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Infrastructure Negotiations; Sarah Everard Murder Case; Interview With Fmr. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND); Interview with "The Many Saints of Newark" Co-Writer, David Chase; Interview with Former NBA Player and Best- Selling Author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 01, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Let me just tell you about negotiating at the end. That's when you really have to weigh in.
GOLODRYGA: Build Back bust? Frantic talks to save President Biden's sweeping agenda go down to the wire. How will the standoff end? And what
does this all mean for everyday Americans?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are no words that can fully express the fury and overwhelming sadness.
GOLODRYGA: A British woman's horrific murder reignites focus on violence against women worldwide. So, why is new advice from U.K. police sparking
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Growing up with the family takes a toll.
GOLODRYGA: Fourteen years after "The Sopranos" cut to black, creator David Chase talks about taking another whack at their world and casting James
Gandolfini's son in "The Many Saints of Newark."
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FORMER NBA PLAYER: The vaccines are safe and, most importantly, effective.
GOLODRYGA: NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells Michel Martin why players should get vaccinated or get bounced from their teams.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.
Well, it's crunch time in Washington. At stake are two bills that would dramatically reshape American life, the first, a bipartisan infrastructure
package on roads, bridges, and Internet access that was scheduled for a vote this week. But progressives say that won't happen unless they see
action the second bill, a key part of President Biden's agenda that includes universal pre-K and paid family leave.
The wheeling and dealing has gone round the clock. Check out Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi working the phones and apparently playing
hardball during a congressional baseball game earlier this week.
Well, the Democrats ultimately lost the game, a headline they hope isn't repeated on the Hill. With me now to discuss are Faiz Shakir, a former
campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, and former Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who is now lobbying for a nonprofit called Save America's Family
Welcome, both of you, on a busy Friday.
So, Senator Heitkamp, let me start with you, because I have heard two narratives emerge about how to interpret what's happening. One is that the
president's entire agenda is on the verge of collapse, the other a bit more optimistic, that now we have more time, this was an arbitrary deadline that
was set, we have passed it, we now have some sort of dollar figure from Joe Manchin, $1.5 trillion, and that now there's perhaps a month or two for
them to negotiate and come up with a plan that they can agree on.
Which narrative do you think is the right one?
FMR. SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D-ND): I think the last one.
I think there's always this fatalistic, oh, the sky is falling, this is the worst thing that ever happened. You never count Nancy Pelosi out. She's an
amazing negotiator. I think Biden can seal the deal, if everybody comes with a -- with the attitude that they need to resolve this, because the
Democratic Party agenda long-term is really on the ropes right now.
If they aren't able to deliver, in spite of having the White House, the House and the Senate, it's going to spell real trouble, I think, in the
polls. And so I think everybody understands that. I think, at the end of the day, when the posturing is over, there's going to be a deal.
GOLODRYGA: Yet the focus right now is on the growing divide between the progressive sect of the party and the moderates.
And, Faiz, Pramila Jayapal, she's the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, said today that the discussions were going well and that there needed to be
more of them, and they needed more concrete numbers and figures.
Let me just play a clip for that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Listen, we are going to pass these two things. You all know Capitol Hill. It is a strange place. Things -- I have
only been here four-and-a-half years. I still find it strange.
But things only happen here when there's urgency and some reason for people to be at the table. We have seen more progress in the last 48 hours than we
have seen in a long time on reconciliation, on the Build Back Better Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So, look, the progressive stood their ground. They said that they would not budge. They wanted a number of figure from the more
moderates, from, in particular, Joe Manchin. They got $1.5 trillion.
Clearly, they want more out of this. And my question to you, how do progressives explain to the American public that they are what ready to
forsake both just for not getting the number that they were looking for?
FAIZ SHAKIR, FORMER BERNIE SANDERS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, we're the ones delivering on President Biden's campaign pledges and
And the details matter here. So, if we're talking about child care, you're talking about universal pre-K, you're talking about paid leave, you're
talking about reducing prescription drug prices, just talking about delivering for working families, that's what's transformational about this.
And holding the Democratic Party to those pledges is important, because this is politically beneficial, as Senator Heitkamp was just mentioning, if
you go back to voters in a year and say, we delivered for you, we promised and we delivered. That's what's at stake here.
And I think there's a real concern that, due to pressures from the corporate world, that there are efforts to cut down on the promises that
President Biden made. And I hope that that doesn't happen here. So you see a progressive party that, quite frankly, represents 95 percent of House
Democrats and Senate Democrats trying to hold everyone's feet to the fire on the pledges that were made.
And, frankly, that -- because one of the reasons why President Biden won.
GOLODRYGA: Look, no one can argue that progressives aren't willing to negotiate. That starting price tag was around $6 trillion. Now it's down to
$3.5 trillion, but, just realistically, the final figure will not be $3.5 trillion. I think everyone can agree on that.
And so, going forward now, what is that number? I mean, $1.5 trillion is still a lot of money. It's not pocket change. And the question that Joe
Manchin, I guess, is putting forward and other moderates is, why forsake the good at risk of just trying to go against the ultimate deal, which is
closer to $3.5 trillion?
SHAKIR: But that's what I'm saying is, the details matter.
So, does that $1.5 trillion, does that include reducing prescription drug prices for all Americans? Does it include free community college for all
Americans? I don't know. Does it include paying for it with making the wealthy pay their fair share, and through what form?
Right, so I'm fine with, yes, we will negotiate. Let's get to a place of reasonable understanding. But what are the details of that? Are we acting
boldly to address climate change or not? I mean, if you -- the more you cut this down, the less likely it is that you are taking the measures necessary
over a 10-year period to deal with the existential threat of climate change.
So that's what's on the line here. It is not just a number figure.
GOLODRYGA: Senator, does that seem reasonable to you? Because it does to me. Are we now focusing on what the details are? And for that, is the ball
in the moderates' court?
HEITKAMP: I think it's absolutely reasonable.
And I think this focus, hyperfocus on the top-line dollar, has ignored the great policies that are in the Build Back Better plan. The question is, is
there enough opportunity for diversity of thought in the Democratic Party?
We spent a lot of time criticizing the Republicans over the last four years for basically walking in lockstep and not having a robust debate about what
their philosophies are.
I do have to defend my friend Joe, because I think he's taken on a lot of heat. And not a lot of the people on the other side who have been critical
of him have ever had to win in a state that Trump won by 40 percent.
If Joe Manchin hadn't stepped up and actually run when he didn't want to run, and if he hadn't won, then we wouldn't even be in this position. And
so we should count our blessings. We should take the deal as it comes. I agree. I was one of the champions of paid family leave. I believe that
universal pre-K is absolutely essential and day care is essential, not just for American families, but also for our economy.
And so there's so much rich ground that we can agree on, as moderates and progressives. Let's get the job done and show America we can govern.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Every time that point is raised about the pressure and the anger against Joe Manchin, all that he has to say is, well, listen, would
you rather have a Republican that you were dealing with? And that sort of brings things back down to reality.
But in terms of what he focuses on and what other moderates are focusing on is how to pay for this bill. And I want to ask you something about what
you're currently doing, because your group is lobbying to campaign to preserve something called the stepped-up basis loophole, which allows
people to avoid paying capital gains taxes on inherited investments.
President Biden and other congressional Democrats are saying, by closing this loophole, they can raise over $100 billion over the course of 10
years. And just a few months ago, you called the thing that you were fighting for now one of the biggest scams in the history of forever.
I'm quoting you. What has changed? How do you square that now?
HEITKAMP: You know, it's so interesting, because as much as I have tried to explain the difference in what I'm doing compared to stepped-up basis,
it never gets through.
And this is why it is so incredibly frustrating for moderates, because the positions are always skewed and always turned around. I do not oppose
reform of stepped-up basis. What I have said is that we should not be taxing unrealized capital gains and taxation at death.
I have spent the better part of my time since leaving the Senate trying to build a Democratic base in rural America. Let me tell you, when 300 -- over
300 farm groups oppose the provision of taxation at death, maybe we ought to listen and realize that, as Nate Silver has pointed out this week, that
you are not going to control the Senate unless you figure out a way to make inroads in the United States rural America.
And so I still believe we need a stepped-up basis reform, especially as it relates to equities. I just do not think that we should provide for
taxation at death when it's not realized. I think that will lead to incredible disruption in rural America and disruption in family businesses.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, because critics say that this disproportionately benefits the wealthy Americans.
But this sort of speaks to a larger picture. And I'm glad that we have time to discuss this, because, obviously, it's not just you. You are no longer
in the Senate. You're free to do what you want to do. But the critics against people like Joe Manchin, for example, will wonder whether he is
negotiating in good faith, given that he is on the receiving end of dividends from oil company stocks, right?
And, at the same time, he may very well be in charge of crafting climate change legislation. So I guess, for the American public that may be
skeptical about why certain exemptions are not being made or why we're hearing concerns about certain issues, that they're coming from a good
faith perspective and background.
Can you just lay that out for us, Senator?
HEITKAMP: Well, what I would tell you is I think the criticisms aren't coming from a good faith basis or background.
Joe Manchin is not a liberal. He has been a moderate his whole life. He has been a champion of trying to get the debt and deficit under control. And
now, when it's easy to say, oh, look, it's because he's got dividends in an oil company, that's why he's unreasonable and that's going to somehow mark
him as somebody who's not trustworthy, I find it absolutely outrageous that anyone would say that.
He has told you he put his assets in a blind trust. And I will tell you this about Joe Manchin. His integrity is right there in terms of what he
believes and where he wants to move this country forward. When people say, oh, he's going to switch sides, I said, he's a Democrat.
Is there room in the Democratic Party for people who think differently than the Progressive Caucus? There's got to be if we're going to have a ruling
majority. And I think this is nothing more than smear tactics on Joe to try and malign his motivations, as opposed to trying to respond to his
GOLODRYGA: Look, I would say that he has been very forthcoming, right, and transparent, in the sense that he just speaks his mind and says -- Faiz,
I'm directing this to you.
He says, listen, if you don't like what I'm advocating for, then vote for more progressives, but my constituents voted for me.
And I do want to ask you about something that -- a lot of criticism that was leveled against him for the past few months is that he wasn't putting
out $1 figure, a top-line amount; $1.5 trillion that we just heard about this week was apparently sent over to Senator Schumer back in July.
And I just want to read for you what one of our reporters, Melanie Zanona, just reported. And that is that Congresswoman Debbie Dingell said that
Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi, didn't know two weeks ago about the document that Manchin signed about wanting that $1.5 trillion price tag.
So -- and that that came from Pelosi directly. So what is going on within the party in the sense of communication?
SHAKIR: Amazing. I mean, look at that document. It was signed, apparently, at the end of July. In August, there were floor votes on the infrastructure
bill and on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution bill.
And that document was never made public, right? It never got out. It was a closed-door secret agreement that, had it come out before the Senate voted,
I think that we would have been talking a different kind of Senate vote. And this is the problem, right?
You are having a backroom, closed-deal conversation that isn't transparent, that isn't public. So I'm all for it. Hey, senators have different
positions. Great. Let's have it out. But what I'm concerned about is the influence of corporate lobbyists.
I'm concerned about the influence of Senator Heitkamp and her group, right? The problem here is that we're talking about popular policies that people
want, and they are good with taxation of the wealthy to make them pay their fair share. And we are talking about issues that, if you go to West
Virginia, you go to Montana, you go to North Dakota, and you talk about these issues, people are on our side.
So we're not fighting over, oh, hey, we're asking you to take a tough vote. We're asking you to deliver for the American public on the pledges that you
made. And it is the influence and corporate lobbyists that are cutting this proposal down, that are cutting the president down.
GOLODRYGA: Well, and let's make clear no one is questioning Senator Heitkamp's transparency here. I mean, we are just being transparent going
forward, so her intent is not what's on the line here.
SHAKIR: No, I'm questioning -- I'm questioning the substance of what she is arguing about.
I have no problem -- I'm taking in good faith that she believes in what she is saying. And, obviously, she's being funded to say it.
However, the results of what she's trying to do is advocate for cutting down on corporate taxation. We have a problem of dynastic wealth in this
GOLODRYGA: We have got to wrap this up, but I will say that let's not forget that the senator...
HEITKAMP: That is absolutely not -- that is absolutely not...
GOLODRYGA: Let's not forget...
HEITKAMP: When you bring in about corporate taxation, this isn't about corporate taxation.
This is about individuals being taxed based on the transition or the transaction that their assets would go through.
And I want to mention...
SHAKIR: Billionaires, Senator Heitkamp, billionaires, is what we're talking about.
GOLODRYGA: I don't want to get inside baseball, guys, here, because we are we are running out of time, and we have to move on to the next topic.
Obviously, things are coming down to the wire in Washington right now. I can just say that let's also remind our viewers that Senator Heitkamp lost
her seat in the Senate for voting her conscience too. So, I don't want to forget history as well.
But, listen, the Democratic Party has a lot of work to do over the next few months. And we appreciate your time here. Thank you so much, Faiz Shakir
and Senator Heitkamp. We appreciate it.
Well, and this just in. The White House says President Biden will travel to Capitol Hill this afternoon to speak with members of the House Democratic
Next: the shocking murder case turning the world's attention back to violence against women. Sarah Everard was simply walking home in London
back in March when a police officer brutally raped and killed her.
Now, despite demands for change, the Femicide Census tracking project says around 80 more women have been killed by men in the U.K. ever since
Everard's murder. And other cases from around the world have highlighted calls for racial and social justice as well.
Joining me now are Jamie Klingler, co-founder of the British grassroots campaign Reclaim These Streets, and Yogita Bhayana, who leads the group
People Against Rapes in India.
Welcome, both of you, to the show.
And before we talk about what's transpiring right now in the U.K., let's talk about this from a global perspective, because, according to the U.N.,
at least 30 percent of women aged 15 and older have experienced violence or sexual violence. This does not even include sexual harassment. That's an
entirely different element. Fewer than 40 percent of women who experienced violence seek out help of any sort.
Let me begin with you, Jamie. Is this a moment of reckoning, in your opinion, not only in the U.K., and I would argue even in the U.S. with the
Gabby Petito murder, but around the world?
JAMIE KLINGLER, CO-FOUNDER, RECLAIM THESE STREETS: We continually say that it's the day of reckoning when one of these horror cases happens.
But six months ago was the day of reckoning, and nothing has happened. Nothing materially has changed in those six months to make us safer on our
streets in the U.K.
GOLODRYGA: And so, Yogita, at the same time, these are both two white women. And we have to address that, because this is happening not only to
white women, but women of color around the world.
And, in India, there is an epidemic of violence against women there as well. Tell us the latest figures, because they are just jaw-dropping.
YOGITA BHAYANA, WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: They are not, unfortunately, Bianna, jaw-dropping, because, as per the NCRB, National
Crime Report Bureau of India, there is a decline in the crime against women, which is a complete denial by the government, because I have been
working on the field for last so many years.
And from every day, we are pulled in with cause. Help line is fully loaded. Still, when we get to hear, oh, that there is a decline by the government,
they are in denial mode, first of all.
But in 2021, there were 25, 331 reported cases a crime against women. In 2019, they were 43, 783 cases. There is a one-year gap. But, as per the
data, there is a decline.
But ask us. We are working on the grassroot level. There is -- definitely, there is an epidemic. And these are reported cases, mind you. And so many
cases go unreported. Reason? Because 80 to 90 percent of the violence against women happen within the four walls, four walls of the House.
So, there is a social pressure not to report such crimes. They really don't come out even to report. And I don't want to even get into the details what
happened to the reported cases, how many of us, we struggle every day to get the cases reported.
And even after getting registered, there is no sign of justice. I mean, it's so slow. The system is so slow. It's -- I was appalled to hear what
happened to Sarah. And I can very much relate to what happens to the women in our country, also, irrespective of the color.
It is happening globally. And I'm so sorry to hear the state.
GOLODRYGA: And not only with respect to women of color, but in regards to India, women of castes.
BHAYANA: Absolutely. You are so right.
There is a gender-based violence. Then there is a caste-based violence. And caste -- the people with the so-called upper-lower caste, there is so much
There's a lot of vulnerability attached to the lower caste. So, of late, we have seen so many cases which we are seeing which are coming onto the
surface, especially the case which happened last year where the girl was raped and burned by the police.
I mean, imagine. The authorities were involved, like in U.K. case. This gentleman was a police. I would say, there, the police to be blamed.
Here, I feel very sad that, in this particular case, this cop will get away with life sentence. There is no provision for capital punishment. I don't
know, but we are pushing here in India a lot.
We saw four people hanged last year.
BHAYANA: And we wish more people would get to the noose.
GOLODRYGA: And, Jamie, it is that Sarah Everard was murdered at the hands of the police that really sent shockwaves, though, throughout the country
and months of fear among women who were told to stay indoors and fear for what may happen to them, until, obviously, it wasn't identified that she
was in fact murdered by a police officer.
The Met Police released some advice for women, which has been criticized. And I would ask you if you think it's right to be criticized. Let's play
that video for you now.
I don't believe we have it. But, basically they're asking women to ask plainclothes officers questions like, where are your colleagues? Ask to
speak to an operator on police radio. If you believe that you are in a real and imminent danger, seek assistance, shouting out to a passerby, running
into a house, knocking on a door. Wave a bus sign down. Call 999.
I mean, I guess, in theory, this is good advice. But is it practical if somebody is approached by a police officer? And in the case of Sarah
Everard, she was immediately handcuffed. What more can women do?
KLINGLER: He also had a valid badge. So, if she'd called an operator and said, is this a police officer who is apprehending me, they would have said
It's absolutely asinine, especially telling you to get a bus, to get a bus driver to stop? Like, you're in a busy, busy metropolitan center. Like,
that's never, ever going to happen. And instead of the Metropolitan Police taking responsibility for not vetting their cops and really working through
why Wayne Couzens was able to indecently expose himself to people and get away with it and stay on the force, they're telling us to double-vet police
officers, in case an undercover officer stops us.
If an undercover officer put me in cuffs, I'd be so shocked and so terrified. Like, the idea that I would then run or try to scream and get
help, it's just absolutely not OK. And women of color or people of color trying to resist arrest gets them killed.
GOLODRYGA: And is it helpful then to know that you have people at the very top suggest that this was just one bad apple?
KLINGLER: Oh, we're furious about that.
And it's a way of not taking accountability for every step of it. They also threatened to arrest me and my colleagues when we tried to put on a vigil
for Sarah Everard using the same legislation that Wayne Couzens used to arrest and kill her.
GOLODRYGA: And let's not forget about the murder of Sabina Nessa as well in the U.K.
But, Yogita, I'm just wondering. As you are watching, from your perspective, what the reaction is in the U.K., how are women absorbing this
in particular in India? Are they having these types of robust conversations about the need for a change?
Right now, I was hearing you, Bianna, that you were mentioning about how women should reach out to the help line number, which number she should
dial. It's high time we should talk to the right audience here, which is men. It is all about the mind-set.
I think the focus should be telling the men what not to be done, rather than telling women -- I mean, telling the women how to protect themselves.
So, we are also now working on lot of prevention plans and advocacy, as I said.
So what we are planning to do is, we are planning to reach out to the boys, young boys, and men and tell them that, if you do this, this is your legal
repercussion and your -- and, otherwise, also, we are working very discretely on the mind-set, social fabric of our country, because it's so
And we talk to men. So we have called this campaign (INAUDIBLE) Men.
So, we will tell the men to behave, rather than telling women to protect themselves. So, I mean, we have to shift the focus from the -- I mean, from
women to men, and talking about gender sensitization, gender equality, empowering women to the men.
GOLODRYGA: And let's not lose sight that the impact of these murders will live forever with the family members and friends and with other women in
not only the U.K., but around the world.
I want to play sound for you from Sarah Everard's mother talking about how this has impacted her life.
We don't have that sound. OK, I am sorry about that.
But I will read to you what she said.
She said: "My outlook on life has changed since Sarah died. I am more cautious. I worry more about our other children. I crave the familiarity
and security of home. The wider world has lost its appeal."
Jamie, I would imagine one could not even understand what a mother like that is going through. But one can understand the fear that resonates
throughout women after seeing what her daughter went through.
KLINGLER: Thursday rocked all of our worlds, like, the detail that he used handcuffs and that he had her handcuffed in the back of his car for 80
Like, none of us slept on Thursday night knowing what he did. And that had been known by people for six months. And we had -- we're all still pretty,
pretty shaken up by that detail, because it's just -- it's so horrific.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, yes.
And I would say, another difference, unfortunately, between these types of heinous murders in more Western-developed countries, like the United
States, Gabby Petito's and with Sarah's case, is, there's a lot of documented footage, right, which helps authorities.
GOLODRYGA: It's heartbreaking for families to continue to watch this. But, in a sense, it is helpful throughout the investigation to piece together
Yogita, you don't have that kind of footage for all of the cases in India, which I would imagine makes it that much more difficult to solve these
BHAYANA: Very, very difficult.
I would say 90 percent of the people get away without proper FSL reports, without any proofs, I mean, witnesses. I would say even 1 percent case of -
- all the cases, if we reach out to the logical conclusion, in the sense, if really get justice, I cannot even say that, because when I meet, myself,
I was -- when I stand with them, I never promise them justice, because justice depends on so many things.
It's proper investigation. It's a thorough judicial trials, which watertight, kind of day-to-day fast-track hearings, but which don't happen
eventually, and case gets very diluted, and, sometimes, witness get -- they get hostile. Sometimes, victims themselves, survivors themselves, get fed
So it's really, really difficult. I have no words to express the kind of -- the kind of system we live in. And it's very unfortunate. And it's been --
most of our cases are still under trial after. Like, so many years, 10 -- nine years, 10 years, we only saw last year that the -- the very famous
case, got justice, in the sense of after nine years of constant struggle by the mother, the family members and pressure from the people, activists like
But, otherwise rest of the cases, they are more heinous, even happened much more before this particular case, but never saw the light of the day.
It's heartbreaking to know that most of these cases are not solved and that justice is not served.
Yogita Bhayana and Jamie Klingler, thank you so much for all of the work that you're doing. We will continue to tell these stories. We appreciate
your time. Thank you.
Well, now we want to update you on a story we touched on over the summer, the Bruce family's quest to reclaim their land in Manhattan Beach seized
from them almost a century ago.
In 1924, the Californian city claimed the land through eminent domain, the right to take private property without consent. Bruce's Beach was once a
thriving tourist lodge and for a while in oasis for African-Americans forbidden elsewhere.
Well, now with the swipe of a pen, California Governor Gavin Newsom made the historic move to return the land back to its rightful owners, a big
step forward, but only a start in addressing the state and the nation's racist past.
Well, racial unrest figures into a new movie delving into the world of "The Sopranos." After one of the most controversial endings in TV history,
creator David Chase is going back to the beginning.
"The Many Saints of Newark" is a prequel to the hit drama, looking at how Tony Soprano became Tony Soprano.
And who better to take on that role than James Gandolfini's real-life son Michael?
Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Antonio Soprano.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder if can talk to you alone for a moment, Mr. Soprano?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the basis of the Stanford (INAUDIBLE), he's high IQ.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't prove it by me. He's got a D plus average.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, he doesn't apply himself, but he is smart. The results tell us, he's a leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And David Chase joins me now from Santa Monica, California.
David, welcome to the program.
I've really been looking forward to this conversation. I have to say, I was a big fan of "The Sopranos." 2007 on the calendar, it wasn't that long ago
but it seems like a lifetime ago through a reality in what has transpired since. What made you return back to the Sopranos now?
DAVID CHASE, CO-WRITER, "THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK," CREATOR, "THE SOPRANOS": Well, I'd always said I didn't want to do a Sopranos movie.
That's right after the show went off the air. And that was kind of true and still true then. But I mean, still true now. But I had done a couple of
things. I made a movie in 2012. Then that was that. And I had written a six-part miniseries for HBO that we couldn't come together on the
financing. And I was trying to figure out what to do next.
And told the emirate who's a chief of Warner Bros. Movies, had been after me since forever to do a Sopranos movie and he came -- he was -- we were
talking then and he pitched it again and the timing was right.
GOLODRYGA: And the timing took place in the late '60s, early '70s and in Newark. Why did you go back to that time specifically?
CHASE: Well, we wanted -- the crew, Tony's crew, that took place, they were from Newark. So, if we're going to go back in time Soprano crew and
the DiMeo family, it would have to be in Newark. And the Newark riots were a very interesting time. And I had some familiarity with it. And it seemed
like it would be something different for the Sopranos in the Sopranos universe.
GOLODRYGA: What were the memories that you had from those riots? And I guess I want to lead this to the next largest question is the theme of
racial tensions that permeates throughout this film, and while it did exist in the series, no doubt, I found it to be much more front and center here.
Obviously, this is a two-hour film and not a multiyear series. But do you think that perhaps I'm overreading into that because of what's transpired
with race relations in the U.S. over the past few years or was that your intent?
CHASE: No. I wish I could say it was our intent. But my partner and I, writing partner, Laurence Connor, we -- you know, we're from the "'60s
generation," East Coast, semi radical thinking, I never did a hell of a lot for the student or the black cause. But we were all for it.
And my wife was working, my girlfriend then, was working in Newark in prudential insurance and I used to drive her down to work every day but
would come back to (INAUDIBLE) suburb and my friends and I would sit around talking about how we hoped to sit at the black citizens and Newark burned
the place down. Killed a lot of pigs, et cetera, et cetera.
And then, I realized that my wife is down there. And so, I kind of shut up a little bit. But we -- you know, but anyway, that -- situation of -- the
racial situation in America, that viewpoint of it from then never left either one of us, I don't think. And we had an opportunity to work with it.
So, we did.
GOLODRYGA: Well, it -- I have to say that it was the right time, even if that wasn't your intent now. I think it left a lasting impression with
CHASE: Well, it was not our intent, I believe, to say -- to present life in Newark and the riots. And then, to have people say, oh, look, it's going
on now. But COVID came. Delayed everything. And so, by the time COVID was being dealt with and the movie was coming, it was clear -- I mean, Black
Lives Matter was huge, George Floyd had been killed and it became a big subject. A big, big subject.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And the movie focuses on Dickie Moltisanti, who for -- as much as I can recall, was not a huge character in "The Sopranos."
Obviously, we know why personally and physically was not a huge character, but even his memory did not really stand out much throughout the series.
Why did you choose to focus on him?
CHASE: Moltisanti is his name.
CHASE: But anyway, he may have not been a big character in your mind and my mind and a lot of viewers minds but he was a big character to the
characters in "The Sopranos." They talked about him often as being this fearsome bad mother who taught Tony everything he knew. And we, Larry and
I, wanted to do a gangster movie, that was our goal, was to do a straight up, straight ahead gangster movie. And Dickie would be the perfect fit for
the gangster that the movie would be about.
GOLODRYGA: And we see what a dynamic character he was throughout the film. And the impression, the lasting impression that he left on Tony Soprano,
obviously played by Michael Gandolfini, James Gandolfini's son. How did that casting come about? And I have to say, I couldn't take my eyes off of
him because he looked so much and resembled his father so much.
CHASE: Well, all I see now is the differences. But --
GOLODRYGA: I see the similarities.
CHASE: I know. I mean, I did too. But as time wears on -- anyway, we were casting for the part of young Tony -- teenage Tony and we were reading a
lot of young actors and we weren't having much luck. And then, I call -- I didn't know Michael well at all from the show. He was around the set,
mostly in Jim's trailer playing, and goofing off. He was a kid, a tiny kid.
But around 2018 or so, my wife and I had lunch with him when he came back from L.A., where he was living, to New York to work on being an actor and
to go to college. And I remember that he wanted to be an actor and had been -- and I saw him in a few things, a three-line part and -- I forget what it
was called. But -- and he was good even in that three-line part. I said, oh, Michael Gandolfini.
And so, we started the thing in motion. He came in and he auditioned. And fortunately, for all concerned, he was really good.
GOLODRYGA: He was excellent. And, you know, the character development and seeing Tony as a young kid made me really want to go back and start
watching the series again, just knowing -- having a glimpse of what Tony was like as an adolescent and, you know, his relationship with his mother,
with his uncles, with his family members and his dreams for the future, obviously, that didn't necessarily pan out.
I'd like to play another scene from the movie that grabbed my attention. And this is a teenage Tony Soprano with his protege, Christopher
Moltisanti, who is Dickie's son, and he is a baby in this scene. Christopher is a baby here. Let's play the scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Christopher. Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like I scare him or something.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some babies when they come into the world know all kinds of things from the other side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: David, I paused the movie and wrote down what the elderly lady said, because talk about foreshadowing anybody that obviously watched the
series can understand why that relationship perhaps was the way it was and why Christopher responding the way it was. Why was it important for you to
CHASE: I just thought it was interesting and dramatic and a little spooky. Just appealed to us.
GOLODRYGA: It was more than spooky. But it really -- you know, I guess, seeing Tony as -- go ahead.
CHASE: How so? What do you mean more than spooky?
GOLODRYGA: Because I think, obviously, having watched the series and knowing what eventually would transpire, I think seeing Tony as this sort
lovable innocent friendly young boy really just wanting to play with the baby without any ill intent, obviously, of knowing what would happen
decades later just made me look at it differently.
My last question to you is about the casting of Tony's mother, Livia. Because when I first saw her, I thought -- and that's the actress, Vera
Farmiga. I thought that was Edie Falco and just a lot of makeup. The resemblance is striking and am I the only one to notice that?
CHASE: No, everybody thought that. Everybody says that. So, now --
GOLODRYGA: Was that intentional.
CHASE: No, no, no. It's the makeup. That was not intentional. But now, we can look really smart and throw it in and say that Tony married his mother.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Well, listen, that's where my mind went because I had to once again, stop the movie and check the casting because I thought that was
CHASE: A lot of people. I would love to make a movie with those two women, seriously. Together.
GOLODRYGA: I would watch that movie.
And speaking of that, you know, the industry changed so much since 2007. Films, television, mergers, the types of films that people are watching
now. What are you watching? What are some of your favorite shows?
CHASE: I have to be candid and tell you that during Trump's administration, I only watched MSNBC, Fox News and CNN, really, I didn't
watch any other TV. And someone said to me, why do you do that to yourself? That's a good question. Well, now, he's gone and at the same time, I got
Criterion Channel, are you familiar with that?
GOLODRYGA: No, I'm not.
CHASE: Well, familiar yourself with it and go get it because it's an app and it's got multitudes of older Hollywood movies, older foreign movies,
brand-new outside kind of movies, commentary. It's the best. And that's all I watch. And that's --
GOLODRYGA: Well, David, I'm glad to hear you watch CNN, but even we need a break from the news sometimes. So, I'm glad you're getting that now. Thank
you so much for joining us. It is a fantastic film. Congratulations.
CHASE: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, the new NBA season is here. And with it, a debate on vaccine hesitancy. 90 percent of players returning to the court are
vaccinated, but some high-profile skeptics are refusing to get protected. With no vaccine mandate for this season, some are wondering how much sway
these anti-vax voices have behind the scenes.
Hall of Fame legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is calling out these players, no farm no foul approach. He believes as high-profile figures the ball is in
their court to set an example and get the vaccine. Here he is talking with Michel Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Bianna. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thank you so much for speaking with us today.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FORMER NBA PLAYER AND BEST-SELLING AUTHOR: Not a problem, Michel. Nice to be with you.
MARTIN: As we are speaking, you have had some very strong words for athletes who are refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You wrote a
(INAUDIBLE) piece for Substack and you talked about how shocking and disappointing it is to see so many people, especially people of color,
treat the vaccination like a matter of personal preference, like ordering no onions on your burger at a drive-through.
What is it that made you feel like you needed to speak out right now?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think the status that black athletes have in the black community is, you know, out of the roof. And especially, young
people, but the whole black community looks up to a lot of the athletes for a lot of different reasons. I know I get the award, the Social Justice
Award through the NBA. To guys on different teams that are making a difference, spending their money instead of (INAUDIBLE) and putting it in
the bank, they're investing in the community where they lived and worked. This is meaningful and this is going to make change happen quicker.
So, you know, there's a lot there that the black athlete is giving to us freely (ph). But when you try to shoot down something that you have no idea
what you're talking about, I mean, we have had enough examples on this virus to know that the vaccines are safe and most importantly, effective.
So, you know, what are people waiting for?
MARTIN: Did you get wind of this? I know you have a lot of contacts within the league. I'm sure people consult with you all the time. I'm sure people
seek out your advice or they just want to be in your company. Did you get wind that this was going on or how did you sort of hear that there was this
kind of hesitancy? Was it just like everybody else seeing these interviews?
ABDUL-JABBAR: You know, I think it's just -- the scuttlebutt started to spread that certain people might not be vaccinated. Lebron came out and
made an announcement that he is vaccinated and his family is vaccinated. But he didn't want to be drawn into the controversy. But as a father and as
a parent and as a husband, he got the family vaccinated. So, you know, there's different ways of making a statement here. But let's make sense.
MARTIN: What do you think is behind this?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I don't know. For a certain individual, it might just be like they don't feel like being bothered with finding out what the virus is
all about. And, you know, getting an understanding of how dangerous it is and that it spreads through a community. So, I think that's the thing that
-- you know, people think that this is so much an individual choice. As I mentioned in my article, you know, like ordering onions on your fries at
the drive-through. It's not that simple.
MARTIN: You said, athletes and other celebrities have a public platform to help alleviate this crisis and to save lives. To not take on that
responsibility harms the sports and entertainment industries, the communities and the country. And you said, those who claim they need to do
"more research," you have that in quotes, are simply announcing that they have done no research because the overwhelming consensus of immunologists
and other medical experts is that the vaccine is effective and safe and will prevent unnecessary deaths of thousands.
The other thing you go on to say in your column is that, you know, I assure you that when an athlete has a broken leg or heart attack or their child is
in an accident, they don't say go to the doctors, don't anything until I do more research. They beg the medical experts to help.
So, you on pointed out a number of sort of inconsistencies here. I guaranty you that most of these, they have to have gone at last through high school
to be old enough to play in the league. In order attend high school, they had to have been immunized against all the, you know, childhood diseases.
They all have had their flu shots. So, they've all had their tetanus shots, they've all had their MMR, and all of those things. So, why this vaccine,
why now? What's your take on that?
ABDUL-JABBAR: It's hard to get a take on because none of it makes sense. I remember when I was a kid seeing kids going into iron lungs and, you know,
having to spend, you know, a lot of time in there and, you know, polio was the cause of this. And, you know, when they came around to give us our
shots for polio, I was happy to get it, you know, I'm just a kid.
Nothing's changed. We have a problem that is attacking the whole country and vaccination and immunization work. So, why the hesitancy? I don't get
it. And, you know, it's just a big question mark. I don't think anyone who has thought this through for five minutes can come up with any solution,
that most effective and the closest at hand are masks and vaccination. So, let's get on it.
MARTIN: I wonder if it has something to do with a sense of agency? I mean, you are frankly one of the greatest examples of that, of an athlete who was
expressing his own agency on issues other than sports, and you sort of have been an advocate for that. And I wonder whether this is sort of an example
of these athletes expressing that agency?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I don't think that it comes down to that. I think it comes down to just a whole need to have your own personal choice be aligned on
this. And everybody else's choice, you know, they can go with it. But that doesn't work in this circumstance. These players play with other players
who have families. They play with people in close corners. The people in the front office and the other people that they have to work with. And
spreading this virus is a great way to see that people die. So, we need to do everything we can to see people don't die.
MARTIN: You know, of course, one of the ironies of this moment is that one of the people who have been most vociferous in supporting these athletes in
refusing the vaccine are conservative politicians who otherwise have zero sympathy for many of the causes that many of these athletes embrace, like,
you know, police violence, for example, or other social justice issues. I wonder how that went.
And I also -- just from a more sort of larger demographic perspective, I mean, it's just a fact that certain political groups, certain religious
groups like white evangelicals, for example, are the most resistant to these vaccines. And it's just sort of interesting because these players are
not part of any of those groups from what we can see. So, I just sort of wonder, do you think they're getting the same information, false
information from the same sources?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I think that they are ignoring certain information. The information that they should be paying attention to is that the COVID
epidemic is strongest in the states that have the least vaccination. That's what they should be paying attention to. The least vaccination you have,
the more you'll be prone to catching the COVID virus. And if you don't understand that, given the evidence that we have now, you just enjoy
throwing the dice.
MARTIN: You've called on the league, the NBA to take stronger measures. I mean, currently, certain teams have taken stronger measures because they
are located in cities that have vaccine mandates. But you called upon the league to take stronger measures, to impose a vaccine mandate across the
league. Tell me more about that. Like why do you think that's necessary and why now?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think if the league does it, it just will have the - - you know, the authority of the league and no one individual other than Adam Silver will be responsible for that. You know, so I think that makes
sense in that way.
But the league has one issue that it has to deal with. It will have to negotiate with the Players Association to work out the -- you know, the
format for that mandate. But other than that, the league can do something about it. You know, all they have to do is just get in cahoots there with
the Players Association and they can work something out that suits the needs of our health. I mean, that's what's important. Our health is what's
important here. So, I think that's how it should be done.
MARTIN: How do you understand the Players Association position on this? I mean, it seems like to this point, they have resisted a mandate. How do you
understand their position on that?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I don't know if they've met and given a formal statement on that. Have they? I haven't seen that. 90 percent of the people on all the
teams have gotten vaccinated. So, you know, I think there's just a little bit of fog there.
MARTIN: I mean, really, it's just a few high-profile holdouts. Would be that accurate?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Yes. And I think --
MARTIN: Just a few high-profile holdouts?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I think that hits it right on the head.
MARTIN: What kind of reaction have you gotten to your speaking out about this? You have not minced words. You said, look, if individual athletes
can't muster courage to do the right thing, then the NBA and every other lead governing body must step in and mandate vaccinations for players,
coaches, and staff in order to protect the team, the fans, and the community. You said, players are free to choose not to get vaccinated, but
they should have the courage of their moral convictions to sit out the season, sustained in the righteousness of their choice. They've already
proven they're not team players.
What reaction have you gotten?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, people seem to think that's -- those words were appropriate. 100 percent of the people know that I made that statement
agreed with it.
MARTIN: And before I let you go, I wondered if you've considered reaching out to some of these players on a personal level. You have a lot of
credibility, obviously. And I also want to mention, that you also have a deep interest in science. I mean, one of your many books, you published the
book sort of profiling a number of significant African-Americans in science, for example. So, you have a deep interest in science among your
So, I just was wondering, have you thought about reaching to these players individually?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I have to say, generally, really applies to them individually. But I think that they need to listen to somebody that they
care about and get a good idea of what's going on here. Go to a doctor that you know. Go to someone that you trust that is in the medical industry and
ask them how they feel about the vaccinations.
You know, get informed. Go to your pastor. And if you -- knowledge is power. When you get the knowledge about what this is all about, I'm sure
that you'll do the right thing.
MARTIN: Well, let's hope that your words carry weight. Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, thank you so much for talking to us today.
ABDUL-JABBAR: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Proof once again that knowledge certainly is power.
Well, that's it for the show. Thank you so much for watching. Have a great weekend and good-bye from New York.