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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Tests Positive for COVID-19; School Districts Looking to Switch to Virtual Learning as COVID Surges; Vaccinated Massachusetts Teachers Ineligible for State Program; Republican Liz Cheney Issues Concerns if Trump Gets Reelected; Colorado Smolders After Fires Destroy Hundreds of Homes; "Carole King and James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name" Premieres Tonight; Man Blows Up His Tesla Than Pay Car Repair Bill. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 02, 2022 - 20:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Omicron surge shattering records. Over 400,000 cases a day.

DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: It's really one of these perfect storms with all of these cases coming in.

BROWN: More and more schools bracing for a shift to virtual learning.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS: There is absolutely no way to keep Omicron out of the schools.

BROWN: The surge still wreaking havoc on holiday travelers.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the last 10 days, 14,000- plus flights have been canceled.

BROWN: Experts say relief could be weeks away.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: By the end of February, we will be through this.


BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Happy New Year to you.

And we begin tonight with breaking news. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tested positive for COVID. Let's get right to CNN's Eva McKend at the White House.

And Eva, what are you learning?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pam, we just received this statement from the White House. 68-year-old Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin did test positive for the virus this morning. He received his test after exhibiting symptoms, got tested, found out he was in fact infected, but he says that his symptoms are mild. He's following his physician's directions and will quarantine for five days at home.

Key to note, he will remain -- retain all of his duties over the coming days and he says that he will attend meetings virtually in the interim as he recovers. Also key in the statement, reading in part, "My last with President Biden occurred on Tuesday, December 21st, more than a week before I began to experience symptoms. I tested negative that very morning. I have not been in the Pentagon since Thursday where I met briefly and only with a few members of my staff."

But Secretary Austin did have the vaccine and the booster imploring everyone in the military to continue to get that vaccine and booster describing it as a readiness issue. But breaking news this evening, we have learned that the secretary of Defense, a member of the president's Cabinet, has in fact tested positive for COVID -- Pam.

BROWN: Eva McKend, thanks so much.

And that surge in COVID cases is causing disruptions around the country. Sick airline personnel combined with winter weather have led to more than 2600 flight cancellations so far today. A nightmare for people scrambling to get home. It's now the seventh day in a row of at least 1,000 flights cancelled. The U.S. is in the grip of a record shattering spike of new COVID infections. A seven-day average of cases has soared.

Experts warn it will only get worse, but there is some good news here and that is hospitalizations are well below their previous peak. So that context is important. The vast majority of the country seen in dark red here is struggling with the surge of 50 percent or more of new infections. The White House is urging people not to take the Omicron variant lightly.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So it's kind of like a very interesting, somewhat complicated issue where you have a virus that might actually be less severe in its pathogenicity, but so many people are getting infected that the net amount, the total amount of people that would require hospitalization might be up.

So we can't be complacent in these reports which are likely accurate that it is ultimately in the big picture less severe. We're still going to get a lot of hospitalizations.


BROWN: Some school districts facing a spike of child COVID cases have announced at least a partial transition to online learning.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is in New York. It has seen a record number of new cases over the past week.

So, Polo, how prepared are schools for students to return?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Pam, it is a new semester and with it now bring a new variant that school officials are going to have to prepare for and to make sure that students and staff are safe as they begin that spring semester and some are taking more of an aggressive approach than others. For example, there are a couple of Atlanta metro area schools that have announced that they want to get the semester started by doing remote learning.

In Washington, staff and students will need to have a negative COVID test before they head back to class and then let's take the nation's largest school district. Of course, here in New York City where they announced that they won't be implementing the same policies before that would require an entire class to basically head home if a COVID case is confirmed. Instead, as you can see here, schools will be distributing at-home tests to students and staff who have symptoms or have been exposed to somebody that's been tested COVID positive.

Kids who are either asymptomatic or test negative can continue with in-person teaching but kids with symptoms may not attend school until they received two negative tests taken 24 hours apart and then ultimately kids who do test positive they have to isolate for at least 10 days. So really the whole -- the goal of New York City school officials here is to try to limit those disruptions, and we heard earlier this morning from Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who's the, as you know, the former FDA commissioner who is really urging schools to continue with in-person learning as long as those right tools and those right steps are taken.


Gottlieb also offering some insight on when we as a nation may finally turn a corner when it comes to this current variant outbreak.


GOTTLIEB: I think certainly the February time frame is appropriate in terms of when we're going to pass through this Omicron wave across the United States. Now this is a big country, this will affect different parts of the country at different points in time but if the U.K. is any guide, London is already peaking. If South Africa is any guide, this is about a two-month epidemic wave from start to finish.

And so parts of the country that were affected earlier like New York probably are going to start to peak in the next two weeks, other parts within the next four weeks. So I think certainly by the end of February, we will be through this and businesses need a guide of when prevalence is going to start to decline.


SANDOVAL: Certainly a much-needed boost of optimism for the nation right now coming from the former FDA commissioner but ultimately, though, for now, parents, we've talked about this before, Pamela, are really just having to renew those concerns right now about sending their kids back to school. Is it safe and are the right steps being taken?

BROWN: Yes. I'm one of those parents. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: Well, the nation's Education secretary says the nation must learn to live with the Omicron variant and that includes school children. He says a return to the classroom is essential.


MIGUEL CARDONA, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: The We recognize there may be bumps in the road especially this upcoming week when superintendents who are working really hard across the country are getting calls saying that some of their schools may have 5 percent to 10 percent of their staff not available. So any decisions on some very short term or emergency closures are most likely based off of a staffing issues, and ultimately, those are safety issues when you don't have adequate staff. But the goal is full-time in-person learning for our students. They have suffered enough.


BROWN: And I want to bring in the woman in charge of the largest teachers' union in the country. Becky Pringle is the president of the National Education Association.

Nice to see you again. So do you agree with Secretary Cardona's goal that all schools should be open for in-person learning full time right now?

BECKY PRINGLE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: It's good to be with you again, Pamela. You know, even as we were sidelined by yet another variant with Omicron, my -- what I've been saying from the very beginning has not changed. My message is the same. That is to follow the science, listen to the infectious disease experts, work together with educators and parents and communities to make good decisions so that we can keep our students and educators safe, and we can be in person.

We know that is the best way for our students to learn. And then third, let me just say, our third goal, Pamela, is to make sure that we are prepared to continue our learning regardless of what those disruptions are, if it's because we don't have enough staff or the infection rate gets too high, that we are ready to continue learning for all of our students.

BROWN: So the administration's stance, though, is that Omicron is simply something we're going to have to just live with. The chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University hospital seems to agree with that. Let's listen to what he said.


PHILLIPS: There is absolutely no way to keep Omicron out of the schools. These antigen tests at home simply are not sensitive enough to keep Omicron out of our schools.


BROWN: What is your reaction to that, that basically there's just no way to keep it out?

PRINGLE: The data we've gotten so far is that Omicron is very infectious. We already know that. We already know that the rate of illness for adults and students is not as great as with Delta. We know that. Mostly what we know, Pamela, and this is after two years is that if we put in place all of the mitigation strategies beginning with vaccinations and boosters, now we know enough and our students can get vaccinations and they're preparing for boosters for them.

We know that wearing masks works. We know that distancing when possible works. We know that hand washing and ventilation, all of those things work. And what we have to continue to do is stress that we must do all of these things combined with testing so that we don't spread this Omicron variant more than it needs to be spread. We can keep our students safe and we can keep them in-person together in learning.

BROWN: So the Biden administration, though, one of those techniques you mentioned is of course, testing. It is proposed the test to stay in school strategy but are schools equipped right now with the testing to do that?


PRINGLE: We know that we have more that must be done. That's why the Biden administration indicated before the holiday break because we all expect a surge after the holiday break that they were committed to increasing the number of tests that are available. We know that schools have already used the American Rescue Plan money to purchase tests. So many of our schools are giving out tests to our students before they even come back after the holiday break, but we have to be vigilant. We cannot give up in our quest to keep our students and educators, our schools and our communities safe.

BROWN: Dr. Fauci said to expect the CDC to potentially make adjustments to its decision to shorten isolation periods to five days. He said that this morning. But I'm wondering, are teachers OK with that change, the change to the five days?

PRINGLE: The other thing I've been saying throughout these two years, Pamela, is that when we work together, we've already seen this to be proven to be true. When we work together, when we communicate with each other, when we use the information that we have at that moment and it keeps changing, right, as we have another variant and we learn more information about that, and we'll have more information, I would bet in about two weeks.

But when we are in constant communication with our parents and our communities, with educators and we are working together to come up with the strategies that will keep our students and our schools and our educators safe, then we are making the best decisions that we can at that moment and we will keep the majority of our students and our educators safe and those places where they are not communicating strategies, where they're not working with our teachers and their unions, that becomes a problem, and they are rightfully fearful if they are not involved in making those decisions. So it takes the entire community, entire community --

BROWN: Before I let you go, Becky. Go ahead.

PRINGLE: To listen to the experts, follow the science, and work together to keep our students safe.

BROWN: Before I let you go, should schools be going virtual this week? We know several school districts have chosen that route.

PRINGLE: Many school districts have chosen to start virtually. Some have not. Many have chosen to do testing before the students come back. What I've been saying all along is work together to make the best decision for your community. But we know that many of our schools have worked so hard, Pamela, to ensure that they have in place the tools and the supports for our students, if for whatever reason they have to go back to virtual. That's what's important to make sure that our students continue to stay safe and continue to learn.

BROWN: All right, Becky Pringle, thanks so much.

Well, classroom COVID outbreaks are inevitable with full in-person learning, it seems. When a case is detected many school districts are vigorously testing to prevent further spread. Well, one Boston teacher had an outbreak in her classroom but she says she wasn't eligible for a test. That teacher Annie Shah-Solle joins me now.

Annie, thank you so much for making time. Why weren't you able to take a COVID test?

ANNIE SHAH-SOLLE, EARLY EDUCATION TEACHER: Thanks for having me, Pamela. You know, it was a shock for me. It was the week before the winter break and we had two positive cases in our classroom and the person who comes around and does the rapid testing came to our classroom. She tested all of our students and I was expecting to get tested next, and I was absolutely shocked when she refused to test me.

It was a major red flag for me, given what we know about Omicron. I just couldn't believe it and it feels for me that here in Massachusetts Governor Baker and his administration aren't keeping up with the science.

BROWN: So what happened? So you thought, you were expecting to get tested and then she said no, you're not going to get tested. Why?

SHAH-SOLLE: I found out in the moment like many families and educators, we didn't know that the policy -- that was the policy. It hadn't been the policy in previous weeks but I was told that the new policy was that educators could not be tested.

BROWN: Right. Because, and also you are vaccinated, right? SHAH-SOLLE: Right. And so I was told that because I was masked and

vaccinated, I wasn't eligible. And for me, I just think that all of us whether we're vaccinated or not vaccinated, we should all be tested because families want to make sure that we're keeping everybody safe in schools.

BROWN: So what is the school saying about this?

SHAH-SOLLE: The school is following the state protocol currently, and you know, I posted about it on Facebook because I wondered if -- other families in Boston and teachers were aware of the policy and most families were not aware of the policy.

BROWN: So do you feel safe in your classroom without easy access to testing?

SHAH-SOLLE: You know, I love being a third grade teacher, and for many of us, not being able to get tested, it feels like a big distraction. Many of us feel anxious. We want to see that negative test so that we can get back to the job at hand and teach the students in front of us.

BROWN: Have you thought about, and I know this may not even be feasible, but taking it upon yourself to try to get tests so even though it won't be provided through the school, you could do it privately? But I know that they're hard to come by right now. They are expensive, and that's not always an option.

SHAH-SOLLE: Yes. Absolutely. You know, I'm a parent myself. And like many of our families and schools, I live with two children who are not eligible for vaccination yet, and I also live with my older parents. So, yes, you know, I'm worried about the health of everybody in my household and so my husband and I did find a site where we could go get tested. We left on our lunch break. He's also a teacher. And we got tested so that we could make sure that we were safe to be in schools with our students and safe to come back home to our children and my parents.

BROWN: So how are you feeling right now? You know, a lot of kids are going back to school this week. We're right in the middle of this Omicron wave. What does it feel like right now for you?

SHAH-SOLLE: I feel really frustrated. You know, we -- and the scientists had been anticipating that there may be a surge. Here we are and it feels like the state officials have kind of counted on wishful thinking. And I wish that there was a plan in place to keep families and kids safe. I really hope that there can be a policy change and that we can get all the teachers tested.

BROWN: Annie, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I know it's been so hard already for teachers this past couple of years and we really appreciate you making time for us.

SHAH-SOLLE: Pamela, thanks so much for having me.

BROWN: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. When we come back, what was then President Donald Trump doing while his supporters were storming the Capitol nearly a year ago? Liz Cheney says the January 6th Committee has found out thanks to firsthand testimony and she says Trump is guilty of dereliction of duty.

Up next, I'll talk live at the legal expert about that case and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

Plus, Colorado's governor says police are trying to find out if someone set the fire that destroyed hundreds of homes. We'll take you to the scene.



BROWN: Well, just one year ago, the violent Capitol insurrection threatened to end the American experiment. It didn't, but the threat has not gone away. We know there's no love lost between Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney and former President Donald Trump but Cheney is stark in her warnings about the threats Trump continues to pose to this country.


CHENEY: Any man who would provoke a violent assault on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, any man who would watch television as police officers were being beaten, as his supporters were invading the Capitol of the United States is clearly unfit for future office, clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Hillary Clinton said a couple of weeks ago that if he runs and wins that could be the end of our democracy. Do you share that fear?

CHENEY: I do. I think it is critically important given everything we know about the lines that he was willing to cross, he crossed lines no American president has ever crossed before.


BROWN: The Select House Committee on which Cheney sits continues to probe what happened that day and criminal trials are still underway to get to the bottom of what happened and who may have played a part in organizing that deadly assault on Washington. But a chilling article in the "Atlantic" warns that we should be looking forward as well as looking back.

In a piece titled "Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun," writer Barton Gelman explores how the former president could subvert the 2024 presidential election. He quotes U.C. Irvine Law and Political Science Professor Richard Hasen who says, "The Democratic emergency is already here. We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come into an end in 2024 but urgent action is not happening."

Joining me with more, the man behind those words, Professor Richard Hasen, also the author of the upcoming "The Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics and How to Cure It."

Rick, thanks for joining us tonight. You know, I was reading that article and he also said that you're not one for hyperbole. You're not one to try to, you know, scare people and be an alarmist but clearly, you, you know, are really concerned right now. It sounds like that switch has flipped for you. Is Liz Cheney right when she says if Trump is reelected, you will not recognize our country?

RICHARD L. HASEN, AUTHOR, "CHEAP SPEECH": I think there are two separate issues here. One is if Trump is elected in a fair election, what might he do to his enemies? What might that mean for our democratic processes going forward? And I think that is a real risk. My concern is somewhat different. It's not maybe a lesser concern, just a different concern, which is if Donald Trump is a candidate, will those who support him manipulate the rules so that if he doesn't win election, he'll actually be declared the winner, either through actions of election officials or elected officials or potentially a Republican Congress that would choose to accept, say, an alternative slate of electors and install him in office even if he loses.

That's really a risk that I never thought we'd have to worry about in the United States. I never thought we'd have to worry about whether the counting of the votes was going to be fair, but that's the position we're in right now. We need to take action to make sure we can hold a fair election in 2024.

BROWN: What does that look like, though, taking action?

HASEN: So I think you need to divide this also into multiple parts, and the reason you have to do that is because this is a multi-pronged problem. So one thing we need to do is we need to fix our laws. There are laws, for example, that regulate how Congress certifies the electoral college vote. We know that Donald Trump tried to manipulate those by having his vice president Mike Pence either simply declare Trump the winner or delay things so that state legislatures could try to send in alternative set of electors or try to throw things to the House of Representatives.


So one set of changes are legal changes and those definitely need to happen. For example in the United States in about 12 percent of voters don't vote on voting machines that produce a piece of paper. We shouldn't have another presidential election where there's not a piece of paper that could be examined by an independent body like a court. But the other kind of change we need to make, not just legal changes, political change.

We need to organize. Democrats, Republicans, independents, business groups, unions, civic groups. We need to come together I think as a kind of mass movement to ensure that we follow the rule of law, that it's important that whoever gets the most votes is the person who is elected, and that our system has the kind of checks and balances. So we need kind of public organizing of public pressure now so that in a few years from now, we'll be well positioned to stop any attempt to try to ignore the rules and even the new laws that we might put in place.

BROWN: I want to talk about this poll, this new poll from "The Washington Post" and the University of Maryland finding that 34 percent of Americans think violent action against the government is sometimes justified. What does that say to you?

HASEN: Well, it says that we're in a sorry state because that number has been going up and there is also a partisan balance to that. We're seeing more Republicans than Democrats and independents saying that violence could be justified. I mean, I think it really is the logical culmination of what we saw from Donald Trump. For four years when he was president, he attacked all the kind of mediating institutions that help keep our democracy going.

The press, the opposition party, the judiciary, the FBI and, you know, when you kind of undermine people's confidence in the institutions that you need to have a functioning democracy, it's not surprising that they think that those institutions are corrupt and that the only way to deal with the corrupt government is to have a revolution against that government. Right? That's the story of the American revolution.

But the problem here is that, of course, our government is not corrupt, things were going fairly but Donald Trump ginned up enough controversy so that there is this feeling now among many of his supporters that violence may be the only way out if he's not, you know, as successful as the winner of the next election if he runs. And so, you know, we need to have not just a moment of calming down but we need to have the military government officials prepared for additional kinds of actions like what we saw on January 6th coming from Trump supporters.

BROWN: Wow. And I think it's just worth reminding everyone, look, it's an experiment, right? We're living in a democratic experiment here in America and you shouldn't take that for granted.

Richard Hasen, thank you very much.

HASEN: Thank you.

BROWN: Hundreds of homes in Colorado reduced to ash in a matter of hours. Now, investigators want to know if it was arson. A live report is next.



BROWN: At least two people still missing in the Colorado fire zone after a fast-moving wildfire tore through Boulder County. Investigator say one person who was missing has now been accounted for but the cause of the fire is still being investigated.


GOV. JARED POLIS, COLORADO: The sheriff's department is involved with the active investigation if there was any form of deliberate or accidental arson I fully expect that any of those responsible will be held fully responsible under the law for the utter devastation that was caused. At this point, there is no information that's being made available about that.


BROWN: A heavy rocky mountain snowfall helped put out the fires but entire subdivisions were wiped out. About 1,000 homes gone since Thursday.

Let's go to CNN's Natasha Chen in Boulder, Colorado.

Natasha, the sheriff there says some of the search efforts could become recovery efforts. What's the latest?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, that would be very unfortunate but it is a possibility and he did talk about the search for those two missing people being a difficult task through the burn zone. If you can imagine the extensive damage and debris, houses reduced to ashes. Meanwhile, the snow has fallen and so another eight inches of snow is piled on to that debris. So it's a very difficult task searching through that area.

At the same time, investigators are working with experts and partners including the FBI looking at how this fire may have started as you mentioned. It was a day with extremely dry conditions, a red flag notice because of those high winds and those high winds are what residents continue to tell us about that really shocked them because that's what carried the flames so quickly and these winds we're told were so strong they could knock a person over.

Here is Alicia Thompson, one of the superior residents that we talked to. Luckily her house is OK but her experience in leaving and evacuating in just minutes was shared by so many. Here is what she said.


ALICIA THOMPSON, EVACUEE: We lost my dad about a year ago so there was a lot of memory stuff that we were trying to figure out what to take. So they always ask you the question like, what three things would you take in a fire? And none of that is kind of what I expected to have to pack. So yes, it was hard to make decisions about what was necessary and what you couldn't live without.


CHEN: I talked to another family who lost their home in Louisville. Everything they owned and they just had minutes to take their cell phones, their dogs, medication, and they plan on rebuilding some day in the same spot because this area is a community where generations have lived there.

[20:35:02] They're very tight knit with their neighbors. And to give you a big picture, a long term look at what's going to happen here. This is a very tight housing market. You've got thousands of people who suddenly left and are displaced so where are they going to go? Where are they going to rent? And then we're talking about restoration of electric, power, and natural gas power -- and natural gas to the people even beyond the burn zone.

We're expected, we're told, by tonight to see power restored for all the customers outside the burn zone. Natural gas is going to take some more time for restoration, Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Natasha Chen, thanks for bringing us the latest there.

And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. When we come back a rail collapses as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts leaves the field sending fans tumbling to the ground.

Also ahead, James Taylor and Carole King, two of America's greatest singer songwriters. Next, the director of tonight's CNN Film joins me live to share the behind-the-scenes story.


BROWN: NFL news tonight. Tampa Bay Buccaneer star wide receiver Antonio Brown is right now out of a job. This afternoon Brown just left the field in the middle of the game between Tampa Bay and the New York Jets. The sports casters calling the game say Brown appeared to be upset on the sidelines then he pulled off his jersey and pads and ran into the locker room. The Tampa Bay head coach talked to reporters after the game and he is not happy.


BRUCE ARIANS, TAMBA BAY BUCCANEERS HEAD COACH: He is no longer a Buc, all right? That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys who went out there and won the game.

TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QUARTERBACK: I think everybody should find, you know, hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that, you know, he really needs it and, you know, we all love him, we care about him deeply. You know, we want to see him be at his best and, you know, unfortunately, it won't be with our team.


I think the most important thing about football are the relationships with your friends and your teammates, and they go beyond the field and, you know, I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathetic toward, you know, some very difficult things that are happening.


BROWN: Tom Brady with a few more words on the subject than his coach. It's still not clear why Antonio Brown decided to leave the game.

The Philadelphia Eagles saw some unexpected action after their win over the Washington football team today. Watch the left side of the screen. Quarterback Jalen Hurts walking off the field when a railing gives way and several fans fall to the ground. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Jalen Hurts says it shows how fired up Philadelphia fans can get.


JALEN HURTS, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES QUARTERBACK: I'm just happy everybody is safe from it. Happy everybody is safe from it. That's crazy. That's crazy stuff right there. That was a really dangerous situation. I'm just so happy everybody bounced back from it. It seemed like it passionate Eagles fans. I love it.


BROWN: Well, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. And up next, singer songwriters James Taylor and Carole King are music icons on their own right now. Now the new CNN Film "CAROLE KING AND JAMES TAYLOR: JUST CALL OUT MY NAME" takes us behind the scenes of their first tour together.


JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN: A challenge was to figure out how to do an intimate show and a really large arena.

CAROLE KING, MUSICIAN: We wish everybody could be close in. One way to do that is to perform in a round.

TAYLOR: What we came up with was the idea that we would basically have a club in an arena. We're also rotating slowly, stage rotates. We've designed the show to be as close and intimate as possible and to play to everybody in the room.


BROWN: Joining me now, director Frank Marshall.

Hi, Frank. Thanks for joining us tonight.


BROWN: Happy New Year to you. There is so much anticipation for this. We really appreciate the preview you're going to give us. So let's talk about it here. These two musicians have been friends. They have been writing and performing music together for half a century. Did they just click from the beginning or did this partnership evolve over time?

MARSHALL: No, they talk about it in the film. It actually happened right away. The minute they sat down together, it was like they had known each other forever and I think Carole describes it as they kind of just feed each other and James describes it as having the same musical DNA. So they have been genuine and authentic friends for 50 years and it really shows in the concert.

BROWN: What was the most surprising thing you learned about James and Carole making this film?

MARSHALL: Well, I think it would be that they hadn't toured together for 40 years. When they started back in the '70s they did some things together and then they went on their separate paths. And they'd never been back together until 2007 and then they had so much fun at The Troubadour with the original band, by the way, that they then decided to go on this tour in 2010.

BROWN: James and Carole are credited with influencing so many artists over the years. Where do you see their biggest impact?

MARSHALL: Well, I think their biggest impact is on their song writing. They are genuine authentic incredible songwriters and I think their impact has been non-generational. People love their music no matter what age they are and I think that's been their biggest impact.

BROWN: Before we let you go, what is your favorite Carole King-James Taylor song? You know I was going to ask that.

MARSHALL: Of course, of course. Well, for Carole I love "It's Too Late." I mean, it really tells a story about emotional things that we've all been through. She's telling it from the heart. And for James, I really like "Sweet Baby James." Again, a story that's meaningful and means something to him and it's just got a great, great melody and great words. So those are my two favorite.

BROWN: Frank Marshall, thanks so much.

And everyone, be sure to tune in the all-new CNN Film "CAROLE KING AND JAMES TAYLOR: JUST CALL OUT MY NAME" premieres at the top of the hour 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.


And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Up next tonight, the angry Tesla owner who took matters into his own hands, instead of blowing money on repairs, he did this.



BROWN: Watch out, Elon Musk, this customer isn't too happy.


Sparks flew when a Tesla driver was hit with a huge repair bill so left with little options he decided to go out with a bang.

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever get so mad at repair bills that you wanted to blow up your car? Me, neither. But this Finnish guy was beyond finished with his 2013 Tesla Model S after he says he got an estimate of over $22,000 to replace his battery. Tuomas Katainen was asked which would be better, a working Tesla or 66 pounds of dynamite exploding?

TUOMAS KATAINEN, TESLA EXPLOSION GOES VIRAL: (Graphics) Sort of both, maybe more explosion.

MOOS: Tuomas went to the Bomb Dudes, in Finnish, Pommijatkat, a YouTube channel known for blowing things up. Tuomas didn't have to pay. The Bomb Dudes used volunteers to rig the car with dynamite. Tuomas bought the 2013 Tesla used about a year and a half ago. He even choppered in a dummy meant to resemble Elon Musk. To take that final ride. Tuomas got to push the button. The explosion at a former quarry was captured from every angle.

The video exploded on the internet with one poster asking Elon Musk, could you get him a new one, please?

CNN asked Tesla for comment but got no response. This isn't the first Tesla to be blasted. SpaceX launched a rocket which released a Tesla roadster with Starman at the wheel. They're still orbiting the sun. Made on Earth by humans. Well, this Tesla was exploded on Earth by humans.

Jeanne Moos --

KATAINEN: (Graphics) There is nothing left.

MOOS: CNN, New York.


BROWN: I mean, must be nice to just say, oh, I don't like this repair bill. I'm just going to blow up my car.

All right, well, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. When we come back a hockey fan is credited with saving the life of an opposing team's equipment manager. We'll explain how and show you how he thanked her when we come back.



BROWN: Two days into the new year and there is already a heartwarming story of 2022. I love this story. So this is Vancouver Canucks equipment manager Brian Hamilton meeting the woman who saved his life. Back in October, a Seattle Kraken fan held up her phone towards Hamilton with the message, "The mole on the back of your neck is cancer." After checking with doctors, Hamilton learned that he had stage two skin cancer and maybe only had five years to live.

Well, thanks to social media, Hamilton tracked her down and met his guardian angel 22-year-old Nadia Popovici.


BRIAN "RED" HAMILTON, VANCOUVER CANUCKS EQUIPMENT MANAGER: She needs to know, she's the story. She's the person that did this. She saved the life. She doesn't know, like, does she -- she needs to know her efforts were valid and bang on, and I'm happy that story is there but not for me but for her because the world needs to know that she's, like this woman exists. She's a hero and, you know, we need to celebrate her and people like her that take the time to do things like this and save lives.


BROWN: She clearly has a bright future. The team rewarded the soon-to- be med student with a $10,000 scholarship.

Well, before we go tonight, a sweet New Year's moment shared by between former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. Just as the peanut drops in Carter's hometown of Plains, Georgia, he leaned in for a kiss with his wife of 75 years. 75 years. The moment was captured by their long-time friend Jill Stucky who said in a Facebook message, "Well, for the 75th New Year's together, President and Mrs. Carter couldn't wait to kiss. The peanut dropped at 6:00 so Happy New Year."

At 97 Carter is the oldest living former president in U.S. history and I would love to know what their secret is to 75 years of marriage.

Well, thank you so much for joining me this evening, this New Year 2022. I'll be back next weekend and starting right now, the unforgettable concert films, "CAROLE KING AND JAMES TAYLOR: JUST CALL OUT MY NAME."

See you next time and enjoy.