
Did you have any words with Ivanka Trump about all of this?
HEIN: She left --
HEIN: She left quite quickly. But we did -- you did see her --
SANKOFF: I did, I did. She was sitting kind of behind me into the right and I kind of just turned around and peeked at the end of the show just to
see her reaction and she was just -- she was clapping and she turned to Nikki Haley, who was next to her, and said, "That was wonderful," and I was
like, "OK, you know, that's -- "
AMANPOUR: We did it.
SANKOFF: Yes, yes. Nikki Haley, of course, the now departed U.S. ambassador to United Nations.
So, what inspired you take this story? I mean, how did you even focus on this story? I mean, as I say, it was sort of we knew it was happening but
none of us really knew the depth of what you've just described. What made you want to go and turn it into a musical?
HEIN: We were actually living in New York on 9/11. My cousin was in the Towers but fortunately, escaped. So, we had no interest in writing the
9/11 story. It was just -- what we wanted to do was tell a 9/12 story.
A friend us -- a friend of ours had introduced us to the story and we found out on the 10th anniversary there was going to be a commemoration ceremony
happening in Newfoundland, and all of these come from aways, the people who were stranded there, that's what they call them, were returning there to
reunite with the friends they had made 10 years later.
And so, we got a grant from the Canadian government and we got out there for about a month and people welcomed us into their homes, we saw the same
generosity that they did and they told us thousands of stories that. You know, we couldn't write them down fast enough and each one was better than
the last one.
And so, what it became was this 9/12 story, not a story about a tragedy but a story about how a small town responded to a tragedy.
AMANPOUR: And what was the process? I mean, the people who you met, the people who were there that come from aways, were they -- do they want to
have this story told like this, were they suspicious, were they, you know, forthcoming?
SANKOFF: One thing that was really clear was the come from aways wanted the world to know how grateful they were for having been taken in and being
so well taken care of, like taking care of -- some of them even said, you know, better than family, better than your own family would take care of
you, and they were very earnest about that.
And a lot of the press at the time wanted just five-second soundbytes. And, you know, we were willing to talk for hours because we didn't really
know what we wanted. So, we just needed all the information we could have to sort of soak ourselves in it and be able to figure out what we can make
out of it.
AMANPOUR: And what were the nationalities? How did that breakdown? Obviously, there were a lot of Americans who were stranded, not able to go
back to their own country. But were there people from around the world also who are trying to visit America?
SANKOFF: Absolutely. They're also refugees. They are refugees from Moldova, they are refugees from Africa. One woman we spoke to said she had
25 people at her house from different parts of Africa and everyone was trying to figure out how to communicate, spinning globes and pointing where
they were. One person used a Bible to try to sort of like -- because the verses numbers are the same.
I mean, you just really such ingenuity and such compassion. It's -- people don't, I think, understand like, yes, it's very nice and Canadians are very
nice but this was really smart as well as really brave.
AMANPOUR: So, you two are married.
AMANPOUR: You met in college.
AMANPOUR: In Canada.
SANKOFF: In Canada.
AMANPOUR: And you went about your lives, you got married, I think right after 9/11, right?
AMANPOUR: You decided to -- that sort of spurge you to make that commitment and that decision.
HEIN: We did.
SANKOFF: Seize the day. Yes.
HEIN: We actually went down to City Hall about a month afterwards and my cousin who was in the Towers was our witness. And after we had this -- a
strange day of our wedding set in the shadow of that, afterwards, she took us on the path that she escaped on. And so, so much of the show comes from
what our experience was, which was both, you know, doing that in the days afterwards but also, the kindness that we saw, you know, and I think the
people saw around the world.
There was a real outpouring of people wanting to help and feeling helpless at the time, and that's what this story reminds us of.
AMANPOUR: And also, coincidentally, there is a married couple in this play, in the play, who become the protagonist. So, they weren't married at
the time, right? Describe this couple who then -- you know, who are very central to the play.
SANKOFF: Well, Nick and Diane. Diane is from Texas, Nick is from -- probably nearby here.
HEIN: Yes, yes.
SANKOFF: I would like to say, but my geography isn't so good for London. And they were on the same plane and somehow ended up in the same -- even
though they got separated several times, they ended up in the same shelter.
AMANPOUR: In Gander now?
SANKOFF: In -- just outside Gander and Gambo. And they were bunked down next to each other and just started talking and then found out that they
were spending more and more time together and then they had to leave. Afterwards, they had to leave and they both realized they didn't want to
leave each other. And, you know, the rest is, I guess, history.
AMANPOUR: And they got married?
SANKOFF: Yes, they did.
HEIN: They did.
SANKOFF: They did.
HEIN: And they honeymooned in Gambo, they went back to Newfoundland.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is beautiful. I mean, you couldn't make --
AMANPOUR: -- that stuff up.
SANKOFF: No, no.
HEIN: What's wonderful about Nick and Diane, I mean, they've become wonderful friends. But I think for many years afterwards they didn't tell
their story. I think they felt guilty about it, you know, about something wonderful happening for them in response to this.
And so, what's great about doing this show is it's become a way for them to celebrate how they fell in love in the first place. And so, they get to
tell their story all the time and it's really wonderful to see all of that.
AMANPOUR: That is actually an amazing reaction, to feel sort of guilt -- it's survivor's guilt, isn't it?
HEIN: Yes, yes. Exactly.
AMANPOUR: But they seem to have got over that now and they're really into it. And they were at the performance, certainly here in London on its
first -- on its opening night.
SANKOFF: Yes, yes.
SANKOFF: I mean, we have such a wonderful support network in the real people who the show is about. They cheer us on Facebook and when they can,
they come out to every opening or every special event we do and we're so grateful for their support.
HEIN: Nick and Diane went to see the show at least over 60 times. Captain Beverley Bass who's represented on the show, she's seen that over 120
times. And what's wonderful is each time we have an opening it becomes another reunion like the 10th anniversary when we first went there and we
get to reconnect to all of them.
AMANPOUR: You know, you just mentioned, Beverly Bass, I want to play a clip because she, let's remember, the first female captain of American
Airlines, finds herself landing a plane a plane in Gander and she does, in your play, a song about her life journey and her passion for flight. So,
we're going to show the clip you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American Airlines, have the prettiest planes. So, I applied as a flight engineer, but the world were two pilots, they all
complain. They said, "Girls shouldn't be in the cockpit. Hey, lady. Hey, baby. Hey. Why don't you grab us some drink?" And the flight attendant
weren't my friends back then and they said, "Are you better than us? Do you think?"
But I have (INAUDIBLE) hired and the World War 2 crew, they retired and the girls all thought much higher of me. 1986, the first female American
captain in history.
Suddenly, I'm in the cockpit. Suddenly, I've got my wings. Suddenly all of those pilots protesting me. Well, they can get their own drinks.
Suddenly, there's no one saying stay grounded. Looking down, passing them by. Suddenly, there's nothing in between me and the sky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So Beverley Cass, Captain Beverly Bass. And you say she's come many times with her husband.
HEIN: Over 120 times.
AMANPOUR: That's a lot. That's a lot of time.
HEIN: He gave her a cake on the 100th time.
AMANPOUR: And she sometimes, I hear, brings fellow female pioneers.
HEIN: She does. She's been -- time and again, she brings young women who are going into the aviation industry, other female pilots, and captains,
flight attendants who are there. She's part of a group that encourages young women to go.
And it's been really amazing to see -- we have a daughter and a lot of young women are coming to the show dressed as captains and wanting to go
into it. It's amazing.
AMANPOUR: That really -- I mean it really is very, very hot with me. And to be frank, it's really nice to know something so good came out of 9/11.
There's a lot but most people focus on the tragedy and the after effects that have been so bitter and, of course, ongoing wars and terrorism. And
it's really nice to be able to focus on the human spirit.
But this is not your first rodeo. This is not your first play. You wrote something incredibly funny, interesting, and bizarre about your own life,
AMANPOUR: My Incredible what, Jewish?
HEIN: So our first show is called My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding which is -- it's another true story. It's about my mom who came
out to me when I was a teenager and she rediscovered the Jewish faith and fell in love with a Wiccan woman and they --
AMANPOUR: And Wiccan woman for the uninitiated?
HEIN: So Wiccan is a Pagan religion. It's witchcraft.
SANKOFF: White witchcraft.
AMANPOUR: So your mother married a witch?
HEIN: Yes. Yes. And I made a musical about it.
AMANPOUR: How does that go down at home?
HEIN: They loved it. We were very nervous initially but just like the comforting ways, they -- I think initially, there is this what's the
musical going to be like of our lives and then they come, and they laugh, and they cry.
I think similarly with Come From Away, our main goal at the beginning was just to get it right, just to make sure that they would be OK with it. And
that's our main audience. When they come, they hold hands and they sing along and it means the world to us.
AMANPOUR: And you both are, you just mentioned your mother got divorced, and then she came out as a lesbian, she got married, you made the play, et
cetera. But you're both from divorced families, right?
AMANPOUR: And you, at your wedding, I mean suddenly you found yourself enveloped by all these moms.
SANKOFF: Yes. Yes. So between us, we have my mother, my bio mom, my stepmom, David's bio mom and her wife, and then --
HEIN: My dad's wife.
SANKOFF: And then your dad's wife. And so yes --
HEIN: Five mothers trying to dress Irene.
SANKOFF: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: And how did that go down?
SANKOFF: I ended up locking myself in the bathroom actually, yes.
HEIN: I'm glad we're talking about this in outskirt.
AMANPOUR: You know, it's --
HEIN: I think it's OK. It's great.
AMANPOUR: I think it's wonderful.
SANKOFF: Yes. It's just it's a lot and it's OK to say it's a lot.
AMANPOUR: Yes. How did your dad take all of this?
HEIN: Equally well. It's interesting. His company also has been incredibly supportive. Our whole family is.
AMANPOUR: So tell me about the power of theater and the power of the musical. What made you want to make Come From Away into a musical, not
just a play?
SANKOFF: That you can't tell a story about Newfoundland without including the music. The music is the DNA of the people out there. And every house
you go to, they play one instrument or three.
And that's basically how they get through the long winters and the cold is basically getting into each other's kitchens and having kitchen parties.
And that's what we have until we were out there.
I mean it wasn't that cold because it was September. It was a gorgeous September. But we ended up in people's backyards with them playing
instruments and trying to teach us how to put a Bauer on and various other things.
HEIN: Yes. It's this incredible, authentic music. It actually comes from [13:35:00] England and Ireland who a lot of immigrants came over there and
landed in Newfoundland. And the music is this life-affirming music that gets you up on your feet. It's fiddles and accordions, hand drums.
And it's the way they respond to hardship. They -- in the dead of winter, they will all stay warm by telling stories and singing songs. And I think
that's what we want to do. We want to create this kitchen party because it's how they respond to this tragedy, with warmth and kindness and with
One of the things that surprised us a lot is so many of the stories they told us were actually funny and made us laugh because it's how they take
care of you. They'll be telling a story where they'll see you about to well up. It's a horrible story and the minute you start to cry, they're
like, "No, no, no, here's a joke."
AMANPOUR: Oh, here's how it turned out OK?
HEIN: Yes, yes, exactly.
AMANPOUR: So now to the Notgrove. You're Canadians. Everybody loves Canada these days. Everybody wants to be Canadian, especially many people
who live in the United States. Come and tell him that.
HEIN: I think --
AMANPOUR: How does it feel?
HEIN: So we're incredibly proud Canadians. I grew up in Ottawa. I used to spray painted maple leaf on my face every Canada Day and run down the
street with a flag wrapped around my shoulder. So it's incredible telling a story.
That initially -- we had just fallen in love with these people. We fell in love with the story. And to see it be embraced as a Canadian story is
incredible in itself.
But then to see it embraced as a universal story is even more wonderful to some degree. Because you see that the values that you grew up with at home
are actually universal and to that, on that day, we all wanted the same thing. We all wanted kindness. We all wanted -- we're all in the same
boat. Despite all our differences, we all came together.
And I think we're very fortunate that Canada is representing a lot of that right now. But I think we're also really fortunate to remember that it's
something that we all want. And that in times of tragedy, people can respond with kindness and with open doors and with welcome. And even not
just in response to tragedy but every day, it becomes a practice of responding with kindness.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is a real sharp relief right now. Prime Minister Trudeau has been a pioneer in welcoming Syrian refugees. And the Canadian
communities have really done everything they can to welcome them. On climate change, the prime minister is really there. He's not about walls.
You live in New York.
SANKOFF: Right now, yes.
AMANPOUR: When you tell your neighbors that you're Canadian and living in New York, what do they say?
SANKOFF: They ask us if they can move in with us back in Canada because we still have a house there. And I'm always really quick to say our success
couldn't have happened without the things that Canada embraces which is we both went to public high schools.
I went to a public arts high school. We both got grants to go to university and loans to go to university. The public health care system
has kept us going through. We had subsidized daycare including grants to write the show.
I mean we are -- I mean the poster children for I guess what you would call maybe the Canadian dream of look, if we all just help each other and help
people when they need help, look what can happen.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it's remarkable. And soon, Come From Away will be a film.
HEIN: It will.
HEIN: We're working on it right now.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, it's marvelous. Thank you so much. Irene Sankoff --
AMANPOUR: -- David Hein, thank you so much indeed.
HEIN: Our pleasure.
SANKOFF: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, for a little political theater. For many people, Russia is synonymous with the moral investigation, with election tampering and, of
course, with President Putin. But for the media organizations that dare to criticize the Kremlin from inside, the story is more complex.
For over three decades, the journalist Yevgenia Albats has been a prominent investigative reporter inside Russia since 2009. She's the editor of "The
New Times Magazine", one of the only opposition publications within the country.
Through her work, Albats has covered everything from government corruption to Vladimir Putin's declining approval ratings. And she sat down with our
Michel Martin to talk about what it's like to report in Russia and why she thinks the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Yevgenia Albats, thank you so much for talking with us.
. YEVGENIA ALBATS, EDITOR, THE NEW TIMES MAGAZINE: Thank you very much for having me here.
MARTIN: Just for -- to remind people of your work that you are the editor of "The New Times". It's one of the largest and one of the few remaining
opposition news outlets in Russia. I think many people may remember that you were hit with this very large fine last fall that some feared would
close your publication. So what is it that the Russian government is so mad at you about?
ALBATS: I think the Russian government is mad about any publication which doesn't praise Putin for being a genius or for being great or for being the
only leader possible for Russia. I think that Russian government doesn't like any publication that is critical Russian government, that exposes
Russian government that is writing about corruption of the Russian government, and all this kind of fraud that they commit all around the
country and abroad as well.
MARTIN: I understand that it's hard to gauge because I don't know if there is any independent polling. There certainly isn't a lot of media apart
from State Run Media. But -- well, how do you assess President Putin's standing with the public right now? What would -- how would you describe
ALBATS: You are right. There are very few -- there is just one independent pollster. All other pollsters are under this sort of control.
However, judging even by their official numbers, Putin's ratings are going down the hue.
So he -- his approval rating as of recently was 42, 43 percent. It's lowered by many standards but in a totalitarian country like Russia where
people basically 24/7 day, here Putin did that, Putin helped them with that. There's -- Putin is what all these state propaganda media are
talking about nonstop.
So, however, I think there is slowly but surely people do get to realize that this unlimited power is getting too dangerous for the survival of
Russian people. And, in fact, for the future here on the road, Russians are losing their incomes. Life is getting much more difficult than it was
used to be.
The country is under sanctions. It's getting on the sidelines of the world politics and et cetera. So I think that especially for business people,
it's getting extremely difficult.
MARTIN: Are other sanctions having an effect on --
MARTIN: -- the daily lives? Can you give an example of how?
ALBATS: First of all, the access to capital is much more problematic for businesses. A lot of businesses, they are closing their operations and
they are leaving Russia. On top of that, there is growing what is now called Putin's Exodus. Forty-one percent of young Russians said in the
last poll, they said that they want to leave Russia.
MARTIN: They want to leave?
ALBATS: Yes. They don't want to live in Russia. That's the kind of impact that, in fact, sanctions do have.
MARTIN: Give us a sense of how Putin rules. How does he continue to hold on to power?
ALBATS: Putin is an autocrat but it's not just that simple. Putin is a graduate of the Soviet Union's Political Police, the KGB. The KGB which
was one of the most powerful organizations of the Soviet Union and the one that really never was reformed during the post-Soviet Union times.
These are people whose background and whose education and whose professional life doesn't allow for any democracy. These are people who
believe that ordinary Russians are not good enough or not educated enough to make their own electoral choices.
There isn't that Putin is capable to govern the country for 18-plus years is that they don't allow for any real opposition to exist. There is a very
well-known opposition leader Alexei Navalny, they didn't allow him to run against Putin back to the presidential election a year ago. They just keep
So they're using all kind of dirty tricks so that the political field is getting totally empty. Parliament which is supposed to control the
executive like it is in the United States doesn't really exist in Russia. The people who are elected there, they elected by the will of Kremlin, not
by the will of the people and et cetera. Suddenly, you know, the democratic institutions [13:45:00] are almost totally destroyed.
MARTIN: Is it true that there are actually more former KGB agents in the Russian government now than there were during the Soviet era?
ALBATS: During the Soviet Union era, there were almost -- none of them were in the government. There was the separate institution, the KGB.
However, there was ongoing competition between two major institutions of the Soviet rule. The one that was -- the Communist Party which wasn't a
party but the form of government and the KGB.
Now, the graduates of the KBG, they comprise almost 75 percent of all officers in the administration of the president of the Russian Federation
and in the Russian government. I cannot imagine another example like that when a political post, a Secret Service takes over the way it did in our
And it's very difficult to overcome because obviously people from these type of organizations, they're accustomed to conduct the corridor style
operations. They can't operate an open. They don't allow for any open democratic politics to exist because they get -- right away, they get
exposed and -- so anyway, it's a very, very dangerous form of cowardness.
MARTIN: Now, as you know, the major papers, the major news outlets are very keen to cover the ongoing investigation into what role Russia may have
played in the 2016 election. And I was interested in how this plays where you are. I mean do you think that our concern is justified?
ALBATS: I think there are two sides to the story. For one, it's not the first time that Russia, or then it was the Soviet Union, interfered in the
American elections. In fact, it happened when Reagan went for a re- election and there was a whole skill operation conducted by all three resident tourists in the United States. One in New York City and
Washington D.C. and San Francisco that conducted a smear operation against Reagan under the slogan Reagan Means War so.
MARTIN: I don't think a lot of Americans remember this.
ALBATS: They probably don't remember. There are -- but we know their outcome was quite the opposite. He had a landslide victory. He carried
out 49 states I believe back then. I think that it wasn't that much that Putin and his guys were helping Donald Trump as much as they were trying to
create some sort of chaos in the United States.
They wanted to portray the American democracy is a chaotic state of affairs. However, you know when -- sometimes I feel like it's a little bit
MARTIN: Interesting. Tell me more about that.
ALBATS: I think that it's very easy to start blaming another country or another leader, a leader for another country for what happens at home. And
sometimes, it's becoming difficult to see problems that exist in your homeland.
MARTIN: Can you just talk a little bit more about that from your perspective? Like what would Putin get out of it? What have been -- or
what would the Russian government have gotten out of it? Was it to -- because they really didn't want to see Donald Trump get elected or they
just really didn't like Hillary Clinton. I mean just based on your reporting.
ALBATS: Mostly, I think that Hillary Clinton was the best-prepared president in the history of the United -- in the latest history of the
United States. And I think that Russians were pretty much aware that Hillary Clinton was very knowledgeable about the strong points and weak
points of President Putin and his allies.
I think that Putin saw Clinton as somebody who is capable to withstand him, to stand against him. So that was one of the reasons why they decided, of
course, to conduct this smear campaign using Facebook, Twitter, et cetera against Hillary personally. That's number one.
Number two, I think that the most important girl was to show to Russian public and to the public in the third world countries that American
democracy is not about the will of the people but what is a chaotic state of affairs.
When there is -- God knows what's going on on the ground there, especially since Donald Trump kept saying that there was election fraud, even though
we do know that, in fact, the election fraud is very limited in the United States. [13:50:00] In fact, it's almost nonexistent unlike in many other
countries like Russia. So I think for Putin, it was very important to show to Russians that democracy doesn't truly exist.
MARTIN: What about now? What do you think President Putin thinks of President Trump now?
ALBATS: Judging by what he does, he probably is very upset because Trump wasn't able to deliver what he was expected to deliver. You know, when
Donald Trump won elections in November 2016, I remember vividly that there were celebrations going on almost in each and every Russian agency.
ALBATS: Absolutely. Celebrating Donald Trump's victory. They were drinking champagne. The expectation was that Trump was going to renounce
sanctions and everyone will go back to business as usual. It has corruption. Them, have corruption. You know, let's just be friends. We
have a lot in common.
MARTIN: Do you think that we are giving President Putin more credit than he deserves in a way? Are we in some way feeding him by giving him this
kind of attention in the United States?
ALBATS: President Putin doesn't read any English. But I believe that he's given a digest of American newspapers. And I think that each day he reads
American newspaper, he thinks that he has become the rule of the universe, the king of the world, the one who's running politics not just in Russia
but across the globe. And especially, first and foremost, in the United States. I think he feels himself very proud.
MARTIN: Journalists have been killed in Russia, including a colleague of yours in 2014. And I do want to ask you if you are personally concerned
for your own safety.
ALBATS: There were a lot of my colleagues who got killed in the line of duty. And one of my best friends on the political got killed in 2006.
However, I really believe that journalism is a quite dangerous profession all across the globe. It's not just Russia.
So it's the kind of job that either you do it or you don't. Each of us would have the possibility to write about my things, like about cosmetics,
right, flowers, fashion, and your faith. But if you decide to write about politics, then you're getting into somebody's -- you're creating problems
with some people and they don't like you.
MARTIN: Well, does it concern you then when you hear the American president refer to the media as the enemy of the people, something that he
has done on a number of occasions?
ALBATS: You know when I first read it on Twitter and, of course, I've followed President of the United States on Twitter as probably everybody
else in the world, I was stunned. When a person who is the leader of the free world calls press as enemies of the people, that reminds me about what
Stalin used to say about any opposition in my country.
In fact, my grandfather was executed during Stalin's times just because he happened to study in the United States and he was an engineer. And he was
called the enemy of the people.
So this is very dangerous when a leader of a huge country starts talking terms of enemies. I just hope that the American political system is strong
enough, its institutions are strong enough to overcome this to protect the American democracy.
MARTIN: Yevgenia Albats, thank you so much for speaking with us.
ALBATS: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
AMANPOUR: And that was a powerful reminder about the importance of political journalism and the dangers to those who do pursue it.
Join us again tomorrow when I will actually be in Hanoi, Vietnam for a special coverage of the second summit between President Trump and North
Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un.
But that is it for us for now. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on
Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.