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What Has to Change in Our Societies?; The Influence of Robert Murdoch; Jonathan Mahler, Staff Writer, New York Times and Jim Rutenberg, Media Columnist, New York Times, were Interviewed About Rupert Murdoch. "To Kill a Mockingbird," an Adaptation by Aaron Sorkin; Aaron Sorkin, Playwright, "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Jeff Daniels, Actor, "To Kill a Mockingbird," were Interviewed About "To Kill a Mockingbird"; "To Kill a Mockingbird," an Adaptation by Aaron Sorkin; Wynton Marsalis' Music Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 11, 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." Today, we're looking back at some of
our favorite interviews from this year. So, here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you to my very good friend Rupert Murdoch. There's only one Rupert that we know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A deep dive into Rupert Murdoch's empire influence, after a "New York Times" investigation laid bare the media mogul and his family.
Plus, adapting America's best-loved novels for Broadway. My conversation with Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels about their take on "To Kill a
Mockingbird" and why it remains as relevant as ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WYNTON MARSALIS, MUSICIAN: It's infection (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And one of the greatest jazz musicians of our time, our Walter Isaacson sits down with his hero, Wynton Marsalis.
Welcome to the program, everybody. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
It can be hard to get a handle on our chaotic, divisive political times. Why has this all happened? What has to fundamentally changed in our
For months two "New York Times" reporters have been trying to answer those questions by looking at the influence of a singularly important media
mogul, he is Rupert Murdoch.
Over the past nearly seven decades after inheriting a single regional newspaper in his native Australia, Murdoch has built a global empire in
news corporation, from Kennedy to Trump, from Australia to England, he is an unmatched political force.
And in the United States, his "Fox News" has developed a symbiotic relationship with the White House. Relentlessly defending the president
and even staffing key government positions from communications to economic roles.
In the U.K. where the Brexit bedlam rolls on, Murdoch's "Sun" tabloid vilified the European Union for years with fake stories, for instance,
claiming Brussels was going to ban excessively curved bananas. Years before Brexit made an inquiry into the power of tabloid press, prime
minister David Cameron admitted the reality of British politics during a ruckus parliamentary debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, THEN-BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I think on all sides of the House there's a bit of a need for a hand on heart. We all did too much
cozying up to Rupert Murdoch, I think we would agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, it's an extraordinary tale of accumulating ultimate power. The Jim Rutenberg and Jonathan Mahler covered three continents and
conducted more than 150 interviews to expose. And they're joining me now here in New York.
Welcome to the program, gentlemen
JONATHAN MAHLER, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you for having us.
JIM RUTENBERG, MEDIA COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for your time.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about this incredible story. And it is a story that has been reported and dissected and investigated for many years, but
you've gone an extra mile. Why now? What about our times now that made you tell this story?
MAHLER: Well, I think it was we sort of felt that what was happening, some of this global phenomenon with this right-wing populous wave kind of
rising, which we saw with Trump, which we saw with Brexit and the reality that Murdoch was sort of in the middle of it made us feel like, you know,
it's time to take a fresh look.
RUTENBERG: And there's really not any single media company that's in the middle of this uprising the way Murdoch's is. They are so in the thick of
the populous movement in the U.K., they're so part of the populous, nationalist movement here in the United States, and, of course, they have
unrivaled power in Australia.
AMANPOUR: Let's just start taking it from his perspective for a moment. He says he's a pragmatist. I'm going to ask you to delve into what you
think are his motivating needs to be involved, as you say, across these continents.
But I just want to go back to one of the U.K. parliamentary hearings in one of the scandals when one of his newspapers was accused of illegally hacking
into people's telephones and their cells and basically getting information that way. And he talks about his asks, if you like, or not from various
politicians. Here's what went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBET JAY, COUNSEL TO LEVESON INQUIRY: No express favors were offered to you by Mrs. Thatcher, is that right?
RUPERT MURDOCH, THEN-CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NEWS CORPORATION: And none asked. I think if I'd asked for anything, Mr. (INAUDIBLE) certainly would have
JAY: But you wouldn't have be so undeft and cack-handed to have ask directly would you, Mr. Murdoch?
MURDOCH: I hope not. I've never asked the prime minister for anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. It's a really interesting question that the interrogator asked, "You wouldn't have been so cack-handed to have asked directly?" And
again, Murdoch's always claimed he's never asked the prime minister for anything. But there's been a symbiotic relationship [13:05:00] in the
front door of Downey Street, out the backdoor, in the White House and the rest of it.
MAHLER: Right. I mean, and the beauty of being Rupert Murdoch is that you don't really have to ask for anything. His agenda is clear because of his
business interests and his agenda really is to continuously grow his empire and his politics are clear, you know, which are conservative, which are
pushing towards deregulation and pushing towards lower taxes.
So, you know, for him, you know, everything is sort of clear and everything is communicated, you know, indirectly.
RUTENBERG: And the politicians who kind of have his favor through his newspapers or be it the opinion side of "Fox News" or in Australia tend to
do what he needs done to grow his business, to wipe away those regulations which also go with his free market and deregulatory ideology.
AMANPOUR: And, you know, unless somebody says or lest his side says, "Hey, look, we supported Tony Blair, the reform-minded labor prime minister."
So, thread that needle, he also supported a labor government coming to power in the U.K. back in 1997.
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, there are -- you know, there are certainly -- well, I mean, that is the most notable exception. But, you know, he is sort of
willing to sort of look at centrist politicians too. But, you know, if you look over the sweep of his career, you know, he's always really pushing
everything to the right, he's always lining up on the right, whether it's, you know, Reagan, whether it's Bush, you know, whether it's Theresa May,
whether it's Donald Trump, really it's -- the course of history has really been nudged to the right with the help of Rupert Murdoch.
RUTENBERG: And if you look at where the Murdoch papers and Tony Blair came together kind of most symbiotically, it was to push the Iraq war and the
campaign to get in the Iraq war. So, I think he would have gotten that as easily from a conservative politician as from labor.
AMANPOUR: That was several years into the Blair reign.
AMANPOUR: But let me say what you wrote, because it is fascinating, this - - how his papers, his TV, have had such a massive influence on the key issues of our day, whether it's race, whether it's immigration, whether
it's, as you mentioned taxes, but also the Iraq war and other such things. You say, "His various news outlets have inexorably pushed the flow of
history to the right across the Anglosphere, whether they were advocating for the U.S. and its allies to go war in Iraq in 2003, undermining global
efforts to combat climate change or vilifying people of color at home or abroad as dangerous threats to a right -- sorry, a White majority.
Flesh that out in color. We know about the Iraq war for sure. And I remember during 2002, any journalist who questioned the administration's
rational for what turned out to be a lie, a falsehood, about weapons of mass destruction, were tainted as traitors, as terrorist lovers and the
like. It was "Fox News" that heavily pushed the White House agenda there and obviously, the Blair support as well.
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, certainly the most recent manifestation of this, you know, what we're suggesting with the last clause is what's happening now on
"Fox News", which is this, you know, very strongly kind of nationalist, kind of ethnonationalist agenda which -- you know, which you can also see
at their outlet in Australia, Sky News Australia which where they have effectively re-created "Fox News" during prime time and are pushing the
same anti-immigrant sentiments, you know, that we see here in the United States.
RUTENBERG: And it's very -- the Australian example is very interesting. We had a link in our article to a moment where one of his hosts is talking
about this threat to culture that immigrants, especially, immigrants who are Muslim could kind of infect the culture or threaten the culture of
Australia, and that link now is blocked because it's inappropriate for YouTube.
MAHLER: You know, and one could see the same thing. Of course, even in the U.K., I mean, with kind of the move behind Brexit was as well kind of a
closed borders idea.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, look, I have to, you know, point out right now that the danger of this kind of activity because this Sky after dark
program that you're talking about, I mean, one could say, "Well, look what happened, it was an Australian who went to New Zealand and massacred 50
people in two mosques." I mean --
AMANPOUR: -- do you see the actual tangible fallout of this policy and this politics?
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, that's a very stark example. And I mean, one of the sort of striking things we write about towards the end of the piece is a
young woman who was an editorial employee at Sky News Australia quit in protest after that Christchurch massacre and wrote a sort of blog post
about why she was quitting and she said, you know, "For two years I was aware that I was working at this news outlet that was [13:10:00] fermenting
this sort of radical ideology and sort of mainstreaming it. And now, I feel like -- you know, of course, I can't go on."
So, you know, while it's -- you maybe can't -- there is necessarily a direct link there, it's certainly fair to say this kind of anti-immigrant
environment, this anti-immigrant sentiment and this mainstreaming of it is truly a danger.
RUTENBERG: Right. And -- but there really are -- there -- you can -- they are not the originators of this. There's anti-immigrant sentiment growing
throughout the Western culture and -- but they are tapping into it and it rates. So, this is programming that they -- there's an audience for this.
It's -- there's always a ratings angle, there's always a profit angle too, and this is what rates. So, they are going there.
AMANPOUR: Well, look, I want to talk about the landscape both in the United States, obviously, Australia, and the United Kingdom that enables
this kind of over political broadcasting.
You're both media reporters and investigators. I wonder whether you can discuss how, you know, Ronald Reagan in the '80s, completely deregulating
the FCC, the issue of fairness doctrine and that affects TV in the U.S.
In the U.K., the TV is much more regulated but the newspapers aren't, they can be overtly political on their front pages as well as in their
editorials and, of course, the issue in Australia as well. I mean, the climate allows the Murdoch's to just swim in those currents. They're not
busting any rules.
MAHLER: Yes. I mean, that's right. And that has long been Rupert Murdoch's agenda, of course, to sort of get rid of those anti-monopoly
rules, to get rid of those rules that mandate kind of fairness and balance in reporting. And that was the big move that -- or moves really that
happened during the Reagan administration. It was the deregulation and also the removal of the fairness doctrine, which once mandated that -- you
know, treated the airwaves as this precious commodity and mandated that news reporting present both sides of every issue, you know, that now seems
with -- you know, with things like "Fox News", that now seems like kind of a quaint notion.
But in the U.K., this -- many of these rules do still exist and are more robust and are enforced. And in fact, Rupert has run into more trouble
there in recent years as a result.
RUTENBERG: Interestingly, you know, the media industry here in the U.S. when it started, there was a sense of when the modern media kind of
television, radio, that the civilization, the society said, "We -- this is a precious commodity, much harm can come of this, much good can come of
this. We should have some regulation around that." And that still exist on broadcast television.
Murdoch was very much part of the movement, a very important part of the movement, of knocking that down, which it appeals to us as journalists as -
- in free speech rights advocates. But, you know, this would come as a (ph) debate a new with social there are no rules but Rupert Murdoch very
much set the predicate for that, at least into kind of pushing the barriers away for his businesses.
AMANPOUR: And let's get to sort of the whys and wherefors of his -- the people he backs politically. You write about a meeting in 2015 where
Murdoch met with Trump and also Ivanka and Jared and said he wanted to run for president and that Murdoch was not initially a big fan. What happened
to turn that around? And now, we read, you know, that they're in daily contact, that, you know, we said "Fox News" sent a former, you know, top
official to be the communications chief at the White House. I mean, how did it go from not being a fan to being a very, very close ally? Who calls
MAHLER: It was really a pragmatic decision. It was a decision that he wanted to have access to a potential president. And -- you know, and I
think he also recognized that this populous wave was rising and it had sort of improbably swept Trump into the Republican nomination and was, of
course, driving Brexit as well. So, I think he recognized that.
But I think above all, he's a pragmatist, he's a businessman and he wanted to have someone in the White House whom he could pick up the phone and
RUTENBERG: But there's also a side to Rupert Murdoch that we hear about a lot, he loves the proximity to power personally. He loves it. It's a
thrill to be called by the president of the United States. He's always wanted it. He's wanted it since he landed in this country. He was hoping
for more from Reagan, in fact. So, there's also a person here who just lives for this.
AMANPOUR: So, this has now brings us to, I don't know whether it's the end of the story but it may be the end of Rupert's story of being in charge, at
least, directly. His selling so much network to Disney and the legacy that is his two sons, one, Lachlan, who is much more conservative in the mold of
his father, one, James, who is much more liberal and wanted to change things around.
How much of Rupert's power has been diluted? And what will "Fox" and the [13:15:00] empire look like going forward under the inheritance, so to
MAHLER: Well, in terms of what remains of the empire, I mean, the -- a big chunk of it, I mean, really two-thirds of it just in terms dollar value is
now gone. He sold the big Hollywood studio, 21st Century Fox. But what is important to remember is that what remains are really his main tools of
influence or, you know, as we describe it in the story, a political weapon, frankly, it's "Fox News" and it's all of his newspapers around the world.
So, it is -- while he has vastly diminished the size of his empire, it's still going to be every bit as powerful and, in some ways, more powerful
because now it's been kind of unshackled from the studio, which was in some ways kind of a check on its most kind of radical politics.
RUTENBERG: And the question you hear in Australia where they really know Lachlan best is will he be like his father? Is he the same sort of
pragmatist or in fact, does Lachlan even more ideological? Does he -- would he stick with the papers even if the side that they're with is losing
and a more liberal politician is likely to become, say, prime minister? So, that remains to be seen. He may be.
What we do know is Lachlan's brother, James, had he inherited the empire, I do think it would have looked very different. It would be -- it would pull
back from some the politicking, I believe, it would pull back from some of the more influence pedaling. He envisioned the business in a very -- going
in a very different direction.
AMANPOUR: Really fascinating, really interesting to talk to you gentlemen. Jim Rutenberg, Jonathan Mahler, thank you very much so much indeed for that
RUTENBERG: Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: Now, few books have packed a political and culture punch like "To Kill a Mockingbird," recognized as America's most popular novel, the
book has sold more than 40 million copies since it was first published in 1960. And the movie version is ranked as one of the greatest ever by the
American film institute.
It's a coming-of-age story set in Alabama during the Jim Crow segregation era of the 1930s. It's told from the point of view from 6-year-old Scout
Finch, whose father, the lawyer, Atticus Finch, chooses to defend a Black man wrongly accused of raping a White woman.
Now, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is on Broadway in a new adaptation written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of "Hits in Every Medium," including "The Social
Network," "The West Wing" and "A Few Good Men.". The adaptation stars Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. And the play is a major hit, smashing Broadway
So, why did Aaron Sorkin, at first, consider it a suiciding mission when he was asked to adapt the novel? I asked when he and Jeff Daniels joined me
here in New York.
Jeff Daniels, Aaron Sorkin, welcome to the program.
AARON SORKIN, PLAYWRIGHT, "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD": Good to be here.
AMANPOUR: I know everybody's asked you this question but I need to ask you this question. I mean, this is not an ordinary book, movie, play. This
must have been so daunting to take on something that is so engrained in American culture.
SORKIN: Yes, it was. Really, the key to being free to write a new play was when I stopped using the word adaptation. When -- after a while, my
first draft was an adaptation and it wasn't very good. After that, once I said, "You know what, you're going to take these circumstances, the
circumstances in the book and these characters, you're going to write it in your play rather than gently swaddle the book in bubble wrap and try to
transfer it to the stage."
AMANPOUR: And swaddle the movie as well because that's also in --
AMANPOUR: -- so many people's minds. You know, everybody has seen Gregory Peck take it on. What happened? How did you get to play this? I know you
both worked together before, "The Newsroom," "Steve Jobs" the film. What was the process of asking you or did you know about it and did you want to
JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR, "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD": I didn't hear about it until Aaron turned to me at some function two years ago and said, "We have the
rights to Harper Lee's book. And would you like to play Atticus?" And you can't believe it and then you get to work. It really was just like, "OK,
that's next OK." And there is no -- you just go, "Let me know when there's a script, which will be a year from now, and you go."
AMANPOUR: And to the point you're so committed, that you're not doing what big names often do, and that is just a few weeks or a few months, you were
committed for a year, no breaks, no holidays, no off days.
DANIELS: No. Oh, I get Mondays off. But yes, eight shows a week and in it for a year. And it's -- look, it's -- I've done this a lot. I've done
this for over 40 years. And these don't happen. This is "Hamilton." this is "Angels in America," this is "Death of a Salesman" when it was Lee J.
Cobb or Miller and here is the first production. That is what we had the potential to be.
And it's Atticus Finch, it's the Schubert Theater, it's Aaron, it's Bart Sheer (ph), Scott Rhoden. The team was there. Where are you going to go?
So, to come in for 18 weeks and then gun out of here, no. It was one year and let's see if we can do a year.
The "Old Boys" used to do it. Fonda, Henry Fonda did Mr. Roberts for over a year. Countless of other guys used to do that kind of thing. So, let's
bring that back. So, I'm going to see how I do. I also will be interesting to see how the performance marinades.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is interesting because it already marinated in your telling, Aaron, in your rewriting not an homage but, as you say, a new
play, right. You're not, you know, not steeped in nostalgia, although this is something like yikes. I mean, sure the real, real "Mockingbird" fans
were ready to pounce if you got one scene out of step or one line wrong.
SORKIN: Yes. I'm sure that they were. But as I said, once I was able to sort of free myself from the fear of ruining anyone's childhood, once I was
able to go [13:20:00] ahead and write the play I wanted, I think that we were actually able to leverage the audience's expectations into a new level
for the play.
And what I mean by that is not only does the play stand on its own for anyone who hasn't read "To Kill a Mockingbird" or seen "To Kill a
Mockingbird" but for those who have, the very first moment of the play, when the front curtain flies out, and it's actually not a curtain at all,
it's a wall, and we're looking at not at all what we expected to be looking at. We thought we were going to be looking at a front porch or it be (ph)
rural street or maybe a courtroom, but instead, we're looking at what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, broken glass and peeling paint,
someplace that hasn't been visited in 60 years.
And the first thing that we hear is one of these beloved characters Scout, the first line of the play is something doesn't seem right. They're
questioning what's in the book. And the audience is being asked to do the same thing. To go back to those conversations, we had in English class in
eighth or ninth grade and realize we didn't talk about everything that we should talk about and that this is giving a new take.
So, like I said, it's written for people who haven't seen "Mockingbird" and it was written for people who have. And for those who have, a minute are
two into the play, they understand that they're watching something new.
AMANPOUR: And they really are because a minute or two into the play, if I'm not mistaken, you bring on the trial scene.
SORKIN: That's right.
AMANPOUR: And that is not what happened in the book, it happens in chapter 16 or way, you know, towards the middle of the book. Why, both of you, do
you think that was the right way to put this on stage? Why not, you know, unfold it in the same way and build up the home scene and what was going on
DANIELS: There's no added value to just doing an A to Z of the book. I mean, put us in 24 folding chairs and we'll read you the book or take
Horton's foot screenplay and put it on the stage. That's not what we were supposed to do and we would have gotten slapped for that. So, what's the
added value of doing a play of "Mockingbird" now. And that's what we're chasing.
AMANPOUR: And for you -- also, I would pause it that a trial scene is really exciting and it actually adds to the drama and you kept going back
and forth, trial and then back story and trial and then back inside and around and I felt that kept it really, really exciting, even though you
know the story, you are still waiting to see the verdict and the (INAUDIBLE), I thought that was really, really effective.
In the book, Atticus is not really the main protagonist, it's really Scout and to an extent, Jim, her brother and Dill, the friend. But in this play,
you are much more of a protagonist and you have turned Atticus from, you know, a good, decent man sort of with all of the answers into somebody
who's actually questioning what's happening. So, Atticus has changed a little bit, right?
SORKIN: Yes. I mean, I think you just did an excellent job describing that change. In the book, you know, and movie, he may be the lead
character but he's not the protagonist in that -- a protagonist has to change. A protagonist has to be put through something and changed by the
end, and in the book that's Scout. A protagonist also has to have a flaw. Scout's flaw is that she's young. And what changes is that she losses some
of her innocence along the way.
In the play, Scout and Jim and Dill, they remain protagonists but Atticus is the central protagonist. He had to change. He to have a flaw. And
what he changes from to and what that flaw is seems to be landing with the audience.
AMANPOUR: Well, and the flaw is? How would you describe the flaw?
DANIELS: Of Atticus?
DANIELS: An over belief in goodness in everyone. That eventually right will overcome wrong. That evil will be vanquished. Atticus, he's got to
start here and go to there. And when we started him, he's a small-town lawyer who stays out of controversy. I handle land disputes, service
agreements, foreclosures and can write wills.
AMANPOUR: And you get paid in vegetables?
DANIELS: And I get paid in vegetables sometimes when they don't have cash. So, that's who he is. And he sits on his porch, knows that the KKK is
around but he doesn't get involved with that. He just does. He got to raise his two kids by himself, that's what he's doing. The judge comes
over and said, "I got a criminal case. The lawyer we have is incompetent. You're really needed because the guy is a hundred percent innocent. And if
you don't it the guy will go to prison for 18 years. Get off your porch, Atticus." And he does.
AMANPOUR: And I just think -- I mean, it's obviously so moving because it is [13:20:00] still relevant today, that this is written about what's
happening in I think 1930s Alabama and it's happening today. And I was stunned by what Calpurnia sort of said to you, the housekeeper nanny who --
DANIELS: She has a voice in the play.
AMANPOUR: She has a voice. She didn't in the book. She barely did in the film. But to what you're saying, you know, Atticus thinks that, you know,
there's basically goodness in everybody. She says, "Jim, your son was just sticking up for you," and you said, "I believe in being respectful. And
Calpurnia shoots back, "No matter who you're disrespecting by doing it." And I thought that was -- what did you have to introduce for today's
audience and today's reality that didn't exist in the book?
SORKIN: Yes. I mean, that's a moment like a number of others that gets an audible response from the audience.
SORKIN: And there's nothing -- there wasn't a new event that I had to introduce in the play. Like I said, we took the circumstances from the
book and just looked at them a little bit differently. Calpurnia, as you pointed out, she's one of two -- only two significant African-American
characters in the novel and the movie, the other being Tom Robinson, the accused. And in this story about racial tension in the small town in the
south, neither of the two African-American characters have much to say on the subject.
AMANPOUR: Was that sort of -- do you question why Harper Lee didn't or was that just because of the times in which she wrote the book?
SORKIN: I chalk it up to the times and I don't --
DANIELS: She went pretty far for early '60s.
SORKIN: She did. And I would hate to give anyone the impression that I'm trying to correct what I perceive are mistakes that Harper Lee made. I'm
not. It's just that it's 60 years later now and to squander 60 years of hindsight would be a mistake. Tom and Cal have much more of a voice in the
play not because I'm saying, "Well, it's only fair. We're (INAUDIBLE) now and the Black character should have something to say." It's that I want to
hear what the -- it's going to -- it can only add to the drama if these are two other voices coming at Atticus.
And as you pointed out, in the book, Atticus is a guy who has the answers. He's kind of carved out of marble. He's unflappable. In the play, he
wrestles with questions. And one of those is -- you know, his mantra is goodness could be found in everyone. People around him, many of whom are
marginalized people, disagree with him.
AMANPOUR: So, the, you know, conflicting issues of justice. You have an amazing closing argument speech. And in the end, basically you say to the
jury, "We have to heal this wound, we have to start with justice in this room."
Just before during the trial, the town drunk, who is not really drunk, has said to Dill, who's very upset about everything, he says something like --
oh, yes, he says, "When he gets up, he'll get used to the cruelty." Obviously, the cruelty of what we all saw happening to Tom Robinson.
Justice or cruelty? I mean, what should we learn about that for today?
SORKIN: Link Deas says to Dill, and he is referring specifically to the cross-examination, he just saw Tom Robinson get put through, where he's
called a boy and all terrible suggestions coming from the state prosecutor. And Link Deas says, "You get used to cruelty." At first, it seems like this
but then --
And, you know, you mentioned I think at the top of the segment that the story is still relevant. And I would suggest to you that it's more
relevant than it's ever been. That there is -- that we're starting to get used to cruelty because it's an everyday thing now. That whether it's what
we're doing at the southern border, separating kids from their parents, whether it's the way we talk about Muslims, whether it's the way we talk
about inner-city kids, it's an everyday thing. And we tend to tune cruelty out because it's just too much for us. We don't want to take it home with
AMANPOUR: I found that very profound actually, that, because as you say. Jeff, again, in the closing, it's right after Tom Robinson makes a mistake.
You have trained him and trained him and trained him not to say I felt sorry for her.
When people said why, when he was under cross-examination by the defense, he said, "Why did you go and help this girl? Why did you accept to help
her all the time for no money, nothing, why, why, why?"
And instead of just saying I wanted to help her, I thought she could give a hand which is she could do with with a hand, he said, "I felt sorry for
her." And that was a real turning point in how you felt the jury was going to look at it. Explain that because I thought that was really, really well
DANIELS: It's a wake-up call. Black America can't feel sorry for white America because then white America would be below black America. And white
America has to have someone beneath them.
That's what I've -- I mean certainly, this segment, the KKK and those who believe that white America is the dominant race, the -- they got to have
somebody beneath them.
So when you feel sorry for them, when you show sympathy for them, you're looking down on them and white America will not stand for that, especially
people like Bob Ewell and that -- those jury guys. I mean there's - we've got a jury that's sitting over there in those chairs and I see nothing but
white guys standing with their arms crossed. You don't see them but I see them every time I do it.
AMANPOUR: Bob Ewell, of course, is the father, KKK-ish, of the girl who falsely accuses Tom of molesting her.
SORKIN: And this is -- I mean you put your finger on what may be the most significant change from the book from the movie, which is when Tom says "I
felt sorry for her", in the book and in the movie, it was a mistake.
It was -- I mean he didn't realize that this is something that would terribly insult this white jury but it was a mistake. It's an ooh moment
and Atticus has to explain it.
In the play, we see a new scene we've never seen before where Atticus specifically warns him, don't say that for the reasons -- all of the
reasons that Jeff just said. And so it's no longer a mistake.
It's a moment in the trial where Tom's had enough of this whole thing and he just kind of with his last breath, he grabs at this chance for self-
determination, for decency, for dignity.
AMANPOUR: And that is again a very specific feeling that you put across, dignity and decency. In the end, did dignity and decency win out?
I mean Tom, you tried to get him an appeal, you assured him it was going to be fine on appeal, and then he gets shot in the back as he's allegedly is
trying to escape prison. What is the moral to take away from this today?
DANIELS: That you have to fight for it. That it's not a given, especially today. That if you want decency in civilization and respect and compassion
in human decency, apparently we have to fight for that now.
SORKIN: I agree absolutely. I would say listen, if a theme of -- the moral of Don Quixote is if you want to be a knight, act like a knight, the
vested cousin to this, there's higher ground. And to get there, you don't need money or a Ph.D., you just need to want it. You need to want to try
to do the right thing.
AMANPOUR: You're taking it to the library of Congress. You've been asked, I believe, by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, or at least she would
attend. What is it that you want the kids who will come to learn from this, to get from it?
DANIELS: We've -- it should be very similar to the student matinees. We've done several 1,400 nothing but students matinees. It's a whole
What they react to and the way they react to it, they're into it. Even junior high age. Late in the play, they're, boom, they're right where
they're supposed to be in their reaction.
So it's great to be able to take something like a story like "Mockingbird" and throw it in front of kids and whether they think about what it says
[13:35:00] or whether there are actors, directors, you know, 12, 13-year- old kids who are going to end up, "I remember seeing "To Kill a Mockingbird" in a staged reading in Washington and it made me want to be a
writer or a director or a novelist or whatever, an actor. So there's that.
But I love the fact that we can do what we do, this play. And it plays to adults but it plays to those kids too. They're right with it right until
the end, right to the last page.
AMANPOUR: Did Atticus remind you of anybody you knew in your own life or anybody you've come across?
DANIELS: A couple of people. My dad was a lot like Atticus in that he was the guy people that went to in town to help fix a problem. And he just
lived that way. There's the right way and then there are all of the other ways.
The other guy was a guy named Frank Johnson, who was a federal judge in Alabama, that could have been what Atticus became. Just the way he handled
himself. He had written a couple of books about him. one I think he'd written or his opinions.
And he was just the guy that was in Alabama, a federal judge putting the KKK guys in jail, taking on George Wallace, dealing with Rosa Parks from
the bench. He was that guy. He put the KKK guys in jail and then they torch his mother's house a week later. He was that guy.
SORKIN: And maybe that in addition to, you asked what we hope the students take away, whether it's the students we're going to see in D.C. at Speaker
Pelosi's invitation or Jeff mentioned our Wednesday matinees. Any New York City public school student can see the play for $10.
So our Wednesday Matinees are filled with public school students, who many of whom are probably seeing a play for the first time. So as Jeff said, we
would love it if they go see a second play. We think we had something to do with that.
SORKIN: But in addition to that, maybe some of them can look at Atticus as a role model. And see that when you divide the world into winners and
losers, that kind of thing and when you tweet out 240-word clap-backs, that that's not how you're ground.
AMANPOUR: That's a good place to end about this play.
AMANPOUR: Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, thank you very much for joining me.
DANIELS: Thank you.
SORKIN: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Now, around the world, a cycle of poverty and exclusion has long denied people their equal opportunities. A new film "Bolden"
reimagines the tragic life of Buddy Bolden, an original inventor of jazz music.
He struggled with mental illness and he died in obscurity in a mental asylum but his music would inspire the likes of Louis Armstrong and so many
Wynton Marsalis is one of the world's most acclaimed jazz musicians and he's won nine Grammy Awards. He sat down with our Walter Isaacson to
discuss his role as executive producer on this film as well as composing the soundtrack.
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Wynton Marsalis, my hero. Welcome to the show.
WYNTON MARSALIS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND COMPOSER, BOLDEN: Man, it's such a pleasure.
ISAACSON: Good to see you. Good to see you.
MARSALIS: Yes, sir.
ISAACSON: So Buddy Bolden, man, he's finally getting his due. You're doing a movie on him and the theme is he invented jazz. What does that
mean? What ingredients did he put together?
MARSALIS: He's the first person who realized you could take church music, like Afro-American sanctified church music and put it together with the
sounds of the street. So he put two opposites together. He played cornet solo.
ISAACSON: The cornet, you got right there. Yes. Yes.
MARSALIS: So you have one form is more like hollering and shouting with effects maybe like (MUSIC). That's like kind of a style of playing the
blues and blending those.
Another style is very straight and sweet sung -- a song style. It's like (MUSIC). You have another style that is like a ragtime style, which would
He put this kind of ragtime styles, the sounds on street parades, hymns, marches, church music. He put all of these things together.
ISAACSON: We're talking 1890s or so in Central City, New Orleans?
MARSALIS: 1890s uptown.
MARSALIS: So he was an uptown musician, Johnson Park and this kind of places. And he was competing with the downtown musicians.
MARSALIS: Because it's the whole kind of thing of where does the nobility come from?
ISAACSON: And the downtown musicians were a little bit more refined?
MARSALIS: They were more refined and they thought they were on a much higher level than Bolden because Bolden was playing street sounds, rag
sounds, sounded like chicken and cats are making the fix on the instruments.
But whenever they met and combatted each other and Bolden would go and do his thing, improvising, being like you, you're having a conversation, no
one had ever heard anything like that.
ISAACSON: As you say, you found together the sanctified church, the marching traditions, the French Creole traditions, the downtown music.
MARSALIS: He also taught his band members how to interact with him. So he would take the traditional march formation. The clarinet plays up high,
high pitches in many places, figures from all places down low. Bom, bom, counter-melody.
And he explained to them how to interact with the lead part when it's improvised. So everybody started to figure out how they could converse and
play together and that's where people called him King Bolden.
ISAACSON: Now, we have a clip from this amazing movie that you're the executive producer of, of Buddy Bolden doing exactly that, teaching his
band how to do syncopation. They're a little confused at first. Let's watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUDDY BOLDEN: Put your bows down. Put them down. Put them down. You don't clap it out. [13:40:00] Give me that beat you work with hitting on
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one?
BOLDEN: Yes, that's it. Full. Now, Jonathan.
See how that feels. Yes. Yes. That's it.
Now, give me tom. Oh, yes. Come on now. Come on. Go. Yes. Yes, that's right.
Now, Walter, pay attention. You're going for full. Come on, Walter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:40:00] ISAACSON: It's infectious. You're playing on.
MARSALIS: Yes, man. It makes you want to play.
ISAACSON: So you decide to do this movie. You're doing it with I think Dan Pritzker, right. Why?
MARSALIS: He was interested in Bolden as a mythic character so I found that very interesting. And he also knew a lot just about the music in the
context of American history and he was also putting it in the context of the Constitution.
ISAACSON: What about in the context of race?
MARSALIS: Well, you can't discuss the United States seriously in any way without always discussing that. Many times we're tired of hearing about
it. And as someone who grew up in the Civil Rights Movement -- trust me, I'm tired of it too.
But in our country, we do everything we can to maintain the wealth disparity, the education disparity, all of our intellectuals, all of our
kind of things are formed around a way of avoiding the obvious, that you can't displace a whole population of people and just leave them ridicule
and then make fun of them, give them the worst deals, exploit them in many ways north and south. It's not just a southern problem.
And then just one day, they're going to be OK. And it's not a fairytale. It won't have a fairytale ending. It's going to take engagement.
ISAACSON: And so how do you think Buddy Bolden addressed it in his music?
MARSALIS: I think just the fact that he can say, I am Buddy Bolden. At that time that was addressing it, the freedom in the music. And Buddy
Bolden wasn't coming with his music to ask for something, he was giving something. And he knew he was giving it.
ISAACSON: One of the things you do in the movie is you use as a framing device Louis Armstrong.
ISAACSON: Louis Armstrong as part of the myth says he grew up in that same neighborhood of New Orleans, very young when Buddy Bolden gets sent to the
MARSALIS: Right, right.
ISAACSON: But Louis Armstrong at least thinks he's heard Buddy Bolden play and he becomes a new interpreter of Buddy Bolden.
MARSALIS: Well, Louis Armstrong did hear Buddy Bolden play through King Oliver. Jo Oliver was Louis Armstrong's mentor. And even at the end of
his life, in the '60s, Louis Armstrong would say whenever I pick my horn up, I look up, I see Jo Oliver.
His whole trumpet style. Louis Armstrong is the great consolidator of all of the styles. So you take the cornet solo style, which we were doing.
Cornets, we do variations on something. Like if there's the cornet, the Carnival of Venice is the famous one. So we go (MUSIC).
You take that theme and play different variations on it. It could be a fancy one like (MUSIC). So on and so forth. Just variations on the theme.
What Louis Armstrong would do is he's going to take that concept of playing, sweet trumpet, variations on the theme, blues. The sound of Buddy
Bolden. The dignity of King Oliver's way of playing. The diminished core quality that Buddy played with.
Freddy Keppard in effects he can make on the trumpet. Bunk Johnson's smoky sound. High trumpet, operating hours that he heard on recordings of people
singing and put all of that in one style. So when people heard him, it was infectious.
So the level and the depth of his playing and the different traditions, he brought together to hold the American cornet tradition. And that's why his
playing was so transcending.
ISAACSON: And then transfers the trumpet.
MARSALIS: OK. So you're on the trumpet and take the cornet, it has this sound, (MUSIC). And when you get to the trumpet, it's a much brasher
And this actually is Louis Armstrong's mouthpiece, which I don't play on, but you're going to see a difference in the sound (MUSIC). So the pop is
starting to play also in the upper register like (MUSIC).
He plays stuff you never heard. [13:45:00] A cornet is played with the type of power, a feeling he would play with no sweep.
ISAACSON: Now, tell me the truth, growing up in New Orleans, young musician, black, did you admire Louis Armstrong when you were really
MARSALIS: Man, under no circumstances. Not only did I not admire him. None of us admired him and we didn't really know who he was.
We knew his name. We knew he was a trumpet player because we came up after the Civil Rights Movement. And in my generation, we felt every black
person before 1960, we felt bad for them like they were in slavery.
When you don't actually know the history and the tradition and what people went through, it could have been anything. And we would see movies of him
singing to a horse and that kind of stuff and smiling and cheesing for white folks.
That wasn't our -- our whole thing was black power, Malcolm X. We don't have to take this kind of stuff and we're not going to take it.
And from a musical standpoint, we're listening to stuff like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and this is what we were playing. But I didn't
really listen to a Louis Armstrong record until I came to New York.
ISAACSON: You came up here. You're in Juilliard, right around the corner. And if I remember the story, your father, the great -- who's still great
pianist, Ellis Marsalis, sends you Jubilee I think it says.
MARSALIS: He sent me a cassette tape. He said, "Hey, man. Check this Louis Armstrong." I was listening to it -- just to give you a sense, I was
used to playing like songs like a Freddie Hubbard song, like a solo I would learn would be like Intrepid Fox. So (MUSIC).
So I'm working on that kind of stuff that is really technical, difficult, and fast and it's Freddie and it has got a vibe, like (MUSIC). So on and
Now, I'm listening to this Louis Armstrong which is like (MUSIC). And I'm thinking man, that's some of the corniest stuff I ever heard. So I picked
this Jubilee solo up and he's playing notes like this (MUSIC).
For a long time, I'm saying that's not the Jubilee solo. I don't really remember it. But I said let me just learn this solo, knowing well I could
play that solo.
ISAACSON: And that made you decide, OK, pops is the king?
MARSALIS: It forced the humility on me. I said, you know, I need to learn -- see what pops was doing. Instead of getting secondhand information, I
called my father. I said man, I can't make it through this pop solo. He started laughing. He said, "I know."
Then I began to study pop's music. And I saw quotes of a famous, more modern musicians like Miles Davis saying, "You can't play nothing on the
horn. Pops is not played even modern."
ISAACSON: One of the things about Louis Armstrong though is he really looked down upon the more modern jazz, some of the things happening. And
in some ways, you're a bit like him. You're dismissive and sometimes antagonistic to rap and other forms of new music that you think dishonor
MARSALIS: Yes. Well, pops, it was different because he was coming from a style that he hadn't played and didn't know. So it's hard when you're in
the position of -- you're in your 40s, 43, 44, certainly aging, and all of a sudden there's another whole style of music, just presenting something
totally different socially and technically.
I asked Disney about that too. Man, I thought you and pops didn't get along. He said, oh, man we had a little thing in the beginning of it but
in the end -- whereas with me, I grew up not playing jazz. I grew up playing funk and pop music.
And with me, the social issues were very different because, with a lot of them, the contemporary music was returning to the show. So we're going
back to the 1800s.
ISAACSON: You're talking about rapping?
MARSALIS: Not rapping, the art of it, but the terminology talking about killing brothers and all this. I can't endorse that. I don't think that
has anything to do with me and them or this new, old.
Coming from the Civil Rights Movement, it's not possible to endorse that. And my issues with them are not musical. It's also not of a personal
nature. It's with the whole of our country and it's social, what of a country is entertained by that?
That's always my question, why is that entertaining? We will entertain people playing dances to funk and pop music and the backbeat long before
you heard of rap, black people then. And it was not necessary to degrade ourselves.
ISAACSON: One of the things you led in New Orleans was the idea that we should take down the Confederate monuments, well before Charlottesville,
well before the other things. And I think you talked to Mitchell Andrew, who was then the mayor, [13:50:00] and you helped push that. Why did you
MARSALIS: Well, Mitch and I, we just had a middle-aged conversation. It wasn't a big political conversation about the statues or anything.
We were talking about our fathers, our families. And in the course of that conversation, we talked about the statue. I said that's symbolic and we
should take the statue down for the tricentennial.
ISAACSON: Robert E. Lee.
MARSALIS: Yes, Robert E. Lee statue. My great uncle always hated that statue. That's how I knew about it.
Yes. Mitch -- then he said, "Well, let me look and see whose jurisdiction it is." Then he later called me and he said, "You know, I looked into this
and the damn thing is in my jurisdiction."
Then we had more of a conversation but the conversation, he wasn't reticent about it. So I don't want to give the impression I convinced him to do it.
I didn't convince him to do it.
ISAACSON: You and I talked about it. And I remember I said to you when you first asked me, you said we got to take down Robert E. Lee, I said
man, I have driven around Lee's circle a thousands of times in my life, I never think about who's on top of that plant.
And you paused and looked at me like you're looking at me now and you said, "I do." And that helped me see it differently. So how did you start that
MARSALIS: I think for all of us, the most difficult thing for us to realize are the things we don't realize. When you try to communicate with
people across cultures, many times it's not something you studied.
I'll just put an analogy of music. Like I spent time trying to write music for symphonic orchestra musicians that has just like jazz, so I would write
it in choruses. Jazz musicians naturally at the end of a chorus pause and we don't think about it.
But when I write music, the symphonic musicians never pause because that's not their style of music. It would never dawn on me that they wouldn't
pause because that's so deep inside the fundamentals of the thing I know. I don't consider them.
So I think for us to speak to one another across cultures, across gender race, whatever the cross is going to be, we have to look to those things
that are so fundamental, we wouldn't notice them. And it's those things that actually determine much more and the symbolic things, fundamental
things that we hold so deeply, we don't consider them, that it's where the real transformation can take place.
ISAACSON: And you created a soundtrack for this Bolden music. Some of which are songs like Star Dust that Louis Armstrong played or even I think
Basin Street Blues and others that are traditional. Some are new songs that you have written and you tried to do it both in the Bolden style and
the Armstrong style as if it's a conversation between them, right?
MARSALIS: Yes, because all of the styles are just generational in culture and the arts because each subsequent achievement is not necessarily better
than the one before it. We tend to forget what came before it.
All we laud what came before is the only thing that will ever happen. But the notes of Johann Bach are in the notes of Kevington (ph).
The notes of Anton, the trumpet player that played from the concerto in 1780, whatever it was, are in the notes of my trumpet when I play. The
notes of Francis Johnson are in the notes of Louis Armstrong.
And when we take those notes out of our horns, we play less, not more. And those notes are not going to keep us from finding what we're going to find
in the future. They don't keep us from being modern.
ISAACSON: In the movie, you talk about race, Buddy Bolden, handed off to Louis Armstrong. You do an arrangement, and this is what I'm going to ask
you to do right now, of the song of Louis Armstrong that to me most has the emotions of race in it and that's Black and Blue. Tell me about that song
and maybe hit me a few bars.
MARSALIS: Well, that song, Louis Armstrong thought was a protest song. So what did I do to be so black and blue was a song that was considered to be
a song of protest.
But when you get to the bridge, it says I'm white inside but that don't help my case, that's hard for that to be a protest song. So in the early
years, yes, that was considered protest. As we went along, no.
My generation, we didn't consider that. Black and blue, we thought, you know. But it's -- I like the chromaticism of that song. (MUSIC). I
didn't mean to get you. I got you.
ISAACSON: Wynton Marsalis, thank you for being with us.
MARSALIS: Thank you, Walter. Such a pleasure, man. Always great to see you.
AMANPOUR: That's it from us for now. But join us again tomorrow night for an important conversation with a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, as well
as [13:55:00] insights from top BBC News presenter Mishal Husain on how she worked her way up the job ladder.
Thanks for watching this special edition of Amanpour. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast. See us online at Amanpour.com and follow
me on Instagram and Twitter.
Goodbye from London.