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Interview with "Citizen Ashe" Co-Director Sam Pollard; Interview with "Citizen Ashe" Co-Director Rex Miller; Interview with "Modernist Pizza" Author Nathan Myhrvold. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 23, 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Romania, each day, we have 400 patients with death. You know, 400 people, it's a huge number. It's a community.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): As Europe gets hit by another COVID wave, we break down the reasons behind the surge and the way out with the WHO's Hans
Then: A new report says U.S. democracy is backsliding. We look at why and the dangers of polarization.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were climbing the ladder of inclusion. And here was this guy in this lily-white institution of top-tier tennis.
GOLODRYGA: The incredible legacy of three-time Grand Slam winner Arthur Ashe comes to life in a new documentary. I'm joined by the co-directors,
Rex Miller and Sam Pollard.
NATHAN MYHRVOLD, FORMERLY CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, MICROSOFT: We went to 300 pizzerias in South America, all across United States, all over Italy
and other parts of Europe.
GOLODRYGA: Microsoft's former chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold tells Walter Isaacson about his three-volume collection about the art of
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane, who will be back later this week.
Well, Europe is battling a fresh wave of coronavirus. Austria is on day two of a national lockdown with a new record of infections. In Germany, cases
are also surging, and a stark status check from the country's health minister is reverberating around the continent, saying Germans will be
vaccinated, recovered or dead by the end of winter.
In Romania, morgues are overflowing with coronavirus victims. And, in France, the prime minister has tested positive. Jean Castex is fully
vaccinated and thankfully says that he is doing well.
Well, the World Health Organization warned today that Europe could hit more than two million COVID deaths by March of next year, based on current
trends. So what has gone wrong? And how much are the unvaccinated to blame?
Let's ask the WHO's Europe director, Hans Kluge. He is on assignment in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, which we will also discuss.
Dr. Kluge, welcome to the program. I wish it was under better circumstances.
Europe accounted for more than half of the world's reported COVID deaths this month alone, according to your own calculations. What has gone so
drastically wrong on the continent?
DR. HANS KLUGE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: There are about three factors which play.
The first one is the winter seasonality. The second is that far too many people are still susceptible to the infection either because of waning
vaccine-induced immunity, particularly after six months, and, of course, still a huge proportion of the population unvaccinated, and the third one
is that all the region is what we call Delta-dominant, the Delta strain, which is much more transmissible.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we know that it is not a monolith. And kind of similar to what we saw in the U.S., various states had different rates of vaccination.
In Europe, we're seeing the same. And it's Eastern Europe where we're seeing the lowest percentage of the population that is vaccinated. We're
seeing somewhat at 65 or 70 percent in Central, and a relatively good number and a strong number for Europe's Southern countries.
Why do we see such a disparity? And is Eastern Europe in particular to blame for some of these horrific numbers we're seeing?
KLUGE: Well, I think there is no one really to blame.
The only one we could blame is the virus. People are the solution. And we see that, actually, the Eastern part of the region has peaked. Now it's
going steadily down. And we see dramatic increases in the Western part, where there is higher vaccination, but, still, it's not enough.
So there are five stabilizers. It's too late to prevent another wave because the vaccination coverage is too low. So we have to focus on keeping
mortality down, number one, by masks. Only 48 percent in European region is wearing a mask indoors. It is far too low. Number two is vaccination.
And we need to involve more behavioral cultural scientists and influencers making use of the COVID passport. The third one are boosters for the adult
population. The fourth one is ventilation.
And the fifth one we're working on are new clinical protocols, including the new treatments.
GOLODRYGA: It's interesting that you note that any vaccine-related solutions are number two and number for, number two being the vaccine,
number four being the booster, because it does appear that different countries throughout the continent, throughout Europe, have different
I want to play for you sound that Prime Minister of the U.K. Boris Johnson said earlier in a previous interview a few weeks ago to Christiane
Amanpour, when she asked him about the lack of restrictions, the lack of mask mandates, what have you, in the country. Here was his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At the moment, we don't see any reason to deviate from the plan that we're on that began really at the
beginning of the year with the road map for rolling out the vaccine and getting ourselves onto a different footings.
The most important thing for our U.K. viewers, Christiane, is that they should get that jab get, get their booster.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The booster.
JOHNSON: The booster is the thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So, there he is saying that the booster is the key, not masks, which you list as number one.
And I'm wondering if therein lies some of the confusion and the disconnect between various countries in their approach to handling and tackling COVID,
because, as we know, many countries have yet to have one or two vaccinations per citizen, as you know, not to say for boosters, which we're
seeing in the U.K.
KLUGE: So, first of all, Bianna, I want to clarify that the five stabilizers are not in order of priority.
KLUGE: We need to do it all, I call it vaccination-plus path.
And in this situation, to focus only on vaccination is not going to help us. We need to do it all. We need vaccination, and we need the public
health measures and more focus on the treatment. So we need to do all five.
And just picking one or two is not going to do it.
GOLODRYGA: As you know, Austria became the first nation, Western nation, to mandate vaccines. That's not going to be implemented until February of
But we saw the reaction in the response to that. Tens of thousands turned out in Vienna over the weekend in protest. We're seeing similar protests in
other countries throughout Europe. At this point, are mandates necessary, in your opinion. This is the fourth wave. Nobody likes them. But there are
few other solutions.
KLUGE: I understand, of course, that the people are really tired of the pandemic. It has been a long time.
Mandatory vaccination should really be the last resort. In fact, this discussion is not new. We had it with the micro-epidemics of multidrug-
resistant tuberculosis, where one asked the question, does someone have the right to make someone sick avoidably? So I think it will be healthy to have
a legal and societal debate about mandatory vaccination.
But we also know that it can increase skepticism, it can withdraw the last group of health workers in the hospital. So we also need to ensure that,
before we get at that stage, there are no access barriers, because still, in a number of countries, there are barriers to access to the vaccination.
But I think it's healthy to have such a debate.
GOLODRYGA: Is there enough supply throughout the continent now?
KLUGE: We got into a little bit of a paradoxical situation, of the 53 countries, that almost all countries got vaccines, but the big issue now is
to decrease the vaccine skepticism.
And then, to come back on one of your previous excellent points, what we need is policy coherence across the 53 member states, and then what the
government will see is that the political cost of implementing restrictive measures will be lower, because the whole region will move in one direction
at the same time.
GOLODRYGA: It's interesting.
Earlier in the year, there just -- given the rate of vaccination, there had been predictions made that, while the U.S. was ahead of Europe in the
summer, that, by the end of the year, Europe would far surpass the U.S. in terms of vaccination rates.
And we see that the vaccine skeptics aren't isolated to one country or one continent. We're seeing them around the world. But if you were to point
your finger at one culprit in particular as to why that number is not higher across the continent, what is that? Is that a failure in leadership?
KLUGE: Two points here.
First of all, we're only going to get out of the pandemic if the politicians, the scientists, and the people pull in one direction. That's
very clear now.
Second, I always like to look at the positive side. I recently visited Portugal, Spain. They're implementing the five stabilizers, what I call
vaccination-plus, and they're doing well. So, obviously, there is no mystery here.
But you're right. It needs political leadership. And politicians have to base their decisions on science. And it's high time.
GOLODRYGA: What was your reaction when we heard this rather jaw-dropping, but I would imagine, in your opinion, accurate, unfortunate statement from
the German health minister on Monday, saying: "Probably, by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said, pretty much everyone in Germany
will be vaccinated, recovered, or death."
And it wasn't that long ago, at the beginning of the year and last year, obviously, when Germany had won a lot of plaudits for following the
science, for having order, as opposed to what was happening in the U.S., in terms of the experts leading the way here through mitigation and then
obviously later through vaccination.
Does Germany speak for an isolated case, or do you think that that speaks for the larger continent as a whole?
KLUGE: We're very concerned.
I think, about three weeks ago, I put out an alert that we can see 500,000 additional deaths by the 1st of March if it is business as usual. But the
big lesson learned here is that, far too often, countries declared the pandemic over, when, in reality, it was just one more wave passing.
So, in that sense, we have to do it all. We have to implement the five stabilizers.
GOLODRYGA: And, of course, this isn't happening in a vacuum.
As the pandemic has obviously dominated coverage over the last two years nearly, there are other crises happening throughout the continent, which is
what brought you to Belarus and the migrant crisis that we have been covering extensively here at CNN on the border.
We should note that, in terms of COVID, the country of Belarus itself only has a vaccination rate of about 30 percent. But you are there addressing
the humanitarian needs of those migrants.
What have you found on the ground?
KLUGE: Well, I got the permission from the government, indeed, yesterday to go to Grodno region, which is at the border between Belarus, Lithuania
We went into the settlement and spoke to the migrants. Of course, there are very, very difficult circumstances, absolutely. And my mandate is health.
Health is not political. Health is there for all. But there was a very quick and active response from the minister of health, the governor, who is
a previous minister of health, and the Belarusian Red Cross to put in place a number of quick measurements.
The number of toilets have been increased. They will be putting up constructions with showers, because sanitation is very crucial. We're
looking to implement primary health care approach to stratify the population, to look at mental health needs, and, of course, the COVID-19,
because that's a concern.
But I'm appreciative that the minister, Dr. Pinevich, took a very proactive role. But, ultimately, we also agreed we as health people are trying our
best, but this situation needs a political resolution.
GOLODRYGA: And it is reassuring to hear that things are improving for these migrants, and the tensions have de-escalated a bit.
But how concerned are you that this is something that's sustainable, and not just -- not just for show for people like you who come on the ground
there to get a better sense of what's happening?
KLUGE: Well, we do have a country office here in Minsk. So I think that we do have quite a good view of what is happening.
Also, we don't work in isolation. We work together with the United Nations family, with Medecins Sans Frontieres, with the Red Cross. So, in that
sense now, what the authorities also were mentioning is, we have a plan, but now we have to pull together and start to deliver, including health
kits, medical kits we are going to arrive the day off tomorrow.
But, again, this will require a political resolution, because what's happening here is not sustainable.
GOLODRYGA: And it could have been avoidable. Some crises cannot be avoidable. And, unfortunately, this was an avoidable crisis that was
perpetrated at the hands of the authoritarian leader there, Alexander Lukashenko.
Dr. Kluge, we thank you so much for your time and your effort on all of these humanitarian issues. Thank you.
Well, while Lukashenko has continued attack against democracy is, unfortunately, a familiar pattern for many of our viewers, an alarming new
report shows the Belarus is far from alone. In its annual report, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance lists the
U.S. -- yes, the U.S. -- as a backsliding democracy for the first time, saying -- quote -- "The United States, the bastion of global democracy,
fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale."
So, what's behind this assessment?
With me now to discuss is Wendy Weiser, the director of Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Wendy, welcome to the program.
First, let me get you to respond to this alarming new study, perhaps, given that you follow this on a much closer basis and in a daily basis. It may
not be as alarming to you. But what is the takeaway?
WENDY WEISER, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: No, it is absolutely alarming.
It is true that we have been seeing some tendencies, some backsliding over the past decade. But there was a sharp increase this past year, both in
efforts to roll back access to the franchise, in efforts to manipulate the electoral rules to prevent competition or prevent voters from having a
definitive say, and even attacks on the ideas of impartial election administration at its core.
GOLODRYGA: And I imagine this all goes back to the big lie, right, perpetrated by former President Trump and his supporters following the 2020
And what's so jarring about it is, on the one hand, all of the election experts who had been overseeing the election and building up the perimeter
surrounding it and the guidelines to maintain its integrity say that it was a victory, given, especially, that it happened in the midst of a pandemic.
And yet we call -- what we call the big lie seemed to change the narrative, not just for a fringe section of the country, but for at least half, if not
WEISER: Yes, that's absolutely .
The 2020 election was a civic miracle of sorts, in the way the country was able to pull together a very successful, functioning election under the
conditions of a global pandemic, which required massive changes to the infrastructure and how we ran elections. It was, by all accounts, quite
successful, the highest voter turnout in over a century.
And even the Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration called it the most secure election in American history. But what followed
was not a celebration and building on that, but a big lie that was trying to undermine the integrity of the election.
And that has fueled not only efforts to cast doubt on the 2020 election results, but actually efforts to change the election system itself. So what
we are seeing now are, across the country, laws rolling back voting rights. We now have 33 states have passed 19 laws that makes it harder to vote this
We are seeing extreme gerrymandering that actually locks in an unfair advantage for one party over another that is going to endure for a whole
decade and other -- we're seeing attacks on election administrators, even threats to their lives going on across the country.
So this big lie is fueling so much change and efforts to thwart and render our election system unfair and some fear incapable of doing the job of
reaching a fair outcome that everybody can trust in.
GOLODRYGA: And let's remind our viewers that these 19 states that passed laws that made it harder to vote, what they call voter security, is
addressing something that really didn't need to be fixed.
We also know that there are 25 states that passed laws that expanded voter access. So there could be some that say, listen, this all balances out, but
that's not necessarily the case. Can you explain why? And let's use Texas as an example.
WEISER: So, Texas is one of the states that have been backsliding on a number of fronts.
So, this year, Texas passed one of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation. It rolls back voting access in a number of ways, cuts back
convenience voting options like mail voting, banning 24-hour voting, drive- through voting. It makes it a crime for most people to assist people with disabilities or with limited English proficiency to vote.
And it also makes it actually harder for election officials to take reasonable steps to protect voters to stop partisan poll watchers from
harassing and intimidating voters at the polls, so, to give some examples of what's happening in Texas.
Texas -- and to put this in context, Texas already had some of the most restrictive voting hurdles in the nation and among the lowest voter turnout
in the nation. Texas did not have any voter fraud or any misconduct that was identified in the 2020 election, like every other state. And it was
actually not for lack of looking.
There were multiple lawsuits across the country, 60, in fact, all of which alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election, and all of which found absolutely
nothing. And, in fact, now, we are seeing the lawyers that were bringing those suits getting sanctioned and punished by the courts for using the
courts as a vehicle for driving a political message, rather than raising legitimate legal claims.
So, that's one of the things going on in Texas. Just recently, Texas also passed gerrymandered political maps. So, in Texas now, they're locking in
an advantage for Republicans that will last a decade. And even though Democrats get roughly 50 percent of the votes for congressional seats, they
are going to be unable to get more than 30 percent -- 37 percent of the seats, they're unable to win over the course of the decade, unless they --
unless something -- it will be virtually impossible for them to do that.
And this happened by targeting voters of color in particular. It was voters of color that made up the -- virtually all of the population growth in
Texas. They achieved none of the gains. And, in fact, they were targeted. They had less power in this redistricting process than they have in the
past. And, for example, Texas took 14 competitive seats, reduced it down to three, doing things like taking all of -- or a large portion of the
minority voters out of the district in Fort Bend County and packing them into a minority districts where they no longer can help influence the
This magnified across the state has left a really unfair set of maps that leave voters out and that are discriminatory in Texas.
GOLODRYGA: Which is why, for viewers -- listen, there are two points to make here, which is why for viewers for many years who don't follow this as
closely as you do, but constantly hear around election time that the states like Texas have become more purple, right, and less red, and then you see
the results from an election and wonder, what just happened there?
And you just explained one of the reasons why. Another point to make why this is so important, and you hear people -- even somebody as respected as
Condoleezza Rice say, listen, it's time to move on from January 6 and what have you. This wasn't just an isolated moment in our past.
You talk about laws that are being implemented for future elections that have been impacted because of the big lie and because of what happened in
this country after the fact. And one of those things is going after state election officials, right, that there used to be a board of election
officials that, for the most part, were apolitical.
That is not the case now. They are changing some of these players to turn it into a more partisan -- a more partisan situation.
WEISER: Yes, that is one of the really new and alarming developments of this year is an all-out attack on nonpartisan and impartial election
We have seen election officials in 2020 were subjected to a dramatic spike in attacks that and threats. One in five election officials reported to us
in a survey that they had -- they or their families had their lives threatened in that election. One in three fear for their life and safety on
the job now.
And now there are legislators that are exacerbating the problem by passing laws that will facilitate a hyperpartisan takeover of election
administration. We have seen laws that enable the removal of election administrators by partisans and replacing them with partisan loyalists.
We're seeing laws that criminalize basic election administration conduct. And, in Texas, for example, the election officials will -- or could be
subject to criminal penalties if they truthfully tell people that they are entitled to apply for a mail ballot. They could be subject to criminal
penalties if they take reasonable steps to protect the safety of voters and election workers in polling places by removing disruptive poll watchers.
They are controlling them through criminal law. And even more alarmingly -- and this hasn't passed yet -- in seven states, we actually saw legislation
that would enable partisans to overturn election results.
And Texas was one of those states that had a bill, and it was actually called Overturning Elections. Those did not pass, but it shows the
direction in which this is all going. It is very alarming. And this is not the kind of thing you expect to see in a longstanding, advanced,
functioning democracy that depends on impartial umpires to run, administer and count the votes.
GOLODRYGA: Right, which is why so many are saying this now falls to Congress to perhaps even do away with the filibuster, if need to, to pass
new voting rights legislation.
And that is something the president said he wasn't in favor of doing, but perhaps is contemplating now. We will obviously continue to cover this very
Thank you so much, Wendy, for all the work that you're doing.
Well, we turn now to someone who stood firm and his belief in democracy and equality. Arthur Ashe is the only black man ever to win the singles title
at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. But his legacy was perhaps even more marked by the champion he became off the court as a civil
rights activist and raising HIV awareness.
And that's at the heart of a new documentary, "Citizen Ashe." Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arthur Ashe, that conjured up a whole image.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He started becoming a citizen of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arthur Ashe, first black player to win the men's Wimbledon singles title.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had evolved from someone who was analytical to someone who became more about direct action. When you brushed away the
gentility, his statement would be more militant than mine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His contributions became a guide of what other black professional athletes could accomplish.
(END VIDEO CLIP) 7 GOLODRYGA: The film was made in partnership with CNN Films and HBO Max.
And I'm joined now by the co-directors, Rex Miller and Sam Pollard.
Thank you both for joining us.
I have to say, I can't -- I saw this yesterday, and I have not been able to think about much else. It has stayed with me in ways that few documentaries
I have seen have. And as somebody who has been a fan of tennis and even of Arthur Ashe, there was so much revealed in this documentary that I had no
idea about and I found so informative.
Can you explain to our viewers and me why you chose to pursue covering him in particular?
REX MILLER, CO-DIRECTOR, "CITIZEN ASHE": Yes. Hey.
SAM POLLARD, CO-DIRECTOR, "CITIZEN ASHE": Rex, why don't you go first?
GOLODRYGA: Oh, I am so sorry. I'm so sorry.
Sam, let me begin with you.
POLLARD: I came onto the project after it had been in sort of production, post-production for about four years. Rex was the initial director.
But I was aware of Arthur Ashe growing up in New York City in the '60s. I knew he was a phenomenal tennis player and that he had won the first U.S.
But the thing I didn't know about Arthur Ashe was the activism, in terms of fighting for -- to erase apartheid in South Africa, his other humanitarian
efforts. So, to me, it was a real wakeup call to really get to know the man beyond the tennis court.
GOLODRYGA: And, Rex, on that point, it just reminds you, in watching this, I felt the same way. I didn't know the role that he played in civil rights
among sports athletes in the country.
And it's a reminder, I guess, that all -- not all civil rights activist follow the same path in pursuing their cause. What was the takeaway for you
in delving more into his life?
MILLER: Yes, absolutely.
I think the film and Arthur's story points up that not everybody has the same approach to activism. My personal involvement with the project stems
way back, because I'm a tennis player, I grew up the son of two tennis fanatics who had me on the court when I was in the crib.
In 1968, when Arthur was winning the U.S. Open, I was 6 years old, and I was in the stands at Forest Hills in my backyard pretty much growing up in
Astoria, Queens. And that's how I first got to know him. I imitated his serve and his game as a junior player.
And I previously -- previous to this film, I made a film about Althea Gibson. And when that was out, I got a call out of the blue from someone
who said: Hey, my father was a "LIFE" magazine photographer, and he spent a week with Arthur Ashe in 1968 while he was winning the U.S. open, and we
have 41 rolls of film that nobody's ever seen before, and you should do a film about this.
So, bit by bit, that led to me getting involved. There were some other amazing archival sources that came across our path. And all of these things
added up to make us take a look, a deeper dive into his amazing life. And then the topper was when Arthur's widow, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, came on
board and sort of deputized us that we would have this opportunity to tell his story to a new generation.
GOLODRYGA: And it was wonderful to hear from her and the huge role that she obviously played not only in this film, but in his life.
Sam, let me ask you ask Rex pointed to there that the role that 1968 played in Arthur's life, both professionally and personally, a big year for him on
the court no doubt, but also, a big year for him and the country and the world following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and obviously,
Bobby Kennedy, that seemed to be a pivotal moment for him professionally, personally and in deciding to become more outspoken.
POLLARD: Well, I think there's a couple of things here. I think you really hit your -- you hit the nail on the head. First of all, he won the U.S.
Open. By winning the U.S. Open, it gave him a platform to be able to say, now, I can speak out. I can be like Jackie Robinson. I can be like Jim
Brown. I can be like Bill Russell.
Secondly, it was impacted by the assassinations of Dr. King and of Bobby Kennedy. So, he felt an urge now, a real urge to speak out and to speak up,
which you got to applaud, you know, because he grew up in a time, segregated America, coming from Richmond, Virginia where a black person was
told, stay in your place. Don't make waves, you know. And he was not going to be Muhammad Ali. You know, he was not going to be -- you know, breaking
doors down, but he knew that he needed to speak out, but in Arthur Ashe's way.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And the death, the murder of Emmett Till played a profound role in his life as well. What's brilliant about this film is that, in a
way, in a hauntingly beautiful way, he seems to narrate the different passages in his life, obviously, over videos but through interviews that he
gave later in his life talking about his younger days and after, in terms of the murder Emmett Till and the impact that had on him. He said, in the
south, if you're black and get angry too quickly, your life could be in danger.
And I think that sort of highlighted and you -- what you do so well in this film is what he took away from that throughout his life. Obviously, his
father played an important role in his life to always follow authority and not be that loudest voice in the room. But when you contrast that with one
of his disciples and later students, John McEnroe, who always broke out, you always yelled, who never behaved. And you saw the frustration that this
brought on from Arthur.
But at the same time, Arthur reveals that he, in a way, was a bit envious because he too felt that frustration, he just could never explain it and
portray it, I guess, the way someone like John McEnroe could.
Rex, go ahead and then we'll pick up with Sam.
MILLER: OK. Yes, McEnroe was a complicated, you know, nuanced guy as well and Arthur had a lot of respect for John, for his talent, but he was also
jealous in a way that John was permitted to act out and always speak his mind. Arthur grew up in the south where you had to, you know, toe the line
or you literally could get killed. And as he said, you know, the murder of Emmett Till. Emmett Till was the same age as Arthur and Arthur pointed out,
if you were black in the south, even if you were illiterate, you knew who Emmett Till was. So, that had a profound impact on him.
And with this film, we were challenged and really trying to get to the inner core of Arthur Ashe. He was a complex guy. He was very nuanced and
wound up being a real gold mine for us for these tapes that we found that were the result of his biographer, Arnold Rampersad, doing these long
interviews with Arthur. And I found a transcript of these tapes in Arthur's personal papers at the Schomburg Center in Harlem.
And we reached out to Arnold Rampersad to see if maybe he had these tapes from literally 30 years ago, and he said, I'll let you know. I'll go look
at the attic. And he called us back and said, yes, I found a shoe box with 33 micro cassettes of Arthur talking to me. What would you think? Would you
like to hear them? So, that was the best way to present Arthur was through his voice talking about all of these really nuanced interesting moments in
GOLODRYGA: What a brilliant find, that treasure-trove really proved to be. Sam, you lay in the film out the pressure that he was under from other
civil rights activists and other black athletes to speak out, and perhaps speak out the way they did and to emulate their style. And he struggled
with who he was as a person, obviously, wanting to address the very same issues. And it appeared that his moment came in terms of apartheid in South
Africa, and that's where he found his real true voice in speaking out and becoming the activist Arthur Ashe himself.
POLLARD: That's absolutely correct. He saw that when he wanted to go to South Africa, he knew he wanted to try to make a difference. He wanted to
see if he could eliminate -- help that country eliminate apartheid. And even though there were people in the community, blacks in the United States
and South Africa and saw there was (INAUDIBLE) for him to go, he knew he had to go.
He wanted to be able to sit at the table with those who were pro-apartheid, those who were against apartheid. He wanted to understand points of view.
And that's what was special about Arthur throughout his life. He was one of these people who said, let's bring people to the table. Let's have a
discussion, you know. Let's not say, I'm going to be one way. You know, I'm not going to do it. You know, that's what makes him so, so special.
And I think the other thing to remember too is that, you know, for me, when I'm working on this film, he to me is almost a symbol of how lots of
African-Americans saw themselves in the '50s and the '60s. They wanted to become part of the American melting pot and sacrifice their identity. But
after 1968 and with the assassination of Dr. King and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, he knew he had to stand up and be counted.
But again, as I was saying earlier, he was not going to do it like Ali, he was not going to do it like Jim Brown. He was going to do it more like
Jackie Robinson. You know, but he wanted to make a difference and he did.
GOLODRYGA: And, Rex, he clearly made a difference for future athletes both tennis and other sports. Lebron James, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, you
know, they turned to many athletes of the past, many black super stars. But he played a pivotal role in their lives and their evolution and their
outspokenness on social issues.
MILLER: Yes, Arthur was firm in saying, you know, you can't sit and just let the world go by. You have to get involved. And a lot of athletes at
that time were getting involved, Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell and Jim Brown. And as Sam said, he felt it was important to speak out but he was
going to do it when he was ready. And he wasn't ready until he really had a platform as being the world champion after he won that 68th U.S. Open, the
first U.S. Open. That's when he, literally, two days later, was on "Meet the Press" that he told his brother, you're going to be hearing from me now
because now I'm a champion and people will want to hear what I have to say.
So, everything was very structured with him. He planned it out. He was not an emotional civil rights activist. He was very pragmatic. He was very
intellectual. And he wanted to bring people together through discussion and through a shared goal of what needed to change in this country.
GOLODRYGA: And he became an activist for change, you know, in terms of social justice. That evolved over decades. But in terms of his own health,
unfortunately, he did not have that much time. And yet, Sam, those last few years of his life, he wanted to, at first, be private after his HIV and
aids diagnosis. But when he realized that that couldn't be, he became one of the biggest champions and supporters of more research and being
outspoken on an issue that unfortunately at the time was still taboo.
POLLARD: You have to applaud him. You have to applaud the fact that he knew that he had to step up again, you know, he had to participate. He had
to be, you know, forthright and aggressive and present a point of view to help who are also struggling having aids, you know. So, I mean, this is a
man who -- is -- was bigger than tennis. You know, he was a man who understood that life was not just about being this greatest tennis player,
it's about other things. It's about giving back. And that's what he did through his whole life. He's a phenomenal human being as far as I'm
GOLODRYGA: I agree with you. Sam Pollard and Rex Miller, there's so much more, his relationship with his brother, Johnny, and his dedication to his
success, his wife, Jeanne. I don't want to reveal too much here because I want everyone to go out and watch this documentary. It is brilliant. And I
thank you so much for joining us today.
MILLER: Great to be here. Thank you.
POLLARD: Thank you very much. Enjoy your day.
GOLODRYGA: You too.
And "Citizen Ashe" is out in theatres and on demand next month and will broadcast on CNN and HBO Max next year.
Well, now we take a look at how one man went from being a tech executive at Microsoft to leading the charge for the modern food movement. Nathan
Myhrvold walked away from it all to pursue a long-held dream at culinary school. He founded Modernist Cuisine, a research lab and publishing house
exploring the cutting edge of cooking. And his latest series explores the history and science behind pizza of all things. Here he is speaking to our
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Bianna. And, Nathan Myhrvold, welcome to the show.
NATHAN MYHRVOLD, AUTHOR, "MODERNIST PIZZA": Well, thanks. I'm happy to be here. But whatever here means in the pandemic world.
ISAACSON: So, you're a total polymath. Ever since I've known you, you've been interested in everything from dinosaur tails and now, "Modernist
Pizza," the science of cooking. Let me understand. How did this all begin? What were you like as a kid?
MYHRVOLD: Well, I loved food early on. When I was nine years old, I discovered cookbooks in the local library. And I announced to mom I was
going to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by myself and go shopping by myself and the whole deal. And I did. It was not a total disaster. If it had been,
you know, maybe my life would have gone in a different direction.
ISAACSON: But you were good at math and physics too when you were --
MYHRVOLD: You know, what -- you know, I would have been a chef except for the fact I was really good at math and physics. And, you know, I wound up
getting degrees in math and physics and geophysics and --
ISAACSON: But you left high school like at age 14, right?
MYHRVOLD: Yes. Yes. By the time I got two master's degrees and a Ph.D. I was 23.
ISAACSON: And those were in, what, theoretical physics?
MYHRVOLD: The last one, the Ph.D. is theoretical physics from Princeton. But I also have a master's degree in economics from Princeton and one in
geophysics from UCLA and my bachelor's was math. So --
ISAACSON: So, when you were studying physics and math and getting all those degrees, you eventually go off to Cambridge and you study with
Stephen Hawking. That is pretty amazing. Tell me what that was like.
MYHRVOLD: So, Stephen is a fantastic physicist. What is last well described is he's also a really great guy. He was funny. He loved to tell
jokes. He had a great sense of humor. The other thing about Stephen is, if you worked for him, it's really hard to feel sorry for yourself.
You know, you might wake up some day and say, oh, I'm not feeling well and, you know, I -- this happened and that happened and the world is so cruel. I
can walk, you know, and I can do all of these other things. And here's this man with incredible physical challenges. Challenges that would break almost
anybody's will, and yet, here he is not only surviving but he's on the top of his field.
ISAACSON: When you were chief technology officer at Microsoft, you were famous. Because I remember, in the early 1990s before the web had even
spread around, you said it's all going to go to mobile, there's going to be smartphones. Tell me about that memo and how it affected things.
MYHRVOLD: Well, I wrote a series of memos about how computing was going to change and what things were going to be important. And my argument was a
lot of it depends on actually the geometry of the human body. You know, we -- our eyes work best at about the distance of our arms and that's not an
You know, so, it means if we are having a shared experience, we need a much bigger screen so several of us can see it together. We move around. So, a
portable computer that you can read at arm's length is like obviously going to be what we want for a huge amount of what we do.
ISAACSON: Wait. So, why did Microsoft not invent the smartphone then?
MYHRVOLD: Well, in 1991, I wrote a memo that has a picture that I made myself with an illustration program of something that looks just like an
iPhone. And the reason, it's easy to think, oh, knowing the future is the thing that would allow you to go do it but you also have to believe enough
in that future to put enough resources behind it and then not get distracted by the things that are similar but not as good.
So, Microsoft's early efforts in phones were aimed at much more primitive phones with much more -- like a -- what was called a feature phone at the
time. And much more simple applications like address books and things like that, which were important for sure. But it wasn't the world that really --
the iPhone was the first implementation of, I'll say my idea. Now, I'm sure there's other people that had ideas like this early on also.
ISAACSON: So, I know you. I know your enthusiasm. I know Bill Gates and his intensity. I want to know what it was like at Microsoft you walked into
him and said that you wanted to take a leave from Microsoft to go to cooking school in France.
MYHRVOLD: He -- well, it was the only person who had ever asked that and certainly, the only one that was ever granted also. You know, Bill is
incredibly focused. And Bill had also seen me incredibly focused in what I would do at Microsoft. And it was a little puzzling to him that I would
want to go do some other thing, particularly one that wasn't as overtly intellectual.
Now, to me, that was kind of the point. I didn't take a leave to go do string theory or something. I wanted to do something that was very
different than what I normally do.
ISAACSON: And so, your interest in the science in and the chemistry and the physics of cooking led you to this whole modern cuisine thing that
you're doing? Explain those volumes.
MYHRVOLD: Well, after retiring from Microsoft, I built this amazing kitchen and I bought state-of-the-art equipment, including some of the
things that I knew there were chefs that were experimenting with scientific life techniques and really trying to make food that was created in a
different -- sort of a jarring way from the past.
ISAACSON: And how many volumes was that first book you did?
ISAACSON: Wait. So, you wrote 2,500 pages just in your first set of books on modern food, modernist food and it tied the science and also you did
obsessive photography. I mean, did people think you were going nuts?
MYHRVOLD: Absolutely. You know, fortunately, because I had been on Microsoft for a while, I didn't need to get funding up front for this. No
one would have given it to me. At the time, cookbooks -- and it's still true, that there is a huge emphasis on cookbooks on dumbing things down.
So, the series like "Cooking for Dummies," you know, "Steak for Dummies" or whatever. And if that kind of book dissatisfying to you, I can't do any
I -- this is not about making something super simple, in my view. It was about explaining how it worked. Another love of mine since childhood was
photography. And I thought, you know, if you have a book that's trying to talk about cooking using the very latest techniques, things that maybe some
of the best chefs don't understand and it has lots of science, there's people who might say, that was off-putting. You know, that wouldn't be
their idea of something fun.
But I thought, if I had really compelling photographs, both intrinsically but also didactically able to show things rather than just tell them, then
maybe I could seduce people to being interested in the book. You know, they flip it over and say, oh, wow. What's that?
ISAACSON: So, now, you've taken all this science, all this photography, all this modernist food ideas and you've applied it to what I would
consider one of the most ordinary foods around, which is pizza. And so, tell me a little bit about how you applied science, for example, to the
pizza dough, what did you learn about that?
MYHRVOLD: Well, one of our theories is -- or principles, is that any food is worthy of respect. And although pizza is -- could be built as a simple
food, as you did, it may be one of the most popular single dishes on earth. And they have lots of lore and legends and mythologies.
So, here's an example of both how we work and what comes of it. Almost every pizza is puffy at the rim and the crust is high and the crust is thin
in the middle. Why is that? Now, the first answer people gave is, like, oh, well, the chef left extra dough at the sides. And sometimes that's true.
But even if you have a dead flat piece of dough, so, I ask lots of people. Of course, I knew we were going to do experiments.
One theory was, what's the weight of the sauce and the cheese and, you know, whatever else, sausage or veggies. So, we make pizza side by side.
And one would have the sauce and cheese on it. And the other would have sand of the equivalent mass. Puffs up in the center. Looks like this.
ISAACSON: And why is that?
MYHRVOLD: Well, because it turns out weight isn't the issue, which I kind of knew already because we tried these experiments with bread. We tried to
bake bread with weights on top of it. And the yeast is strong enough and the expansion strong enough, it mostly shrugs off weight.
ISAACSON: Now, when I was growing up, I always had this historical theory, which is that pizza was invented on the Lower Eastside of New York in an
original Ray's pizza shop. Is that true?
MYHRVOLD: Sadly, no.
MYHRVOLD: So, we spent a ton of time on the history of pizza. And we discovered a whole bunch of new historical documents and a variety of other
things. So, we both documented and we pushed it forward. But pizza was a street food in Naples. It was a street food in poor neighborhoods. It got
popular so that the rich people of Naples would sneak down, kind of like to eat it, but it was a very local cuisine, which is typical of Italy.
ISAACSON: When was this?
MYHRVOLD: This was in the 19th century. There were a couple of people making pizza in 1790. We know from a census. And that first pizza was not
like the only thing you'd recognized as a pizza. The initial toppings were a tiny fish larva. They like to catch there. But by the mid-18th or 19th
century, so, 1850 to '60, it was very recognizable for what we had today, you know, I think would have stayed in Naples except for politics and
So, before 1870, Naples was the capital city of something called the Kingdom of the Two Sicilys. One of which was Sicily. I had never had a good
answer as to why they called it that. But it went from being a capital city where it was quite rich to being a provincial city in 1870 when the --
Italy unified and became a country for the first time.
Then there was also terrible cholera epidemics. Now, that caused them to answer to public works project called the (INAUDIBLE) which involved
tearing down some of the worst slums of Naples and building new sewer system and making it a much better cleaner city. Well, in the 19th century,
they have not quite figured out that when you tear down slums, you need some place for the people to go. So, a combination of people literally
having nowhere to go because of tenement house was being torn down and this politics meant that Naples lost about a third of its population in a 20-
From 1880 to 1900, two million people left Naples. Some went to other parts of Italy but most went to the new world. They went to United States and
they went to South America. And it was the poorest people who were going. It wasn't the rich. And so, those were the people eating pizza, wanted
pizza, knew how to make pizza and they brought pizza with them.
ISAACSON: And so, is that how pizza got to New York City?
MYHRVOLD: That is how pizza got to New York City.
ISAACSON: Now, you traveled all over the country to --
MYHRVOLD: And the world.
ISAACSON: And somewhat obsessively. I mean, this is a full volume of work. You're all over the world and different places. Tell me where you found
something that really surprised you and that you loved.s
MYHRVOLD: Oh, we were surprised many times on this trip. So, we went to 300 pizzerias in South America, Asia, all across the United States, all
over Italy and other parts of Europe. And you would occasionally find something that was truly stunning, someone working away in relative
(INAUDIBLE), you know, known in the neighborhood but know the place, making fantastic pizza. But we also found that basically really old famous
pizzerias anywhere in the world are lousy.
MYHRVOLD: Because they don't -- they're old and they're famous and tourists, they're going to come no matter what. Whereas the thing that
really distinguishes a great pizzeria is the founder is still around and he's not making every pizza or she's not making every pizza, they're at
least inspecting the hell out of them.
ISAACSON: How many countries on this planet have pizza parlors?
MYHRVOLD: So, I think there's 185 countries that the U.N. recognizes, something like that, depends on what you count territories, and we found
all but three or four have pizzerias.
ISAACSON: Well, Nathan Myhrvold, Nathan, thank you so much for joining us.
MYHRVOLD: Well, thank you, Walter. It's always fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And finally, a success in the effort to reclaim looted artifacts. 13 stolen valuables have finally returned to Ethiopia after
being plundered by the British empire in 1868. They return is part of the largest act of restitution in Ethiopia's history. But officials say more
items remain far from home.
Well, that is it for now. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye from New York.