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Interview with "The Fifth Act" Author Elliot Ackerman; Interview with "The Princes" Director Ed Perkins; Interview with "I'm Glad My Mom Died" Author Jennette McCurdy. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 13:00   ET




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


ELLIOT ACKERMAN, AUTHOR, "THE FIFTH ACT": For those of us who had left the war, the fall of Kabul in this collapse, kind of, created a vacuum or

vortex to suck us right back in.


GOLODRYGA: The Taliban takeover, one year on. Marine veteran and former CIA officer, Elliot Ackerman relives the Afghan war's desperate final days in

"The Fifth Act." Then.


CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: I remember, thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old. And she was. I don't know what she

thought of me.



GOLODRYGA: The unraveling of a fairytale. 25 years after her sudden death, a new documentary asks what the life of Diana reveals about all of us. "The

Princess" director Ed Perkins joins me.

And former child star, Jennette McCurdy tells Michel Martin about the trauma she suffered and the dark side of fame.

Welcome to the program everybody. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Today, we offer fresh perspectives on two unforgettable events. Though very different, they each remain indelibly imprinted on the global psyche. The

catastrophic final days of the Afghan war, and the shocking death of Princess Diana.

First, to Afghanistan, where the Taliban are marking one year since returning to power. A devastating earthquake and economic crisis have

crippled the country in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal. And in a new report say the children says young girls are more likely to be hungry,

isolated, and depressed. My first guest knows the country quite well. Elliot Ackerman is a Marine veteran who served five tours in Afghanistan

and Iraq. And last August, he found himself pulled right back in. Trying from afar to help Afghans desperate to flee the country. Ackerman details

it all in his new book "The Fifth Act." And he told me that America's disastrous withdrawal represented the collapse of its morals.


GUTHRIE: So, Elliot, thank you so much for joining us. Fascinating new book. Take me back to where you were one year ago in the fall of Kabul, the

evacuation of U.S. military troops there, the chaos that ensued after. Where were you at the time?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN, AUTHOR, "THE FIFTH ACT": You know, I was actually on a long-planned, summer vacation with my wife and children. And we were in

Italy, of all places, which seemed about as far away as you could get from the fall of Kabul.

GOLODRYGA: And you write that in your book. And it, sort of, juxtapose back and forth from this trip of Rome and tours with your family. And being on

WhatsApp with friends trying to evacuate people that you knew there on the ground. What was that -- it was surreal reading. What was it like for you

experiencing it in real-time?

Well, it was really surreal to be experiencing it. It was important to me in the book to really show that juxtaposition because I think for so many

of us, you know, veterans, journalists, and others who'd been involved in Afghanistan over the two decades of the war. For those of us who had left

the war, the fall of Kabul in this collapse, kind of, created a vacuum or vortex to suck us right back in.

So, no matter what you were doing, no matter how far away you were from the war, you know, in a matter of days, it was as though you were living it as

intensely as you had it. In my, case 10 years before. And so, -- but I was living it through my phone because of the evacuations, the coordination was

all occurring over WhatsApp, Signal, all these messaging apps with, you know. All the networks of mine whether it be journalists, who I work with

now, or old colleagues of mine from the military and CIA.

GOLODRYGA: You call it a modern-day crowdsourcing. You refer to it Crowdsource Schindler's List. These communications, WhatsApp, frantically

trying to get people out. Really boggles the mind given that we are talking about the U.S. military. And that it's come down to random moments of luck

for people that happen to know someone there or know who to message. I mean, what does that tell you about the process itself and the organization

that went in to leaving the country after 20 plus years?

ACKERMAN: Well, there was frankly a lack of progress. You know, no one who was involved in this when you served the crowdsource. You know, people --

some people called it Digital Dunkirk. You know, so they wanted to be involved in it. Like I -- you know, I'll speak for myself. If there had

been a state department e-mail address or a phone number, whereas, as people were pinging me, asking for help. Some of whom I knew, many of whom

I didn't know. I don't know how they got my number.


And if I felt that there had been some point of contact where I could send these folks to and believe that their case was going to be handled in good

conscience, I certainly would have done so. But you couldn't, that didn't exist.

What filled the vacuum, and it was sort of this pickup team of individuals doing everything from raising money for private charter jets to, as you

mentioned, building manifested lists, to some journalist who were on the ground in Kabul, hiring minibuses and creating these impromptu convoys to

get folks from pick up points in the city to the airport, to people like me who still had contacts in the government and military, trying to coordinate

with folks at the airport, saying, hey, you know, this group of people is going to be coming to this gate at this time. Here's who they are. Please

let them in.

So, that impromptu effort was trying to fill a gap. The gap existed because there wasn't a U.S., government process that had been put in place.

GOLODRYGA: President Biden at the time had said that inevitably any way that the U.S. would have withdrawn, it would have been chaotic, would have

been messy. Do you buy that argument?

ACKERMAN: The thing that you could certainly feel last summer, right, was that the United States had its back up against the wall. That there was

this ticking clock. Everyone had to be out by a certain date. But if you back up for two seconds, you know, if we had our back up against the wall,

it was a wall that we created.

You know, why was there this September 11, 2021 date? Well, because we announced it. And then, why was date moved to the end of August? Because we

announced it. So, consistently, you know, we painted ourselves into a corner. So, you know, he says it is going to end this way no matter what.

On the one hand, I agree with him. Like, yes, if you announced an artificial withdraw date and force yourself into this of a position, it's

going to end in a catastrophic way.

GOLODRYGA: It's almost comical to read in the book, as you enlisted in 2003 as so many others did following 9/11, that you thought you were going to be

too late to fight in this war. And you spent a lot of time successfully navigating through the current and the past and the relationships that you

have built along the way and led us to where you were last year, frantically WhatsApping with people and trying to get help.

But to -- just to describe, and we saw visually, the scenes last year, just the chaos that ensued around the airport there and people were scrambling

to leave in those final hours. But at one point -- and I want to read for our viewers just how you described to Afghans who have never met. They find

each other. So, both groups can be allowed, ultimately, into the airport. This is all happening on WhatsApp between you and other members of the

military who you'd served with that are trying to coordinate this. You're all in different places.

But you write, the crowds are so dense, the environment is so chaotic, that when we're asking Shah and Adeeba, these were two people who had never met,

to do is the equivalent of finding each other in the crowd at a packed rock concert, say the Rolling Stones and at Altamont, and then working their way

to the front of that crowd and then getting the attention of the band so that they can be lifted onto the stage.

It boggles the mind that, again, after 20 years it has come down to this in terms of coordination and sheer luck, quite frankly, for people to get out.

Have you processed that yourself, how some made it and some were not able to?

ACKERMAN: Well, I don't know if I've processed it. I've written a book about it. But the -- but there are certainly these very, you know, visceral

and intense moments in that case with Shah and Adeeeba. I remember, there was a moment where the marines -- and, again, it is packed and it is chaos

-- had sent me a Google pin drop. They need to go right here. It's very precise, a Google pin drop.

I copied and pasted that pin drop and send it to Shah who is trying to get it to Adeeba, and people were also talking on the phone and what comes back

to me is she doesn't know how to use Google pin drops and cannot find this on her phone. It is not a smartphone. And you are sitting there with this

moment where you are like, this person, you know, might not make it out and -- you know, and could be killed by the Taliban. And it will all come down

to whether or not they can figure out how to open a Google pin drop on their phone, and whether or not you and the 15 minutes that they have to

make it to this Google pin drop can kind of talk them through that.

And there just seems like -- it seems as though there is something profoundly wrong, but that is the reason why a person would potentially

live or die. I mean, it would say collapse of American morals. It was a collapse of our competence or ability to run this evacuation. For me, it

was a collapse of time. Suddenly, I was right back in a war that I left a decade before.

And (INAUDIBLE) especially it was also collapse of hierarchy because I found myself on text chains and phone calls helping out, you know, people

from across the military spectrum to include, you know, retired four-star admirals and generals and was working with members of Congress.

GOLODRYGA: The former chairman of the joint chief, Mike Mullen, was having difficulty getting people out.

ACKERMAN: Yes, he was.


GOLODRYGA: But it's just -- it was mind-blowing. Can you talk about the disconnect between Americans and those who served in the military here? We

have a volunteer military, which on the one hand is -- it's a blessing. On the other hand, removes every day Americans from what the reality is like

for those in the military.

What has that process been like for you? And what do you think could be done for Americans to better understand what it is like for those who are

defending their freedom thousands of miles away?

ACKERMAN: You know, if you look at American history, typically wars are generationally the finding events, right? The Vietnam generation, who they

are in their (ph) 60s. Vietnam define their generation. Second World War defined the greatest generation. You know, First World War, we have the

lost generation. You know, we look at 9/11 happens to my generation and it's not a generationally defining event, except for those who went to

fight there.

So, sometimes I've asked myself, you know, would it be better to be a part of, you know, the loss generation or to be like I am? I feel like I'm on

the part of a lost generation. I feel like I am actually like actually the lost part of a generation. And what is the cost of what when military

service in our wars or something that endured by a very small segment of the population? And particularly, what is the cost of that in a democracy,

you know, a republic like ours when we go to war, and everyone doesn't have skin in the game? Meaning, it is -- the war is resourced by volunteers and

it's funded by deficit spending. So, there's no war tax.

And if you were to ask me why did the war in Afghanistan go on for 20 years, the single greatest reason is because the American people were

anesthetized to the cost of the war because they were all volunteer -term military and because we fund it through the deficit.

GOLODRYGA: And let's talk about our democracy, because you also read about January 6th, and you talk about combat films, that people ask you multiple

times, what would you recommend and you said "Full Metal Jacket," "Black Hawk Down" were good starters. And then, you talk about another film. And

that caught your attention, and that was the film -- the filming of the January 6th riots.

And you say it reminded you of the combat storming of the capitol, throughout the video, the elation of the insurrection is juxtaposed with

the horror of the capitol police officers, who know they're overwhelmed and continually seem to be falling back. This vacillation between horror and

ecstasy, not only within groups but also within individuals attends some madness in every war, and is the defining characteristic of this video.

ACKERMAN: Well, I wanted to write in about an emotional undercurrent that I could see -- and I'm not saying this was a partisan, I am just saying as an

American, as in that video, which was the sort of this nihilism, like it -- watching it, there sort of like there's a political incoherence to it. And

that incoherence, that nihilism was something I also recognized in war. Like there is an inherent contradiction that exist in war, right?

So, in war, we engaged in wholesale slaughter to protect our civilization. Well, the -- across civilization, one of the most fundamental rules that

exist, I would argue all civilization is built upon is the rule, thou shall not kill. So, we turn our backs on the rule, thou shall not kill, and

engage in slaughter in order to protect civilization. Like there is a contradiction there. And that contradiction can kind of become nihilistic.

You know, we just don't believe in anything. All the rules go out the window.

And, you know, that is why sometimes war feels like you are staring into an abyss. And the type of nihilism that I had seen in war, in its darkest

moments, was similar to sort of this type of nihilism that exist in American political life, where, you know, everybody knows what they are

against. And there is no shortage of people in American life right now who are against something, but nobody knows what they are for. You know, what

is anybody for these days?

And so, I think that, you know, to be more specific though, when we look at where the country is that and how almost every institution in American life

now has been politicized, one of the only institutions that hasn't been overtly politicized, although there are certainly efforts going on right

now, has been the U.S. military. And I don't think it's a coincidence that it also -- because it has not been politicized yet, is still the

institution that has the greatest trust in the American people.

But, you know, woe being on us if the U.S. military becomes politicized. Because if you look back from, you know, Caesar's realm to Napoleon's

France, when you couple a very large standing military with deeply dysfunctional domestic politics, democracy doesn't last long in the


GOLODRYGA: You spent a lot of time personally in writing a lot about wars of the past of that have just finished, whether that's Afghanistan, Iraq,

but you also have your eye on potential future wars. And specifically, China. You've written -- co-written a book with Admiral Stavridis, "2034,"

it's a fictional book but it's based on a lot of present-day realities, especially militarily, China has the largest navy in the world now, not

quite as sophisticated as the United States, but give them time.


Given the trajectory that Xi sees that country moving in and given the tension between the United States and China now, case in point, just the

recent visit with House Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan, what worries you most about a potential conflict between these two superpowers?

ACKERMAN: Well, I mean, listen, any type of overt military conflict between China and the United States would be disastrous for the world, and I would

argue probably both nations. But we certainly would seem right now is when we are in a moment with, you know, what someone has called the Thucydides

Trap, which is this idea of any time in history where you have a rise in power that challenges an established power, the majority of cases it leads

to war.

So, you know, for instance, as you can look at the First and Second World War, rising power, Germany, challenge established power, Britain, and there

is war. And actually, neither Germany nor Britain win that war, right? Who's the real beneficiary of that war? The United States, because it's not

a war that we started but it's one that we certainly finished.

And when we look at now the 21st century, you certainly have a conflict where you have rising power, China, aligned with other authoritarian

nations from Russia challenging established power, the United States, as well as our allies, the classic liberal democracies of the world, you know,

how is that going to end?

And I think it's not necessarily clear, but I think it's certainly important when we talk about issues like Afghanistan, Ukraine, Taiwan, to

not talk about them as though they're just stone pipe issues. They very much relate. I mean, it is not a coincidence that the greatest military

debacle that NATO has ever experienced in its history, which I would argue is August of 2021, occurs within six months of the Russian incursion into

Ukraine, you know, which is direct challenge --

GOLODRYGA: Definitely gave Putin the impetus, right? To -- and the opening?

ACKERMAN: Certainly.

GOLODRYGA: To step him. Let me finally ask you about something that you talk about in the book. You spend a lot of time in Washington, D.C., you're

running around memorials there, and you talk about a vision that you have for a war memorial and what that would look like any future current

president's role in that. Give us a sense of what that would be.

ACKERMAN: Well, a couple of years ago, Congress passed a Global War on Terrorism Memorial Act. And one of the things that I learned about that was

interesting to the passage of that act was that the sponsors of the bill had to get exemptions, because you are typically not allowed to create a

war memorial to a war that is ongoing. It seems to make sense. But the challenge there running into is that many of the people who served in the

war on terror, you know, were getting into their 60s now. I mean, if you are my age when this started and, you know, you are getting up there. So,

they wanted to see this memorial come to fruition for those people who were passing on.

Certainly, it's this question, how do you create a memorial to a war that is still ongoing? So, even though the war in Afghanistan is now over, the

global war on terror is still going on based off the authorization. So, how do you create a war memorial to a war that is ongoing, is an interesting

question. And then, it kind of let me to think of, well, you know, America fight -- we fight a lot of wars.

I mean, you could argue that we are sort of perpetually at war. And if you look at the history of war memorials in the National Mall, you know,

actually, the National Mall didn't use to have war memorials. The first one is really the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was built in the early

1980s. And then, there's this proliferation of war memorials. And now, it's politically very difficult to get real estate on the mall for a war


So, my thought is, well, what if you just got rid of all of these war memorials? We consolidate them into one single American war memorial. And

instead of building upwards, which is always controversial because, you know, what's on the skyline, we just dig down, right? And digging is

something you learn how to do in the military. Sort of a long slopping granite wall, kind of like the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial.

In my mind, it would be sort of be conical, like it would just be spiraling deeper and deeper into the earth like something out of Dante. And on the

wall, chronologically, would be all of the names of every American who have been killed in war. The first name being Crispus Attucks, who was killed at

the Boston massacre up to the present.

And the last thing I were to say is that the congressman, they -- if they ever made this war memorial with past supervision that at its very end,

there would be a desk and a pen. And anytime the president of the United States signed a trip deployment order, that pen would be the only pen he or

she could use to sign that authorization. So, they would have to walk by the names of every single service member who died in the war before they

did that.

And then, as we went to the war, instead of having these debates about war memorials, we would just add to the names. To me, that would sort of seem

like the truest type of war memorial you can write in.

GOLODRYGA: Well, you put a lot of thought into that, clearly, and it really stood out as a viewer and a reader. Elliot, thank you so much.

ACKERMAN: Yes, thanks for having me.

GOLODRYGA: Enjoy. Thank you.


GOLODRYGA: A powerful idea there from Elliot Ackerman.

Well, next, we turn to one of those tragedies that leave us asking each other, where were you when you found out?


On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris. Her sudden death unleashed a torrent of grief and triggered difficult

questions about the royals, the public depressed, and the pitfalls of celebrity.

Now, 25 years later, a new HBO documentary called "The Princess," explores all of it in unsparing detail. Here's a clip from the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prince realizes that he's taking second place.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hollow and tormented marriage are giving the British media and it's public a little else to talk about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just give me one more.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, she is being pushed from the word go.


GOLODRYGA: Ed Perkins is the director. And with the endless parade of Diana movies and TV show, he told me what sets his film apart.

Ed Perkins, thank you so much for joining us. You know, this film comes just as we marked the 25th anniversary of Diana's death in 1997. You were

just 11 when she died. I was 19. I remember exactly where I was. I had just moved into my new apartment before I was entering my sophomore year in

college. It was a Saturday night.

What do you remember, if anything, at the age of 11, from that day?

ED PERKINS, DIRECTOR, "THE PRINCES": Yes, I have a really, really visceral memory of exactly where I was when I heard the tragic news, probably like

millions of people and many of your viewers. You know, there's only a couple of moments in my lifetime where it seemed like the world kind of

stopped on its access, I guess 9/11 was one of those moments. And for me, the other one was Diana's death.

You know, I was 11. I remember I was working out very, very early in my bedroom by my mom who came running in, and she was really emotional. I

mean, very emotional, much more overtly sad than I would perhaps thought she might have been, and she told me the news. And then, as a family, we

kind of gathered in my mom and dad's room and watch the news coverage for hours on this little TV, this little television in the corner.

And, you know, like lots of people, I just sat there for the next day, two days, three days, it really went on for a week, and watch this

extraordinary unfolding footage of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets of London and this sort of extraordinary and

unprecedented outpouring of national grief, you know, growing men and women crying on the streets of London and I think around the world, really. And

people were emoting as though they lost their own mother or daughter or sister.

But my overriding memory was that I just felt confused. You know, I didn't understand what was happening and why people were reacting in this truly

unprecedented way. And the film is really trying to unpack why it was that we reacted in that way. You know, why was it the tens of millions of people

came out in 1981 and she had her on when she got married? Why was it that for the next 16 and 17 years, we all dissected everything she did

everywhere she went, everything she wore?

GOLODRYGA: I'm just curious because, you know, many documentaries focused on a subject that we haven't heard much about or hasn't been unearthed yet

or focused on, that's not the case here with Diana. There were plenty of biographies, films written about her and produced about her and her life.

And obviously, "The Crown," just one of the really popular TV series that has taken the world by storm.

I'm just curious what made you revisit this specific topic that had been focused on for so many years following her death.

PERKINS: I think for me, the part of the Diana story, the part of this puzzle that has been, I guess, less explored for me more interesting is not

what does this story say about Diana but actually, what does Diana story say about all about all of us.

And so, the whole approach here, the whole decision to not use headshot interviews, to not lead into retrospective analysis, but actually to assist

in the archive, the whole point of that is, in a sense, trying to allow us to turn the camera back onto all of us. And in doing so, ask ourselves, I

think, some difficult questions about, yes, our relationship to Diana, but actually, more broadly than that, our relationship to the monarchy and the

royal family, perhaps more broadly still about our relationship to celebrity, which is obviously still something that's -- that continues to

evolve today. And so, I hope this film asks some difficult questions about our own complicity in this tragic tale.

GOLODRYGA: Our own, being who? Is it journalist? Was it the paparazzi? Was it just fans? The world around is obviously -- you know, it wasn't just a

U. K. based story and the fascination with her didn't lie exclusively among those in Britain.


PERKINS: Yes, absolutely. It was totally an international story. And I think by us, I mean, all of us. You know, I think a more difficult

conversation is about us the public and our complexity and the way in which we, I think, inevitably create -- creates demand for those kinds of

stories. And I think also the way in which we all -- and, you know, the person most critical of in this is myself. You know, that's the starting

point for the film.

But the way in which we all -- in Diana's case, and I think in other stories is where sort of the timed this story into kind of a form of

entertainment, in a sense, into a sort of a sitcom or a soap opera that was kind of consumed. And I think if the film is trying to offer up anything at

all, it's to say, you know, we want the fairytale, but at what cost? At whose expense?

And I think it's hopefully as a film trying to get people to consider without assigning blame, it's not about blame, but it is about trying to

get people to consider our role in creating demand and our complicity, specifically in this story.

GOLODRYGA: One of the ways you capture that so effectively is by not having any narrator or not having any expert sort of chiming in and giving us

their thoughts and perspective as to where Diana was at this point in her life or their views on the marriage and the monarchy as a whole, it is just

the collective, chronological order of a timeline when Diana first came in the public eye and when she was that 19 year old shy young lady who had had

a crush on Prince Charles, and we see the evolution of their relationship.

You know, many -- and you focus on this as well, you hit on it in the film, there's debate to be had as to whether who played whom as she became very,

very comfortable with the media and some say that she used them to her benefit as well. But that can't be said at the start of their relationship

and in the start of the world getting to know who she was. And yet, early on, there was already this obsession with her.

Let's just play this one clip from a supermarket when we just found out, it was just announced from Buckingham Palace, that she was expecting their

first child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is with the greatest of pleasure (INAUDIBLE) wishes to tell you that Buckingham Palace has just announced that the Princess of

Whales is expecting a baby in June. We are sure you'll join is commemorating (ph) the prince and princess.


GOLODRYGA: From day one, the public was just enamored with her, whether it was because she was a young ingenue who was very naive to her last day when

she was a very, very mature and confident woman who knew her way around the media and knew how to use them to her own benefit. Why do you think that


PERKINS: I think one of the many things that I learned about Diana through the process of making this film is that she does have an extraordinary

understanding of her own power and specifically, the power of her own imagery.

You know, one of the things we did a lot when making this film was just scrolling through old archive, you know, watching hundreds and hundreds and

hundreds of hours or archive. One of the things I came to see in Diana was, she's almost like a silent movie star. You know, she doesn't actually speak

that much publicly throughout her life and yet --

GOLODRYGA: Her eyes.


GOLODRYGA: Her eyes speak. I mean, her eyes are sort of the leading figure in her life.

PERKINS: That's right. And she has this extraordinary ability, I think, to tell people or project her own very private story publicly in a way to

allowed people in, in a way that allowed people to feel like they understood her and we're on that journey with her.

And so, the other thing I would say that I found really interesting was that, normally, when you make a film ever a couple of years, especially if

you're watching hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage, you really do get to know the person at the heart of that story. Now, I never got to meet

Diana in person, but even two years later, after close to 1,000 hours of archive that I've watched, I still don't really feel like I know her. She

still remains like an enigma. And perhaps that was one of the, sort of, extraordinary characteristics that she was able to be, perhaps, lots of

different things for different people.

And, you know, people often talk about her almost like a blank canvas onto which we were all able to project our own hopes and dreams and fears. We

were all able to see in her what we wanted.

GOLODRYGA: You spent a lot of time on detail in this film and some of the footage, which many had likely seen before in the pas over the years. What

did you learn from watching all of this footage that perhaps you didn't know?

PERKINS: You know, when you're a royal, a lot of times you're doing sort of similar things every day. You turn up, you open a hospice or a hospital or

a charity event. And I watched endless examples of Diana doing events like this over the years, you know, from very young in her career, role or

career right towards the end. And she seemed to do a similar thing every single time.


And it seemed to me that when she would walk into a room, she would instinctively go towards the least important person in the room, even

though she was the most important person in the room and one of the most famous people in the world. And I think -- you know, I think it's easy to

be, sort of, cynical towards her or what she did. And when I look at that footage and over and over again, I'm staring at it, you know, I'm seeing

someone who instinctively understood how to put people at ease and disarm people and to create a connection with people that I think did have a

significant impact on those people's lives.

And then, when she applied those skills to bigger causes, whether that was landmines or aids, you know, she did create real change and lasting and

meaningful change. And like I haven't kind of fully acknowledged that skill going into this. And I think it's abundantly clear in the archive that she

has this real ability to connect with people.

GOLODRYGA: And you picked up on that in the film, which was why it was a bit of an earth-shattering moment when she decided to retire from public

life, again, this sort of yin yang (ph), who needs the media more and is it more helpful to her or is it more harmful to her in her personal life and

her role as a mother.

Let's play a clip from that moment.


PRINCESS DIANA: When I started my public life 12 years ago, I understood the media might be interested in what I did. But I was not aware of how

overwhelming that attention would become nor the extent to which it would affect both my public duties and my personal life.

When I've completed my diary of official engagements, I will be reducing the extent of the public life I've so far.

Over the next few months, I will be seeking a more suitable way of combining a meaningful public role with hopefully, a more private life. My

first priority will continue to be our children, William and Harry.


GOLODRYGA: And that was a mission she never really succeeded at finding, that sweet spot, continuing what she was doing publicly with focusing on

her private life and raising her two boys.

PERKINS: I think that's right. And I think, you know, you talk about this sort of interdependent of this complex relationship between Diana and the

press, and I think we also try to explore that in the film, because I do think it is part of this complex puzzle, the situation, that I think her,

and a lot of people in public life, I think inevitably find themselves where they inevitably do need to strike some relationship with the press,

it's often described as a kind of Faustian (ph) pact.

And very inevitably were times where we have reports that -- there's endless reports that of this where, you know, Diana understood how to use

the press in order to get her story across, but inevitably, you know, depressed, also then used her and pushed her into very uncomfortable and

difficult places.

And so, you know, again, the film is not trying to say that Diana is perfect. You know, Diana was flawed and fallible like all of us. I think it

is one of the reasons why so many people, again, related to her, was that she wasn't perfect and that she did made mistakes. And yet, I hope that we

can also sort of see that through a synthetic lens.

And I think also what I would say is that it was really important for us, you know, to come into this film, you know, very openly without an agenda.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And having said that, you acknowledge that you went through hours and hours of footage. I'm just curious, what made you decide to use

that panorama interview with Martin Bashir? Obviously, there have been a lot of controversy, even recently, about the ethics, involved and the

distrustful nature and in which -- with which Martin Bashir was able to have that sit down with her. Why did you ultimately decide to include it in

the film?

PERKINS: Yes. We understand the sensitivity around that, of course we do. You know, our film tells the story of Princess Diana exclusively through

contemporaneous archive material from the time. So, there isn't any commentary from today. And as such, yes, we have included excerpts from

that panorama interview briefly in our film, but as a matter of the historical record. And I think that's the key that is part of the historic


GOLODRYGA: Finally, what are the consequences do you think, ultimately, for the royal family now that you've resurfaced this video? It has been

rehabilitated to a large extent. Queen Elizabeth is very popular right now. Obviously, that was not the case at the time of Diana's death. Do you think

that any of this will bring to light again some of those darker moments for the royal family?


PERKINS: You know, I think it is possible to argue that, at that point, the monarchy found themselves possibly for the first time in a long time, on

the wrong side of kind of public sentiment. Why I think that is important is that, you know, this film offers up lots of things. We talked about our

complexity. We talked about the role of the press. But the other big central question that I think Diana story raises is about our relationships

in monarchy and what we want from monarchy. And that is something that continues to evolve.

And at the heart of that is a kind of core question, you know, what do we want from our royal family in the U.K.? Do, we want them to be just like

us? Do we want them to be open and transparent and available and, as I say, just like us or actually do we want them to be different? Do we want them

to be other? Do we want to retain that sense of magic?

And the truth is, we probably want both of those things at the same time. Whether we can have both those things, I don't know. But perhaps, uniquely,

Diana was sort of somehow able to walk that line. She was able to be both normal and relatable and approachable and also to kind of have that royal,

that magic stardust. You know, it's no accident that she became known off of her death --

GOLODRYGA: She's the people's princess.

PERKINS: Right. And so, there's something there that I think is interesting, and that is this debate about what we want from our royal

family is something that I think absolutely continues until today. So, yes, this is a film that happened 25 years ago. It's a film about events that

happened 25, 30 years ago, but I don't think we've made a history documentary. You know, I think this is a story that is highly relevant

today. And I think I believe has more to say now than almost any other points.

And without prescribing what I want people to take away from this story, I think there are ways to look Diana's story and find echoes, find

reflections of things that happened to her or themes that her story brings up that we can still sort of see in more recent events, and we can still

sort of see --

GOLODRYGA: And in her children? In her children and in their relationships, right. Ed Perkins, it's a fascinating film. Thank you so much.

PERKINS: Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: "The Princess" debuts August 13th on HBO and HBO Max.

Well, the dark side of fame and celebrity is a subject our next guest knows very well. Jennette McCurdy was a child actor in Nickelodeon shows,

including "iCarly" and "Sam and Cat," starring alongside Ariana Grande.

But in a new memoir, she opens up about the difficulty she faced from eating disorders and addiction, to a troubled relationship with her mother.

In fact, the biting title of her new book is, "I'm Glad My Mom Died." She explained why in this brink (ph) conversation with Michel Martin.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Bianna. Jennette McCurdy, thank you so much for talking with us.

JENNETTE MCCURDY, AUTHOR, "I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED": Thank you for having me. I'm excited to hear.

MARTIN: The title of your one woman show and now, your book is, "I'm Glad My Mom Died." Wow. So, how do you really, Jennette?

MCCURDY: I -- you know, I get that it's an attention-grabbing title. I definitely wanted it to be attention-grabbing and it's also something that

I mean really sincerely. I'm not saying it to be flippant in any way. It's a point of view that was hard for me to come by. And I feel it's a point of

view I earned because of the life I lived in the writing of the book.

And also, I think it's a title that anybody who's experienced parental abuse understands. And even if they haven't, I think it's somebody -- it's

a title that anybody with a sense of humor understands.

MARTIN: I was going to say, that's one of the things about that's so remarkable, is it manages to be both very hilarious and deeply sad at the

same time, which is kind of a hard trick to pull off.

MCCURDY: I think that's the highest compliment. Thank you. I think that's how life is for. For me, it has certainly been that way, where it's

sometimes soul-crushingly sad and just outstandingly hilarious at the same time, sometimes in the same room. And it's where my point of view kind of

is and to be acknowledged that way feels just like exactly what I was going for. So, thank you.

MARTIN: I want to start with your mom because she kind of is at the center of this whole thing. She was a piece of work, to put it mildly. And it's

hard -- I got to be honest, it's hard even to say some of these things, let alone realize that you lived these things. But, I mean, that she -- you

talked about how she showered you until you were 17 years old. She examined your body inappropriately. She pushed you and encouraged you into a very

serious eating disorder that honestly could have killed you.

You are able to name this now, she emotionally and, at times, physically abused and manipulated you. How did it all start? Do you know?


MCCURDY: I mean, I think it's generational. I know she had a lot of struggles when she was young and I also know she had an array of mental

health issues that went really just undiagnosed because she refused to get help for any of her mental health issues.

It was just blatantly clear with her behavior that there was a lot of stuff going on, but she -- and I think that's a troubling thing because I think a

lot of people have a lot of mental health struggles, but so many people work on this struggles and work to overcome them, work to manage them and

she didn't. And that's, that was a really difficult thing for me to come to terms with, was not the issues that she had, but the fact that she chose

not to work on those issues.

MARTIN: She pushed you into acting, you are very clear on that. That that was very much her dream, he obsession. You have three older brothers,



MARTIN: You're the youngest. So, why was it that you were the target of all this? Is it because you were the girl, the only girl?

MCCURDY: I think it's because I was only girl. And also, I think that my mom probably sensed the desperation I had to please her. My brothers were

all, you know, incredibly lovely and they always have been, but I think that there was just a different need to please her, that I was born with

maybe or I have also considered that it might -- that might have started for me when my mom first got sick, I was two years old.

And from what I understand, after, you know, going through therapy about this, that maternal connection is really important. I mean, always, but at

that early of an age, if you're -- you don't have the physical presence of your mom, it can lead to a lot of attachment trauma and wounds. And I am

assuming a lot of my, sort of, need to please her and that desperation stemmed from that attachment trauma.

MARTIN: She had serious cancer when you were a child, very young child, and she recovered from it, at least, for a time. And it was a really big part

of her story. It was like that was the play that she was in and she was playing it every day, kind of. Does that --

MCCURDY: Oh, my God. That's so well-articulated. That's exactly what it felt like. Of course, I didn't notice at the time. I thought, you know, I

was really on board with my mom's -- every one of my mom's narrative that I was spoon fed from an early age, I was completely onboard with and

completely supported more so than anybody and was just like her a little robot soldier.

But now, I see it as her being really, you know, just very into martyrdom and being kind of a master at that. And of course, I sympathize with

anybody who experiences cancer that's an incredible struggle. But the way that she manipulated her cancer was very obscure and did, to your point,

feel like it was a play, like the whole thing was the performance of, oh, I'm this cancer survivor. And she was telling everybody that she came

across her story.

So, from an early age I want, OK, this is what's important to mom, is that she's a survivor and she's -- you know, she's a cancer survivor, that's who

she is.

MARTIN: You talked about that in your book. In the book, you talked about how she was trying to browbeat, maybe it was an agent or maybe it was a

producer, and she's giving you a role. And she said, OK, now, if you need me to pull out the cancer, I'll do the ones. And I was like, oh, my God,

you know, I'm sorry. Like again, like I said, the book is so funny, it's so terrible at the same time. And I was -- this is one of those examples.

MCCURDY: I love humor that comes from character flaws. And my mom had a lot of character flaws. So, I think she was inherently very funny, didn't even

recognize the parts of herself that were funny, but she was that way. Something she would always say is -- yes, she'd say -- like people love a

story of somebody overcoming adversity in that. So, if you can plug my ductal carcinoma in there to a casting director, you'll be sure to book it.

Like she really wanted me to shoehorn in, hey, my mom's got cancer, for auditions for "King of Queens."

MARTIN: Some of the things she did was just terrible. And yet, you -- you know, you idolized her and you had a compulsive need to please her. And at

some point, it even feels good, I guess, if you're the object of all this obsessive attention, and that has to be very confusing to a child.

MCCURDY: Oh, my God.

MARTIN: Is there a point at which you thought, this is -- I mean, obviously, as an adult and we've done a tremendous amount of work to kind

of reflect on this, but was there ever a point at which you though, you know what, this doesn't seem right.


MCCURDY: I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of that question. I -- at 11, I would say, when my mom -- that's when my mom initially taught me

calorie restriction. She herself had eating issues for a long time. And in an attempt to sort of keep me in infantilized and also booking roles in

entertainment where it's valuable to look younger than her age, she taught me calorie restriction. And there -- I started wondering then, kind of a

couple months into the calorie restriction, I started wondering if something was off because I could sense concern in people around me.

And I started piecing together, I don't know if reality is mom's reality, but I didn't know how to come to terms with that. And it was why it was

important for me to write the book in the point of view of the age that I was out as a child because I think that's the best reflection of trauma and

I think it's the one of the best ways to find the humor and the tragedy because as heartbreaking as it is to hear about or witness any sort of

child abuse, I also think the point of view of a child not knowing that it's trauma and just thinking, this is life, this is great, mom loves me,

I'm her best friend, I think that is inherently funny and sad at the same time.

MARTIN: So, when you were 21, your mom dies and she have recurrence of cancer, right? And she dies and that had to have been complicated. Was that

the before and after? Like was that the point at which you could start to recover from what happened or was it actually -- did it take longer than


MCCURDY: It took longer. I -- initially, when she died, I was devastated. And then, I felt a wisp of relief. And immediately, the guilt and the shame

kick in of, oh, no, I can't feel relief that mom died, because mom was my everything. Mom was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I need to

love mom. I need to adore mom. And so, I kept just clinging to the narratives that she'd condition me to have.

And it was only when I first went to therapy, the therapist I was sharing some stories about my experience with my mom and framing them as

protectively as I could toward my mom. Like this (INAUDIBLE) sharing stories in a very, very guarded way, and the therapist said, Jennette, what

you're talking about is abuse. Do you understand that? And I quit that therapist. I quit therapy. And I thought I'm not going to subscribe to this

idea that my mom was abusive.

And I -- now, as I see it, it's because I couldn't face the reality of that because it would mean, and it did mean reframing everything that I knew

about the world and the way that I saw the world and the lens just -- it just meant reframing everything and it was too daunting and overwhelming at

first. But then, eventually, I was able to confront that abuse and do the reframing work, which I see is being the most difficult inner work that

I've ever done.

MARTIN: So, this where I wanted to talk about the Hollywood side of it because it's not like you all were offered some, you know, island somewhere

in the middle of the South Pacific while all this was going on. I think you were surrounded by people all the time. But you also make it clear like the

people who are running the shows that you are a part of had elements of abuse of conduct also, which has since become public.

You know, you refer to the showrunner of the show as "The Creator." You say that he was emotionally abusive as well. You say that Nickelodeon offered

you hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money to not publicly talk about your time at Nickelodeon or your experiences working with the

showrunner whom you called "The Creator," and you didn't take it. And I'm curious about that. If a person who had been so pushed around for so long,

what made you be like, no, enough?

MCCURDY: I will say this, I'm wary of this area of the book just because it's been so publicized and so headlining, for lack of a better term. And I

just think the book is so much more significant than this. So, I want to be able to celebrate the positive aspect of the book and the humor and healing

that the book has to offer, which I think is just so much more important than anything that happened in my acting career.

MARTIN: Well, I would say this, several things. Well, first of all, I will say this, that we reached out to Nickelodeon and to representatives for

"The Creator about your claims. Nickelodeon said they had no comment. We have not heard from the representatives of "The Creator."

You know, a friend who has worked in Hollywood as a journalist said to me once that, you know, it's a terrible place for kids because it's filled

with adults who don't want to grow up. Do you think that that's -- is there any truth to that?

MCCURDY: That's so funny because, adults yes, they're -- maybe the adults don't want to grow up and maybe the kids are forced to. But I think the

thing about being a kid in entertainment is a lot of the -- a lot of my, you know, fellow child performers, a lot of the kids that I grew up with

were so incredibly bright, like so -- you could just -- you could just sense how smart they were. But smart doesn't mean that you're not naive and

not gullible and not influenceable.


And I think as smart as you're forced to be from an early age in the entertainment industry, you're still naive. And it's just -- it's an

adult's game that you -- that I didn't have the tools to play. And I didn't know how to navigate that world. But I do hope that with the work that I'm

doing now, I really hope there's positive change that happens for child performers now.

I'd love if there was a child psychologist present on set, so that they can help the child to understand. Because you 're a kid, you don't know, oh,

this is my character psychology, which is different from my psychology. You're just like doing the thing that you're supposed to be doing, you

know. I'd love if there could be a child psychologist onset to just help walk that child through the experience with the respect and the compassion

that they deserve.

MARTIN: On of your co-stars, Miranda Cosgrove, who was your co-star of "iCarly," she seems to have been an ally. Is that true?

MCCURDY: 100 percent. I adore Miranda. I will always adore Miranda. She was a friend at a time of my life when I really needed one. And she was just so

there for me, and I hope I was there for her in the same way.

MARTIN: What was it that caused you to finally be able to make these changes for yourself? Because as you pointed out, you know, your mom died

when you were 21 and you still were living with the legacy of what she'd given you, and these really serious eating disorders that could have killed


MCCURDY: I would frame all this in the book, it was sort of a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 punch of events in my life that happened that led me to a rock-bottom that

I identified then as kind of like, oh, wow, this things could not get worse, like I need to do something about everything that's going on because

there's no way but up from here. And the first step that I took was to start working with an eating disorder specialist.

And I think that's important because I don't think -- or I know, for me, I couldn't have gotten to the deeper, more nuanced personal work and the

unpacking of childhood and adolescence and fame and my mom, I couldn't have done all that work if I didn't have the eating disorder under control. I

just think it would've been impossible. So, for me, it really was a matter of getting that addiction, getting a handle on that and then, doing the

deeper work underneath it.

MARTIN: You spent too many years of your life worrying about what your mom would think. So, there is there. But I do wonder that would have made a

difference if you had been able to get to a place where you could stand apart from it and say to her, this is the truth, this is my truth. I don't

know. Have you ever think about that?

MCCURDY: I do think about that. I wonder about that. I fantasize about there being some version of reality where if she had stayed alive, I would

have confronted her. We would have had this, you know, amazing moment where she apologized, but she didn't -- that wouldn't have happened just knowing

who she was.

And I truly believe the only reason I'm able to have an identity of my own and to have fulfillment is because she died. I think all of this processing

happened after and because of her death.

MARTIN: Which is hence --

MCCURDY: Hency why --


MCCURDY: Yes, exactly.

MARTIN: OK. Jennette, before you leave though, the show that made you famous, you know, "iCarly," you know, so many people love it and it did

cause you a lot of pain. But I wonder, for all the girls and boys, you know, who love that show, deep -- is it OK? Is it OK that loved it?

MCCURDY: Of course. It's more than OK. I'm so happy that it made so many people laugh and experience joy. And I'm happy that it provided that for

them. And I'm even more happy now that a lot of the people who watched the show are reading the book and connecting in what I think and hope is a much

deeper way than maybe what their experience was with that.

MARTIN: Jennette McCurdy, thank you so much for talking with us today.

MCCURDY: Thank you for having me.


GOLODRYGA: And finally, a deep dive deeper than ever before. French freediver Arnaud Jerald has broken the world record for the deepest five

with by-fins. Descending 120 meters into beautiful blue waters of the Bahamas.

Part of the annual Vertical Blue competition, the dive took three minutes and 34 seconds. And these were the celebrations when he returned to the

surface and learned that he had just broken record.


Well done there.

Well, that is it for now. You can always catch it online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from

New York.