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Interview With Russian Opposition Journalist And TV Rain Anchor Mikhail Fishman; Interview With "My Friends" Author Hisham Matar; Interview With "We Are The World" Vocal Arranger Tom Baylor; Interview With "The Greatest Night In Pop" Director Bao Nguyen. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 01, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.


MIKHAIL FISHMAN, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION JOURNALIST AND ANCHOR, TV RAIN: This day will stay in my memories as one of the sorrowful -- most sorrowful days

of my life.


GOLODRYGA: In Moscow, crowds risk a Kremlin crackdown to come out for the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Independent journalist

Mikhail Fishman reflects on Navalny's legacy.

Then --


HISHAM MATAR, AUTHOR, "MY FRIENDS": They're having to sort of improvise a life, as a lot of exiles do.


GOLODRYGA: -- in "My Friends," Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Hisham Matar weaves together friendship and exile.

Plus --



CROWD: We are the world, we are our children.


GOLODRYGA: The greatest night in pop, Hari Sreenivasan looks at the making of We Are the World.

And later --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But for this man, my father would not be here, I would be not here. Our children would never be there.


GOLODRYGA: -- I report on the Japanese diplomat who helped save thousands of Lithuanian Jews.

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

Thousands of Russians lined the streets to honor opposition leader Alexei Navalny, two weeks after his death at the age of just 47 in a remote arctic

prison colony. Navalny's supporters blame Russia's President Putin for his deaths, which the Kremlin denies. Mourners chanted Navalny, Russia without

Putin, and no to war.

And they paid their respects at his open casket, despite Kremlin attempts to keep Navalny's death out of the limelight. A monitoring group says at

least 45 people have been detained across Russia for paying their respect. Here's what one mourner had to say about Navalny's legacy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For us, for me personally, it was like, I don't know, Russian Nelson Mandela or Russian Martin Luther King.


GOLODRYGA: Navalny's widow, Yulia, vows to carry on his struggle. She is in exile, unable to attend her own husband's funeral. And she posted a

video saying thank you for 26 years of absolute happiness.

Navalny's coffin was lowered into the ground to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "My Way."

Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is more defiant than ever, warning of a real threat of nuclear war if the West escalates the conflict in Ukraine.

Mikhail Fishman is a Russian journalist who knew Alexei Navalny well. He anchors a popular news program on the opposition station TV Rain, which

made its last broadcast from Russia two years ago. I spoke with Mikhail Fishman about Navalny's death and about his hopes for freedom in Russia.

Mikhail Fishman, thank you so much for joining us. I know this must be a very difficult day for you, for your friends, for colleagues to see really

the end of a chapter here for the lead opposition figure in Russia, the funeral of Alexei Navalny. How are you feeling?

MIKHAIL FISHMAN, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION JOURNALIST AND ANCHOR, TV RAIN: It's a very sad day. I think that this is one -- this day will stay in my memories

as one of the sorrowful -- most sorrowful days of my life. It is breaking my heart that I wasn't able to be there with my friends with where I belong

now, and I mean Moscow, where Alexei Navalny was buried. But I just couldn't go there. And it was impossible for me to go. So -- but my heart

is there and my heart will stay there. And it is -- yes, it's a very sad day.


GOLODRYGA: Yes. And just in case our viewers are in doubt as to why you can't go there, it's for fear of your own life and your safety. Because you

as a journalist, an independent journalist, along with your other colleagues have had to live in exile now in the past few years, as Russia

has quickly, under Vladimir Putin, turned into an authoritarian state.

And yet, Mikhail, we see hundreds, not thousands of people, showing up today and paying their respects to Alexei. What does that signal to you?

FISHMAN: Yes, this was -- this is one of the most sorrowful, but also, I have to say, an inspiring day. Because it's -- because thousands of people

showed up, and not only in Moscow. And you know, this is a very special funeral. I've been at Anna Politkovskaya's funeral in 2006. I've been at

Boris Nemtsov's funeral in 2015, when thousands of people attended. And then, dozens of thousands joined the street march to -- in his memory

across Moscow.

But now, it's very different, and it's a very different funeral. Because we're talking now about Putin's most prominent, important enemy, personal

enemy. And it's different Russia. And I just want to remind you how Navalny's mother was fighting to get his body from the hands of law

enforcement in the arctic town of Salekhard a few days ago. And she was blackmailed beyond any understanding of human norms, that something would

happen to the body of her son if she wouldn't agree to a secret sort of family funeral.

And despite all the intimidation, despite all the repression that Russia is going through now, yet thousands and thousands of people gathered to pay

tribute and to say goodbye to Navalny. And that means that this hope for -- his hope for beautiful Russia of the future is not dead, he is, but the

hope is not. And this is very important, and that's why it was as sorrowful as it is inspiring.

GOLODRYGA: You point out something really important, though, the state of where Russia is today and how quickly it has turned into an authoritarian,

if not totalitarian, regime, where you have to even beg for a mother to see the body of her dead son. You have to go to any means necessary to even be

able to have the opportunity to bury him still facing resistance from the government.

You know, you are a very pragmatic man and journalist who has covered Russia for many, many years. And I wonder, even for you, the pace how

rapidly the country has descended into the totalitarian -- to authoritarianism, perhaps even totalitarianism at this point, has that

surprised you?

FISHMAN: Well, first, I have to say that today's funeral, it certainly took bravery to show up there and yet, we still don't know what will be the

consequences because we know that there are special agents in the crowd who actually gather all the details and film people's faces, and we all know

that and we don't know -- nobody knows what awaits them and what awaits Russia.

Russia is now a totally different state, totally different country, and totally different regime than it was two years ago when the war started.

And now, the -- just for few words in support for Ukraine or just against the war you can get a jail term, and that's what we see -- what happens

once in a while basically on daily basis. So, that's what life is now, and it's going to yet new level of repression with every new month, and we also

see that.

GOLODRYGA: I do have to ask you, you know, I was really touched by watching TV Rain on the day of Navalny's announced death and you were on

just moments after. You were pretty friendly with Navalny, and as the whole world was, was very shaken by the news of his death, and you were quite



And I want to read for you your immediate reaction. You said, we have to live with this news somehow, but it will take us some time to accept this.

It will not take half an hour or an hour. It will take some extra work on our part. But the scope of what has to happen now, we understand ourselves.

We may not sometimes understand results in ourselves, but we understand the seriousness of what happened. What occurred was the instance of dividing

our lives into before and after.

So, talk to us about what you think that after will look like.

FISHMAN: As of now, this after, of course, looks ominous, quite ominous, and we see Putin showing resolve in keeping, repressing any search for

freedom, I would say, inside in Russia.

We just saw a co-chairman of a Memorial, a group -- a movement. Oleg Orlov was just sentenced to two and a half years of jail for basically just

writing an article about the scale of repression in Russia that just happened two days ago.

And so, this after, as of now, looks very ominous, of course, because Putin is not going to stop. He has two wars, actually. He's leading two wars. One

in its active phase is against Ukraine, but the other one is against Russia, and he's leading this war for, what, almost 24 years now. And he's

steadily increasing pressure during all these 24 years, and he's never going to stop until he's stopped.

So, without Navalny, who invented basically what makes Navalny so special is that he invented new way of doing politics in an authoritarian state

like Russia. He invented how to fight Putin within his own rules of the game. And now, we don't have him.

GOLODRYGA: And now, as Putin marches into what is expected to be a very easy "victory" and re-election in the coming weeks of March 15th through

the 17th, it was interesting that I spoke on the day of Navalny's news of his death with Soviet-born journalist Peter Pomerantsev. And he said pretty

much the only thing that could end Putin's reign at this point is victory for Ukraine. Would you agree with that?

FISHMAN: Well, more or less, yes, that's what -- that's how the -- it looks. But it still has to be said that the search for freedom in Russia is

not dead. And there are millions of people. And we saw these lines to leave signatures in favor of anti-war candidate a few weeks ago before Navalny

was murdered. Not Navalny, but another candidate for his name is Boris Nadezhdin, but -- who represented the anti-war sentiment during this

election. He was banned from the election, of course.

But still we saw these lines of thousands of people just to leave their signatures. And whenever there will be a legal way -- there is so much fear

across Russia, and Putin inspired so much fear across Russians that it's hard to ask of much. But whenever there is a legal way to show the anti-war

and anti-Putin sentiment, it arises the next moment.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Putin has tried to weaponize fear, and he's done it quite effectively to stamp out hope, to stamp out democracy in the country going

forward. And it is notable that Navalny's widow, Yulia, will now be carrying the mantle of his message, of his team and his mission.

How much hope do you have in what Yulia can do with this message, with this movement, especially since it's coming from outside the country?

FISHMAN: I personally felt relieved. I psychologically felt much better immediately. And I know that millions and millions of Russians felt the

same. We know about her that she's a very brave woman. And she has the legitimacy. She has this light of Navalny coming out of her for sure. We

don't know, of course, what kind of political personality she is and how she will act.


But of course, for millions of Russians, it is now the -- she is the beacon of this light that Navalny was before. And she now embodies this hope. So,

it, of course, remains to be seen again what future will bring. But yet, the fight is not over and Navalny's cause is certainly not dead.

GOLODRYGA: She put out a beautiful tribute to Alexei. I suggest everyone watch and the background song begins with, please don't die or I will have

to as well. And it was just such a gut punch for me to see this video and to see the two of them together as they once were.




GOLODRYGA: Such a beautiful young couple. What a promise it was for the country. Before we go, I know, Mikhail, that you had exchanged letters with

Navalny when he was in prison as well. He had read your upcoming book on Boris Nemtsov who tragically we just passed his anniversary date of his

assassination just days ago as well. Is there anything you could share with us about some of the exchanges that you had with Alexei?

FISHMAN: Yes, yes, I -- with great pleasure, I have to say. And it's such an experience to exchange letters from -- with Navalny who is in jail. He

was so happy that I shared with him some details about our new life, my family's life in exile in Amsterdam where we are based now, where we reside

with our little girl now going to school in Amsterdam, with a totally new life. And changed from what it's been.

And so, he keeps -- he says, thank you so much for sharing this daily routine with me. And that's what I so -- miss so much in prison. And I've

been in Amsterdam briefly, just once, and didn't feel it well. But I think Netherlands are such a fabulous country. So -- but please tell me more. How

is life there? Do you -- how much herring have you eaten? Do you bike? Do you -- is it true that they all speak English in there? But even if they

do, still, you have to start learning Dutch just out of respect for locals. And so on and so on. And it's just so touching and so his -- the joy.


FISHMAN: And Navalny embraced life. He was full of life. And he had a happy family. He had a loving wife, loving kids. And he was -- he knew how

to put together this course he had with just being a human, enjoying every moment of this life. And this is what makes this moment and this loss so

painful. And this is why it's so hard to come to terms with his death.

GOLODRYGA: He was forever an eternal optimist. And that was always something so powerful to see, no matter what they did to him, no matter how

far away they sent him, how isolated he was, that optimism was still there for the world to see. Mikhail Fishman, thank you so much for the time,

especially on such a difficult day like today.

FISHMAN: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, next, another story of friendship in the shadow of a violent authoritarian regime. Author Hisham Matar won the Pulitzer Prize

for his memoir, "The Return," an account of his family's exile from Libya under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his father's disappearance at the hands

of the regime.

Matar returns to these themes in his new novel, "My Friends," following three Libyan men, refugees in London, confronting politics and deadly

protests. Hisham Matar joined Christiane to talk about mysteries of friendship and exile.




AMANPOUR: You have been doing novels and memoir, in other words, fiction and nonfiction. You've returned to fiction with "My Friends." And I want to

ask you, because many of us remember that in 1984, which is loosely around when this book is based, there was an anti-Gaddafi protest outside the

embassy in London. People were shot from inside, a police woman was shot and killed.

Is that what inspired you to use that setting for this book? Was it a real- life event?


MATAR: It was. I mean, that event really surprised me that it was in the book. I didn't expect it to be. It's an event that marked me. I was younger

than my protagonist. I was 13 when it happened.

AMANPOUR: And where were you when it happened?

MATAR: I was in Cairo. I saw it on the news. And I remember hearing one of the demonstrators who was wounded, screaming and twisting on the ground.

And I thought I heard him call for his mother. And then I disbelieved my ears. And then one of the adults in the room said, as though to himself, he

said, I think he just called for his mother. And it really marked me that. It really stayed with me.

AMANPOUR: As you speak, I'm thinking of George Floyd. It's so many people in the last throes of life call for their mother. And you've written it,

marked you as a young man and a writer. So, how many years was this gestating, you know, and what made you put it together as -- in your return

to fiction?

MATAR: About 10 years before I sat down to write the book, I had written a page that I thought was -- I don't know, I just thought it had in it

everything that what I feel a novel needs to have, you know, a certain kind of tone and honesty, and seemed all integral somehow. Like the first note

of a symphony. And I just didn't know what the rest would be like.

And I carried that page with me for that decade, whilst writing other books. And then, you know, sat down and wrote the book.

AMANPOUR: And you have it, because we've asked you to read a passage. And I think this is the one that you've chosen to read.

MATAR: It's still the first page.


MATAR: And it is, of course, impossible to be certain of what is contained in anyone's chest, least of all one's own, or those we know well, perhaps

especially those we know best. But as I stand here on the upper level of King's Cross station from where I can now monitor my old friend, Hosam

Zowa, walking across the concourse, I feel him seeing right into him, perceiving him more accurately than ever before. As though all along,

during the two decades that we have known one another, our friendship has been a study. And now, ironically, just after we have bid one another

farewell, his portrait is finally coming into view.

And perhaps this is the natural way of things, that when a friendship comes to an inexplicable end, or wanes, or simply dissolves into nothing, the

change we experience at that moment seems inevitable. A destiny that was all along approaching, like someone walking towards us from a great

distance, recognizable only when it is too late to turn away. No one has ever been a nearer neighbor to my heart.

AMANPOUR: It's very beautiful, it's very evocative, and it's very -- I mean, this book -- I mean, it's called "My Friends," but it's friendship,

it's exile, it's -- you know, it's being in a foreign land, obviously, it's leaving your home, your family, it's grief.

MATAR: Yes. Yes, several -- all of that was on my mind. But also, this thing that you could have almost like, you know, another sort of musical

metaphor, you know, a polyphony, you can have two notes at the same time, one note being the past and everything that you've said, these characters

are from Libya, they are exiled here in London, but the other note is London, because he tells the story as he walks across the city back to his

home, he walks from St. Pancras to Shepherd's Bush, where he lives. And so, we have both of those together.

And the other thing that I was interested in, is I was interested in questions of temperament, you know, because if you have been through

violent political ruptures, you know, such as the event that you alluded to, and St. James's Square, but also the Arab Spring, and these characters

are embroiled in the Arab Spring, as I was myself and many people I know, you begin to become acquainted with this question of temperament that is

very difficult to talk about in politics, you know, where people end up isn't always because of their ideology and ethics and so on, it's also to

do with this thing that I'm calling temperament, you know, somebody's personal taste, how some people are enlivened by argument, others aren't,

for example.

And I thought the novel is really the place for temperament, you know. So, to write a book about friendship, these three friends, male friends, but

also to write a book about how their temperaments get them to where they end up.

AMANPOUR: And these three friends, who've certainly highlighted the protagonist, this event pretty much distant themselves from their land,

Libya, right?


AMANPOUR: They -- you -- Khaled could not go back.

MATAR: Yes. As many people who were shot that day in 17th of April, 1984, in front of the embassy here in London, couldn't go back. Their whole life

has been derailed. They can't resume their scholarships because they feel marked. They can't return home because they're worried about being



And it's really -- you know, they're young, you know. And these characters are 18 when this happens. And they're having to sort of improvise a life,

as a lot of exiles do. You know, this question of improvising, translating the place, translating yourself into the place. All of those things.

AMANPOUR: And making new relationships outside your family.


AMANPOUR: I'm really interested because, you know, again, you were outside this country. Your father was a pretty much an opposition figure, an

opposition figure, against Gaddafi. This was an anti-Gaddafi demonstration, preceding the Arab Spring by several decades.

What did your father say to you about this, or your mother, when it was actually happening? When you were in Cairo? Was he there? Yes.

MATAR: Yes, when we were watching it on the news, you know, we were all there. And we were very upset by it. It was very -- it was quite a moment

because I think it was -- it really showed the extent to which the liberal regime was willing to go to punish and silence dissent inside and outside.

So, it was quite an unsettling moment.

AMANPOUR: But it's desperately unsettling and tragic for yourself because then your own father fell victim to these forces.

MATAR: Yes, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And that's your book, famous book.


AMANPOUR: You're best known for "The Return," which won the Pulitzer Prize.


AMANPOUR: A memoir, a fact, about the activities of your father and the fact that he disappeared into the Gulag system.


AMANPOUR: And you've never found him.

MATAR: Yes, my father was kidnapped from his home in Cairo in 1990. And he was taken to Libya and imprisoned but never acknowledged by the regime. He

wasn't put on trial or anything like that. So, they've always denied having him there. And I've pretty much spent the majority of my life looking for

him, campaigning, trying to find where he is, what might have happened to him.

And when the regime fell in 2011, a year later, I went to Libya, really for the first time in 33 years by that stage, to look for my father, to

reconnect with the people and the places that I love, but also, to find out what might have happened to him. And "The Return" is really a book about

all of that. But it's also -- I think of it as a book as a state of emergence, you know, where all of the details came up to the surface for

me, you know, the quiet and the loud details. And that book really tries to attend to all of that.

AMANPOUR: But you didn't get closure, right? You never got an answer as to where -- what happened or where your father's body might be. You spoke to -

- how on earth you did this, to Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam?

MATAR: Well, I had a big campaign, you know, of press and media and through, you know, international human rights organizations trying to find

out the whereabouts of my father. And in the midst of all of that, I made contact with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was then heir apparent, but also

somebody who was at least, sincerely or not, talking the language of reform.

And so, we thought, how might we try to use this opportunity to perhaps get him to confirm the whereabouts of not only my father, but other political

prisoners that had gone missing. And so, I engage in this exchange with him over a period of a few weeks, which I documented the book. It didn't lead


AMANPOUR: Were you glad that you did it? Or was it worth it?

MATAR: That's a hard question to answer. I mean, it was worth it because any attempt to try to find my father, any attempt that doesn't lose me my

integrity, of course, is worth it.


MATAR: But is it worth it in the sense that I yield results? No. And did it tax me in sense of stress? And of course, it did. But I think that was

just part of the struggle, really.

AMANPOUR: Because you've written, there is shame in not knowing where your father is, shame in not being able to stop searching for him, and shame

also in wanting to stop searching for him. That's -- you know, the two feelings are colliding there.

MATAR: Yes, yes. Because that goes to the heart. You see, I think what's interesting about all this, and when you write about it, you have to think

beyond the facts, as it were, right? Why make somebody disappear? It's much easier and cheaper, if we want to be crude about it, to just kill them.

Making somebody disappear is a lot of work.


So, part of the question in my teenage years and in my 20s was not only where is my father, but why would somebody do that? And part of the answer

that I arrived at is that part the intention, conscious or not, is to make you also disappear. To make you, in other words, become inarticulate,

frightened, not know what to do, right? So, part to the struggle is to find your father but also to found your voice.

AMANPOUR: And finally, given the world we live in right now, the connection between art and this kind of personal and political drama.

MATAR: Of course.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, "A Month in Siena" is all about, you know, somebody wrote, I think in "The New York Times," have you ever seen how Hisham Matar

looks at art in museums? And you're there for weeks looking at maybe one painting, but it was because you were trying to process all this grief,


MATAR: Well, I don't know. I mean, I thought for --

AMANPOUR: Tell us how you look at that.

MATAR: For a long time, it thought it just a coincidence that around the time that my father disappears, I begin to look at paintings in this

slightly peculiar way where I go and just look at one picture every day in my lunch break and then after a week or so I'll change to another picture.

But now, with the benefit of hindsight -- I still do this. But with a benefit hindsight, I think maybe it does make sense because in a moment of

inarticulacy, of disappearance I went to arguably the most generous, the most appearing things, paintings, right? They were very articulate and very

giving. And so, that became very important to me. And yes.

AMANPOUR: And just finally, because we have some -- you know, they're small moments, even in the Palestinian crisis right now, of art showing up.

There's a museum in the occupied West Bank showing the work of hundreds of artists from Gaza. There is a huge pile of rubble in the center symbolizing

the destruction.

You know, how does art fit, do you think, in the big picture, in these kinds of crises?

MATAR: Well, this is what -- partly what I meant by a state of emergence about "The Return." You know, Walter Benjamin describes emergencies. He

says there's something interesting about emergencies.

AMANPOUR: He's the well-known Jewish philosopher, right?

MATAR: Yes. There is something about emergencies. Because in a state of emergency, there are also a state of emergence, that things come up to the

surface. And I feel that very much about what's happening now in Gaza, that it's also a state of emergence because you're seeing as though the mask has

dropped on several things.

The mask is dropped on the Israeli national project. Now you see it for what it is. It's being described in that language. And it has been also

underreported, you know, because Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett and co. have been talking this language for a while, you know, that they see Israel as

being from the river to the sea. There's no two states and so on.

And so, you also -- so, you see the mask drop in that sense, but you'll also see the mask drop and in to what extent Israel's allies are willing to

go in order to abide by this level of violence. And you also see the mask drop in the inability of Arabic countries to do anything about it, and why,

actually, a lot of people -- I mean, Netanyahu was -- if we remember, lots of people forget this, he was one of the loudest, most early critics of the

Arab Spring.

Because why would you want a democracy in countries that you would want to have influence on their leaders? It's very difficult to control governments

if they are accountable to their people. And so, it seems to me a moment of emergence in all of these levels that you're really seeing a very dark set

of truths emerge.

AMANPOUR: And we will see where they lead. Hisham Matar, thank you so much. "My Friends."

MATAR: Thank you.


GOLODRYGA: Well now, let's rewind almost four decades to the night 46 of America's biggest music stars gathered in the same studio to record the

charity single, "We Are the World."

The artists were told to "check their egos at the door" in the name of helping people affected by famine in Ethiopia and other African countries.

Well, the record became one of the top selling singles of all time, raising $60 million for the cause.

And the remarkable all-nighter behind it is the focus of a new Netflix documentary, "The Greatest Night in Pop." Here's a clip from the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just thought we pulled together as many artists as we could and figure it out. It was just a wish list.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said yes without knowing it was going to be on it.









UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have Tina.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody was there.


GOLODRYGA: Also, there was that night, was -- also there that night was Tom Baylor, a vocal arranger who worked on the song. Hari Sreenivasan

speaks to him alongside the film's director, Bao Nguyen.



HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Director Bao Nguyen and vocal arranger, Tom Baylor, thank you both for joining us.

Tom, I want to start with you. You were there that night. How did you hear about this project? How did you get involved?

TOM BAYLOR, VOCAL ARRANGER, "WE ARE THE WORLD": Well, Quincy Jones and I started working together early in the '70s, and he had heard some

arrangements. I got a call and he said, what are you doing? Do you have time to come over? And I said, sure. So, I went over and he said, I just

heard from Ken Kragen and this is what's happening. And that's when he said, you know the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" And Bob Geldof did a

great job with that. And it's a wonderful song.

But here's the concept. You know, look at what Geldof did, and we're going to do it with more people because we know that the American Music Award,

Ken put this together immediately. And he said -- I think it took him five minutes to really make the map that we would follow from there on.

SREENIVASAN: So, there's literally a night where you're about to record a song with probably the biggest names in music in America, certainly, all

assembling under one roof for just a few hours.

BAYLOR: By the time the stars came in, the song was written. But it was only written seriously a few days before that. And it was wonderful being

on that team. We had meetings where we normally, when we go on to record, we don't think of what could go wrong.


BAYLOR: You know, but with this, we had to go in and say, what could go wrong and what are we going to have for it? It's like Quincy was the

general. And we were looking at it as going to war. You only have one shot. You know, you don't go out there and say, oops, I forgot my bullets, you

know. So, that was kind of the way it started.



CROWD: We are the world. We are the children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The greatest artists of a generation came together to save some lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Must be in a dream.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we only had one night to get this right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get this party started.


SREENIVASAN: Bao, what made you interested in making this film?

BAO NGUYEN, DIRECTOR, "THE GREATEST NIGHT IN POP": Yes, I should say that I was only two years old when the song came out.

SREENIVASAN: I didn't want to embarrass you there, but yes.

NGUYEN: You know. But I mean, I remember the song growing up because my parents, they had recently come over to America. They were Vietnamese

refugees. And they spoke very little English at that time. This was the mid-80s. And they had Lionel Richie Records. They had Kenny Rogers records

and they had the record of "We Are the World." So, I remember hearing that song growing up in my household and in a way, the song was a bridge to my

American upbringing and my parents', you know, refugee immigrant upbringing.


NGUYEN: And so, it had personal resonance. I didn't understand the global impact of the song until my producer, you know, Julia Nottingham, who I

produced my last film with, she came to me with the story of "We Are the World." She was like, do you know the song? And I was like, of course, I

know the song.

But when she told me how it all happened in one night and sort of the global impact of the song once it came out, it became really interesting

for me as a filmmaker to see like how I can turn what was seemingly, you know -- I mean, obviously it's a very iconic song, but for people who don't

work in the music industry, we don't really know how the sausage is made, in many ways.


NGUYEN: And to hear how unique it was. And as, you know, Tom was saying, it was one night. It was a lot of, sort of, troubleshooting, a lot of

impossible tasks that had to be done in getting all these, you know, 40 plus superstars in one room to record a song that was written a couple of

days earlier. I found the story to be really compelling on top of how much, you know, residents the song had globally.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I arrived at the studio, I realized it was the cream of the crop of pop music for that time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Oh, my god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just overwhelming.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walkie-talkies is how we communicated. Who was showing up? Who was here? Who just got here?


SREENIVASAN: There's a point in the film, Tom, where you mentioned that Quincy Jones put up a sign that said, what, check your ego at the door?

BAYLOR: That's correct. That's correct.

SREENIVASAN: And how did that many people, who are literally on the top of their game, you know, extolled by everyone in music, showing up at a

massive awards, how are they expected to do that?


NGUYEN: Well, you know what, they got the feeling because we were there for a higher purpose, all of us. And it was told to us earlier. Everybody

that worked on that did it pro bono. All the cameramen, the studio, all of us, and it has been pro bono ever since. And they raised so much money. So,

we knew going in that we were there to save lives.

SREENIVASAN: So, Bao, how did you kind of discover this archive? What was available? And then, what struck you when you realized what you had to work


NGUYEN: I mean, I think I owe it all to my producer, Julia Nottingham, who, you know, we had never worked on a music documentary together and we

had no connection to Lionel Richie or the Michael Jackson estate. And Julia happened to be working with this company called MRC, which at the time

owned Dick Clark Productions, and they produced the American Music Awards. And we knew the American Music Awards were the important, you know, aspect

of the story.

And so, MRC told Julia to call this guy Larry Klein, who's in the film. He's the producer of the American Music Awards. And so, she cold calls him

and does a pitch of the film. And Larry's like, I've been waiting for this call for 35 years. And he was the one who connected us to Lionel, to USA

for Africa, which is, you know, the entity that basically was formed for the song. And they had on this footage.

You know, over the course of decades, the footage has been damaged and it hasn't been kept in the best shape, to be honest. Some of it was found in

the trunk of a car. And I had -- you know, they made this recording for the music video and for -- there was, you know, a TV special that Jane Fonda

hosted immediately after the song came out. And that was the intention of the recording. There was no -- you know, no one would think 40 years later

that film would be made and put on Netflix, right?

So, we got lucky and it goes to the tenacity of our producers. And also, you know, I think the richness of the footage isn't just the visual

archival. A lot of the archival that was recorded didn't have any audio or the audio was going straight into the recording mix. And so, you would only

hear when they were singing the song.

All these sort of side conversations came from the work of David Breskin, who was a journalist covering the recording for "Life Magazine" at the

time. And he turned on his Dictaphone, immediately when he got the assignment, he did all these interviews with Ken Kragen and with Lionel

with Quincy Jones. And we hear a lot of those conversations in the beginning of the film.

But it was also him, you know, holding up the dictaphone to Bruce Springsteen when Bruce Springsteen's recording and doing sort of the side

takes and everything like that where we get, again, that texture and that richness of the audio matching with what we got from USA for Africa.

SREENIVASAN: Tom, what's amazing is when you see footage of these superstars without their entourages, it's almost like going back to like

some sort of high school band camp vibe, where they're just normal human beings.

BAYLOR: Normally when an artist goes into a recording studio, we start in the booth to learn the song or to talk about what we're going to do, how

we're going to record it and everything. Because it's like a womb. It's a safe place to learn and become acquainted with what we're going to do


Well, with 46 people, we could not put them in the booth. So, we had to do it in the studio, which is huge. So, when we got in the big room, I felt an

unsettledness, and my job was to get them all singing it, but there was, I felt no negativity. It was just a little bit of looking around and think,

oh, my God, I got every one of her records. Oh, I love her. I love him. I love -- you know, I mean, all of the stars were doing that. And it was

great. It was a great idea.

Again, Ken Kragen, that there was no entourage because they entered and they're all like a band camp. Just what you said, you nailed it, man. And -

- but what really broke the ice was Diana Ross.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diana walks up to Daryl Hall with her music in her hands and says, Daryl, I'm your biggest fan. Would you sign my music for

me? And we all looked around and said, holy moly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soon as she did it, it just started happening all over the room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seeing Cyndi Lauper asking Lionel or the boss, you know, that's dope that they want to get each other's autograph. And then

they come and ask me and I'm like, they want my autograph? Like, wow, that's really cool, you know.



BAYLOR: And for the next 45 minutes, we signed each other's music. And at the end of that 45 minutes, we went from being unsettled to being a family.

And that broke the ice. And it was like -- and Quincy comes out of the booth and said, let's chop some wood.

SREENIVASAN: Bao, what was the most surprising part when you look through this? Is there a musician or a performance or a look that somebody gave

that stuck out to you or it was unexpected?

NGUYEN: I mean, as we were talking about, I think, like seeing these icons of icons really be like they're at the first day of school, right, it says

that in the film, it felt like the first day of kindergarten. I think we -- anyone around the world sort of knows that feeling of being the first --

you know, at the first day of school.

And to see like Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen feel that way. It was something that was really

humanizing and just like created this proximity that, I think, was really important for the film, is to take these great artists and bring them into

a room and bring them to a space where every keyword can feel like they felt the same way.

I mean, in terms of like specific scenes, I think Bob Dylan, for me and his journey in the film and through the night, it was really unique and really

inspiring in many ways. Because again, you know, he comes into a space that's not necessarily a space that he's used to and then he asked for

help. You know, he asked for Stevie Wonder's help to help him sing his line, which I think is such a beautiful, touching, vulnerable moment that

again, Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan. Stevie Wonder is Stevie Wonder. But for them to kind of help each other out in that moment was really beautiful.

SREENIVASAN: So, Tom, I got to ask how in the world -- how does your brain work where you put these pairings together?

BAYLOR: Well, you use the magic word. You said, how did you get your brain to do this, I didn't. I followed my instincts. I made a list. Quincy and I

made a list of the probable soloists. And once -- and Quincy said, I have two requests, because Lionel was the first one to start this song, to write

it, I would like for his voice to be the first voice we hear.

And then on the first chorus, because Michael finished the song, we'd like to have Michael to sing the first chorus. And then halfway through, and

this is Quincy's wonderful sense of humor, he said, I want Diana because they're so close. And this will prove to people that they're not one


So, anyway, that was the way, but that was what -- that was my template. And he said, now the rest of it's yours. So, once we had -- if you listen

to that first chorus, Michael has a very pure voice. And so does Diana. And after that, I knew that there was another chorus coming up. And who was

going to do that? And immediately, in my imagination, these singers started standing up. It was Springsteen to come in and sing it the way I'm talking

right now. You know, it was, we are the world, you know.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER: We are the world. We are the children.


BAYLOR: That is so different than my Hugo (ph), that beautiful, pure loving sound, you know. So, that's the way it worked. And then I started

looking at the -- and as I looked at the next solo possibility, the person that I picked hopped up in my imagination. I'm serious. It was like they

were waiting out line and they -- and I opened the door by looking at the lyric and in they come in. That's the way it came together. Seriously, it

took me only about 30 minutes to assign.

SREENIVASAN: Bao, there were several times where you kind of referenced the fact that it's now later and later and later in the night. It is now

earlier and earlier in the morning, right? And I don't think people realize that this was an all-night jam session with these huge names.

NGUYEN: As you were asking earlier, these voices are the voices of a generation. It's easy to kind of just shine a camera on someone and just

let them go. But it's really creating those moments of tension, of vulnerability, of anxiety that created the propulsiveness, I think, of the

night and making it not just kind of a conventional music documentary, but something that would be engaging to audiences who might not know who some

of these artists are and might not know what the song is.

And so, I was always trying to engage the storytelling aspect with also this, you know, fly in the wall observational style of just being in the

room with all these amazing artists.


And again, you know, to see how in one moment they are very nervous and when they step up to the mic, you know, the beauty of human creativity and

artistic ability just shines so quickly. And that was really interesting to me as an artist and just seeing people's process, how nervous they get

right before they have. And I think sometimes, you know, that sense of grit, that pressure and just all these artists around them make them shine

even more.

SREENIVASAN: Hey, Tom, you think that that's -- this is possible today?

BAYLOR: I think the glue for this entire endeavor was that we were serving a higher purpose. It wasn't about us. We were tools in doing something that

was going to feed people, give them medicine and give them clothing. And that was why we were there. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been there.

And I think that that permeated the entire night. I felt that it really was a flowing, loving night. And I love the fact that Bao put the last

statement in there when we were leaving at 8:00 in the morning. And it was -- we was down to Ken Kragen, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross and me are walking

out of the studio and, of course, the sun's up. It's 8:00 in the morning.

And we're walking to our car and all of a sudden, I hear Diana crying and Quincy is walking with her. And he says, Diana, are you OK? And she said, I

don't want this to be over. And that was, to me, really the hallmark of the night, is that it was such a great example of we were there to make

something and we did it.

SREENIVASAN: Tom Baylor, the vocal arranger for the song "We Are the World," and Bao Nguyen, the director of "The Greatest Night in Pop," you

can see that on Netflix now, thank you both for joining us.

BAYLOR: Thank you, Hari.

NGUYEN: Thank you.


GOLODRYGA: I watched that video so many times. What a great story.

And finally, a reminder of light shining through darkness. At the height of World War II, one Japanese diplomat in Lithuania defied his government and

issued visas that helped thousands of Jews escape the Soviets, and later, the invasion of Nazi Germany.

This week, Chiune Sugihara was honored in Chicago by survivors. There are many descendants and his own relatives for his life-saving works.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But for this man, my father would not be here. I would not be here, our children would not be here.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara helped save thousands of Jews fleeing Lithuania during World War II. Generations of

Holocaust survivors and their families gathered in Chicago this February to celebrate Sugihara's legacy and to honor him.

LEO MELAMED, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: My story is a miracle. We were captured by the Nazis when I was seven years old. Because of the brilliance of my

parents, we escaped. And there, another miracle occurred. Chiune Sugihara issued over 2,000 visas.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, tens of thousands of Jews fled to Lithuania. Sugihara was the first Japanese

diplomat posted there. And in the summer of 1940, a large number of Jewish refugees gathered outside the Japanese consulate looking for visas that

would allow them to pass through Japan before seeking refuge in a third country.

Despite receiving orders from Tokyo that all visa holders must have finished their procedure for their entry visas and have money to travel,

Sugihara defied his government. And in less than two months, he issued over 2,000 visas to Jews and their families. Sugihara died in 1986. His

granddaughter and great-granddaughter attended the ceremony.

ORIHA SUGIHARA, GREAN-GRANDDAUGHTER OF CHIUNE-SEMPO SUGIHARA: As a young generation, I sometimes see the world the pessimistic way, but his action,

so impactful.

MELAMED: To stand up against immorality is the greatest deed you could do in a lifetime.

GOLODRYGA: Just a year after Sugihara issued the visas, Germany invaded Lithuania. When Sugihara got back to Japan after the war, he was forced to

retire, but not without saving the lives of thousands during his career.

YARIV MOZER, ISRAELI FILMMAKER: It's something that should be told old and should give an inspiration to others to save those who are in need.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Years later he said, I couldn't abandon those people who had come to me for help. I didn't do anything special. I just

did what I had to do.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): His courage and sacrifice continues to be honored all these years later.


GOLODRYGA (on camera): A brave man who stood up against immorality.

Well, we began tonight's show with tributes being paid by a different man, Alexei Navalny, and paid to him in Moscow. His daughter, Dasha, has posted

on social media vowing to make her father proud. She said, "I will live my life the way you taught me," adding, "most importantly with the same bright

smile on my face."

Meanwhile, people are gathering in other cities around the world to pay their respects to the Russian opposition leader, Tbilisi, Georgia, in

London, in the U.K. And we leave you with these pictures from Munich and Berlin in Germany, an outpouring of grief and respect way beyond Russia's